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Royal New Zealand Air Force

withdrawal of rnzaf radar units

withdrawal of rnzaf radar units

By mid-1944 American radar equipment and personnel were available to meet most of the needs of the South Pacific area and more were on the way. At the same time the elimination of the Japanese air force had done away with the necessity for much radar activity. Consequently the RNZAF units, most of whose men had completed their tour of overseas duty, prepared to return to New Zealand, and No. 62 Squadron's headquarters was disbanded in October. COMSOPAC then asked that a number of RNZAF units should continue to function in the forward area for a while longer. New Zealand agreed to maintain them till the end of the year. After that, as practically all the men would have completed their tour of operations and as no replacements were available, it would not commit itself. Eventually the last three units in the forward area, Nos. 52, 53 and 58, were withdrawn in February 1945.

The set at Norfolk was maintained as a navigational aid, and in addition three sets in Fiji and Tonga which had been taken over page 236 from the Army were operated by the RNZAF during the last year of the war to obtain meteorological observations.

The history of active operations by RNZAF radar units in the forward area covers less than two years, but during that time they played an important role in the Allied defence of the recaptured Solomons. During the early part of the period, owing to the lack of suitable American equipment, their part was a major one. Besides the men who operated the units, New Zealand technical officers did excellent work in the face of very great difficulties. Sets had to be located in places which in almost every case offended all principles of radar siting, and their successful operation reflected great credit on the officers concerned.