Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Royal New Zealand Air Force

bomber-reconnaissance operations from green island

bomber-reconnaissance operations from green island

No. 2 Squadron opened its tour of duty at Green Island early in January with medium-level bombing strikes and night heckles over Rabaul. In the middle of the month the American PBJ squadron which shared its duties was temporarily engaged elsewhere, and for ten days No. 2 Squadron was the only bomber unit operating. During this period, owing to the absence of PBJs to act as bombing leaders for medium-level strikes, all attacks were made from low level and were directed mainly against New Ireland. During this period, also, a change was made in the bomb-load for night heckles. To obviate the necessity of sending an aircraft over Rabaul every night, half the bombs carried were fused to give a 24-hour delay. A number were dropped on bivouac areas, where it was hoped the undergrowth would conceal them until they exploded. Crews on night heckles also dropped empty bottles, which made a noise like whistling bombs and were considered to have a suitable effect on Japanese morale.

The major part of the squadron's operational effort was directed against Rabaul. During its tour it took part in thirty-one daylight raids on the area and ten night heckles. The normal strength of a raid was seven or eight aircraft, each carrying between 3000 and 4000 pounds of bombs.

A typical medium-level attack was made on 11 February. Eight aircraft of No. 2 Squadron, led by an American PBJ, combined page 305 with a formation of seven other PBJs to bomb a truck park at Rabaul. The American formation bombed first, and then the New Zealanders came over, flying at 11,000 feet. When their leader gave the signal, they all dropped their bombs simultaneously. Of the total load of sixteen 1000-pound bombs and forty-eight 325- pound depth-charges, 90 per cent exploded in the truck park and covered it with dense black smoke. Two fires were started, one sending smoke up to 1000 feet.

Attacks against New Ireland targets, by formations of up to eight aircraft, numbered seventeen for the tour, and strikes on Bougainville six.

The squadron's heaviest attack, and the heaviest made by any eight New Zealand aircraft in the Pacific, was against Monoitu, in south-west Bougainville. The Australian Intelligence Bureau had reported large concentrations of enemy transport, supplies, and troops there, and on 28 February No. 2 Squadron was sent to attack them. Eight aircraft, each carrying 5000 pounds of bombs, flew down from Green island. They made one dummy run over their objective to make sure of identifying it, and then came round again and dropped everything they had. Of sixteen 1000-pounders and forty-eight 500-pounders, only two bombs failed to hit the target. There were huge explosions in the area, and three large fires were started.

No. 3 Squadron relieved No. 2 in March. During its tour it was employed chiefly against targets on Bougainville: Muguai, Kahili, Kara and Nakara in the south, Numa Numa on the east coast, and Buka and Bonis in the north. Only six attacks were made on Rabaul. A number of others which were planned had to be abandoned or diverted to New Ireland because of bad weather over the target. The squadron did, however, have an aircraft over Rabaul on early morning weather and shipping reconnaissance on every day when the weather was good enough for flying. Night heckles, too, were carried out on twelve occasions. From March onwards Venturas engaged on this duty were accompanied by two Corsairs in an attempt to catch the Japanese aircraft occasionally seen practising night flying.

Miscellaneous operations by No. 2 and No. 3 Squadrons included photographic reconnaissance flights and a number of unsuccessful searches for reported enemy submarines.

In April a number of Venturas were modified to enable a bomb-sight suitable for medium-level bombing to be fitted. Thereafter, it was no longer necessary for New Zealand formations always to be led on to their target by a PBJ. The first occasion on which a Ventura was used as a bombing leader was on 8 April, when six page 306 aircraft of No. 3 Squadron successfully attacked Vunakanau, on the Gazelle Peninsula. Wing Commander Morrison1 led the formation and Flight Lieutenant Kidson2 was bomb-aimer.

1 Gp Capt I. G. Morrison, OBE; RNZAF; born Amberley, 16 Mar 1914; RAF 1936–39; RNZAF 1939; advertising salesman; Air Member for Supply Oct 1954–.

2 Sqn Ldr M. Kidson, DFC, AFM; RNZAF; born Wellington, 12 Jul 1913; clerk.