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Royal New Zealand Air Force



With the arrival of operational aircraft, including the first Kittyhawks in March, and the promise of more to come, it became possible to plan for the formation of further operational squadrons. In March a Bomber Reconnaissance Operational Training Unit was formed at Levin for the training of aircrews. It was equipped originally with Oxfords, but the intention was that these should be replaced by Hudsons when more became available. At the same time a Fighter Operational Training Unit formed at Ohakea. Originally it was equipped with Harvards but these, like the Oxfords, were to be replaced by operational aircraft when the supply of Kittyhawks allowed it. The Hawker Hind aircraft which were discarded by No. 3 SFTS when it disbanded were formed into an Army Co-operation Squadron based at Palmerston North.

In April No. 14 Fighter Squadron formed at the Fighter Operational Training Unit at Ohakea and moved to Masterton, where it continued its training with the Harvard aircraft until the end of the month, when it received Kittyhawks. From then on, until more of these were available, it was established with twelve Kittyhawks and six Harvards. The nucleus of the squadron comprised pilots and ground staff of No. 488 Squadron who had returned from Singapore. Squadron Leader MacKenzie, who had commanded the squadron in the latter stages of its operations in Malaya, was appointed CO.

A further bomber-reconnaissance squadron equipped with Vincents, No. 8, commanded by Squadron Leader C. L. Monckton, was formed at Whenuapai and then moved to Gisborne, where an RNZAF station was established. From there it carried out submarine searches and shipping escorts in protection of convoys passing down the east coast of the North Island.

In May the Kittyhawks which had been allotted by the Munitions Assignment Committee began to arrive, and two further fighter squadrons were formed. Personnel for No. 15 Squadron followed No. 14 at FOTU, and the squadron formed at Whenuapai on 1 page 111 June. No. 16 Squadron was established at Blenheim in August. The relative claims of Auckland and Wellington for the location of this squadron were discussed at some length, but it was decided to place it at Blenheim owing to the need to protect shipping in the Wellington area, and because it was thought that Auckland could be adequately defended by No. 15 Squadron and the American units which were expected to be based there.

By July only forty-four of the allotment of eighty Kittyhawks had arrived, and New Zealand was advised that the remainder of the allotment would have to be cancelled owing to urgent requirements in the Middle East.