Kiwi Corsairs

Betcha didn’t know that New Zealand deployed a full baker’s dozen squadrons of F4Us to combat the Japanese in 1944-45. In all, the RNZAF flew 424 Corsairs, with the first arriving in March 1944 and deployed to Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides shortly after. This amount included some 237 F4U-1s, 127 F4U-1D, and 60 Goodyear FG-1D Corsairs, the latter delivered after the war. 

Royal New Zealand Air Force Corsairs off Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, 1944. RNZAF Corsairs over Guadalcanal, 1944′, URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage).

Three Vought F4U-1 Corsair aircraft (s/n NZ5307, 5315, 5326) of No. 26 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force in formation flight. No. 26 Squadron was reformed in March 1945 at RNZAF Station Ardmore, equipped with Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsair fighter bombers. The squadron served at airfields in Guadalcanal and Bougainville before being disbanded in June 1945. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.253.7139.016

Vought F4U-1A Corsair RNZAF NZ5393 (BuNo-50182) Espiritu Santo

The first fighter RNZAF squadron to go into action in the Pacific was 15 Squadron who became operational on Guadalcanal in April 1943 during the heavy fighting during this period, flying advanced P-40Ks and Ms before switching, as shown above, to Corsairs.

As detailed by the NZ Remembrance Army:

At its peak, in the Pacific, the RNZAF had 34 squadrons – 25 of which were based outside New Zealand and in action against Japanese forces. Thirteen of these squadrons were equipped with Corsairs, six with Venturas, two with Catalinas, two with Avengers and two with Douglas Dakota transport aircraft. The RNZAF also had a squadron of Dauntless dive bombers, several mixed transport and communications squadrons, a flight of Short Sunderlands and almost 1,000 training machines.

To administer units in the South Pacific, No. 1 (Islands) Group RNZAF was formed on 10 March 1943. In addition to this, several hundred RNZAF personnel saw action with RAF squadrons or the FAA in Burma, Singapore and the South Pacific.

The following squadrons all served at some time or other in the Pacific:

Bomber or general reconnaissance: Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, and 9. (Flying Hudsons then PV-1 Venturas)
Light bomber: Nos. 25, 30, and 31 (TBM Avengers and Dauntless dive bombers)
Recon: Nos. 5 and 6. (PBY-5 Catalina Flying boat)
Fighter: Nos. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26. (P-40s then F4U’s)
Transport: Nos. 40 and 41. (C-47’s and Lockheed C-61 Loadstars)

Casualties of the RNZAF in the Pacific were 338 dead, 58 seriously wounded, and four prisoners.

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