No.21 Fighter Squadron (RNZAF): Second World War

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No.21 Fighter Squadron, RNZAF, took part in the long campaign against Rabaul, both from bases on Bougainville and on Green Island and supported the Australian offensive on Bougainville.

No.21 Squadron was originally formed as an Army Co-operation Squadron. In August 1943 this squadron was based at Palmerston, but soon afterwards the squadron was disbanded and the airfield closed.

The new No.21 Fighter Squadron was formed in May 44 in New Zealand. In June it moved to Guadalcanal, where it had to provide a dawn and dusk patrol and have aircraft ready to intercept any unidentified aircraft.

In July 1944 No.21 Squadron moved to Bougainville, where it began combat operations against the Japanese. This involved a mix of air defence duties around Empress Augusta Bay and offensive fighter-bomber sweeps over the Japanese areas of Bougainville and out towards Rabaul.

In December 1944 No.21 Squadron joined No.24 Squadron on Bougainville for a second spell on the island. During this period it operated in support of the Australian offensive on the island, flying a mix of defensive patrols and bombing and strafing attacks on the Japanese. The squadron attacked a mix of targets, ranging from close tactical support of the Australians up to attacks on the main Japanese bases.

No.21 Squadron was relieved by No.18 Squadron, RNZAF, in February 1945.

In April 1945 No.21 Squadron replaced No.15 Squadron at Green Island, between Bougainville and Rabaul. It flew a mix of defensive patrols and fighter-bomber sweeps over nearby Japanese occupied areas until mid-May when all fighter-bomber operations from Green Island was stopped in preparation for a move to Jacquinot Bay on New Britain. No.20 Squadron made the move in May, as did half of No.21 Squadron. No.21 Squadron was actually the first to become operational at Jacquinot Bay. Four aircraft from the squadron flew to the new base on 18 May and were placed on readiness to scramble in case the Japanese attacked. The CO and eight pilots arrived on 29 May. The rest of the squadron moved over on 12 June.

No.21 Squadron never became entirely operation at Jacquinot Bay. There was only one fighter servicing unit at the base and that was busy with No.20 Squadron. No.21 did take part in a few patrols over Rabaul before it was replaced by No.19 Squadron on 2 July.

The squadron was disbanded in September 45

May 1944-September 1945: Chance Vought F4U Corsair

June-July 1944: Guadalcanal
July-September 1944: Bougainville
November-December 1944: Guadalcanal
December 1944-February 1945: Bougainville
April-May 1945: Green Island
May-July 1945: Jacquinot Bay



How to cite this article: Rickard, J (18 July 2013), No.21 Squadron (RNZAF): Second World War,

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