Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books
No.22 Fighter Squadron, RNZAF, took part in the campaign to neutralise Kavieng and the Australian offensive on Bougainville in late 1944 and 1945.
The squadron was formed in June 1944. It quickly moved to Espiritu Santo, and then moved to the combat area in September 1944 when it was posted to Bougainville. During this period the RNZAF fighter squadrons that rotated through Bougainville flew two types of operations - air defence missions over the Allied base at Empress Augusta Bay and offensive fighter-bomber sweeps over the Japanese occupied parts of the island.
In January 1945 No.22 Squadron replaced No.19 Squadron on Emirau, to the north-west of New Ireland. The squadron's main role was to keep a constant daylight patrol over the Japanese base at Kavieng and carry out occasional bombing raids. No.22 Squadron was replaced by No.23 Squadron in March 1945.
In April 1945 the squadron was one of four RNZAF squadrons that moved to Bougainville, when the number of fighter squadrons was doubled from two to four.
The squadrons arrived just as the chain of command on Bougainville was improved. Before April all requests for air support went from the 2nd Australian Corps to the Commander, Air, North Solomons, who then issued orders to the RNZAF. From April a direct link was established between the Australians and the RNZAF.
All four squadrons had to provide dawn and dusk patrols to guard against any possible Japanese air attacks. They were also used for ground attack missions, attacking tactical targets close to the Australian lines, troop concentrations behind the lines and targets around the main Japanese bases. In April the four squadrons flew an average of 50-60 sorties per day.
On 26 April forty-one aircraft from Nos.14, 22 and 26 Squadrons carried out an attack on a Japanese position on a road in the Hiru Hiru area. This involved a series of attacks along a 700 yard stretch of road and the jungle 25 yards to either side of the road. The squadrons attacked in turn, each taking a different section of the road. The attack was a total success and the Australians were able to advance past the former Japanese roadblock with ease.
In July 1945 No.22 was relieved by No.24 Squadron, RNZAF, as part of a wider move in which all four fighter squadrons were replaced. The squadron returned to New Zealand and was disbanded in September 1945.
June 1944-September 1945: Chance Vought F4U Corsair
August 1944: Espirtu Santo
August-September 1944: Espiritu Santo
September-November 1944: Bougainville
December 1944-January 1945: Santo
January-March 1945: Emirau
April-July 1945: Bougainville