No.24 Fighter Squadron (RNZAF): Second World War

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No.24 Fighter Squadron, RNZAF, took part in the Australian offensive on Bougainville late in 1944 and in the last few months of the war as well as taking part in the long campaign to neutralise Rabaul.

The squadron was formed in September 1944. It moved to Espiritu Santo in October 1944, where it continued to train while also provided fighter cover.

In December 1944 No.24 Squadron moved to the combat zone when it replaced No.15 Squadron on Bougainville. The Japanese still controlled most of the island at this point, with the Allies still mainly limited to their original beachhead around Empress Augusta Bay on the west coast.

For a few days No.24 Squadron was the only RNZAF squadron on Bougainville, but after a few days it was joined by No.21 Squadron. The two squadrons helped support the early stages of the Australian offensive on Bougainville. In January 1945 No.24 Squadron was relieved by No.20.


In March 1945 No.24 Squadron moved to Green Island, where it relieved No.17 Squadron. The squadron had several tasks on Green Island - to fly dawn and dusk patrols, to have aircraft ready to scramble to respond to a Japanese raid, to provide escorts for 'Dumbo' air sea rescue aircraft and to maintain a standing patrol over the isolated Japanese base at Rabaul.

In July 1945 the squadron returned to Bougainville as part of a mass relief of all four RNZAF fighter squadrons based on the island (replacing No.22 Squadron). It was still on Bougainville when the Japanese surrendered.

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. Between them the four squadrons averaged over 60 sorties per day, with a peak of over 100.

No.24 Squadron was the last RNZAF squadron to remain in the forward area after the end of the war. It remained on Bougainville until October 1945 when it flew back to New Zealand and was disbanded.

September 1944-October 1945: Chance Vought F4U Corsair

October-December 1944: Espiritu Santo
December 1944-January 1945: Bougainville
March 1945: Santo
March-May 1945: Green Island
July-October 1945: Bougainville



How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 January 2022), No.24 Fighter Squadron (RNZAF): Second World War,

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