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No.25 Squadron, RNZAF, went through two incarnations during the Second World War. The first was as a dive-bomber squadron that took part in the fighting on Bougainville in March 1944 and the campaign against Rabaul. The second was as a fighter squadron that operated out of the New Zealand bases at Emirau and Los Negros, watching the last few Japanese strongholds in New Ireland and the surrounding area.
The Dive-Bomber Squadron
No.25 Squadron was formed in July 1943 at Seagrove, near Auckland, using Douglas SBD Dauntless aircraft taken over from the Americans.
In January 1944 No.25 Squadron left for Espiritu Santo and the base at Seagrove was closed. While on Santo the squadron trained with American dive-bomber units based on the island. In March it moved onto Bougainville, replacing a Marine dive-bomber squadron.
Nos.25 and 30 Squadrons both moved to Bougainville in late March 1944, during the Japanese offensive against the American bridgehead. They both began operations on 25 March. No.25 Squadron flew fourteen sorties on the first day, against targets within a few minutes flight of the airfield. For the next two weeks the squadrons operated every day, dive bombing and strafing Japanese targets during the day and carrying out patrols over the defensive perimeter at night.
On 26 March the squadron took part in an attack on the Japanese base at Kavieng, although it failed to join up with the rest of the force and had to return to base.
Once the immediate crisis on Bougainville was over the two RNZAF dive-bomber squadrons focused on Rabaul, sending six or twelve aircraft on every day when flying was possible. The Japanese airfields at Vunakanau and Tobera were their most frequent target.
In late May No.25 Squadron was withdrawn from Bougainville. It returned to New Zealand where it was disbanded.
The Fighter Squadron
The second incarnation of the squadron was formed as No.25 Fighter Squadron in October 1944 and was equipped with the Chance Vought F4U Corsair. The squadron moved to Espiritu Santo in December 1944, then on to Guadalcanal. On both bases it had the task of intercepting any unidentified aircraft in the area, although these all turned out to be friendly.
In January 1945 No.25 Squadron replaced No.23 Squadron on Los Negros, the most westerly base to be used by the RNZAF. It had two main tasks - to fly dawn and dusk patrols in the surrounding area and to intercept any unidentified aircraft that appeared on radar. Most proved to be friendly but a few aircraft evaded the incoming fighters and were probably Japanese. No.25 Squadron was relieved by No.19 Squadron in March 1945.
In May 1945 No.25 Squadron replaced No.23 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.25 Squadron was replaced by No.14 Squadron in July 1945. The squadron then returned to New Zealand, where after the end of the war it was disbanded.
July 1943-May 1944: Douglas SBD Dauntless
October 1944-September 1945: Chance Vought F4U Corsair
July 1943-January 1944: Seagrove, New Zealand
January-March 1944: Santo
March-May 1944: Bougainville
December 1944: Espiritu Santo
December 1944-January 1945: Guadalcanal
January-February 1945: Los Negros
May-July 1945: Emirau