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No.26 Fighter Squadron, RNZAF, was a short-lived unit that took part in the Australian offensive on Bougainville during its only tour of duty in the combat zone.
The squadron was formed in March 1945. It almost immediately moved to Guadalcanal, before 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 June 1945 No.26 was relieved by No.18 Squadron, RNZAF, as part of a wider move in which all four fighter squadrons were replaced. Soon afterwards No.26 Squadron was disbanded.
March-July 1945: Chance Vought F4U Corsair
March-April 1945: Guadalcanal
April-June 1945: Bougainville
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 January 2022), No.26 Fighter Squadron (RNZAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RNZAF/No_26_sqn_RNZAF.html