No.9 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron (RNZAF): Second World War

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No.9 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron, RNZAF, was formed overseas in July 1942 in response to an American request for assistance. The squadron flew anti-submarine patrols from New Caledonia, then Espiritu Santo in 1942-43. During 1944 it was posted to Bougainville where it flew patrols and attacked Japanese targets on the island and in 1945 it took part in the campaign to isolate Kavieng.

In the summer of 1942 Rear Admiral McCain, the American Commander Air, South Pacific, asked New Zealand to move six Vickers Vincents from Fiji to New Caledonia to provide anti-submarine cover. The RNZAF decided to send Hudsons instead as the two-engined aircraft were felt to be more suitable for use over water.

No.4 Squadron sent two aircraft from Fiji. Nos.1 and 2 Squadrons also sent Hudsons from New Zealand. Ground staff were also sent from New Zealand. The aircraft from No.4 Squadron became operational on 19 July, and by the end of the month the detachment had officially been renamed as No.9 General Reconnaissance Squadron (after the arrival of three more aircraft on 23 July). The new squadron had an official strength of eight first line and four reserve Hudsons. It made up part of Task Group 63.1, Task Force 63.

For the first few months the squadron was used to search for enemy submarines in the waters around New Caledonia. No submarine attacks took place in the area while the squadron was based on New Caledonia, but there were only two sightings of a possible submarine during their eight months on the island.


On 6 February 1943 signal lights were spotted on the surface and bombs were dropped. Oil was seen and radar suggested that the target might still be in the area. On the following day lights were seen again and a periscope spotted, but the submarine was able to submerge before it could be attacked.

In March 1943 No.9 Squadron moved from New Caledonia to Espiritu Santo. It was used to fly shipping escort missions around the New Hebrides and to search for Japanese submarines. No Japanese ships or submarines were found in this period. The squadron also acted as a reserve for No.3 Squadron on Guadalcanal. The squadron remained on Espiritu Santo until October when it returned to New Zealand and was replaced by No.9 Squadron.

While it was in New Zealand the squadron converted from the Hudson to the Ventura.


In February 1944 the squadron moved to Espiritu Santo. From May to August 1944 No.9 Squadron was the only RNZAF bomber-reconnaissance squadron on Bougainville, replacing No.2 Squadron.

At this stage the Allies controlled the area around Empress Augusta Bay on the west coast while the Japanese held the rest of the island. No.9 Squadron performed a variety of roles during this period. It carried out daily weather flights and shipping counts over Rabaul, and bombing raids on the Rabaul area. It also carried out sweeps across New Ireland, attacking any suitable targets and reported anything that was worth a larger attack. They also operated against the Japanese on Bougainville. Most operations involved two phases. On the first day a reconnaissance aircraft with a native onboard would find a suitable target and on the second day the same aircraft would lead a larger force to the area. No.9 Squadron was replaced by No.3 Squadron, RNZAF, in August 1944.


In January 1945 No.9 Squadron replaced No.8 Squadron on Fiji. A period of uneventful anti-submarine patrols began, and continued until March.

In March 1945 No.9 Squadron relieved No.8 Squadron at Emirau, just to the north-west of the Japanese base at Kavieng on New Ireland. The squadron had several duties. It was to search for Japanese shipping to the north of Emirau, fly patrols around the coast of New Ireland and take part in attacks on suitable targets. No.9 Squadron was replaced by No.1 Squadron in May 1945. The squadron was disbanded in June 1945.

1942-1943: Lockheed Hudson
1943-1945: Lockheed Ventura

July 1942-March 1943: New Caledonia
March-October 1943: Espiritu Santo
November 1943-February 1944: New Zealand
February-May 1944: Espiritu Santo
May-August 1944: Bougainville

January-March 1945: Fiji
March-May 1945: Emirau



How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 May 2013), No.9 Bomber Reconnaissance (RNZAF): Second World War,

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