Royal New Zealand Air Force
EFFECT OF PACIFIC WAR
EFFECT OF PACIFIC WAR
The spread of the war to the Pacific and the consequent development of the RNZAF as an operational service resulted, from early 1942 onward, in progressively increasing demands on the training organisation for fully trained aircrew for duty in the Pacific. Before this it had been necessary to retain in New Zealand only page 57 sufficient pilots to meet the demand for instructors and staff pilots in the training schools and for manning the three bomber-reconnaissance squadrons. During 1942, however, pilots passing out from SFTSs were required to man the two operational squadrons which were formed in March of that year. At the same time, in view of the importance of the Commonwealth Training Plan to the war effort as a whole, New Zealand endeavoured to keep up its agreed quota to the scheme to the fullest extent possible.
Up to 1942 the administration of flying training had been the responsibility of the Director of Flying Training, in the staff of the Chief of Air Staff. With the entry of Japan into the war, and the prospect of increased operational commitments, this responsibility was passed to the Air Member for Personnel, on whose staff a Director of Training was established. This had the effect of reducing the burden on the Air Staff, and at the same time, as all aspects of training then came under one Director, it produced much better co-ordination.
An extensive reorganisation of the flying training schools was necessary to meet the Japanese threat. It was decided to concentrate training as far as possible in the South Island in order to leave the North free for operational squadrons of the RNZAF and for the accommodation of the American forces which, it was expected, would arrive for operations in the Pacific. In February the Initial Training Wing moved from Levin to Rotorua, leaving Levin free to accommodate the Bomber Operational Training Squadron which formed the following month. At the same time No. 3 SFTS at Ohakea was disbanded and the other two SFTSs at Wigram and Blenheim were increased in size. To facilitate standardisation, Wigram became responsible for only multi-engined training, while at Blenheim training was given to one-third multi-engine pilots and two-thirds single-engine pilots. No. 4 EFTS at Whenuapai was disbanded in March and personnel were absorbed into the other three. No. 2 EFTS at New Plymouth was now the only flying training school left in the North Island. A new station was built at Ashburton and No. 2 EFTS moved there on its completion in October 1942.
The reorganisation did not affect the output of aircrew to Canada for further training, but it resulted in a slight reduction, forty-eight per annum, in the number of pilots fully trained in New Zealand. This, combined with the necessity for retaining a larger number of pilots in New Zealand, had the effect of reducing the output to the RAF.
No major changes had taken place since the beginning of the war in the conditions of enlistment for aircrew beyond some page 58 relaxation in the age limits. Early in 1942, however, two factors became responsible for a new system. The first was a shortage of men in the Army to meet the greatly increased commitments for Home Defence. The second was the reduction in numbers of trainees required under the new Commonwealth Plan schedule.
Aircrew and non-flying reserves for the Air Force at this time totalled about 7500 men who were waiting to be called up into the service. Approximately 5600 of these were single men, many of whom would have gone overseas with the Army had they not been earmarked for the RNZAF. Owing to the reduced intakes into the training organisation, many would not be required for another twelve to eighteen months.
In view of this it was decided that the Army should call up attested recruits and applicants for the Air Force, and that they should undergo Army training until being posted to an Air Force pool prior to entering the Initial Training Wing. The Army was to make available facilities for their educational training and for their selection into aircrew categories, and none of them was to be sent overseas without Air Department's approval.
By the end of 1942 the original system of simple volunteering by civilians had been changed to the more comprehensive method of:
Volunteering by civilians with no military obligations.
Volunteering by civilians drawn in Armed Forces' ballots.
Volunteering by soldiers.
Withdrawals from the Air Training Corps.
This method gave a complete coverage, and every man, whether in civilian life or in the Army, was given an opportunity to volunteer for the RNZAF.
In November 1942 a change was made in the method of aircrew selection. Candidates were no longer asked to state their preferences with regard to the aircrew category they wished to join, but were broadly classified as ‘PNB’ (Pilot, Navigator, Bomber) until the end of their ITW course, and were then selected into categories according to their results.