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No. 75 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operated as a bomber unit in World War II, before being transferred to the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1945.

World War I, Home Defence fighters

Established as a unit of the Royal Air Force for Home Defence, it was formed at Goldington on 1 October 1916 with BE2c and later BE2e aircraft, it moved to Elmswellmarker in East Angliamarker in September 1917, exchanging BE2c for FE2b. In May 1918 the squadron moved to North Weald tasked with night fighting, and it received Avro 504K and Sopwith Pups in October. After the war, Sopwith Camels arrived (December) and finally Sopwith Snipes (March 1919). Little information has survived about the squadron's early history, however, John Rawling's Fighter Squadrons of the Royal Air Force confirms that it saw no action before being disbanded, still at North Weald, on 13 June 1919.

World War II, New Zealand bombers

75 was reformed on Avro Ansons and Handley Page Harrows as part of the RAF expansion on March 15, 1937. New Zealand ordered 30 Vickers Wellington bombers and sent aircrew to England to train on the new aircraft. In August 1939, with war seemingly increasingly likely, the New Zealand government offered to loan Britain both men and machines. On 4 April 1940 they took over the "75" squadron number, the letters (NZ) being added in brackets afterwards. Although often referred to, then and since, as an RNZAF unit, 75 Squadron was equipped and controlled by the RAF until VJ Day. (This was not the case with most RNZAF units, as well as those from the other Dominions; technically these units were attached to the RAF under Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme, and were known as "Article XV squadrons".)

75 Squadron saw action early over France, Norway and most other European nations, but principally waged war against Germany. It joined No. 3 Group RAF and was based for a period at RAF Newmarketmarker. Its code letters of "AA" became widely recognised on both sides, (when the unit operated as an oversize unit, some aircraft were coded "JN"). The squadron was progressively equipped with Short Stirlings, Avro Lancasters and Avro Lincolns. When Japan surrendered 75 was preparing to take the Lincolns to the Far East as part of Tiger Force.

75 Squadron was based at:

Mar 1937
Jul 1938
RAF Driffieldmarker
Anson Mk.I, Virginia Mk.X
Jul 1938
Jul 1939
RAF Honingtonmarker
Anson Mk.I, Harrow Mks.I, II
Jul 1939
Sep 1939
RAF Stradishallmarker
Anson Mk.I, Wellington Mk.I
Sep 1939
Apr 1940
RAF Harwellmarker
Anson Mk.I, Wellington Mk.I
Apr 1940
Aug 1940
RAF Feltwellmarker
Wellington Mks.I, Ia, Ic
Aug 1940
Nov 1942
RAF Mildenhallmarker
Vickers Wellington Mks.Ia, Ic Short Stirling Mk.I
Nov 1942
Jun 1943
RAF Newmarketmarker
Short Stirling Mk.I
Jun 1943
Jul 1945
RAF Mepalmarker
Short Stirling Mks.I, III Lancaster Mks.I, III
Jul 1945
Oct 1945
RAF Spilsbymarker
Lancaster Mks.I, III Lincoln Mk.II

Postwar, RNZAF

At the end of WWII, in gratitude for the work done by its New Zealand aircrew, Britain offered the squadron number and colours to New Zealand, and thus No. 2 Squadron RNZAF was renumbered as No. 75 Squadron RNZAF, forming up at RNZAF Base Ohakeamarker with de Havilland Mosquitos.


75 Squadron claims to be the only squadron engaged constantly against Germany from 1939 to VE day. The squadron flew more sorties than any other Allied heavy bomber squadron, suffered more casualties than any other Allied squadron, and dropped the second largest weight of bombs of any Allied squadron. The squadron won a single Victoria Cross, awarded to Sgt J A Ward for climbing along the wing of a Wellington, in flight, to put out an engine fire.

A Lancaster in 75 Squadron colours is preserved at the Museum of Transport and Technologymarker at Aucklandmarker, New Zealand.The National Archivesmarker schools web-site features an interview with Gordon Ford, a British wireless operator who served with 75 Squadron in World War II.




  • Franks, Norman. Forever Strong: the Story of 75 Squadron RNZAF 1916-1990. Auckland, New Zealand: Random Century Ltd., 1991 ISBN 1-86941-102-1.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Saunders, Hilary Aidan St George. Return at dawn: the official story of the New Zealand Bomber Squadron of the R.A.F. from June 1939 to July 1942 (1942; Director of Publicity, Wellington NZ, 50 pp)

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