Trace the evolution of the fighting aircraft. From the WWI SE-5A through to more modern day jets like the A-4 Skyhawk.
The Skyhawk was first produced in 1954 and remained in production for some 25 years in which time a total of 2,960 of the aircraft were built. The Skyhawk had a couple of distinctive features including a short wingspan and rearward lowering undercarriage. The light-weight fighter bomber saw active service in a number of global conflicts including the Vietnam War, the Falklands War and the Gulf War. In the mid-1960s New Zealand began the search for a replacement for it’s Vampire and Canberra combat jets. In June 1968 the Government approved the purchase of 14 Skyhawks.
The Skyhawk A-4K on display at Warbirds and Wheels was one of the original batch which arrived in 1970. One of those to pilot NZ6202 during its term of service was Flying Officer Kelly Logue who was the RNZAF’s first female pilot.
BAC167 Strikemaster Mk 88
Produced by the British Aircraft Company Ltd in England, the Strikemaster was exported to Saudi Arabia, South Yemen, Kuwait, Oman, Singapore, Kenya, Ecuador and New Zealand. Its main use was as a training aircraft, although it was used in a combat role by some.
The Strikemaster Mk 88 was purchased by the New Zealand Government to replace the aging Vampires. Sixteen were acquired for the RNZAF, the first batch being delivered in 1972, the remainder in 1975.
NZ6374 is one of two ex-RNZAF Strikemasters and is in the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.
De Havilland FB5 Vampire
First flown on 20th September 1943 the Vampire was the UK’s third jet aircraft to fly and although it was too late to see action during World War II, the type remained in service for over 30 years. The first examples arrived in New Zealand during 1951-52 and became the first operational jet aircraft in Royal New Zealand Air Force service when they were taken on charge by No’s 14 and 75 Squadron at Ohakea.
WA314 was constructed early 1951 in England and was flown exclusively on active duty with the 2nd Tactical Air Force in Germany. After service with No’s 145, 5, 71, 4 & 112 Squadrons it was shipped to New Zealand, arriving on the 23rd April 1956 in original camouflage colour scheme.
The Hurricane is the unsung hero of the Battle of Britain and one of the most versatile fighters of World War II. It was the first eight gun monoplane fighter to be produced by Britain and the first fighter to exceed 300 mph. Test flown on November 6, 1935, the Hurricane was exceptionally manoeuvrable with tight turning radii and excellent gun aiming stability.
From the outset of World War II, the Hurricane proved its mettle. Thirty squadrons underpinned RAF Fighter Command successes. Hurricanes served in France before and during the German Blitzkrieg, were prominent at Dunkirk and in the closing stages of the Battle of France.
This replica plane has been kindly supplied by Sir Peter Jackson.
The original SE5 first flew in November 1916 and entered operations over the Western Front with No. 56 Squadron RFC in April 1917. Approximately 59 SE5s were produced before being replaced with a more powerful variant, the SE5A. This aircraft featured a number of modifications over the SE5, most important being the introduction of a 200hp Hispano-Suiza engine.
In combat the SE5A soon proved a formidable fighting machine, and its name quickly became associated with the foremost British pilots of the day, the fighter aces. It was flown by a number of New Zealanders in the Royal Flying Corps.
This aircraft is a full size replica built about 12 years ago in England. It has many original parts including the propellor and instruments.