No. 6 Squadron RNZAF

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No. 6 Squadron RNZAF
NZ Seasprite 2008.jpg
A No. 6 Squadron SH-2G taking off from HMNZS Te Mana during a deployment to the Persian Gulf in 2008
Active February 1942 – August 1957
October 2005 – present
Country  New Zealand
Branch Air Force Ensign of New Zealand.svg Royal New Zealand Air Force  Royal New Zealand Navy
Type Naval aviation
Role ASW / maritime patrol
Garrison/HQ RNZAF Base Auckland
Motto(s) Vigilance with patience
Colors Blue and grey
Mascot(s) Winged Sea Horse
Anniversaries 1 February 1942
Equipment Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite
Engagements World War II, East Timor, Persian Gulf
Commanders
Current
commander
Commander Owen Rodger
Insignia
Squadron badge Maori God "Tane"

No. 6 Squadron RNZAF is a maritime squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.[1] It has a history going back to World War II, when it operated flying boats, has been disbanded and re-formed several times through changes in the country's military structure. The squadron motto is “Vigilance with Patience”.[2]

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

Following Japan's entry into World War II in December 1941, the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) had to switch from primarily training pilots to Europe into a combat force. No. 6 Squadron RNZAF was formed as an army co-operation unit at Milson in February 1942 flying Vickers Vildebeest and Hawker Hind aircraft. At the same time, No. 5 Squadron RNZAF moved to Fiji with Short Singapores and Vickers Vildebeest and Vincent biplanes.

Modern maritime patrol flying boats (and more Hudson light bombers) were requested under Lend Lease and when the first Consolidated Catalinas arrived a detachment of men from No. 5 Squadron was assigned to convert to these types as No. 6 Squadron. Before the squadron was formed these men completed their first air-sea rescue of a downed US aircrew. From May 1943 No. 6 squadron undertook action against the Japanese. The squadron also conducted search and rescue missions for allied aircrew and seamen, and undertook many open sea rescues. The squadron was disbanded overseas in August 1945.[3] Squadron code letters were "XX".[4]

After the war No. 6 Squadron was re-equipped with Short Sunderland flying boats as a Territorial Air Force unit and also operated float equipped Auster light aircraft. The squadron was disbanded in August 1957, with all Sunderlands transferring to No. 5 Squadron prior to their replacement by modern Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft.

Present[edit]

HMNZS Canterbury in 2007 with a SH-2G of No. 6 Sqn.

No. 6 Squadron was re-formed in 2005 to take over No.3 Squadron's role in operating the Royal New Zealand Navy's air element. No. 6 Squadron operates New Zealand's ten SH-2G(I) Seasprite helicopters. The squadron was re-established on 31 October 2005 by separating the Naval Support Flight from No. 3 Squadron RNZAF. The squadron is based at RNZAF Base Auckland.

6 Squadron is manned by Royal New Zealand Navy observers, pilots and helicopter loadmasters. Navy aircrew are trained by the RNZAF. The aircraft are maintained by RNZAF engineers, technicians and suppliers. RNZAF aircrew can also sometimes be posted to the squadron if required.

Future[edit]

The Royal New Zealand Navy has acquired ten SH-2G(I) Seasprites that replaced the existing SH-2G(NZ) aircraft in April 2016. Eight of the helicopters have entered active service representing a marked increase in capability while the other two are kept as spares.

A pair of Seasprites operate from HMNZS Canterbury near the Puka-Puka Atoll

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ No. 6 Squadron (from the Royal New Zealand Air Force website. Accessed 2008-06-16.)
  2. ^ No 6 Squadron History (from the Royal New Zealand Air Force website. Accessed 2008-06-16.)
  3. ^ Ross, John (1955). Royal New Zealand Air Force. Historical Publications Branch. p. 314. ISBN 0898391873. 
  4. ^ Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 141.
Bibliography
  • Darby, Charles (1978). RNZAF: The First Decade, 1937–46. Dandenong, Victoria: Kookaburra Technical Publications. ISBN 0-85880-031-4. 
  • Flintham, Vic; Thomas, Andrew (2003). Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes Since 1938. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.