CANBERRAS OF THE ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE

New Zealand    

In 1958, while awaiting delivery of their own Canberras, the RNZAF "hired" a squadron of 17 B.2s and three T.4s from the RAF as part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve. The B.2s and one T.4 were used, from 1958 until 1962, by the then newly formed RNZAF 75 Squadron. The squadron was based at RAF Tengah (Singapore) and became involved in active service during the Malayan emergency with their first bombing raid being carried out on 30 September 1959.

In February 1958 New Zealand placed a contract for 11 aircraft for use by 14 Sqd, the contract called for nine B(I)12 and two T.13 Canberras. The B(I)12 was the equivalent of the RAF's B(I)8 but with auto-pilot and modified navigation kit. The T.13 was equivalent to the T.4 but with auto-pilot and an extra bomb bay fuel tank. The aircraft were :

  • NZ6101 - ex - WT329. Crashed Christchurch November 1960
  • NZ6102 - handed over 1959, sold to India November 1970
  • NZ6103 - handed over 1959, sold to India November 1970
  • NZ6104 - handed over 1959, crashed in Malaya November 1964
  • NZ6105 - handed over 1959, sold to India November 1970
  • NZ6106 - handed over 1959, returned to the UK by air with faulty main spar
  • NZ6107 - handed over 1959, sold to India November 1970
  • NZ6108 - handed over 1960, sold to India November 1970
  • NZ6109 - handed over 1960, sold to India November 1970
  • NZ6110 - handed over 1961, sold to India November 1970
  • NZ6111 - handed over 1961, sold to India November 1970
  • NZ6151 - handed over 1960, sold to India November 1970
  • NZ6152 - ex-WE190. Handed over 1961, sold to India November 1970
It is interesting to note that B(I)12 NZ6109 and T.13 NZ6151 were the last Canberras to roll off the English Electric production line. The two, handed over in 1960 and 1961 respectively, were built from a stock of major parts that were produced speculatively when the production line was closing in 1959.

14 Squadron was based at RNZAF Ohakea in New Zealand and Bill Smiley, a B(I)12 pilot with the squadron, has kindly submitted some pictures of the squadron from his time with them.

Initially the squadron continued to use their D.H. Vampires for rocket projectile firing practice as the B(I)12s did not get this capability until December 1961. Trials then began with wing-pylon mounted Microcell rocket launchers each holding 37 rockets. Gradually the squadron achieved operational status in all its roles, including anti-shipping, and took part in deployment exercises to Singapore as part of the Commonwealth Reinforcement Force.

In late 1962, the OCU was incorporated into the squadron as "C" Flight giving 14 Squadron a strength of ten B(I)12s and two T.13s. In 1964 the B(I)12s received their camouflage paint scheme ready for deployment to Singapore. 14 Sqd arrived in Singapore in September 1964 to assist in Operation Confrontation against Indonesia. A month later they went to the forward base at Labuan but were moved back to Tengah a week later! 14 Sqd stayed as part of the FEAF and, in March 1965, moved to RAAF Butterworth in Malaya. Not for long however. In 1966 the squadron returned to RNZAF Ohakea. Sadly, in the final month at Butterworth, NZ6104 crashed during a low-level RP attack at the China Rock range.

Back in NZ, the decision had been taken to phase out the B(I)12 which duly took place in July 1970. New Zealand's Canberras were sold as a job-lot to India in November 1970. Some are still flying today.

Photographs 
Click to View

 Bill Smiley

 14 Sqd at Ohakea

 NZ6106

 Over Limbang

 At Labuan

 Kai Tak

 Kai Tak

 B(I)12

 low over the jungle

 Bird strike