Portfolio: Private publishing
by David Allison
The Fleet Air Arm Museum of New Zealand
Flying Navy is the first book published by the Fleet Air Arm Museum of New Zealand. The author, David Allison, is the curator of that museum.
During World War II over 1200 young New Zealand men, aged 18 to 25, volunteered to fly for the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. Few of them had flown before or had seen an aircraft-carrier. They knew nothing of the aircraft they would fly in the war and had not the vaguest idea of how they would land them on the deck of a pitching and rolling carrier. All they wanted was to fly.
And so they did. Seven hundred and sixty men graduated as trained pilots or observers (navigators), some became TAGs (telegraphist airgunners). Many died in action – hit by flak or enemy fighters, some died on carrier-deck crashes, others were lost at sea, were urgently executed by Japanese captors, or flew into mountains at night. In the two world wars 179 young Kiwis died in Fleet Air Arm service.
In this book their flying careers are detailed with their photographs printed alongside.
The book opens with an account of the original Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) and its successor the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of the Royal Navy. Also detailed are prisoner-of-war experiences, escapes from war camps and a New Zealander's early involvement in the air aftermath of the atomic bombs that brought the Japanese war to an end. The book ends with carrier and aircraft data. Throughout the book photographs illustrate this history.
New Zealand aircrew flew in action over every ocean and continent, lived in and flew from carriers – a dangerous activity, and served with courage and distinction. They constituted the smallest service group of New Zealand volunteers, remembered now in their museum at Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland and in this, the first of two histories about New Zealanders who died or survived when they were the FLYING NAVY.