No. 3 Squadron RNZAF
|No. 3 Squadron RNZAF|
|Branch||Royal New Zealand Air Force|
|Garrison/HQ||RNZAF Base Ohakea|
|Motto||Kimihia Ka Patu (Seek and Destroy)|
|Colors||Red and Black|
|Equipment||UH-1H Iroquois, NH-90, A-109.|
|Decorations||Meritorious Unit Citation|
No. 3 Squadron RNZAF is a unit of the RNZAF. It remains on active duty.
3 Squadron formed as a Territorial unit of the New Zealand Permanent Air Force based at Christchurch in 1930.
The squadron received modern aircraft in the form of Lockheed Hudsons converting to the patrol bomber role and in November 1942 became the first RNZAF squadron deployed forward in full strength to engage the Japanese, operating from Henderson Field at Guadalcanal in the South Pacific in a reconnaissance role. They replaced dive bombers and long range heavy bombers in this role. Despite being lightly armed, a Hudson of F/O Gudsell twice saw off attacks by three Japanese aircraft; Gudsell was awarded the Air Medal (US).
From 1948 to 1957 No.3 Squadron reverted to being a territorial squadron, based at Wigram with de Havilland Tiger Moths, North American Harvards and P-51 Mustangs. It subsequently operated transport types such the Bristol Freighter and Army co-operation types such as the Auster AOP, before becoming a dedicated helicopter squadron in 1965, based at Hobsonville, Auckland, and equipped with Bell 47s, and from the end of the year Bell UH-1 Iroquois, a type it still operates.
The Squadron's Naval Support Flight flew helicopters for the Royal New Zealand Navy's frigates from 1966 until October 2005, when the role was transferred to 6 Squadron. The flight flew Westland Wasps, and later Kaman Seasprites of the naval air wing attached to the squadron from 1966 to 2005.
Pilots from No. 3 Squadron served in Vietnam and in UN peace keeping in the Sinai. The Squadron served in East Timor. For many years a detachment was based in Singapore, to support the New Zealand Army presence there, and combat Indonesian insurgents. Detachments have recently served in the Solomon Islands and Antarctica.
No. 3 Squadron UH-1s transported the participants on the first episode of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.
The squadron has a total personnel strength of approximately 135, and operates the following aircraft:
- Utility Flight of 13 UH-1H Iroquois based at RNZAF Base Ohakea. UH-1H helicopters will remain in service, until the NH-90 is fully operational.
- Training Flight of 5 Bell-47 Sioux based at RNZAF Base Ohakea. These helicopters have now been retired.
- Training and Light Support Helicopter - 5 Agusta A109 LUH helicopters. A procurement to purchase a further 3 A-109 signalled by the Defence Force White Paper.
- Medium Utililty Helicopter - 8 (+1 for spares) NH-90 helicopters. 2 in service now with the rest due by early 2013.
The Ministry of Defense has an ongoing (as of 2008) helicopter replacement program that is to replace the Iroquois with 8 NH-90(+1 for spares) and 8 A-109 helicopters for NZ$771 million. The A-109 will also provide the Air Force with a light utility and counter-terrorist support role.
Number 3 Squadron (Training Flight) of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) still operates the B47G as an ab-initio training helicopter. The first helicopters to be flown by the RNZAF, six B47G-3B-1 (NZ3701 -NZ3706) were delivered in 1965. Seven B47G-3B-2 (NZ3707 - NZ3713) were purchased in 1968 and delivered during 1970. The five remaining Sioux in RNZAF service are all B47G-3B-2. All will be replaced in 2011 by the Augusta A109LUH.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force currently has an active fleet of 13 Iroquois serving with No. 3 Squadron RNZAF. The first delivery was five UH-1D in 1966 followed in 1970 by nine UH-1H and one more UH-1H in 1976. All of the UH-1D aircraft were upgraded to 1H specification during the 1970s. Two ex-US Army UH-1H attrition airframes were purchased in 1996, one of which is currently in service. Three aircraft have been lost in accidents.
Capacity is nine passengers or five troops with full packs or seven troops in light order. Equipment includes a rescue winch, nightsun searchlight and night vision goggle capability. Armament 2 x M60D 7.62mm machine guns (being replaced by MAG58 7.62mm).
On 25 April 2010, at about 5.45am, a UH-1 Iroquois crashed near Paekakariki Hill Rd, about 40 km north east of Wellington. The Iroquois was en route to Anzac Day commemorations from RNZAF Base Ohakea when the helicopter crashed into a steep hill in the morning darkness, killing 3 men. A 4th crew member survived the crash with serious injuries. The cause of the crash was released to the public on the 16th December 2011. The Defence Force's court of inquiry into the accident found sub-standard protocols and a culture of "rule breaking" among 3 Squadron was partly to blame. The report found the crew lost situational awareness when they inadvertently flew into heavy cloud in the early-morning darkness, and did not recover in time to take evasive action. The court of inquiry made 20 recommendations - half of those directly addressed what it deemed to be the six causes of the crash.
An Auster AOP operated by the squadron is at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum, together with an Iroqouis in 3 Squadron colours, and a Westland Wasp and an early F model Kaman SH-2 Seasprite formerly operated by the squadron's naval flight. Another Wasp is preserved in the Museum of Transport and Technology, together with a Lockheed Hudson used by both No. 2 and 3 Squadrons. A number of ex 3 squadron Bristol Freighters have survived, including one in the Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum.