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Air Force Museum Blog

Remembering the Kiwis of the Great Escape

By Michelle Sim | 08/03/2019

On the night of 24 March 1944, the largest prisoner of war (POW) breakout ever attempted occurred at Stalag Luft III, a German camp for captured Allied airmen. Having taken over 750 men more than a year to prepare, this ‘Great Escape’ was unprecedented in its organisation and scale, but also in its tragedy. Artwork…

An introduction to fabric doping

By Air Force Museum | 11/01/2019

What is doped fabric? In this video blog, our Safety and Surface Technician talks through this historic process of aircraft fabric covering.

Music: Capturing a time and a place

By Eleanor King | 06/12/2018

Music has that amazing ability to transport you back in time and to another place. Whether it is listening to, reading, or watching; music is a powerful way of expressing thoughts and emotions from a different time. While the music collection here at the Air Force Museum is on the smaller side, we can still…

Meet our people

By Air Force Museum | 04/12/2018

We are fortunate to have a team of incredible people here at the Museum – our 30 staff and around 80 volunteers come from diverse backgrounds, bringing many different skills and experiences, but what unites us all is the passion and enthusiasm for the work we do.

Airmen of the First World War – Remembering the other side

By Matthew O'Sullivan | 03/12/2018

We all remember those who fought and died in war. Having just marked the Centenary of the end of World War One, there’s no better time to reflect on the sacrifice made by so many New Zealanders. However, how many remember those from the ‘enemy’ nations who fought and died at the same time? They…

Rules and razors: Facial hair regulations in the military

By Jason Sim | 29/11/2018

Additional material by Murray McGuigan November is rapidly drawing to a close, and for some men, it’s meant their razor has had limited use over the last 30 days.  ‘Movember’ is the month when usually clean-shaven guys cultivate upper-lip foliage in the name of raising money and awareness for men’s health. It’s a good cause,…

“Dismal News”: New Zealand Airmen’s reactions to the Armistice

By Simon Moody | 14/11/2018

At the 11th hour of 11 November 1918, the guns on the battlefields of Western Europe fell silent, marking the end of what would later be known as the First World War. Newspapers around the world reported the momentous news in detail, and people across the world rejoiced. Yorkshire Telegraph and Star newspaper, 11 November…

The New Zealand Fighter Wing and Mono Island, 1943 – taking the fight to the Japanese

By Simon Moody | 02/11/2018

By October 1943, the tide of the war in the Pacific against Imperial Japan had turned in favour of the Allies. Following the defeat of Japan’s aircraft carrier fleet at Midway in June 1942, the offensive passed to the Americans with Australian and New Zealand forces in support. Key to pushing onward was the seizure…

Remembering Thérèse

By Michelle Sim | 30/10/2018

Thérèse in the Atrium of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, 2016. Last month we said goodbye to our long-serving and much-loved Director, Thérèse Angelo MNZM. Thérèse passed away on 15 October 2018 following a long, and brave, battle with illness, and was farewelled in a fitting service at the Museum she loved so…

The Last Great Air Race: London to Christchurch 1953

By Michelle Sim | 02/10/2018

65 years ago, the RNZAF took part in what would be the last of the world’s great air races – and narrowly averted disaster. Cover of the RNZAF’s Contact magazine from October 1953, featuring an illustration of the Harewood Gold Cup – the first place prize for the 1953 International Air Race. Image: Air Force…

A girl called Anne

By Arielle Heslop | 20/09/2018

Around mid-May I received a text message from a friend of mine. She told me she had signed us up to be tour guides for the Anne Frank exhibit that would be coming to Christchurch. At first, I was not particularly interested and didn’t want to take part however my friend is, thankfully, very persistent.…

Reflecting on wartime rationing

By Moya Montgomery | 24/08/2018

Sliding open my wardrobe door, and wading through drawers of clothes I find myself making that cliché comment, “I have nothing to wear, I need to go shopping”. This is usually followed by guilt, as actually I am really lucky to have a range of clothes, say, compared to my Nana who lived during World…

“Send for the Artist…” by Paul Harrison with Maurice Conly

By Louisa Hormann | 22/08/2018

Wing Commander Maurice Conly was the first and only official artist appointed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and we hold much of his work in our collection. “Send for the Artist…” is his story, as narrated to and written by Squadron Leader Paul Harrison, RNZAF. “Send for the Artist…” Maurice Conly: 54…

The arrival of the Southern Cross at Wigram

By Brian Lockstone | 08/08/2018

Until 1928, only two overseas flights had arrived in Australia and none at all in New Zealand. That changed when Charles Kingsford Smith and his crew of the aircraft Southern Cross landed at Wigram on 10 September 1928. Our guest blogger, Brian Lockstone of the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand, explores the story behind…

Lucky Charms and Superstition

By Louisa Hormann | 07/08/2018

Among the personal collections of New Zealand airmen we’ve found the odd small trinket once thought to bring its owner good luck. This blog explores some examples from our collection and a few of the stranger tales of aviation superstition from World War Two. This airman doll belonged to Kiwi pilot Flying Officer Jack Hoffeins.…

A tale from the clothing store – Kit Bags

By Jason Sim | 02/08/2018

Down the back of the Museum, past the archives, behind the hangars, tucked into a corner, lies the clothing store. Over the past few months we have been busy upgrading the housing and updating the records of the many objects held within. The clothing store consists of seven environmentally-controlled rooms which are home to uniforms,…

Donation 101: Donating items to the Air Force Museum Collection

By Emma Johnson | 01/08/2018

Have you ever considered donating an item to the Air Force Museum?  Donating to the Museum is a rewarding experience for many people, but did you know it’s a legal transaction? When someone donates an item to the Museum, a change of ownership is required. It’s a relatively straightforward process, but not quite as simple…

Education in an ejector seat

By Chris Davey | 30/07/2018

Although the Air Force Museum of New Zealand is best known for our military aircraft collection, we are not just about aeroplanes. Your students could be learning in a real life raft, or be educated in an ejector seat!  Located on the former air base at Wigram, Christchurch we invite our visitors to discover the…

More than a library

By Louisa Hormann | 12/07/2018

In the latest From the Reading Room blog, join us for a behind the scenes look at the Air Force Museum’s research facility, learn about its history, and find out how our archive is used by staff and researchers alike.   Holding what is probably the largest collection of First World War aviation books in…

Military Chocolate

By Murray McGuigan | 07/07/2018

Rations – ‘Military Chocolate’. From the Collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand. With fat and sugar delivering caloric clout, and cocoa solids bringing caffeine – and alertness – to the party, it’s no wonder that chocolate (or sometimes just cocoa) has long been a staple of military ration packs – including those…

Women at War by D.O.W. Hall

By Louisa Hormann | 19/06/2018

This year’s 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Aotearoa has got us thinking about the influence gender equality has had on women serving in the New Zealand Armed Forces. Louisa Hormann of the Research Team discusses Women at War by D.O.W. Hall, and military roles for women in wartime New Zealand. New Zealand in the…

RAF Centenary Air Show

By Simon Moody | 13/06/2018

On Sunday 10 June, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand attended an air show overseas for the very first time as exhibitors, as part of the RAF Centenary Air Show at RAF Cosford in England. We travelled all the way to the other side of the world courtesy of our friends at No. 40…

Electric Clothing

By Murray McGuigan | 11/06/2018

Late autumn; when leaves that were recently picture-perfect are clogging every drain in sight, and you’re forced to walk through small lakes that form around them. It’s the time of year when you quickly remember that damp footwear brings a misery all of its own – sure, you’re not going to get Trench Foot in…

Wartime Knitting Revived

By Michelle Sim | 06/06/2018

When Christchurch City Librarian Kat Moody was looking for inspiration after taking up knitting again, her husband knew just where to look. Simon, who happens to be the Research Curator here at the Air Force Museum, retrieved some World War Two ‘comforts’ patterns from our archives, and took some copies for her. Having seen such…

Everest Flight, 1945: a New Zealand pilot and the new route up Everest

By Louisa Hormann | 30/05/2018

Our Research Team receive all kinds of public enquiries, and the questions we’re asked can lead us on some interesting paths – and even on mountain treks! This is the story of a Kiwi airman whose wartime reconnaissance photographs helped develop the safer, second route to the summit of Mount Everest. RAF photographic reconnaissance Mosquito…

Hudson under attack

By Matthew O'Sullivan | 27/04/2018

No. 3 Squadron was involved in an epic struggle for life over the Pacific Ocean just four days after arriving on Guadalcanal in 1942. Flying Officer George Gudsell was captain of a Hudson on patrol when he spotted a Japanese naval task force south of Vella Lavella Island (Solomon Is.). When he flew closer to…

Anzac Day Over the Decades

By Air Force Museum | 24/04/2018

Since Anzac Day was marked for the first time in 1916, Kiwis and Australians around the world have gathered to reflect on New Zealand and Australia’s national day of remembrance. The day holds special significance, because it is an opportunity to remember and honour the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before us. The Museum archives unit documents how…

Military Headgear Conservation

By Murray McGuigan | 23/04/2018

Headgear, usually in the form of hats, helmets or headdresses, has long been part of military dress, fulfilling roles of protection, insulation, identification and decoration. For civilians too, the wearing of hats in public was practically ubiquitous until well into the 20th Century, and hatters and milliners did a brisk trade. As a result, headgear…

Kiwis in Combat – Flying the Meteor with the Australians in Korea

By Simon Moody | 23/04/2018

This is the story of two New Zealanders and one epic battle they fought alongside Australian pilots in true ANZAC spirit. In 1950, the Cold War heated up when conflict between North and South Korea brought the United Nations (UN) into the struggle. China later joined the war in support of the faltering North Koreans.…

I Would Not Step Back by Hilary Pedersen and associated writers

By Louisa Hormann | 20/04/2018

“I Would Not Step Back…” by Hilary Pedersen et al., Phil Lamason Heritage Centre Trust (Dannevirke) 2017. ‘The wagon was jammed with 96 men, a number which,  in the height of summer, and the only ventilation about a 2sq foot window, appeared disastrous. But I managed to exert some authority, and like a chess board…

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