New Zealand's military aircraft purchases, 1957 - 1981 : from the Canberra to the Boeing 727 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
This thesis will examine the factors that influenced New Zealand's military aircraft purchasing decisions between 1957 and 1981. This larger question gives rise to two lines of enquiry. Firstly, why did the New Zealand Government chose to equip particular roles? Secondly, why were the various aircraft types then chosen to fulfill these roles? This period encompasses the purchase of the Canberra, which was a significant episode in the history of the RNZAF's combat wing. It also includes the crucial re-equipment programme of the 1960s. The period ends with the purchase of the 727s, which was part of the adaptation to new defence commitments While a number of authors have commented on individual purchasing decisions, some have considered broader issues involved in military aircraft purchases. Foremost amongst these was David Filer, whose work dealt with the RNZAF during the period from 1946 to 1972. He stated that the most significant development in the RNZAF during the 1946-72 period was the selection the United States as a source of new aircraft.
1 David Filer, 'The New Zealand Armed Services: Their Development in Relation to Defence Policy', MA Thesis in Political Science, University of Canterbury 1979, p.110.
This was in contrast to the early post-war period when New Zealand had chosen to purchase from Britain. He suggested that the change towards American purchases was part of the Air Force's response to the general defence trend in the period away from ties with the United Kingdom and towards ties with the United States and Australia.
However, he acknowledged American dominance in military aircraft production and their willingness to provide credit facilities. Filer concluded that the RNZAF was altered more by this move from defence ties with Britain towards ties with the United States and Australia than by the switch from commitments in the Middle East to South-East Asia.
3 ibid., p.112 [From Introduction]