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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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Ohakea HQ
75 Squadron Vampire FB.52 NZ5738 Fl/Lt. Thomas Robin Rabone AFC

Operation: Air-to-ground firing

Date: 08th June 1954 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 75 Squadron (motto: Ake ake kia kaha - 'For ever and ever be strong')

Type: Vampire FB.52

Serial: NZ5738

Code: -

Base: RNZAF Ohakea

Location: Raumai Bombing Range

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Thomas Robin Rabone AFC. NZ/72878 RNZAF Age 32. Killed


During air-to-ground firing practice NZ5738 pulled up sharply out of a 20° dive in turn to port after its first attack on No. 4 target.

The Vampire stalled and flicked to port as the result of you rapid a change of altitude. The pilot partially recovered but flicked again to port and hit the side of a sandhill. The aircraft exploded on impact killing the experienced pilot.

Above and below his fonera; at Palmerston North. (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

AFC Citation - 01st June 1953:

14 Squadron RNZAF (Vampire) Flight Lieutenant Thomas Robin Rabone has served vith RNZAF fighter squadrons in the Pacific area during 1939/1945 and followed this by completing a tour with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan with No 14 squadron as weapons officer. Upon his release from the Service in 1947 he obtained an MSc degree and rejoined the RNZAF in Wigram whilst a flying instructor he voluntarily made speciaI study of air weapons work and the success of weapons courses held at Wigram together with the high standard of student results was attributable to the great effort, enthusiasm and energy he displayed. At present as senior flight commander on No 14 Squadron (in Cyprus) he has largely been carrying out the work of three officers duties, of both flight commanders and Pilot Attack Instructor, which duties he has not only carried out faithfully and efficiently but to a degree beyond the normal call of duty. Credited with the shared destruction of a Japanese aircraft whilst serving with 17 Squdron RNZAF (Kittyhawk). Flew three tours in the S & SWPA's with the Squadron, the last on Corsairs.

Auckland Grammar School - The Rabone Prize for Senior Science was endowed by Mr and Mrs Thomas Cedric Victor Rabone in 1967, in memory of their two sons, Lieutenant Roger Joseph Samuel Rabone, NZFA, and Flight Lieutenant Thomas Robin Rabone, AFC, BSc, RNZAF. Roger died of wounds on the 25th October 1942 in Egypt in the North African Campaign, while Thomas survived the war but died on the 08th June 1954.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Thomas Robin Rabone. Kevin Grove Palmerston North Crematorium. Born on the 02nd June 1922 in Auckland. Enlisted RNZAF in Waipapakauri as Aircrafthand on the 24th October 1942. Re-must as Airman Pilot under training on 04th January 1943. With No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School 06th March 1943. No. 2 Service Flying Training School 01st May 1943. Pilot badge awarded on the 05th July 1943 and promoted to sergeant on the 28th August 1943. Levin on NCO course 10th September 1943. 2 Operational Training Unit 22nd September 1943.

Joined 17 squadron on the 29th October 1943 and left for Pacific 27th November 1943. With squadron to New Zealand on the 01st February 1944. Commissioned on the same day then to Pacific on the 03rd April 1944. With squadron to New Zealand on the 09th June 1944 and the returned to Pacific on the 08th August 1944. Returned to New Zealand on 03rd November 1944.

Attached to Corsair Conversion Unit as officer commanding as test pilot the 29th November 1944. Joined 25 squadron 20th August 1945. Joined 14 squadron 01st December 1945 and embarked to Japan 08th March 1946.Translated to reserve on the 29th March 1947. Re-enlisted at Wigram on the 04th January 1949. Various posting then with 75 squadron flying the Vampire 28th October 1953. A total of 2399 hrs solo with 421 on the Vampire. At the time of his accident he was on the strength of Ohakea Fighter Wing Headquarters.

Son of Thomas Cedric Victor (died 20th January 1970, age 78) and Margaret Melladew Rabone, (nèe Hignett - died 04th December 1977, age 86) of 20 Epsom Avenue, Auckland. Both buried at Purewa Cemetery in Auckland. Husband of Olive Francis Rabone (nèe Nicholson). Father of 1 son and 2 daughters, of Ohakea, New Zealand.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot, thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 16-09-2022

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