Geoffrey Bryson Fisken was born in Gisborne on February 17th, 1916, the son of a station-owner.  During the thirties he learned to fly in a DH60 Gypsy Moth.

In 1939 Fisken was working for a farmer in Masterton and on the outbreak of war, he volunteered for flying duties.  As his job was a reserved occupation, he was not released until early 1940 by his employer for service in the RNZAF. 
After completing his flying training at Bell Block, New Plymouth, and at Ohakea,  he passed out in January 1941 as a Sergeant Pilot.

Malaya / Burma / Singapore  February 1941 - February 1942

In February 1941 he was posted to Singapore, where he was attached to the RAAF at Sembawang for a conversion course on to Wirraways, and then on to Buffalos. 
Two RAF squadrons, 67 and 243, were in the process of being formed at Kallang,  and Fisken was posted there.  These embryo squadrons had only a few pilots (mostly New Zealanders, with RAF Commanders) and did not form into separate units until more personnel had arrived from New Zealand where they were in training. 
In October 1941, Fisken was moved to Mingaladon, in Burma, with 67 Squadron but returned a few days later to Kallang to serve with 243.

After the Japanese invaded Malaya on December 8th, 1941, the squadron was quickly into action. Fiskens' aircraft was a Brewster B339E Buffalo serialed W8147 and coded WP- O .

One Ki-27 claimed on January 12th, 1942. 
One 'Zero' claimed on  January 14th, but aircraft damaged when the Japanese plane exploded underneath. W8147 apparently was not badly damaged, as Fisken flew it again on  January 17th when he claimed a G3M, and shared in the destruction of a further two G3M's. 
On  January 21st, again flying W8147, he claimed another 'Zero'. 
(W8147 was shot down later on the same day when being flown by another pilot, Sgt. Victor Arthur).

By the end of January, 243 Squadron had virtually ceased to exist as a unit due to severe losses, and the surviving pilots, Fisken amongst them, took their aircraft and attached themselves to 453 (RAAF) Squadron. 
On  February 1st he claimed a 'Zero' while flying W8237. 
On  February 6th, he claimed a further 'Zero' while flying W8143, but was wounded in the arm and leg during this action, and soon after was evacuated from Singapore.

Note: In this theatre, almost all aircraft claimed as 'Zeros' were in fact Imperial Japanese Army Ki43 'Oscars'.

(453 Squadron retired to Batavia in Java, in February 1942, and the remaining personnel eventually reached Australia, disbanding on arrival at Adelaide on March 15)





W 8147 from a painting by Chris Thomas on the cover of 'Bloody Shambles' Volume 1.


Colours were standard RAF Dark Earth/Dark Green over Sky.  Squadron codes were Light Grey, with a Sky fuselage band.  Serials were Black. 

All roundels were standard RAF types, 'A1'  type on the fuselage, 'B' type on the upper wings, and 'A' type on the wing under surfaces.   Many of these Singapore based Buffalos had the wing under surfaces painted in a half Matt Black/Sky scheme, but I can't confirm whether Fisken's a/c had this scheme.

Pacific - April 1943 - December 1943

In late March, with other Kiwi pilot survivors from 243 and 488 Squadrons, Fisken returned to New Zealand.  After a short stay at Wigram in Christchurch,  he was posted to Ohakea. 
Fisken along with some of the other pilots who had flown in Singapore and Malaya, were to provide a nucleus for the formation of 14 Squadron, the first New Zealand fighter squadron to be formed for service in the Pacific theatre. The squadron's first Commanding Officer was Squadron Leader John Mackenzie DFC who had served in the RAF.  At this time, Fisken was commissioned as a Pilot Officer.

14 Squadron then moved to Masterton and trained on Harvards before receiving its Kittyhawks.
In April 1943 the squadron was posted to Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. 
It moved to Guadalcanal on June 11th, and the next day, on its first combat mission, shot down six enemy aircraft,  of which two 'Zeros' were destroyed by Fisken. Whilst patrolling over Rendova on July 4th he claimed another two 'Zeros' and a G4M 'Betty' bomber.

In September 1943 Fisken was awarded the DFC. He was then invalided out of the RNZAF in December due to the wounds he had received in Singapore. 
He returned to farming, and still lives in the lower North Island area.

Fisken was the top scoring Commonwealth pilot against the Japanese,  with his final tally of eleven aircraft destroyed and another five probably destroyed

NOTE: This text has been adapted from the notes on Geoff Fisken at the NZ Fighter Pilots Museum Web site:
and from 'Bloody Shambles'Volume 1 by Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Yasuho Izawa.



Flying Officer Geoff Fisken with NZ3072  at Guadalcanal, in 1943. Note: The RNZAF pilots used mostly American flying gear, but with the British 'Mae West' life jacket



Geoff Fisken photographed alongside the cowl of NZ3072.  The cats' outline was apparently added with chalk to enhance it for the photo.  11 victory flags appeared on the cowl, port side only. The cat and number '19' appeared on both sides




Another often published shot of Geoff and the Cat



14 Fighter Squadron personnel, Guadalcanal, June/July 1943. Geoff Fisken circled.  Note mixture of RAF and U.S. uniforms





NZ3072 arrived by ship at Auckland, and was assembled and test flown at Hobsonville in March 1943. It suffered minor damage at New Caledonia on the ferry flight north, and was repaired by the local U.S.Army Air Service Command Corps unit. 
Before handing back the aircraft to the New Zealanders, they had painted their unit emblem of a black tomcat on the cowlings. 

Geoff Fisken had been allocated this aircraft as at this time, the squadrons and pilots 'owned' their individual aircraft. It had been decided to leave the markings on, and as many in the Squadron came from the Wairarapa area in the lower North Island of New Zealand, it was dubbed  the 'Wairarapa Wildcat'. Fisken's six victory flags scored in the defence of Malaya were added to the port cowl, to which were added a further five he scored with 14 Squadron during their first tour.

After 14 Squadron, NZ3072 flew operationally with several others, surviving an encounter with a water tanker when landing at Segi (on the eastern end of New Georgia Island) as recounted below:

"31st August, we returned to Segi. Maurice was in good spirits, having completely recovered from the dusting the Japs had given him over Kahili on the 26th. We came into land and headed for our revetment expecting to find the taxi ways clear of any thing other than aircraft, but no system is perfect. 
Swinging into the parking area Maurice collided with a water tanker that wasn't supposed to be there. The tanker was damaged, so was the plane, it suffered a bent propeller and dented nose cowlings and Maurice received a cut to his nose and one eye. It so happened that the aircraft Morrie was driving was the 'Wairarapa Wild Cat', a P-40 adopted by F/O G B Fisken, the highest scoring RNZAF pilot in the Pacific with 11 Japanese planes to his credit. Eleven flags were painted on the side of his aeroplane and, in front of those, on the nose cowl, was depicted an angry cat, back arched, tail erect with the words 'Wairarapa Wild Cat' written across the top. 
Morrie was a little upset by this incident, not so much for the plane, his sympathy was for the cat which was pretty badly hurt. He flew back to Guadalcanal in a C-47 for treatment and a replacement P-40." 
(Maurice was Sergeant Maurice E Willis of 16 Squadron).

An extract from 'Kittyhawks and Coconuts' by Keith Mulligan, who flew three tours with 16 Squadron.

NZ3072 survived its tours of duty, and ended up back in NZ in early 1944 where it was used for training at Ardmore near Auckland, and at Ohakea . It also managed to survive a mid air collision, and the attentions of trainee pilots:

"The aircraft was involved in a formation change while flying at 700 feet. During the change, NZ3112 (Sgt Tirikatane) overshot, passing underneath NZ3072. 
The tail unit struck the starboard aileron and underside of the starboard wing of NZ3072.   NZ3112 dived sharply out of control and hit the ground. The aircraft was destroyed and Sgt. Tirikatane killed. NZ3072 remained under control and the pilot, Sgt H.W. Walker, returned to base and made a successful landing. This aircraft required major repairs".

An extract from the official report after a collision at 4(OTU), Ardmore, Auckland on 6th June, 1944. 

"Many of the Kittyhawks/Warhawks on our flightline at Ohakea had seen active service in the Solomons and Rabaul, New Britain - One of the most illustrious was NZ 3072 which had been flown by F/0 G.B. Fisken, but its name "Wairarapa Wildcat" and Japanese flags had been painted over when we flew it. However, some P- 40s still displayed their victory flags, and one had two Japanese and one New Zealand flag painted on it - the latter probably from a collision! 

Ohakea was an extremely busy station with two Fighter and one Bomber OTU's operating simultaneously, and on visiting the Control Tower I was told that there were approximately 1,100 takeoffs and landings per day! 

I flew NZ3072 on three successive, days doing aerobatics and formation flying." 


An extract from 'Pacific Scrapbook 1943-1947' by Bryan Cox.  (He also has an entry in his log book for NZ3060)

NZ3072 was unfortunately scrapped along with most of our lend/lease aircraft in 1947/48.






NZ3072 taxies out at Kukum Field, Guadalcanal, June/July 1943.  The black cat can just be seen behind the '19'.   Also note the amount of dust being stirred up!



P-40s' of 14 Squadron taxi out at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, 1943. 
The second aircraft is the 'Wairarapa Wildcat', NZ3072.



NZ3072 closest to camera - Note position of ID bands.



P-40K-15 NZ3060



This aircraft has not been well publicised, but Geoff Fisken scored three of his Pacific victories while flying NZ3060 on the 4th of July, 1943.

A P-40K-15, NZ3060 was assembled and test flown at Hobsonville in January 1943, and survived its tours of duty to be scrapped in New Zealand after the war.

(I wish to thank Jonathan Strickland from the USA for informing me as to the existence of the photographs reproduced below.  P.M.)




An enlargement taken from the photo below shows NZ3060 in close up.
Colours are Dark Earth/Dark Green and Pale Blue.  Blue/White/Blue RNZAF roundels on wings, modified type 'A' on fuselage.  Note rough masking on white ID bands.
Camo scheme appears to be mirror type, which was not normally applied by the Curtiss factory!



A line up of 14 Squadron P-40's taxiing out at the start of a mission. The leading aircraft is NZ3060 '9', while that at the far right is NZ3072 '19', the 'Wairarapa Wildcat'


Copyright: All photographs used on these pages are the property of the RNZAF Museum. 
I thank Matthew O'Sullivan from the Museum for the prints used, and the Museum for permission to reproduce them. 

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