In the late 1970s the New Zealand Government identified the need to supplement No. 40 Squadron’s fleet of Lockheed Hercules with additional aircraft for long range transport operations.

In 1981 the purchase of three ex-United Airlines Boeing 727-100Cs was announced, and NZ7271 and NZ7272 went into service with No. 40 Squadron following extensive refurbishment. The third aircraft, NZ7273, was flown to Woodbourne and used for spares, before being written off in 1984.

NZ7271 and NZ7272 were based out of Whenuapai and provided good service for the RNZAF for 22 years, carrying freight and up to 126 passengers in combi configuration. They were replaced in 2003 by Boeing 757s.


NZ7272 is the only survivor of the RNZAF’s fleet.

The aircraft was manufactured by Boeing in 1968 and delivered to United Airlines later that year.

It was sold to the RNZAF in 1981 and arrived in New Zealand in July of that year to begin its career with No. 40 Squadron.

The aircraft flew regular shuttle services to Singapore, in support of the Army and RNZAF units based there. It also flew all around the Pacific, North America, and Britain as a VIP transport.

By the time it was retired from service in August 2003 NZ7272 had completed 46,216 flying hours, including 35,110 take-off and landing cycles.

Following its retirement in 2003 NZ7272 was used as a ground training aid by both the RNZAF and Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

In 2019 a decision was made to add the nose and forward cabin section of NZ7272, along with its main landing gear and its number 2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine, into the Museum’s collection.

NZ7272’s restored landing gear takes pride of place in the Museum’s main atrium, while its nose and forward cabin section are in storage. Its JT8D engine is in the reserve collection.