The P-40 Kittyhawk was the backbone of RNZAF fighter squadrons from 1942 to the middle of 1944 when they were replaced by Corsairs. 297 Kittyhawks equipped eight squadrons and two training units, Kittyhawks of various marks (E, K, M and N) were used to train fighter pilots at home in New Zealand and on operations in the South West Pacific during World War Two.

By the end of the War, there were only 124 Kittyhawks remaining, 20 having been lost in combat, 76 in accidents overseas and another 76 in accidents in New Zealand. During their time at the front, RNZAF Kittyhawks accounted for 99 Japanese aircraft destroyed in air combat, with a further 14 probables.