The nocturnal Kiwi ace

Andrew Thomas uncovers the night-fighting career of Flt Lt Ken ‘Chunky’ Stewart RNZAF

Known to his air force colleagues as ‘Chunky’ because of his solid frame and diminutive size, 5ft 2in Ken Stewart was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, on October 7, 1915. On leaving school he studied law and became a solicitor. In May 1941, aged 25, Ken enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and underwent basic flying training on North American Harvards and Airspeed Oxfords under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan at 1 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Wigram, near Christchurch. He had a lucky escape on September 21, when his Airspeed Oxford hit the slipstream of the aircraft landing ahead of him and side-slipped into the ground. Ken escaped serious injury and shortly after sailed for England.

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