Classic Aircrafts will fly over Mount Maunganui this weekend to commemorate the 135 New Zealanders who fought in the Battle of Britain.

Sunday, September 16, marks the 78th anniversary of the battle and members of the Royal NZ Air Force Association, city leaders, and the public will gather at Classic Flyers Museum for the commemoration service.

Royal NZ Air Force Association vice-president Lee White said the service would be about remembering the grandfathers and fathers who fought in the battle, and what they did for our country.

White said the Battle of Britain referred to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940.

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"The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by the air forces as well as being the largest and most sustained aerial bombing campaign to that date," he said.

White said the objective of the Nazi German forces was to achieve air superiority over the Royal Air Force, especially its Fighter Command.

"In all, 520 men were killed serving with Fighter Command but with more than 700 fatalities during the period of the battle, Bomber Command suffered even more heavily. Another 200 men were killed flying with Coastal Command."

White said the Royal Air Force Fighter Command was the third largest national group of pilots and 135 New Zealanders served in this command during the Battle of Britain and 20 lost their lives.

"Another 29 New Zealanders died serving in Bomber Command and eight in Coastal Command. In all, 57 New Zealand airman died during the course of this battle."

The service would be about remembering those men, White said.

Guest speakers for the service include Royal NZ Air Force Base Auckland, Squadron Leader Greg Pryce, Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller and Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless.

The service:
What: Commemoration of the 78th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
When: Sunday, September 16 at 10am
Where: Classic Flyers Museum