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486 (NZ) Squadron RAF
Active 7 March 1942 - 12 October 1945
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Allegiance  New Zealand
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Fighter
Motto Māori: Hiwa hau Maka
("Beware of the Wild Winds")
Aircraft Hurricane, Typhoon, Tempest
Squadron Badge A Kea volant
Squadron Codes SA (Mar 1942 - Sep 1945)[1][2]

486 (NZ) Squadron was a fighter squadron of the Second World War manned by New Zealand pilots, trained mostly under the Empire Air Training Scheme, but operationally controlled in Europe by the Royal Air Force.





486 (NZ) Squadron came about because of the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) which was created by the promulgatation of Article XV on 19 December 1939. The article provided for the formation of Commonwealth squadrons within the RAF. On 17 April 1941 a further agreement was negotiated allowing for six New Zealand Squadrons to be formed: Numbers 485 to 490 These units were manned and (mostly) commanded by New Zealanders trained under the EATS, although this didn't preclude other nationalities from being members. Administratively the "Article XV squadrons" were an integral part of the RAF, with all command appointments being made by the RAF. Other Dominion or Commonwealth countries involved were Australia and Canada, Rhodesia and South Africa.[3]

By the end of the war nearly 50% of 486(NZ) Squadron's personnel were non-New Zealanders; for example F. Philip "Joe" Kendall, a British national and a highly regarded member of the unit served with the squadron from March to July 1945. Two of 486's commanding officers, Squadron Leaders Roberts (March 1942 - April 1943) and Iremonger (January 1944 - December 1944) were also British.

Hurricane night fighter pilots of the squadron at RAF Wittering in 1942

Night fighting with the Hawker Hurricane

The squadron formed on 7 March 1942, initially at RAF Kirton in Lindsey[4], Lincolnshire, as part of RAF Fighter Command and equipped with Hawker Hurricane IIs. For a while 486 Sqn. was a nightfighter unit tasked with working in conjunction with 1453 Turbinlite Flight. The squadron was re-equipped with Hawker Typhoons starting in July 1942.

Standing patrols with the Hawker Typhoon

Hawker Typhoon flown by P/O Frank "Spud" Murphy (four Typhoon victories)[5]. In 1944, Murphy became a test pilot (later chief test pilot) for Hawker.

After some continued experiments with the Turbinlites, In September 1942 486 became a day fighter unit flying standing patrols.[6][7 ] Standing patrol missions ('anti-Rhubarbs') were meant to counter The Fw 190 and Bf 109 fighter bombers that flew at high speed and very low altitude. Because of this there was often very little radar warning. To counter such attacks Typhoon squadrons kept at least one pair of aircraft flying continuously, with another pair "on readiness" (in the cockpit and ready to take off within two minutes) to relieve them, throughout daylight hours. 486 Sqn. Typhoons usually flew at 500 feet or lower, still giving them enough height to spot and attack incoming enemy aircraft to counter the low altitude Fw 190 and Bf 109 fighter bombers, a role for which the fast, powerful Typhoon was well suited[7 ]. While flying patrols over the South coast against these 'nuisance' raids in early 1943, the squadron shot down 11 fighter-bombers in 2 months. Other enemy aircraft encountered and shot down included Do 217 night bombers engaged in mine laying missions.[8 ][9][10]

From June 1943, 486 Sqn. flew mainly as a fighter bomber unit. In September 1943, with 197 Sqn 486 Sqn became part of the Tangmere Hawker Typhoon Wing commanded by Wing Commander D J Scott.[11] As a fighter bomber unit 486's targets included shipping and airfields, and an attack on one of Hitler's secret weapons, the Vergeltungswaffe V3 long range multi-barrel gun. Several escort missions were also provided for RAF light and medium day bombers (Havoc and Mitchell). While mounted on Typhoons 486 Sqn claimed 22.3 enemy aircraft shot down.[8 ][12]

Hawker Tempest

Tempest V Series 1 JN766 of 486 Sqn. April 1944. Pilot may be Flt Lt. William Miller of Invercargill.

Re-equipped with Hawker Tempests, initially in January - February 1944[13], and later again in April. Although 486 Sqn was the first unit to receive Tempests, 3 Squadron was the first unit fully equipped. The unit was changed back to fighter defence after D-Day and claimed 223½ V-1 flying bombs, the second highest number of any unit. At the end of April 1944 the 486 squadron became part of 150 Wing, along with 3 Squadron and 56 Squadron. (the latter still equipped with Spitfire VBs and, later, Hawker Typhoons), under the command of Wing Commander Roland Beamont.[14] Beamont wrote about 486 Sqn.

" exuberant bunch of New Zealanders with a brilliant record on Typhoons and a rather casual approach (as I was soon to find out) to King's Regulations and Air Council instructions - and to "Pommy Bastard" wing leaders!" [15]

Apart from the anti-Diver (V-1) operations, 150 Wing undertook several night-time, as well as the more usual daytime, ground attack sorties.

On 28 September 1944 with the V-1 threat over, 150 Wing became 122 Hawker Tempest Wing, trading places with three Mustang III squadrons.[16][17] Later additions to 122 Wing included 80 Squadronn. and 274 Squadron.; 41 Squadron., a Grffon engine Spitfire XIV unit was also a part of the Wing, providing high altitude cover. 122 Wing was attached to the Second Tactical Air Force, and moved through Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Denmark. The wing's role was low-medium altitude fighter operations, although many ground attack missions were also undertaken.(NB: few Tempests carried bombs; ground attack operations mainly involved strafing with the Tempest's four Hispano 20mm cannon.) During these operations German light and medium Flak took a steady toll of Tempest units. 486 lost two C/O's, Arthur E Umbers and Keith G Taylor-Cannon to flak in the last few months of the war.[18]

Soon after the war ended 486 Squadron left 122 Wing and was posted to moved to Kastrup,[19] Denmark. This was considered to be a "perk job" and the personnel of 486 were given an opportunity to unwind and relax, with each pilot being expected to log four hours of Tempest flying per month.[20] On 1 July 1945 the squadron took part in an air display and airfield open day which was attended by the Danish Royal Family and some 300,000 Danes. One of the attractions was the strafing and sinking of old Luftwaffe Bv 138 flying boats anchored in Øresund Strait.[21]

486 (NZ) Squadron in June 1945, Kastrup, Denmark.

The squadron was disbanded on 12 October 1945 at RAF Dunsfold, England.[4][22]

486 Squadron Record

486 squadron flew over 11,000 sorties claimed 81 enemy aircraft, (including two Messerschmitt 262 jets) and destroyed 223½ (or 241) V-1 "flying bombs"[23], 323 motor vehicles, 14 railway engines and 16 ships.[24] Pilots attached to the squadron won 22 DFCs,a DSO and six Mentioned in Dispatches.[25] While mounted on Tempests 486 Sqn claimed 59.5 enemy aircraft shot down; first place for Tempest victories. 56 Sqn. was second with 59.2.[26]

Aircraft Operated

From To Aircraft Version
March 1942 April 1942 Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
March 1942 August 1942 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIA, IIB
July 1942 April 1944 Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB
January 1944 February 1944 Hawker Tempest Mk.V
April 1944 September 1945 Hawker Tempest Mk.V


Surviving aircraft

A Hawker Tempest Mk.V used by the squadron, "SA-I", EJ693 is being restored by Kermit Weeks in Florida[29].

Commanding Officers

From To Name
3 March 1942 1 April 1943 S/Ldr. C.L.C. Roberts
1 April 1943 25 September 1943 S/Ldr. D.J. Scott, DFC and Bar
25 September 1943 7 January 1944 S/Ldr. I.D. Waddy, DFC
7 January 1944 11 December 1944 S/Ldr. J.H. Iremonger, DFC.
11 December 1944 14 February 1945 S/Ldr. A.E. Umbers, DFC and Bar. KIA: 14/2/45
15 February 1945 13 April 1945 S/Ldr. K.G. Taylor-Cannon, DFC. KIA: 13/4/45
21 April 1945 1 May 1945 S/Ldr. W.E. Schrader, DFC.
2 May 1945 12 October 1945 S/Ldr. C.J. Sheddan, DFC.


A note on New Zealand Squadrons in the RAF

It is now largely accepted that the seven World War II squadrons of the Royal Air Force manned by New Zealanders are recorded by a formulation such as 486 (NZ) Squadron RAF. However some authors (e.g. Bill Gunston) have used a formulation like 486 squadron RNZAF. Some claim the latter is misleading. RNZAF units were a separate entity, formed and controlled entirely by the RNZAF; all RNZAF units operated in the Pacific Theatre. An anomaly exists in that the official badges of the six New Zealand units reads (eg:) "486 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force".[4][33] However, as Gerard S Morris explains:

Interestingly, this carried over into the naming of the six New Zealand squadrons...It was impractical, for operational and administrative reasons to establish and maintain RNZAF squadrons in Britain. So, although the squadron badges carried the name Royal New Zealand Air Force, the squadrons were in fact receiving their pay cheques from the British government and official records such as the Operations Record Book acknowledged this. For example, 485 Squadron was referred to infomally as 485 (New Zealand) or 485 (NZ) and never as 485 Squadron, RNZAF.(italics added)[34]

On 19 December 1939 Article XV was promulgated, creating the Empire Air Training Scheme. Under this article provision was made for the formation of Commonwealth squadrons within the RAF. On 17 April 1941 a further agreement was negotiated allowing for six New Zealand Squadrons to be formed: 485 Sqn., 486 Sqn., 487 Sqn., 488 Sqn., 489 Sqn. and 490 Sqn. These units were manned and (mostly) commanded by New Zealanders trained under the EATS. provisions, although this didn't preclude other nationalities from being members. Administratively the "Article XV squadrons" were an integral part of the RAF, with all command appointments being made by the RAF. Other Dominion or Commonwealth countries involved were Australia and Canada, along with Rhodesia and South Africa.

Many New Zealanders served with mainstream RAF squadrons and several were to become wing commanders and group captains. Two outstanding New Zealanders to play a vital role in the war, and two of the best commanders in aviation history were Sir Keith Park and Sir Arthur Coningham.

See also



  1. ^ Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 105.
  2. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 92.
  3. ^ Article XV
  4. ^ a b c d Halley 1988, p. 530.
  5. ^ Thomas 1999, p. 86.
  6. ^ Sortehaug 1998, p.32.
  7. ^ a b Thomas and Shores 1988, p. 37.
  8. ^ a b Sortehaug 1998, pp.339-340.
  9. ^ In April 1943 F/L A.O Moffet of the RAE Farnborough was attached to the unit in response to complaints about the overheated cockpits of the Typhoons. For a fortnight "Moff" flew operationally with the unit: his report can be found in That Nothing Failed Them. His tests showed that the cockpit temperatures could reach 135 degrees F (57 °C).
  10. ^ Wheeler 1963.
  11. ^ Desmond ScottNote: Desmond J. Scott OBE, DSO, DFC and Bar. Commanding officer of 486 Squadron 1 March 43 - 25 September 43. Awarded DSO 22 August 43. Promoted to Wing Commander 25 September 43 and became Wing Leader of Tangmere Hawker Typhoon Wing (197 Squadron. and 486 Sqn.). Promoted to Group Captain and C/O 123 Hawker Typhoon Wing 3/44 - 2/45. (123 Wing during Scott's command was made up of 198 Squadron., 609 Squadron, 164 Squadron. and 183 Squadron.).
  12. ^ Thomas and Shores 1988, p. 193: "Breakdown of Claims by Unit and Type: Typhoons".
  13. ^ Rawlings 1978, p. 451.
  14. ^ Sortehaug 1998, p.145.
  15. ^ Beamont Tempest Summer: Part 1, p.21.
  16. ^ Sortehaug 1998, p.177
  17. ^ Thomas and Shores 1988, p. 180.
  18. ^ Sortehaug 1998, pp.218-219, 242-243, 334.
  19. ^ Kastrup Region
  20. ^ Sortehaug 1998, pp.281-283.
  21. ^ Sortehaug 1998, pp.289-290
  22. ^ Sortehaug 1998, p.296.
  23. ^ Note: Although 486 Sqn pilots claimed 241 V-1s, RAF authorities reduced this to 223½; in spite of this the individual pilot's scores remained unaltered, as did the squadron scoreboard. Sortehaug 1998, pp.172-173.
  24. ^ Sortehaug 1998, pp.338-352
  25. ^ Sortehaug 1998, p.336.
  26. ^ Thomas and Shores 1988, p. 193: "Breakdown of Claims by Unit and Type: Tempests".
  27. ^ Rawlings 1978, pp. 451-452.
  28. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 95.
  29. ^ Kermit Weeks
  30. ^ Sortehaug 1998, p.337.
  31. ^ Rawlings 1978, p. 452.
  32. ^ New Zealand Electronic Text Centre
  33. ^ History of squadrons 485 till 490 on rafweb
  34. ^ Morris 2000, p.20.


Squadron History

  • Sortehaug, Paul. The Wild Winds, The History of Number 486 RNZAF Fighter Squadron with the RAF. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Print 1998. ISBN 1-877139-09-2.

Pilot Biographies

  • Scott, Desmond. Typhoon Pilot. London: Arrow Books Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-09-950700-5. Republished 1992, London: Leo Cooper, ISBN 0-43644-428-3.
  • Scott, Desmond. One More Hour. London: Arrow Books Ltd., 1989. ISBN 0-09-984440-0.
  • Sheddan, Cornelius James and Franks, Norman. Tempest Pilot. London: Grub Street Publishing, 1993. ISBN 1-90401-038-5.
  • Beamont, Roland. "Tempest Summer: part one". Aeroplane Monthly, Volume 20, Number 6, Issue No. 230, June 1992.

Hawker Typhoon and Hawker Tempest

  • Thomas, Chris. Typhoon and Tempest Aces of World War 2. London: Osprey Aerospace, 1999. ISBN 1-85532-779-1.
  • Thomas, Chris and Shores, Christopher. The Typhoon and Tempest Story. London: Arms and Armour Press., 1988. ISBN 0-85368-878-6.

Other Books cited in text

  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937-56. Bar Hill, Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Morris, Gerard S. Spitfire, the New Zealand Story. Auckland, New Zealand: Reed Books, 2000. ISBN 0-7900-0696-0.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Wheeler, Air Commodore Allen. That Nothing Failed Them. London: G.T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 1963. ISBN N/A
Official New Zealand History (available online; see "External Links")
  • Thompson, Wing Commander H.L. New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force (Vol I): European Theatre September 1939-December 1942. Wellington, New Zealand: War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1953. ISBN N/A
  • Thompson, Wing Commander H.L. New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force (Vol II): European Theatre January 1943-December 1945. Wellington, New Zealand: War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1956. ISBN N/A

External links


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