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New Zealand Fighter Squadron (1941 Footage)

Photo: A still from the newsreel showing 485 Squadron Spitfires taking off.


This newsreel footage from British Pathé shows the men of No.485 (NZ) Squadron RAF and their Spitfire Mk.IIs.

Formed in March 1941, 485 (NZ) Squadron was the first squadron from New Zealand formed under the Empire Air Training Scheme, and while it was administered by the RAF its pilots were primarily from the Royal New Zealand Air Force. As such, 845’s motto was Maori: Ka whawhai tonu (We will fight on).

Having completed its work up and training, 485 received its Spitfire Mk.IIs in June 1941 and soon moved to RAF Redhill. From here, the New Zealanders participated in a number of offensive missions such as ‘Circus’ operations the ill-fated and costly sorties in which the RAF used bombers a lure to draw Luftwaffe fighters up and into a large RAF escort force of fighters. Unfortunately, while 485 Squadron scored its first successes on these sorties, it also sustained its first losses. Flying over the channel and engaging the enemy over or near France, the RAF fighters were often at a disadvantage and short of fuel. Losses were severe.

No.485 Squadron began to equip with Spitfire Mk.Vbs from late summer 1941, but the squadron soon encountered the Focke Wulf Fw 190 and, like many other squadrons, found a tough opponent in the new German fighter.

From July 1943, the New Zealanders were re-equipped with the Spitfire Mk.IX. Unsurprisingly, the new variant was in high demand as it was much improved over the Mk.V Spitfire and could engage the Fw 190 on more equal terms. Flying the Mk.IX, 485 Squadron was involved in a number of actions again aimed at drawing up enemy fighters before switching role to that of escorting Allied bombers as they conducted preparatory raids ahead of the Normandy Invasion.

During invasion itself 485 helped sweep the sky of any Luftwaffe activity and patrolled over the beachhead part of a huge aerial armada of fighters and fighter-bombers covering the landings. The squadron claimed the first two German aircraft shot down on D-Day, and in total claimed nine enemy shot down in the week following the invasion.

A 485 Squadron aircraft flies low over a harbour. (Key Collection)

In July, shortly after deploying to bases in France, 485 Squadron became a fighter-bomber squadron and served in that role until the end of the war. From formation until disbandment in August 1946, the squadron flew 10,000 operational sorties and claimed 63 enemy aircraft shot down, as well as around 80 ground targets destroyed.

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