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No. 490 (NZ) Squadron RAF
Active 28 March 1943 – 1 August 1945
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Allegiance  New Zealand
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Maritime Reconnaissance
Motto(s) Māori: Taniwha kei runga
(Translation: "The Taniwha is in the air")[1][2]
Squadron Badge An arm couped below the elbow, holding in the hand a Patu[1][2]
Aircraft flown
Reconnaissance Consolidated Catalina
Twin-engined flying boat;
Short Sunderland
Four-engined flying boat

490 (NZ) Squadron was formed from pilots of the Royal New Zealand Air Force under RAF Coastal Command as an anti-submarine and reconnaissance unit.[1]


490 (NZ) Squadron Royal Air Force, was formed 28 March 1943 with Royal New Zealand Air Force aircrew at Jui near Freetown in West Africa (present Sierra Leone)[1][2] under Wing Commander D.W. Baird. Equipped with PBY Catalinas, the squadron was tasked with maritime patrol and search and rescue. Its first operation was convoy escort on 2 July 1943. In August the squadron rescued its first seamen, and damaged its first U-boat.

Wing Commander B.S. Nicholl took over in November 1943 and oversaw re-equipment with Short Sunderlands in May of the following year. Wing Commander T.S. Gill was its last commander, taking over in October 1944. The squadron flew its last operation on 6 May 1945, and when it became obvious that 490 would not be needed in Japan, the squadron was disbanded on 1 August 1945.[2]

Of all New Zealand squadrons of the RAF, 490 saw least action, but nonetheless flew 463 operational sorties, totalling 4853 hours. One Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded.[3]

The squadron's Māori motto was "Taniwha kei runga" which translates as "Taniwha in the air". Taniwha are mythical intelligent monsters in Māori legend, occasionally but not particularly accurately translated as "dragons". They are often associated with water, but a flying taniwha is relatively unusual.

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 490 Squadron RNZAF, data from[1][2][4]
From To Aircraft Version
June 1943 July 1944 Consolidated Catalina Mk.Ib
May 1944 August 1945 Short Sunderland Mk.III

Commanding officers

Officers commanding no. 490 Squadron RNZAF, data from[1][3]
From To Name
June 1943 December 1943 W/Cdr. D.W. Baird, DFC
December 1943 October 1944 W/Cdr. B.S. Nicholl
October 1944 August 1945 W/Cdr. T.F. Gill

Squadron bases

Bases and flying boat stations used by no. 490 Squadron RNZAF, data from[1][5]
From To Base Remark
28 March 1943 1 August 1945 Jui, Sierra Leone
28 March 1943 June 1943 RAF Stranraer Detachment[4]
June 1943 1 August 1945 Fishermans Lake, Liberia Detachment
June 1943 1 August 1945 Apapa, Nigeria Detachment
June 1943 1 August 1945 Abidjan, Ivory Coast Detachment[4]
June 1943 1 August 1945 Bathurst/Half Die, Gambia Detachment[4]

See also




  • 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. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
Official New Zealand History (available online)

External links

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