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No.485 (NZ) Squadron 1941-1945

No.485 (NZ) Squadron 1941-1945 Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2008 Title No.485 (NZ) Squadron 1941-1945
Author Jiri Raylich & Phil Listemann Publisher Philedition
Published 2007 ISBN 978-295-26-3810-4
Format 90 pages, softbound MSRP (Euro) 18€

Review

Phil Listemann is a publisher from southwestern France that specializes in interesting historical monographs examining individual RAF squadrons during World War II. These titles are extremely well done and come from a direction that is overlooked by similar publishers these days, from the aspect of the people involved.

In this title, the authors take a look at 485 Sqn, one of the Article XV squadrons that were formed from Commonwealth members, with the block of squadrons starting with 485 allocated to the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

The squadron came online in 1941 with tired Spitfire Mk.Is and as crews came up to speed, were transitioned into the Mk.II. Serving initially in 13 Group, 485 Sqn conducted fighter sweeps over the northern waterways to protect allied shipping from Luftwaffe interdiction attacks. During this time, the folks back home (in New Zealand) raised an impressive £126,000 Sterling to buy their national squadron new Spitfires. More than 20 aircraft were acquired and delivered to 485 Sqn with the funds.

485 Sqn would remain in the UK and move onto the continent to stay enagaged against Germany. After VE day,

485 Sqn

So what is different about this title? Of the 90 pages, only 31 are taken to describe the history and highlights of the units operations during the war. Most other titles focus on this aspect of the unit's history. The remaining pages are detailed appendices:

  • Three pages summarizing the history of the squadron, its commanders, its operational losses in aircraft and men, its major awards, and its organizational assignments
  • One page listing the known registration numbers assigned to a particular aircraft code letter
  • Three pages listing the bases assigned and durations of those assignments
  • Five pages of sortie counts by day throughout the war
  • Three pages of confirmed and probable kills listing date, pilot, aircraft serial, and victim aircraft
  • Two pages of operational losses listing date, pilot, aircraft serial, and his fate
  • One page of aircraft lost in training accidents
  • One page listing the pilots who lost their lives during their assignment to 485 Sqn
  • One page listing the pilots who became POWs
  • 29 pages listing each member of 485 Sqn and where known, their previous assignment, their follow-on assignment, their fate, their awards, and key aspects of their time in the squadron
  • Two pages detailing the senior officers that commanded the groups that 485 Sqn was assigned

The title is well illustrated with color profiles of representative aircraft from the squadron, photos of many of the pilots and men assigned to 485 Sqn, as well as period photographs of squadron aircraft.

Where most publishers will focus on the history of the unit and try to animate that history through 'war stories' from eyewitnesses, this title goes straight to the heart of any combat unit and provides a roll call and summary of each pilot who served.

The format of this title is very well done and I wish that others would likewise go back to many of the famous squadrons of the war and look at the men behind the exploits. Where some historians and modelers are inspired by flashy nose art, many more are inspired by the men themselves and here is an excellent tool to find out about virtually any pilot who flew with 485 Sqn.

This title is highly recommended and I certainly hope to see many more in this format in the future!

My sincere thanks to Phil H. Listemann for the review sample.

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