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RNZAF Bristol Blenheim Mk.I & Mk.IV

 
 

Bristol Blenheim IV P3845 XA-H of 489 Sqn RNZAF 1942  via David Burrowes

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  489 Squadron RNZAF was formed at Leuchars in Scotland on August 12, 1941.

The squadron was initially to equip with Beaufort I's and four aircraft were recived from August 1941 to January 1942 before being re-allocated to units in the Mediterranean Theatre. As a result, no further Beauforts were available for the Squadron to become fully operational on the type. As a consequence, 489 Squadron temporary converted to ex 143 Sqn Blenheim IVF's from January 1942 to March 1942 before converting to Hampden T.B.1's.

In February 1942 489 Sqn were prepared for their first operation on Blenheims and on 12 February 1942, six Blenheims were hastily bombed up and crews placed on immediate readiness for action during the “Channel Dash” breakout from Brest. Training had begun on The Blenheim aircraft and continued. The crews had to contend with indifferent weather and shortage of dual aircraft.

In March 1942 the squadron suffered a further setback early in March 1942 when it was moved from Leuchars, in Scotland, to Thorney Island in the south of England. At this time, 489 suffered their first New Zealand casualty.

On Sunday 8 Mar 1942, the Squadron moved to Thorney Island, Sussex (Leuchars, Fifeshire-16 Group). Blenheim IVF Z6342 - after a brief en route stop, took off from Worthy Down, Hampshire, at 1750 piloted by Fit Sgt Wilkinson. Z6342 immediately suffered an engine failure, stalled from about 100-150 feet while turning to starboard, crashed and burnt out. All three crew died, the wireless operator-air gunner being buried at West Thorney. WOpAG: NZ405506 Plt Off Cedric Hubert Owen PRIEST, RNZAF - Age 28.

Blenheim Mk.I L1371 also served with 488 Sqn, RNZAF.

 
     
 
RAF Serial Mark RNZAF Unit Code Aircraft History
L1371 Mk.I 488 Sqn ? 3 September 1940: 25 Squadron.
Damaged in attack by RAF Hurricane and made forced landing near North Weald, U.K.
Crew survived.
68 Sqn RAF
04/42 to 13/05/42 456 Sqn RAAF .
Loaned to 96 Sqn RAF then back to 456 Sqn RAAF 06/42 09/42,
September 1942 To 488 Sqn RNZAF as a training aircraft.
01 July 1943 SoC.
N3503? Mk.IV 489 Sqn XA-B Ex 143 Sqn Aircraft.
(Check Serial - N3503 is allocated to a Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I)

Bristol Blenheim IV N3503 XA-B of 489 Sqn RNZAF In the snow at Leuchars  February 1942  via David Burrowes

P3845? Mk.IV 489 Sqn XA-H Ex 143 Sqn Aircraft.
(Check Serial - P3845 is allocated to a Hawker Hurricane Mk.I)

Bristol Blenheim IV P3845 XA-H of 489 Sqn RNZAF 1942  via David Burrowes

Z6342 Mk.IV 489 Sqn XA-X Ex 143 Sqn Aircraft.
Left at Leuchars on 4 Mar 42 - due to mechanical problems (ORB).
Left Leuchars on 8 March 42 with Aircraft C (which landed at North Coates with engine trouble).
Z6342 landed at Worthy Down and crashed on take-off -and caught fire -  all occupants were killed (ORB)
Suffered engine failure on take-off from Worthy Down enroute to Thorney Island, stalled from 100ft and crashed killing the crew.
Crew: WILKINSON, Flight Sergeant (Pilot) Francis Henry, 1052897, RAFVR; LONDON, Flight Sergeant (Obs.) Jack Adrian Colin, 581343, RAF and PRIEST, and Plt Off (WOpAG) Cedric Hubert Owen NZ405506 RNZAF.
 
     

The Author of this page is Tony McDonald assisted by Brendan Cowan.

Sources: "489. An Unofficial History of No 489 Torpedo Bomber Squadron RNZAF 1941 to 1945" David M Burrows (Editor); "British Military Aircraft Serials 1911 - 1979" Bruce Robertson,

Emails: Brendan Cowan, David Burrowes,

Updated 19 August 2014

 

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