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.
No. 489 was formed at RAF Leuchars with Bristol Beaufort, the squadron had some time becoming operational. As Beauforts were in short supply, they were supplemented and eventually replaced by the Bristol Blenheim Mk.IVf aircraft, handed over from No. 143 Squadron RAF. These were used over the North Sea and Norway. The Squadron converted to Hampdens in April and became a dedicated anti-submarine torpedo bomber unit in March 1942, carrying out its first torpedo attacks in July 1942 during sorties in the Trondheim fjord. The squadron converted to Beaufighters in November 1943. Beaufighters were used to attack shipping in the North Sea and along the coast of Occupied Europe, Northern Germany and Scandinavia. From April 1944 it formed part of the Anzac Strike wing. It also flew air sea rescue missions, escorted convoys and continued anti-submarine work. The squadrons last operational mission in Europe was flown off the Norwegian coast on 21 May 1945. It began to re-equip with Mosquitos in June 1945 with a view to moving to the Pacific, but following the collapse of Japan, it was disbanded on 1 August 1945, before completion.
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