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Airspeed Oxford Restoration


Our Airspeed Oxford G-AITF (ED290) was one of approximately 700 of the type used in SA during WWII. It arrived in Port Elizabeth from the UK in the early 1980’s and the restoration program commenced shortly thereafter.
By the early 1990’s the engines were completely overhauled and had run on a test rig for 1,5 hours.
In 1995 the fuselage and centre section had been stripped, but it was only from 2000 that suspect structure, cockpit controls, instruments, hydraulics and pneumatics were completely renovated into operational order. A rudder was fabricated to replace the one missing when the aircraft was received from the RAF Museum. A lot of work was also done on the wings, replacing damaged skin and recovering them.
The Airspeed Oxford can be viewed in the Bellman Hangar.

Airspeed Oxford Restoration

By Paul Stringer


When Airspeed Oxford G-AITF (ED290) arrived at the SAAF Museum in Port Elizabeth, it was hoped that with assistance from the SAAF and interested local commercial sponsors, the aircraft might be put back into the air – or at the very least into a taxi-able condition.

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The engines were completely overhauled and had run on a test rig for 1,5 hours by the early 1990’s. Progress was then hampered over following years due to the Museum moving into a Second World War Gunnery Training Hall that needed a lot of renovation work, and priority being given to other static exhibits, a Vampire FB 5 being one of them.

The fuselage and centre section had been stripped in 1995, but it was only from 2000 that suspect structure, cockpit controls, instruments, hydraulics and pneumatics were completely renovated into operational order. A rudder was fabricated by Friend of the Museum Rob Tribelhorn to replace the one that was missing when the aircraft was received from the RAF Museum. Rob also did a lot of work on the wings, replacing damaged skin and recovering them.

However, no attention was paid to the wing internal structure or mechanics at this time due to lack of adequate funding, and therefore, even the prospect of taxiing faded. Recently, another Friend of the Museum, Paul Stringer, has taken over the project, concentrating at this stage on progressively cleaning/repainting the remaining parts and re-attaching them with the airframe, to complete the Oxford to good static display condition as soon as possible.

Currently coated in the overall yellow of a training aircraft for the Joint Air Training Scheme, it is planned to add a gun turret, and finally spray it in the camouflage/ yellow colours of an aircraft from 42 Air School, a navigation, bombing and gunnery training school that trained both RAF and SAAF aircrew from Port Elizabeth during World War Two.


History Made and Heritage Lost

By Geoff Hamp-Adams.

With the cessation of hostilities in May 1945, aircraft in their hundreds lined the runways of both friend and foe right across the expanse of Europe and the Far East, and the problem of de-mobilisation of personnel was compounded by the recovery and disposal of aircraft and related equipment.

South Africa was no exception, and the 20 bomber, fighter, coastal, and strike squadrons deployed in Italy, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and in West Africa were left at RAF maintenance units, while their air and ground crews returned to the Union their thoughts focused on rebuilding their careers in a world at peace.

At home, the Joint Air Training Scheme, the equivalent of the Empire Air Training Scheme had been summarily brought to a close, and the aircraft pushed into the hangars on the airfields where they had been based.

Ansons, Masters, Tiger Moths, and Oxford trainers, as well as utility aircraft such as the Fairey Battle were shut away to gather dust.

The raison d’etre of the Operational Training Units (the O.T.U’s) with their Hurricanes and Kittyhawks had disappeared.

After VE Day 29 Squadron was disbanded, and its ground crews and Ventura aircraft formed the nucleus of a Transport Wing , with the express purpose of repatriating servicemen from the Middle East.

35 Squadron discontinued its operations , and concentrated on working up on the new Sunderlands in anticipation of operations in the Far East.Both 17 and 27 Squadrons at Gianaclis in Egypt were similarly preparing to carry the offensive to the Far East with their Vickers Warwick GR V aircraft.

The Marauders, Mustangs, Beaufighters, Liberators, and Spitfires were left behind as were half of the Warwicks. 60 Squadron crews ferried 10 PRMk.XVI Mosquitoes (a gift from the U.K.Government) back to the Union, and 17 Squadron brought back 16 Warwick G.R.V’s


It was, to coin a phrase, wishful thinking that there was any likelihood of examples of the aforementioned combat aircraft apart from the ones returning to the Union being given to the Commonwealth Forces, for their respective museums, as the priorities at the time, concentrated around the issues of demobilisation.

The Dakotas of 28 and 44 Squadrons continued to transport repatriated servicemen from Cairo to the Union and remained in South Africa when the task was over.The Lodestars which had borne the brunt of the transport task prior to the arrival of the Dakotas, were returned to their rightful owners South African Airways, so that the internal air services which had been interrupted by the war could be re- introduced.

The South African Air Force Directorate had a post-war air force to plan which would have to be based on the airworthy aircraft available in the country at the time.

The Director General South African Air Force Conference minutes for the 26th of November 1946 listed the following aircraft as those held by the SAAF on that date

TYPE                      TOTAL                 REQUIRED                 SURPLUS

Anson                           480                             200                             280

Auster                               6                                 6                                –                                

Catalina                           15                                 –                               15

Dakota                             78                               78                                  –

Harvard                         250                             150                             100

Hawker Hart                     4                                 –                                   4

Hurricane                         82                                –                                 82

Kittyhawk                       58                                 –                                 58

Mosquito                         10                               10                                  –

Oxford                           342                               50                               292

Tiger Moth                   115                             100                                 15

B34 Ventura                   62                               62                                   –              

PV1 Ventura                   86                               86                                   –

Warwick                         16                                 –                               16

York                                 1                                   1                                   –

For reasons unknown, the 15 Short Sunderlands were excluded, but the aircraft surplus to requirements totalled a staggering 862, and the disposal of   of these airframes took place over the course of the years 1947 to 1949.

As can be seen from the above listing the SAAF selected Harvards, Tiger Moths, Venturas, Dakotas, and Sunderlands, for its post war equipment. Some of the Harvards and Dakotas surviving to the present day, having been maintained in tip top condition.

On the 16th of July 1946 authority came through for the last 2 Catalinas of the 15 survivors of the war years dismantled in Durban, to be scrapped, and so, not a vestige of any of these memorable aircraft remains in South Africa today!!

For front line purposes the SAAF needed a fighter, and with so much experience gained on the Spitfire during the war, it was the logical choice.

In 1947, a total of 136 Mk IXe’s were delivered by sea and air to South Africa, in December 1947, and into 1948. These aircraft served on as the SAAF’s frontline fighter force, and were issued to 1, 2 and 60 Squadrons, CFS, and the Bombing Gunnery and Air Navigation School, as well as one or two other units.

The Spitfires were used to train and prepare the pilots of 2 Squadron for combat in Korea between 1950 and 1952, finally being withdrawn on the 7th of April 1954.

(The efforts to subsequently restore, and fly Spitfires across the world have met with resounding success, with the exception of South Africa.)

The details of the projects in the form of Spitfire MA793 ”Evelyn” and the SAAF Museum’s “gate-guard” Spitfire 5553 K AX(5518) have been well documented elsewhere, and suffice to say, the outcome of which, did not put South Africa in the fore- front as far as the preservation “scene” is concerned.

At 2AD Alexandersfontein near Kimberley 182 of the 252 Miles Masters, were gathered together and sold to Metal Smelters and Machinery Merchants of Johannesburg on the 21st of December 1946.

The Master is totally extinct in the world today!!!

A similar fate awaited the 58 Kittyhawks, the bulk of which were at 2AD. In 1985 all that remained of a Kittyhawk airframe found at St. Albans in Port Elizabeth, was the complete rear cockpit canopy section being used as a ‘porch’ over a door propped up with two pieces of brandering!!

The 280 Avro Ansons, and 292 Airspeed Oxfords, were progressively sold off on auction, fetching prices ranging from as little as 2 pounds sterling up to 5 or 10 pounds, some even with fuel in the tanks!!!!!

Many individuals bought aircraft, cut off the wooden wings, towed the airframes to their farms and homes, where they stood as children’s playthings, and a source of nuts, bolts, screws, tubing, aluminium, wood and so on.

The 10 Mosquito Mk XVI’s brought back to the Union as related, and incorporated into the SAAF, saw limited service, and after a fatal crash in June 1947 as a result of glue failure, all the Mosquitoes were grounded.

None of the Mk XVI’s survived, and the only one that still exists, is a Mk IX in the S.A.National War Museum Saxonwold in Johannesburg.

As a youngster, in the early 1950’s, the writer recalls the numerous occasions when travelling from Cape Town to Somerset West by car via Kuils River, the familiar sight of 60 odd Avro Ansons on private property without wings, standing on their noses, being slowly reduced to produce over the course of time.

 In Port Elizabeth something of the order of 38 Hawker Hurricanes ended up in the storage yard of B.Friedman &Co. during 1947-48. According to records most of these airframes were complete in most respects, and eventually ended up being disposed for scrap, with no components remaining .

The Avro York 4999 operated by the VIP Flight from Waterkloof, saw little service in the SAAF, and was sold to Tropic Airways in 1952.

The following Air Schools 62, 68, 69, and 70 had intact aircraft such as follows:

Wapiti, Hart, Fury, Gloster Survey, Envoy, Tutor, Battle, Nomad, Master, Maryland, Kittyhawk, Mohawk, Tomahawk, and Hurricane as instructional airframes, and their fate?—–the scrapyard.

There was some effort to put aircraft on display like Harvard 7731 at the SAAF Gymnasium at Valhalla, while Vampire FB5 –205 (now on display at the P.E.Branch of the SAAF Museum) was initially displayed at the School of Technical Training at Snake Valley in a totally spurious camouflage scheme reminiscent of that used by Japanese aircraft during World War 2!!!!

However, as Spitfires were struck off charge (SOC) in 1955 a large number ended up being axed and cut up on the dumps, whilst a few precious airframes –13 on record, found their way to the private sector.Through the wisdom and fore-sight of the late Lt.Gen. Bob Rodgers former Chief of the Air Force , Spitfire 5518 was placed on display at AFB Waterkloof where it remained for 23 years.

At least, at that stage the SAAF had something to show for its association with this remarkable aircraft!!

 So, apart from 5501 at the Saxonwold War Museum the remaining airframes slowly disappeared to destinations as far afield as Vancouver, U.K., Florida, Portugal, Queensland, Sao Paulo and so on.

In March 1955 it was the turn of 35 Squadron to dispose of some of their fleet of Sunderlands, and 8 airframes went to the scrapyard. By late 1957 only 2 aircraft remained, and after a costly major overhaul 1710 RB-D made the last flight on the 8th of October 1957 which was a test of all the systems, and after two hours airborne, returned to base.

Barely weeks later 1710 together with 1703 ended up in the scrapyard. Apart from bits and pieces over the years, nothing remains of these magnificent machines.!!

During the mid-sixties a senior officer at Defence Headquarters Colonel Peter Mcgregor, one- time 24 Squadron Marauder pilot, and better known as a SAAF Historian and co-author of “Per Noctem per Diem” had commenced lobbying support for the idea of a SAAF Museum, over and above his official duties at Defence Headquarters.

About this time, the restorable airframe of Hawker Hurricane 5214 which had lingered on at CFS Dunnottar for many years, was brought over to Pretoria, by HQ to be restored, and placed on a plinth next to Spitfire 5518 at Waterkloof.

There was an Officer Commanding change in the interim, and the new OC had no interest in the aircraft, and it lay decaying in the transport yard.It was then transferred to 15 AD where it was sold as scrap to National Scrap Metals in 1971!!

 Once again, a precious airframe of great historical value was lost for all time because of reckless and irresponsible attitudes, and above all lack of “coms” between departments in the SAAF.

The proposals to establish a SAAF Museum, received much favourable support, and a great deal of opposition, the main reasons for objections have never been really clear, and in the light of the SAAF’s track record up to that point, to say the least—extremely negative and confusing to say the least!!

On the 26th of October 1973 the Minister of Defence Mr P.W.Botha gave his approval to establish the SAAF Museum as an official department in the SAAF.

At long last an official effort was being made to save and conserve the Air Force Aviation Heritage, and Col. Peter McGregor rightly so, became the First Commanding Officer.

With his boundless enthusiasm Col. Mcgregor, with a small staff –less than a dozen personnel, and limited storage place at 15 Air Depot Snake Valley, the SAAF Museum came into being.

Over the course of time the historical hangars at Zwartkop, were restored, and aircraft began to fill up the spaces, and other aviation artifacts and memorabilia started to arrive.

An indication of the indifference to preservation in the SAAF, was the near destruction of the first helicopter to grace South African skies in the form of

Sikorsky S-51- A1 rescued from a plinth at a Cape Town scrapyard in 1978 and the sale of the 3 Sikorsky S-55’s A4, A5, and A6 to Autair (Pty) Ltd !!

August 1979 saw the Canadair CL13B Sabre jets withdrawn from service due to high attrition, and according to reports mainspar fatigue cracks were found. Yet in 1982, 10 Sabres were sold to Flight Systems of California for use as target drones, and reports came through to the effect that Sabre 365 had been seen at numerous air shows in the U.S. flying in SAAF colours?!!

381 went via France in 1988, and ended up in the U.S. as N40CJ—flying?

Col.Mcgregor with his tremendous fore-sight realised that the Museum would be incomplete without an aircraft to represent the Wartime Air Training Scheme.Only bits and pieces remained of Ansons around the country—so what about an Airspeed Oxford?

After negotiating a deal with the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon in the 1983, Lockheed B34 Ventura 6130 was exchanged for Airspeed Oxford GAITF which is being currently being restored at the SAAF Museum in Port Elizabeth.

On the 23rd of November 1984, a memorable and sad moment as 3 majestic Shackletons roared over D.F.Malan Airport in a final salute, after 27 years of amazing service, and what has been preserved of the 7 remaining aircraft?

1716—costly re-spar, and lowest hours—crashes in the Sahara desert 13-07-94

1717—costly re-spar, on display Midmar Dam now in Stanger,— scrapped?

1718—written off in Stettynsberg mountains 08-08-63

1719—displayed Cape Town waterfront—neglected–and scrapped (a disgrace)

1720— SAAF Museum Ysterplaat—scrapped 2013— because of neglect

1721— SAAF Museum Zwartkop – intact

1722—SAAF Museum Ysterplaat—intact—ground runs are still done

1723—painted in Coca-Cola red, and displayed with 35 Squadron’s badge

             on top of garage at “Uncle Charlies” Johannesburg (a disgrace)

*1723—exchanged for Vickers Viking, which is part of SAA collection



About the same time Col. Mcgregor was on the lookout for an aircraft to represent our wartime operations in either North Africa or Italy, and at the time the only avenue to pursue was to conclude an exchange deal.

Eventually, one was concluded with the Portugese Air Force for a Bristol Beaufighter Mk X RD 220 in exchange for a composite Spitfire rebuild. The Beaufighter served the SAAF in 16 and 19 Squadrons with distinction, and so a very interesting and unique exhibit arrived in South Africa, one of only 8 known survivors worldwide at the time.

Five years down the line, a magnificent composite Spitfire (5563) resplendent in Portugese Air Force finish was handed over to the Portugese Air Force in 1989.

The Beaufighter needed a great deal of repair and metal treatment, this was carried out byAtlas, over the course of months. However, pressure of work, and commitment to the Air Force in servicing and repairing aircraft for duty in the Bush War, necessitated postponing work on the Beaufighter. Having seen the Beaufighter fuselage at Swartkops, the writer was impressed at the quality of the work that had been carried out at that stage.

Then came the devastating news, that the Beaufighter had departed our shores to Scotland for good, to The Museum of Flight in East Lothian. Whatever the circumstances, the acquisition of the Beaufighter had taken the best part of 5 years to obtain, and this action must be a first ever internationally—where an aviation museum negotiates a deal with another for a very rare aircraft to represent a period in its history, and then disposes of it!!!

What an insult to the late Colonel Peter Mcgregor and all his efforts!!

In concluding this series, the 26th of October 1995 bears mention for the spectacular send-off of the Harvard with 50 years of service in the SAAF, at Air Force Base Langebaan, now the C.F.S. The sight of 50 of these celebrated machines in “diamond” formation, flying over the base, landing in stream, and once all the aircraft were lined up with engines running, switching off one by one until there was dead silence—was something to remember by those who flew and serviced them.

Finally, the fact that there is a good Harvard representation in the SAAF, as well as the aircraft of the Harvard Club of South Africa, are hopefully the ‘flagships’ for the future preservation of our Aviation Heritage, however, only time will tell!

So, as things stand at present, if we want to see real ‘warbirds’ operating at airshows we have to rely on the local enthusiasts in the private sector, and alternatively we will have to go to the USA, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, to appreciate how things are organised!!

He acknowledges the following people and enthusiasts who, over the years strove to bring the importance of aviation heritage not only to the private sector but also officialdom, and in the case of the latter often dealing with bureaucratic indifference.

Their recollections, and records accumulated , are the source of information for this article, to which the writer is indebted, and he apologises for any errors and omissions.

The late Colonel Peter M.J. Mcgregor –First O. C. of the SAAF Museum

The late Major David St H Becker –Historical Research Officer SAAF Museum

The late Major Ronald R.Belling—Official War Artist of the SAAF

The late Major Ivan R.D. Spring—ex SAAF/RAF author and historian

Dr. Dennis Hoskin rtd—- (SAAFA)—ex 60 Squadron Mosquito crew member

The late Major Des Eden– (SAAFA)—ex 35 Squadron—Catalina crew commander

Mr Steven Mclean —Aviation Author

                           “Squadrons of the South African Air Force and their Aircraft “

                           “The Spitfire in South African Air Force Service”

Geoffrey M.Hamp-Adams

Friends of the SAAF Museum Port Elizabeth

Historian and Researcher

History of the Port Elizabeth Branch

History of the Port Elizabeth SAAF Museum

In 1990, after closure of the Port Elizabeth Air Force Base, an initiative to apply for authority to set up a museum in Port Elizabeth was put into motion by the local Friends of the Museum.

After successful negotiations between the Museum Board and The Friends of The Museum, permission was granted by the Chief of the Air Force in 1990 to establish the Port Elizabeth branch of the SAAF Museum. This was on condition that a suitable site could be found and that there would be no official funding for setting up the museum.

The Friends of the Port Elizabeth Museum raised private funding and Mr. A. E. Winkelmann (AMG) and Flight Sergeant van Loggerenberg were authorized to manage the branch. FACP PE (then 302 FACP) supplied one cleaner to assist.

1990 – The Site.

The site identified to best suit the needs of the Museum was the old 42nd Air School, one of the largest Air Schools of the Joint SAAF & RAF Training Scheme of WWII.

A portion of the site, located in Southdene on the south side of the Port Elizabeth airport was preferred as it comprised various old buildings well suited for the display of SAAF artifacts, static and serviceable aircraft.

There was the gunnery training building, parachute loft building and a Belman hangar, all of which were in a semi-derelict state and would require immediate renovations.


A 25 year lease agreement was signed between the SAAF Museum Board and the Port Elizabeth Municipality in February 1991. The lease expires in 2016.

1991 – Site Development.

In 1991 the site was cleared and prepared and the various buildings were allocated usages.

The Air Gunnery Training Centre with its historically unique Belfast timber trusses became the main building of the museum. The Mayor of Port Elizabeth was then appointed Patron of the Museum

1991 – Gunnery Training Building Restoration.

The main Museum building required a new roof urgently to stop weather penetration and to save the valuable timber Belfast trusses. 2000m2 of roofing materials were donated by Onduline of France and Safmarine provided free shipment to South Africa. Nampak donated cash for the purchase of roofing timber and William Scott Roofing provided free labour to erect and complete the roof. In addition, Dulux Paints supplied over 2500 Litres of paint for the project. The willingness and cooperation of these sponsors were a significant element in the establishment of the Museum.

In order to create awareness of the newly established Museum and the Friend organisation, the DeHavilland Vampire (205) was transported to Art in the Park with great success.

Prior to the lease agreement being signed, or the formal formation of the PESAAF Museum, an Oxford (G-AITF) was acquired from the United Kingdom and restoration work had already commenced by members of 16 Squadron and founder members of the local Friends of the Museum.


1992 – Official Opening & Air Show.

The museum was officially opened by Lt. Gen. A. J. Kriel on 25th April 1992 and on 25th April the same year an inaugural air show was staged, attracting 30 000 people and raising R20,000 for the PE Museum.


1993 – Amenities Added.

In 1993, public toilets were constructed to enable the facilities to cope with visitors and the Friends’ clubhouse, The Woodpecker Clubhouse was completed to entertain dignitaries and create social fellowship.


1994 – New Aircraft Displays.

The highlight of 1994 was the acquisition of the Dassault-Breguet Mirage F1-CZ (201) by road from Air Force base Swartkop. The Vampire was taken to the Port Elizabeth Technical College to be repaired to static condition by the students under the guidance of the Friends.

1995 – SAAF 75th Anniversary & Harvards Arrive.

The Museum hosted the SAAF 75th on 16th September 1995 attracting 30,000 people.

This same year, the Woodpecker Club House was officially opened by Brig. B. J. Kriegler.

Two North American T-6 Harvards (7480 & 7289) from the SAAF were received to be utilized as static exhibits and were hangered temporarily at the PE Air Force Base.

1996 – Hangar Refurbishment and Harvard Flights.

This year saw the dismantling and transportation of hangar material from the 47th Air School in Queenstown to be used to repair the existing Belman hangar.

The Museum then hosted the farewell of Lt. Gen. A J. Kriel.

A monetary pledge was received from Swartkops Museum building fund to assist with the repair of the Belman hangar. Refurbishment work then commenced in earnest.

The Harvards were made serviceable and the first Museum flight took place by Lt. Col. D. Knoessen on 17th October 1996.

1997 Harvard Pilots and Extensive new Library.

Authority was received for Co. D. Spolander, Lt. Col. T. Schroeder and Lt. Col. B. Sharp for these three pilots to regularly fly the Harvards.

Air Force Awareness Day was hosted by the Museum on 19th September 1997 and in this same year the Museum established its vast library of over 1000 books and over 8000 magazines that has become one of the most comprehensive reference libraries available on the African continent for SAAF and aviation heritage research.

The two Harvards were transferred permanently from the PE Air Force Base to the Museum hanger.


1998 – Cooperative SAA, ACSA Marketing and Belman Hanger Completion

24 March 1998 – Flight of Friendship.

The Officer Commanding Forward Air Command Port Elizabeth, Colonel Derek Spolander and Second in Command of the unit,  Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Schroeder, treated members of the local branch of the Friends of the South African Air Force Museum to a flight in two North American Harvard aircraft based at the city’s SAAF Museum.

Pictured above are (back left to right) Lt. Col. Trevor Schroeder, Mark Godfrey, Col. Derek Spolander and Christine Lee. (Front left to right) Woody Turner, Peter Williams, Andrew Winkelmann, Botha du Plessis, Tony van Niekerk, James Canepa, Hugh Jones and Barry Bradley. Picture by Ivor Markman.

Harvard flights were undertaken over the city to create awareness for the Museum. This marketing venture was very successful.

Substantial funds were received from ACSA, SAA and private donors when combining the naming of the first South African Airways Boeing 747-400 “Ibhayi” with the necessary work to complete the refurbishment of the Belman hangar. These donations were received due to the credibility of the Museum as well as the strong relationships built up between the Friends, Museum and the local business community.

The Museum then hosted the naming ceremony and function of the SAA Ibhayi Boeing with 500 dignitaries and 5000 spectators.


1999 – Bosbok & Puma Arrive, Post Changes and Belman Officially Opened.

The Aeritalia AM-3C Bosbok (920) was received from Swartkops and flown down to the Museum by Col. D. Spolander to be on permanent display here.

The Museum then hosted the Changing Over of Command Parade with outgoing OC Col. D. Spolander handing over command to Col. R. Jonsson.

The arrival of the Westland Aerospatiale SA-330C Puma (123) Air Force Base Swartkops as a permanent exhibit brought a new dynamic to the Museum and complimented the other exhibits which were growing on a monthly basis.

The Museum’s Harvards and Bosbok took part in the East London Air Show in June 1999 and additional funds were raised for the Museum.

In December 1999 the Belman hangar was officially opened by Co. D. Spolander.

2000 – Millennium to 2010.

The Museum has developed into an important tourist destination in the Nelson Mandela Metro and is recognized by all tourism authorities and many tourism organizations and hospitality establishments.

It continues to attract local and regional school parties, local and international visitors and students doing research.

The local Friends are an integral partner in its success and ongoing developments.

A portion of the anti-aircraft gunnery training practice lines have been painstakingly restored on the wall by one of the Friends of the SAAF Museum and ongoing upgrading is carried out on the building and exhibits.


2007 – Skimmerfoil arrival

Tandem Airfoil Flareboat Skimmerfoil

On Wednesday 4th July 2007 an unusual new exhibit arrived on a flatbed at the SAAF Museum in Port Elizabeth.  The Skimmerfoil Jörg IV is an extremely interesting craft which brought a uniquely new dimension to the Museum.

The TAF (Tandem Airfoil Flareboat) Skimmerfoil is referred to as a WIG (wings into ground) craft.  Its inventor is Günther W Jörg, who is still involved in  Airfoil Flareboat Technology (Airfoil) in Germany. In 1979/80 successful test runs with 4-6 seaters were carried out in South Africa.

2010 – Art Gallery and Projects.

An Art Gallery comprising oil paintings and pencil illustrations by Don Bell , a local artist and a Friend was opened in the Museum. The works comprise both SAAF and other air force aircraft. These works are sold to the visitors and a portion is donated to the Museum.


The Oxford restoration project which suffered a set back with lack of funding, was brought back on track as a priority and progresses well.


The Full Scale Supermarine Spitfire MK-IX Model project was started and should be completed by 2012/13.


2011 – New Infrastructural Development & Marketing Plans

The majority of the old 42nd Air School buildings and infrastructure have been allowed to collapse; however, the Museum Friends and the Woodpecker Trust are in the process of applying for heritage protection so that remaining buildings can be protected for future generations.

The buildings are now at capacity and additional structures are being planned to house more valuable aviation exhibits.


Aeritalia AM-3C Bosbok [920]
Aerospatiale SA-330C Puma [123]
Airspeed Oxford [G-AITF]
Atlas Impala Mk II [1037]
Bell Model 47 Sioux [ex RAF XT562]
Dassault-Breguet Mirage F1CZ [201]
de Havilland Vampire FB5 [205]
Sud Aviation SE-316B Alouette III [632]
Westland Scout  GT [ex Bahrain State Police]
Skimmerfoil Jörg IV
North American Harvard [7289]
North American Harvard [7480]
Artifacts and Displays:
Sperry Searchlight Mirror and Generator
Various plane engines
VHF Radio Transmitters
Impressive model airplane displays
Ejection seat display
Various Aviation artworks
Photo displays of airmen
Information on various WW ll aircraft
Anti-aircraft gunnery training practice lines
and much much more….

We Need Your Support
The Museum and PE Friends are non-profit entities which rely solely on volunteers, the Friends, independent donors and corporate sponsors, so any assistance is highly appreciated and goes to maintaining, upgrading and developing the museum into a world class tourism and educational destination.

Retail Shop – Food & beverages, Memorabilia.
Art Gallery – original aviation oil paintings, pencil illustrations, canvas print, posters & postcards..
Guided tours – Educationals.
Kiddies Educationals & Party venue.
Function venue – seminars, meetings, parties, braais etc.

The PE Friends of the PE SAAF Museum
The Friends are a voluntary group of people of all ages who are committed to aviation and the protection of our aviation heritage. They dedicate their time, experience and skills to marketing & maintaining the Museum, building new products & displays, restoring aircraft and raising funds.

Please consider joining us so that you too can make a difference.

Art Gallery & Collection
The Don Bell Aviation Art Gallery comprises a range of paintings, prints and illustrations of SAAF and other aircraft.

The Art Collection is a number of SAAF aviation paintings and illustrations loaned by Don for permanent display in the museum.
A portion of the income derived from sales and commissioned works in the gallery are donated to the museum.
Prints and post cards of all the paintings in the Gallery and Collection can be ordered.
Go here to view all the works.

The library, situated in the art gallery, contains a vast collection of aviation books of all manner of aviation related content.

Current Projects

The Friends, volunteers and Museum personnel are currently working on various heritage projects which require ongoing funding to achieve our goal of showcasing unique and important historical artefacts and exhibits.



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AFB Ysterplaat Timeline


1941 – 1945















































Brooklyn Air Station established on 24 October.


Hangers, buildings, railway siding, fuel installations and

three runways constructed.


The first aircraft that landed on the newly constructed

airfield was an Avro Anson.


First batch of aircraft assembled took off for flight tests

on 19 January.


9 Air Depot, with WAAF members and RAF personnel, moved from Wingfield to Brooklyn on 20 January.


Wireless station with transmitting and receiving buildings constructed.


Camp facilities for Womens Auxiliary Air Force constructed.


The first Baltimore and Kittyhawks arrived from the docks.


6 Squadron relocated to Brooklyn in November.


Cape Fortress wireless transmitter station also relocated.


In March the 15 ferry and test pilots flew 1097 hours, ferrying and testing their quota of the 85 aircraft constructed.


Aircraft assembled: Anson, Oxford, Miles Master, Bristol Beaufort, Fairey Battle, Martin Baltimore, Dominie,

Kittyhawk, Maryland, Harvard, Hurricanes.


Brooklyn Air Station handled up to 94 visiting aircraft, excluding training aircraft, in one month.


3 AD took over from 9 AD on 31 March. 11 AD continued as

an independent sub unit.


The newly acquired Avro York for the use of Prime Minister Field Marshall Jan Smuts arrived at AFS Brooklyn.


The end of WWII with VE Day parade on 8 May.



1946 – 1959














































300 Harvards crated at Brooklyn and shipped to the UK.


The first test flight of a Meteor III with pilot, Capt Meaker.


Venturas escorted the HMS Vanguard with the Royal family

on board.


17 Squadron was officially opened with Major Stanford as OC.


RAF Commodore Atcherly and jet specialists arrive to

prepare pilots for the Vampires.


Members selected to relief SAAF Squadron operating on the Berlin airlift.


Eleven pilots from Ysterplaat selected to join UN in Korea.


7 and 27 Active Citizen Force Squadrons was established.


Navigators School established with Major H.J.P. Burger, OC.


22 Squadron reformed at Ysterplaat under Major H.E. Kirby.


The last of 77 Vampires assembled.


First auto-rotation on the Sikorsky helicopter was done by Major Tatham and witnessed by the Media.


Three Sikorsky helicopters assembled.


AFS Ysterplaat was equipped with 15 Ventura, 3 Harvard and 1 Dakota aircraft. The Dakota was used in the air bridge between Cape Town and Cairo.


22 Squadrons’ disbandment coincided with the arrival of 35 Squadron, newly equipped with Avro Shackletons.


Shackletons and Venturas took part in combined exercises with the SA Navy and British Navy.


Ysterplaat hosted an Air Show in November featuring a Comet, Sabre, Shackleton, Devons, Dakotas and helicopters.



1960 – 1967











































Air Show highlights – rocket installations of the Alouette II on display; a Sabre broke the sound barrier over Cape Town.


27 Squadron reformed as Coastal Reconnaissance Squadron equipped with Dakota aircraft.


2 Aircraft Maintenance Unit was founded.


Shackleton 1718 crashed into Stettynskloof mountains near Rawsonville and thirteen crew members died.


Air Show – the first Mirage III seen by the Cape Town public.


22 Squadron reformed as 22 Flight with 6 Wasp helicopters.


402 Air Field Maintenance Unit received unit status.


Sikorsky helicopters replaced with Alouette III.


108 Air Force Reserve Squadron established in PE under command of Ysterplaat.


110 Air Force Reserve Squadron established to supply air support to ground troops, commando’s and civilian forces.


35 Squadron assisted crew of a Buccaneer that had to abandon their aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean.


The first landing of a Wasp helicopter on Bouvet Island. Two Wasp helicopters accompanied a survey ship with a team of scientists to the island.


17 Squadron crews rescued 76 people from the SA Seafarer.


Wasp 82 crashed in the sea off Milnerton during an exercise and the crew was rescued. The Wasp was re-floated after a few hours and rebuilt.


The Acting State President, Mr. J.F.T. Naudé, presented the Officer’s Commanding of 7, 17, 27 and 35 squadrons with their Squadron’s Colours on 30 October.




1968 – 1972











































The status of Ysterplaat is upgraded from a Station to

Air Force Base.


25 Squadron was reformed as a Dakota medium Transport Squadron under command of Cmdt A.J. Cooney.


16 Squadron was established and equipped with Alouette III helicopters under command of Cmdt G. Thom.


Helicopter Conversion Unit with Alouette II and III helicopters established under command of Major J.M. Oosthuizen.


The Maritime Operational Training Unit, tasked to train flight crew, was established in under command of Cmdt P.S. Marais.


16 Super Frelon helicopters were assembled.


27 Squadron Dakotas was replaced with Piaggio 166S Albatross. Albatross 881 to 889 was assembled.


7 Squadron, a training unit operating Harvard aircraft, moved from Youngsfield to Ysterplaat.


22 Flight flew humanitarian missions to Tulbach residents in September when the town was struck by an earthquake.


22 Flight on stand by with Maritime Task Force in April as the world waits for Apollo 13 to return to earth at alternative sites.


25 Squadron started operational flying tours at Rundu.


A new Decca Navigation System was officially opened by the Minister of Defence, Mr P.W. Botha.


A new Control Tower was constructed.


A memorial service was held in February commemorating the deaths of the crews of three Mercurius aircraft that crashed on Devil’s Peak in May 1971, and the four 22 Flight helicopter crew members who died in a Wasp helicopter accident near

Luanda in November 1971.



1973 – 1980














































Alouette II helicopters were withdrawn from service.


Six Wasp helicopters were assembled. The delivery of the seventh Wasp was cancelled in accordance with a United Nations decision to ban the sale of weapons to South Africa.


22 Flight won the light Aircraft Command’s First Helicopter competition held at AFB Bloemspruit.

Ysterplaat received their first three television sets.


Start of Operation Savannah in SWA (Namibia). In December three Dakotas flew to Windhoek, heralding the moving of 25 Squadron’s bush tours to Grootfontein.

LCpls Martell and Maree of 25 Squadron were the first females to qualify as telecommunications operators and Lt A. Horn is our first female Air Traffic Controller.


22 Flight was restored to full squadron status.


First Dakota sprayed a camouflage colour scheme.


A Super Frelon helicopter set an unofficial record with a non-stop flight from Ysterplaat to Swartkop in November.


The last Harvard took off from Ysterplaat.

SAAF recruited coloured personnel for the first time since World War II.


The Officer’s Club burnt down and the Cambridge Hotel in Milnerton was taken over in 1979 as the Officer’s Mess.

At a parade Cmdt J. Cloete accepted the Colours on behalf of 27 Squadron from the State President, Mr. B.J. Vorster.


35 Squadron awarded the Freedom of the City of Cape Town.

30 Squadron reformed under the command of Cmdt R. Dean and equipped with Pumas and Super Frelon helicopters.




1981 – 1991














































22 and 30 Squadron was involved in flood relief rescue when Laingsburg was worst hit following heavy unseasonable rains.

SAAF 62nd birthday flying displays of a Spitfire, Canberras, Buccaneers, Mirage F1 aircraft, Frelon and Puma helicopters.


27, 30 and 35 Squadrons was dispatched in an extensive search-and rescue operation along with naval vessels following the collision of the SAS President Kruger

and SAS Tafelberg.

AFB Ysterplaat received the SAAF Operational Efficiency Award for Support Sections two years in a row.

Dakota 77 flies for the last time in yellow and black livery.

2 ASU become a depot to extend production capacity.


Shackletons perform a farewell formation over Cape Town.

A Russian Naval Task Force rounds the Cape in September and a Dakota and Albatross shadows the vessels.


505 Security Squadron was established in June.

Return of 30 Squadron personnel and Pumas from SANAE Base in Antarctica after a trip of two and a half months.


Visit by Commander-in-Chief of Republic of China Air Force.


First Dakota maritime paint scheme on display for the media.


Commando members of 110 Squadron died when their Cessna crashed in the mountains near Montagu.

Air Crash simulation in Goodwood involving 400 personnel

of SAA, Eskom, SADF, Civil Aviation and City Tramways.


25 and 27 Squadron amalgamated with 35 Squadron.


Ysterplaat Squadrons took part in the rescue operation of

219 passengers from the stricken Oceanos.



1992 – 2002















































11 Air Depot amalgamated with 2 Air Depot.


Ysterplaat won the Sword of Peace Award for the third consecutive year for exceptional humanitarian service.


A concrete wall was erected around the Base.


Puma helicopters airlifted 40 crew members from Riverplate.

South Africa becomes a fully fledged democracy and AFB Ysterplaat welcomes new members from the former

Non – Statuary Forces.

Museum Shackleton Pelican 1716 crashed in the Western Sahara. All 19 members survive and were rescued.

35 Squadron was re-equipped with C47-TP and the last

operations were flown by the piston engine Dakotas.


The last of 60 Pilatus Astra PC-7 aircraft was assembled.

Helicopters transported containers and supplies for the building of the SANAE IV base in Antarctic.

Oryx helicopters arrive and J-type Pumas phased out.

A Delville Bush Memorial Service was held at

Cape Town Gardens.

22 Squadron helicopters were deployed for fire-fighting in the Boland, Somerset West, Tulbach and Uniondale.


Air Show held in October in conjunction with Thunder City.


The new millennium kicks off with the biggest fires yet and

are followed by floods in Mozambique.


Plans to close down AFB Ysterplaat and move lodger units to Cape Town International Airport abandoned.


Exhibition at Museum commemorating the 60th Anniversary of North African campaign opened by General E. Schmidt.



2003 – 2011














































22 Squadron flight crews awarded for the rescue of 89 people off the ice-bound Magdalena Oldendorff in the Antarctic.


Five members of 35 Squadron were selected for the SANDF Rugby team tour to Holland and Germany.


80 Air Navigation School received the Best Training Unit Prestige Award, Gold.


35 Squadron received the Golden award for the best Permanent Flying Unit and the Aviation Safety Award.


The first new generation Gripen fighter made its public debut in September and on the eve of the African Aerospace and Defence Expo hosted at Ysterplaat.


The Museum Shackleton, 1722, performs its last flight on

29th of March.


The first two Lynx helicopters arrive at Ysterplaat in July.


35 Squadron foils a drug drop by a foreign vessel.


Ysterplaat members involved in UN operations outside our borders in conjunction with SANDF and international forces.


AAD Air Show with 200 exhibitors from 30 countries. Some of the aircraft participating was Gripen, Hawk, Lightning and Hawker Hunter, Rooivalk-, Oryx- and Lynx helicopters.


AFB Ysterplaat was awarded the Freedom of Entry to the

City of Cape Town. The official scroll was handed over to Colonel Cowan on a parade in August 2010.


AFB Ysterplaat was a hive of activity with the FIFA 2010

World Soccer Cup, when the SAAF secured the air space above Cape Town.


The USAF participated in another international AAD Air Show.


Ysterplaat Air Force Base celebrates its 70th birthday.


Sikorsky S55 Whirlwind (HAS 22)


A5 (cn 55-959) (Image by Gunter Grondstein)


The S-55 was introduced into the SAAF in 1956, with further airframes arriving in 1956 and 1957. These were assembled at Ysterplaat, and joined an S-51 as the Helicopter flight at AFS Langebaanweg. This flight was later re-established as 17SQN.


1953 – Built by Kaiser Corporation and delivered to Sikorsky on 26/05/53 after making an acceptance flight on 11/02/53. WV224 arrived at Gosport, UK on the 26/09/53 and issued to 706 Squadron (coded 733/gj) Fleet Air Arm on the 14/10/53.

1954 – Transferred to 845 Sqdn. On 01/03/54 and coded “s”, whilst with 845 Sqdn WV224 would almost certainly have taken part in the Suez operations of 1956 flying from HSM Theseus, the first British amphibious assault using helicopters.

1957 – Sent to RNAS Lee-On-Solent on 01/04/57 and passed onto Westland Helicopters at Illchester for cat 4 reconditioning on 29/05/57.

1958 – Returned to Lee-On-Solent via RAF Shawbury on 27/04/58 from Westlands and issued to 848 Sqdn coded “354” on its formation on 15/10/58, departing to Malta on HMS Victorious.  NOTE:  Code 354 is reported but can not be confirmed.

1960 – Transferred to RNAS Hal Far SAR Flight Malta 01/01/60 and may have been coded “958”.

1962 – Returned to the UK (details unknown) and arrived at Westlands, Weston-Super-Mare for cat 4 reconditioning on 21/05/62.

1964 – Sent to NARIV?  Lee-On-Solent for UHF installation on 04/11/64.

1965 – Issued to 728 Sqdn at Hal Far Malta for SAR duties on 23/03/65 to replace WV203 and coded “961”.  WV224 was flown back to the UK from Malta on 30/08/65 arriving back at Fleetlands on 04/09/65.

1966 – Joined 781 Sqdn at Lee-On-Solent on 23/02/66 and was sent to NARIV for installation of MAD gear (Magnetic Anomaly Detection) still coded “961”.  Returned to NARIV on 14/09/66, presumably for MAD gear removal, moving to Fleetlands on 28/09/66, rejoined 781 Sqdn at Lee-On-Solent on 20/10/66 on a temporary basis and sent back to Fleetlands on 17/11/66 for storage.

1970 – Sold to Autair Helicopters on 19/11/70 and departed on 01/03/71 to be used as a spare source for other Autair helicopters.  WV224 arrived at Port Elizabeth with  3 other ex RNAS S55 airframes.

It’s believed these were flown by Autair to Grand Central Airport in Johannesburg from Port Elizabeth .


The only information we have is that they languished in a hanger and in due course given to the SAAF Museum at Swartskop with WV224 finding it’s way to Ysterplaat.


706 and 845 squadron Oxford Blue. It is believed it was refinished in extra dark sea grey with upper surfaces and sky lower surfaces while with 848 squadron.

Back to Oxford blue when it was transferred to SAR Flight, Malta.

829 squadron RAF blue grey.

This particular airframe is another volunteer project, and is being restored under the  guidance of Richard Woodard, who became particulary intimate with the type when  he was posted to RAF Kuching in Borneo, serving with 225 SQN.

Jeep towing the S 55 prior to restoration.

Restoration complete


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