Douglas C-47 Dakota

The most famous of the C47’s, 6832 was the aircraft that was sent to retrieve the coelacanth in 1952.

Image by Irene McCullagh

C47 Dakotas 6862 and 6869 at 35 Squadron, Cape Town International in 1996. 6862 was sold shortly after this image was taken.

The C47 prototype first flew in 1935. One of the most famous aircraft of all time, the ‘Dakota’ was powered with two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 radial piston engines of 1200 hp (882 kw)

With a length of 19,66 meters, height of 5,16 meters and wingspan of 28,96 meters. The maximum speed at sea level is 346kmh and the service ceiling is 6300 meters.

Known by many names, this aircraft has been used for many purposes. Over 10000 were produced, the last rolling off the assembly line in May 1946. Over 40 were operated by the SAAF, with the first delivery to the SAAF having taken place in June 1943.

The SAAF still operates a number of these aircraft, having performed a turboprop conversion.

Denel Cheetah

Image by Dave le Roux

Number 859, Louis Trichardt, 1999.
Number 352, Louis Trichardt, 1999.
Another view of Number 352, Louis Trichardt, 1999.
Number 342, otherwise known as "Spotty" in Cheetah guise at Louis Trichardt, 1999.

The Atlas (later Denel) Cheetah was built as an upgrade of the Dassault Mirage III, and served between 1986 and 2008. There were three variants, the dual seat Cheetah D, and the single seat E and C.

The Cheetah was replaced by the SAAB Gripens.

The Cheetah is 15.5 m in length, with a wingspan of 8.2m, and stand 4.5m in height. The powerplant is 1 Snecma Atar 9K50c-11.

English Electric Canberra

Number 457 photographed at Swartkops in 2003.
The Canberra cockpit section at Ysterplaat.

The English Electric Canberra T.4 flew in June 1952, and the B(I)8 in 1955. No 12 Squadron operated both versions, and the first delivery to South Africa took place in 1963.

Powered by two Rolls Royce Avon 101 turbojets of 2954 kg (T4) and two Rolls Royce Avon 109 turbojets of 3357 kg in the case of the B(I)12, the top speed was 580 mph, the aircraft has a wingspan of 19.5 meters, a height of 4.77 metres and a length of 19.9 meters.

Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer

Number 412, doing duty as a gateguard at Waterkloof, photographed in 1997.
Number 416, photographed at Ysterplaat in 1999. This airframe was on loan to ThunderCity.
No. 416 in 2010

The first Buccaneer S Mk2 flew in 1963. Powered by two Rolls Royce RB.168-1A Spey Mk 101 turbofans of 5035 kg thrust and generating a top speed of 1038 k/mh. The range was 3700 km.

The wingspan is 13.4 metres, height is 4.95 metres and length is 19.33 metres.

40mm Bofor Anti Aircraft Gun

This 40mm Bofors Anti-aircraft gun began life in 1942 and saw action in the Western Desert during World War 2.
The intervening years were not kind to her and she had deteriorated due to harsh weather conditions and lack of attention.

A decision was taken to restore the gun by the Friends of the S.A.A.F. Museum and a dedicated work  party of volunteers committed themselves to the task.  A cost analysis was compiled for the necessary sundries and restoration commenced in early 2002. Each Saturday the team met and “the gun” as she became known, was stripped of all removable components.  Every part was meticulously cleaned, removing multiple layers of dirt, paint and rust, right down to bare metal.

Numerous components were missing and had to be scrounged from various sources or in some instances, hand-made.

Much research was done including contact with numerous military museums to establish the correct colour scheme.

Every part of “the gun” was treated with a rust inhibitor, painted with an undercoat and finally sprayed the correct colour finish.

In early 2004 a visit was made by the team to the Naval Dockyard in Simonstown to enlist the assistance of the Naval Gunnery Command in the skills of re-assembling a 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft Gun.  Much was learned and the team of volunteers began the assembly process in April.

By August 2004 the task was complete and two and a half years of dedicated work had finally paid off.

The 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft Gun Project is the culmination of hard work, dedication and commitment by the Friends of the S.A.A.F Museum to preserve our heritage for future generations.

The next project tackled by the ‘Gun Smiths’ was a Sperry Searchlight, which makes a superb companion piece to the Bofor Gun.

Sud Aviation Allouette

Allouette II at Ysterplaat in 2000
Allouette III Number 628 at Louis Trichardt in 1999.
Allouette III Number 120 at the Stellenbosch Air Show in 2003.

Piaggio P166 Albatross

The first flight of the P166S took place in October 1968, and South Africa’s order of 20 began arriving in 1969.

Powered by two Piaggio-Lycoming GSO-480-B1C6 six cylinder engines of 254 kW, the Albatross had a maximum speed of 357 km/h and a range of 1930 km.

Dakota 75 Anniversary

Dakota 75 Anniversary

Pratt & Whitney

The maiden flight of the Douglas DC-3 took place on 17th December 1935.

In 2010 her 75th anniversary was celebrated all over the globe and locally a special function was hosted by Capt. Flippie Vermeulen at Rand Airport.

Captain Flippie Vermeulen

Flippie Vermeulen, veteran SAA pilot for 41 years with over 23,500 hours under his belt, of which approximately 3,000 hours are on propliners such as the DC-3, DC-4 and the DC-6, currently holds the post of Senior Training Captain with South African Airways on the Airbus A340, flying international routes including destinations such as London, Frankfurt, Munich, New York, Washington, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Perth.


He has always loved flying the DC-3 and his family business, Springbok Classic Air at Rand Airport has been operating DC-3 Flying Safaris for the last 10 years, together with his daughter Petro and son Peet as co-pilots.

Classic Air’s ZS-NTE

On 18 December 2010 he hosted a function in the hangar from which he operates his business, located next to the Dakota Lodge, also owned by the family.

The Dakota 75th Anniversary Function

Guests were formally attired in period costume and throughout the day flips were offered on the beautifully restored piston Dakota ZS-NTE culminating in a 5-ship formation flight preceding the dinner function.

5 ship formation

The formation consisted of three piston DC-3’s and two SAAF C-47 turbo props.

Flippie’s ZS-NTE is an ex 35 Squadron DC-3, formerly 6873, which became surplus to requirements in 1995

She was sold to a private operator at Rand Airport in 1996. Springbok Classic Air bought her in 2003 and she was put into storage until April 2009 when a total of 8-months labour began. Her interior is luxurious and her exterior a shining silver with dark green detail. She will be used mainly for luxury Flying Safaris for international clients and for domestic corporate flights. Local sightseeing flights from Rand Airport take place on the last Saturday of each month.

Springbok Classic Air and Dakota Lodge can be contacted via their website or email Flippie Vermeulen

Reconnaissance Car (Marmon Herrington)

Reconnaissance Car (Marmon Herrington)

Restored by Eric Tyler

The South African Reconnaissance Car, also known as the Marmon-Herrington Armoured Car, was produced in South Africa during the Second World War.

Initiated in 1938 by the South African Government, the first version was based on a Ford 3 ton chassis, imported from Canada, and fitted with a four wheel drive conversion kit from the American company Marmon-Herrington. The armour was produced by the South African Iron and Steel Industrial Corporation. Final Assembly was carried out by the Dorman Long Company.

The MkI, of which model 135 units were built, entered service in 1940. This was a 2 wheel drive model, armed with two Vickers guns. This saw brief action against the Italians in the Western Desert, but was rapidly consigned to training duties.

The MkII and MkIII were 4×4 models, and were used extensively during the North African campaign, mainly in a reconnaissance role. The normal armament was a co-axial Bren Gun, and one or two Anti-Aircraft machine guns, and a Boyes Anti-Tank rifle mounted in the turret.

Many armament modifications were carried out in the field, and among the variations was the installation of the 20mm and 47mm Breda, the German 37mm Pak, the French 25mm, the 20mm Oerlikon cannon and the British 2 pounder Anti-Tank gun.

A MKIV in Bloemfontein.

In 1943 a completely redesigned MkIV entered the fray. This had a 2 pounder gun as standard armament, with a .30 Browning machine gun mounted next to the 2 pounder. Another .30 Browning was normally fitted to turret as an Anti-Aircraft weapon.

A number of other models were built. In 1943 a MkIVF was introduced due to the difficulty of obtaining the Marmon-Herrington conversion kit. This unit was based on the Canadian F60L four wheel drive 3 ton truck chassis. Interestingly, the vehicle was still referred to as the Marmon-Herrington.

In 1942 the Mk V, an 8 wheel prototype based on a German design, was built. This single unit was followed by the MkVI, of which two units were built. MK VII and MKVIII were similar, but had different armament.

The units were used by many armed forces, and saw service in the Greek Army until the 1990’s.

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Battle of Britain

Battle of Britain – Adler Tag

The Exhibition was held to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain and was based on the personal experiences of Survivors of The Battle.

In particular, two survivors were on hand to give first hand accounts of what the experience was like. They explained what is was like to fly their respective aircraft.  Heinz Migeod flew the Stuka JU87B dive bomber, and Pat Wells flew the Hurricane fighter.  They informed visitors about the time and era, and reminisced about friends no longer with them.

The exhibition did not feature any of the politics or propaganga surrounding the Battle, but focused solely on the individuals involved, including the pilots, ground crews, civilians and families.

Also present were Joan Hutchinson and Jessica Teale of the Women’s Auxilliary Air Force (WAAF), David Lithgow (Air Sea Rescue) and Norman Brason, Aircraft Fitter, among others.

David Lithgow
Jessica Teale

David Lithgow and Jessica Teale, Survivors of the Battle assisted at the exhibition.

Pat Wells, with Heinz Migeod (Standing)

Two simulators were specifically built for the Exhibition. Guests could climb into the Hurricane and fly over the patchwork countryside in Defence of the Realm, or fly the nimble ME109E in an escort mission to ensure the bombers get through.