Author Archives: Cameron Kinnear

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.

Avro Shackleton

View through the bomb-aimer window.
Brig-Gen Ben Kriegler was one of the elite ‘shack’ crew.
“They don’t REALLY bend like that, do they?” (Image by Gordon Clarke)

A descendant of the Lancaster, the Shackleton is an experience to see and hear.

Often described in terms far from complimentary, the Shackleton is a marvelous aircraft,  and to be involved in assisting in the protection and upkeep of this important piece of  aviation history, this “Katherine Hepburn” of the skies, is a remarkable privilege.

WO H. J. “Pottie” Potgieter, project leader of the dedicated team who keep the ‘Shack’ flying.

A dedicated band of volunteers and reserve SAAF members are involved in maintaining  this incredible aircraft.

The following terms are some of the terms used to describe the Shackleton.

“This aircraft looks like a box of frogs”

“The Shack reminds me irresistibly of an elephant’s bottom – gray and wrinkled outside
and dark and smelly inside.”

“10,000 loose rivets flying in close formation”.

“The contra-rotating Nissen hut”

The Prototype Shackelton GR 1 first flew in 1949. The first MR3 flew in 1955. The MR 3 has a length of 28.2 meters, is 7.11 meters high, and has a wingspan of 36.52 meters.

Powered by four Rolls Royce Griffon 57A piston engines delivering 1831 kW (2455 hp) each,  and equipped with contra-rotating propellers, the aircraft can move it’s gross mass of 45 360 kilograms at 486 kilometers per hour at 3657 meters above sea level. With an service ceiling  of 5852 meters and a range of 6782 kilometers, this aircraft and it’s crew of 13 could cruise at 322 kilometers for hour over a large area.

Armed with 2 x 20mm Hispano cannon in the nose, the bomb bay could carry a large range of  items. These included three Mk 30 or Mk 44 torpedoes or depth charges, or nine Sonobouy or  nine 250lb bombs. On search and rescue operations, the Lindholme gear, consisting of a set of five containers with supplies, including a dinghy, could also be carried. The use of the SARO lifeboat, which was fitted to the outside of the bomb-bay doors, was discontinued by the SAAF.

Pelican 16


On the morning of July 13th 1994, the headline news read “SAAF Plane Down in Desert”.

Avro Shackleton, number 1716 was one of eight four-engined maritime patrol aircraft commissioned by the South African Air Force in 1957.

1993 saw an ambitious plan to restore one of these decommissioned aircraft and turn it into a flying museum. The name of this aircraft: Pelican-16.

July1994, after ten years on the ground and two years of restoration work this magnificent aircraft flew again. Following an invitation to take part in the 1994 summer air-show circuit in the UK, Pelican-16 and its crew of 19 took off from Cape Town and headed north.

But then in the dead of the blackest night, high over the Western Sahara the unthinkable happened; two engines on the starboard side failed within a period of just ten minutes. The aircraft and its crew went down.

Image by Brig-Gen Derrick Page

Flight commander Eric Pienaar and his crew performed a miraculous crash landing from which all walked away unaided.