Category Archives: Aircraft

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Westland Wasp HAS. Mk1

Wasp #93 at AFB Ysterplaat.  Image by Jens Schmidtgen

Wasp #93 and website author at AFB Ysterplaat in 2002. He served on the SAS President Kruger, which operated Wasp helicopters in an anti-submarine role.

SAS President Pretorius.  Image by C K Kinnear

Taken by the website author in 1981 from the helicopter deck of the SA Navy Flagship SAS President Kruger, SAS President Pretorius and WASP HAS. MK1 operate south of Cape Point.

Note the forefoot of the frigate is completely out of the water.

Wasp #85 operating off the SAS President Kruger in 1981.    Image by C K Kinnear

The first prototype flew in the UK in 1958, and the first production model flew in 1962. Developed as an antisubmarine ship-based unit, the aircraft carries a pilot and a flight engineer and three passengers. Armed with either two Mk 44 torpedoes or depth charges, this aircraft had a range of 488km and a maximum speed of 104 knots, or 193 km/h.

Image by Elmarie Dreyer

Powered by a Rolls Royce Bristol Nimbus 503 turbo shaft, the SAAF ordered 17 WASPs of which 16 were delivered.

Image by Irene McCullagh

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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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Mustang P-51D-20NA

Category : Aircraft , Features , Posts , Publications

Mustang '325' at Swartkops, 1999

Serial Number 44-72202 was delivered to the USAAF in September 1945

12/21/46: Delivered RSwAF 26112 F4, later F16
1952 Dec: Delivered Dominican AF FAD 1917
1984: (Johnson Av.)
1987: SAAF Historic Flight -restoration
1993: SAAF Museum -restoration
1998: Flying again as SAAF 325
2001: suffered a wheels up landing (repairs began)

The airframe was acquired for the SAAF Museum by Lt Col Tony Smit in 1987 from the USA and
it was shipped to Cape Town. It was found to be very corroded and stripping commenced immediately
after the crated aircraft arrived at AFB Swartkop. It is recorded that bad luck, missing parts, stretched
cables and a lack of funds resulted in the restoration taking some 12 years of work.

The aircraft had a mishap when one side of the undercarriage failed to rotate and  the aircraft was damaged. The pilot was Lt Col N. Thomas.

General Characteristics

Length of 9.8 metres, wingspan of 11.28 metres, height of 4.08 metres.

Powerplant is a Packard V-1650-7 liquid cooled supercharged V-12.

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Aeromacchi Atlas MB326M Impala Mark I and Mark II

Category : Aircraft , Features , Posts , Publications

Impala 531, in Silver Falcons scheme, taken at Hoedspruit in 1997.

Impala Mk II #1027 taken at Bloemspruit in 1997.

Impala #524 taken at the SAAF Museum at Swartkops in 2003.

An Italian design, the South African versions are known as Impalas. The dual seat prototype first flew in 1957, with the single seat version’s first flight occurring in 1970.

The power plant is a Rolls Royce Viper Mk 540 turbojet offering 1547kg’s of static thrust.

The principal dimensions include a wingspan of 10,56 metres, a height of 3.72 metres, and a length of 10,65 metres.

Top speed at sea level of 770kmh, with a service ceiling of 12500 metres and a range of 1665 kilometres.

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North American Harvard

Taken at Swartkops in 1997.

Taken at Swartkops in 1997.

The first prototype flew in 1937, the T6G had a top speed of 341 kmh at sea level with an operational ceiling
of 6500m.

A batch of 9 Mk I’s were delivered between 1940 and 1942, and the SAAF took delivery of their first batch of Harvard Mk II’s in 1942, with deliveries continuing until four Harvards were purchased from the Belgian Air Force in 1961.

The SAAF operated a number of variants, including the MkII (Designated in the US as  AT-6C), Mk III’s (designated in the US as AT-6D or SJN-4) and the T-6G, the rebuilt version of World War II vintage machines.

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Super Frelon 321L

Super Frelon #314 is cared for in a running condition at the Museum at Ysterplaat Air Force Base.

Frelon #314 dwarfs the Ford Canada CMP truck.

The first prototype flew on December 7th, 1962, and the first production model flew on November 11th, 1965.

This French aircraft was powered by three Turbomeca Turmo IIIC turbo shaft engines rated at 1320 shp (985Kw) each. The fuselage is 19.4 metres and the rotor diameter is 18.9 metres. The gross mass is 13 000 kilograms.

The aircraft had a maximum speed of 275kmh at sea level with a range of 820 kilometres. The service ceiling was 3150 metres. A crew of pilot, co-pilot and engineer, and 27 passengers could be carried.

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Fieseler Fi 156 Storch

The first prototype flew in 1936, and the aircraft became one of the greatest recconaissance aircraft of all time.

Powered by an Argus AS 10-C eight cylinder air-cooled piston engine of 176 kW, the aircraft has a wingspan of 14.22 meters, a height of 3 meters and a length of 10 meters. The maximum speed is 175 k/mh. The SAAF aquired it FI 156C-7 in 1946.

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Louis Trichardt, 1999.

Image by Neil Commerford

The first production F.1 flew in 1973, with South Africa receiving it’s first delivery in 1975. Powered by a Snecma-Atar 09k-50 turbojet rated at 5035 kg (7166 kg on afterburner) the Mirage is capable of Mach 2.2

The length is 15 meters, the height is 4.5 meters and the wingspan is 8.4 meters.

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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.

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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.


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