Research

  • Zwartkop not Swartkop

    Name change of Heritage Site – Swartkop Air Field

    The original site selected for military aerodrome was the eastern portion of the farm Zwartkop. Farm number 476, Pretoria District, and was owned by the property magnate, Mr Dale Lace of Johannesburg. The Farm was named Zwartkop after the prominent hill of the same name in the area.

  • WOMEN IN THE SAAF – AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR

    Capt L. Steyn Historical Research Officer

    The end of the Second World War led to the disbandment of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, the last women’s camp at Valhalla being closed on 1 April 1947. The majority of women returned to civilian life, but a nucleus of former members stayed on and were accommodated in the Women’s Auxiliary Defence Corps and utilized in the Air Force.

    The Women’s Defence Corps was established on 28 November 1947. Regulations however made severe distinctions between members of the WDC and male members of the Permanent Force, the most demeaning regulation was one concerning seniority – “Precedence: – Male members of the Force take precedence over those of the WDC of the same rank, irrespective of the date of appointment or promotion to the rank.” By early 1949 the Air Force had four officers and thirty other ranks in the WDC. On the 9th of May 1949 the decision was made that the recruiting of women for the WDC Permanent Force is to cease.

  • WATCH TOWER

    WATCH TOWER / CONTROL TOWER

    Situated on top of Number 7 Hanger, presently utilised by the Zwartkop Fire Section, is the oldest Watch Tower / Control Tower in the Southern Hemisphere. The Watch Tower was erected here in 1927 when, in the interests of flying safety, a requirement was identified to exercise some sort of control over all the flying activities at the Air Station.

  • Vickers Valiant B(K).1 XD861

    Vickers Valiant B(K).1 XD861
    214 Squadron RAF The SAAF Museum recently received these faded old negatives from a benefactor. It records the historic flight in 1959 of a Vickers Valiant, which undertook the first non-stop flight from the England to Cape Town and back, non-stop in each direction, being refueled by two Valiant tankers over Kano, Nigeria on both flights.

  • THE STORY OF THE VICTORIA CROSS

    The coveted Victoria Cross is the highest British military decoration that is awarded for: “Most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or per-eminent single act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy." The prestigious award was instituted on the 29 January 1856 and gazetted on the 5 February 1856, being made retrospective in order to include recipients in the Crimean War (1854-1856).

  • The Patchen Explorer

    Leon Steyn, Historian Air Force Museum

    The Patchen Explorer was conceived by the former Thurston Aircraft Corporation in the USA as a landplane version of its TSC-1 Teal amphibian. The development of both designs was financed by Marvin Patchen Inc, which retained the rights to the TSC-2 Explorer.

    The SAAF Museum now owns the one and only example of the Patchen Explorer in the world.

  • The Great Escape from Stalag Luft III

    The Great Escape from Stalag Luft III, 1944

    South African Air Force Prisoner of War Executed by Gestapo after the Mass Escape at Stalag Luft Three at Sagan, 23/24 March 1944

    Allied aircrew members who were shot down and subsequently captured during World War Two were first interrogated before being incarcerated in Air Force Prisoner of War Camps run and administered by the Luftwaffe. These camps were called Stalag Luft, short for Stammlager Luft. Unlike their army counterparts who had separate camps for officers (Oflag, short for Offizier Lager) and NCO’s (Stalag, short for Stammlager),

  • SOUTH AFRICANS IN THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

    This year sees the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain during the Second World War. The South African Air Force Museum recently participated and provided a Bosbok aircraft in the flypast that preceded the commemoration service that was held in Johannesburg on Sunday the 12th of September 2010.

  • South African Air Force Ensign (1940 - 1951)

    On 3 December 1940, Air Directorate Order No. 212/1158 stipulated that the "South African Air Force Ensign was to be flown at all Air Force Stations together with the Ensign of the Royal Air Force". On 17 December 1940 a General Order created the first

  • South African Air Force Ensign (1920 - 1940)

    The SAAF was formed in 1920 and originally used the ensign of the British Royal Air Force until a distinctive SAAF ensign was adopted in December 1940. The SAAF adopted an Air Force ensign which retained the sky blue background of the RAF ensign but exchanged the Union Flag for the South African flag and placed the orange, white and blue roundel of the SAAF in the fly.

  • Sir Pierre van Ryneveld honoured

    A memorial service of special significance was held on Saturday 19 February 2011 at the South African Air Force Memorial at Bays Hill. The beautiful and tranquil surroundings of the Wall of Remembrance painted the backdrop to the occasion, during which the casket containing the ashes of the late Sir Pierre and Lady Betty van Ryneveld were placed to a newly dedicated niche inside the Wall of Remembrance.

  • SIGNIFICANCE OF REMEMBRANCE DAY

    Armistice, as related to warfare, is defined a “a mutually-agreed suspension of hostilities between two Powers engaged in warfare”. During World War One, it became apparent towards the end of 1918, that the state of the German Armed Forces, rendered futile any continuation of the terrible carnage which had characterised trench warfare in particular, and on 6 November 1918, a delegation, headed by the notorious Herr Erzberger, the German Secretary of State, left Berlin to seek terms for an Armistice.

  • Short History Air Defence Artillery Group

    SHORT HISTORY OF THE AIR DEFENCE ARTILLERY GROUP IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN AIRFORCE

    250 Air Defence Artillery Group was formed on 1 December 1973. Initial training was undertaken at Air Defense School (AFB Waterkloof) where a Cactus Wing was established. Initially a French team from the company Thomson CSF provided support and training. By January 1985 such training was amalgamated at Air Space Control School (AFB Waterkloof).

  • SAAF in the late 1950's

    THE SOUTH AFRICAN AIR FORCE IN THE LATE 1950’S

    The late 1950’s saw the delivery and retirement of many familiar aircraft types that served the SAAF.

    The Spitfires were retired in 1954 and the Sunderlands in 1957. Two Herons were delivered in 1955, but like the Devons, did not prove entirely satisfactory and were withdrawn in 1962. Further batches of Austers were delivered in 1957. Despite trials with two Dornier Do 27’s from 1958 onwards, the Cessna 185 was adopted for Army co-operation duties to replace the Austers of 42 AOP Flight.

  • Patchen TSC-2

    UP WERE IT BELONGS, PATCHEN RETURNING TO THE SKY

    The Patchen Explorer was conceived by the former Thurston Aircraft Corporation in the USA as a landplane version of its TSC-1 Teal amphibian. The development of both designs was financed by Marvin Patchen Inc, which retained the rights to the TSC-2 Explorer. The SAAF Museum now owns the one and only example of the Patchen Explorer in the world. Construction of the prototype was completed by Aerofab Corporation of Sanford, Maine, USA and the aircraft made its first flight on 13 October 1972 at the hands of test pilot Win Young.

  • New angle on Sir Pierre van Ryneveld

    The South African Air Force founder and aviation pioneer, Sir Pierre van Ryneveld was the object of much historical attention at the Air Force Museum Swartkop recently. DSTV’s Kyknet channel recently commissioned a documentary series featuring the life and times of many famous South Africans, now deceased. The documentary series entitled “Wie lê daar…” is presented by the “undertaker” and musician Piet Botha of Jack Hammer fame and produced and directed by Gustav Kuhn, who also produced the film “Die ongelooflike avonture van Hanna Hoekom” recently. For three months the film crew trekked across the country to find and film the abodes and sacred last resting places of many famous (and infamous) South Africans, including Shaka Zulu, Mahatma Gandhi, Ingrid Jonker, André Stander, Bles Bridges, Tolla van der Merwe, Hansie Cronje and many others.

  • Museum flying day - 5 June 2010

    The South African Air Force Museum celebrated vertical flight when more than twenty helicopters and gyrocopters flew into Swartkop during the museum’s monthly flying day.

  • Mikoyan Mig21

    Written by Johan Smidt (Friends of the Museum)

    Most probably the most produced fighter aircraft in the world since the Korean War with the longest production run from 1959 – 1985. The characteristic layout with the shock cone and front air intake did not see widespread outside the USSR and proved to have limited development potential because of very limited space for radar.

  • MEMORIAL STONE

    MEMORIAL STONE FROM DERELICT CHURCH AT MT EDGECOMBE FINDS NEW HOME IN SAAF MUSEUM

    At 30A Marshall Drive, Mount Edgecombe stands a small church that is more that 100 years old. The church was built to service the community who used to live and work for the old Tongaat – Hulett Sugar Mill. The church now stands in the industrial area of Mount Edgecombe and over the years, has been vandalised and completely stripped of all its

  • Lt Domingos José de Almeida Vinez

    On the morning of December 20 1988, a pair of FAPA (Angolan Air Force) MiG-21 MF’s took off from Lubango, "intending" to make a high level transit flight to Luena (Luso) Air Base.  Twenty five year old Ovimbundo (Gen Savimbi's tribe) Lt Domingos Vinez was the pilot of MiG-21 C340.  Instead of flying to Luena, he flew south east at about 36 000 ft over thick cloud cover.  After being airborne for 70 minutes,

  • Korean Series: RORKE’S INN

    An extract from “South Africa’s Flying Cheetahs in Korea” by Dermot Moore and Peter Bagshawe.

    “During this difficult period in mid-1951 a high level of morale was maintained by the regular arrival of mail from home and such thoughtful gestures as individually addressed parcels from the Gift and Comfort Fund. The losses and narrow escapes had placed the pilots of the Cheetah Squadron under considerable strain, and something extra was needed to relieve the tension. That something was the inspiration of a young officer from the Eastern Cape, Micky Rorke, who felt that although the American Officer’s Club was comfortable and friendly, it lacked atmosphere, so, with the help of Flight Sergeant Bob Monroe, he decided to do something about it. In a borrowed jeep Mickey drove to Pusan and bought ten dollars’ worth of drinks at the British NAAFI.

  • Historical Douglas DC-6 ready to go

    The Douglas DC-6 represented the pinnacle of piston propliner technology during the 1950's. First flown on 15 February 1946, the DC-6 followed the very successful DC-3 Dakota and DC-4 Skymaster that Douglas developed. It secured a large segment of passenger aircraft sales of the time in which Lockheed, with its sleek and elegant Constellation, was the main rival of the era. The two companies competed throughout the 1950's,

  • HAT TRICK for the Museum

    Three different and unique display items were recently added to the Air Force Museum’s collection at Swartkop. And to top it off, all three were delivered on the same day! Tuesday the 9th of November 2010 proved to be a productive day at the museum with the arrival of a Pilatus Astra aircraft, a World War II guard tower and an experimental APA gas turbine engine.

  • Hand over of the ROOIVALK XDM

    The Rooivalk helicopter that had its maiden flight on the day Mr Nelson Mandela’s was released from prison in 1990 will be handed over to the SA Air Force Museum on his 94th birthday.

     Mike Kgobe, the CEO of Denel Aviation says the Rooivalk combat support helicopter represents the best in South African design and manufacturing, demonstrating the country’s ability to produce a world-class, home-grown aircraft.

  • Forgotten memorabilia

    When units are closed down or squadrons disbanded, their memorabilia often ends up in a remote and forgotten store-room.  In other cases it even becomes the "property" of its former members, decorating the pub at home.  The South African Museum has specifically been established to preserve and display the heritage of the South African Air Force through all these years and this is where such items need to go.

  • Douglas DC-3 75th anniversary

    On 17 December 2010 the world of aviation celebrated the first flight of the legendary Douglas DC-3 Dakota, seventy-five years ago. The local aviation fraternity congregated at Rand Airport on Saturday the 18th near Johannesburg for a big birthday bash, organised and hosted by Flippie Vermeulen of Springbok Classic Air.

  • Dakota ventures south

    The Air Force Museum at Swartkop will be sending its C-47 Dakota down to Cape Town to participate in the bi-annual AAD expo and airshow hosted at AFB Ysterplaat from the 20th to the 25th of September 2010. The well known camouflaged aircraft will be departing Swartkop airfield on Wednesday morning for its flight down to the Cape.

  • CLASSIC WINGS OVER THE CITY

    On Saturday the 4th of December 2010, a classic Douglas airliner “the Empress of Suva” took to the sky over the city for a brief but memorable ferry flight to its new owners north of Pretoria. The Douglas DC-6B, which first flew with Canadian Pacific Airlines in August 1957, had languished at Swartkop airfield for the past eleven years and was destined to be scrapped, unwanted.

  • Cessna 185E

    CESSNA 185E SKYWAGON NO. 748

    The Cessna 185 Skywagon was selected by the Army to replace the ageing Austers then being used by the Army Air Reconnaissance squadron at the School of Artillery in Potchefstroom in the observation and co-operation role. 45 examples of three variants were delivered between 1962 and 1968 and equipped both 41 (ACF) Army Co-operation Squadron based at Potchefstroom (later Grand Central Aerodrome) and 42 AAR Squadrons, which remained behind at Potchefstroom. In October 1968 the two units transferred to the SAAF, falling under Light Aircraft Command.

  • Brief History

    MOTTO: CUSTODIA TRADITIONES (“Custodian of traditions”) 1973 - 2013

    No interest was initially shown towards the preservation of aircraft during the early years of the South African Air Force and it was only during the Second World War that interest was shown towards the conservation of military equipment when the official historian of the Union Defence Force put forward the idea of a War Museum in July 1941. The South African War Museum in Johannesburg was established in 1942. The suggestion to establish a separate SAAF Museum appears to have been ignored.

  • BATTLE OF BRITAIN - 70 YEARS

    The South African Air Force and the Royal Air Force share a proud and long-standing relationship. During the First World War South Africans served with the British Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. In fact, 26 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps consisted almost entirely of South African personnel that previously served with the former South African Aviation Corps during the German South West African campaign of 1915.

  • BADGES OF RANK FOR COMMISSIONED OFFICERS

    pips

    The badges of rank for Commissioned Officers, known in military terminology as the "pip" had an exceptionally strong Christian background. These badges of rank were worn by officers in the South African Air Force from its inception in 1920 until South Africa became a Republic on 31 May 1961.

  • Alouette III back in the Air

    The French manufactured Alouette III helicopter was first delivered to the South African Air Force in 1962 and served with distinction until its final retirement from service in September 2007. Affectionately known as the “Draadkar” is was replaced by the Augusta 109, although many SAAF aircrew regretfully alluded to the fact that no other chopper will ever replace the Alo III. Its uncomplicated operation and ease of maintenance will sorely be missed by most.

  • Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador

    Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador
    Second prototype G-AKRD
    13 March 1950
    During a simulated take-off engine-failure demonstration at Hurn Airport, Bournemouth, the aircraft sank back on a rising runway. All doors and emergency hatches opened normally and only the port propellers were damaged.  The aircraft was repaired and continued to be used as a prototype in the development of the Ambassador. 

  • A Brief history of the SAAF Museum

    MOTTO: CUSTODIA TRADITIONES
    (“Custodian of traditions”)
    1973 - 2013

    No interest was initially shown towards the preservation of aircraft during the early years of the South African Air Force and it was only during the Second World War that interest was shown towards the conservation of military equipment when the official historian of the Union Defence Force put forward the idea of a War Museum in July 1941. The South African War Museum in Johannesburg was established in 1942. The suggestion to establish a separate SAAF Museum appears to have been ignored.

  • 44 Squadron formation

    The first Douglas C-47 Dakota was delivered to 44 Squadron in Cairo on 27 April 1944 and served with the squadron until 1992 when they were replaced by converted C-47TP versions. The first Douglas DC-4 Skymaster; which previously served with South African Airways; was delivered to the squadron at AFB Swartkop on 14 January 1966.

  • 24 GROUP

    24 GROUP ROYAL AIR FORCE CONTROL TOWER AND HEADQUARTERS COMPLEX

    The declaration of War in 1939 and the introduction of radio communications led to the rapid expansion of Zwartkop Air Station. More Air Training Schools were activated throughout South Africa and the introduction of flying training on a very large scale at Zwartkop Air Station left 24 Group,