Wednesday, 27 February 2013

2500 Page views- thanks to my readers

A thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog. Started a few months ago, and this week clocked the 2500 views mark. Thanks to all those other aircraft nuts out there!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Mirages and Choppers: SAAF in the 60s and 70s

Mirages and Choppers SAAF in the The Sixties and Seventies

In the early sixties South Africa’s deteriorating security position resulted in Government to take steps towards re-armanent. The SAAF’s arsenal was strengthened.

Line-up of SAAF aircraft in 60s livery: Mirage III CZ and EZ, Canberras, Buccaneers and F86s

The first Dassault-Breguet Mirage III CS fighter aircraft arrived in South Africa in April 1963 to replace the aging sub-sonic F86s and Vampires

One of the earliest customers for the Mirage, South Africa, initially ordered 16 III Cs for low-level strike duties. These aircraft served with No. 2 Squadron of the South African Air Force and could carry the Nord AS.20 air-to-ground missile. Three Mirage III BZ trainers were also ordered.

Subsequently, 16 Mirage III Es were ordered, these served with the SAAF's No. 3 Squadron; the service also had three Mirage III D two-seaters for training on the III E variant. 

Four Mirage IIIR/IIIRD aircraft were bought for photo-reconnaissance duties.

Differences between CZ and EZ (other than propulsion)

In June 1967, the name "Mirage" literally shot into prominence through newspaper headlines around the world. Israel's new Mirages were the spearhead of attack by the Israel Defence Force/Air Force in what has come to be known as the "Six-Day War". In capable hands, the French-produced Mirage proved what hitherto had been understood by knowledgeable aircraft engineers and military aviation specialists; in its class, the Mirage was and is par excellence. No military aircraft of the 1970s, emanating from Western Europe, including the United Kingdom, has a bigger or better reputation than  Dassault's Mirage.

RZ showing the phot-reconaissance gear

 Other aircraft aquired in the sixties and seventies included:

  • Canberra light bombers
  • Buccaneer S Mk 50 strike aircraft
  • Lockheed C-130B Hercules 
  • Transall C-160Z medium transport aircraft  

During the sixties new types of helicopters were also introduced, including the

Alouette II 

Alouette  III light helicopter

SA 330C Puma

A 32 IL Super Frelon medium transport helicopter 

Westland Wasp light anti-submarine helicopter.

More about the Mirage III and the Cheetah Project (click to follow link)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Of Shackletons and Vikings

Of Shackletons and Vikings

Steve Sheckter posted a grand old photograph above of the Vickers Viking that used to sit on top of Vic's Viking Garage (Filling station) on the Old Potchefstroom Road near the Uncle Charlies' Interchange in Johannesburg. 

In later years (1987) this aircraft was removed, and a restoration projects started. It was replaced by one of the Avro Shackletons from the SAAF, and that aircraft remains there to this day.
Sadly it does not appear that the restoration was completed. 
I hope to the contrary

As I child it was one of my biggest thrills to go past this filling station, and occasionally stop there to fill up. I think my Dad was aware of this, and indulged my aviation lust. He also took me to the Jan Smuts Airport to watch planes occasionally. 

(My other great thrill was driving to Pretoria on the Ben Schoeman highway, and seeing acres and acres of WW2 vintage armour and soft-skinned vehicles at Snake Valley.)

Pictured below is the removal pf the Viking and installation of the Shackleton:

Seeing this post has piqued my interest, and  I have found the following images and story:

The Vickers VC.1 Viking was a twin-engined short-range airliner derived from the Vickers Wellington bomber. The initial nineteen production aircraft (Mark 1A) carried between 21 and 24 passengers. The fuselage was metal but the geodetic wings and tail planes were fabric covered.

The aircraft has two Bristol Hercules 630 engines. These are 14-cylinder two-row, sleeve valve, air-cooled radial engines developing 1,690 hp each.

The VC stands for Vickers Commercial, sometimes also called Vickers Civil.

Built at the Vickers-Armstrongs factory in Weybridge, England, c/n 121 first took to the air on 30 August 1946, registered as G-AHOT with British European Airways and was used in the 1948 Berlin Airlift. On 26 September 1954 she was sold to Trek Airways, registered ZS-DKH and operated in Protea Airways colours, a second airline of Trek, and for many years, transported hundreds of passengers on leisurely and scenic flights between South Africa and Europe. She even starred in the film, “Kimberly Jim” with the late Jim Reeves.

After 13.881 flying hours she was disassembled and transported by road to Armadale south of Johannesburg, where, in January 1963 she was lifted on to the roof of the Vic de Villiers “Vic’s Viking Service Station” where she became a famous, if forlorn, landmark.

On 5 March 1987, the Viking was replaced by SAAF Shackleton 1723 and donated to the SAA Museum Society. The Viking’s wings were removed and she was towed to Jan Smuts Airport.

Unfortunately 20 years plus later, in 2008, the aircraft had not been restored and was a tatty hulk standing not too far from the engine run-up bay at OR Tambo International Airport.

More on the history of the SAAF Shackletons: a 2-part post on those magnificent ladies.
(Click on link)

Friday, 22 February 2013

Steampunk: Polikarpov I-153 Chaika and F-111 Pics

Polikarpov I 153 Chaika and RAAF F-111 Pictures

I stumbled upon the website of Peter Findlay, who has some great pics of RAAF F-111s taken at Wanaka a few year ago; and a fantastic atmospheric Polkarpov I-153; looks almost steam-punk like.

Polikarpov I-153 Chaika which was armed with four 7.62 mm machine guns and was powered by a M-62 1,000 hp engine giving a top speed of 275 mph making it the fastest biplane ever produced. 

The I-153 first flew in 1938 and served in the Far East in the summer of 1939 against the Japanese Army on the Manchurian border at Nomongan. The type also saw service in the Finnish War of 1939-40. Used by the Chinese Nationalist forces against the Japanese. 

This and two other wrecks, sourced from Russia, were rebuilt in that country for Sir Tim Wallis in the 1990s.

These images appears in issue 11 of Aero Australia.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

More about the SAAF De Havilland Vampires

More About the SAAF De Havilland Vampires

Vampire variants (SAAF planes in bold)

Links to other sites and pages in blue

Production History:

DH 100: three prototypes.

Vampire Mk I: single-seat fighter version for the RAF; 244 production aircraft being built.

Mk II: three prototypes:  Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine. One built and two conversions.

F.3: single-seat fighter for the RAF. Two prototypes were converted from the Mk 1; 202 production aircraft were built, 20 were exported to Norway

Mk IV: Nene-engined project, not built.

FB.5: single-seat fighter-bomber version. Powered by the Goblin 2 turbojet; 930 built for the RAF and 88 for export. Used in SA

FB.6: single-seat fighter-bomber. Powered by a Goblin 3 turbojet; 178 built, 100 built in Switzerland for the Swiss Air Force. (link to Swiss AF Vampires)

Mk 8: Ghost-engined, one conversion from Mk 1.

FB.9: Tropicalised fighter-bomber through addition of air conditioning to Mark 5. Powered by Goblin 3 turbojet; 326 built, mostly by de Havilland, but also by Fairey Aviation.

Mk 10 or DH 113 Vampire: Goblin-powered two-seater prototype; two built.

NF.10: two-seat night fighter version for the RAF; 95 built including 29 as the NF.54.

Sea Vampire Mk 10: prototype for deck trials. One conversion.

Mk 11 or DH 115 Vampire Trainer: private venture, two-seat jet trainer prototype.

T.11: two-seat training version for the RAF and export. Powered by a Goblin 35 turbojet engine; 731 were built by DH and Fairey Aviation. Used in SA

Sea Vampire F 20:
 naval version of the FB.5; 18 built by English Electric.

Sea Vampire Mk 21: six aircraft converted from F.3s with strengthened belly and arrester hook for trials of undercarriage-less landings on flexible decks.

Sea Vampire T 22: two-seat training version for the Royal Navy; 73 built by De Havilland.

FB 25: FB.5 variants; 25 exported to New Zealand (link to NZ Vampires)

F.30: single-seat fighter-bomber version for the RAAF. Powered by Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet; 80 built in Australia.

FB.31: Nene-engined, 29 built in Australia.

F 32: one Australian conversion with air conditioning.

T.33: two-seat training version. Powered by the Goblin turbojet; 36 were built in Australia.

T.34: two-seat training version for the Royal Australian Navy; five were built in Australia.

T.34A: Vampire T.34s fitted with ejection seats.

T.35: modified two-seat training version; 68 built in Australia.

T.35A: T.33 conversions to T.35 configuration.

FB.50: exported to Sweden as the J 28B; 310 built, 12 of which were eventually rebuilt to T.55 standard.

FB.51: export prototype (one conversion) to France.

FB.52: export version of Mk 6, 101 built; 36 exported to Norway and in use from 1949 to 1957 and SA and NZ

 single-seat fighter-bomber for the Italian Air Force; 80 built in Italy. .

FB.53: single-seat fighter-bomber for the French Armee de l'Air; 250 built in France, as the Sud-Est SE 535 Mistral.

NF.54: export version of Vampire NF.10 for the Italian Air Force; 29 being built.

T.55: export version of the DH 115 trainer; 216 built and six converted from the T.11.

Full record of Service w SAAF:

Type/model SAAF serial / 1 Squadron code History

Vampire FB5 201 AX-X

Vampire FB5 202

Vampire FB5 203

Vampire FB5 204

Vampire FB5 EP42784 205 SAAF Museum Port Elizabeth. Ex Fort Beaufort

Vampire FB5 206 AX-G

Vampire FB5 EP42916 207 AX-KSAAF Museum Swartkop. Ex SAAF Gymnasium Gate Guard

Vampire FB5 EP42917 208 AX-D SAAF Museum Ysterplaat. Ex Fort Klapperkop

Vampire FB5 209 Scrapped

 Vampire FB5 210 AX-A

Vampire FB6 V0489 211 To Rhodesia R8128 wfu 18/4/81, To Australia 1988 pole mounted, Braybrook, Victoria, painted as RAAF A79-321.

Vampire FB6 V0513 212 Crashed 04/02/53

Vampire FB6 V0533 213 AX-N To Rhodesia R1833 w/o 21/10/76. Flt.Lt. Roy Hulley -   Kutanga weapons range accident.

Vampire FB6 V0538 214 Crashed 04/04/53

Vampire FB6 V0582 215 AX-Z To Rhodesia R8134 wfu 7/12/78. Flt.Lt Dave Bourhill -                  
crashed on approach to Thornhill Airbase post air test. 

Vampire FB6 V0583 216 To Rhodesia R1829 Flying up till March 1981, to Australia1988,  currently in storage Old Aeroplane Company, Tyabb
Vampire FB6 V0584 217 AX-T

Vampire FB6 V0585 218 AX-V        SAAF Museum Ysterplaat. Ex AFS VTH  Gate Guard.

Vampire FB6 V0592 219 Preserved SAAF Museum Swartkop.

Vampire FB6 V0593 220

Vampire T11 15013 221 d/d 1952-3 To Rhodesia 13/12/72. In the UK. ALlen, Hemel Hempstead (Private, Cockpit Section)

Vampire T11 15025 222 d/d 1952/3 Derelict at SAAF Museum. (Wonderboom) Ex Denel TA

Vampire T11 15041 223 d/d 1952/3 To Rhodesia R4323? 13/12/72. Reportedly  never flown                                                
spares only. Believed to be one of the early 'top hatch' canopy type 

Vampire T11 15043 224 d/d 1952/3 To Rhodesia R4324? 13/12/72.

Vampire T51 15065 225 d/d 1952/3 Collision 27/03/1968

Vampire T51 15077 226      d/d 1952/3 To Rhodesia R4325? 13/12/72.

Vampire FB52 V0567 227       Believed preserved SAAF Museum

Vampire FB52 V0574 228

Vampire FB52 V0581 229 d/d January 1952. To Rhodesia. Preserved SAAF Museum            
Swartkop. Ex 15 AD, AFS Snake Valley. Restored to  static display as SAAF 229 by the Friends of the SAAF Museum Pretoria 

Vampire FB52 V0599 230 Scrapped

Vampire FB52 V0678 231 Preserved Stellenbosch University (Stellenbosch FC?)

Vampire FB52 V0600 232

Vampire FB52 V0605 233 Crashed 08/10/1954

Vampire FB52 V0679 234 To Rhodesia R1380. Preserved in Zimbabwe's Gweru 
                                                                      Military Museum - last flight late 1981 early 82.

Vampire FB52 V0615 235 Preserved AFB Langebaanweg, Cape Town. Gate guard

Vampire FB52 V0627 236 Crashed 23/09/1954

Vampire FB52 V0682 237 Force landed 16/03/1970

Vampire FB52 V0630 238

Vampire FB52 V0635 239 Crashed 18/06/1958

Vampire FB52 V0646 240

Vampire FB52 V0657 241 National Museum Bloemfontein. (Loan Stellenbosch FC)

Vampire FB52 V0636 242 Cape Town. Pole mounted. Ex-Military Academy Saldhana

Vampire FB52 V0641 243
Vampire FB52 V0647 244

Vampire FB52 V0659 245 To Rhodesia R1835. Flew up till May 1982. One of the last to be retired. Imported to Australia 1988. Fully restored in RhodAF colours to taxi condition. Based at The Old Aeroplane Company situated at Tyabb on the Mornington Peninsular about 45 minutes from Melbourne.

Vampire FB52 V0652 246 Crashed 24/11/1955

Vampire FB52 V0664 247

Vampire FB52 V0664 248 Preserved Museu do Ar in Portugal

Vampire FB52 V0668 249 To Rhodesia R1318. 18/01/1977 Engine failure near Gwelo, Air sub Lt N. Lamb force landed it in the bush. A/c scrapped.

Vampire FB52 V0673 250 To Rhodesia R1386 w/o 23/11/1977. Air Lt. Phil Haigh - hit by ground fire whilst on Op Dingo, Chimoio terrorist training camp, Mozambique. He force landed the a/c but unfortunately hit a deep trench resulting in the disintegration of the a/c and Phil losing his life.

Vampire FB52 V0674 251 To Rhodesia R1378 wfu 12/81. Imported to Australia 1988, currently in storage Old aeroplane Co. Tyabb.

Vampire FB52 V0683 252 To Rhodesia R1382. Date wfu unknown but probably 2nd half of 1981. It was still flying March 1981. Imported to Australia 1988. Currently (January 2012) at Moorabbin Aircraft Museum, Victoria finished as RAAF Red Devils display a/c A79-417.

Vampire FB52 V0689 253 Preserved NADS Devon. (Also reported as SAAF Museum, Swartkop, derelict store). Ex School For Technical Training Gate Guard

Vampire FB52 V0697 254 To Rhodesia R1388. Reported as never flown in Rhodesia, stored only, returned to RSA early 1980s. Cockpit section preserved SAAF Museum Swartkop.

Vampire FB52 V0699 255 To Rhodesia R1839. Reported as never flown in Rhodesia, stored only, returned to RSA early 1980s before being donated to Israeli a/f museum, Hatzerim but displaying Lebanese markings.

Vampire FB52 V0700 256 To Rhodesia R8140. Reported as never flown in Rhodesia, stored only, returned to RSA early 1980s.

Vampire T55-2 15431 257 7/54 to 5/56. Ex Test Flight & Development Centre (TFDC) from 1975 to early 1980s. Believe in storage SAAF Museum, Swartkop.

Vampire T55-2 15432 258 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia 13/12/72
Vampire T55-2 15433 259 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia 13/12/72
Vampire T55-2 15472 260 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia 13/12/72
Vampire T55-2 15435 261 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia 13/12/72
Vampire T55-2 15436 262 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia 13/12/72
Vampire T55-2 15453 263 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia 13/12/72
Vampire T55-2 15454 264 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia 11/12/72

Vampire T55-2 15486 265 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia R4221 17/12/70. Retired 1982. Imported to Australia 1988, restored to flying condition 2001 by Old Aeroplane Co. Tyabb, and is still airworthy. Finished in RRAF scheme, representing RRAF119 (R4032).

Vampire T55-1 15487 266 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia R2424 14/7/71. Retired 1982, Imported to Australia 1988, currently in storage Tyabb.

Vampire T55-1 15488 267 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia R4126? 17/12/70

Vampire T55-1 15489 268 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia R4220 29/7/70. Retired in 1982. On display Gweru Military museum, Zimbabwe.

Vampire T55-1 15490 269 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia R4217 29/7/70 SCR 24/3/80. ZU-VAM / ZU-MES / RR417 / RR2417. Final RhodAF sortie back to RSA in 1980. Transferred to Atlas Aircraft Corp. Apprentice Training School for many years. Relocated to Wonderboom airport near Pretoria and (January 2012) under restoration.

Vampire T55-1 15491 270 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia R4219? 29/7/70

Vampire T55-1 15492 271 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia R2418 14/7/71. SCR 14/8/79. Returned to RSA 1980, possibly by road from New Sarum. Derelict at SAAF Museum. (Cockpit Section).

Vampire T55-1 15493 272 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia

Vampire T55-1 15494 273 7/54 to 5/56. w/o 3/8/1959

Vampire T55-1 15495 274 7/54 to 5/56. Hendrik Venter, Wonderboom, Pretoria (Rebuild). Ex Krugersdorp

Vampire T55-1 15496 275 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia R4223?

Vampire T55-2 15497 276 7/54 to 5/56. SAAF Museum Swartkop

Vampire T55-2 15498 277 7/54 to 5/56. To Rhodesia R4152 13/12/72. Final RhodAF sortie back to RSA early 1979. To SAAF Museum Swartkop. Flying December 2011. Registered as ZU-DFH

 SA Vampire Survivors:

Vampire FB5 205 Static Port Elizabeth
Vampire FB5 207 Stored Swartkop
Vampire FB5 208 Static Ysterplaat

Vampire FB52 227 Stored Swartkop
Vampire FB52 229 Static Swartkop
Vampire FB52 253 Stored Swartkop
Vampire FB52 254 Static (Under restoration) Swartkop

Vampire T55 257 Stored Swartkop
Vampire T55 276 Airworthy Swartkop
Vampire T55 277 (ZU-DFH) Airworthy Swartkop

Vampire FB52 235 Static AFB Langebaanweg
Vampire FB52 241 Static Stellenbosch Airfield (near Cape Town)
Vampire T55 274 Static Vampire Nursery (Krugersdorp)

Flying Cheetahs: De Havilland Vampire in the SAAF

Flying Cheetahs III: 

De Havilland Vampire in the SAAF I

Serial no 277 The Only Airworthy Vampire in SA

When  2 Sq returned to South Africa they were equipped with the Vampire, but in 1956 they received the Sabre Mk6. Conversion to the new Mirage III occurred in 1963 and the squadron moved to AFB Hoedspruit at the end of 1978. They continued to fly the Mirages until October 1990 when they re-equipped with the Atlas Cheetah.

The fifties saw the delivery and retirement of various aircraft types in the SAAF:
  • Spitfires were phased out in 1954 and the Short Sunderland’s in 1957. 
  • Eight Avro Shackleton Mk IIIs were delivered in 1957 for maritime patrol duties with 35 Sqn. 
  • The remaining Venturas from the maritime units were transferred to 35 Sqn before being finally retired in 1959/60. 
  • The new F-86F Sabre (ground attack version) for 1 and 2 Sqn arrived during 1956 and by 1957 each squadron had 16 Sabres, 12 Vampires and 12 Harvard’s on strength.
A single Gloster Meteor III had been in South Africa from 1946-1948 and many SAAF pilots had flown it, when the choice of the first service jet fighter was made, the DH.100 Vampire FB.Mk.5 was selected.

The Mk.5 is a simple, sturdy and agile jet fighter, and a stable weapons platform for air to ground operations. When fitted with long range tanks  it could fly from Pretoria to Cape Town non-stop. Several Vampires set up new records doing that.

Serial 208 Finished in markings of No 1 Squadron

The SAAF Vampires were armed with four 20mm Hispano cannon in  the nose. The Spitfires sported two 20mm cannons and two 50 cal MGs. It could carry eight 3 inch rockets mounted on rails, and had hard points  two 500 lb or 250 lb bombs.

Initially 10 FB5 Vampires aircraft were ordered from de Havilland in 1947 ; and staff sent to the UK for training. The Watertkloof AFB runway was extended to accommodate the Vampires.
The first five Vampires arrived in Cape Town by sea in 1950 and were road freighted to Ysterplaat AFB for assembly.

Serial numbers assigned were 201 to 210, numbers which had previously been used on a batch of DH.4s in 1920 and later on the Hawker Furies in the WWII era.

242 Now at Thunder City, Cape Town

202 was the first to complete ground tests flew on 6 February 1950. On 8 February the aircraft was moved to Fisantekraal, which had longer hard surface runways where five SAAF pilots had their baptism on the new aircraft. They were Major Krummeck, Captains Davis, Odendaal and Lt’s Cooke and Pretorius. They made their first flights on the 8th February.

277 at Swartkops

On 18 February the aircraft were demonstrated to the Minister of Defence, and other MP’s at Brooklyn with 202 being the aircraft flown. Four of the aircraft were flown to Bloemspruit on their ferry flight to Waterkloof AS on 3 March. Pilots were Maj Krummeck, Capt Odendaal, Lt Cooke and Lt Pretorius. ‘Tank’ Odendaal, (so named for his tank-busting role in WWII) who had the unpleasant experience of explosive decompression at 30,000 ft over Sutherland when his canopy shattered. This was to be a recurring problem with Vampires.

FB 6s arrived in August 1951, ( Serial 211 to 220 ) Mk IIs in 1952 and from 1953 other marques.(221-226, and other serials following) FB9s (FB52s) in 1953 (227 to 256) and T55s from 1954.

The T55 was the last operational Vampire to be flown in SA (257 to 277) at TFDC (Test Flight and Development Centre)

Amelia Earhart's sad demise

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