Aircraft of the South African Airforce
Author: Herman Potgieter and Willem Steenkamp
Reviewed By: Dean Wingrin
Long regarded as the bible for enthusiasts and modellers of the SAAF, it was also this book which made Herman Potgieter a household name amongst SAAF followers for his spectacular photographs.
First published in 1980, the book was also the first to depict all the aircraft of the SAAF in stunning colour. The fact that Potgieter had the full co-operation od the SAAF is evident in the exhiliarating photographs of the SAAF in full flight - the way the pilots see them.
But this book is not only a collection of photographs, as stunning as they may be, bit a useful reference source on the history of the SAAF. As the blurb on the book sleeve states, 'the accompanying authorotive text written by Willem Steenkamp ... and researched by Dave Becker, tells the story of each aircraft type (then) in SAAF service - its development, its present role, the impressions of the people who fly in it - as well as giving a short history of each squadron.'
The book commences with a brief history of the SAAF covering some 20 pages, from the time Brigadier-General Christiaan Beyers was given orders by General Jan Smuts, in 1912, to investigate the setting up of a small aviation school in the Union of south Africa to the commencement of the war in Angola, ie, up to 1980 when the book was published. Included in this chapter are many period photographs taken from both offical Museum and private sources.
Each then serving aircraft is then detailed, including such rare aircraft as the de Havilland Vampire flown by the Test Flight and Development Centre and the Spitfire Mk IX 'Evelyn' and Fieseler Fi 156 Storch flown by the SAAF Museum.
For aircraft spotters and the more technically minded, there are silhouette drawings and fact sheets detailing engines, dimensions, ranges, armaments, general capability, camouflage and markings.
As if this were not enough, the front and back inside covers depict colour drawings of all the squadron badges.
Although now out of print, I still constantly refer to this book and strongly recommend purchasing it if you can get your hands on it.