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THE AIRFORCE - AIRCRAFT - AM.3C BOSBOK
 
 

Aircraft Stats:

Powerplant: 1 x 340 hp Piaggio-Lycoming GSO-480-B1B6 piston engine
Speed: 260 kph, 161mph mph
Range: 990km, 615miles
Seats: 1+1
Length: 8.73m, 28ft 8in
Span: 11.73m, 6ft 6in
Empty Weight: 1 080kg, 2,380lb
Max T/O Weight: 1 700kg, 3,750lb
Period of Service: 1973 - 1992

Weapons:
None specified

Squadrons:
None specified

Attrition:
13 incidents recorded

AM.3C Bosbok

Status: Retired
Manufacturer: Aermacchi
Country of Manufacture: Italy
Role: Utility
 
Description:

The 40 AM.3C's were delivered between May 1972 and December 1974 and were allocated the serials 920 - 959. The aircraft was given the name Bosbok by the SAAF. The first Bosbok to be produced for the SAAF made its debut at the Turin Air Show in 1972, although it still wore its Italian civil registration (I-TAM). The variant operated by the SAAF was the AM.3CM version which had provision for four NATO M-4A stores attachment points. The inner points were stressed for 375 lb (170 kg) and the outer points for 200 lb (91 kg) loads. During its service with the SAAF the Bosbok was operated by 41 and 42 Squadrons, usually operating from Potchefstroom but also from Lanseria and numerous airfields in northern SWA.

The Bosbok came to the fore during military operations in SWA and Angola during the late 1970s and 1980s. The aircraft was used extensively on the border and several were shot down during the course of the war. One of the best known exploits by a Bosbok and its pilot was that of Captain Dan ie Laubscher when he was awarded the Honoris Crux medal for bravery. After several unsuccessful attempts to neutralize a particular anti-aircraft emplacement which was hampering the Army's advance captain Laubscher dived down low on the target to make sure it was effectively marked with his 68 mm smoke rockets. Despite being fired at by 23 mm anti­aircraft cannon, he actually wiped out the site with his own marker rockets.

Roles performed by the Bosbok in SAAF service include:

  • Forward air control
  • Radio relay (referred to as "Telstar duty" by the SAAF)
  • Target marking (using smoke-rockets)
  • Reconnaissance/observation (including artillery spotting)
  • Casevac
  • Liaison

It was in the dangerous role of target-marking that the Bosbok really excelled, in which it used the following technique: The aircraft would run in to the target at tree-top height, pull up to around 92 m (300 ft) when nearly overhead the target, line up the nose on the target and release the rockets, before quickly turning away and diving back to tree-top level to avoid ground-fire.

The original aircraft were delivered in a matt light grey finish with dark grey serials and anti-glare panel. This was soon replaced by a wrap-around olive drab and dark earth scheme. The defence cuts of the early 1990's lead to the retirement of the Bosbok from SAAF service in 1992.

Armament:
Up to 2 machine gun pods
Two 170 kg (375 lb) bombs, or four 91 kg (200 lb) bombs
Up to 4 smoke-rocket pods


Images:

Bosbok 943 of the 'Spikes' aerobatic team in 1992. Bosbok 959 in 1997. Bosbok 921 Bosbok 921 Bosbok 929 Bosbok 944