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The Spitfires, Venturas and Sunderlands were phased out in the 1950's, while the first DH Vampire, South Africa's first jet fighter, was delivered in 1950. Other new aircraft brought into service in the late 1950's included eight the Avro Shackleton MR3s (1957) and 34 CL-13B (Mk VI) Sabres (1956).

British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan delivered his famous 'Winds of Change' speech in South Africa's parliament in 1960. It resulted in the acceleration of British decolonisation and the Sharpville riots preceded three decades of internal unrest. The SAAF underwent a period of modernisation in the 1960's, with the receipt of Mirage III, Canberra, Buccaneer and C-130 aircraft. The helicopter force was not forgotten as Allouette 11 and III, Puma, Super Frelon and Wasps were delivered.

On 11 November 1965, Rhodesia defied Britain by declaring independence (UDI). Britain imposed sanctions and then an oil embargo. RAF Javelin fighters were flown into Zambia and the Royal Navy blockaded the Mozambique channel. When British forces withdrew from Rhodesia, the SA Police Counter Insurgency Unit assisted the Rhodesians against insurgents. SAAF helicopters, based in the Caprivi, flew in supplies for the unit via Victoria Falls.

As part of the modernisation program undertaken during the 1960's, the SAAF chose the Aermacchi MB 326M as it's new jet trainer. Atlas Aircraft corporation was established to produce the aircraft locally under licence. Named the Impala Mk1, this aircraft was to form the mainstay of the Air Force with the first aircraft to be delivered making it's first flight on 8 November 1966. A few years later the single-seat MB 326KC (Impala MkII) was chosen for local production, with deliveries starting in 1974.
The Border War