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Role: Heavy transport
Status: Current

60 Squadron

"Accipimus Et Damus" (We Take and We Give)
About this Squadron

Formed as No 1 Survey Flight in Nairobi in December 1940 to operate in Italian East Africa, early photographic operations were flown by a BA Double Eagle taken over from a civilian survey company. By 1941, 60 (photo-reconnaissance) Squadron operated as part of the Desert Air Force, operating Martin Marylands. In 1942 they received the Martin Baltimore and in February 1943 60 Squadron acquired their first examples of the DH Mosquito, apparently following the personal intervention of no less than Field Marshal Montgomery. With the war in North Africa over by May 1943, the squadron moved to San Severo in Italy. To prepare for the European campaign, 60 Squadron, by now equipped with photo-recce Mosquitoes, carried out detailed large-scale photographic surveys of parts of Sicily and other Axis held areas, eventually ranging over the Alps and deep into Germany. In 1944, the Squadron obtained the first photographic evidence of Nazi death camps - this grissly distinction until recently wrongly accredited to the USAAF.

60 Sqn accidentally photographed Auschwitz when they went to photograph the rubber plantation next to the camp. This was first done about 4 April 1944. When the photos were analysed, they found rows of people lining up in the camp. Photos also showed chimneys and all the other characteristics of a camp for prisoners. This, with other intelligence, brought them to the conclusions that extermination camps existed.  

With the cessation of hostilities, the squadron assisted the RAF in a photo survey of Greece. The squadron was officially withdrawn from operations on 22 August 1945 when they returned to Swartkop.

On arrival in South Africa, they continued to operate the Mosquito from Bloemfontein, but the fleet was grounded in June 1947 following a crash attributed to humidity affecting the wooden airframe. Although 60 Squadron was reformed the very next year as a photographic reconnaissance unit operating Lockheed B-34 Venturas, it was disbanded in November 1950.

On 16 July 1986 60 Squadron was reformed at AFB Waterkloof to fly modiefied Boeing 707s for air-to-air refuelling and EW tasks. Later, the aircraft were also used for passenger transport, cargo and SAR.

With the end of the Border War and tighter budgets, the squadron felt the monetary squeeze. The squadron was used more for air-to-air refueling and pasenger transport, but with fewer aircraft and money borrowed from the budgets of other squadrons.

Operations wound down with the last operational Boeing 707 flight flown on 10 July 2007 to Bujumbura, Kinshasa and Kindu. Aircraft 1415 was flown to AFB Makhado on 3 October 2007 and 1419 was flown to the SAAF Museum, Swartkop, on 2 November 2007.

Although the squadron was reported to have closed (with fanfare) in September 2007, it was not officially disbanded and was placed in limbo, possibily to receive the new A400M transport that had been ordered.

Following the cancellation of the A400M contract, the squadron continued in existence, although without aircraft. It may in use as an AFHQ unit, providing VIP and VVIP aircraft support services.

Other Squadrons based at Air Force Base Waterkloof:
1 Air Servicing Unit, 111 Squadron, 21 Squadron, 28 Squadron, 41 Squadron, 44 Squadron, 5 Air Servicing Unit, 504 Squadron, Air Publications Service Centre, Central Photographic Institute, Command and Control School, Electronic Warfare Centre, Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre, SAAF Telecommunications Centre

Other Current Squadrons:
1 Air Servicing Unit, 10 Air Depot, 10 Squadron, 101 Squadron, 102 Squadron, 104 Squadron, 105 Squadron, 106 Squadron, 107 Squadron, 108 Squadron, 110 Squadron, 111 Squadron, 140 Squadron, 142 Squadron, 15 Squadron, 15 Squadron - 'C' Flight, 16 Squadron, 17 Squadron, 18 Deployment Support Unit, 19 Squadron, 2 Air Servicing Unit, 2 Squadron, 21 Squadron, 22 Squadron, 28 Squadron, 3 Air Servicing Unit, 35 Squadron, 41 Squadron, 44 Squadron, 5 Air Servicing Unit, 500 Squadron, 501 Squadron, 502 Squadron, 503 Squadron, 504 Squadron, 505 Squadron, 506 Squadron, 508 Squadron, 514 Squadron, 515 Squadron, 516 Squadron, 525 Squadron, 526 Squadron, 6 Air Servicing Unit, 68 Air School, 80 Air Navigation School, 85 Combat Flying School, 87 Helicopter Flying School, 92 Tactical Airfield Unit, Air Force Command and Control School, Air Force Gymnasium, Air Publications Service Centre, Airspace Control Unit, Bushveld Airspace Control Sector, Central Flying School, Central Photographic Institute, Combined Auction Centre, Command and Control School, Electronic Warfare Centre, Ellisras Reporting Post, Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre, Lowveld Airspace Control Sector, Mobile Communications Unit, Rapid Deployment Air Operations Team 43, Rapid Deployment Air Operations Team 46, SA Air Force College, SAAF Band, SAAF Museum Historic Flight, SAAF Police, SAAF Procurement Unit, SAAF Telecommunications Centre, School of Cookery, Test Flight and Development Centre