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Digital Photography using Canon EOS cameras



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SAAF Mustangs PDF Print E-mail

Arguably  the most famous fighter during WWI was the NA Mustang. Well I said arguably, as we all know that the Spitfire was, don't we? What is not so well known, at least, it seems, amongst international authors, was the use of the Mustang by SAAF during the Italian campaign. The fact that the operational usage was limited to a single squadron, No5 Squadron SAAF, may of led to this oversight.


5 Squadron SAAF was the only SAAF unit to operate the Mustang during WWII. They converted from Kittyhawks to Mustangs during September 1944, initially using the Mustang MkIII (P51B/C) and then the Mustang MkIV (P51D/K). At the end of WWII the SAAF relinquished their Mustangs back to the RAF and 5 squadron SAAF disbanded for a time.

A second squadron consisting of volunteers and members of  2 squadron had at least done the initial convertion to operate the Mustang although they never became operational as they were in transit to the Far East as part of Tiger Force for operations against the Japanese. They had reached Ceylon when VJ day happened thus were no longer required and returned to the Union.

The standard post war SAAF fighter was initially the Hawker Hurricanes until the Spitfires MkIX's from the Imperial gift.

This was not to be the end of the SAAF's association with the Mustang, as during the Korean campaign, when 2 squadron SAAF was deployed to the Korean theatre of operations, a decision was made to use the Mustang in preference to our own Spitfires to have commonality with the other major participants. The Mustang was also arguably better suited to the ground attack role over the Spitfire that the SAAF had in service at that time. The Mustang also had a longer range than the Spitfire which made the aircraft more suited for use in Korea due to the (initially) long distances between bases and the front line.

The Mustang is the only major combat aircraft used in two different air wars in two different eras yet was never operated by the SAAF on local soil.

 Detail photographs can be found here

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