Military


Waterkloof Airbase

The role of Waterkloof aribase is to provide military air transport and other unique services in the interest of the South African air Force with the various units and squadrons playing a supportive role in maintaining this task.

As a result of the Italian activities in East Africa and the conquest of Abyssinia by General de Bono in 1935-36, Pirow proposed a Five Year expansion plan for the South African Air Force which included training of 1000 pilots by flying clubs and flying schools throughout South Africa by 1942, as well as the purchase of new aircraft, some of which were built under licence in South Africa.

Part of this plan included the building of a new operational air station in the Pretoria area. An airfield measuring 1775 x 1 550 yards was constructed and two large hangars were built along the pattern then produced by Dorman Long (Pty) Ltd. Though not yet fully established, Waterkloof was uses at this stage as an airfield for forced landing practice and other training. The field was sometimes referred to as "C" Forced Landing Ground, though this designation was also linked to another field after Waterkloof had opened.

On 1 August 1938 the aerodrome, named Waterkloof Air Station, was opened with Lt Col C.W. Meredith being appointed as the first Acting Officer Commanding. Lt Col H.G. Willmott was appointed as OC Waterkloof Air Station. Two squadrons were initially established, 1 and 2 Squadrons. Each squadron was comprised of four Hawker Hartbees of 65 were built locally, 12 officers and 39 other ranks. On 28 November 1938 another Unit Communication squadron equipped with Airspeed Envoy and a DH 66 Hercules aircraft, was formed. Seven Envoys were purchased and were shared between SAA and the SAAF.

On 14 March 1939, 3 Squadron was disbanded as a result of the shortage of personnel and its duties were transferred to the Reserve Aircraft Park at Zwartkop. No 3 Squadron was reformed in Germiston as a Bomber Squadron and later renumbered 15 Squadron in Port Elizabeth and in December 1939 renumbered to 13 Squadron. AFB Waterkloof is composed of five flying squadrons namely 21, 28, 41, 44, 60 one Task Force Squadron, one Security Squadron, a Photo Technical Unit, 5 AD, JARIC and SAAFTC. It is situated on the southern side of Pretoria next to the Highway to Johannesburg International.



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