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2 Squadron, The Flying Cheetahs

The squadron was established on 1 October 1940 they served as part of 1 Bomber Brigade in the North and East African Campaign and later it also saw action in Sicily, Italy and Yugoslavia.

The Flying Cheetahs are to date the only South African Airforce Squadron to have served in every combat action in which the SAAF has taken part, and as a result, have a very long and illustrious history.

During World War II 2 Squadron operated the following Aircraft:

The Hawker Hartebeest a derivative of the Hawker Audax, with modifications to meet South African requirements.

The Hawker Fury a fast, agile aircraft, and was the first interceptor in RAF service capable of speed higher than 200 mph. It was the fighter counterpart to the Hawker Hart light bomber.

The Gloster Gauntlet was a British single-seat biplane fighter, designed and built by Gloster Aircraft in the 1930s. It was the last RAF fighter to have an open cockpit and the penultimate biplane fighter in service.

The Gloster Gladiator II was the last biplane fighter aircraft and was rendered obsolete by newer monoplane designs.

Hawker Hurricane a single-seat fighter aircraft that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft.

Tomahawk IIIB which was a modification of the Curtiss P-40, was operated between June 1941 – May 1942 this was the first non-British aircraft used by the squadron. Later the Kittyhawk I and Kittyhawk III, also variants of the P40 were introduced.

Supermarine Spitfire Vc and IX finally replaced the Kittyhawks.

The squadron answered the call of the United Nations war effort during the Korean War from November 1950 to December 1953. 2 Squadron was attached to the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing U.S. Air Force for the duration of the war. Initially flying the P-51 Mustang The squadron was re-equipped with the F-86 Sabre in February 1953. During the war the squadron flew a total of 12,067 sorties, most being dangerous ground attack missions. 74 of the 94 Mustangs and 4 out of the 22 Sabres were lost, along with 34 pilots.

For its actions, the squadron received the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, United States Presidential Unit Citation, and numerous other awards and decorations.

After the Korean War the Squadron received a shipment of Canadair Sabre Mk.6’s accompanied by the De Havilland Vampire

Conversion to the new Mirage III occurred in 1963 and the Angolan conflict started four years later in 1967. The squadron fought in several engagements during the South-West Africa/Angola Border War. In 1978 2 Squadron moved again this time making AFB Hoedspruit in the then Eastern Transvaal their home. The Border War ended in 1989 and the following year the Squadron was once again re-equipped the mirages made way for the Atlas Cheetah C’s and D’s. The Cheetahs were never used operationally but did partake in many joint exercises with foreign Airforce’s.

One very notable exercise was with the German Luftwaffe in 2006 where 40 live V3S "Snake" short-range air-to-air missiles were fired at the Denel Overberg Test Range.

In January 1993 2 Squadron moved to Louis Trichardt (now AFB Makhado) 2 Squadron became the sole front line combat jet squadron in the SAAF. On the 2nd April 2008, the last of Cheetah C’s and D’s were retired. Later that month the first new JAS 39 Gripen arrived. The Squadron accepted its first Gripen D and the final two Gripen D aircraft arrived in South Africa in July 2009. The first two Gripen Cs arrived on 11 February 2010. The squadron operates all the SAAF's Gripens except for the first Gripen D, which is assigned to the Test Flight and Development Centre at AFB Overberg.


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