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2 Squadron is a squadron in the South African Air Force which was formed in 1940.[1][3] The squadron has a long history, having been involved in every single combat action in which the SAAF has taken part. During the Second World War it made a name for itself in the battles for East Africa, before distinguishing itself in North Africa as part of the Desert Air Force, and later in Italy.

2 Squadron
F-51Ds 2 Sqn SAAF Korea May 1951.jpeg
2 Squadron Mustang fighters during the Korean War
Active1 October 1940 to current[1]
CountrySouth Africa South Africa
BranchAir Force Ensign of South Africa.svg South African Air Force
Garrison/HQAFB Makhado
Nickname(s)Flying Cheetahs
Motto(s)Latin: Sursam Prorsusque
("Upward and Onward")
Mascot(s)Historically, two cheetah cubs
EquipmentJAS 39 Gripen
DecorationsAF Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.png  United States Presidential Unit Citation Presidential Unit Citation (Korea).svg  Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Battle honoursEast Africa 1941
The Juba & The Lakes; Western Desert 1941–1943
Sidi Rezegh
El Alamein; French North Africa 1943
El Hamma & Tunis
Mediterranean 1943
South East Europe 1944–1945
Italy 1943–1945, The Sangro & Gothic Line
Korea 1950–1953, Pyongyang
Squadron Identification CodeDB (1939–1945)[2]:14c
2 Squadron crestSAAF 2 Squadron emblem.png

World War IIEdit

The squadron was established on 1 October 1940. During the initial years of the war, 2 Squadron served as part of 1 Bomber Brigade in the East African Campaign and the North African Campaign. After August 1943, it also saw action in Sicily, Italy and Yugoslavia.[3]

During the Second World War the squadron operated the following aircraft:

World War 2 era SAAF 2 Squadron killboard

Korean WarEdit

A No. 2 Squadron F-86F, 1953.

The squadron was South Africa's contribution to the United Nations war effort during the Korean War from November 1950 to December 1953. 2 Squadron[5] was attached to the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing U.S. Air Force for the duration of the war.[6] Initially flying the P-51 Mustang, the squadron 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.[7]

Memorial plaque, Union Buildings

The Commanding Officer of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing, issued a directive at the end of the war that:[8]

Eleven Korean War SAAF casualties are buried at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, Busan, South Korea.

After the Korean War 2 Squadron, based at Waterkloof AFB, was equipped with Sabres. The first aircraft to fly through the sound barrier over South African soil was a Sabre piloted by Captain Gerrie Moolman.

The Border War and post 2000Edit

Cheetah C as flown by 2 Sqn

Conversion to the new Mirage III occurred in 1963 and the squadron moved to AFB Hoedspruit at the end of 1978. The squadron fought in several engagements during the South-West Africa/Angola Border War.

They continued to fly the Mirages until October 1990. They later re-equipped with the Atlas Cheetah C and D, but remained 'on the books' during the hiatus between Mirage and Cheetah, not being officially disbanded at that point. Reconnaissance was also performed using Vinten Vicon 18 Series 601 pod. Regular night flying was performed and the aircrew also performed air-to-air refuelling operations with the Boeing 707 aircraft of 60 Squadron, until these were retired in 2007. The squadron participated in the annual SANDF force preparation exercises which includes using live weapons. During joint exercises with the German Luftwaffe in 2006, 40 live V3S "Snake" short-range air-to-air missiles were fired at the Denel Overberg Test Range.[9]

The squadron's current fighter, the JAS 39 Gripen.

Moving to Louis Trichardt (now AFB Makhado) in January 1993, 2 Squadron became the sole front line combat jet squadron in the SAAF. Till 2 April 2008 the squadron operated the Cheetah C/D fighter aircraft and was equipped with 28 examples. The squadron flew 1010 hours in 2004.[10]

The last of the Cheetahs were retired on 2 April 2008, later that month the first new JAS 39 Gripen arrived. The SAAF accepted its first Gripen D in April 2008 and the final two Gripen D aircraft arrived in South Africa in July 2009. The first two Gripen Cs arrived on 11 February 2010 with deliveries ongoing as at October 2011. 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.

SAAF 2 Squadron Gripen flight patch

Aircraft operated 1945–presentEdit


  1. ^ a b "THE SQUADRONS INCEPTION". South African Air Force. Archived from the original on 25 September 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  2. ^ Martin, H.J. Lt-Gen; Orpen, N.D. (1978). Eagles Victorious: South African Forces World War II. Cape Town: Purnell. ISBN 0-86843-008-0.
  3. ^ a b "Squadron 2". Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  4. ^ Macdonald, J.F. (1945). "Chapter II – The Story of 237 Squadron". Lion with tusk guardant. Salisbury, South Rhodesia: The Rhodesian Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd. p. 23.
  5. ^ Laurent, PARRA. "SQUADRON 2 - SAAF - Flying Cheetahs". Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  6. ^ McGregor, P. M. J. (3 June 1978). "The History of No 2 Squadron, SAAF, in the Korean War". Military History Journal. The South African Military History Society. 4 (3). ISSN 0026-4016. Archived from the original on 23 August 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  7. ^ Brent, Winston A. Flying Cheetahs 1950–1953. Freeworld Publications. ISBN 978-0-9583880-9-2.
  8. ^ Ward, E.H. (1982). "Swifter than Eagles: A Brief history of the South African Air Force 1912–1982" (Online). Scientia Militaria – South African Journal of Military Studies. 12 (2). doi:10.5787/12-2-619. ISSN 2224-0020. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  9. ^ "2 Squadron participation in exercise Good Hope II". South African Air Force. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  10. ^ Annual Report 2004-2005 (PDF). Department of Defence. p. 91. ISBN 0-621-36083-X. Retrieved 18 July 2009.


  • Halley, James J (1988). The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.

External linksEdit