12 Squadron SAAF

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12 Squadron
Canberra no. 458.jpg
A 12 Squadron Canberra T.4 in February 1982
Active 1939–1945?
Country South Africa
Branch South African Air Force
Engagements World War II
South African Border War
Squadron Identification Code VL 1942[1]
12 Squadron Insignia 12 Squadron SAAF insignia.png

12 Squadron was a South African Air Force squadron that served in World War II in East Africa and the Western Desert as a medium bomber squadron. After the war, the squadron was used in various roles, including that of a helicopter squadron until 1963 when it was equipped with Canberra light bombers – remaining a light bomber and reconnaissance squadron until disbanded in 1990.


12 Squadron was formed in December 1939.[2] On 16 June 1940 it flew the first SAAF bombing raid against Italian forces in Abysinna when it attacked the town of Moyale using Junkers Ju 86 bombers.[3][4] 12 Squadron later saw combat during the Second Battle of El Alamein operating Boston light bombers.[5] Following the end of the war in Europe the squadron flew South African personnel home until it was disbanded.[6]

12 Squadron was re-formed in October 1946 equipped with Avro Anson aircraft for anti-Tsetse fly spraying duties. It operated in this role in Zululand and Mtubatuba.[6]

The squadron was later re-equipped with Sikorsky S-51 helicopters that were at times also utilised in anti-Tsetse fly spraying duties, it but was eventually made a flight of 28 Squadron.[6]

The squadron was re-formed in late 1963 to operate English Electric Canberra bombers.[6] It was the only SAAF squadron equipped with Canberras, and they were used as both tactical bombers and high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.[7] The squadron saw combat over Angola during the South African Border War,[8] and remained active with these aircraft in 1981.[6] 12 Squadron was disbanded in 1990.[2]

Two ex-12 Squadron Canberras have been preserved by the SAAF.[7]


Aircraft flown by 12 Squadron
Note: Aircraft type photographs may not necessarily represent aircraft of the same mark or actual aircraft belonging to the Squadron.
Junkers Ju.86
Boston Mk.III of 12 Sqn
Avro Anson
Sikorsky S-51
Canberra B(1)12 & T.4


  1. ^ Flintham, Vic (2003). Combat Codes. Barnesly: Pen & Sword Aviation. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-84415-691-7. 
  2. ^ a b Wingrin, Dean. "12 Squadron". The Unofficial Website on the South African Air Force. Dean Wingrin. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Potgieter (1970), p. 264
  4. ^ Macdonald, J.F. (1945). "Chapter II – The Story of 237 Squadron". Lion with tusk guardant. Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia: The Rhodesian Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd. p. 23. 
  5. ^ Latimer (2002), p. 292
  6. ^ a b c d e Potgieter and Steenkamp (1981), p. 68
  7. ^ a b Steyn, Leon. "SAAF Museum News: What happened to the Canberra?". SAAF News. South African Air Force. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Lord (2008), pp. 70, 101, 139, 172

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