Military Wiki
12 Squadron
Canberra B12 - 453.jpg
A 12 Squadron Canberra in flight
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 80px

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.[3] 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.[4][5] 12 Squadron later saw combat during the Second Battle of El Alamein operating Boston light bombers.[6] Following the end of the war in Europe the squadron flew South African personnel home until it was disbanded.[7]

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. The squadron was later re-equipped with Sikorsky S-51 helicopters, but was eventually made a flight of 28 Squadron.[7]

The squadron was re-formed in late 1963 to operate English Electric Canberra bombers.[7] It was the only SAAF squadron equipped with Canberras, and they were used as both tactical bombers and high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.[8] The squadron saw combat over Angola during the South African Border War,[9] and was still active with these aircraft as of 1981.[7] 12 Squadron was disbanded in 1990.[3] Two ex-12 Squadron Canberras have been preserved by the SAAF.[8]


  1. Flintham, Vic (2003). Combat Codes. Barnesly: Pen & Sword Aviation. pp. 165. ISBN 978-1-84415-691-7. 
  2. Aviation Pictures ZA. "SAAF - A pictorial history". 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wingrin, Dean. "12 Squadron". The Unofficial Website on the South African Air Force. Dean Wingrin. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  4. Potgieter (1970), p. 264
  5. 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. pp. 23. 
  6. Latimer (2002), p. 292
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Potgieter and Steenkamp (1981), p. 68
  8. 8.0 8.1 Steyn, Leon. "SAAF Museum News: What happened to the Canberra?". SAAF News. South African Air Force. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  9. Lord (2008), pp. 70, 101, 139, 172

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).