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Rhodesian Air Force
No 1 Squadron

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No. 1 Squadron was reformed in March1951.


"Speed and Courage"


The role of No. 1 Squadron was that of ground attack and air defence.

A Brief History

The unit was established in March 1951 to operate Spitfire F22s that were delivered to Southern Rhodesia. It was manned by regular force pilots, and operated out of Cranborne Air Base.

The squadron moved to New Sarum Air Base south of Salisbury in October 1952.

In January 1956 the squadron was re-equipped with Vampire FB 9 aircraft.

On the 4th January 1958 the squadron took the Vampires on their first detachment to RAF Khormaksa. Thereafter they made annual overseas deployments until 1963.

In 1962 the squadron moved from New Sarum to Thornhill Air Base, Gwelo.

During December 1962 the squadron was e-equipped with twelve Hawker Hunter FGA9 aircraft.

In 1963 the existing Vampire aircraft were transferred to No 2 Squadron.

April 1966 Sqn Ldr Chris Dams posted as OC N0. 1 Squadron.

In February 1968 the arrester barrier at Thornhill was used for the first time when a Hunter overran the runway. Only superficial damage was caused to the aircraft.

In 1969 No. 1 Squadron in conjunction with No. 4 Squadron continued to work on airborne Forward Air Control (FAC) which had first been used in 1968.

1969 No. 1 Squadron carried out trails with an 18lb rocket projectile which was adopted as a standard internal security weapon.

Flight Lieutenant Rich Brand led a formation of Hunters in a fly past over Bulowayo and Salisbury to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first flight by an aircraft in Rhodesia, when the Silver Queen II, flown by Sir Quintin Brand his uncle, landed at Bulowayo racecourse on 5th March 1920.

On the 21st September 1973, No. 1 Squadron was presented with its standard or colours depicting No 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron Battle Honours. It was the first Rhodesian Air Force Squadron to be presented with a standard.

On the 23rd May 1973 two hunters conducted a Navigation Exercise from Thornhill to Luanda, in Angola. On departure from Luanda the lead aircraft experienced an engine surge and decided to divert into Nova Lisboa. Eventually a Dakota crewed by Flight Lieutenant Ivan Holtshausen and Air Lieutenant Ed Paintin arrived with a ground crew and spares. The aircraft was repaired and all the aircraft then returned to Rhodesia.

20th June 1973 Flight Lieutenant DAG Jones became the first Rhodesian pilot to fly 1,000 hours in a Hawker Hunter

21st September 1973 No. 1 Squadron was presented with its Standard by Air Marshal Mick Archie Wilson
Pervious Squadron Commanders G. A. Smith, John Walmisley, Eric Smith, Ian Shand.

Early 1974, Squadron Leader Rob Gaunt had to use the barrier at Thornhill to stop his aircraft from ending up on the Umvuma road.

On Sunday 14th April 1974, two Hunters of No 1 Squadron whilst searching for a Trojan that was missing in Mozambique, were fired at with SAM-7 heat seeking missile. This was the first occasion that a strella missile was known to have been used against Rhodesian aircraft.

On the 17th May 1974 No. 1 Squadron was presented with the Jacklin Trophy. Deputy Minister for the Office of the Prime Minister – Mr. Wickus de Kock made the presentation. The Trophy was accepted by Squadron Leader Rob Gaunt.

Post Zimbabwe Independence (1981)
During 1981 the squadron received four Hawker Hunter FGA 80 aircraft and one T 81 training aircraft.

About the Hawker Hunter
Very nearly 2000 Hunters were produced between 1951 and 1963. In addition to the RAF, Hunters were supplied to the air forces of Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Chile, Peru, India, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, Abu Dhabi, Rhodesia and Kenya. One aeroplane served with no less than 7 air forces and one air force had Hunters in operational use for 5 decades. No other front line fighter has ever come close to this.

In his book "Hawker Hunter - Biography of a Thoroughbred" Francis K Mason points out that following the embargo placed upon trade with Rhodesia, "……no follow-up servicing of its Hunters nor delivery of spare parts were permissible. All the more remarkable therefore was the fact that nine of the original twelve Hunters were still flying with the Zimbabwe-Rhodesian Air Force at the end of the 1970s with only local facilities available for maintenance and repair; the aircraft had moreover been continuously engaged throughout their life in rigorous ground attack flying."

Under a photo of RRAF 116 the caption reads: "Despite years of constant use under most difficult conditions, almost entirely without external support and spares back-up, the Rhodesian Hunters maintained an extraordinarily high serviceability rate." A fitting tribute to the fantastic technical team that existed in our beloved Rhodesian Air Force.

Squadron Commanders

Archie Wilson
Flt Lt Archie Wilson
Dickie Bradshaw
Flt Lt Dickie Bradshaw

Flt Lt Charlie Paxton
Aug 1957 - Jun 59

Flt Lt Colin Graves
Jun 59 - July 59

Sqn Ldr Sandy Mutch
Jul 1959 - May 1961

Sqn Ldr John Mussell
1 Jun 1961 -30 Mar 63

Sqn Ldr Mike Saunders
1 Apr 1963 - 30 Apr 64
Norman Walsh
Sqn Ldr N Walsh
4 May 64 to 28 Apr 66
Sqn Ldr Chris Dams
Sqn Ldr Chris Dams
April 1966 - Sept 1967

Sqn Ldr E. J. Brent
Oct 1967 - March 1969
Roy Morris
Sqn Ldr Roy Morris
April 1969 - Sept 1971

Sqn Ldr R
Du Rand
October 1971 - June 1972
Keith Corrans
Sqn Ldr Keith Corrans
July 1972 -Dec 1972
Detached to Op Sand
DAG Jones
Flt Lt D.A.G.Jones
July 1972 - Nov 1972

Sqn Ldr R.J. Gaunt
Jan 1973 - Dec 1975

Sqn Ldr Rickie Brand
Jan 1976 - May 1978

Sqn Ldr C. L. Wightman
June 1978 - July 1980
Sqn Ldr Tony Oakley
Jan 1981 - May 1982

Picture Gallery   Mike Mulligan and the Barrier   Avpin, uses of   Colin Graves Accident 1959
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