Air Force Home Page 3 Sqn Home Page 3 Sqn Royal Badge

No 3 Squadron

Rhodesian Air Force


A Tech's View       3 Sqn Photo Gallery       Air Force Home Page       Site Home Page       Contact Us


No 3 Squadron was formed in 1953.


"Swift to Support"


The role of No 3 Squadron was that of air support, para trooping, re-supply, sky shouting, search and rescue and, air communications including VIP transport.

A Brief History

The unit was originally established in 1947 as a communications flight operating Douglas C47 aircraft.

It became No. 3 Squadron in 1953 and was based at New Sarum Air Base, south of Salisbury, operating two Pembroke C1 aircraft in addition to the C47s.The Pembroke's were retired from service in July 1963. The Squadron was used during the first Vampire ferry to position spares and servicing teams along the route.

During the Nyasaland Emergency in 1959 the squadron airlifted troop to Blantyre in Nyasaland (now Malawi).

With the formation of C Squadron Special Air Service Regiment the squadron took on a new role, that of paratroop dropping. This role was to remain for many years.

During 1959 the squadron was augmented with four C4 Argonauts. These were phased out in August 1964.

In 1960 the Squadron was called upon to assist with the Katanga crisis. The squadron flew day and night ferrying people from Katanga to Salisbury and transporting rations and bedding on the return trips.

When the state of emergency was declared in Kuwait No. 3 Squadron the Canadairs were deployed to Kormaksar to assist in moving troops of the British Army from Kenya to Kuwait.

5th January 1963 the first three RRAF VR's started routine flying with No 3 Sqn.

31st December 1963 No. 3 Squadron was reduced to an aircraft strength to four Canadairs and Four Dakotas

1964 the aircraft silver paint scheme changed to two tone green camouflage.

During March 1964 the weekly shuttle New Sarum – Thornhill – Kumalo (Bulowayo) was inaugurated by No. 3 Squadron.

The four C4 Argonauts were phased out in August 1964.

No. 3 squadron received one Trojan for light transport work.

In 1967 the Squadron acquired a Beech Baron R7310 for use in the VIP communication role. Only a few squadron crews were trained to operate this aircraft This aircraft was retired in November 1976.

May 1967 No. 3 Squadron celebrated 21 years of service. The Squadron at that time had 8 Dakotas, 1 Baron and1 Trojan aircraft. The Squadron was commanded by Squadron Leader Peter Barnett and the aircraft were flown by 12 regular pilots, and 6 VR pilots.

No 3 Squadron became engaged in rain making due to finance being made available to the University of Rhodesia for the project. The project was a co-operation between the Air Force, the University, the Meteorological Office and the Office of Statistics. And was controlled by the committee (CoCCSE) Committee to Co-ordinate the Cloud Seeding Experiment.

A Dakota aircraft 7307 was fitted with two burners in which silver iodide and acetone were pumped, mixed and ignited. The resulting microscopic smoke particles was vented into the clouds via two streamlines pods. One on either side of the rear fuselage just forward of the freight door. The burners were fed from a 14 gallon tank fitted inside the aircraft.

Cloud seeding continued each summer until the aircraft was written off in a ground loop at Rushinga airfield.

The technical problems were considerable and involved a major modification to the aircraft was well as the design and manufacture of measuring instrumentation.

The Squadron carried out sky-shouting trials.
Two large loudspeakers were fitted in the doorway of the Dakota. From these loudspeakers voice messages were beamed down to the ground.Sky shouting was carried out in areas where it was known that terrorists were operating and was often used in conjunction with leaflet dropping. The aircraft would be flown in a gentle turn to port (left) at a height of 1,500 to 2000feet above the ground.

On one occasion the aircraft flown by Flt Lt Ed Paintin was hit by a 7.63 round fired from the ground, whilst sky-shouting over the Madziwa Tribal Trust area. The bullet entered the aircraft below the engineers seat and lodged in the base of his toolbox. No other damage was done to the aircraft. The audio tapes for the Shy shouts varied according to the message the security forces wanted to convey. These tapes were produced by Psyops.

In 1968 and throughout the Rhodesia Conflict No. 3 Squadron was used to re supply forward airfields and to move troops to forward areas.

In June 1969 a Dakota carrying Army VIPs whilst landing a Chirundu developed a wheel fire that set fire to the grass. The crew quickly extinguished the grass fire.

October 1969 saw a Dakota of No. 3 Squadron engaged on a search and rescue for Flying Officer Jim Stagman and Flight Lieutenant Dave Postance who ejected from their Canberra aircraft over the Wankie National Park.

In 1970 during Operations Teak and Birch, No. 3 Squadron was engaged in "sky shouting" as part of the psychological warfare effort. At times the aircraft were used to drop leaflets over wide areas.

During July 1970 No. 3 Squadron were involved in a shy shout in the Mueda area of northern Mozambique (Operation Bush Pig).

During the conflict the aircraft were painted with a non reflective paint to reduce their susceptibility to heat seeking missiles. At the same time the exhausts of the engines were fitted with a device to reduce the temperature of the exhaust gasses and so prevent the heat seeking missiles from acquiring the aircraft.

During the early 1970s two of DC3s (R7036 and R7134) were configured as VIP aircraft, these were used extensively to transport the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers.

Another aircraft (No 7303) was equipped with rain making equipment. Acetone and silver iodide were burned in a special burner to create tiny hygroscopic particles which when introduced into clouds, caused rain to fall. It was named "Chaminuka" after the local African rain god. Unfortunately this aircraft was destroyed in an accident on the 31st February1975.

During 1971 the squadron acquired one Trojan aircraft for light transport. Only a small number of squadron crews were trained to fly this aircraft.

During 1971 No 3 Squadron was kept busy with Operation Jacaranda, which replaced Operation Apollo. The rain making project, Operation Tarpaulin continued to consume many hours. This was the third and final year of the project.

During September and October intensive free-fall parachute training was carried out at Cranborne. This included night descents.

During the rainy season 1970/1971 No 3 Squadron pilots again found themselves cloud seeding when the request came from the Meteorological Office for a bonus year.

6th June 1972 saw the squadron swing into action in support of members of the rescue teams that were descending on Wankie Colliery where a huge methane gas explosion tore through No 2 Shaft, trapping hundreds of miners below ground. Four hundred and sixty five miners died. Because of the danger to others in the operation to recover the bodies it was decided that their bodies would sealed off at the bottom of the Kamandama and Central Shafts. Only one very fortunate miner was brought to the surface alive.

In March 1973 two Dakota aircraft R3711 and R7312 arrived from South Africa to augment the fleet.

January 1974 a Dakota Flown by Flight Lieutenant Ed Paintin was hit by ground fire during a sky shout operation. This was the first No. 3 Squadron to be hit by by enemy fire.

On the 16th April 1974 two Dakota aircraft R7313 and R7134 from Central African Airways joined the squadron. R7134 was kept in VIP configuration and used extensively to fly the President, Prime Minister Ian Smith and other VIPs around the country

In May of 1974 the first Volunteer Reserve Captain was appointed on No 3 Squadron. He was Flight Lieutenant George Walker-Smith.

On 21st February 1975 Dakota R7307 was intentionally ground looped whilst landing at Rushinga. During the ground loop the undercarriage collapsed causing the aircraft to be classified Cat 5. The crew Flt Lt Ed Paintin , Flt Lt Frank Wingrove were uninjured. The engineer Corporal John Mitchell suffered minor injuries to his head as the port propeller tore into the cockpit area behind the pilots seat.

On the 7th April 1975 No 3 Squadron was presented with it's Colours by Air Vice Marshall Harold Hawkins.

On the 10th October 1975 the squadron received a Cessna 421C from South Africa for use by No 3 Squadron.

During 1976 a Douglas DC-7CF was placed on the fleet. This saw service until November 1980.

On the 29th June 1976 the first of six Brittin Norman Islanders (BN-2A) aircraft was acquired by the Rhodesian Air Force. Between June 1976 and November 1979 a total of six BN-21 aircraft were acquired from various sources in Mozambique, South Africa and Angola.

On the 4th November 1976 the Beech Baron R7310 was damaged the undercarriage collapsed on landing at Perrem airfield near Umtali. The pilot Flt Lt Mike Russell and General Peter Walls his VIP passenger were not injured in the accident. The recovery team caused further damage during the recovery and the decision was made to sell the aircraft as a wreck. The overall damage was assessed as Cat 4. The aircraft was subsequently rebuilt

On the 7th January 1977 Dakota R7034 was written off when it hit overhead wires as it was flying low level in the Buffalo Range area. Squadron Leader Peter Barnett, Flight Lieutenant Dave Mallett and Corporal A. Bradley (army) were killed. The flight engineer and four army dispatchers survived the accident.

On the 31st May 1977 Dakota R3702 was destroyed when it was hit by an RPG7 rocket during its take off run at Mapai. Flight Lieutenant Gerry Lynch and Sergeant R. Wantenaar survived but regrettably Flight Lieutenant Bruce Collocott was killed instantly.

During 1977 three Dakota aircraft R7310, R3700 and R7301 arrived on the squadron via various routes.

On the 15th February 1978 the Britten Norman Islander R3718 was destroyed at Derowa when it failed to get airborne carrying a load of parachutes. The pilot was Flt Lt Bernie van Huysteen.

Later in about 1978 one of the Dakota aircraft was configured as an airborne Command Post and another for electronic intelligence gathering.

On the 18th December 1980 Dakota 3711 was destroyed.

Post Zimbabwe Independence

On the 12th March 1983 the squadron was re-equipped with twelve CASA C-212 aircraft to replace the Dakotas

During 1989 a single Sia Machetti 260TP was transferred to No. 3 squadron.

Squadron Commanders

Sqn Ldr W.H.Smith To 1968

Sqn Ldr M.D.Gedye Sept 68 - Feb 72

Sqn Ldr G. Alexander
Mar 72 - Oct 78

Tudor Thomas
Sqn Ldr T. Thomas
Nov 78 - 1980

Dakotas of No 3 Squadron

Nineteen different Dakotas were flown by No 3 Squadron from 1947 to 1991. They flew a total of 82,280hrs and 50 minutes.

The aircraft with the least total hours was Chaminuka which only had 5,818 hours when it was written off in February 1975 after a serious ground loop at Rushinga. Chaminuka was delivered to the Royal Air Force on 28th March 1945 in Montreal as KN471, then to the Middle East on the 11th April 1945, then to the South African Air Force as 6963 on the 27th September 1945. She came to the Royal Rhodesian Air Force as 707 VP-YZE in January 1964.

The Dakota with the most hours was R7310 Serial No. 42978. She flew with the Douglas Aircraft Company as NC 34982, then to Swiss Air as HB-IRC on 15th April 1946, then to Protea Airways (South Africa) as ZS-FRJ on 9th May 1946. She then went to Swazi Air as 3D-ABF in December 1973, then back to Protea Airways as ZS-FJR on the 11th May 1977, then to Aviation Equipment and on to No 3 Squadron later in 1977 as R7310. As at the 11th June 1991 she was still with the Air Force of Zimbabwe and had flown 29,515 hours and 15 minutes.

Photo Gallery

A tech on 3 Sqn

Top of page Air Force Home Page Site Home Page Contact Us

Our honorary Web Designers
Rhodesia Army Ass
Museum Trust
Air Force
Police Reserve Air Wing
Guard Force
Notice Board
Honours and Awards
Missing GSMs
Reunions all Associations
Suggested Reading