The piece of the cold war nobody told you about - Africa's forgotten war - the SA Bomber Aircraft.

in war •  last year

Of all the aircraft that operated during the border war the Impala Mk II is by far my favorite, most probably simply due to familiarity.

These were often seen flying at high speed and very low altitude and pretty much in the manner as depicted in the Photo graph below.

Where I grew up was on their training route and so it was not uncommon to hear and see these jets skimming the treetops at high speed making a lot of noise and rattling the windows a couple of times a week.

img source

Both the single-seater combat configuration...

...and the silver 2 seater trainers would be seen regularly.

The South African Defence Force employed Impalas during campaigns against the People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) and Cuban expeditionary troops in Angola between 1975 and 1989. Impala pilots typically flew at 550–650 km/h at a height of 15 m to avoid Angolan air defences. Over the course of the South African Border War, one was downed by an SA-7; another returned with an unexploded missile in its exhaust.

The aircraft had many advantages over expensive supersonic jets. Although slower, it could operate from relatively primitive airfields and strike swiftly. The South African Air Force (SAAF) used up to 6 x 120 kg or 4 x 250 kg bombs. The main armament consisted of 68 mm SNEB rocket-launchers (four x 6 or two x 18), and two 30 mm autocannon (with 300 rounds).

Impala Mk IIs were also opportunistically used as interceptors. In several encounters in 1985 with Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, they shot down a total of six. This happened during a crucial phase of the ground war, when Angolan and Cuban troops were checked in an offensive against UNITA bases. This ended in disaster for the Angolan/Cuban alliance when their supplies were cut off by UNITA and the SAAF and front line troops ran out of ammunition. Helicopters were being used to supply the besieged troops and the SAAF cut off this link. Two Mi-24s were shot down in the first encounter while escorting Mi-17s. The MiG-21s that escorted them flew too high to react in time. Two days later the Impala Mk IIs struck again, downing two Mi-24s and two Mi-17s. Attacks on unsuspecting helicopters were carried out with only two guns per aircraft.

The single seat Impala Mk IIs were also sometimes armed with Matra R550 Magic air-to-air missiles for self-defence. The Impala Mk II operated at extreme ranges and had to fly very low, climbing only when helicopters were seen at medium altitude. After each attack they returned to low level to avoid interception by enemy MiGs.

Another awesome site to behold at low altitude was the Blackburn Buccaneer otherwise known as the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer.

These were used in many roles including bombing raids and lazer guided tank busting. Pictured below is a variety of the armaments it could carry despite its hulking body and manually fold up wings.

SAAF Buccaneers saw active service in the 1970s and 1980s during the South Africa Border War, frequently flying over Angola and Namibia, launching attacks upon SWAPO guerilla camps. During a ground offensive, Buccaneers would often fly close air support (CAS) missions armed with anti-personnel rockets, as well as performing bombardment operations.

Buccaneers played a major role in the Battle of Cassinga in 1978, being employed in repeated strikes upon armoured vehicles, including enemy tanks, and to cover the withdrawal of friendly ground forces from the combat zone. The Buccaneer was capable of carrying heavy load outs over a long range, and could remain in theatre for longer than other aircraft, making it attractive for the CAS role


A peculiarity of the aircraft that made it easily recognizable in profile was its fold up air brakes which project past the tail when closed.

With this airbrake and fold up wings this aircraft was uitable for operation on carrier

By MilborneOne, CC BY 2.5, Link

The fuselage of the Buccaneer was designed using the area rule technique, which had the effect of reducing aerodynamic drag while travelling at high subsonic and transonic speeds, and gave rise to the characteristic curvy 'Coke bottle' shape of the fuselage. The majority of the airframe and fuselage was machined from solid casting; to give great strength to endure the stress of low level operations.

A large air brake was built into the tail cone of the aircraft. The hydraulically operated air brake formed two leaves that could be opened into the airstream to quickly decelerate the aircraft. The style of air brake chosen by Blackburn was highly effective in the dive-attack profile that the Buccaneer was intended to perform, as well as effectively balancing out induced drag from operating the BLC system. It featured a variable incidence tailplane that could be trimmed to suit the particular requirements of low-speed handling, or high-speed flight; the tailplane had to be high mounted due to the positioning and functionality of the Buccaneer's air brake.


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You have good knowledge of the your narratives... But from today's sophisticated fighter jets these seems outdated but can still cause heavy damage to enemy targets. Flying is interesting but flying such needs caurage and training...If I may ask what's the present conditions of all these...are they still in the SAAF fleets? Nice info. Keep it up ...upvoted & following for many more...


these were retired in the early 90's

oops, hit that comment a bit to hard... guess its your lucky day then...


a lucky day indeed..thanks @gavvet...
so when can we get to read about the new and updated SAAF's fleets... As an african ...such infos makes me proud...thanks once more for sharing


the SAAF is now just a shadow of its former self.


i see..anyways...thanks sharing this info mate..keep it up!


Hi, I am new to this group. Just a curiosity. We bought the Buccaneers from Hawker Sideley, which only some time after the transaction amalgamated with, or were bought out by Blackburn. I saw them only very often where I grew up in the Cape. The Imps from Langebaan were even more scarce in those days. The SAAF birds I learnt to love were the Shackleton as it returned to DF Malan airport after their sorties over the sea. And then the Harvards from Youngsfield that added to the rock and roll noises of the day. Loved it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Well written, learned something new. Thank you!


Yes master @johnsmith it is a very good post.

I hate wars.. and I don't like war airplanes.
You make me think about the F117 shooted in the ex Jugoslavia I think was in the 1999.

Before above... below after....

Following you buddy. Impalas and Mirage III's, those were good times. Who Dares Wins.

Always loved the design of old military aircraft, especially those with unique designs.

Wow....never saw a fighter plane from so close. Thanks for sharing.

these aircraft fighter are 3 generation most of them have speed of .5 Mach to . 1.25 Mach and they have solid body . this post is informative would like to see some more like it.

Now this my friend is history that wasn't taught in my school

Not going to lie that jet looks sick. I always wanted to own a fighter jet one day. Dope post 🙏

지금 세대는 '냉전'(cold war)을 기억 하는 사람도 많이 없는 것 같습니다.
잘 봤습니다.



Nice article!
I love planes. They are a great piece of achievement for human kind.. but not when used for war.

War is a terrifying thing to happen 😐 the memories of it are even painful

Those aircraft's look super destructible, wouldn't want to be in their crossfire lol, nice share, really enjoyed this post!

O this make me miss my dad - he was not a pilot but was in the Airforce his whole life and build a lot of runways all over the country so we got to see a lot of these aeroplanes. Well done on the wring of this post

How come you have so much interest and knowledge about fighter jets? Are you a pilot? :)


Nope, but I just love the noise they make flying at low level


hahaha sure you do! :D

Again a very interesting and informative post, on our country's history.

I never liked fighter jets, majorly cos I've always feared for the pilots. What are the odds of survival should anything go wrong...pretty low odds I guess.. unlike in the movies where pilots eject at the first sign of imminent danger...

I remember as a kid watching the SAAF Silver Falcons flying their Impalas at the airshows. They were magnificent to watch, and so graceful in the air. I've just stumbles across your posts... Looks like I have some more good reading to catch up on and follow.


Drinking (stumbling around) is usually reserved for the week-end, have you started early?


I have started now. Enjoy your weekend!! Looking forward to reading more of your stories.

The war will not solve the problem of master @gavvet just add to the problem as it is happening in Iraq.Suriah and Afghanistan make their country destroyed, after they invade, then now who is responsible ...? What do you say if your house in stepped on And in destroying people, killing your children, your wife and your parents, when you try to fight them, they call you "TERORIS" what is logical and reasonable? They say they are geniuses but their way of thinking is more stupid than a child under 7 years old.


Agreed, war is rarely the solution.


Yes master @gavvet war just brings to the brink of destruction.
I am sometimes crying to see on state tv destroyed in the thousands of tons of bombs with various brands, as if they do not feel pain at all what the children they kill, I wondered what human rights They make it only for people with high dignity while for the poor it is not there. I am sure one day
The law will no longer be like a knife, "sharp down but blunted upward.

This is what i was looking at !
I too love aircrafts
Thank You for sharing

nice aircrafts, i like the name "blackburn buccaneer" .

Doing a great job educating us on Africas cold war @gavvet , keep it up

Wow you post most nice @gavvet

Bring me one, please!

Why do you call it a border war? There is no border between Angola and South Africa. Between South Africa and Angola is Namibia and the closest Angola is to South Africa is nearly 500 miles, how can this be a border war? Or is Namibia a part of South Africa. If that is the case I am wrong.


Namibia was South West Africa at that stage, which South Africa had been holding onto since WW1. But SA was not only having difficulties in Angola but with all its neighboring states. I will be getting into this history in my next post or two

Interesting article. Didn't know that this was such an issue in Angola. War is definitely bad and created by greedy egoistic men but the planes cool pretty cool. We have a lot of aircraft museums in Russia too, some planes are from WWII era.
Followed and upvoted!


Share a few with us next time you go.

A good publication era of technology and air force of the most important clashes, but as useful, it is misused turns into a disaster Thank you brother Happy day to you+follow

With bombs of that size SWAPO guerilla camps Must be having a hard time surviving .. :P

These are amazing remnants of the cold war.
It's especially great learning about places like Angola where people turn a blind eye to.

I like airplanes that extinguish fires and save the wounded.

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An Impala Mk2 takes me back. I have seen those in South Africa years ago and remember thinking that it is unusual for an iron bird to be named after an animal. I also thought impalas were of similar vintage as the MIGs I used to see in India. Thanks for your tribute for these beauties.

I would be honoured if you visit my latest blogs and leave your comments when you have some free time. Thanks.

great job some new information thank you

Nice post i like it Awesome @gavvet

Hey man , this is really great man .thank you for this article. Keep it great @

good posting

Nice post.
Learned something today!

@gavvet always great brother upvoted of course hope ya havin a good day

Hello Brother @gavvet how are you
I love to be reassured you I hope you are okay brother @gavvet

Like the article :-)

I want two please :)

Wawww this is amazing post my friend

nice post @gavvet very awesome

I enjoyed this post

nice aircrafts
thank you for sharing


thank u for nice post

good post...

One of the top fighter jets. Appreciate for sharing and your effort.

I wonder if SA would even have a use for their jets @gavvet as they do not or at least go to war.

Great work my sister.

Fllow +

I looking to post about peace

Plz fllow me

It is a great post. Thank you for sharing with us. Keep posting. 👍👍

Some fantastic photos here, thank you for sharing this with us :)

I loved the Buccaneer! I still remember an excerise at Saldana bay where we had mock attacks and defense of the base. I was stationed on a ZU 23 mil overlooking the ocean from quite a high level. The radar boys told us the direction the Buccaneer was attacing from but we could not make any visual contact. It was as if it was flying between the waves, needless to say it was tickets with the canon crew!


I was on 849 squadron on HMS Eagle in the 1960's, the Buccs could get so low that they could easily fly below flight deck level. The USN ships we exercised with could not understand why our RAF wanted the white elephant that was TSR2 where Buccaneers were much better.