Known as the 'Flying Cheetahs', 2 (Transvaal) Squadron was formed at Waterkloof in January 1939 with the Hawker Hartbees. Redesignated as a fighter/bomber unit, the squadron spent the year training, but was renumbered as 12 Squadron in December 1939.
The squadron was reformed in Kenya on 1 October 1940, flying Hurricanes, Fury 1's and Gladiator II's. The squadron moved to Egypt in April 1941 and was re-equipped with Curtiss Tomahawk IIB's. Kittyhawk's were received from May 1942. In 1943 the squadron moved to Sicily and then Italy were they were re-equipped with Spitfires which they flew until the end of the war.
The squadron was reformed in December 1948 at Waterkloof, flying Spitfire MkIX's. The Flying Cheetahs as South Africa's contribution to the Korean War. They served in Korea with distinction from November 1950 to December 1953, first flying the F-51D Mustang and from February 1953, the F-86F Sabre. During this campaign, an impressive 12 067 sorties were flown. 74 of 94 Mustangs, and 4 of 22 Sabres were lost, with 34 pilots killed. When the squadron returned to South Africa they were equipped with the Vampire at Waterkloof (in 1954), but in 1956 they received the Sabre Mk6.
Conversion to the new Mirage III occurred in 1963 and the squadron moved to AFB Hoedspruit at the end of 1978. They continued to fly the Mirages until October 1990. They later re-equipped with the Atlas Cheetah C and D, but remained 'on the books' during the hiatus between Mirage and Cheetah, not being officially disbanded at that point. Moving to Louis Trichardt (now Makado) in January 1993, 2 Squadron became the sole front line combat jet squadron in the SAAF.
The Cheetah was retired on 2 April 2008, but the squadron is still kept active until the new Gripen enters service.
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