5 SAAF Marauder Squadrons

No. 12 Squadron

Formed in South Africa in December 1939, equipped with Avro Ansons. Converted Junkers JuS6's and moved to Kenya, where missions were flown in the East African Campaign.

At the end of that campaign it converted to Martin Marylands and moved to the Middle East. Based at Shandur, in the Canal Zone, it later moved up into the Western Desert, where in January 1942, it converted to Douglas Boston's operating across North Africa, before moving to Malta to support the landings in Sicily and Italy. In October it moved to Italy, and in the following January converted to Marauders and became part of No.3 Wing, De sert Air Force and continued operations with it, in support of the Allied armies as they fought their way north, until the German surrender in May of 1945. After a short period at Rivolto, in N. Italy, the Squadron ferried its aircraft back to Egypt, and was effectively disbanded November

No.21 Squadron

Formed in Kenya on March 3.1941, and was equipped with Martin Marylands. In July, it moved to Egypt, and was based at Shandur in the Canal Zone. Operations in the Desert Campaigns were flown until conversion to Martin Baltimores took place. Missions were flown with the Baltimores in N.Africa, Sicily and Italy, as part of Desert Air Force, until converted to Marauders in July,1944. As part of No.3 Wing, the Squadron, missions were flown up to the time of the German surrender. After that, it moved back to Egypt, and was disbanded on September 10,1945.

No.24 Squadron

Formed in Kenya, on March 5,1941, from 14 Squadron, RAE, and moved to the Middle East. Its Martin Marylands began operating in the Western Desert, attached to 39 Squadron, RAE (with its Marylands). In November, the Squadron converted to Douglas Bostons, and continued to operate throughout N. Africa. In July 1943, it moved to Malta to support the landings in Sicily, followed by a move to a base there to support the invasion of Italy. Based in S. Italy, it flew its last Boston mission on November 8, before converting to Marauders.
The Squadron continued to operate its aircraft as part of No. 3 Wing, Desert Air Force, until the end of WW2. At that time, it's Marauders were converted for transport duties, and they operated in this role in Italy and Egypt, before being disbanded on November 6,1945.

No.25 Squadron

Formed on July 1,1942 in South Africa, for coastal reconnaissance duties, and with it's Lockheed Ventura's in May 1944, it left to deploy in the Mediterranean theatre, and was in position at Pomigliano, S. Italy, by July 9. It was allocated to the newly-formed Balkan Air Force, and based at Biferno, beginning operations over Yugoslavia on August 20. In October conversion to Marauders began, and the last Ventura mission was flown on November 8. Marauder operations started on November 20, and continued to the end of hostilities on May 4, when the last Marauder mission was flown. The Squadron lost HD667 to flak on this mission, with it's complete crew, and was the last Marauder casualty of the war. Disbandment took place on July 15,1945. The Squadron was part of No. 254 Wing at Biferno, (see final note below).

No 30 Squadron           

Although the formal birth of the Squadron, is officially recorded as August 12,1944. it was actually conceived as far back as February, when it was decided that the South African Air Force should take over manning of No. 223 Squadron RAF, currently flying Martin Baltimores as part of 232 Wing RAF in N. Africa. The war moved across to Sicily and then to Italy and 223 Squadron effectively became part of No. 3 Wing, as it moved to it's new base at Biferno (Campomarino) in S. Italy. The Squadron finally became a SAAF unit, and was designated No.30 Squadron on August 14,1944. 3 Wing was now based at Pescara, and 30 Squadron made it's first Marauder attack, with the rest of the Wing

On August 20. In October, the whole Wing moved to it;s new base at Iesi, where it was to remain until the end of the war. After the end came, the Squadron moved south again back to Biferno (Campomarino) changing place with 39 Squadron, who had been switched to 30's place in Desert Air Force. Transport sorties were carried out by the Squadron aircraft specially modified for the role. Note. Details of this modification, are given in a separate item.
Disbandment took place on July 15,1945.


The four SAAF Squadrons at Pescara and Iesi, formed an all Marauder Wing, the equivalent of a USAAF Bomb Group, while No. 25 Squadron, together with No. 39, RAF and two Italian Co - belligerent Air Force Martin Baltimore Squadrons, formed No. 254 Light/Medium Bomb Wing, an all Martin Unit of the Balkan Air force, dedicated to supporting the Partisan Army of Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia


It should be noted that there was much common background in the five SAAF squadrons, and both 14 and 39 Squadrons.

24 Squadron was formed from 14 Squadron, and was attached to 39 with it's aircraft for operations in the Western Desert. All, of course, flew the Martin Marauder, and all (except 14) at some time or other, were based at Biferno (Campomarino).


Special Note - The Martin Marauder - Transport Modification

Several Marauders from 3 Wing and 254 Wing, were modified immediately the War ended, for passenger and freight carriage. These aircraft were completely stripped of armament and Armour plate, and floors and walls of wood were installed in the bomb bay, for freight with seats installed in the rear bomb bay area for passengers. An auxiliary power plant was installed where the tail guns had been mounted. Due to the induced nose-heaviness of the aircraft, 990 lbs, of ballast was added in the tail and waist gun compartments. The result was an aircraft that could cruise at 220 mph at 1700 rpm and 30 ins/HG boost, and carry a payload of 8000 lbs, double its original bomb load.

Some unconverted aircraft, were also used for transport duties 39 carried out several sorties to evacuate RAF and Army personnel from the base at Zara, on the Dalmatian coast when the situation with the Partisans deteriorated, in June 1945. These Marauders were able to carry 6-8 passengers, together with their kit.

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