The book is
in two parts – the first 50 pages covers the history of the Canberra
in Rhodesian Air Force service and the next 39 pages covers the history of
the South African Air Force Canberras that served with 12 Squadron. It
reveals for the first time South Africa’s interest to investigate and
evaluate before purchase of 8 British Handley Page Victor “V” bombers. It is A4,
with 96 pages and 7 colour pages and plenty of B&W
We’re not sure who Michael
Hamence is, but Winston Brent is well known amongst the aircraft spotting
fraternity for his unique guide to African air forces. The guide is a
masterful example of tedious research and the Canberra book reflects a
similar level of study. Unlike many locally published books this one
contains some amusing anecdotes of Rhodesian Cannies.
Being a spotter Winston pays special attention to tail numbers with
a faithful record of all aircraft supplied to the Royal Rhodesian Air
Force and South Africa. Whilst the Rhodesian era is related in
considerable detail, we couldn’t help feeling that there must be many more
stories about SAAF ops. Indeed the book seems to run out of steam beyond
the initial acquisition stage during the mid-sixties.
One interesting revelation is the SAAF’s evaluation of the Handley
Page Victor Bomber, which the South African government came close to
ordering – indeed serial numbers were allocated before the decision was
made to go ahead with Canberras. There are also hints in the South African
section of more covert operations.
It’s known for instance that SAAF Cannies on occasion flew on
behalf of the Rhodesian Air Force and the book makes no mention of
There is no mention of Classic Jet’s Canberra which crashed not
long after it was flown to Cape Town.
There are some intriguing
never before published photos, in particular the shots of the Russian
satellite tracking ship, Kapushka, which was intercepted off the Eastern
Cape in 1989.
Nevertheless it’s a book which I couldn’t put down
and it’s at a reasonable price too.