Buccaneer 412 was the 2nd aircraft off the Hawker Siddeley production line. 412 also did not join 24 Squadron but was allocated the factory serial number G-2-2 and was also used to test various on-board systems and flight characteristics loaded with various weapons and delivery.
Buccaneer 412 was the 1st aircraft to land at Waterkloof on the delivery flight from the UK, on 3 November 1965. The aircraft was piloted by the 1st 24 Squadron OC Cmdt R.H. Rogers and his navigator Major Murphy. The flying time from Lossiemouth to Waterkloof was 18 hours and 20 Minutes, including 2 hours and 10 minutes flown on the aborted Sal-Ascension leg on 30 October 1965.
As a show of solidarity to the local population and of force to those harbouring anti-government feeling four Buccaneers, from 24 Squadron, flew up to Grootfontein on 15 May 1975. The aim of the deployment was to demonstrate the presence of the SAAF by carrying out low-level flights over the entire territory. It was during this first deployment to Namibia that 412 piloted Maj. Gert Havenga and his navigator Maj. Ken Snowball (RIP) had a narrow miss when she was involved in mid air incident with Buccaneer 426, which was lost due to the incident.
Ex-24 Sqn OC retired Cmdt Gert Havenga describe as follows; ”Ons was ‘n 4 skip gevegsformasie onder leiding van die OC Dan Zeeman. Sandy Allison was no 2, ek No 3 en Mathew Morton no 4. Die beplanning was dat ons uit die gevegsformasie sou breek en individueel land op die toe nog kort aanloopbaan. Ons sou ‘n “show of force” oor Ovamboland gaan doen. Met die nadering het Dan geroep op 118.1 sonder sukses en kort voor halfby is ons geroep na” KOM BOX”. Mathew was effens voor my en links en toe ek inskuif in die no 3 posisie het ek net gevoel iets tref my van onder. Dit was Mathew en Phllip Rossouw in 426! 426 se stertvlak het afgebreek en hulle is deur die formasie sonder enige beheer. Hulle was uiters gelukkig om die skietstoele te kon gebruik. Mathew het erg seergekry, maar Philip het slegs ‘n enkel beseer. My pitot buis was af en ek het vir Dan gevra om my in te lei. Ops Normal was egter dat hy dan op kort eindnadering sou omgaan en my eerste laat land. Ons was vinnig op eindnadering en ongelukkig het hy voor my geland. Met die Bucc se slipstream het ek nie ‘n kans gehad om behoorlik te land nie en ek is verby Dan op die kort aanloopbaan. Gelukkig het ek hom nie getref nie anders was daar 3 Bucc’s M…toe. Oorlede Ken Snowball was my Nav, wat dadelik op HF vir HK laat weet het en die C160 wat besig was om uit te ry te stop om vir Mathew en Philip 1 Mil toe te vat. Die volgende dag het ons voortgegaan met die show maar net met 3 BUCC’s. Groete Gert Havenga”
Buccaneer 412 was on strength at 24 Squadron until the closing down of the squadron in 1991. She had an accident free flying career and was the favourite of many pilots, having had the reputation of being the fastest of all the Buccaneers. She was used as a tanker on numerous refuelling missions and has been used extensively in combat missions in Angola during the 80’s i.e. Ops Reindeer, Ops Rekstok, Ops Rekstok II, Ops Driepoot, Ops Saffraan, Ops Smokeshell, Ops Wishbone, Ops Interrupt, Ops Protea, Ops Daisy, Ops Rekstok III, Ops Karton, Ops Askari, Ops Weldmesh, Ops Modular and Hooper.
This aircraft is famed for the role it played in earning 24 Squadron its 2nd Honoris Crux medal. In October 1987 the aircraft returned from a bombing mission with hang-up bombs on the right wing station. Unbeknown to the aircrew the delay fuse of one of the hang-up bombs was armed during the flight and was set to explode after a certain predetermined time period. Sgt Flip Van Dyk noticed that something was wrong when he smelled the acid of the delay fuse and immediately opened the tail section of the bomb to unscrew the fuse to make the bomb safe, fully realizing that the bomb may explode any moment. He successfully made the bomb safe and the removed fuse went off about 3 minutes later. With this heroic deed he not only put his own life in danger, but saved the lives of many people and prevented the destruction of lots of valuable aircraft and the Grootfontein AFB. For this heroic deed he received the Honoris Crux medal.
Not generally known is that the late Maj Flip Van Dyk’s (RIP) ashes were strewn over the pole mounted Buccaneer 412 in recognition to the role 24 Squadron and Buccaneer 412 played in his life. This serves as his grave stone.