The SAAF was severely hampered by economic sanctions imposed against the country during 1977 and had to rely on a limited number of outdated aircraft for its primary mission, the Defence of the RSA.  During this same period, forces hostile to the RSA in neighbouring countries continued to be supplied with the most modern and state-of-the-art Soviet and Eastern Bloc weaponry and aircraft.

To counter this threat, the SAAF limited its exposure to aircraft losses by operating very clandestinely and adapted attack profiles such as flying very low and fast, and only gaining altitude while engaging the target.  SAAF aircraft avoided pre-empted air-to-air battles for this very same reason but when confronted, SAAF aircraft engaged enemy aircraft successfully on many occasions.

SADF ground forces often had to operate in hostile territory without, or with only limited air support and proved that land battles can be won without air support over terrain offering sufficient cover and by applying tactics of surprise, aggression, deception, and counter-insurgency doctrine.

Mirage IIICZ 805 (c/no. 158F) was one of sixteen aircraft ordered from Avion Marcel Dassault in 1962 at a price of R779 632.00 per aircraft.  The original logbooks held by the SAAF Museum indicate that this aircraft flew a total of 9 hours 40 minutes during acceptance trials and while conducting test flights in France prior to being disassembled and flown to South Africa in the rear of a Lockheed Hercules C-130 during June 1963.

The aircraft was re-assembled at AFB Waterkloof and test flown on 9 October 1963.  Mirage 805 was then taken on charge by 2 Squadron on 15 October 1963, carrying the individual letter “E” painted in red on the tail fin.

During 1971 the South African Air Force started applying camouflage to all the Mirage III aircraft.  Many different schemes were applied & tested for local conditions before the scheme of mid buff and olive green was chosen.  By 1976 this was the standard paint scheme applied to all the Mirage III aircraft variants.

When the Mirage III CZ aircraft were deployed to the Operational Area during the Border War or Bush War as it is locally termed, all national and Squadron insignia were painted over.  Only the aircraft serial number and other standard markings were retained.

When 2 Squadron relocated from AFB Waterkloof to AFB Hoedspruit, Mirage IIICZ 805 was taken off charge on 14 December 1978.  The SAAF Museum has the original logbooks from 1963 through to 1971 plus the final logbooks dating from 1989 – 1990.  The logbooks covering the operational sorties of this aircraft are unfortunately missing and the SAAF Museum has to date, been unsuccessful in locating them.

On 24 October 1988, Mirage 805 was sent to Atlas Aircraft Corporation (now Denel Aviation) to be used as a prototype aircraft where the wings of an ex-Mirage IIIEZ would be fitted to the Mirage IIICZ.  A pair of wings from Mirage IIIEZ 824 was fitted to Mirage 805 that included wiring for the V3B air to air missile and the installation of RIMS and CWRS.  The aircraft was then sent to the Test Flight and Development Centre (TFDC) at Bredasdorp during September 1989 for testing and evaluation.  Mirage 805 was later transferred to AFB Langebaanweg on 13 February 1990 to undergo weapons trials and testing before returning to 2 Squadron on 22 February 1990.  It appears that only Mirage 805 and Mirage 807 received this modification.  Mirage 805 participated in her final weapons camp at Upington during May/June 1990 and her final flight was conducted on 5 October 1990 at AFB Hoedspruit.
Having flown a total of 1845.2 hours, the aircraft was stored at AFB Hoedspruit until being disassembled for transport to Denel in March 1992.  It was re-assembled for use as an instructional airframe at the School of Technical Training (STT) (now known as 68 Air School) before being acquired by the SAAF Museum in May 1997.  Twelve years later during March 2009, the restoration project commenced.

Power plant: SNECMA ATAR 09B, 6000kg with afterburner.
Performance: Mach 2.1 (2230 km/h) at 11000m, Mach 1.22 at sea level.
Service Ceiling:16500m (IIICZ), Radius: 290 - 700 km.
Armament: 2x30mm cannons
Air to Air: 2 x V3B IR homing missiles and 1 x Matra 530 radar guided missile.
Air to Surface: Various bombs and rockets up to 1800kg.
Mass: 6.37 tons, 11.8 tons max.
SAAF Museum Historical Research Officer Colonel Graham C.L. Du Toit MMM