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Three different and unique display items were recently added to the Air Force Museum’s collection at Swartkop. And to top it off, all three were delivered on the same day! Tuesday the 9th of November 2010 proved to be a productive day at the museum with the arrival of a Pilatus Astra aircraft, a World War II guard tower and an experimental APA gas turbine engine.

PILATUS ASTRA PC-7 II 

This aircraft was utilized at 68 Air School for ground instruction. It is marked ATTD1 and is one of two mock-up airframes supplied by Pilatus with the delivery of the sixty PC-7 Mk II trainers in 1995. ATTD1 became surplus to requirements, following the allocation of a “real” Astra from Langebaanweg’ Central Flying School to 68 Air School for the training of apprentices. On closer inspection, the myriad of see-through panels reveal the various components and systems inside the Pilatus Astra aircraft. The countless questions of many young visitors to the museum, trying to figure out the inner-workings of an aircraft, will now be answered more easily. The aircraft was transported from 68 Air School to the Museum at Swartkop by road, but had to be lifted over the fence and security wall by crane on its journey to the museum.

HISTORIC GUARD TOWER

This historic guard tower was situated north of the Bays Hill memorial for many years. The Camp Commandant at Swartkop Airfield, Colonel Zurich, suggested its relocation to the museum because of recent damage and vandalism to its structure. Its steel construction is significant when compared to the concrete guard towers found in the vicinity of Swartkop. Relatively little is known about the tower, but readers are welcome to contact the Research Officer at the museum with more information. An Oryx helicopter from 17 Squadron assisted with the hoist and amidst the overcast weather conditions, successfully lifted the tower off Bays Hill to its new location at the museum. The crew consisted of pilot in command Maj King, copilot Maj Moreetsi with flight engineers F/Sgt Maluleke and Sgt Mogorosi.

APA GAS TURBINE ENGINE

The APA was a South African designed and built gas turbine engine, manufactured by Armscor under the project name Apartment. The project originated in about 1977 with the purpose to design and build a small, light, expendable gas turbine engine which could ultimately power long range target drones and RPV’s. By the time the project was terminated in the late 1980’s a number of prototypes had been built, but the subsequent whereabouts of the engines were not known for many years. Regrettably Armscor/Denel never maintained a dedicated museum where these items could be preserved or displayed. The Air Force museum’s engine; known as APA-5; was donated through the valiant efforts of a Johannesburg auctioneer acting on behalf of the deceased estate of the Strickler family. The engine will be added to the collection of locally produced Armscor, Denel and CSIR technology on display inside 2 Hangar at Swartkop.

 Readers are welcome to contact the Research Officer,  at the SAAF Museum at 012 351 2282/2290.

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