|The role of No 3 Squadron was that of air support, paratrooping,
re-supply, sky shouting, search and rescue, and air communications
including VIP transport.
Established in 1947 as a communications flight
operating C47 Dakotas based at New Sarum south of Salisbury, in 1959 the Nyasaland Emergency
saw the squadron airlifting
troops to Nyasaland (now Malawi). With the formation of C Squadron (SAS) the squadron began to experiment with
paratrooping; in 1960 the
Squadron was involved in the Katanga crisis, where it was to fly out a
number of (white) Rhodesian refugees to Salisbury - the aftermath of the
crisis may have inspired The Wild
Geese. The next foreign
emergency came with the declaration of a state of emergency in Kuwait;
British troops were flown from Kenya to Kuwait. The other most notable
pre-war change was with the aircraft's silver paint scheme, which was
changed to two tone green camouflage. Further changes were to take place to reduce susceptibility to heat seeking
missiles - a non
reflective paint scheme, and the exhausts of the engines being fitted with a device to
reduce the temperature of the exhaust gasses and prevent acquisition.
As the war intensified, the initial squadron
involvement in rain-making trials was to be abandoned, the squadron
instead carrying out Psyops inspired sky-shouting trials,
loudspeakers fitted in the doorway of the Dakota used in conjunction
with leaflet dropping).
From 1968 onwards, the squadron was used to supply forward airfields
with both troops and equipment, and civilian activities, such as a rain making trial, were abandoned; the
squadron was now to concentrate more on free-fall parachute training
(including night descents).
In March 1973 South
Africa supplied a further two Dakotas; two more were added in April 1974
African Airways, and in October 1975 the squadron received a Cessna 421C from
During 1976 a Douglas DC-7CF was placed on the fleet. This saw service
until November 1980.
From June 1976 until November 1979 a
large number of Brittin Norman Islanders were acquired from
various sources; the fall if Portuguese rule in Southern Africa led to
many being acquired from Mozambique and Angola, some through South
On the 31st May 1977 one Dakota was destroyed when it was hit by an
RPG7 rocket during its take off run at Mapai.
During 1977 three more Dakota aircraft arrived on
the squadron via various routes.
One of the Dakota aircraft was configured as an
airborne Command Post and another for electronic intelligence gathering.
Post Zimbabwe Independence
On the 18th December 1980 Dakota 3711 was
March 12th 1983 the squadron replaced the Dakotas with the
Spanish CASA C-212, a turboprop-powered STOL medium transport aircraft.