View Full Version : Guide to AIR 54 series covering SAAF 1939 - 1945

27th May 2012, 14:41
The files relating to the South African Air Force during 1939 to 1945 have been supplied to The National Archives in microfilm format.

Some RAF units and stations are also included.
Alloted the series number AIR 54 they comprise of 205 pieces numbered from AIR 54/1 to AIR 54/205

Joint Air Training Plan
Coastal defence flights
Operational sorties from Kenya and Sudan and subsequent operations in East Africa (Ethiopia)
Operational sorties in the Western Desert
Operational sorties in Sicily, Italy etc
Operational sorties in relation to Madagascar

Also included are all of the HQ and miscellaneous units that go to make up a complete Dominion Air Force both home and field based.

The AIR 54 series of files are on free download from The National Archives and come, split over each piece number, as a couple of .pdf files of approx 200-250 pages each.

Other problems with the AIR 54 series are that earlier formations are included in later formation ORBs and hence not indexed eg No.1 SFTS and No.21 Air School. Sections of ORB and some individual pages have become seperated and have been tagged onto the end of a microfilm and not indexed.

This means that finding the unit, and in particular the timeslot of interest, is a bit hit and miss using the TNA Catalogue and new Discovery Catalogue.

I have created a unit navigation aid to the AIR 54 series which enables the researcher to identify the .pdf file to be downloaded from the TNA catalogue, then the page range within that .pdf for instant display.


27th May 2012, 14:44
First section to go live is the Air School Forum (No.1 AS to No.70 AS)

No.71 AS - No.100 AS to follow

Northern Narrative added.


13th July 2012, 17:05
Hello Ross,

Thank you for these three most interesting threads concerning SAAF and RAF training in WWII which I've just spotted! Am I correct in saying the South African Air Force was once titled the 'Royal South African Air Force' and if so, what date did it change to SAAF?

I am presently corresponding with the Air Attache at the SA Embassy in London concerning the records of No 48 Air Navigation School, Woodbridge, East London, Cape. As soon as I receive results, I'll copy you.


16th July 2012, 09:19
Hi Norman,

I stand to be corrected but I think that the force was only known as the South African Air Force.

On the 1st Feb 1920 Lt Col Sir Pierre van Ryneveld was appointed as Director of Air Services in the Union Defence Force and this is the official birthdate of the SAAF.

Look forward to anything you can glean on No.48 AS. It was not part of the package transferred to the TNA as AIR 54.