Tag Archives: Canberra

Remembering Souths Africa’s only civilian English Electric Canberra T17A

With the birth of Thunder City at Cape Town International airport in South Africa. Thunder City was an aircraft operating and maintenance company, It was well known for owning the largest civilian collection of former military jet aircraft in the world.

Aircraft types included in the Mike Beachy Head inventory, English Electric Lightnings, Buccaneer’s, Hawker Hunters, StrikeMaster and a Puma Helicopter.

Established under the name Thunder City in 1998, the brand has gone on to become one of the most globally recognised as a home-grown South African one. Seen by millions of TV viewers in countries across the planet, the iconic Thunder City jets have inspired many to travel to Cape Town to experience the thrill and adrenaline-rush of flying in a supersonic ex-military jet. We have had a lot of worldwide media exposure, especially in Europe and the USA.

TV networks from all over the world have filmed documentaries on the Thunder City operation. These include household names such as Sky TV, CNN and the Discovery Channel, as well as Turkish, Austrian, Chinese, Dutch, French, Spanish and several German TV channels and also our own Top Billing and MNet’s Carte Blanche.”

English Electric Canberra T17A ZU-AUE Final Flight!

The one particular aircraft that did not fulfill its life span at thunder city was the ill fated flight of The Canberra, built in 1953 and formerly registered WJ607/EB with 360 Squadron Royal Air Force RAF had been de-commissioned and registered G-BVWU on the British Civil Register on 22/12/94. It was brought to South Africa to join the fleet of classic warbirds at Thunder City, based at Cape Town International Airport and registered ZU-AUE on August 25, 1995.

WJ607/EB with 360 Squadron RAF
English Electric Canberra T17A ZU-AUE at Cape Town International Airport

The aircraft crashed on 30th September near Yzerfontain, on the Capes west coast sadly killing both crew. The Canberra took off from Cape Town International on a test flight up the west coast. In the vicinity of Yzerfontein, the aircraft turned inland and suddenly spun in leaving a crater in the ground. Nothing of the aircraft remained. Although the crew were wearing parachutes, there appeared to be no time to eject.

English Electric Canberra T17A WJ607/EB with 360 Squadron RAF

South African Airforce Canberra’s

The SAAF received the first B(I) Mk 12 aircraft in 1963. Six B(I) Mk 12 bombers (451 to 456) and the T Mk 4 trainers (457 to 459) were operated by 12 Squadron.

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