The South African Air Force in colour September. 2015
Click on the cap badge to visit the FB page.
The South African Air Force, S.A.A.F - S.A.L.M, was formed in 1912 as the South African Aviation Corps., and can claim to be one of the oldest such organisations. As well as supplying pilots to the Royal Flying Corps. during World War I, it also saw fighting against the Germans in South West Africa. After the Armistice in 1918 it was separated from the army and eventually disbanded. However, this was far from the end of the story, as shortly afterwards the S.A.A.F officially came into being on the 1st of February 1923.
With the outbreak of the Second World War the S.A.A.F numbered around 1500 officers and men, and were flying an outdated fleet of Fairey Battles, Blenheims and Hurricaines. Further aircraft were acquired from South African Airways in the form of civilian Junker Ju 52s and Ju 86s. The S.A.A.F was to see extensive action in many theatres from North Africa, Sicily and Italy, to Yugoslavia and Poland, as well as coastal command operations closer to home. From its humble beginnings its size would swell to well over 40 000 officers and men, serving 35 squadrons, with its fair share of “Aces” and not to mention those officers serving in the RAF and RCAF. It's fleet of aircraft also dramatically increased in size and would include Beauforts, Kittyhawks, Marylands, Mosquitoes and Spitfires.
Numerous DFCs were awarded and Britain's highest accolade for bravery, the Victoria Cross, was awarded posthumously to Major Edwin Swales, for completing his precision bombing mission and returning his damaged Lancaster back home, giving his life to save his crew.
This colourful history is the focus of one man's hobby. Tinu Le Roux's fascinating Facebook page “WW2 SAAF Coloured Photographs” shows a selection of period sepia photographs that he has expertly colourised, with stunning results. In recent years there has been a growing interest to colour WWII imagery, and whilst photo colouring is not a new practise or indeed art form, the basic principle and sensitivity of the artist remain just as valid as it always has. Most modern artists choose not to use brushes and paint but instead have been drawn to the new medium of digital photo suites.
This means that pictures can be sourced from digital libraries, collections and museums, and effects added, manipulated or removed without any loss of quality or damage to the original photo. In the hands of an expert, such as Mr Le Roux, modern colourisation techniques can not only imitate the traditional process and result, but go further by emphasising the subject, thus creating truly real and vibrant images. Images that hail more from yesterday than yester-year.
The colourised photographs of aircraft and pilots on his Facebook page help to bring the S.A.A.F to life and bring a more personal connection to the subjects and indeed the past. For aircraft fanatics and those sharing an interest in the Second World War you may find yourself engrossed in this page and if you are like myself, you will not be disappointed by your visit.