2 Squadron, South African Air Force "the flying cheetahs' was formed in 1940, and served throughout the Second World War in the Mediterranean theatre. At the outbreak of the war in Korea, the South African government offered the squadron for service with the United Nations forces. Arriving in Japan in October 1950 for conversion to North American F-51D Mustang fighter-bombers, the unit flew its first operational sorties in November as part of the 18th US Fighter Bomber Wing. Mustang operations continued until December 1952, when the squadron was withdrawn for conversion to North American F-86F Sabre jets, making its first operational flights on 11 March 1953. The new aircraft were used in both the fighter-bomber and air superiority fighter roles until the end of the fighting in July 1953. In the course of the Korean War, 2 Squadron SAAF flew some 12 067 operational sorties, 10 373 of them on Mustangs. The unit was awarded both Korean and US Presidential Citations for distinguished service. 34 airmen and two ground crew were killed during the conflict, and a further eight airmen were taken prisoner but repatriated at the end of hostilities. Aircraft losses were 74 Mustangs and four Sabres.