Border War Characters – Major Tickli Kessler

Famous characters of the Border War – Major Helmuth Adolf (Tikli) Kessler, who flew a PA28 Cherokee which he converted to have fire power and bombing capability in support of operations.

Major Kessler from the SWATF (South West Africa Territorial Force) – 1 SWA Squadron used the PA28 primarily as a spotter and also engaged combatants with his improvised weapons system. He was tragically killed whist supporting ground operations in 1982.

Major Kessler had a ” tube” which he used to drop grenades from between the seats and the two RPK’s (each with two 40 round RPK magazines welded together) under the wings.

He experienced an engine failure (attributed to a bent valve) whilst in support of ground operations and called in a forced landing. On landing the plane up-ended and the grenades in the tube fell out and exploded.

Major Kessler was regarded as a bush war a legend with a larger than life personality and he is sorely missed by all who knew him.

One thought on “Border War Characters – Major Tickli Kessler

  1. I met Major Kessler, he was a Captain at the time, in early 1980 on one of his one month rotations. In April ’80 I flew with him as his observe as his regular observer had been injured on the previous rotation. It was my job to pull out the locking pin and replace it from the grenade laughing tube with the 3 or 4 grenades in it after takeoff and at the end of the patrol before landing. It was rather disconcerting know one had live grenades in a tube between your legs and the safety pins hanging on a control knob on the dashboard in front of you!!
    A great man and legend of the Bush War and it was a privilege to fly with him.


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