Formed on 2 February 1945 by renumbering South African manned 262 Squadron RAF which was operating Catalinas from Congella (Durban harbour) and St Lucia on the Natal coast and from Langebaan on the West Cape coast. In April 1945 the squadron received the first of 16 Sunderland GR 5s, but peace prevented the squadron from going to the Far East and the Sunderlands were used for ferrying South African troops home from Cairo. In the late 1940’s, a Citizen Force element within 35 Squadron operated Harvards, Spitfires, Oxfords and Venturas from Stamford Hill, Durban. By 1952, the citizen force element was only flying the Harvard when they became 5 (CF) Squadron.
The Squadron continued to operate the Sunderland on anti-submarine patrols from Congella until 27 September 1957 when the squadron re-equipped with the Shackleton MR3 and moved to Cape Town. In 1959 and 1960 the squadron operated the last Ventures in SAAF service as part of Maritime Group before these were withdrawn. After the Shackletons were withdrawn in November 1984, the squadron continued to perform its maritime patrols with converted Dakotas – the ‘Dakleton’. With the closing of 25 Squadron at the end of 1990, a transport flight was formed to operate the Dakota and Kingair in the meduim-range transport role. In 1991 the ‘classic’ Dakota was replaced by the C-47TP in the transport role, while the maritime flight converted to the Turbodak in September 1994. The King air was transferred to 41 Squadron in late 1995.
In 1998 the two separate flights were combined with crews able to perform both maritime and transport tasks. The squadron returned to AFB Ysterplaat when their detachment at Cape Town International Airport closed during 2003.