SAAF's Border War
The South African Air Force in Combat 1966-89
Series : Africa@War #8
Author : Peter Baxter
Out of print
General - Pages : 80 | Images : 16pp colour aircraft profiles & colour photos, profusely ills w/b&w photos, maps
Paperback - Date of Publication : October 2014 | Size : 297mm x 210mm | ISBN : 9781908916235 | Helion Book Code : HEL0331
South African Mirages and Cuban MiG-21s dogfighting over Cuito Cuanavale, the largest tank battle on African soil since El Alamein; Puma troopships shot out of the skies by Strela missiles and RPG-7 rockets; Alouette III gunships hovering menacingly above Koevoet tracker-combat teams as they close in for the kill; Hercules and Transall transports disgorging their loads of Parabats over Cassinga; suicidal helicopter hot-extractions of Recce operators deep in enemy territory; and a lone Alouette pilot who disobeyed orders and under intense ground fire evacuated a critically wounded soldier … such is the story of the South African Air Force, the SAAF, over the 23-year period 1966-1989, the period of conflict that became known as the 'Border War'.
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, the SAAF was effectively South Africa's first line of defence against Soviet expansionism in southern Africa. That the Soviets, through their surrogates-the Cuban military, Angola's FAPLA and Namibia's SWAPO-sought a communist regime in South Africa is indisputable, as too was the SAAF's skill, quality, determination and capability to defeat the best Soviet air defences of the time. This account covers all the major operations that the SAAF was involved in, from Operation Blouwildebees, the opening salvo of the conflict at Omgulumbashe, South West Africa in 1966 to the final curtain, Operation Merlyn, the so-called April Fool's Day 'war' of 1989 when the SAAF and Koevoet, almost alone, frustrated SWAPO's last throw of the dice with its illegal invasion of South West Africa.
In this account, highlighting such operations as Reindeer, Bootlace/Uric, Sceptic, Protea, Daisy, Askari, Moduler, Hooper and Packer, among many, as well as the ongoing methodological operations like Lunar, Maanskyn, Donkermaan and Butterfly, Baxter examines and brings to life the squadrons and aviators that fought in both counter-insurgency and conventional warfare roles.
Besides an extensive selection of rare photographs, the book features a comprehensive section on camouflage and markings and 11 pages of colour aircraft profiles and insignia by noted SAAF authority William Marshall, making this title especially useful for modelers.
"An important new work that documents a little-known air war as never before."
Glenn Sands, Airfix Model World magazine
"I thoroughly enjoyed this terrific tome. It's wonderfully researched. It's abundantly illustrated. And it's a superb supplement to any library of Cold War history and African insurgencies. Rabidly recommended!”
David L. Veres, Cybermodeler website
"This title will appeal to historians and modellers alike, particularly as there has been little written about these operations, and indeed about the activities of the SAAF in general, in the past."
"This unique and fascinating book covers all the major operations that the SAAF was involved in."
Model Aircraft Monthly
At any given time, there are at least half a dozen conflicts taking place in Africa, from civil strife and brutal insurgencies to full-blown conventional wars. Yet, apart from the grand campaigns and battles of colonial yesteryear-Omdurman, Isandlwana, Spioenkop et al—little is known outside the Dark Continent of the plethora of brushfire wars that occur with monotonous regularity. Following the Second World War, with the colonial powers-Britain in particular-looking to divest themselves of their burdensome empires, the ‘winds of change’, fuelled by the Cold War, swept through every nook and cranny of the continent. From Algeria to South Africa, from the Congo to Kenya, the continent literally erupted in conflict. Butchery and barbarism, under the guise of Black Nationalism, became bywords of African insurgencies; the tactics of terror, so espoused by Chairman Mao, one of the principal backers—in competition with Soviet imperialism—of African liberation movements, became standard operating procedure.
Africa-the continent that gave the world ‘pseudo’ counterterrorist operations as developed in Kenya to combat the Mau Mau, the Rhodesian Fireforce concept, radical innovations in vehicle mine-proofing, South African armour which fought the Cubans to a standstill at Cuito Cuanavale in the largest continental tank battle since Alamein, MiG and Mirage dogfights over the skies of Angola—is not all doom and gloom: it is as rich in its cultural diversity as it is in its martial traditions. Apart from a colourful array of liberation movements, mercenaries, brigands, pirates and terrorists, the cast includes such legendary units as the King’s African Rifles, the Portuguese Flechettes, the French Foreign Legion, the Rhodesian Selous Scouts and SAS, and the South African Recces, 32 Battalion and Koevoet.
Africa@War, a ground-breaking series, studies Africa’s post-1945 conflicts and military players in an informative and entertaining manner, examining some of the lesser known campaigns and shedding new light on some of the better known operations.
“Africa@War is a ground-breaking series concept, studying Africa’s conflicts and military players in an informative and entertaining manner, examining some of the lesser-known campaigns and shedding new light on some of the better-known operations … great models of what the combination of authors and publishers can produce by way of useable case studies for the market place in a concise illustrated format. They are recommended as professional military education references.”
Charles D. Melson, Chief Historian, U.S. Marine Corps
"Each of the books in this series is a well-documented and researched synopsis of the events that they are focused upon. They layouts and presentation are logical and of a very high quality ... As an introduction to this field of operation, this series is outstanding. A definite asset for those wishing to improve their knowledge and understanding of the development of successful, multi-faceted doctrine in the fight against insurgent/assymetric war."
Major Chris Buckham, Royal Canadian Air Force Journal