Operation Bastille, April 13, 1979

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The attempt to assassinate Joshua Inkomo leader of ZIPRA forces in Zambia.

Seven ageing Landrovers (Sabres) were brought out of moth balls and prepared for a deep external operation into Zambia and the Zambian capital Lusaka. The force of 7 Land Rovers and 42 Rhodesian SAS would be transported across Lake Kariba by the commercial Ferry See Lion. They would then travel north along rough bush tracks until they found the main road. One Land Rover was lost due to break down in the process. They would then drive north to Lusaka crossing the Kafue River bridge on the way. There was much apprehension that they would meet resistance at various stages but they traveled north and penetrated Lusaka with ease.

Three targets were to be attacked, Nkomos house, the ZIPRA armoury and Liberation Centre. Due to the loss of a vehicle only Knomos home and the Liberation Centre was attacked successfully.

Unfortunately Nkomo had left the building but the building and guards were taken out. Read more details in the book Elite, The story of the Rhodesian SAS by Barbara Cole.

The SAS wore Rhodesian cammo uniforms, Russian helmets, but were armed with RPDs, AKs, FNs. Each Land Rover had two FN MAGs. They also carried home made bunker bombs in plastic mortar bomb containers.

The Land Rovers were painted all over cammo green with straight blotches of a light colour to simulate Zambian vehicle camouflage.

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op  bastille map

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Eland 90 (AML 90) Armoured Cars

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Just a few detail shots of the Rhodesian Eland 90 in service.

There is the od photo of Ferrets and Eland 60s. note the Eland 90s in full green cammo as these were used during Operation Miracle into Mozambique with the Selous Scouts. After independence the Elands were painted in Dark Earth/Dark Green cammo scheme.

The Eland 60s I believe were used by the Rhodesian Air Force for airfield defence.

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Rhodesian Artillery ORBAT

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A number of rough notes from School of Infantry showing the ORBAT of the Rhodesian Artillery.

The 6×6 MAP tractor for the 5.5 battery is shown in these photos. The South Africans had loaned 8 of these guns which were towed by 8 6×6 tractors.

Some guns are in all green cammo scheme as these were used on external operations such as Op Miracle.

ARTILLERY ORG 1 ARTILLERY ORG 2 ARTILLERY ORG 3 ARTILLERY ORG 4 1487362_650917808283516_1384593447_n[2] 019rho[1] Artillery[1] 3290_89249657974_744547974_2399903_2428947_n[1] LockeCooke[1] model013-3[1] model017-2[1] Stiff[1] MAP artillery tractor 5.5 3290_89249287974_744547974_2399898_1803763_n[1] 3290_89249672974_744547974_2399906_2427000_n[1] 5632_393854667426858_929727829_n[1] 1010559_10202158859106923_259665950_n[1] 1012140_10202159372879767_1307628436_n[1]

Rhodesian Artillery

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The Rhodesian Artillery armed with the old but effective 25pdr medium artillery piece was an extremely effective unit in its prime roll of providing support fire. In the counter insurgency roll the artillery troops would perform their prime roll in counter battery fire on the borders of Rhodesia with Mozambique, but on other occasions would take part in ground coverage operations, patrolling, follow ups and also in the Fire Force roll when needed.

Artillery would also be used to destroy Terr camps if Fire Force. air or ground forces were not available. They could also bracket infiltration groups as they moved in country. This was extremely unnerving for the terrs who were being spotted by OPs.

The RhA used many different prime movers during the war including the Ford F250 and later the Mercedes 4.5 GS truck, and later in the war MAP vehicles such as the MAP 7.5 TCV, configured for artillery use. On Operation Miracle a detachment of guns were deployed into Mozambique, firing from Maddison Square to support the assaulting troops on Mount Casino. These guns were towed by MAP 7.5s.

I created my crews from AB Figures 20mm American WWII 105mm Artillerys crews mixed with the Esci 1/72 27pdr kit with 8th Army artillery figures. This gave me a mix of figures with shorts and some with helmets etc. I swopped heads by taking combat cap heads from some of my spare 20mm RAR Underfire Miniatures Figures. Any helmets were put on the headless RAR figures. There are also spare heads which can be purchased from Dan Taylor Models.

My 20mm Artillery pieces are from the old Skytrex range now re-released by another company. I will also be making up the Esci 25pdrs I have.

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Rhodesian Bush War book

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I have just ordered a new book by Britton Publishers re the Rhodesian Bush War. There are ten scenarios in the book. Looking forward to reviewing this book and checking its contents.

The cover shows a number of Rhodesian Light Infantry after a Fire Force operation. Note the army badge of one of the Troopers with the Rhodesian green shoulder patch above.

This is late war as all wear full jump suits or overalls and all weapons are painted in cammo patterns, thus some time after 1977. Note the stick leader on the right who is carrying an A76 small means radio, is wearing veldscoons (suede shoes) without socks, as socks attract thorns. All are covered in cammo face cream and shorts were a thing of the past by this stage of the war. Battle preparation was taken far more seriously by this stage in the war.

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60mm Commando Mortar

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You will be pleased to know that Underfire Miniatures are soon to release a 20mm figure, RAR 60mm Commando Mortar Man. This figure will do for a lot of other Rhodesian units, RAR, RLI, RR, BSAP Support Unit, Grey’s Scouts, late INTAF, etc etc.

There are more Support Company weapons to follow and other much needed figures in the pipe line. Will keep you posted.

Mortar 1

Operation Virile 1977

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Operation Virile. Destruction of road bridges between Dombe and Espungabera, Mozambique, November/December 1977.

Order of Selous Scouts Column.

X1 Pookie to clear mines but not long after crossing the border due to the rough roads, the Pookie gave up the ghost had to be taken under tow by one of the Unimogs.

X1 African Bus was armed with a roof mounted 12,7mm HMG and two 50 Cal HMGs in the rear of the bus.

X2 Pigs armed with 20mm cannons.

X1 Unimog, Major Murphy’s command Unimog equipped with twin 50-calibre Brownings.

X2 Infantry carrying Unimogs, mounting twin FN 7,62 MAGs, plus one MAG for front seat passenger. Also two singles mounted on either side at rear of vehicle.

X2 Unimogs armed as above but with a mounted 81mm mortar and carried x2 60mm mortars for ground deployment.

X1 Unimog infantry carrying vehicles armed with MAGs as above, but was Major Bert Sachse’s command vehicle carried a 37mm SNEB six barrelled rocket launcher.

X1 Unimog mounted with a 20mm cannon. (Would vary position behind Bert or tail end Charlie at rear of column).

X1 Unimog with 5 MAGs but also an 81mm mortar.

X1 Captured Scania Truck, driven by Sgt Ed Watson with Capt Charlie Small, with 5 tons of gelignite and pentolite.

X1 Brutus the Berliet commanded by Lt Chris Gough with another 5 tons of explosives.

X1 4.5 ton Mercedes Truck with 2 tons of explosives driven by C/Sgt Jim Lafferty.

X2 errant Rhodesian Army Service Corps covered Unimogs with fuel trailers. They had refuelled the column before entering Mozambique but in all the dust had tagged on to the column by mistake and went on the operation.

X1 Unimog mounting a 12,7mm HMG.

I now have to find a 20mm Pookie and some other bits of kit and figures to complete this column

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