War of Intervention in Angola Volume 3 - Angolan and Cuban Air Forces 1975-1985

Published: April 19th, 2021     
Product Image
Author: Adrien Fontanellaz, Tom Cooper, José Augusto Matos
Reviewed by: Frank Landrus - IPMS# 35035
ISBN #: 978-1913118617
Other Publication Information: Portrait Soft Bound; 8.3” x 11.8”, 80 pages
Price: $29.95
Product / Stock #: HEL1188 Africa @ War #50
Product provided by: Casemate Publishers

Helion produces books on many aspects of Military History from the Late Medieval period through to the present day. Helion was established in 1996, and since then they have published almost 1,200 books, with 100 or more new titles coming out every year. The 'Africa@War' series covers African military history since 1945.

Tom Cooper is an Austrian aerial warfare analyst and historian. Following a career in the worldwide transportation business - during which he established a network of contacts in the Middle East and Africa - he moved into narrow-focus analysis and writing on small, little-known air forces and conflicts, about which he has collected extensive archives. That resulted in specialization in such Middle Eastern air forces as of those of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, plus various African to and Asian air forces. In addition to authoring and co-authoring about 50 books - including about three dozen titles fors Helion's @War series - and well over 1,000 articles, Cooper is a regular correspondent for multiple defense-related publications.

Adrien Fontanellaz, from Switzerland, is a military history researcher and author. He developed a passion for military history at an early age and has progressively narrowed his studies to modern-day conflicts. He is a member of the Scientific Committee of the Pully-based Centre d'histoire et de prospective militaries (Military History and Prospectives Centre), and regularly contributes to the Revue Militaire Suisse and various French military history magazines. He is co-founder and a regular contributor to the French military history website L'autre cote de la colline, and this is his tenth title for Helion's '@War' series.

Jose Augusto Matos is an independent researcher in military history in Portugal with primary interest in operations of the Portuguese Air Force during colonial wars in Africa, especially in Guinea. He is a regular contributor to numerous European magazines on military aviation and naval subjects, and has collaborated in the major project 'The Air Force at the end of the Empire', published in Portugal in 2018. Recently he has written two books in Portuguese, one on the former Portuguese regime's relations with South Africa and the other on the attack against Guinea-Conakry in 1970.

Helion's latest book in the Africa @ War series is a square back soft cover includes 80 gloss paper pages. This Volume 3 follows up on Adrien Fontanellaz' and Tom Cooper's earlier Volume 1, Africa@War 31 and Volume 2, Africa@War 34, Volume 1, both published in 2019, covers the Angolan and Cuban Forces at War, 1975-1983. The cover features a color photograph of Mig-21 and Mig-17Fs lined up on the tarmac. . The cover color side-view by Tom Cooper of the first on twelve MiG-23MLs that were operated by DAA/FAR (the Revolutionary Air Defense and Air Force, flown by Cuba).

I counted one color picture (front cover) and 86 black and white photographs and drawings. There are also 19 aviation color side profiles by Tom Cooper and Luca Canossa; and 3 color side AFV profiles by David Bocquelet, along with 8 black and white maps, one color map, and eleven tables.

War of Intervention in Angola, Volume 3 covers the air warfare during the II Angolan War from 1975-1985 - through narrating the emergence and operational history of the Angolan Air Force and Air Defense Force (FAPA/DAA) as told by Angolan, Cuban, Russian, and South African sources. This (at least) four part series updates the previous accounts of this war by including newly available sources that provide more insight. These Angolan and Cuban sources depicts an entirely different portrayal of the air war over Angola. This volume shows the development of the Angolan military from 1975 to 1985. What the reader gains is insight into the political machinations of the Cubans, Russians, South Africans, and of course the CIA. That's not to mention the various Angolan parties, all fighting for control. The fun part of this book is all the different players and their associated acronyms. Luckily, this addressed at the beginning with a list of Abbreviations. I found myself referring back to this list again and again, just trying to understand all of the players involved in this war. The sections include:

  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • 1 - Who-Was-Whom in Angola, 1975 - 1985
    • The End of Portuguese Rule
    • Operation Carlota
    • MPLA's First Victory
    • Differences in Military Thinking
    • The Mess of 1976 - 1981
    • Table 1 - FAPA/DAA, FAPLA and FAR Terminology
  • 2 - People's Air Force
    • Portuguese Origins
    • Pioneers
    • Starting From Scratch
    • Table 2 - Ex-Portuguese Nord N.2501/2502 Noratlas Transports in Angola
    • Mercenary Air Raid
    • Cuban Military Intervention
    • Communists to the Rescue
    • Establishment of FAPA
    • Table 3 - FAPA, February 1976
    • Castro's Micro-Management
    • Mishap at Cela
    • Del Pino's Adventure [Page 16]
    • Fishbeds Over Huambo
    • Hunt for Svimbi
    • Destroying UNITA
  • 3 - Which Way Next?
    • Training, Training - and More Training
    • Table 4 - FAPA, October 1978
    • DAA Component
    • Table 5 - DAA, Anti-Aircraft Units, 1977 - 1978
    • FAPA/DAA
    • New Nests
    • Radar Core
    • Table 6 - 1st Radar Battalion, FAPA/DAA, 1979
    • Expanding Transport Capacity
    • Excessive Attrition
    • Cooperation with Airlines
    • The Workhorse
    • Western Aircraft
    • Strategic Disagreement
    • Searching for Their Own Way
  • 4 - Bad Start
    • Wrong-Footed [Page 29]
    • Pechoras
    • IFF Problems
    • People's Supersonic Jets
    • Peculiarities of the Soviet and Cuban Training System
    • Bitter Complaints
    • Old MiGs for Mission Olivo
    • Protea and Other Catastrophes
    • First Clash with Mirages
    • Second Clash with Mirages
    • Color Illustrations [Page 36v]
  • 5 - Pretoria's Forges
    • Counterproductive Arms Embargo
    • SADF's Weak Spots
    • Table 7 - Known FALA Battalions
    • Growing UNITA
    • Of Strelas and Stingers
  • 6 - Bitter 1983
    • Cangamba Shock
    • Nunda's Cavalcade
    • South Africa's Next External
    • FAPLA's Regulars
    • A Venomous Gecko
    • Table 8 - Major Equipment of Standard SA-8b SAM Site
    • Askari Derailed
    • Armoured Battle of Cuvelai
    • The End of One Brigade, Survival of Three Others
    • Lusaka Accord
  • 7 - Aftershocks
    • Battle of Sumbe
    • The Switch
    • Hinds for Angola [Page 52]
    • Fighter Jets for FAPA/DAA
    • Peculiarities of MiG-21bis
    • Silver Bullet
    • Reorganization of the FAPLA
    • Table 9 - Known FAPLA Brigades of 1983 - 1989
    • Endless List of Problems
  • 8 - Controversial Strategies
    • Aircraft on the 1st Strategic Front
    • Operation FAPLA 10 Years of Victories
    • Floggers
    • Peculiarities of the MiG-23
    • What's in the Flogger? [Page 63]
    • Radar Core to the Rescue
    • Table 10 - FAPA/DAA, ORBAT, Late 1985
    • Table 11 - FAPLA/DAA, Commanders, 1976-1989
  • Bibliography
  • Notes

I found many sections of this story very interesting, but one stood out. After several battles that were lost, the Russians finally decided to provide modern equipment instead of outdated, worn out aircraft, and shipped Hind-Ds to the Congolan military. This was a major improvement over the Alouette IIs and IIIs that had been the standard. The Hind-D brought Angola with an improved ability to fight with the heavily armed gunship. What I was surprised to learn though was that although the Hind-D was great in a cold environment at sea level, it struggled in Angola's heat and high elevation. Angola's geography range from 3,000 feet to 6,000 feet. The Angolans quickly found out that the Hind-D was very underpowered. Any operations had to use a rolling take-off and the Hind-D could not hover.

Adrien Fontanellaz, Tom Cooper, and Jose Augusto Matos present an easy read that is well supplemented with photos, maps and tables. Although I had very little awareness of the conflict in this area, I was able to read this easily over four nights. There are several first person accounts that provide additional insight. The modeler is well served as there are plenty of good action photographs of armored vehicles and aircraft that is well supported with Tom Cooper's color aircraft side profiles and David Bocquelet's armor color side profiles. Volume 4 on the War of Intervention in Angola: Angolan and Cuban Air Forces, 1985 - 1988 is forthcoming in June 2021, but first, I will need to go back and get the first two volumes: Angolan and Cuban Forces at War, 1975 - 1976; and Angolan and Cuban Forces, 1976 - 1983.

If you own one the previous releases in the Africa @ War series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Helion & Company, Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Cover
  • Rear Cover
    Rear Cover
  • Sample page 16
    Sample page 16
  • Sample page 29
    Sample page 29
  • Sample page 36
    Sample page 36
  • Sample page 52
    Sample page 52
  • Sample page 63
    Sample page 63

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