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Review
Helion: Kolwezi 1978
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Posted: Friday, January 18, 2019 - 05:04 AM UTC


Darren Baker takes a look at a title from Helion & Company covering "Operations Leopard and Red Bean Kolwezi 1978 French and Belgian Intervention in Zaire".

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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - 10:28 AM UTC
Looks like another decent delve into a pretty obscure conflict by Helion. That guy's leopard skin pattern uniform is really something else, certainly deserves to be rendered in model form.
vettejack
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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - 01:39 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Looks like another decent delve into a pretty obscure conflict by Helion. That guy's leopard skin pattern uniform is really something else, certainly deserves to be rendered in model form.




I was in direct contact with this operation beginning with flying in the Shaba II operations that began for the crew I was part of, beginning in early May of 1978. Continued ongoing operations with the French Foreign Legion (especially the 2 ReP) for an extremely busy part of 3 months straight, that year. It was constant flying into Dakar Senegal, Libreville Gabon, Kinshasa and Lubumbashi and Kolwezi Zaire, and into Solenzara Corsica, where the FFL was based during that time. Things were so violent, with so much recovery needed, that those operations and participating on those flights, that these operations were so needed that the missions lasted well into 1979. It was also with multiple opportunities during that time, that I was introduced to the AML 90, driving a few of them to and from our aircraft. I also have received a copy of this publication and read it from cover to cover that first day. It was the best description of my time there...a time machine of sorts. My aircraft is the exact C-5 mentioned/listed at the end (but from Dover, Delaware, not Dover U.K.). Most of the vehicles and personnel and aircraft listed, and pictured, was also witnessed. Little is mentioned, or known, of American participation in Zaire during 1978-1979. It's about time this information is shared and credit given to our participation. Thank you Daniel, for writing such an accurate description of events during the time(s) of Shaba.
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Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 01:59 AM UTC
John, your experience sounds like an adventure, but certainly a hair raising one at times for you, no doubt, and obviously a terrible outcome for many others. When I wrote the word 'obscure' I had in mind that it probably would turn out not to be so obscure for someone in this site...

I have read one of the books in this series (relating to Angola) and I think it's true to say that they are another level up from the likes of Osprey in terms of the level of detail included, as well as volume of content (though as you say, still readable in a day or two) and it is admirable that they are documenting some of these conflicts in this way.
vettejack
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Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 02:58 PM UTC

Quoted Text

John, your experience sounds like an adventure, but certainly a hair raising one at times for you, no doubt, and obviously a terrible outcome for many others. When I wrote the word 'obscure' I had in mind that it probably would turn out not to be so obscure for someone in this site...

I have read one of the books in this series (relating to Angola) and I think it's true to say that they are another level up from the likes of Osprey in terms of the level of detail included, as well as volume of content (though as you say, still readable in a day or two) and it is admirable that they are documenting some of these conflicts in this way.



Matthew, thank you for the comments. The death and destruction that surrounded this Operation was abhorrent. Especially early on around Lubumbashi's airport. The wounded was all around, but not allowed on airport grounds (from what I could tell, and this is a personal opinion). Perhaps purposely so the press would not embarrass the Zairian Govt. I recall a Belgian C-130 with patients in it's cargo bay, lending them a mechanical hand to fix some issue I can't recall. This is where I saw wounded on the outskirts pass that Belgian aircraft...as if it was used to mask their existence. There were at least two Zairian C-130's on the tarmac as well, plus other private aircraft. Perhaps one of the oddest natural barrier was the grass...something around 10 to 15 feet tall. It reached the bottom of our number 1 engine, which is 13 feet off the ground to the bottom of the cowl. In the end, I have a few of these books on various African conflicts. They seem to be very in depth and accurate since some of the missions I flew on the African continent are mentioned in those editions I've collected.