|Cubans in Angola|
FAPLA: Army of the MPLA
UNITA: Supported by both the South Africans and the United States. These were Anti-Communist guerrillas who had fought alongside the MPLA against the Portuguese before Angolan independence. The US crucially supplied UNITA with Stinger missiles. Of course due to the UN arms embargo they wouldn't support South Africa.
SADF: South African Defence Force, armed with weapons from France and home grown weapons.
Also involved, but not appearing in this article:
FNLA: supported by the West, sort of.
SWAPO: A large group of communist guerrillas, from Nambia. The MPLA allowed SWAPO to use bases in Angola to launch attacks on South Africa.
The civil war was a bloody affair that kept flaring up into large scale battles and it lasted from 1975 until 2002, although by the late 80's most of the large backers were no longer involved, apart from cash injections. But just before the ceasefire and withdrawal there was a series of large mechanised battles where the SADF and UNITA took on the Cubans and FAPLA. One of these occurred on 3rd of October 1987.
With the grand offensive halted, the FAPLA forces fell back across the Lomba River. The SADF decided to concentrate on destroying the FAPLA's 47 Brigade before it made it back across the river. To get there the battalion had to cross a marshy area. To facilitate this the 47 Brigade created a road with wooden logs. Unfortunately for them SADF observers were in position to direct artillery onto the log road. This road was finished by the 2nd of October.
The first of 47 Brigades vehicles started across the log road. They were a pair of SA-9 Gaskins. The SADF observer managed to score a direct hit on the second moving vehicle with a G-5 155mm round, blocking the path to safety. Several other attempts were made to shift the wreck, however the artillery opened fire whenever movement was spotted.
|This vs a T-54...|
Even the Cuban air support failed to hit anything, although the MIG's flew around sixty missions they were afraid to drop to low altitude because of UNITA's US supplied Stinger missiles. And so consequently their bombing accuracy was woeful.
On the FAPLA side the 47 Brigade all but ceased to exist, with a vast list of equipment captured by the SADF forces. Included in this haul was one of the Soviet Union's newest and most secret weapons, an SA-8 Gecko. This was captured intact with all documentation. However this didn't end up in the hands of the west as one might expect. Remembering how the US treated them and some other actions in the region the South Africans kept the Gecko for their own and used it in their weapons research programs.