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Nairobi, Kenya
I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

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Monday, July 21, 2008

RAF JAVELINS IN ZAMBIA

RAF Javelin in Ndola Park today
RAF JAVELINS IN ZAMBIA
By Mervyn Blumberg
29 Squadron RAF (Gloster Javelin) deployed from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus to Ndola to provide air defence following the announcement of Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Rhodesian government. Air defence radars and ancillary equipment were flown into Zambia by No.114 and No.267 Squadrons (Armstrong Whitworth Argosy). No.29 Squadron returned to Akrotiri in August 1966.
They flew south with a full load of six external tanks, raising a protest from the Egyptian government when they simply overflew Egyptian airspace to get there. Conditions were primitive, with one Javelin losing a Firestreak missile when a nest of termites crawled up the landing gear and ate the solid propellant out of the missile.
Air defence radars and ancillary equipment were flown into Zambia by No.114 and No.267 Squadrons (Armstrong Whitworth Argosy). No.29 Squadron returned to RAF Akrotiri in August 1966.
One of the aircraft from 29 Squadron, XH890, forced landed at Ndola and was damaged beyond economical repair, the aircraft was moved to a children’s playground in Ndola. Photos can be seen below.
Of interest, Salisbury Radar controlled all airspace in the region, after take-off the Royal Air Force flight leader would contact the ‘rebels’ in Salisbury Radar, Salisbury Airport for clearance to fly a border patrol along the Zambia/Rhodesia border.
I was at Ndola airport at least four or five times a week during the squadrons stay in Zambia and I don't know anything about the squadron’s activities in Lusaka. I did some research on the internet and the RAF History does not make mention of Lusaka. I did find a photo, though, taken from someone straddling the cockpit of a Javelin with the old Lusaka terminal in the background. The words LUSAKA are clearly visible on the roof of the terminal. The planes were definitely based in Ndola for the duration, however may have visited Lusaka on a regular basis. After all it took a Javelin approx. 30 minutes to fly there from Ndola to Lusaka.
Excerpt from Time magazine:
"Harold Wilson offered to send a token force—a squadron of R.A.F. fighters and a battalion of the Royal Scots—to the copper belt, some 250 miles north of the dam. Kaunda accepted the air protection (Zambia has only ten military aircraft of its own), but rejected the offer of troops unless they were sent directly to the dam. Into the copper-belt centre of Ndola at week's end swooped ten British Gloster Javelin jet fighters, accompanied by big-bellied Argosy and Beverley transports carrying the squadron's maintenance supplies. A brace of Bristol Britannia turboprop transports arrived at Lusaka itself. To the south, Smith was sardonically amused. "It is in our interest to have law and order maintained in Zambia," he deadpanned in a television interview."
To Quote Air Chief Marshall Sir Jock Kennedy GCB AFC of the Royal Air Force:
“They made telephonic contact with our jets to offer our men best wishes and suggested that it would be fun to meet in the air. Our pilots needed no second invitation. On a few occasions Hunter’s or Canberra’s met the Javelins to fly along the Zambezi River in formation with crews waving and taking photographs of each other”. The odd pilot happened to stop over in Salisbury, allegedly taking leave to visit South Africa. Their passports were never stamped and a number of them met with our Prime Minster, Ian Smith. When, in August 1966, the British Government announced the withdrawal of the Javelin squadron, Rhodesians gave the RAF lads a grand farewell party at Victoria Falls."

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I welcome comments from everyone on my book Choppertech.
I am interested especially on hearing from former ZANLA and ZIPRA combatants who also have thier story to tell.