Mzila-Ndlovu's unit used a strela heat-seeking missile to shoot down a Rhodesian troop carrier

Mzila-Ndlovu's unit used a strela heat-seeking missile to shoot down a Rhodesian troop carrier
Published: 12 June 2019 (219 Views)
Moses Mzila-Ndlovu relates how his unit used a strela heat-seeking missile to shoot down a Rhodesian troop carrier returning from the attack on Mkushi women’s camp. They were stationed near Mwembeshi and were unaware of the attack which had been staged until later. They saw a large number of helicopters flying from the north:

...and we counted those helicopters ...and I decided no we cannot want to use a missile. Little did we know that they actually were flying ahead of a bigger troop carrier, a Dakota. And when it appeared ... I don't know ... it was around about 4 o'clock, 5 o'clock. It was really getting ...kind of ... it was cloudy, kind of getting dark....but that Dakota was flying below the cloud level but higher than the altitude of the helicopters, and so we hit it and our guys went to assault and found that they were already dead, burnt.

Rhodesian air traffic was not seriously threatened until about 1977, in the latter stages of the war; before this time, neither revolutionary force had the weapons to launch a viable attack against an aerial target.

The weapon that made such attacks feasible for ZIPRA was the Strela-2 shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile launcher, supplied by the Soviet Union from the mid-1970s as part of the Warsaw Pact's materiel support. By September 1978, there had been 20 reported attempts to shoot down Rhodesian military aircraft using these weapons, none of which had been successful.

Some Rhodesian Air Force Dakotas had been hit, but all had survived and landed safely. No civilian aircraft had yet been targeted during the Bush War.

- Zapu through lens of Nkobi

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