Copper Wings, British South Africa Police Reserve Air Wing, Volume 2
In volume one we followed the exploits of the Police Reserve Air Wings (PRAW) operating in Rhodesia from 1967 to the last 1970s. These units supported the Rhodesian police by providing air support in countering resistance units that were attempting to force independence from British control. Although that goal was achieved in 1980, PRAW operated until the early 2000s. This volume covers PRAW operations from the mid 1970s till they ceased operations. Like the first volume, the story is told in words and pictures that included excerpts from “The Outpost Magazine”, a journal published by PRAW. As the fighting grew more intense, so did the level of weaponry carried by PRAW aircraft. This escalation is advertised on the cover photo showing a Beech Bonanza with gun pods, and inside Cessna Sky masters with over-wing gun pods. Several of the stories reflect just why it was necessary to shoot back. A few aircraft were hit by small arms fire and one gunner died from his wounds. A few aircraft were painted in heat reducing grey paint and had exhaust shrouds to counter SA-7 missiles.
At about the midpoint of this volume the focus shifts to charts documenting missions and another listing aircraft by registration number. Not necessarily as exciting as the previous sections but this is a historic record. I enjoyed this volume since the operations documented reflected the increasing intensity of the conflict. The flying was difficult enough given the vast area these pilots covered and the primitive nature of the strips they flew in and out of. Add to that the presence of hostile forces under them with guns and missiles and you have stories most civilian pilots could never tell.
As a model reference this volume has enough photos and color views to inspire any number of projects. Thanks to a proliferation of new civil aircraft kits, it's now possible to build most of the subjects in these books. Having read and reviewed both titles, I would recommend them as a set. The text in each complement each other and the photos and side views make each an equally valuable reference if civil aircraft are your area of interest. Even if they are not, this book documents the actions of some courageous people doing what they believed was right.
Thanks to Casemate Publishers for the sample copy and to IPMS for sharing both volumes of this interesting bit of history.