Helion's Belgian Military Forces in the Congo Vol.2

Author/Artists: Stephan Rookes & Polydor Stevens


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 94 pages, softcover, over 100 images
ISBN 978-1-804510-12-4

One of several European nations that had African colonies was Belgium. Also like most European colonial nations, the time after WWII was one where their colonies wanted to break away from these same nations and have a go on their own. Truth is that over the decades, it has been a tough row to hoe as they say with few of these countries being really what we'd call stable. Nonetheless, they had to be given the opportunity. One issue that has plagued most of them is that there were so many factions who wanted independence that when it came, only one of them were really happy with the result. This led to strife that in many cases is still on-going.

The Congo was no different and shortly after independence, the Congolese nation needed help fighting an insurrection, in this case it was against the Simba faction. As such, Congo asked their former 'owners', Belgium to help out. This resulted in a fairly large mercenary force operating next to the Congolese Army. Most of these men were Belgians who had some experience in the country. They were generally drawn by the money offered as well as the adventure of the whole thing. The Congolese government was also supported by the CIA who helped provide weapons of all sort and this included aircraft. Regular shipments via C-130 helped to keep things flowing.

Among the aircraft supplied were T-28s operating in the COIN role as well as H-21 helicopters and C-47s for transport and to help evacuate wounded and Europeans caught in the conflict. This group was the FATAC which was the tactical air force and almost completely crewed by Belgians.

So what we have in this volume is the history of FATAC's transport side of things from 1964 until the insurgents were generally defeated in 1967. The tale is told as much by the recollections of those who participated as anything so there are some great stories. It follows along with the various campaigns of the mercenary army and Congo's ANC so we get a good look at how the conflict progressed. This is all accompanied by some great photos as well as the usual tables, maps and color artwork that we have come to expect from Helion. I'm not sure why there is a T-28 on the cover as that part of the story is barely mentioned. Regardless, it gives a great look at what these men and aircraft had to go through. Another superb Helion history that I very much liked and one that I can easily recommend to you.

September 2023

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