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Messages - Whethefakawe

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1
Aviation Board / WW2 footage
« on: August 29, 2018, 03:09:55 am »
The Cinema Pathe archive has a giant archive of old film, lots of WW2 aviation stuff. Here's a sample:

https://youtu.be/ExWCf4gWJvs
The following users thanked this post: ButchH, Africanus, frankmac

2
General Bike Related Banter / Re: What defines a good adventure bike?
« on: July 11, 2018, 09:14:57 pm »
To summarise seven pages of debate - no bike can cover all the bases. No matter what you buy, it's a compromise in some way. The SA penchant for BMW GS's has distorted peoples' understanding of just how "dual purpose" ANY bike can be. Just  because some masochistic types took GS1200's up Baboon's Pass in Lesotho doesn't mean it's capable of doing so on a regular basis  You can take a fecken Harley or a Goldwing up it too, if you are willing to  suffer enough.  :lol8: 

Wanna ride 700 or 1200 km to Kaokoland comfortably and reliably, then ride some nasty stuff for 20 km? You'll KAK getting there on  a 450, 500 or even 690 but enjoy the passes tremendously.  However, if your skills are up to it, taking a KTM 950 or 990 or even a 1190 down (or up) Van Zyls Pass will merely add spice to a good ride. Try it  on a GS1200 and that short section will haunt your dreams for years to come.

Wanna ride hike-a-bike shit in Lesotho?  Take anything bigger than a KTM 500 and see how that works out for you. In fact, try it on anything bigger than a 300 two stroke and see. You  WILL be trailering the bike, the sooner you realise that the sooner you'll start enjoying the entire trip.   

Take a modern "adventure" bike with more gee-whizz electronics than a 1980's jet fighter into bumf**k Africa where technical support is baling wire and an axe, and sooner rather than  later you WILL get stuck. For that kind of thing you want kickstart, carburetted, air-cooled and cable brakes and clutch. XR650L or DR 650, finish and klaar.

Things like sidestand cut-out switches, ABS, "mode control", air suspension, iphone charging ports etc do not belong on a bike you plan on taking substantially off the beaten path.

Boutique bikes like Aprillia, SWM, CCM, Sherco etc will multiply your headaches when something goes wrong. KISS......keep it simple, stupid. 

I too, thought that one bike could do four or five things well......and learned otherwise by getting heatstroke fighting it  - a KTM 450 XCF - on a hike-a-bike ride. And from a bleeding arse every time I do our local 120 km mountain pass breakfast run.

That's why you need 4 or 5  bikes in your garage. One simply isn't enough  :biggrin: 

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3
Aviation Board / Re: Aircraft Gooi
« on: June 28, 2018, 09:57:08 pm »
If you liked Chickenhawk, read “Low level hell” by Hugh Mills. Not as literary as CH, Mason is/was after all a professional writer, but LLH will make you sweat.

Among land and sea books that will do the same, “Forgotten Soldier” by Guy Sajer, WW2 Russian front autobiography of a half German/half Frenchman who fought in the Wehrmacht.

“Iron Coffins” is Herbert Werner is a WW2U-boat captain’s autobiography that starts with a bang (and a glug-glug-glug) on page 2 or 3 and doesn not slack off. 
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4
Garage, Projects & Restorations / Re: BSA 1970 Royal Star
« on: June 17, 2018, 05:34:23 am »
Gave the bike a bit of a wash. Just to get the worst dust off.

Yes, only 6336 miles on the clock.

DAMN that’s nice! If it were me, I’d just replace worn or cracked or rusted parts, new air filter and fluids, lube all moving parts and ride it! The In Thing lately is “patina”.
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5
Garage, Projects & Restorations / Re: XR 650 retool
« on: June 17, 2018, 04:46:25 am »
Wow, that looks mighty fine!  :drif:  Those wheels are really beautiful.

Is it expensive to restore there Whethekakawe?  I see the most beautiful vintage (late 70’s to mid 80’s) bikes there with what seems to be readily available parts access.

Yes and no. You can spend as much as you have in the piggy or very little, depending on how crazy you want to get. Technically speaking this wasn’t a restoration, but a build. Nothing got painted or powdercoated or welded. This project cost me ten hours of labour from Stilwell, the deciding factor is a well-set up shop with pro bike mechanics. It would have taken me two or three times that long which converted to hours worked at the salt mines, would have been very expensive. As much as I like working on bikes, I’ve come to face reality.

The sad truth is though - no matter how much love and care you put into a build or restoration, you won’t get back a fraction of that if you sell the bike. The KTM  300 XC I bought two years ago with 18 hours on it, came with 5K worth of mods and parts for  FREE. I paid the same as for a new one at a dealer.

If you’re well set up, have an extensive tool collection and the skills to use them, it can be cheap. Aftemarket parts make up the bulk of the cost if you choose to go that route.

I now have a huge box of almost-new XR parts to flog which will lower my cost a bit, or more realistically, keep me in beer for the next month. It IS summer here, you know  :lol8:

Because of the size of the bike market in the US,  you can get almost anything under the sun. If you can’t find new OEM stuff, be sure someone somewhere makes parts for your 1975 Puch or CanAm.
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6
More Riemvasmaak.

Deglon on the Kriek. Yes, he was crashing  :lol8:


The moment the DR500 expired. Deglon comitting moto-cide


Patrick O'Keefe on the Kriek. He was rather critical of it and wasn't too popular in certain quarters after that  :lol8:



Hot and sandy place. XT550 at far right (for  Dan)


Early in the morning, still below 40C. DR 500 and XT 550 at left


When I visited Ron the last time in 2008, he told me lots of things I didn't know. The SA trip and things like the skill level he saw made a lasting impression on him. After the testing session in 1983, I first saw him at a famous old race track in Los Angeles called Ascot, which is long gone. That was in 1986 at a local flattrack race. His rider was a 19-year old rookie named Chris Carr, who later became one of the all-time great flattrackers. That type of racing was a very casual affair, like mx, I walked down to the grid before the start and said hello to Ron, he took me over to Chris sitting on the line and we chatted for a bit, then the flag dropped and they were off  :lol8:

But he  couldn't stop talking about Mackie, especially. He reckoned Mackie could and would have run with any of the top guys in America at the time, after a bit of adapting and experience.
I've tried to track him down lately but he must be well into his 8o's if he is still alive. I suspect he has passed away by now, none of my bike connections in California knows where he is. He was a very nice man, a true petrolhead and old school biker.

That testing programme and our last year in bike squad was 35 years ago  :clock:
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7
Just discovered I already have these on photobucket.

At Gerotek. Zwelisha with the 19-inch wheel XR 500 at left



Gerotek. Ron Wood in the black shorts, me in back with arms folded. The safari suit brigade were the Armscor okes  :lol8:


Gerotek. Deglon wheelying up the ridiculously steep test hill. Another time, we rode down it as part of the loop and he jumped down a little too far, landed on the roundout at the bottom and scared the shit out of himself  :lol8:



On the way to Riemvasmaak, this was the Off Highway Equipment convoy. My bakkie was identical to the one at left.


Riemvasmaak:
Ron Wood in shorts and Felix, one of the owners of OHE. Who is that bottom left in the yellow jersey?  :lol8:


Ron Wood and his two bikes


Interesting pic. Ron at centre, me to the right in yellow, Zwelisha 2nd from right on the  bike, the oke with the post office tan was the head Armscor delegate. The Montessa in foreground, I just noticed that's my helmet on the seat, I liked that bike but it wasn't tough enough for Africa....or atleast rthe sand at Riemvasmaak  :lol8:


This is sand  :lol8:
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8
Hello Alberto  :laughing4:

I took the first pic, the second is one of Ron Wood's shots. I visited him in California in 2008, he gave me all his photos.

Since historic fact excites me in ways you don't want to know, here's the gen:

It is the Kriek, only 2 were built, Ron told me that they stayed in SA and that they were in  some SANDF warehouse, he believed Pretoria area somewhere. He got involved in the deal through Off Highway Equipment, a heavy equipment repair company in Krugersdorp owned by two men, Mr Murphy and Felix ?? forget his surname. OHE was a SADF contractor, they built and repaired Buffels. Mr Murphy's son Gavin had been in bikesquad demo team in 1981/2, he was a top 125 MX racer and all these loose ends eventually came together when OHE tendered to get the SADF bike contract. Ron told me Felix had called him out of the blue, aparently he had done research and found out that Ron was both a top frame builder and a ROTAX engine expert.

Voila. Ron built two bikes and brought them to SA for the tests. He was OHE and Armscor's guest during his stay, they put him up in a 5 star hotel in Auckland Park or Randburg  somewhere, I picked him up there a few times but forget exactly where.   

Those were 600cc Rotax engines if I remember right, not 500. Monster engines at the time, extremely powerful. The frames were modified versions of Ron's flattracker frames. If you've never watched flattrack racing, it's like speedway on steroids. FECKING HARDCORE !!  Watch some youtube videos, 4 and 5 wide through the corners at 160+ is normal. On Any Sunday also has lots of flattrack racing footage.

The Krieks had steep steering head angles combined with 19 inch wheels and wide tyres front and rear, they were not comfortable or easy to ride. Basically racebikes with the attendant characteristics.  Too much for an average NSM bikesquad troop OR bicycle 2nd loot  :lol8:

What Zwelisha isn't telling is that he is an expert level enduro rider, he and the SA trials champ and SA MX champ who were involved in the testing made it look easy. I could hold my own but wasn't anywhere near their level, and I found the Kriek hard to ride. A big, heavy, vibrating, overpowered beast it was!

The testing session lasted  three weeks in March 1983 - it was hot as balls in Pretoria and Riemvasmaak. First two weeks or so was at  Gerotek west of Hartbeespoort dam. Instead of some dreary barracks in V-hoogte we got permission to sleep out ( actually, I think we just never pitched at the camp and nobody was any the wiser) and most if us stayed in Florida, at my and Deglon's parents' houses, and drove to Gerotek every morning the back way past Lanseria. I had a 3-litre Cortina bakkie at the time - NO not a fecken big six, just  the standard work version - great bike hauler  :lol8: - and had  2 or 3 up front and three sleeping in  the back every morning. Much partying was done the entire time. Patrick and I went rampaging through Hillbrow most nights till who-knows-when and then drove to Gerotek in the morning. We took Ron Wood to Hillbrow one evening and freaked him the feck out  :imaposer:. My brand new bakkie's right door was bashed in at the time after I got T-boned leaving a speedway international meet at Milner Park the night before my 21st birthday shortly before, and I had to climb in and out through  the window like a NASCAR driver.  I had bought it with my danger pay from spending 1982 in the bush, it had 3000 km on the clock then.  Ron thought we were half crazy, and he was right.  :lol8:

The bikes tested were:
2 Krieks, one without and one with lights.
3 Honda XR 500R's, one had two 19 inch wheels - rear wheels - like the Kriek. The thinking was, less logistics, only one size wheel/tyre/tube needed.
Yamaha XT 550 (road version, couldn't take the punch, sorry Dan  :lol8:)
Suzuki DR 500
Montessa 2-stroke 'military" scrambler, a version of an earlier enduro bike. Very dainty and delicate, didn't last long.
Montessa trials bike
Suzuki quad, early version, small engine, a child's toy really.
I seem to recall a Suzuki SP 370 or two as well, I have a memory of bouncing up the big hill wide open until you ran out of steam or got thrown off by the extremely rocky road. 

Looking back on it, the testing session was a major jol. They laid out a loop probably 10 km long incorporating the concrete test tracks and offroad trails up and down the hills on the north side - the ridge that runs west from Pretoria past the dam and Gerotek -  and through a swampy area and through a deep donga on the grounds a few times. (That's where I took the first pic).. We basically rode all the bikes around this track until they broke, and then the ARMSCOR okes kept records of him much it cost tio fix them. That was one aspect of  the rating process. As I recall we each had to evaluate all the bikes individually as well.

Ron was used to top-level racers in the US, his riders on his bikes won numerous flattrack Grand National Championships, but he was blown away by the skills and talents of the top guys from demo team. He actually offered Bruce McKellar (rest his hooligan soul   :angel4:) a works ride in the US, but Mackie didn't want to leave Durban so he declined. He was still talking about Mackie, Paddy O'Keefe and Mike Deglon when I visited him in 2008.

The entire circus then loaded up and went to Riemvasmaak at 8 SAI Upington for a week. It was HOT, and we rode in the river bed for as long as the bikes lasted. I learned to ride and like sand in Ovamboland the year before, but that river bed had the thickest sand I've EVER ridden, inclduing Baja Mexico. I'll dig up a few pics. The second photo above was in the riverbed at Riemvasmaak, btw.

All the bikes except  the Krieks eventually expired, even the XR 500's, and so the test ended. We were not supposed to do any maintenance except lube chains and clean air filters, but Ron told me off the record he cheated a little, with unspoken consent from OHE and Armscor. We all went back to Potch and some time later we heard that the Honda XR 500 was chosen as the SADF's standard operational bike anyways  :lol8:

Availability, price, ease of riding, and existing spares and logistics pipelines were the reasons, I was told. I was the bike workshop manager at Berede in Potch that year, so was told a few things. Not many, just a few.

The page out of the magazine is bogus. That's a 83 or 84 Honda XR 500, the next-gen successor to the old ProLink we rode.  Check the seat, it says XR  :lol8:

My hairiest episode of the entire three weeks was coming up a blind rise on the road just west of Gerotek one morning, right into the sun, and a fecking Casspir came over the rise straddling the centre line. I had to go rallying at 110 to avoid the baastid.....cleared my hangover from Hillbrow the night before instantly....and woke up the boys in the back...do you remember that Alberto? :lol8:

 
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9
Garage, Projects & Restorations / Re: BSA 1970 Royal Star
« on: June 03, 2018, 11:25:16 pm »
BSA's are fine machines!  I bought a 1968 like this from a friend when he needed money, and sold it back to him (kept the set of brand new King Dick Whitworth tools that came with it :biggrin:) when I moved to Abu Dhabi in 2008.

You will need Whitworth tools to work on it, the good news is they are still made in the UK. The bad news is, the good stuff like King Dick is moerofa expensive. You could probably find Whitworth tools at swap meets or on gumtree in SA.
https://www.kingdicktools.co.uk/tool-kits/product.asp?item=combination-wrench-sets-155-18&item=combination-wrench-sets-155-18

There are several  very helpful resources on the internet that help identify model and year etc, but looks like you already have that figured out. For spares and other support, none better than Draganfly in the UK. I own a 1940 M20 model, and the oke told me on the phone they have a warehouse full of new OEM parts left over from WW2, everything you need to build a M20 from scratch. If they don't have some BSA part, nobody does.

https://www.draganfly.co.uk/index.php/bsa/bsa/a710--b3133--c101112--m202133

http://www.classic-british-motorcycles.com/bsa-motorcycles.html

This bike seems to be in excellent conditon for a rebuild.  :thumleft:
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10
Where would I locate an engine number/vin number? Had a quick eyeball yesterday and couldn't find one.

Engine no. probably around the base of the cylinder somewhere or back end of the engine casings by the swingarm pivot.  VIN no. on the steering head.

If you run into parts issues, let me know I’m sure I can help!

This is a good cause  :thumleft:
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11
Aviation Board / Re: RAF Museum, Hendon in 2008
« on: March 07, 2018, 06:14:23 am »
Various other displays in the same hall:
Heinkel 162 jet fighter, it was made primarily of wood because of scarcity of resources in Germany towards the end of the war.




Fairey Battle light bomber. It was a disaster of an aeroplane, had the same Merlin engine as the fighers, but carried a 3-man crew plus bomb load. During the Battle of France these were slaughtered by the Me 109's. In the first four days of the battle, Battles were sent to destroy bridges over various canals to slow the Panzers' advance, but were shot down in huge numbers by groiund fire and Me109's. On the 14th May 1940, 63 Battles attacked the bridge at Sedan. 35 were shot down, as were 5 out of 8 Blenheims on the raid. After that, the Battles were withdrawn and relegated to training units. However - 11 Squadron SAAF flew them in East Africa from June 1940 to June 1941. Notice the timeline? 


On a wall is a plaque with the names of the 50 men (out of 76 who escaped) who were murdered by the Gestapo on Hitler's orders, after the Great Escape in March 1944. Four of them were South Africans, three SAAF pilots shot down in Egypt - JS 'Gamat' Gouws, JAN 'Dan' McGarr, Rupert E Stevenson. The 4th was the brain behind the Escape and also the leader, Squadron Leader Roger Bushell from Hermanus. He had been a student and barrister in London before the war, and flew in a RAF Auxuliary Spitfire squadron, so when war broke out he was in the middle of it. He was shot down early on over Dunkirk and spent almost 4 years in various POW camps before he was murdered. After the war, the Gestapo agents were hunted down and hanged. Another interesting story.

Bushell's niece in Hermanus wrote a biography of him about 3 years ago named GREAT ESCAPER. It's a phenomenal book, I got it as a gift and started reading late in the afternoon, went through till 4 am next day, simply couldn't put it down. I can 100% recommend it.

Note the SAAF wings bottom left.




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12
Aviation Board / Re: RAF Museum, Hendon in 2008
« on: March 07, 2018, 05:44:54 am »
The next building, the one with the white arches - which i'm not sure if it will remain - is the "Bomber Command" Hall and adjacent to it, one with a wide variety of displays. The first three halls are all connected.  Some big aircraft in there. Lancaster, Liberator, Vulcan and others. It too, was rather messy when I was there a year ago.
Lancaster:
 





A WW2 'Tallboy" bomb, 12000 pounds of which 5200 (2400kg) was explosives. A big bang, but not the biggest - that was the 22000 pound Grand Slam. Both could only be carried by Lancasters.
EDIT: I just fact checked myself, this might be a Grand Slam, actually. Hendon has one on display. Not a very good pic, sorry.


There's also the remains of a Handley-Page Halifax that was found in a lake in Norway in 1973. It had ditched with a wing on fire during an early raid on the German battleship Tirpitz. (Tirpitz was eventually sunk by Tallboys dropped from Lancasters in 1945) It is displayed as found, because restoring it would be too big a project.  There is a restored Halifax at the York Air Museum, and a nose section supposedly in the Imperial War Museum....but that is not on display anymore, since the newer dumber version  was opened in 2015.




The Vulcan's bomb bay. Huge. Note the bombs in front, it represents the bomb load the Vulcan could carry. Something like 32 1000 pound bombs.


In contrast, a WW1 FE 2 bomber, and its load.



A British navigation system developed for Bomber Command named "GEE". Basically the WW2 equivalent of the hand-sized Garmin you can buy for the price of a steak and a bottle of wine today. It was in use until 1970.


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13
Aviation Board / Re: RAF Museum, Hendon in 2008
« on: March 05, 2018, 06:51:48 am »
Great thread, T-T.

The RAF Museum at Hendon is one of my favourite places to go in London, easy to get to and some unique aircraft you won't see anywhere else in the world. I've been there many times over the last 15 years or so and have accumulated a sizeable photo album.

It's difficult to get good photos in this museum  - most museums, actually - without a pro camera and a tripod. The lighting can only be described as "funky", and it's been different every time I've gone there the last 5 years or so. The very dark BoB hall (which I assume was to convey a sense of sinister danger) turned into a neon-lit French whorehouse look for a while, then to simply bright white light. These pics range from 2005 to 2015, you can also see how the displays change with time.

Hendon has been undergoing major renovations for the last year or more. Last time I was there a year ago, the place was a shambles. The Me110 fuselage was in some corner somewhere, who knows where the wings were....and so on. The Museum got a big money grant from the government for a complete renovation and it's supposed to be open by this summer, so should be close to completion.

BUT.......as Tok-tokkie said.....British museums are going through a spasm of "diversity" and "accessibility" do-overs, all to attract more school kids, 3rd world immigrants and morons who have forgotten how to read since ipads became ubiquitous. The Imperial War Museum, the sort of national British military museum, went through this process in 2014-15 and it's now a politically correct, dumbed-down video game arcade compared to what it used to be. Hendon's new MD is a woman who has ZERO aviation background. Pretty much the entire management is such. Say no more:
https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/about-us/policy-performance/freedom-of-information/our-senior-management-team.aspx

I asked my mate Chris in London just yesterday what's going on there, and he said exactly as I feared.....it's going to be a dumbed-down PC carnival. CRIMINAL!

Last few years, Hendon was really pushing the "how blacks helped win WW2" and "woman warriors" narrative. They are straight-up stating now that the women who flew in the ATA, ferrying aircraft, TOOK PART in the Battle of Britian. Such displays have popped up all over the museum, and they REEEEEEALLY stretch the truth to be "inclusive". The cold hard facts are softened and glossed over in the process. Revisionist history.

Anyways.....here are some photos to compliment Tok-tokkie's informative post.

The outside of the Musem, as it looked until last summer: That's my 950 at left which dates the pic to my 2011 Europe ride that ended in London.
 

The two WW2-era, extremely realistic fibreglass replica gate guardians are actually inside the grounds. You have to look very closely to distinguish that they're not real.  I'd love to have one like this in my garden


A Hawker Hunter outside, as far as I know this will now move inside which is a good thing as it's a real aircraft, unlike the Hurricane and Spitfire.


From Central London you take the tube to COLINDALE station, I forget which line it is, but it's nearly at the end, Zone 4 or 5. Costs a few quid, maybe 3 to get there. Then you walk about 1 km through what has been Council housing but is being partially gentrified, to the museum. All this is on the former airfield. This photo was taken just oustdie the Colindale station, walking to the museum. When I walked this a year ago, it had turned into a 3rd world SHITHOLE. Filthy, walls knocked over, litter and graffiti all over, shifty-eyed wasels skulking around looking for criminal opportunity. It's absolutely frightening how London is turning into Karachi and Lagos. I would NOT walk that stretch between the station and the museum after dark anymore.


What;s cool though, the streets in the new developments on the old airfield all have aviation-themed names, like Bader Close, Beaufort Way etc.

In the main entrance lobby is this visually stunning wall hanging. It's a full-sized Spitfire 9 fibreglass replica, made by the same company that did the outside guardians on the poles.  The different perspective is VERY impressive. As with the outside ones, I initially thought it was a real aircraft until I examined it very closely. Brilliant.


I'll continue this, have about 100 pics to post. Photobucket is making for slow going. not to mention other distractions........... like a dog that wants to play 18 hours a day and is sitting here harrumphing at me now, even though  ti's 9 at night. Crazy friggin' collie.  :lol8:



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14
Military Board / Re: Was the SADF bike squad of any operational use?
« on: February 03, 2015, 01:43:37 am »
Minus 3 or so here in London, but my memory still functions  ;D

I have copies of official SADF motorcycle infantry doctrine.....interesting read, some good ideas and valid points, but some really k@k ones too. All infantry in western Ovambo should have been on bikes, those open spaces were made for it. The only things more mobile in that area were choppers.

I feel to this day that ignorance of the potential of bikes, and prejudice against us, negated bikes' impact to a large extent. PF's, especially at Company and Battalion level, had no clue how to use bikes properly, and saw us as "Durban zol smokers" and 'biker trash". (Quote).

Fark 'em  :biggrin:

To the best of my knowledge, my platoon during the annual SWAPO invasion of the farming areas south of Tsumeb had the last actual contact around April 1982. Unfortunately, through circumstance, we didn't kill any....not as far as I know anyways, it was at last light in thick bush and they slipped away....but Koevoet shot them the next morning, whether we'd wounded any we'll probably never know. They were from the much-vaunted (lately anyways  :imaposer:) Typhoon unit btw, also known as "Volcano". In 1982, they launched the largest farm invasion of the entire war, started with nearly 500....they were wiped out to a man during Operation Yahoo....the very last one was actually caught by a farmer and his son out hunting near Otavi one day, I'd personally spent many hours sneaking around the bush with one or two okes trying to catch the c*nt.......so much for SWAPO's "special forces". They never got anywhere near the farms again.

Had a face-to-face with a captured swap at Mahanene who told us that they were shit scared of the bikes, because we appeared so suddenly at high speed. They couldn't outrun a bike. Flip side of that coin is, we normally jaaged around and I didn't realise until an incident on a shona one day when one oke crashed himself into hospital, that we probably missed many swaps (and ambushes  :biggrin:) because of the concentration required at 120 km/h.....

Platoon 10 was involved in Operation Protea, but my mate tells me he had the impression they were just "hired guns" and not part of the planning. They were in Buffels, btw......a gunship cornered 5 FAPLA's somewhere north of Xangongo and Pl. 10 killed them all.

An earlier platoon, I believe it was 6 or 7, had a big contact and held some kind of record for 100% kills....killed 17 out of 17 they ran into. That was 1978 or 1979. Platoons 8 and 9, in which my bro Patrick served, and who lost a section leader to a landmine, had some minor contacts too.

In 1982, Platoons 11 and 12 had numerous VERY close calls with landmines, in one case a swap laid a mine for my platoon during the night but we foxed the baastid because we never....NEVER....rode the same route twice.

Agree, in thick bush bikes were useless. When Operation Yahoo started around Tsumeb/Otavi in Feb 1982, we quickly learned that bikes could not operate in thick bush....the elaborate bashplates and crashbars welded onto the early XL 350's and the bigwheel XR 500's were the product of some seriaasly deluded thinking. Punctures were the biggest issue...if we'd had solid rubber wheels like kiddies' tricycles it could have worked. Probably. Maybe. Only thing in thick bush is go by foot.

The issue of "no local knowledge"....well yes, valid point....but Koevoet/101 style operations, ie. heavily based on intelligence from locals, were not bikes' forte. Re. "lack of tracking skills".....you weren't with us, mate....we got pretty damn good at it, myself included.....spent lots of time with SWASPES trackers, and learned from them.

Bikes were not easy to ambush, because of the mentioned speed we moved at. Usually around 60 - 80, I must add....the 120 was a one-time thing, after a challenge was thrown out......and they were surprisingly quiet. I personally did sound and light tests soon after we first went to Ovamboland.....full platoon could only be heard around 300 metres, a section around 100 and a single bike even closer.....and if the wind blew away from comrade swap, he'd not hear it until it was waaay too late.....but in open terrain, even 300 metres was too late. We disconnected all the headlights, because that made a bike visible 2 or 3 km away.....the brown bikes were not easy to identify when coming towards you with no lights. Ref. ;point above what the captured swap told me and the loot face to face.

Another thing I notice lately is the revisionist idea that SWAPO were these excellent "soldiers".......while their physical qualities in many cases were quite phenomenal (although much of that was thanks to intravenous drug injections - no that wasn't rumour) they were not "soldiers"......and they were most fucking definitely not "brave"......planting bombs and mines and killing defenceless civilians don't make one a soldier. A fucking TERRORIST and a COWARD, yes.

Not to mention, their shooting was always atrocious.....we would have lost MANY more troops if it hadn't been so. But that's an African thing, not just the swaps.

So, in summary....yes the bike platoons were not just a dog and pony show. If the PF's had been able to think outside the box more, the platoons could have been much more of a factor.



  

  
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