• Bacalhau is a good looking fish dish. Throw in a six pack of decent beer as a binder and I think you might have a trade.

        • The best fish “dish” for wartime environments might be canned surströmming, which has the additional usefulness of easily being weaponized 🙂

          • Hmmm, I tasted surströmming once and fully agree! I tried it in the open, as the locals do. The stench was quite something but I ate it anyway…

      • Depends on levels of corruption and drug abuse in the opposing side . Every thing has a price if you offered a gold bar or a hand full of large uncut diamonds I’m sure he’d find a excuse to loose his rifle.

      • Ironically, there are Portuguese propaganda leaflets encouraging members of the liberation movements to surrender and offering rewards for bringing weapons to turn in.

        These are cartoons, since they presuppose illiteracy, the Portuguese “mision civilisatrice” being about as non-existent as Belgium’s.

        I don’t recall all the details, but an RPG2 or RPG7 resulted in a watch, a Kalashnikov handed in got the ex-rebel a bicycle, and so on.

        Bacalhau, of course, is made differently in every little village on three continents–Portugal on the western most margins of Europe, all of Lusophone Africa, and of course, Brazil. While something of a Lusophile, make mine BacalhĂŁo Gomes de Sá, bacalhĂŁozinhos or cod fish balls, Bacalhau com batatas á murro, Bacalhau guisado, ou seja magusto please/ se faz favor.
        A recent trip to the UK revealed that pastĂ©is de nata custard tarts are both popular, and seemingly erotically charged among segments of the British populace…

        • Stop it, Dave! You are making me hungry, and now I’m already planning to make up some Bacalao stew for dinner :).

          • It’s got me interested too. Pacific cod is easy to find where I live and I think I’ll try my hand at bacalhau.

        • Hi Dave, I guess the cod fish balls you mention are pastĂ©is de bacalhau, a delicacy which originated in 19th century Lisbon taverns; you are certainly aware of their northern counterpart (originated in Oporto or perhaps in Minho, maybe in Viana do Castelo), pataniscas de bacalhau. Man, I am getting realy hungry 🙂

        • Given there was no economy before the Portuguese and the independent dictatorships have a less developed economy than fifty years ago I think tiny agrarian portugal did a great job. Your historical knowledge doesn’t go beyond italy looks like a boot foes it

  1. What a nice rifle!
    Amazing : the jacket is from french paratrooper uniform m47 ! Maybe a gift to Portugal after the Algerian War ?

    • In agreement with Mr. Aballe, I just checked my French 47/56 and Portuguese m961 jackets, and that is a Portuguese jacket, not French. However, as para-quedistas were issued some French 47/56 uniforms, which were worn during the early days of the intervention in Angola.

  2. He knew what we know now. If Roland the headless Thompson Gunner had one he would not be headless and with us today ;).

  3. Burning down the village, executing civilians and surrendering soldiers alike, and raping young women — the age-old traditions of “stress relief” in war.

    Of course, modern mechanized warfare can take care of the first two tasks very efficiently without any “boots on the ground” (and hence no possibility of any grunt going to prison for war “crimes”) It’s a wonder that Predator and Reaper drones don’t (yet) carry napalm weapons, making the act of burning down villages a very long-distance task.

    • Perhaps the top brass don’t trust the drones not to get burnt to a crisp. Or worse, the general does not trust the drone piloting crew with selecting which priority targets to grill via gravity-delivered-jellied-gasoline-mix. After all, nobody has taught drone pilots how to use napalm, which cannot be remotely launched in a missile. Napalm must be dropped in huge quantities in order to work. You’d need at least fifty drones to scare the crap out of your intended victims if you must use napalm. Did I mess up?

    • “wonder that Predator and Reaper drones don’t (yet) carry napalm weapons”
      As notice by Cherndog it must be used in big quantity, also notice that incendiary bombs are more effective as do not fire (and consume fuel) in air.
      If you fear that (single) bombs will not cover enough area, then there are cluster bomb (for example RRAB-3 centrifugal dispersing aviation bomb)

    • Napalm and its liquid polystyrene replacement were removed from the US inventory decades ago. Thermobaric bombs do the job now.

      • According to numerous accounts, MK-77 incendiary bombs were dropped on Iraq in 2003-2004, although the Pentagon originally told the press a much different story.

      • Indeed. Fuel-Air Explosives ( FAE or thermobaric explosives ) are far more efficient in achieving superior results compared to the old-style jellied gasoline or napalm. However, the latter is still much easier and cheaper to manufacture, and human nature being what it is, I have little doubt that we will unfortunately continue to see the use of such in various forms in conflicts around the globe regardless of the ethical issues involved.

  4. As far as that particular era and area of conflict is concerned, I would much prefer to use an FN FAL/L1A1 SLR or AK-47/AKM.

      • Give me a BAR, especially the M1918, 1918A1, or 1922 that could fire single shots, and I’m good to go.



      • You are absolutely correct about the early years in Angola . However, I was referring to the longer-term aspects of the Angolan conflict as a whole, which stretched over many more years beyond the early 1960’s — and which certainly saw the introduction to the battlefield of a lot more modern weaponry such as the AK, FAL, RPD and so on.

      • The FNLA were supplied predominately by the Congo and were generally pro-Western, so they did not have many Combloc weapons in their arsenal. The MLPA and UNITA, however, did.

        • FNLA´s weapons were provided by Portugal´s most powerful “ally”, that old “friend” that sooner or later stabs you in the back, under the guise of “human rights”™,”self determination”™ and “freedom”™. Guess who managed to get the oil rights, while the newly “liberated” people got flayed? Ah , America: you are so righteous…

  5. In my not-so-humble estimation the AR-10 was the only rifle I ever used that was superior to the M-14 as a Main Battle Rifle and the various sniper versions were super efficient in that venue. Eugene Stoner designed them and Armalite made them. Later variations included the Stoner SR-10 through SR-25, M110 semi-autos and later variations were superb sniper rifles and are still in use today. One main advantage with the Stoners is that, unlike the Barrett, you can use them as an ordinary combat rifle if need be and then switch back to a half-mile tactical sniper./ As for someone taking your weapon, the best remedy was to always requisition a “Black Cherry” grenade … no-delay fused. If you are incapacitated to the point of capture, you pull the pin and lay on it on top of your weapon’s action. That way you do not have to suffer the inevitable wrath of your captors, they are deprived of a superior tactical sniper unit and you get to drag at least one of them along with you when they rolled you over to get the Stoner. It gives the term “flash-bang” an entirely new meaning.

  6. Master Cherndog:
    Logistics dictates that the more ordinance you carry the fewer rounds you can carry so one BC was sufficient. The dual purpose was to deny them the capture/interrogation of a combat asset and to keep the precision weapon out of their hands. The “recruitment” of one of their fighters to accompany you into the Hereafter was a possible “Lagniappe” (Cajun for “Small Additional Gift”)in the deal. The priority was the first two objectives. Black Cherries were also used for Hasty Booby-Traps by placing them in a C-ration can tied off to a bush, setting a tripwire across a pathway and then pulling the pin leaving the BC and spoon inside the can. When the target hit the tripwire and pulled the BC out of the can there was an instant detonation … no chance to evade. Very effective and lethal to all within the max range of the charge used.

    • Hi, Bill :

      It’s interesting that you specifically mentioned the BC and spoon in a ration can booby trap. That was something we also used, and I have little doubt that many others — on either side of a given conflict — have come up with a similar device or variations thereof over the decades.

      One other thing — instead of the universally-issued standard metal trip-wires that most soldiers are issued and taught to use, a far more effective and easily-available substitute is braided or monofilament fishing line in an appropriate color scheme such as speckled brown and green or camouflage green. Set up correctly, this is almost impossible to detect visually in a jungle, belukar ( heavy secondary bush ) or woodland environment.

      • Correct on all accounts; we used a dark-colored Stainless Steel line as well as Monofilament in clear and colored. I bought my Mono at the local sporting goods stores. It is a very effective means of deterring movement and we often set a “dummy” which was a simple string across the trail and then set laterals (multiple) to get othars as they tied to go around tha set.

  7. The AR10 used by the Portuguese Air Force, i.e. the caçadores paracaidistas or “Fallschirmjäger”–light infantry trained to leap out of perfectly serviceable aircraft, was built in the Netherlands. Something like 1500 were acquired in 1961 as the entire Nato Portuguese armed forces were reconfigured for fighting against the national liberation movements and tribal/ethnic militias in the “Ultramar” overseas colonies. Angola, recall, was an actual settlement colony with vast mineral wealth, and at one time a leading coffee producer.

    The Espingarda 7,62mm m/961 was well liked, but since the Netherlands, and initially, the U.S. administrations were opposed to Portugal’s African policy, the AR10 never stood a chance of greater adoption.

    On the excellent guerracolonial.org website Nuno Santa Clara Gomes indicated that FN FAL rifles were also acquired in 1961: 3835 without bipods, and 970 with, while from Germany some 2400 G3s without bipods and 425 with were obtained for use. There was a preference for the FAL, but the ability of German technical assistance and the Portuguese military industry to rapidly manufacture the German weapon put paid to the FAL. It was thought that the G3 was more “soldier proof” than the FAL. The kindred racist apartheid regime in South Africa also gifted FALs, the “R1” to Portuguese forces.

    Nuno Santa Clara Gomes usefully creates a typology of Portuguese infantry armament:
    During the Estado Novo of Sálazar in the 1930s (quasi-fascist/corporatist), Portugal acquired Mauser K98k rifles, so-called “Dreyse” MG13 LMGs, Italian Breda HMGs, Italian 75mm howitzers, German 105mm guns, etc. As a strong British Ally, there were WWI vintage .303″ British arms to contend with in inventory.

    While remaining neutral in WWII, Portugal granted access to the Allies of bases in the Açores, which led to rewards of more UK equipment, and some U.S. equipment. Finally, as a member of Nato, there was a need to standardize postwar to the Nato standardization.

    • “light infantry trained to leap out of perfectly serviceable aircraft” we did the same (jumping part) from 300 feet to 22,000 feet. Actually great fun and the view a was spectacular … at least until you hit the DZ. {:>)

    • As a matter of note, any FAL’s seen in Portuguese service- whether the m962 or ex-German G1 (typically with muzzle device removed- were either in the hands of the caçadores in the early part of the war, or the Commandos Especiais and Flechas throughout the rest of the conflict. Many of these FN’s found their way to Rhodesia along with G3’s when Portugal left the continent.

  8. Pre-1961:

    LMG: Metralhadora Madsen m/930 (.303″/7,7mm), m/940 (7,92mm), m/930-41 (7,92mm)
    Metralhadora Dreyse m/938 (7,92mm) In 1958 there were 22 of these MG13 guns in each African colony, about 138 in Goa, shortly taken over by India, and 32 in Macau in China. This weapon was the base squad support weapon of the caçadores especiais at the start of the 1961-1974 wars, with 12 per company.

    Rifle: Espingarda 7,92mm m/937. The K98. There were smaller numbers of the Espingarda 7,7mm (.303) m/917 SMLE rifles in the colonies, and even some m/904 Mauser Vergeiros, although it would appear most of these were converted (40k total) to 7.92mm at Braço de Prata. Some in the original 6,5mm cartridge doubtless remained. As the FAL and G3 were adopted, these Mauser bolt actions were used by Africans in the Portuguese Army (although others obtained G3s too…) and by the sorts of “local forces” counterinsurgents organize to deny popular support to insurgents.

    SMG: The Steyr Solothurn predominated in African colonies, although the FBP Pistola-metralhadora 9mm m/948 was standard in the army, navy, and air force and would be introduced into Africa in greater numbers. There were also UK Stens.

    Pistol: The Luger and Savage pistols were replaced by the pistola 9mm m/961, aka. the Walther P38/P1.

  9. This man wears the the French Army’s ‘lizard’ khaki/green/red-brown camouflaged smock for airborne troops, adopted by the Portuguese paras in 1956. It could be the 47/51, 47/52, 47/53, 47/54 or 47/56 pattern, all distinguished by only minor differences, but all having the extra patch ‘cigarette’ pocket worn on the face of the left breast pocket – the Portuguese manufactured version, made after 1966, abandoned this feature.

    His helmet is the standard, olive-drab U.S. M1C with crossed chin strapping: operationally, helmets were only during the Angola campaign of 1961-62, and on parachute drops. The boots are black Portuguese copies of the U.S. ‘Corcorans’. This man’s parachute wings are of the second pattern, worn 1955-61.

    Acquired by the Air Force in 1960 to re-equip the paras (who had hitherto been armed with the FBP SMG), the AR-10 was popular with the troops, but there were only sufficient numbers to equip two of Portugal’s four Africa-based paratrooper battalions, Batalhoa de Cacadores Para-Quedista (BCP) No. 21, and BCP 31: the remaining battalions were issued with G-3s with telescopic butt-stocks.

  10. Post 1961:

    LMG: Metralhadora 7,62mm m/962–the MG42.
    Late in the colonial wars, the HK21 or Metralhadora 7,62mm m/963 produced at FBP was introduced for special forces and light infantry, but teething troubles and production problems led to these weapons often being used in the rear guard instead.

    Rifles: As stated, Espingarda m/962 (G3) and m/963 (G3A3) predominated. Some soldiers, NCOs and even officers adopted Kalashnikovs taken from the national liberation movements. The FAL, Espingarda m/961 came from Belgian, German (G1), and South African sources but was largely supplanted by the G3. Initially, it would appear that the intent was for G3s to go to Angola, and the FALs to Moçambique.

    SMGs: The Pistola-metralhadora 9mm m/961 Uzi from Belgian, German, and possibly Israeli sources became widely used, and was often favored by officers alongside captured Kalashnikovs. Large numbers of Belgian Vigneron 9mm SMGs were also acquired and widely used from nearby Congo-Leopoldville/ZaĂŻre.

  11. One of the primary methods, if not the preferred method, of inflicting casualties on the colonial army was the use of land mines. This tendency only accelerated through the war, and into the first, second, and third phases of the Angolan Civil War: 1975-1976-MPLA and Cubans vs. FNLA/South Africa/UNITA, 1980s-1988/90–MPLA/FAPLA/Cubans/SWAPO/ANC MK vs. SADF/UNITA, post-1992 MPLA vs. UNITA. The result is that “mutilados” or people missing limbs from land mines form a very marked demographic in the Angolan population.

    LMGs: Soviet DP, some Yugoslav machine guns.
    Rifles and carbines: Soviet Mosin-Nagant M44s, SKS carbines, and eventually the Kalashnikov/AK47, AKM.
    SMGs: PPSh41s, eventually some Czech, Yugoslav, Polish, etc. weapons.
    Pistol: The Tokarev.
    Mortars, and 122mm rockets as support weapons
    RPG2, and later RPG7 rocket propelled grenades
    57mm, 75mm, 82mm recoilless rifles from Yugoslavia and the USSR.
    Some Goryunov MMGs.
    Eventually, to deal with the T6, B26, and FIAT COIN air attacks, as well as the handful of helicopters that supported foot-borne, horse-borne, UNIMOG truck-born infantry, some ZPU-4s, DShK HMGs, and even some SAM 7 MANPADs were acquired.

    Part of the reason Angola was such a horrible mess is that in essence, Portugal was defeated in GuinĂ©-Bissau, but victorious in Angola and Mozambique. Only the Carnation Revolution in the metropole and subsequent abandonment of the colonies led to independence, which was immediately seized upon by various rival “great powers” regional and international to reinforce on or another favored faction. U.S. IAFEATURE and the SADF interventions were first off the mark, with the result that the Alvor accords broke down quickly, and by November 1975, the Angolan civil war included Cuban intervention directed to salvage the MPLA from the FNLA and SADF/UNITA.

    • Land mines are great but we were assigned primarily to go in and terminate one specific target and therefore traveled light and fast. We were also to “discourage” anyone on the other side from trying to catch or intercept us on the way out. Claymores were more effective on footpad pursuit. We had 5-23 operative unite depending on assignments. If we were going in to take something like a local cell or small detachment we took more people. If it was a single termination assignment we usually used a 5-man team. Weapons were also varied according to assignment.

      • I have spoken with a former U.S. Spec. Forces combatant about the so-called “toe popper” or M25 “elsie” land mine. An oversized plastic golf tee plunked down in the undergrowth with a tiny, minimum metal shaped charge to remove the boot and portions of the foot from anyone who stepped on it.

        Certainly would slow down the pursuers that is for sure, and many can be carried.

        In terms of Angola, all sides made lavish use of mines, including those that can be scattered mechanically, with the result that de-miners face a real mess in trying to make irrigable and cultivable land and trails and roads use-able again… Sort of the de-miner’s “poster nation” if you will.

        • My favorite was an M-14 round in a hollow tube (steel, plastic, copper, brass or aluminum) with a nail in the bottom facing up. A wooden dowel served as a plunger and top seal. The round rested on a thin bamboo sliver in two small holes in each side of the tube. When stepped on, the sliver broke, the round was driven down and the primer struck the nail detonating the primed. The bullet and sometimes part of the case plus the wooden plunger were driven up through the foot, tire or whatever set it off. The bullet easily penetrated boots with a steel “soleplate.” You could set one in 5-7 seconds and easily carry 15-20 in a small pouch. They were all but detectable and no trip wires to give them away… just appeared to be a small clod of dirt or the end of a stick among the usual detritus found on most woodland trains. athe wooden dowel would act much like the “wooden bullets” used by the Japanese in WWII that would “fuzz” upon impact and leave small skivers and splinters throughout the penetration wound tract. Both VERY inhumane!

    • Good information, Dave — thanks. What about PPS-43’s for SMG’s, given how common they were everywhere else?

      • I would certainly think so.

        I know not as many Sudaev SMGs were made in comparison with the Shpagin, and many went to the KPA and Chi-coms in Korea, but I’d think they turned up with the PAIGC, MPLA, and FRELIMO too. Yugoslavia and Algeria were among the main suppliers of weapons to Agostinho Neto’s MPLA before Soviet aid came pouring in.

        I’ve seen photos of Cuban officers in Angola with Hungarian AMDs and Cuban personnel with Polish PM-63s, so in the 1980s my sense is that literally anything in the Warsaw Pact arsenal might have been encountered in West Central Africa.

        • Interestingly, I also remember a photo of a sizeable rifle stash captured by Portuguese forces in Angola early in the war (in 1963, if I recall correctly) composed almost solely of Mannlicher 1895 straight-pull carbines. I don’t know from whom did the MPLA rebels got such carbines, but my educated guess would be Yugoslavia (quite possibly still in the original 8x50R chambering).

        • Yes, but judging from photo evidence, the PPSh 41 was the most common SMG in the MPLA inventory by the end of the 1960s and by a wide margin. SKS carbines were also quite plentiful and many seem to have been captured by the Portuguese. AK47/AKM assault rifles only became common later one, around the early 1970s.

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