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Viscount Down: The Complete Story of the Rhodesian Viscount Disasters as Told by a Sas Operator –**SIGNED**


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Revised Edition 1, Keith Nell, 2011, Large-format paperback – Rhodesiana – 485pp with b&w pictures and colour map. Signed by the author.

Air Rhodesia Flight 825 was a scheduled passenger flight that was shot down by Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) insurgents on 3 September 1978, during the Rhodesian Bush War. The aircraft involved, a Vickers Viscount named the Hunyani, was flying the last leg of Air Rhodesia’s regular scheduled service from Victoria Falls to the capital Salisbury, via the resort town of Kariba.

Soon after Flight 825 took off, a group of ZIPRA guerrillas scored a direct hit on its starboard wing with a Soviet-made Strela 2 surface-to-air infrared homing missile, critically damaging the aircraft and forcing an emergency landing. An attempted belly landing in a cotton field just west of Karoi was foiled by an unseen ditch, which caused the plane to cartwheel and break up. Of the 52 passengers and four crew, 38 died in this crash; the insurgents then approached the wreckage, rounded up the 10 survivors they could see and massacred them with automatic gunfire. Three passengers survived by hiding in the surrounding bush, while a further five lived because they had gone to look for water before the guerrillas arrived.

ZIPRA leader Joshua Nkomo publicly claimed responsibility for shooting down the Hunyani on BBC television the same evening, saying the aircraft had been used for military purposes, but denied that his men had killed survivors on the ground. The majority of Rhodesians, both black and white, saw the attack as an act of terrorism. A fierce white Rhodesian backlash followed against perceived enemies, with many whites becoming violently resentful and suspicious of blacks in general, even though few black Rhodesians supported attacks of this kind. Reports viewing the attack negatively appeared in international journals such as Time magazine, but there was almost no acknowledgement of it by overseas governments, much to the Rhodesian government’s indignation.

Talks between Nkomo and Prime Minister Ian Smith, which had been progressing promisingly, were immediately suspended by the furious Rhodesians, with Smith calling Nkomo a “monster”. On 10 September, Smith announced the extension of martial law over selected areas. The Rhodesian Security Forces launched several retaliatory strikes into Zambia and Mozambique over the following months, attacking both ZIPRA and its rival, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA). The attack on ZIPRA in particular brought great controversy as many of those killed were refugees camping in and around guerrilla positions.

Five months later, in February 1979, ZIPRA shot down Air Rhodesia Flight 827, another civilian flight, in an almost identical incident. All 59 passengers and crew perished.
Keith Nell was the Rhodesian Special Air Service Operator assigned to hunt down and eliminate the terrorists responsible for what has been called “Rhodesia’s 9/11.”

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