Category: Portuguese Colonial War

Portugal was the first European country to arrive in Africa and the last to leave. Between 1961 and 1974 Portugal conducted three simultaneous campaigns in Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique – collectively called the Portuguese Colonial War (Guerra Colonial) or Overseas War (Guerra do Ultramar). It was Portugal’s first major war since World War I. The Colonial War was small scale and involved the Portuguese manning and supplying fortified posts whilst trying to locate and destroy small guerrilla bands with intervention units (unidades de intervenço). The war is sometime described, particularly by Portuguese participants, as the Vietnam in Africa.


Water Party – Scenario Design Experiment for Crossfire and Fogo Cruzado

PCWW-14 More insurgents

Immediately following our successful experiment on Ambush scenarios for the Portuguese Colonial War, Jamie Wish and I tried another type of scenario. The goal of our second game was to defend a water party, which is an idea from FNG of Two Hour Wargames. Of course, our version of the scenario was for Crossfire and my Fogo Cruzado variant.

As a scenario design experiment, this one failed in a pretty spectacular fashion. But maybe I’m biased because Jamie won, and very quickly. 😉 Anyway, the good news is that we learnt a few things.

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African Ambush – Scenario Design Experiment for Crossfire and Fogo Cruzado

PCWA07 Portuguese patrol entering village

I’m in the process of writing a solo campaign for Portuguese Colonial War called “African Tour”. This process has been dragging on for years. Instead of sitting with my computer imagining what might make a good game, I decided to experiment with some of my ideas. So I invited Jamie Wish over, we got out my (previously unused) figures and tried an ambush scenario for Crossfire and my Fogo Cruzado variant.

Despite the scenario design misgivings I had before we started, it was actually a pretty good game. Exciting and novel.

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Tactical Air Support (TacAir) and Helicopters for Fogo Cruzado / Crossfire

The following rules cover both Tactical Air Support (TacAir) and helicopter support in Fogo Cruzado, my variant of Crossfire for the Portuguese Colonial War. Only the Portuguese can use aircraft. Air support may be detailed as part of a scenario and/or requested during the course of a game. I admit these rules are a bit rough.

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3D Printed 1-144th Scale Vehicles for the Portuguese Colonial War

1-144 Berliet Gazelle GBC 8

Look what I found … 3D printed vehicles for the Portuguese Colonial War. Berliet, Unimogs (x4), Bravia Chamite V200, Panhard AML60, and Panhard EBR75. Wow. So lucky. Except they are in 1/144th scale or 1/200th scale and, of course, I only play 1/100th scale (15mm).

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How to use Sisal String as Long Grass by Barrie Lovell

Barrie Lovell - Sisal String Vegetation

Around 2000 Barrie Lovell published, on the Grunt! website, a tip for adding undergrowth to Crossfire / Incoming! bases. Barrie dyes sisal string and uses this as vegetation. Since Grunt! has disappeared I thought I’d republish the article here. Barrie had in mind Vietnam / Incoming! and World War 2 / Crossfire. But this is a good technique for the Portuguese Colonial War / Fogo Cruzado.

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Steven’s Caçadores for the Portuguese Colonial War

Caçadores Combat Group 1 - Close Up

The Portuguese Light Infantry (Caçadores) were the mainstay of the government forces in the Portuguese Colonial War. Unfortunately their quality varied enormously with the ability of the officers largely influencing the quality of the troops. Both infantry and artillery were organised into temporary Caçadore battalions for service in Africa. Must have been a shock for the specialists who suddenly became riflemen. So far I have a single combat group (i.e. platoon) of Caçadores. More will come.

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Steven’s Special Group for the Portuguese Colonial War

Special Group – Close Up

The Special Groups (Grupos Especiais or GE) were African para-military formations raised in Angola and Mozambique during the Portuguese Colonial War. They had a distinctive black uniform with a colourful beret. The GE were so successful that, in Mozambique, the Portuguese recruited a battalion of Paratrooper Special Groups (Grupos Especiais Pára-quedistas or GEP) from the GE. I have one unit that, with yellow berets, can do double duty as a GE or GEP combat group.

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Flight Plan Africa – Portuguese Airpower in Counterinsurgency, 1961-1974

T-6G Harvard, Cufar, Guine

John Cann published “Flight Plan Africa” in 2015. If you are interested in Airpower in Counterinsurgency, particularly the Portuguese experiences in 1961-1974, then get this book. I’ve taken a few notes, mostly quotes of bits I found interesting. To liven it up a bit I’ve included photos from other sources.

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Steven’s Commandos for the Portuguese Colonial War

Portuguese Commando Combat Group 01 Close Up

I have blogged before about my figures for the Portuguese Colonial War but they were on on individual bases. Now I have rebased for Fogo Cruzado – my period specific variant of Crossfire. That means each base is a fire team. I had to expand the numbers considerably. This week features my commando combat group.

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The Flechas – Insurgent Hunting in Eastern Angola 1965-1974

The Flechas Cover

2013 was a great year for books in English on the Portuguese Colonial War. One of them was John P Cann’s book on the Flechas (Arrows), a specialist indigenous unit fighting for the Portuguese in Angola and later in Mozambique. The book is part of the AFRICA@WAR Series. What a find! I took a few notes.

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Helicopter Landing Zone Requirements and Crossfire

Standard Helicopter Landing Zone (Venter, 1994, p159)

I have found myself looking at the Portuguese Colonial War again recently. Last night I was reading “The Chopper Boys: Helicopter Warfare in Africa” by Al J Venter again and thought I’d share something on Helicopter Landing Zone Requirements and Procedures.

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The Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian (2016)

Megalomaniac surveying all those unfinished wargaming projects in 2016

It has been a year since my Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian so definitely time for the 2016 update. I figured that, by sharing what I’m working on (far too much) and where I was up to with it (not far enough), I’d feel bad enough about my lack of progress to limit my work in progress and get some projects finished. Well, it worked, but only partly. I still worked on seven projects this year and finished none.

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Paper Figures for the Portuguese Colonial War

Paper Caçadores Combat Group

I was delighted to discover that a whole series of paper soldiers for the Portuguese Colonial War have appeared on Junior General.

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15mm Shanty Town for the African Wars

15mm Shanty Town Sector

Another step forward in my Portuguese Colonial War project complements of ebay. I picked up a couple of “15mm Shanty Town” pieces.

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Van Der Waals: Portugual’s War in Angola 1961-1974

Van der Waals Portugals War in Angola

I grab English Language books on the Portuguese Colonial War any time I see them. Mostly they are second hand so imagine my surprise to find a book called “Portugal’s War in Angola 1961-1974” in Foyle’s, my favourite bookstore in the centre of London.

The author, W. S. Van der Waals, is interesting because he had personal experience of Angola during the Portuguese Colonial War. He is a South African combat officer who served as military liaison with the Portuguese authorities in Angola during the war. He also connected to Angola later, during the subsequent Angolan Civil War, when

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