Steven’s Special Group for the Portuguese Colonial War

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.

Special Group – Close Up

Special Group – Close Up


Order of Battle

A Special Group (Grupo Especiais or GE) was a combat group sized formation. It lacked the supporting arms of the regular army units. Although more likely to be involved in combat than the conscript Caçadores, so there is some justification for making them higher quality.

Special Group (Grupo Especiais or GE)

  • 1 x Special Group Command Team (+1)
  • 3 x Sections
    • 1 x Battle Rifle Team
    • 1 x Battle Rifle + LMG Team
  • Morale: Regular
  • Command and Control: OK

The Special Paratrooper Groups (Grupos Especiais Pára-quedistas or GEP) were an Intervention unit (unidade de intervenção) with a order of battle that facilitated insertion by helicopter. They were recruited from the best of the GE so warrant being a higher quality.

Special Paratrooper Group (Grupo Especiais Pára-quedistas or GEP)

  • 1 x Command Team (+2)
  • 3 x Battle Rifle + LMG Teams
  • 0 or 4 Alouette III Helicopters, i.e. one per team
  • Morale: Veteran
  • Command and Control: Good
  • Reckless

See my Portuguese Order of Battle and Fogo Cruzado Order of Battle for more details.

Special Group - Orbat

Special Group – Orbat

In the future I might revisit whether my GE/GEP should have supporting arms – light mortars, medium machine guns, whatever. The GE, and especially the GEP, were combat units and my observation is that units accustomed to combat invariably acquired as many supporting arms as they could.


Figures

I needed the beret with the appropriate weapon, usually the G3 rifle. The basis are the specialist figures from Peter Pig Range 17 AK47 Republic:

  • 37. R G3/SLR beret
  • 30. Regular officers (beret)

Because the GE were paramilitary I figured they would probably be less well equipped than the regulars. So I gave them a madsen as the squad support weapon rather than the more normal MG42-59. I used Bren gunners because the Portuguese used a Madsen, which was a predecessor of the Bren and looked quite similar. I used WW2 British paratroopers from Peter Pig. Two of the poses in the pack have a helmet and one a beret. I used the beret guys as is, and for one figure replaced the helmeted head with beret head.

  • 54.Brit para Bren

That meant I needed Heads:

  • 18. Beret Heads. Convert to Brit commandoes/AK 47 etc

Painting

I painted them all. I use the Black Undercoat Method of painting and used my painting guide for the Portuguese Colonial War. The basing style involves Sand, Flat Earth paint, and Dry Brushing.

Although the GE and GEP often used the normal camo uniform and cap in the field, their offical uniform is so distinctive I chose to have my GE combat group dressed in black with a beret. I found black quite a hard colour to paint as it nights highlighting, but not so much that the figures starts to look grey.

Different GE used different beret colours. However, the most common be colour was yellow and yellow was also the colour adopted by the GEP.

Special Group Yellow

Special Group Yellow


Command Team

There is only one white guy in this unit. The commander figure on the Command Team stand. He is accompanied by a radio operator (a normal rifleman with with blob of green stuff on his back), medic and runner.

Special Group - Command Team - 2

Special Group – Command Team – 2

Special Group - Command Team - 1

Special Group – Command Team – 1

Commander

My current thinking is the poor quality combat groups will only have once command stand. But as the GEP are elite I’ve given them a Commander, presenting the 2nd-in-command of the unit.

Special Group - Commander - 1

Special Group – Commander – 1

Special Group - Commander 2

Special Group – Commander 2


Riflemen

The GE has three sections of two fire teams, one a pure G3 team and the other a mixed G3 and Madsen team. When helibourne the GEP would only have the three Battle Rifle + LMG Teams.

You can see the Madsen gunner in the middle of the fire team in the front of the photo of Section 1. He is a WW2 British Paratooper with Bren gun, painted as a GE.

Special Group - Section 1

Special Group – Section 1

Special Group - Section 1 - Back

Special Group – Section 1 – Back

The Madsen operators of Section 2 is the kneeling figure at the front right of the photo. Again he is a WW2 British Paratrooper but he has received a beret head in place of the original para helmet.

Special Group - Section 2

Special Group – Section 2

Special Group - Section 2 - Back

Special Group – Section 2 – Back

Section 3 has the beret variant Bren gunner for the Madsen operator. The figure second from right.

Special Group - Section 3

Special Group – Section 3

Special Group - Section 3 - Back

Special Group – Section 3 – Back


Bazooka Team

I thought the GEP would benefit from a Bazooka Team. However, as the GE and GEP were paramilitary I have assumed they were more likely to use captured insurgent kit, in this case a RPG, than regulation kit.

Special Group - Bazooka Team

Special Group – Bazooka Team

Special Group - Bazooka Team - Back

Special Group – Bazooka Team – Back


Scout or Sentry

Lastly a two man scout or sentry team.

Special Group - Sentry or Scout

Special Group – Sentry or Scout

Special Group - Sentry or Scout - Back

Special Group – Sentry or Scout – Back

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