Biafran Government Aviation Unit

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

The Eastern Region of Nigeria announced its secession as the State of Biafra on 30 May 1967. Having no existing air transport, the Biafran Government was forced to obtain aircraft from abroad. These aircraft were delivered via a variety of legal and illegal means. During the civil war that erupted in July 1967, Biafran Government aircraft operated extensively, carrying equipment and personnel both within the country and importing equipment from abroad. This page covers the non-military transport aircraft used by the Biafran Government. Biafran Air Force aircraft are covered elsewhere.

In December 1969 Nigerian Federal forces launched a final offensive and Biafra surrendered in January 1970. Most airworthy aircraft fled abroad at this time.

Key Dates

July 1967    First aircraft obtained
July 1967    Biafran Government Aviation Unit created
13 Jan 1970    Biafra surrenders

Current Status

The Biafran Government Aviation Unit was disbanded in January 1970.

Future Plans

Not applicable.

Markings

Special Markings

No special markings were carried. Aircraft normally retained their previous colour scheme.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Biafran Government aircraft retained their previous registration, or used fictional registrations from neighbouring countries, e.g. L-1049 Constellation 5N-07G.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.

Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used.

Current Aircraft Inventory

Not applicable.

All-Time Aircraft Used List

All-Time Table of Aircraft Used

Aircraft NOT Used

A variety of semi-fictional airlines and aircraft operators were involved in smuggling weapons and equipment to the Biafran forces. These unofficial operations are not included here, only the officially operated aircraft.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

See individual aircraft histories.

Organisation

Main Headquarters

Biafran Government Aviation was initially centred at Enugu.

Organisational Structure

Biafran Government Aviation was an ad-hoc entity that operated without much central organisation or structure. There were no subordinate units.

Current Order of Battle

Not applicable.

Historical Orders of Battle

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

Not applicable.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

The main air base was Enugu, but Port Harcourt, Orlu and Uli were also used.

More Information

Books

African Military Aviation by Winston A. Brent (Freeworld Publications, 1994)

African Air Forces by Winston Brent (Freeworld Publications, 1999)

Air Wars and Aircraft by Victor Flintham (Arms and Armour Press, 1989)

Shadows: Airlift and Airwar in Biafra and Nigeria 1967-1970 by Micheal I Draper (Hikoki Publications, 1999)

Magazines

To be added.

Websites

wikipedia: Biafra – Military

Biafra 1966

All-Time Aircraft Used List
Biafran Government

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
de Havilland DH.114 Heron 1 1967 1967 ex-civil
Douglas C-47 Dakota 6 1967 1968 various
Douglas DC-7 2 1967 1968 ex-civil
Hawker Siddeley H.S.125-1B 1 1968 19?? ?
Lockheed 649A Constellation 1 1968 1968 ex-civil
Lockheed 1049G Constellation 4 1967 1968 ex-civil
Piaggio P.149 1 1967 1968 ex-civil

Biafran Air Force

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

The Eastern Region of Nigeria announced its secession as the State of Biafra on 30 May 1967. Having no existing air power, the Biafran Air Force was hastily assembled from a number of aircraft and personnel obtained from abroad. The aircraft were delivered via a variety of legal and illegal means. The Nigerian Army attacked Biafra in July, but Biafran forces counter-attacked and were able to expand their territory. A civil war followed, which saw the Biafran Air Force operate extensively in support of ground forces.

Both the Biafran and Nigerian air forces saw significant expansion during the civil war. Biafra obtained several AT-6s and famously about a dozen MFI-9 ‘Minicons’ for light attack duties, but the Nigerians introduced MiG-17s and Il-28s. In December 1969 Nigerian Federal forces launched a final offensive and Biafra surrendered in January 1970. Most airworthy aircraft fled abroad.

Key Dates

23 Apr 1967    First aircraft obtained – a formerly hijacked F27
July 1967    Biafran Air Force created
13 Jan 1970    Biafra surrenders

Current Status

The Biafran Air Force was disbanded in January 1970.

Future Plans

Not applicable.

Markings

National Insignia

The red-black-green Biafran roundel was rarely carried.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Biafran Air Force aircraft either retained there previous registration or serial, or operated without any external identity markings, e.g. T-6 14810.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.

Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used.

Current Aircraft Inventory

Not applicable.

All-Time Aircraft Used List

All-Time Table of Aircraft Used

Aircraft NOT Used

Several aircraft were obtained clandestinely for Biafra, but didn’t manage to complete the delivery flight. These included two Meteor NF.14 night fighters and five Fouga Magisters.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

See individual aircraft histories.

Organisation

Main Headquarters

The BAF headquarters moved several times due to the course of the civil war. The initial location was Enugu.

Organisational Structure

The BAF was initially without much organisational structure, but by 1969 consisted of a Training Command and a Tactical Air Command. The units of the former are unknown. The latter had up to three squadrons.

Current Order of Battle

Not applicable.

Historical Orders of Battle

Order of Battle for late 1967
Order of Battle for mid 1968
Order of Battle for late 1969

All-Time Flying Units List

42 Squadron
45 Squadron
47 Squadron
? units flying the B-25, B-26, C-47 etc.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

Not applicable.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

The main air base was Enugu, but Port Harcourt, Orlu and Uli were also used.

To be added.

More Information

Books

African Military Aviation by Winston A. Brent (Freeworld Publications, 1994)

African Air Forces by Winston Brent (Freeworld Publications, 1999)

Air Wars and Aircraft by Victor Flintham (Arms and Armour Press, 1989)

Shadows: Airlift and Airwar in Biafra and Nigeria 1967-1970 by Micheal I Draper (Hikoki Publications, 1999)

Magazines

To be added.

Websites

Biafran Invaders

wikipedia: Biafra – Military

MFI och Biafra – 7

All-Time Aircraft Used List
Biafran Air Force

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
de Havilland DH.114 Dove 2 1967 19?? ex-civil
de Havilland DH.114 Heron 1 1967 1967 ex-civil
Douglas A-26 Invader 2 1967 1968 French AF
Douglas C-47 Dakota 6 1967 1968 various
Fokker F.27-200 Friendship 1 1967 1967 hijacked
Hiller UH-12E 1 19?? 1967 ?
Max Holste MH.1521M Broussard 1 1969 1969 Gabon AF
Malmo MFI-9B 9 1969 1970 Sweden
North American B-25 Mitchell 2 1967 1968 ?
North American T-6G Texan 12 1969 1970 French AF
Piaggio P.149 1 1967 1968 ex-civil
Westland Widgeon 4 1967 1968 ex-civil
Aerospatiale SA 313 Alouette II 4 1967 1969 ex-civil
Aerospatiale SA 316 Alouette III 2 1967 19?? ?

Biafra

Country Profile

The Country

Geography

Details to be added.

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National History

Summary Narrative History

Timeline – Key Dates in Biafra History

Further National Information

wikipedia: Biafra
wikipedia: History of Biafra

Aviation

Text to be added on the development of aviation in Biafra.

Markings

Civil Aircraft Registrations

Since Biafra was never officially recongised, no civil aircraft registration prefix was allocated. Biafran-based civil aircraft simply retained their original registrations.

Aircraft Operators

Military Air Arms

Air Force (Biafran Air Force) [1967-1970]

Central Government Agencies

Government Aviation (Government Aviation Unit) [1967-1970]

Public Service Aviation

Medical Aviation – no EMS/Rescue helicopter service
Police Aviation (Biafran Police Force) – no aviation unit

Commercial Aviation

Biafra Airways

The World’s Airlines: Biafra

Private Aviation

To be added

Industry

Aircraft Manufacturers

None.

Aircraft Maintenance/Repair Depots

None known.

Airfields

Civil Airports & Airfields

To be added.

Military Air Bases & Airfields

Military Air Bases Listing – to be added.

On Show

Aviation Museums

None.

Airshow Dates

Not applicable.

More Information

Aviation-Related Magazines

None known.

Aviation Bibliography

To be added

Web Links

To be added.