Katangese Air Force

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Katangese Air Force
Roundel of the Kantangan Air Force.svg
Air Force roundel
Founded 1960 - 1963 (ceased)
Country  Katanga
Branch Air force
Role CAS, Ground attack
Garrison/HQ Luano airfield
Commander Jan Zumbach
Aircraft flown
Attack Fouga CM.170 Magister, AT-6G Texan

The Katangese Air Force (Force Aérienne Katangaise) was a short lived mercenary air wing made up of Belgian, French, and British pilots. The FAK was established in 1960 under the command of Jan Zumbach, which operated a few helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.[1]


In 1960, the leader of the CONAKAT party Moise Tshombe, declared the Province of Katanga's independence from the Congo Léopoldville. This action was to secede from the turmoil under Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.[2] The newly formed Katangese government requested military aid from Belgium, and in desperation Lumumba appealed for assistance to the United Nations.[3] On July 17, 1960 Resolution 143 was adopted, which established the United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC), and would provide military assistance to the Congolese forces.[1]

Katanga formed their own paramilitary unit with foreign mercenaries, which also included assembling a small air force, to be commanded by Jan Zumbach. Zumbach was a World War II ace, who had flown with 303rd Polish Fighter Squadron of the RAF. The primary role of the Katangese Air Force was to provide air support for ground troops and air interdiction. Initial aircraft consisted of five DH Doves, eight T-6s, a DH Heron, an Alouette II, a PA-18 and a single S-55 helicopter, which were left by the BAF during the dissolution of the Belgian Congo. Additionally nine Fouga CM.170 Magister's were purchased from France, but only three of these were delivered. The FAK began flying AT-6G Harvards from its command base at Luano airfield, with raids on several ONUC positions. Battles raged on for over two years between the Katangese and UN contingent forces, and on 15 January 1963, the UN had established full control over Katanga. Remnants of the Katangese Air Force were all but gone, as most aircraft were destroyed or abandoned.[1]


The following fixed wing aircraft and helicopters were in service from 1960 until 1963:

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
CM.170 France attack 3[4] nine purchased, but only three delivered[1]
T-6 Texan United States COIN AT-6 8[4]
Piper PA-22 United States utility 5[1]
Dornier Do 28 Germany utility / transport 5[1]
DH.104 Dove United Kingdom transport 5[1]
DH.114 Heron United Kingdom transport 1[1]
Alouette II France utility / liaison 1[1]
Sikorsky H-19 United States utility / transport 1[1]
Trainer Aircraft
Piper PA-18 United States trainer 1[4]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 "Congo, Part 1; 1960-1963". acig.org. 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Lumumba, Patrice, Congo, My Country, Pall Mall Press. Speeches and selected writing by Lumumba, 1962
  3. N/A, Brookings; N/A, N/A, eds. (1965). Crisis in Congo: A United Nations Force in Action (1st ed.). Washington DC: Brookings Institution. ISBN 0-8157-5198-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "THE MAGISTER MYSTERY". Flightglobal Insight. 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>