Biafran Armed Forces
|Biafran Armed Forces|
|Service branches|| Army|
|Commander-in-Chief||C. Odumegwu Ojukwu|
|Chief of General Staff||Philip Effiong|
|History||Nigerian Civil War|
|Ranks||Military ranks of Biafra|
At the beginning of the Nigerian Civil War, Biafra had 3,000 soldiers. This number grew as the war progressed, ultimately reaching 30,000. No official support for the Biafran Army came from any other nation, although arms were clandestinely acquired. Because of this, the Biafrans manufactured many of their weapons locally.
Some Europeans served the Biafran cause: German-born Rolf Steiner was a lieutenant colonel assigned to the 4th Commando Brigade, and Welshman Taffy Williams served as a major throughout the conflict. A special guerrilla unit, the Biafran Organization of Freedom Fighters, was established: designed to emulate the Viet Cong, they targeted Nigerian supply lines, forcing them to shift resources to internal security efforts.
At the peak of Biafran military power, the Biafran Army was made of 5 divisions; numbered 11th, 12th, 13th (later renumbered 15th), 14th and 101st. It also had 2 separate brigades, the S Brigade, a Pretorian guard for General Ojukwu, and the 4th Commando Brigade (trained and commanded by mercenaries). It was commanded by Brigadier Hillary Njoku and later Major General Alexander Madiebo.
The Biafrans set up a small, yet effective air force. Biafran Air Force commanders were Chude Sokey and later Godwin Ezeilo, who had trained with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Its early inventory included two B-25 Mitchells, two B-26 Invaders, (one piloted by Polish World War II ace Jan Zumbach, known also as John Brown), a converted DC-3 and one Dove. In 1968, Swedish pilot Carl Gustaf von Rosen suggested the MiniCOIN project to General Ojukwu.
By early 1969, Biafra had assembled five MFI-9Bs in Gabon, calling them "Biafra Babies". They were coloured green, were able to carry six 68 mm anti-armour rockets under each wing using simple sights. The five planes were flown by three Swedish pilots and three Biafran pilots. In September 1969, Biafra acquired four ex-Armee de l'Air North American T-6Gs, which were flown to Biafra the following month, with another T-6 lost on the ferry flight. These aircraft flew missions until January 1970 manned by Portuguese ex-military pilots.
|MFI-9B "Biafra Babies"||Sweden||5|
|Douglas B-26 Invader||USA||2||Provided by Pierre Laureys|
|North American B-25 Mitchell||USA||2|
|de Havilland Dove||UK||2|
|Fokker F27 Friendship||Netherlands||1||Ex Nigerian Airways and used as an Improvised Bomber.|
|Douglas DC-3||USA||1||Improvised Bomber.|
|North American T-6 Texan||USA||4-6||ex-Armee de l'Air.|
Biafra had a small improvised navy, but it never gained the success of the air force. It was headquartered in Kidney Island, Port Harcourt, and was commanded by Winifred Anuku. The Biafran Navy was made up of captured craft, converted tugs, and armored civilian vessels armed with machine guns, or captured 6-pounder guns. It mainly operated in the Niger Delta and along the Niger River.
|BNS Vigilance||ex-NNS Ibadan||30 May 1967||Sunk on 10 September 1967||Ford-class seaward defence boat|
|NSS Bonny||ex-HMS Gifford||1968||Preserved at the National Nigerian War Museum||Ford-class seaward defence boat|
|Ikwerre||ex-Nigerian port authority tugboat||1967||Armed with a 105mm howitzer|
|PC101||ex-Nigerian port authority cutter||1968||Lost in July 1968||Armed with 6-pounder and Bofors gun|
|PC202||Nigerian tugboat||1968||Lost in July 1968||Armed with a 105mm howitzer|
|PC203||Nigerian tugboat||1968||Sunk in September 1968|
|PC204||Nigerian civilian craft||1969|
Weapons and equipment used by Army and militiasEdit
|Dane gun||home-made||In service with militias|
|Lee–Enfield No.4||ex-Nigerian Army||120 to 150 in January 1967|
|Beretta BM 59||ex-Nigerian Army (captured)|||
|Vz. 24 rifle||Czechoslovakia (officially denied)||1,860 bought at the beginning of 1967|
|Vz. 52 rifle||820 bought at the beginning of 1967|
|Vz. 58 rifle||732 bought at the beginning of 1967|
|MAS 36||Gabon, Ivory Coast, Haiti||300 from Haiti as a gift in 1968|
|FN FAL/SLR||Parker-Hale (United Kingdom); ex-Nigerian Army (captured)||930 delivered in 1967; some FN FALs captured from the Nigerian Army|
|CETME rifle||ex-Nigerian Army (captured)|||
|Spanish and German 98-type Mausers||?|||
|AK-47||China (Black market)||In service with militias|
|CZ-247||Czechoslovakia (officially denied)||300 bought at the beginning of 1967|
|CZ-23 and CZ-25|
|Lanchester Mk I||?||Some used by mercenaries|
|Vz. 26 machine gun||Czechoslovakia (officially denied)||55 bought at the beginning of 1967|
|Vz. 30 machine gun|
|Vz. 52 machine gun|
|Vz.59 machine gun|
|Vz. 37 heavy machine gun||20 bought at the beginning of 1967|
|Bren||ex-Nigerian Army||~12 in January 1967|
|Type 56 RPG||Chinese-made|
|SARPAC||French-made||Some from 1968|
|Ogbunigwe Launcher||Biafran Research and Production|||
|2-in mortar||ex-Nigerian Army|||
|Ordnance ML 3 inch mortar|
|L-N 81mm mortar||Spanish-made||At least 6|
|Canon de 75 modèle 1897||Never used in combat (unable to fire)|
|Oerlikon 20 mm cannon||Hispano-Suiza (Spain)|||
|M18/49 105mm howitzer (upgraded 10.5 cm leFH 18/40)||Czech-made|
|Ordnance QF 6-pounder||ex-Nigerian Army|
|Bofors 40 mm gun|
|OTO Melara Mod 56|
|AML-60||ex-Nigerian Army||At least 1|||
|AML-90||At least 1|
|Ferret armoured car||At least 1|
|Alvis Saladin||At least 2|
|Universal Carrier||French trader||A small number|
|Homemade armored vehicles||Biafra||?||A lot of designs|
- Jowett 2016.
- "Operation Biafra Babies". Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
- "The Last Adventurer" by Steiner, Rolf (Boston:, Little, Brown 1978)
- Jowett 2016, p. 16.
- Jowett 2016, p. 13.
- Jowett 2016, p. 15.
- Baxter, Peter (2015). Biafra : the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970. Helion and Company. p. 23. ISBN 978-1909982369.
- Iliffe, John (2011). Obasanjo, Nigeria and the World. Boydell & Brewer. p. 108. ISBN 978-1847010278.
- Okpe, August (2009). The last flight : a pilot remembers the Air Force and the Biafran air attacks. Aeromax. ISBN 9789789004140.
- Air Enthusiast No. 65 September–October 1996 pp 40–47 article by Vidal, Joao M. Texans in Biafra T-6Gs in use in the Nigerian Civil War
- Michael Robson. "The Douglas A/B-26 Invader - Biafran Invaders". Vectaris.net. Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- Jowett 2016, p. 19.
- Jowett 2016, p. 17.
- Dan Hagedorn; Leif Hellström (1994). Foreign Invaders: The Douglas Invader in Foreign Military and US Clandestine Service. Midland Pub. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-85780-013-5.
- Griffin, Christopher (2014). "French military policy in the Nigerian Civil War, 1967–1970". Small Wars & Insurgencies. 26 (1): 119. doi:10.1080/09592318.2014.959766. ISSN 0959-2318. S2CID 143967690.
- Jowett 2016, p. 18.
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
- Odu 2009, p. 111.
- "Biafra Navy, 1967-70". www.marinavasca.eu. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
- Odu 2009, p. 154.
- Odu 2009, p. 153.
- Odu 2009, pp. 158, 166-167.
- Jowett 2016, p. 14.
- Jowett 2016, p. 21.
- Jowett 2016, p. 22.
- Jowett 2016, p. 23.
- Jowett 2016, p. 46.
- Scarlata, Paul (October 2012). "The military rifle cartridges of Nigeria". Shotgun News.
- Chinese-made weapons may have come from Zambia or Tanzania (Jowett 2016, p. 23)
- Jowett 2016, p. 33.
- Jowett 2016, p. 24.
- Jowett, Philip (2016). Modern African Wars (5): The Nigerian-Biafran War 1967-70. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Press. ISBN 978-1472816092.
- Odu, P.J. (2009). The Future That Vanished: A Biafra Story. Xlibris (self-published). ISBN 9781441539724.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
- Vidal, João M. (September–October 1996). "Texans in Biafra: T-6Gs in Use in the Nigerian Civil War". Air Enthusiast (65): 40–47. ISSN 0143-5450.
- Venter, Al J. (2015). Biafra's War 1967-1970: A Tribal Conflict in Nigeria That Left a Million Dead. Helion & Company. ISBN 978-1-910294-69-7.