top of page

Intercepting a Helicopter in the South Congo
A Look at the Death of Dag Hammarskjold


Code Name Dawn looks at finding an enemy aircraft and shooting it down when found.

This is not as easy as it sounds when done in Africa where radar coverage is not good and where at least some official deniability is desired. The South African Air Force (SAAF) had a very secretive EW (Electronic Warfare) effort going on during the South African Border War. They were flying DC-4s and Skymasters, the military version of the civilian DC-4. One of these aircraft, number 6902 is to be found at the SAAF Museum at Swartkop AFB, Pretoria and on the cover of this book. Her sister, 6901, was once known as “Spook” (Afrikaans for “Ghost”) and used for electronic reconnaissance, she plays a fictional role here to find the target.

I long wanted to explain how an aircraft, in this book an old Mi-8 helicopter, is intercepted, with spies playing a major role in the operation. We can go back in history to see what happened before. We can learn from the past. In Operation Vengeance, in 1943, USAAF P38Gs intercepted the Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, the man behind the Pearl Harbour Attack. We also look at the trap laid by USAF fighter ace, BG Robin Olds on the North Vietnamese Air Force MiGs in 1967. In both cases, the use of spies and code-breaking played a vital role as did EW.

Closer to home, in 1960, UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld died when his aircraft, a DC-6, crashed at Ndola, then Northern Rhodesia and now Zambia. He was on his way to have peace talks with Moise Tshombe, the pro-Western Anti-Communist Prime Minister of the newly declared Republic of Katanga.

This accident (some believe that Mr Hammarskjöld was shot down, we deal with that theory in detail in this book) changed history for the worse. As long as Hammarskjöld was alive and the UN Secretary-General, the UN did not intervene in a member country’s internal affairs as the UN Charter prohibits such interventions.

But once Hammarskjöld died, everything changed. Since that time, UN-backed operations caused untold harm as “Regime Change” became the new motto for the major powers like the USA. What was done to Katanga under UN auspices is beyond disgusting and all due to Hammarskjöld’s death. The war crimes committed in Katanga by the “first UN Air Force” are also highlighted in this book. They even bombed a clearly marked hospital.


Spymaster extraordinaire, Angelique Dawson is making her way north in Mozambique, flying an old Douglas Skymaster, once known as “Spook” in the South African Air Force, a discarded electronic warfare aircraft used by the 44 Squadron.

She is not explaining much to her future husband and former Police Special Forces Company Commander, Geoffrey Foxtrot, the narrator who is trying to keep her safe.

They jump per parachute from the Skymaster to take possession of a fighter aircraft, a twin seater Northrop F-5T, to shoot down a Mi-8 medium transport helicopter in southern Congo. This happens close to Ndola, Zambia, the same place where UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld died when his aircraft, a DC-6, crashed in 1960. Something goes wrong with Foxtrot’s parachute and… the story is just beginning.

If you wish to read about Covert and Special Forces Operations in sub-Saharan Africa, the GMJ Books are the place to start. You will learn about covert operations, Special Forces techniques and military history not known outside the select few.

Code Name Dawn is the 37th book of the popular GMJ Series.

bottom of page