On October 13th 1965 a letter was delivered to the Rhodesian Embassy in Johannesburg from the South African government. The letter outlined intelligence the South African Government had received regarding clandestine flights in and out of Rhodesia carrying supplies to insurgent groups making use of the country’s patchy radar coverage. The letter was taken directly to the Prime Minister in Rhodesia's office the same day and immediately a plan was put into place to intercept these flights using Rhodesia’s only nightfighter squadron flying CF-100 mk3s.
Operation; NightstalkerEditThe CF-100s were to patrol suspected landing sites in the hope of catching one of these illegal flights as they attempted to land. Codenamed Nightstalker the operation began on October 15th after certain operational problems were overcome. For three nights the CF-100s flew their patrols but found nothing. Then on the night of the 19th October CF-100 serialed RRAF118 spotted a contact crossing the border with Zambia. The aircraft was flying low and very slow (barely making 100 mph). After conferring with headquarters that the target did not have permission to enter Rhodesian airspace the order was given to shoot it down.
The crew of the CF-100 prepared to attack but immediately hit a very serious problem. The target was flying under the CF-100s stall speed and this meant they had to make passes when they attacked. The CF-100 crew zeroed in on the target that was still flying straight and level oblivious to the fact that it had been intercepted but when they tried to bring their eight 50cal guns onto the target they quickly overshot. Worse still the jetwash from the CF-100s engines alerted the crew of the intruding aircraft that they had been intercepted and they began making evasive turns. The CF-100 crew made a second pass and again overshot the very slow moving target but on a third pass they managed to squeeze of a two second burst of gunfire. Unable to see the target in the night the crew had no way of ascertaining what damage they had done and so they prepared for a fourth pass however as they came around again there was an explosion on the ground and radar contact had been lost. They had successfully forced the aircraft down.
An Alouette helicopter flew in a ground team to investigate the crash site where they discovered the wreckage of an AN-2 with Egyptian registry. Later investigation revealed the aircraft had been stolen a few weeks earlier (some believe this was a cover-up of Egyptian support to black rebels in Rhodesia in revenge for the country’s support to the Commonwealth during the Suez conflict in 1956). The victorious aircraft later had the red silhouette of an AN-2 painted onto its nose.