This was not to be. The Cuban advisors ensured the MPLA deployed carefully, putting a full company of infantry on the hill and another, supported by the Command Group and HQ platoon, in Caxito.
The FNLA drove a company of technicals within HMG & AA range of the troops on the hill, but outside of effective range of their assault rifles and RPGs, and spent the rest of the game blasting away at them. The fact the MPLA successfully dug in on turn 1 mean they elected to soak up the pressure rather than charge across open ground at a line of Jeeps and Toyotas bristling with 30 and 50 cal machine guns and 20mm AA guns. Some losses were suffered but their morale held and the objective was never in danger.
The rest of the FNLA force focused on Caxito. Fighting in the town was bloody, largely as the MPLA elected to defend from within templates, rather than sitting at the edge and taking fire. In reality this would approximate to defenders occupying buildings within a built up area rather than on the outskirts, sacrificing the ability to fire at the attackers as they approached for the impact of ambushes with automatic weapons and grenades at short range. Most of the comabt was therefore close assaults.
The much vaunted Cuban supplied BM-21s MRLs proved largely ineffectual. Only one fire mission arrived and, as it was directed at infantry in a built up area, its impact was negligible. One can imagine the frantic calls for fire from the Cuban forward observer before his postion was overrun.
|The battlefield with the MPLA postion on the hill in the foreground. In the built up area in the left background a desparate battle is raging...FNLA technicals can be seen by the road on the left.|
As the mercenary led FNLA force fought their way into the township an understrength company of MPLA troops broke and fled. This proved the high water mark of the FNLA's fortunes however, for as they attempted to dislodge the Cuban Command group and HQ platoon, their advance stalled. The Cubans had fortified their postions and every building was either a strongpoint or booby trapped. Machine guns were deployed with mutually supporting arcs of fire and three or four man fireteams armed with AK47s and grenades were on hand to counter attack at any sign of the enemy penetrating their postions.
The FNLA mercenary leader, 'Colonel' Shannon had always suspected this would be a tough fight so was not unduly surprised when his usual tactics of charging the enemy in a blaze of automatic fire enjoyed limited success. The flight of the undertrained Angolan troops before his first assault was a bonus but he always expected a more determined, or better prepared, foe would put up more resistance.
Two things sealed the fate of the FNLA attack. The first was the booby trap that exploded as Shannon and his command group were clearing a cluster of buildings only metres from his Cuban counterpart's command post. The mercenary was mortally wounded and the attack lost its impetus. Shortly afterwards, a column of jeeps armed with recoiless rifles and HMGs arrived to reinforce the MPLA and took up postions on the outskirts of town, providing much needed support for the Cuban fighters. This column also ensured the third objective was denied to the FNLA.
So, the battle ended with a decisive victory to the communists. Luanda was secured and it now loks like an MPLA government will be installed in independence day on 11th November.