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Winds of Destruction is a unique account of one man’s service in the Rhodesian Air Force, spanning a period of twenty-three years from 1957 to 1980—through the politically turbulent years of Federation; the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (U.D.I.) by Ian Smith’s government in 1965 and thirteen years of relentless, uncompromising bush warfare against the never-ending tide of Robert Mugabe’s and Joshua Nkomo’s ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas. In a gruelling conflict that permitted no quarter, the Rhodesian Air Force (Rh.A.F.) fast became one of the Rhodesian Defence Force’s most lethal and effective counter-insurgency organs. In pre-emptive bombing strikes against enemy camps in Mozambique, Zambia and as far afield as Tanzania; in its integral role as a troop-carrier and airborne strike force in ‘fireforce’ operations; in working closely with such specialist units as the Selous Scouts, the S.A.S., the R.L.I. and the R.A.R. the Rhodesian Air Force was never far from the action and in no small way responsible for the astonishing military successes against a vastly numerically superior army. This all in spite of the international sanctions against Rhodesia, which ordinarily would have brought a nation’s armed forces to its knees. However, forced by circumstances, the Rh.A.F. was obliged to maximise usage of its aging fleet of fighter-bombers, transports and helicopters and to resort to innovative techniques in terms of tactics and weapons systems, many of which were later adopted by the South African Air Force in its own counter-insurgency operations in Angola and Namibia in the ’80s.

Peter Petter-Bowyer was born in 1936 in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. As a boy during World War II he’d watch the Royal Air Force training aircraft whirling in the colonial skies above—so was born his craving to fly. In 1957 he joined the Royal Rhodesian Air Force as an officer cadet. He became a senior operational pilot during the bush war and was instrumental in designing and producing a range of unique aeronautical weapons systems. He retired prematurely as a group captain in 1980 with the advent of Mugabe’s rule and now lives in England.

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