Book review: Ethiopian-Eritrean wars Volume 1

Last weekend I have started with research for the Ethiopian-Eritrean-Somalia conflict s. Couple of weeks ago I had ordered a book from Helion Africa@war series. Number 29: Ethiopian-Eritrean wars, volume 1, Eritrean war of independence 1961-1988. (Click on image for link to Helion site)

From Helion&Company

Before I read this book, I had only done a quick read trough on general history of Ethiopia. For the rest I didn’t know anything of the different conflicts, except that some refugees have reached the Netherlands because of some war.

Chapter 1

This books start with a global description of the history of Ethiopia and the present day Eritrea in just a couple of pages. After that it continues with the modernization of the military in the 1930s. And the occupation of Ethiopia by the Italians, followed with the liberation by the British.

Chapter 2

The next chapter describes the reestablishment of Ethiopia government and the first struggles to rebuild the land. The received aid from the British, Americans and to my surprise the Swedish. It also handles briefly the forming of the first insurgency groups and concludes with a revolution and a summary of the different problems.

One of the tables of the book describing Ethiopian Army and ground forces.
Chapter 3

We continue with a look at the opponents. All the insurgency group have their own name and abbreviations, and their own targets. Therefore battling both the government and each other, this is quite a confusing history when read for the first time. It does have some tables with the actual units of the different groups. But it was quite difficult to collect all the numbers, as this is a less well documented conflict. In the end you have a rough idea on the amount of troops.

Chapter 4

Until here it was mostly a political description. Although the pictures showed a lot of details on the equipment used. This chapter deals more with the structure of the army and how it operates. Also it contains some tables of army list on different dates. As this is the middle of the book there is a good collection of profiles of the different aircraft and tanks, in Ethiopian colors. In this chapter also the switch from US supported to Soviet supported is described.

One of the profiles in the book. Every profile has complete description.
Chapter 5

Previous chapters described the history and the forces used, the rest of the book focuses more on the actions. Especially the counter offensive into Eritrea area. Also details more on the Ethiopian doctrine, which is developed by themself and uses input from both Soviet as Western based tactics and a lot of experience in insurgency groups and guerilla warfare.

Chapter 6

In the turning point of the war, it became more difficult to keep the conquered terrain in Eritrea in Ethiopian hands and they started to slowly lose ground. Mostly due to two or three insurgency groups, which act as almost conventional armies sometimes.

Chapter 7

In the end it came all down to the battle of Afabet, which the Ethiopian lost. This is the last stand of the Ethiopians before the Eritrean independence. Although this is not described in the book. This last chapter has a somewhat open end, and hope other books will continue on this.

One of the many photos of the book. Some with intresting scenes.

This books shows a nice general overview of an unknown war. It starts with carefully outlining the history and build up of the different events and in the mean time detailing the role of the air force. If interested in this conflict or the modern history of Ethiopia it is a good starting read.

One of the downsides of this books, it shows a largely one sided conflict. Beforehand I had expected more details on the Eritrean forces. Al tough they are insurgents, and did not have any aircraft available, they did conquer a lot of vehicles. And therefore I would have expected some profiles of Eritrean equipment. Also no description on the role of civilians is mentioned. Did they support the Ethiopians or Eritreans?

I will reread the book in the coming weeks, to piece together some more details and hope to create some wargame scenarios and armies based on these events.

Some interesting points I have learned from this book. Ethiopia developed a western style air force with soviet equipment. Did develop a lot of own fighting methods. And major parts of the war are mostly fought with infantry.

What’s up next?

After the first book, my interest has grown. Resulting in a order for two other books from the series; Volume 2 on the Ethiopian-Eritrean wars and the one about the Ogaden war. Hope they will arrive soon. as I will then have a complete overview of the recent history of the different conflicts centered around Ethiopia. (Click on the images to directly link to Helion.)

From Helion&Company
From Helion&Company

Dutch air war 1940

10 may 1940, Germany invades the Netherlands as part of the second world war. Starting with the bombing of different airfields, the first airborne assault on different bridges and airfields. And a mass bombardement on the city of Rotterdam, which did force the Netherlands to surrender after 5 days.

Alltough the Netherlands is quite a small piece of land, and did have a small army, it did put up quite a resistance which did have impact on the complete war. Germany did lose a lot of air transport capabilities, hindering further invasion plans of England.

A lot of stories can be told about this short period of 5 days. And a lot of different scenarios are possible. Therefore as a Dutch citizen, a very interesting period to model and turn in to a wargaming subject. For this period I hope to create two armies. The first one is the Dutch airforce, mostly consisting out of fighters, Fokker DXXI and Fokker G1, to create some interception and scramble scenarios. I also have some reconnaissance planes in the form of some Fokker CV. The second force is the German invasion force. Some fighters, Bf109 and bf110, different bomber fleets, do17, ju88, ju87 and he111. And as last some transport planes for dropping parachutes and landing on airfield or beaches to deploy troops.

This leads to the following lists (Number in brackets are already in lead pile):


  • Fokker D.XXI (4)
  • Fokker G.1 (4)
  • Fokker C.V (4)
  • Fokker T.V
  • Dornier Do24


  • Messerschmitt bf-109 (4)
  • Messerschmitt bf-110 (2)
  • Junker ju-87
  • Junker ju-88
  • Heinkel he-111
  • Dornier do-17 (3)
  • Junker ju-52
  • Heinkel he-59

I have included some additional planes, in the form of Dutch bomber to recreate some other odd scenarios of this short war. There are enough plane have to be ordered, but my first aim is to finish the planes I already have. Therefore I need to first order some decals, as it is not doable for me to paint all the roundels and have seen that the roundels finish planes.

After that I probably want to create some terrain features in the form of different targets. (Bridges, airfield and Cities)

In the next update for this project I hope to show the different planes in their current state.

Dreams and plans

In last post, I explained how it started, and some of the starting projects. In this post I hope to set some goals and plans for myself to guide me in the future. And to prevent piling up a too large leadpile. In my day to day job I am working as engineer for a large company, and have learned to set goals, milestones and deadlines, but as this is a hobby, I wont set deadlines. I don’t want to feel bad when I don’t achieve the deadline. So the plans and goals are will not be time bound, so also not completely SMART. But still hope to have some organized planning.

What do I like?

From the experience from the first couple of wargames I have learned that I like historical based actions. This can be real historical or alternative-historical (non-historic battles, with historical equipment). As area of interest I have found a couple:

  • Dutch historical conflicts (late medieval, 80 year war, Napoleonic times)
  • Air conflicts
  • Large scale battles
  • Small scale skirmishes
  • small scale miniatures

I have been a miniature scale modeler for quite a long time, and have therefore a reasonable experience and set of equipment for painting and basing. Also the preference for small scales comes from that period as I built most of the time 1:144 aircraft and 1:72 tanks. Combining all this I have made a list of different projects for the future. Some are already started and will be continued.


I have listed the different projects which are in my head right now. And hope to stick to this list. All projects consist of 2 sides (or sometimes 3), have a scale defined and a dedicated rule set to play. For the status the following options are possible

  • Finished, project is finished and no actions planned. Some parts of it might get reused or repurposed.
  • Painting, Step before finishing, from primer to coat. This is also applicable for terrain.
  • Acquired, There is the actual lead pile, not having any paint. But might be getting based already.
  • Research, project who might be already have some ruleset or scale defined, but where I am still researching what I want to use exactly, and still have to buy models. I might already have bought a set of rules or books on the subject.
  • Wish, Just some intresting rules or models I have seen somewere, which might fit with existing projects, or what I still have to define what I do want to do.
  • Sample, Some odd projects, which may turn in a full project, but where I have some models as sample for a future project.
ProjectScaleStatusRule set
Dutch air war 19401:600PaintingLacquered Coffins
Spanish Civil air war 1:600 WishLacquered coffins
Modern air war (try out) 1:600 Finished Missile Threat
Cold war Dutch air force 1:600 Wish Missile Threat
Ethiopian Eritrean Somalia
Research Missile Threat
Napoleonic mass battles
(including Quatre Bras)
2 mm Painting 2 by 2 Napoleonic
Morale Napoleon
Late medieval Dutch
Stichtse oorlog ~1480
Lion Rampant?

80 year war 10 mm
Pikemans Lament
80 Year war
Pikemans Lament
Insurgent vs modern troops 15 mm
Ambush Alley

This is just a overview of all my plans and wishes. I hope to provide updates on each and every project in the future, in separate posts.


Priorities are quite flexible. Interest do change, so also the priority on the list. Also research and wish items on the list, can sometimes just be done by reading a book or article. And as this is done in some sparetime, I wont put any priorities on these. As long as there is no lead pile, priority is irrellevant.

Now the actual priorities:

  1. Workplace; Currently the work place is a big mess and I am using an old garden table as desk, which is not very stable. So first actions should be to clean up the work area and update the desk.
  2. Dutch air war 1940; I have already started this project and it I should work on this, to at least have some possibilities to play some games.
  3. 10 mm 80 year war; Pikemans Lament is already waiting quite long for a game, so some forces needed to be able to play.
  4. 2 mm Napoleonic mass battle; Although this is almost finished it is at this moment the lowest on the list. I can already play some games, so it is good enough for now.

So priorities are clear, but probably have to update this in the future, as new projects will start and others get finished. Hope to reflect next year on what I achieved and how close I will follow the priorities.