Another Air Rhodesia Viscount airliner was fired at from the ground Wednesday, but no one was injured and little damage was caused, the airline said today.
Five bullet holes were found in the plane after it had flown along the same route where two other aircraft have been downed by missiles since September, killing 107.
Aviation sources said they assumed that the latest plane hit had been shot at by black nationalist guerrilla forces that have claimed responsibility for bringing down the other aircraft. A plane bound for Salisbury from Kariba Lake, in northern Rhodesia, was shot down Monday, killing all 59 persons aboard.
Guerrillas led by Joshua Nkomo said they shot down the plane, apparently in the mistaken belief that it carried Rhodesia's top military commander and 21 soldiers. The commander, Gen. Peter Walls, was aboard a second plane that left 15 minutes later.
The guerrillas also claimed to have shot down a Viscount in the area in September, killing 38 persons. Ten survivors were then killed by guerrillas on the ground.
Officials said the captain of the plane hit Wednesday didn't know he had been fired at until the holes were discovered in Salisbury. Airline officials said the plane was carrying 24 passengers, including the company's general manager, Capt. Peter Travers, who was on an inspection visit to the wreckage of the plane downed Monday.
Air Rhodesia said the pilot reported on arrival at Salisbury that the aircraft had struck a bird.
Travers said last night that Air Rhodesia was adopting various evasive tactics, including low flying. A plane traveling low increases its speed relative to the ground and this is believed to make aiming missiles more difficult.
Low flying, however, also brings the plane within range of ordinary gunfire.
A passenger aboard Wednesday's flight from Kariba reported that the Viscount flew at a low altitude.
Meanwhile, Rhodesian forces combed the rugged north country searching for the guerrillas believed to be responsible for the attack. The Rhodesians are believed to be using most of the elite Air Services Unit, accompanied by helicopter-borne commandos.
The Vuti district, an area reserved for rural black Rhodesian farmers, has long been a stronghold for Nkomo's forces, Rhodesian authorities say.
Meanwhile, in Zambia, where Nkomo's headquarters are located, nationalist guerrillas braced for the expected Rhodesian retaliatory raids.
Rhodesian officials have vowed to avenge the attack on the plane. Nkomo, however, warned that if his bases in Zambia are hit, Prime Minister Ian Smith "will have to pay the consequences.
"If Smith this time comes to Zambia and burns children again, then let him know that we are capable, very capable of doing the same," Nkomo said.
About a thousand persons were killed during Rhodesian raids on guerrilla and refugee camps here between late October and Christmas, according to Zambian authorities. The raids were in retaliation for the first Air Rhodesia Viscount crash. Hundreds of the victims apparently were guerrillas or recruits but hundreds of others were noncombatants.