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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Friday, 14 December 2012


... and pieces.

The IMEX Korean War US infantry and ROK infantry arrived today. Very crisp mouldings in a pretty hard plastic, but why do they have so many arms, feet and hands that have to be glued on? Don't they realise how big, worn and shaky the hands of a palsied middle aged chap are? Anyway, all washed in soapy water (thanks to my grandson) and the first US infantry chaps cut off the sprue:

Most of these will end up being Fidelistas  but the bazooka teams above will go to Brigade 2506. I've already carved the M1 helmets into rough approximations of the soft field caps that the Brigadistas wore. The bazooka teams were particularly important, as, with the five M41s, and some recoiless rifles (I'll have to source, or more likely, scratch build a couple) they were the Brigade's main anti-tank capability.

Fidel and his blokes had an overwhelming superiority in armour, and I was aware that T34/85s were used, and, perhaps, some SU85s, but, in a comment on this blog Jim Hale alerted me to the fact that the Fidelistas had IS-3s on strength, probably held in reserve at the sugar refinery known as Central Australia. Yikes! Well, I've been reading Gray Lynch's account of events (see a few posts ago for details), and today I came across this part of his account of the first day's fighting above Red Beach (Playa Larga):

         'The first two Castro tanks (a Soviet-supplied T-34 and a Stalin III) were quickly knocked out by the
          fire from Oliva's M-41 tanks and his bazookas' (p.103, 2009 Potomac paperback edition).

Lynch (one of the CIA men on the ground and a highly decorated veteran of the Second World War and Korea) previously mentions how he briefed a Brigade senior officer on how best to tackle the IS monsters. The key was that the approaches to the beach heads were along roads raised above swamp that was, obviously, impassible to tanks, and, as a result, there was scope for flank shots. The upshot is that  think I'll risk an IS for the Fidelistas. Fortunately, Minitanks seem to have made one, otherwise a huge 1/72 would look a little too over bearing.


  1. They were SU100 and IS2s not SU85 and IS3s... Lynch was from the generation who saw every Panzer as a 'Tiger' don't forget and there are pictures of Cuban IS2 tanks, but none of IS3s to back this up.

    But otherwise you're right, the theory was that both these vehicles were more vulnerable to light anti-tank weapons from the flanks and they were largely only able to approach along the few roads. How effective this would have been, particularly against the IS2, remains to be seen though.

    I did have a BoP photo somewhere of a T34/85 advancing, with Fidelista militia advancing closely behind it, using it as a shield. While quite sensible from the infantry point of view, it would have meant that Brigadista AT teams would be able to shoot without fear of the infantry flushing them out first.

    1. Hi, Jim. Actually the 'SU85' was my mistake - I shouldn't blog so late at night. As for the Stalins, my main aim for my wargaming project, with retro feel, is to pick up a Minitanks one, so as long as it is Stalinish I don't mind.

      I've seen the photo you're talking about - is it the one in the Osprey? I must say, I don't think I'd like to be wandering around in front of a tank wearing a light blue shirt!

    2. I don't suppose there's much difference between heavy tanks when you're just toting a bazooka...

      I know the picture you mean, but there are others, perhaps even of the same tank and men, but they are a lot closer to the tank than in the Osprey photo. That one is the clearest though. There's also one or two where the Cubans are 'assaulting' with the tank. There was a Cuban film made about the Bay of Pigs some time after and it's hard to determine which photos are real and which are stills from the film...

      Apparently Fidel himself was directing fire from a T34 and was rather unsatisfied with the effect it was having on its target (one of the ships I think), a SU100 rolled up and he went over to that instead and then told them how to do their job instead. Hands on kinda guy... the photos you often see of him at Playa Giron were taken around the time of this 'event'.