The North American F-51 Mustang in Cuba
In reality arrived at Cuba only in 1958, and secretly. The guerrilla of the brothers Fidel and Raul Castro organize their own little Rebel Air Force (FAR) in the Second Front "Frank Pais" on April 12, 1958. The "Movement 26 of July" of Castro has the financial support of the Cuban exiles, and they financed the secret purchase of various airplanes outside Cuba. In Venezuela were done contacts to buy two F-51D Mustangs, without result.
But in United States had success. Between the equipment that were bought here, were two F-51D that were acquired in Miami, US like waste of war and without guns. On November 13, 1958 the coordinator Haydee Santamaria wrote to Raul Castro (The FAR was under its command) :
"We expect inside days, that Michel was there with two F-51, for be gunned here". Michel Yabor was one of the rebels pilot.
The Rebel Mustangs
The second Mustang (N68DR) originally was dropped by the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1956 and delivered to the Stinson Field Aircraft, of San Antonio, Texas. Here he receive the registers N68DR, passing for various users of Tennessee and Kansas, and finishing in Miami as the N3990A, where was bought for the same Allen McDonald, that too supposedly flew with him to Cuba secretly on November 20.
A third Mustang (N89E), an ex-RCAF too, supposedly has the same luck to Cuba, acquiring all three the registers FAR-201, 301 and 401 respectively.
This it is the known
version in US. But in reality appear in Cuba only two Mustangs (N5422V and N68DR),
that arrive at the Caribbean island together some days after, on November 23 at
the afternoon, flying directly from US to the rebel aerodrome of Mayari Arriba,
piloted by Michel Yabor and Adolfo Diaz Vazquez and not by Allen. The register
will be the FAR-400 and 401.
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That same day 23 of November at the morning this rebel aerodrome of Mayari Arriba has been attacked by two F-47D Thunderboltof the government FAEC, and the rebels gunners, when seeing again the speeder silhouette of two fighters, give the voice of alarm, and begin to shoot. A pass by the first Mustang in low level flight was greeted by the shoots of the Browning Cal.30, that impact it in the right wing tank and the tail. The rebel Captain Orestes del Rio, that was expecting the arrival of the Mustangs, leaves running agitating the hands and ordering the stop fire to the gunners, that surprised, stop shooting.
The two Mustangs land and are moved to a refuge for the works with the machine guns and to hide them of the FAEC (their F-47D the next day followed attacking the same aerodrome, without discover the Mustangs). Raul Castro is please with the appear of the first rebels combat fighters F-51 and writes: "They Are wonderful, being at present in sure places, expecting for the machine guns to begin to operate, we since are preparing the Napalm bombs, this will be the last blow to the regimen in the battles for the East"
Begins the intense job in the two Mustangs,
and on December 28 is ordered to transfer them to the new captured aerodrome of
Imias, for which both airplanes must be prepared as soon as possible. On December
31, 1958 at ten o'clock of the night already is ready one of them. And January
1, 1959, early by the morning, the mechanics of the Mustangs are informed by the
radio ADF of the F-51, about the flees of Batista. The war finish with the victory.
The news stimulate them, and at 11 o'clock of the morning both aircrafts were
ready. Now we can only imagine the possible consequences of a encounter between
the FAR Mustangs and the FAEC Thunderbolts.
After the Revolution
Is interesting that the dictator of Nicaragua Anastasio Somoza proposed to the Cuban exiled of Bay of Pigs four F-51D Mustangs, by the heavy loses of the B-26 Invader. These F-51D arrived on April 18, 1961 to the air base of the B-26 in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. But they were not used, being alleged that they were few known with that fighter, and that their range are insufficient until the combat zone.
In June of 1961 arrive the MiG-15bis,
and the Mustangs are finally write off (and not in 1963 as wrote some sources).
They are painted (including with shark jaws). During the 70's the FAR-401 was
exposed besides a Sea Fury in the Museum of the Revolution (ex- Presidential Palace).
Today remains only one of them, the N°401 in the Museum of the DAAFAR, in
|FAR-400||F-51D-30-NT||45-11700||N5422V||Arrive the Nov 23, 1958. In service to April 1961|
|FAR-401||F-51D-30-NA||44-74505||RCAF-9233, N68DR, N399OA||Arrive the Nov 23, 1958. Exposed in Museum|
-La Fuerza Aérea Rebelde. Comisión de Historia de la Fuerza Aérea Rebelde, La Habana, 1988
-John Dienst and Dan Hagedorn. North American F-51 Mustangs in Latin American Services
-Author´s archives See also: Cuban MiG-15 Cuban MiG-17 Cuban MiG-19 Cuban MiG-21 Cuban MiG-21 in action Operación Pico: Cuban MiG-21 over Dominican Republic Cuban MiG-17 and MiG-21 in the Ogaden War (Ethiopia) Cuban MiG-23 Cuban MiG-23 in action (air-to-ground missions in Angola) Cuban MiG-23 in action (air-to-air missions in Angola) Cuban MiG-29 External Links: Cuban Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum Cuban MiGs Cuban Military Forum The MiG-29 Fighter Cuban MiG-23 over Venezuela Cuba in Africa, The Angola War