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Aviacion Cubana

Cuban Tanks, II part

Ruben Urribarres

IS-2M Heavy Tank 
These heavy tanks named as the soviet leader (IS- Iosif Stalin), and were produced during the Second World War.

The IS-2M begin to arrive to Cuba at the end of 1960 year. For April of 1961 already were two IS-2M Regiments, with 41 tanks, final figure. During Bay of Pigs they were maintained as reserve by Fidel Castro, near the sugar factory Australia, and not they fight.

Although some times the exilian forces claim to see it, but in reality they confuse them with the SU-100. The IS-2M are maintained today in the same situation that the T-34-85. 
Built: 1944 
Dimensions: lengh 9830 mm, height 2730 mm, width 3070 mm 
Armor: turre 90-160, hull 20-120 mm 
Armament: One 122 mm gun D-25T, three 7,62 mm machine guns DT, and one 12,7 mm  DShK
Crew: 4 
Weight: 46 t 
Speed: 37 km/h 
Road radius: 240 km
Heavy Tank IS-2M
  Heavy Tank IS-2 similar to the 41 exemplary delivered to Cuba

T-55 Main Battle Tank

When Fidel Castro were in visit to the USSR in may 1963, he ask for 120 T-55 of these excellent tanks, but Jrushov changes the asked to T-34-85. But Jrushov fears to get worse more the relations with US after the Missile Crisis, and changes the asked to 80 T-34-85. 

However, in the same 1963 year, the soviet troops in Cuba during Missile Crisis receive the order of left their heavy armament to the Cubans, free of pay, and to training them in them. Among them were the T-55 of two Soviets Tanks Battalions.
Cubans soldiers over a T-55 in Angola
Cubans soldiers over a T-55 in Angola

In 1976 the T-55 were send to Angola together the T-34-85, where they defeat the combined forces of South Africa and their allies. The Angolan war was revived in the 80´s with the Reagan administration. In 1987 South Africa begin an extensive intervention in Angola. On September were the first Tanks combats in this War, between the Angolans T-55 and the Olifants. After defeating the angolans by the Lomba River, its troops advance toward Cuito Cuanavale. Angola asks aid to the Cuban command, that sends advisors and some units to defend Cuito Cuanavale. February 14, 1988 the SADF and the UNITA begin a heavy attack to the Cuito Cuanavale defenses, supported by 100 armored of various types, among them 40 Olifants Tanks, and by this superiority of forces, they achieve to break the defense of the 59° Angolan Brigade. To cover this place were urgently thrown the unique 8 T-55 Cubans in movement in Cuito, by the command of the lieutenant colonel Héctor Aguilar. They stop the South African, destroying 10 Olifants and 4 armored cars, and losing 6 T-55 (3 by anti-tanks rockets RPG, and 3 by the Olifants). The remainder of the Olifants retires behind march. In this collision die 14 of the 39 Cubans perished in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, but this sacrifice went not in vain, therefore the attack of its T-55 saves the situation of the battle, that already was in crisis. This is the first collision in the war between Olifants and Cubans T-55, and is a victory for these, which would be the norm until the end of the war. Then comes the subsequent Cuban offensive toward the Namibian border, pursuing the defeated forces of the South African SADF, after which in June 27, 1988 South Africa asks for peace to Cuba. In this campaign the Cubans T-55 Cubans carried the main weight of the ground war. 
Tankers of T-55
T-55 of a Tank Brigade in exercises, and another exposed in a Military Unit. December 2001
(Photos BBC)

In 1977 Somalia invades the ethiopian territory of Ogaden, and the government of Ethiopia asks for military aid to Cuba. At the end of December 1977 arrive the first T-55, and on February of 1978 several Cuban Tank Brigades with T-55 enter in combat against its  somalis homologous. Somalia by irony of the destiny, had also been equipped with 250 T-55 and trained by the Russians. The Cuban armored forces, of equal number but much better prepared, defeat in various fierces battles to the enemy, contributing decisively to their out from the ethiopian territory. Somalia never could be recuperated. Today are some 1,100 T-55 in service in Cuba, great part in conservation. Part of the T-55 are modernized according to Russian programs, with complementary armor, laser equipment, new fire control systems 
Built: 1955 
Dimensions: lenght 9000 mm, heidth 2218 mm, width 3270 mm 
Armor: turret 160 mm, hull 100 mm 
Armament: One 100mm D-10T2S gun, two 7,62 mm machine guns SGMT
Crew: 4 man 
Weight: 36,500 kg 
Speed: 50 km/h 
Road radius: 480 km
T-55 station of an Cuban Tank Division
The T-55 avancing in Angola
T-55 in maneuvers in the 2000 year
Station of T-55 Tanks of an Cuban Tank División  after maneuvers in the 70´s
The Cubans T-55 Tanks moved in a offensive by the way Calucinga-Río Cutato, Angola. They T-55 were the Horse Battle of the Cuban troops (Photo from "La guerra de Angola")
The T-55 are supported by attack helicopters Mi-24.  Central Army´s Exercises "44 Anniversary of the Disembark of the Granma", December, 2000 (Granma)

T-62 Main Battle Tank 

Is the best Tank in Latin America. The T-62 arrive at Cuba since 1976 until the USSR disappear. In 1988 they were send to Angola to figth the South African escalation in the war, being the most powerful tank of the conflict. In combats after the victory in the Cuito Cuanavale battle in 1988, they contribute to stop and defeat the South African armor forces with Olifants Tanks, that was an inferior Tank an all aspects, in compare to the T-62. Then they participate began the victorious offensive to the Namibian border, after which Sudafrica asks for the peace. Today are near 400 T-62 in Cuba, part of which are in conservation, and they are modernized of the same form that the T-55 described up. 
Built: 1960 
Dimensions: lenght 9335 mm, height 2395 mm, width 3300 mm 
Armor: turret 153-242 mm, hull 46-100 mm 
Armament: One 115 mm gun 2A20, one 7,62 mm machine gun SGMT
Crew: 4 man 
Weight: 37,500 kg 
Speed: 50 km/h 
Road radius: 450 km
T-62 in maneuvers
T-62 en Angola
T-62 in maneuvers in the 2000
A T-62 during maneuvers in the 90´s. The T-62 are the most modern Tanks of the Cuban Army, and in Latin America.
Cuban Tankers with 115 mm munitions of their T-62 in Angola. In this conflict they were better then the South African Olifant by all characteristics (Photo from "La guerra de Angola")
T-62 of a Tank Brigade of the Western Army, during the maneuvers "Anniversary 42° of the Triumph of the Revolution", December, 2000. These maneuvers were performed during various days, employing real munitions (Photo Granma)

PT-76 Amphibious Tank 

These amphibious tanks begin to arrive at Cuba in the 70's. A total of 60 serve in the Marines. 
Built: 1951 
Dimensions: lenght 7,635 mm; height 2,195 mm; width 3,140 mm 
Armor: turret 10-20 mm, hull 10-13 mm 
Armament: One 76 mm gun D-56T, one 7,62 mm machine gun SGMT
Crew: 3 man 
Weigh: 14 t 
Speed: 10,2 en agua 
Road radius: 250 km
PT-76 in maneuvers
  A Cuban PT-76 comes out the waters, in maneuvers. After a demonstration before the Soviet Leader Jrushov similar to this, this tank was adopted for the USSR

  Related articles
Cuban Tanks: CTMS-1TBI Dutch Three Man, M3A1 Stuart, M4A3 Sherman, A34 Comet, T-35-85
Enemy Tanks: M41 Walker Bulldog (Brigada 2506), Olifant, Eland y Obuses G5/G6 (Sudáfrica)
Articles about the Cuban Military Aviation

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Tanques y blindados de Cuba

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