...The Defenders of Castro's Air Force, from Harpia, via Casemate
Title: Cuban MiGs
Author: Helio Higuchi and Paulo Roberto Bastos Junior
Publisher: Harpia Publishing
A new addition to this excellent series of books from Harpia Publishing, looking at an aspect of military aviation that is not often touched by others, Cuba. In this case, a 137-page soft-cover book looking especially at the various MiGs operated by the Cuban Air Force over the years, from the revolution to the present day.
The story starts with the history of Cuban aviation before the revolution and well before the arrival of the fist MiGs. In WW2 Cuba fought with the Allies and went on to receive support from the USA, such as having P-47, A-26 and other combat aircraft, as well as trainers and even their first jets, the T-33. Then it all changes with the early years of the revolution, under Fidel Castro. After a culling of air force officers, including many pilots of course, they had to pretty much start afresh. While the first contact with the USSR established that the Soviets were prepared to supply Cuba with MiGs and additional equipment, that would take time to sort out. Then of course there was the failed invasion at Playa Giron, better known as the Bay of Pigs Incident. That story is included, but it wasn't until after that was over before the first MiGs began to arrive. It goes on to take us through the development of the MiGs in Cuban service, with the MiG-15, -17, -19 and -21 before getting to the final types to be delivered, the MiG-23 and -29. As well as operations against their neighbours, notable the Bahamas, the regime also got involved in some foreign conflicts. These are also covered, in places such as North Vietnam, Guinea, Syria, South Yemen, Angola, Ethiopia and Nicaragua. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union so the supply situation for not just complete airframes but the spares to keep them flying resulted in so many being withdrawn from service. There are organisation charts for the DAAFAR (Defensa Aerea y Antiaerea de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Cuba), tables of preserved airframes, the Order of Battle of DAAFAR units and a summary of the current situation with the remaining MiGs in Cuba. It is rounded off with an Appendix dealing with the Technical Dat and Deliveries of each type of MiG that was operated in Cuba, both single and twin seaters and each is also illustrated with a fine colour profile artwork as well.
I found it a really interesting story, and the text plus the archive photos with the assorted colour schemes and markings all add to the interest. Not only will Cold War aviation enthusiasts like this, but I think many modellers will find plenty of inspiration in here to consider building a collection of MiGs in Cuban camouflage and markings. Super book once again from Harpia.
Thanks to the distributors, Casemate, for the review copy.