Fidel Castro’s WWII American frigates

The United States fielded many excellent warship designs during WWII: the Essex class aircraft carriers, the Iowa class battleships, the Sumner and Gearing classes of destroyer, and so on.

The Tacoma class patrol frigates were not in this category. Even before WWII ended the whole patrol frigate concept was viewed as a mistake within the US Navy.

Whatever their problems, these were still young warships when WWII ended in 1945. They were simple and inexpensive to operate. They were ideal for transfer to smaller navies friendly to the USA. One of these was Cuba, which received three.


(Máximo Gómez, formerly USS Grand Island (PF-14) of WWII.)

The final outcome of these transfers could not have been imagined in the early years after WWII, when the USA and Cuba had a strong defense partnership.


(Fidel Castro addresses the crew of one of his three Tacoma class frigates in August 1963, four years after seizing power in Cuba.) (photo via CubaHoy)


(Declassified in 2002, this CIA sitrep from the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis mentions two of Cuba’s Tacoma class ships.)

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flow of WWII weapons after the war

Since starting wwiiafterwwii, I have wanted to do something on this topic but was unsure how to approach it. I am interested in how WWII weapons performed in battle against Cold War replacements. But also, it is fascinating to consider how they ended up where they did after WWII……how did a Garand built to fight Imperial Japan end up in the Somali desert in the 1970s, or how did a Waffen-SS sturmgewehr end up in 21st century Damascus?


(An ex-Wehrmacht NbW 42 Nebelwerfer with Interarms markings in the 1960s.)

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Urgent Fury 1983: WWII weapons encountered

In October 1983, the USA invaded the small island nation of Grenada, which at the time was being supported and reinforced by Cuba. Most of the weapons the American troops encountered were of post-WWII, Cold War vintage; namely a staggering quantity of AK-47s, but there were some WWII weapons discovered as well.



(Top: An A-7 Corsair II strike jet off USS Independence (CV-62) over Point Salines Airport, one of the focal points of the 1983 operation. Bottom: A WWII-vintage Enfield No.4 Mk.I rifle as used by the Grenadian military during the brief fighting.)

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CTMS-1TBI tank: post-WWII use

The CTMS-1TBI (nicknamed the “Dutch Three-Man”) is one of WWII’s forgotten tanks. It took no real part in the war but had a surprising career afterwards, considering it’s obsolescence.

This tank was a private design of the Marmon-Herrington company of Indianapolis, IN. In 1940, the Netherlands ordered 194 of these tanks. All were intended for use in the Netherlands East Indies colony, where they were supposed to form twenty-seven cavalry platoons, replacing horse units in the Dutch Java Army.

marmonmain(This official US Army Tank & Automotive Command photo of WWII shows a measuring rod next to the CTMS-1TBI, illustrating optimal shot placement.)

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