By the end of the 1950’s, the United Kingdom had a lot of old, worn out, obsolete, or surplus tanks, many dating back to World War 2.The new A41 Centurion tank had already entered service and was significantly better than anything before it, so many of these tanks were simply redundant.
The reasons for this row are down to Batista having broken an agreement which prohibited the use of US-supplied weapons for internal problems.Additionally, there had been American pressure to hold free elections, however, Batista was against this as it would result in him losing his tight grip on power.As such, this illustration, by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet, shows a Comet in a fairly standard Olive Drab colour, as used on many WW2 British Tanks.As it was, the 15 Comets delivered on the 17th December 1958 remained in service for a very short time.In the post-war austerity period, Great Britain was still rebuilding its economy after WW2 and it needed foreign cash to help pay off its debts.
One solution was to sell off some of these stocks of tanks and one of the nations receiving these arms was to become one of the most notorious: Cuba.
It was a dictatorship which was supported and supplied by the USA.
A diplomatic row resulted in the suspension of arms sales in March 1958.
This was the least of the political problems for the Conservative Macmillan Government. Selwyn Lloyd, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, on the 19th November 1958 about this deal and that he was, in effect, now supporting a repressive regime.
Under serious political pressure from the opposition, the Government agreed to a suspension of further arms sales to Cuba, starting on the 15th December 1958 which would give the original order enough time to arrive in Cuba.
Sometime between March and August 1960, Cuba requested additional stocks of 77mm ammunition for their Comets as well as spare parts, though these, as of December 1960, were still not provided (nor a decision made on supplying them) by the Foreign Office.