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The Caribbean Legion: and its Mercenary Air Forces 1947–1950

The Caribbean Legion: and its Mercenary Air Forces 1947–1950 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review June 2021 Title The Caribbean Legion: and its Mercenary Air Forces 1947–1950
Author Dan Hagedorn, Mario Overall Publisher Lime Tree Press
Published 2021 ISBN 9780995604360
Format 180 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $15.95

Review

The Axis defeat in WWII roused Latin American idealists to plot the demise of Central American and Caribbean dictatorships – especially those of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Anastasio “Tacho” Somoza in Nicaragua, and Tiburcio Carías in Honduras.

Scholar Charles D. Ameringer calls the conspirators “patriots”, “politicians”, and “soldiers of fortune”. Others consider them “vagabonds”. But history brands them “The Caribbean Legion”.

Now historians Dan Hagedorn and Mario Overall trace the terrific tale in The Caribbean Legion: and its Mercenary Air Forces 1947–1950 – available in print and eBook editions from Lime Tree Press.

Peace paradoxically produced a world awash in surplus weaponry – notably aircraft at bargain prices.

Warplanes offered the means to project power over land and sea – perfect, strategically and tactically, for combat in the Caribbean crescent. And as the subtitle suggests, authors detail the striking scope of Legion-related air assets and events across three geographic settings: Cayo Confites, Cuba; Costa Rica; and Luperón, Dominican Republic.

Converted DC-3 “bombers” with “toilet gunners” during Costa Rica’s civil war. The last combat actions of ancient Douglas B-18s. Lockheed P-38 Lightnings. North American B-25 Mitchells. Even an armed Bach 3-CT-9. And much more.

Dozens of rare photos season the survey. Five informative appendices recap participating aircraft. And endnotes and abbreviations complete contents.

But you almost need a proverbial scorecard to track key players, actions, incidents, and dates. And adding a capsule chronology and dramatis personae would nicely benefit future editions.

Additionally, that’s not an “FAD P-51B” on page 117. The dorsal carburetor intake confirms that it’s Trujillo’s Allison-powered North American P-51-NA – or its P-51A-1-NA (43-6007) replacement.

Nitpicks notwithstanding, this ripping read reflects literally decades of serious study and sleuthing. I simply savored its motherlode of revelations.

Robustly recommended!

With thanks to Lime Tree Press for the review copy.