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Bay Of Pigs 52nd Anniversary Remembers Disastrous CIA Backed Invasion Of Cuba (PICTURES)

17/04/2013 08:41 BST | Updated 17/04/2013 13:35 BST

In 1961 Cuba was ruled by a leftist administration dominated by Prime Minister Fidel Castro.

With the Cold War in full swing the United States didn't take kindly to the idea of a communist satellite state just 90 miles away from the Florida Keys.

To address this threat the Central Intelligence Agency set about training and equipping Brigade 2506, the armed wing of the exiled Democratic Revolutionary Front.

cuba bay of pigs

Invasion forces after being captured

The idea was pro-American commando forces would quickly overcome Cuba's fledgling forces, overthrow the government and install an administration more to the liking of the US.

In the dark of the early hours of the 17th of April, 1961, 1,400 paramilitaries with the tacit approval of John F. Kennedy landed on the Bay of Pigs.

They encountered and swiftly dealt with a Cuban militia.

Then things went wrong.

Brigade 2506 failed to achieve complete surprise the Cuban armed forces further inland were aware of their presence as soon as they landed.

The invaders also failed to gain air supremacy Cuban Sea Fury planes strafed troops as they landed.

Many of Brigade 2506 lost equipment on the way in meaning large numbers were simply incapable of launching an effective offence.

By the 20th April the invasion had failed. Four American airmen along with a 114 Cuban exiles of Brigade 2506 were dead.

Almost all, over 1,202, were captured.

The shambles severely embarrassed the Kennedy administration and became a major propaganda coup for Castro, laying the ground the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later, arguably the closest the world has come to the aggressive use of nuclear missiles since WWII.