In four parts, an agricultural spray plane was offloaded from a ship at the Grenadian docks on 26 February 1983, according to the newpaper "The Free West Indian." Officially this aiplane is manufactured by Antonov and is known as AN-2R with a nickname of "Colt". The plane is described as a utility transport and paratroop trainer. The Soviet Union's gift value of $3.4 million is inclusive of additional items donated from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Soviet Union. The Soviets brought three years' supply of spare parts for the plane. The plane was to be used for spraying bananas.
photo from the Free West Indian of 2 March 1983
You can still see this bi-plane, in its ruined state, at Pearl's Airport, and vaguely make out its markings "CCCP-71189".
Photo courtesy of Caribbean Newsletter ©1986
Another airplace can be found at Pearls Airport in a similarly ruined state. It is known as a Cubana plane with its title:
The Soviet-Made AN-26
Discussions about the AN-26 aircraft ran from Moscow to Havana to the various embassies in Grenada and ultimately to the PRG. Cuba was to be the home base of this airplane and its spare parts.
Paragraphs concerning the AN-26 that appear in a Summary of Prime Minister's Meeting with Soviet Ambassador - 24th May 1983 - are informative:
Aircraft to be supplied to Grenada will be delivered to Cuba. Can seat 39 paratroopers and hold 6 tons of cargo. Has 4,000 flight hours capacity and 4,000 landings. If used actively can last four years without repair. Can be assembled in 90 days and will be done in Cuba. Has been designed with sofa and car space and can accomodate 10-12 under those conditions.
P.M. explained that plane can be used for a dual purpose with the other being a Grenada/Cuba weekly run. He explained that the car will not be used as it can have negative political repercussion. He also pointed out that the kind of plane, a military make, can pose problems landing in the more reactionary countries in the region as civilian make aircraft will not have these problems.
Fifteen specialists will travel from Moscow to Havana to work on the aircrafts [sic]. An additional engine and spare parts enough for five planes will be attached. All spare parts will be left in Cuba under supervision of Specialists from the U.S.S.R. who will do all warranty services.
The Ambassador said that they will prefer Cuban Pilots to use it. Electrical equipment for starting the engine will be supplied to Grenada. Grenada must indicate what colours, emblems, service number arre to be put on the plane.
A Specification Invoice of 6 September 1983 lists the cost for getting the AN-26 aircraft in administrative version from Kiev to Cuba, plus the cost of the airliner, plus equipment/parts as USD Four million, seven hundred fifty-seven thousand, one hundred and seventy-six dollars and 62 cents (USD $4,757,176.62).
After the invasion, early in December 1983, a remaining Cuban diplomat, Gaston Diaz, sold off most of the contents of the hilltop Cuban Embassy at Morne Jaloux on Grenada - according to journalist Montalbano "fans, furniture, wine glasses, a coffee set, a color television, and a sea-green Honda Accord, license number P4751." A Cuban radio operator had gathered his equipment and made a quick exit, leaving Diaz solely responsible for assuming the remaning temporary tasks.
What belonged to Cuba, Diaz claimed, included construction equipment and "the asphalt spreader featured on the cover of the 1983 Grenada telephone directory," Montalbo reports. At Pearl's Airport was a damaged Cuban airliner, the AN-26, which Diaz had valued at between 2 and 10 million, according to two reports. The plane is described as a Soviet-built twin-engined turboprop airliner. The plane needed repair with spare parts in order to be flown back to Cuba. Permission was denied. The plane sits at Pearl's Airport to this day.
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