Spanish Civil War Fighters

Discussion in 'Between the wars 1918-1939' started by gekho, Mar 7, 2010.

  1. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #1 gekho, Mar 7, 2010
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
    The Spanish Civil War arose out a variety of factors, chiefly the election of a Republican government made up of a shaky alliance of various centrist and leftist elements. The Second Spanish Republic instituted a number of controversial reforms which led to a revolt by conservative and monarchist ("Nationalist") forces, led at the outset by a military insurrection on the part of General Francisco Franco and other Nationalist generals. Sides were immediately taken amongst the international community, with Mexico, the Soviet Union, and the volunteer International Brigades supporting the Republicans and Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany supporting the Nationalists. The support for the Republican side was mainly in the form of material support from the Soviet Union, and it was slow in coming. Conversely, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany almost immediately joined in their support of the Spanish Civil War with troops, aircraft, tanks and other weapons. Among other political reasons for supporting Nationalist Spain (establishing a Fascist power in Western Europe, threatening France, etc.), Nazi Germany had military reasons as well. To quote Hermann Göring, commander of the Luftwaffe, at the Nuremberg trials (tribunals whose purpose was to prosecute war criminals after World War II):

    "When the Civil War broke out in Spain, Franco sent a call for help to Germany and asked for support, particularly in the air. ... I urged him [Adolf Hitler] to give support under all circumstances, firstly, in order to prevent the further-spread of communism in that theater and, secondly, to test my young Luftwaffe at this opportunity in this or that technical respect."​



    In the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe would receive the first major test of its tactics of aerial combat and in the support of ground forces. The Condor Legion, a unit of the Luftwaffe created especially to support the Spanish Nationalist forces, would participate in bombing missions, troop movement, and fly against experienced Soviet pilots supporting the Republicans, thus gaining vital experience in the blitzkrieg which would later be put to use in Poland. The event which would characterize the Condor Legion's involvement in Spain and create a deep impact on the Luftwaffe and the other nations of Europe would be the bombing of Guernica (now Gernika-Lumo) on April 26th, 1937. At the time, Guernica was the center of Basque culture and government, and an important Republican stronghold, interposed between Nationalist forces and the northern Republican city of Bilbao. The Basques (Euskaldunak) are an ethnic group of Northern Spain and France which had supported the Republican government in exchange for autonomy. Despite the fact that Guernica had not by this point actively participated in the war, it was considered a military target in that it housed some Republican battalions, and its defeat by Nationalist forces would cut off Bilbao from other Republican forces, thus speeding Nationalist victory in Spain's north.

    The assault on Guernica by the Condor Legion began in the afternoon and consisted of several waves of bombers with their escorts (mostly Junkers Ju 52 and He 111s in the first waves, with the Bf 109s supporting later raids and strafing the roads) dropping explosives onto the town below. The principal targets were the roads and a bridge to the east of Guernica, the destruction of which would block an enemy retreat. Although the pilots were given orders not to directly target civilians, the bombing led to many civilian casualties. (The exact numbers are disputed, but the estimate is between 200 - 1700.) The bombing shattered Guernica's defenses and the Nationalist forces quickly overran the town. The bombing of Guernica received lots of international attention from the press and inspired the famous painting by Pablo Picasso.

    In Spain, the Luftwaffe gained experience in using their aircraft technology to achieve air superiority and to support ground forces. These lessons learned would serve the Luftwaffe well as World War II would begin in the East and in the great aerial battles, such as the Battle of Britain. At the outset of World War II, because of the experience gained during the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe would be the most prepared for the new strategies of war that would emerge in this period.

    While sources vary on the number and type, most agree that 130-140 Messerschmitt Bf 109’s served in Spain: approximately 4 prototypes, 40+ Berthas, 5 Claras, 35 Doras, and 44 Emils. By early 1939, when the 109E’s arrived, the Republican opposition had nearly collapsed; twenty of these models were left behind for Spain’s air force. Bf 109 pilots like Werner Moelders and Wolfgang Schellmann distinguished themselves in Spain. Moelders is credited with developing the “finger four” formation, which became the standard fighter formation for decades. Moelders scored 14 kills in Spain, the top German ace of that conflict. Over 200 German pilots flew with the Condor Legion, gaining precious combat experience that would serve them well in WW2.
     

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  2. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    When it was clear the He-112 was losing the contest to the Bf 109, Heinkel offered to re-equip V6 with 20 mm cannon armament as an experimental aircraft. She was then broken down and shipped to Spain on 9 December and assigned to Versuchsjagdgruppe 88, a group within the Legion Condor devoted to testing new aircraft and joined three V series Bf 109s which were also in testing. Oberleutnant Wilhelm Balthasar used it to attack an armoured train and an armoured car. Other pilots flew it, but the engine seized during landing in July and she was written off.

    The Spanish government purchased 12 112Bs. This increased to 19. The He 112s were to operate as top cover for Fiat fighters in the opening stages of the Civil War, the Fiat having considerably worse altitude performance. In the event, only a single kill was made with the He 112 as a fighter and it was moved onto ground-attack work. During World War II, when Allied forces landed in North Africa, Spanish forces in Morocco intercepted stray aircraft of both Allied and German forces. None of these incidents resulted in losses. In 1943, one He 112 of Grupo nº27 attacked the tail-end of the aircraft of 11 Lockheed P-38s forcing it down in Algeria after reentering French territory after crossing into Spanish Morroco. By 1944, the aircraft were largely grounded due to a lack of fuel and maintenance.
     

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  3. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #3 gekho, Mar 7, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2010
    The Arado Ar 68 was a single-seat biplane fighter developed in the mid-1930s. It was among the first fighters produced when Germany abandoned the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles and began rearming. Designed to replace the Heinkel He-51, the Ar-68 proved to have admirable handling characteristics on its first flight in early 1934, despite Arado's inability to secure a sufficiently powerful engine for the prototype. Eventually, a Junkers Jumo 210 was installed and the Ar 68 went into production, though not before worries about the unforgiving nature of such a high-performance aircraft almost resulted in the cancellation of the project.

    The Ar 68 entered service with the Luftwaffe in 1936 and one of the first units was stationed in East Prussia. Soon, the fighter was sent to fight in the Spanish Civil War, where it was outclassed by the stumpy Soviet Polikarpov I-16. Arado responded by upgrading the engine of the Ar-68E, which soon became the Luftwaffe's most widely-used fighter in 1937-8 before being replaced by the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The last Ar 68s served as night fighters in the winter of 1939-40 and fighter-trainers.
     

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  4. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    In July of 1936, a major air war began in Spain prompting requests from General Francisco Franco to Hitler, to provide air support to the Nationalists. At the beginning of the war, only thirty-six domestically built Nieuport Ni D.52s were available of which twenty-nine were in possession of Republican forces. Six He-51s were sent to Spain with six German pilots to instruct Spanish pilots. Unfortunately, the airplane was a "handful" for the Spanish, who immediately wrote off two of them. The Germans Condor Legion entered combat and met with such success, that it allowed Luftwaffe pilots to gain invaluable air combat experience.

    It was about this time that Polikarpov I-15s and Polikarpov I-16s, flown by Soviet "volunteers" appeared on the side of the Republicans. When the opponents met, it was no contest as to which was the better: the "Chato" and "Rata" could fly rings around the Heinkel, as well as outgun it, and the He-51s were reduced to targets, unfit to take part in aerial combat. Even Adolph Galland, commander of He 51 squadron 3/J88, a future ace of WWII, had no opportunity to gain victories in Spain. By the end of the war, almost two-thirds of He 51s sent to Spain were lost in combat. He-51C-1s, fitted with bomb racks to carry up to six 22-lb (10 kg) bombs, continued service as ground attack fighter, a role this version was designed for, remained in service in Spain, while the Luftwaffe's He 51C-2 were replaced as rapidly as possible, after the He 51s poor showing at the comparative trials at Brandenburg.

    In retrospect, the failure of the He-51 when it entered combat was ultimately a good thing for the Luftwaffe, since it forced the service to bring the Messerschmitt Bf-109 into operational use far earlier than would otherwise have been the case, subjecting that great design to the pressure of wartime development from the beginning of its career, and assuring it of the ascendancy it would hold, when war finally broke out in Europe. The introduction of the Bf-109 into combat, enabled pilots of the Luftwaffe to abandon the outdated three-plane fighter Vic formations, and develop the double-pair or Schwarm formations. Height was becoming a significant factor used in dive and zoom attacks to catch the fast and modern bombers coming into use at the time, such as the SM-79, Heinkel He-111 and Dornier Do-17.
     

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  5. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Wow!!! Thanks Gekho. Right click, save...right click, save...right click, save...I'll be doing this all day!!!:cool::notworthy::thumbright:
     
  6. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #6 gekho, Mar 7, 2010
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
    More Pics
     

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  7. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very cool! Try to resize the pics to fit as it makes it difficult to see them.
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Very cool!
     
  9. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Good pics of the Heinkel fighter
    The 112 had an outwardly-retracting undercarriage yet seemed to have a far more useful track width than either of its peers, the Bf109 or the Spitfire. It had something of a gull-wing too, keeping the oleos shorter and stronger. At least one version (can't tell which) had fully-faired wheels-up too; both features were pretty innovative for the period.
     
  10. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Cool stuff here. :)
     
  11. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Frikkin SWEET! :thumbleft:
     
  12. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    Extremely cool.


    Wheels
     
  13. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #13 gekho, Mar 9, 2010
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
    The CR.32 was well liked by its crews, being very maneuverable and having a strong fuselage structure. It was used extensively in the Spanish Civil War. At least 380 took part in the air battles fought over Spain, proving formidable adversaries to the Soviet Polikarpov I-15 and Polikarpov I-16 monoplanes that formed the back bone of the Republican air force. It had its baptism of fire in 1936. On 18 August 1936, the first 12 CR.32 Freccias arrived in Spain and formed the Squadriglia "Gamba di Ferro", "Cucaracha" and "Asso di Bastoni" of 3° Stormo. Three days later, Tenente Vittorino Ceccherelli, Medaglia d'Oro al Valor Militare (Golden Medal to Military Valour) shot down the first enemy aircraft, a Nieuport 52, over Cordoba. In total, the Italian government sent 365–405 C.R.32s to Spain while 127–131 were delivered directly to the Nationalist Aviation units. Six aircraft were captured by Republican FARE, with one sent to Urss for evaluation.

    Thanks to the agile CR.32, the Italians managed to obtain air superiority against its Fuerzas Aéreas de la República Española (Republican) opponents, that mainly flew a motley collection of very different aircraft. The Fiat biplane proved to be effective with Aviacion Legionaria claiming 60 (48 confirmed) modern Russian bombers Tupolev SB-2, once believed impossible to intercept, 242 Polikarpov I-15 biplane fighters and 240 Polikarpov I-16 monoplane fighters, plus another hundred not confirmed. Fiat C.R.32 losses were only 73.

    The nickname of this fighter (Chirri, which means nothing in spanish) comes from the way Italians pronounced "CR.32", that in spanish sounds "chirri".

    Just one more thing; it seems that some people are having problems with the size of the pictures. Can anyone help me and teach me how to resize them?
     

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  14. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    In 1924 Nieuport produced a design for a single seat sesquiplane fighter, the Nieuport-Delage N-42, which was ordered in small numbers for the French air force, entering service in 1927. Nieuport produced two refined versions in 1927, the mixed construction (wood and steel tube) N-52 and the Nieuport-Delage N-62, which had a similar all-wooden structure to the NiD 42. While France preferred the N-62, and purchased it in large numbers, the N-52 won a competition for a new fighter for Spain in 1928.

    In the 30s Nieuport tried to keep pace with the evolution of the same biplane design but faced a number of financial setbacks. After having tried some unsuccessful versions, around 1931, introduced the N-52 as the fastest fighter of these days. Actually the only revolutionary element was the significant reduction of the lower wing surface and the change from the rotary engines (cylinders placed around the shaft) to the line engines (cylinders placed parallel to the shaft). This later feature could reduce the frontal air resistance and allow engines with more cylinders. However, it was doing only some 150 kn which although considered satisfactory before 1930 were largely exceeded by the both biplane and monoplane fighters in 1935. Besides, pilots who flew with it in combat were not happy with its maneuvering abilities

    France did equip some of its air fighter units with the N-52 in the beginning of the 1931 but moved to other types after 1935. The only important export success for the N-52 were 125 planes sold to the Spanish government just before the Spanish Civil War. These planes took part in the first air fighting in the summer of 1936 in Spain and stayed active with the colors of both sides practically until the end of 1937. In Barcelona one squadron of N-52 was active until 1938, defending the city from Italian raids from their bases on the Baleares. The N-52 developed to the N-62 version to correct some maneuvering characteristics of the previous version and the company tried even some other ones but none has flown during WWII as biplanes were considered outdated. Then the factory was merged and the Nieuport fighter versions production was terminated
     

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  15. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Great pics....more 109's please gekho...:D
     
  16. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #16 gekho, Mar 9, 2010
    Last edited: May 5, 2010
    Ok, I hope you like them.
     

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  17. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    :thumbright: keep em coming :D
     
  18. kgambit

    kgambit Active Member

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    Nice photos. :)

    You definitely need to resize a few of the pics as some of them are way too big . :)
     
  19. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    In 1938, the first operational Fiat G.50 aircraft were delivered to the Regia Aeronautica. During the Spanish Civil War 20 G-50s were sent to Spain to reinforce the Aviazione Legionaria, joining the "Gruppo Sperimentale di Caccia". The type proved extremely maneuverable, but they arrive too late to see action. They remained in Spain, being sent to the "Regimiento Mixto de Africa", based at Nador, Morocco.
     

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  20. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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