Spanish Civil War Nationalist Bombers and Transport Aircraft

Discussion in 'Between the wars 1918-1939' started by gekho, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    In the years between the world wars, governments and military leaders theorized about the future of aerial warfare. But during this almost two-decade period, there was only one major military conflict--the Spanish Civil War. Although only a few countries officially participated, they found it invaluable preparation for World War II.

    The Spanish Civil War had its beginnings in Spain’s elections of February 1936. The Republicans, consisting of the Communists, Socialists, and Basque and Catalonian separatists, won by a narrow margin. Under the leadership of Jose Calvo Sotelo, the right wing (monarchists, the military, and the Fascist Party) continued to oppose the elected government. In July, the Republicans arrested, then assassinated Sotelo, ostensibly in retaliation for the killing of a policeman by the Fascists. The right wing, now united as Nationalists, used this as their justification for launching a revolution. On July 17, 1936, General Francisco Franco and soldiers loyal to him seized a Spanish Army outpost in Morocco. In Spain, other Nationalist troops quickly seized other garrisons. A junta of generals, led by Franco, declared themselves the legal government, and the war officially began. The world was forced to take sides. Many countries, including the United States and Great Britain, chose to stay neutral, believing that involvement would lead to war. However, individuals from neutral countries did volunteer with the Republican’s International Brigade, feeling the cause was worth fighting for. A group of three Americans pilots formed the Patrolla Americana, which eventually grew into a unit of 20 pilots. The Soviet Union, recognizing a potential Communist nation threatened by fascism, was quick to offer aid, including equipment, soldiers, and senior advisors. Many of their planes, including the Polikarpov I-15 and I-16, formed the backbone of the Republican Air Force. And as a gesture to protect itself from being surrounded on three sides by Fascist nations, France provided some aircraft and artillery.

    Because a non-intervention agreement in 1936 forbade sympathetic nations to provide airplanes to the competing sides, it was difficult for the Republican government to develop a solid aviation program. It bought small amounts of aircraft where it could, which meant that its air force was composed of small numbers of a lot of different airplanes, from different companies and countries. The Republican government also accepted civilian aircraft, such as the Lockheed Orion, which it could then adapt to military use. There was also a Boeing P-26 that had been brought over as a demonstration model for the Spanish Air Force before the war and was "inherited" by the Republicans.

    The Fascist nations found ways to avoid the rules of the non-intervention agreement. Benito Mussolini in Italy was quick to support Franco and sent Spain more than 700 airplanes and troops during the conflict. But it was Germany that was most instrumental in the war. Only days after the war erupted, Franco had sent a request for help to Adolph Hitler.

    For Germany, the Spanish Civil War came at an opportune time. The nation was initiating a rearmament program, in violation of the World War I peace treaty. A war in Spain would distract the world’s governments from this transgression. Plus, Spain had raw materials that Germany could use. Hitler also liked the idea of threatening France with a Fascist government to its south. But most importantly, Spain would provide an opportunity to test equipment and train troops. Although Hitler was careful not to send enough troops to make the world perceive them as a combatant nation, 19,000 German "volunteers" gained valuable combat experience in Spain. Because the Nationalists already had strong army support, Germany sent over mostly aviators from the Luftwaffe.

    The Germans were organized into the Condor Legion that was equipped with the most modern airplanes and a specially trained staff. Many of the newest airplanes were tested in real combat situations, among them the Heinkel He.111, and the Messerschmitt Bf.109. The Legion was divided into bomber, fighter, reconnaissance, seaplane, communication, medical, and anti-aircraft battalions, and also included an experimental flight group. The chief of staff was Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen, a cousin of "The Red Baron."

    The first challenge the German Condor Legion faced was the 20,000 Nationalist troops stranded at the outpost in Morocco, prevented by a Spanish Navy blockade that was loyal to the Republicans from joining the remainder of the Nationalist Army in Seville. The Condor Legion succeeded in evacuating the troops by air—something that had never been done before. On August 6, twenty Junkers Ju-52 transports arrived in Morocco. Over the next two months, the Condor Legion transported all the Nationalist troops to Seville, with the loss of only one airplane. U.S. General Hap Arnold later described the airlift as the most important air power development of the interwar period.
     

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  2. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    After the evacuation, the Condor Legion settled into other jobs. It flew harassment raids against Republican forces and supported ground forces. And it initiated both strategic and tactical bombings. While military thinkers of the time were debating the validity of aerial bombing, the German troops in Spain were obtaining practical experience. The Condor Legion used tactical bombing after Soviet airplanes began arriving in October 1936 to strengthen the Republican side. Bombings would weaken the troops for the ground attack. In Bilbao, in the north of Spain, saturation bombing was used to shatter the Republican "Iron Belt"—a 35-kilometer (22-mile)-long line, leaving holes open for advancements; it also prevented Republican reinforcements from reaching the gaps.

    But it was the strategic bombing attacks that attracted the most attention. In the beginning, methods were crude; Republican bombers were given tourist maps to help find their targets. But soon, the attacks became routine. Yet there were no riots or uprisings as theorists had anticipated. Instead, civilian resistance and resolve on both sides were strengthened. One British observer noted that the Spanish would "blacken every balcony so as to get a good view of bursting shrapnel."

    Of all the bombing raids, it was the attack on , a city in the north of Spain, which came to symbolize the horrors of aerial bombing. Guernica was the centre of Basque identity and culture, boasting the parliament building and an oak tree under which Basque leaders annually swore to uphold the liberties of the people. For three hours on the afternoon of April 26, 1937, planes from the Condor Legion dropped 100,000 pounds (almost 91 million kilograms) of bombs on the city and strafed citizens in the street by machine guns. Republican sources reported 1,500 dead. The only military target in town, a bridge, remained untouched. Instead, it appeared to many, including a London Times correspondent, that "the object of the bombardment was seemingly the demoralization of the civilian population and the destruction of the cradle of the Basque race."

    Everyone was shocked by the attack, which raised ethical questions all over the world. For many years, the Nationalists denied involvement and claimed that the Basques had bombed themselves for propaganda. They did not admit their involvement until they released reports in the 1970s, after Franco’s death. The Republicans used the tragedy to gain support, displaying Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernicain the Spanish Pavilion at the 1938 Paris World’s Fair. But in the end, the greatest effect of the bombing was to make some European nations fear they might be the next Guernica and thus, they capitulated to Hitler’s demands at Munich in September 1938.

    At the Nuremberg trials following World War II, Luftwaffe commandant Hermann Goering said, "Spain gave me an opportunity to try out my young air force." The experience gained in Spain helped Germany in the early months of the war far more than the desktop theories and controlled tests of other nations. Having noted poor results from strategic bombing, Germany focused its funds elsewhere. Many planes were tested in real combat situations. And Germany also learned that even with air superiority, a bomber force still required a fighter escort.

    But most instrumental were the 19,000 Luftwaffe personnel who rotated through the Condor Legion until the Republicans surrendered in January 1939, leaving the Fascists and Franco in power. Several months later, these veterans of the Spanish Civil War would be flying over Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, and the rest of Europe--an experienced, well-trained air force fighting for Hitler.
     
  3. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The Do-17 baptism of fire came during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), where it outpaced most enemy fighters and performed well. The Spanish nicknamed the Dornier the Bacalaos ("Codfish"). In early 1937, mass production began on the Do-17E and Do-17F series. The Do-17 F-1 was to replace the Heinkel He-70 as a high-flying fast reconnaissance aircraft, while the Do-17 E-1 was to supplant the Legion Condor's aging Heinkel He-111B bomber. However, more modern Soviet-supplied Republican aircraft were capable of intercepting the E and F variants, which prompted an upgrade of the Dornier's defensive armament.
    Do-17E variant.

    Among the units committed to the Franco's cause was Hauptmann Rudolf Freiherr Von Moreau's 4.K/88. On 6 January 1937, it was decided by Erhard Milch, Albert Kesselring and Ernst Udet that the Legion should have more modern aircraft. Soon 12 Do 17 E-1s, as well as He 111 B-1s and Ju 86 D-1s were dispatched to serve in Spain. The unit was named VB/88 (Versuchsbomben Staffel, meaning Experimental Bomber Squadron). VB/88s Dorniers were involved in a strike around Guernica, but that particular unit's objective was a bridge, rather than civilian areas. VB/88 dropped 8 tonnes (9 tons) of bombs, while K/88 added 37 tonnes (41 tons) over the city itself causing the deaths of about 1,500 people. The bombing of VB/88 straddled the bridge. The only other target hit by the German bombers that day was the rail station. On 8 July 1937, the Dorniers flew multiple sorties to protect Nationalist forces now threatening the capital, Madrid. At this point, the Junkers Ju-86s had been withdrawn and replaced by the Do-17 Fs. In the spring of 1938, another unit, 1.A/88, equipped with Do-17s, also arrived in Spain. A total of 27 Do 17E, F and P variants were part of the Condor Legion.
     

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  4. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #4 gekho, Mar 10, 2010
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
    The Spanish Civil War was to be the toughest test yet on the Do-17 bomber. It proved to be fast, in fact was fast enough to outpace any enemy fighter, although it could not match Germany's own Bf109, but one important lesson was learnt. It was vulnerable to enemy gunfire, especially in the forward section. The nose had been shortened on the Do-17E and the Do-17F variants, but the firing arc of the forward gunner was restricted somewhat and the narrow diameter of the fuselage of the Do17 which was how it became known as the "Flying Pencil" meant cramped conditions for the cockpit area of the aircraft.
     

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  5. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The bomber was field tested in the Spanish Civil War, where it proved inferior to the Heinkel He 111. Four Ju 86D-1 arrived in Spain in early February 1937, but after a few sorties one of them (coded 26-1) was shot down on 23 February by Republican fighters with the loss of three crewmen killed and one captured. A replacement aircraft was sent from Germany, but in the summer of 1937 another D-1 was lost in an accident, and the three remaining planes were sold to the Nationalist air forces.
     

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  6. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Among the many German aircraft designs that participated in the Legion Condor and Spanish Civil War, a single Ju-87 A-0 (the V4 prototype) was allocated serial number 29-1 and was assigned to the VJ/88, the experimental Staffel of the Legion's fighter wing. The aircraft was secretly loaded onto the Spanish ship Usaramo and departed Hamburg harbor on the night of 1 August 1936, arriving in Cadiz five days later. The only known information pertaining to its combat career in Spain is that it was piloted by Unteroffizier Herman Beuer, and took part in the Nationalist offensive against Bilbao in 1937. Presumably the aircraft was then secretly returned to Germany.

    In January 1938 three Ju-87 A-s arrived. Several problems became evident - the spatted undercarriage sank into muddy airfield surfaces, and the spats were temporarily removed. In addition, the maximum 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb load could only be carried if the gunner vacated his seat, and the bomb load was therefore restricted to 250 kg (550 lb). These aircraft supported the Nationalist forces and carried out anti-shipping missions until they returned to Germany in October 1938. The A-1s were replaced by five Ju 87 B-1s. With the war coming to an end they found little to do and were used to support Heinkel He 111s attacking Republican positions. As the Ju 87 A-0 had been, the B-1s were returned discreetly to the Reich.

    The experience of the Spanish Civil War had been invaluable - air and ground crews perfected their skills, and equipment was evaluated under combat conditions. Although no Ju 87s had been lost in Spain, however, the Ju-87 had not been tested against numerous and well-coordinated fighter opposition, and this lesson was to be learned later at great cost to the Stuka crews.
     

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  7. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    In February 1937, the German Condor Legion began flying in Spain, in support of Franco's Nationalists in the Civil War. It could fly faster than many fighters, when it was originally introduced, and proved an effective troop support aircraft and bomber over Spain. The B-2, equipped with 950hp DB 600CG engines, met considerable success in this conflict, infamously with the indiscriminate bombing of Guernica in July. As a result, the Luftwaffe drew exaggerated conclusions from this experience, thinking that masses of medium bombers like the He 111 would be irresistable.
     

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  8. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #8 gekho, Mar 11, 2010
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
    More pictures of this fantastic bomber.
     

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  9. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Development of the A.100 was in response to a Czech Air Force requirement of 1932 for a uniform replacement for the A.11s, Aero Ap.32s, and Letov Š.16s then in service. Work began with a revision of the Aero A.430 that quickly became quite a different aircraft. Of standard biplane configuration, the A.100 was a somewhat ungainly-looking aircraft and somewhat obsolescent by the time of its first flight in 1933, a member of the final generation of biplane military aircraft to be designed in Europe. Nevertheless, since the only other competitor for the air force contract, the Praga E.36 had not flown by the close of tenders, the A.100 was ordered for production. A total of 44 were built, in two batches.

    The Aero A.101 was a biplane light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft built in Czechoslovakia during the 1930s. It was an attempt to improve the Aero A.100 by enlarging it and fitting it with a more powerful engine. However, even with 33% more power, performance was actually inferior, and the Czech Air Force was not interested in the type. Production did result, however, when 50 were ordered by Spanish Republican forces for use in the Spanish Civil War. Some of these aircraft were captured by Nationalists while en route and used against their original buyers. Local demand eventually was forthcoming, and a re-engined version was produced as the Ab.101.
     

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  10. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Italy deployed six BR.20s to Spain in June 1937 for use by the Aviazione Legionaria to fight in support of Franco's Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, with a further seven aircraft sent to Spain in July 1938. They took part in bombing raids over Teruel and at the Battle of the Ebro, proving to be sturdy and accurate bombers. The BR.20s were fast enough to generally avoid interception from the Republican Polikarpov I-16s and I-15s. Losses were very low; nine of the 13 BR.20s sent to Spain survived to the end of the war when they were handed over to the Spanish State to serve with the Ejército del Aire (EdA). While the Cicognas were successful, just 13 examples were sent to Spain compared to at least 99 SM.79s, which meant that the Sparviero was almost the Italian standard bomber, especially on day missions.
     

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  11. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The SM.79 saw action for the first time when serving with the Aviazione Legionaria, an Italian unit sent to assist Franco's Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War. The “Sparviero” started its operational service at the end of 1936 when 8° Stormo B.T. (Bombardamento Tattico), with Gruppi XXVII° and XXVIII°, under the command of Tenente Colonnello Riccardo Seidl, was sent to Spain. Deployed to the Balearic Islands, the unit named “Falchi delle Baleari” (Baleari Hawks) and operated against Catalonia and the main cities of western Spain, attacking the Second Spanish Republic. During the three years of the civil conflict, over 100 SM.79s served as bombers and only four were lost. Thanks to the experience gained in Spain, the SM.79-II, introduced in October 1939, formed the backbone of the Italian bomber force during World War II.
     

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  12. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The main career of the SM.81 started on 28 July, 1936. On a mission dedicated to support General Francisco Franco and his "alzamiento" (uprising) against the Republican government at the start of the Spanish Civil War; 12 SM.81s under the guise of Spanish civilian ownership took off from Elmas, near Cagliari, to fly to Morocco carrying 63 non-uniformed troops led by Colonel Ivanoe Bonomi. The anticipated ferry flight was around 1,135 km (705 mi), but several problems occurred en route.

    The journey should have been flown in less than four and a half hours at 260-270 km/h (160-170 mph), but on encountering strong headwinds at 1,000 m (3,280 ft) they climbed to 3,500 m (11,480 ft). the best cruise altitude for the Alfa Romeo 125 engines. After five hours they were still an hour from the final destination of Melilla, Morocco. Trying to maintain tight formation despite the clouds was also fuel-costly, with non-linear flight, and only nine aircraft managed to land at Melilla. One ditched in the sea, while another crash-landed and a third force-landed without damage in Algeria. The remaining aircraft arrived with an average of only 130 L (34 US gal) of fuel remaining in the tanks, the most being the 200 L (53 US gal) left. This aircraft was sent to search for the missing SM.81s. Being only 3% of the total fuel capacity, this was enough for just a few minutes of flight and meant that, with only a slightly stronger headwind, all of them would have been lost or forced to land in Algeria. The aircraft were valuable assets and soon put to use as troop-transports, and bombers.

    Franco's Spanish Army of Africa troops were fundamental in raising the fortunes of the alzamiento which had hitherto been mainly beaten by the Republican loyalists. On 6 August 1936, African troops were transported to Spain aboard four merchant ships. The threat of the SM.81s and their bombs, once reinforced by the Italian ship RM Morandini, were sufficient to keep the mainly Republican Spanish fleet at bay, which otherwise would have been able to prevent any Franchist convoy reaching Spain. On 9 August, SM.81s under the command of Ettore Muti destroyed the Spanish Navy's fuel and ammunition reserves in the vicinity, forcing the fleet to use northern bases, and further preventing interference with the sea-transport of Hispano-Moroccan forces.

    After these exploits, the initial SM.81s were reinforced by four squadrons: 213, 214, 215, and 216 in two Groups (XXXIV and XXXV), and by 251 and 252 squadrons for XXV ("Pipistrelli") Group. Throughout the war, SM.81s were used as attack aircraft as well as transport and bombers. Though some missions were flown with Fiat CR.32 fighter escorts, unescorted day missions were made possible by flying in tight formation with mutual machine gun protection, and by the aircraft's ability to fly on instruments while in cloud cover. Sorties were increasingly flown by night after the arrival of Polikarpov I-15 and I-16s in Spain, by which point only seven of the original nine aircraft were still serviceable, having released 210 tonnes (230 tons) of bombs and contributed (together with Junkers Ju 52s) to 868 flights transporting Morocco's troops.

    After thousands of hours flown, at least 64 surviving SM.81s were left in Spain in the G-12 Group at the end of 1938. One example was lost near the end of the war along with the lives of many senior officers, and the precise total number of SM.81 losses is not known.
     

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  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    FANTASTIC PIC!!! MANY, MANY THANKS!!!!
     
  14. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #14 gekho, Mar 12, 2010
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
    More pics of this great bomber
     

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  15. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #15 gekho, Mar 12, 2010
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
    During the same time, at the request of Oberst (later Generalfeldmarschall) Wolfram von Richthofen, chief of staff of the Legion Kondor, five aircraft had been deployed to Spain as a part of the Legion 'Kondor, intended to be used as tactical bombers.

    In their intended role, the Hs 123s proved to be somewhat of a failure, hampered by their small bomb capacity and short range. Instead, the Hs 123s based in Seville were used for ground support, a role in which their range was not such a detriment, and where the ability to accurately place munitions was more important than carrying a large load. The combat evaluation of the Hs 123 demonstrated a remarkable resiliency in close-support missions, proving able to absorb a great deal of punishment including direct hits on the airframe and engine. The Nationalists in Spain were suitably impressed with the Hs 123 under battle conditions, purchasing the entire evaluation flight and ordering an additional 11 aircraft from Germany. The Spanish Hs-123s were known as "Angelito" (dear angel or little angel), and at least one Hs 123 was in service with the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) after 1945.

    The last picture shows a line of Messerschmitt Bf-109A "Antones" and another one of Henschel Hs-123 "Angelitos".
     

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  16. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #16 gekho, Mar 12, 2010
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
    In 1930, Ernst Heinkel began developing an aircraft for the Reichsmarine. To conceal the true military intentions, the aircraft was officially a civil aircraft. The He 59B landplane prototype was the first to fly, an event that took place in September 1931, but it was the He 59A floatplane prototype that paved the way for the He 59B initial production model, of which 142 were delivered in three variants. The Heinkel He 59 was a pleasant aircraft to fly; deficiencies noted were the weak engine, the limited range, the small load capability and insufficient armament. The aircraft was of a mixed-material construction. The wings were made of a two-beam wooden frame, where the front was covered with plywood and the rest of the wing was covered with fabric. The box-shaped fuselage had a fabric-covered steel frame. The tail section was covered with lightweight metal sheets. The keels of the floats were used as fuel tanks - each one holding 900 L (238 US gal) of fuel. Together with the internal fuel tank, the aircraft could hold a total of 2,700 L (713 US gal) of fuel. Two fuel tanks could also be placed in the bomb bay, bringing the total fuel capacity up to 3,200 L (845 US gal). The propeller was fixed-pitch with four blades.

    During the first months of World War II, the He 59 was used as a torpedo- and minelaying aircraft. Between 1940 and 1941 the aircraft was used as a reconnaissance aircraft, and in 1941-42 as a transport, air-sea rescue, and training aircraft. The trainer models survived slightly longer in service than operational models, but all had been retired or destroyed by 1944. Some aircraft were operated by the Condor Legion in Spain during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 as coastal reconnaissance and torpedo floatplanes.
     

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  17. al49

    al49 Well-Known Member

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    Hola gekho,
    very nice detailed presentation, not only for Nationalist air-force but also for the Republican.
    Just as a very little contribution, I add a couple of pictures of the SM79
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Cheers
    Alberto
     
  18. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Hi Alberto

    Thank you for the pictures. If you have more please share them with us. I have uploaded many pictures of italian aircrafts. If you want to see them, chek my others threads.
     
  19. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    American Airlines bought eight V-1As and the V-1 prototype (after it had been modified for two pilot operation) and they entered service in 1934. By 1936 they were sold having been replaced with twin-engined aircraft. A number of aircraft were operated by private companies or individuals. One V-1A was fitted with twin floats and sold to the Soviet Union. One aircraft was used in an attempt to make the first New York-London-New York return flight. It was later used by Nationalist forces in Spain. Seven former American Airlines aircraft were used by the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, with machine-guns and under-fuselage bomb racks fitted. Four of the aircraft were captured by the Nationalists.

    Seven aircrafts were built as executive transports for private owners. Of these, three were purchased by the Spanish Republicans for use in the Spanish Civil War. Two of these aircraft were captured by the Nationalists when the ship carrying them (along with four Vultee V-1s, a Fairchild 91 and a Lockheed Electra) was captured at sea. These two Deltas were used as Transports by Franco's forces, while the third Delta was used by the Republican airline Lineas Aéreas Postales Españolas (LAPE) until the end of the civil war when it was handed over to Franco's air force.
     

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  20. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #20 gekho, Mar 13, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2010
    Junkers W 34 was a German-built, single-engine, passenger- and transport aircraft. Developed in the 1920s, it was taken into service in 1926. The passenger version could take a pilot and five passengers. The aircraft was developed from the Junkers W 33. Further development led to the Junkers Ju 46.
     

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