The Legion Condor is formed

Up until the end of October 1936, all German aid to Spain had been given under conditions of strictest secrecy. The pilots who had gone to the country were officially discharged from the German armed forces and wore civilian clothes. The arrival of the first Soviet aircraft, flown by Soviet aircrews as well as the increasing use of "International Brigades" led Germany to rethink its policy. On 7 November, the Legion I

Condor was established with 4,500 volunteers under the command of rVy. Generalmajor Hugo Sperrle, with Oberst Wolfram Freiherrmn Richthofen " as Chief of Staff. Eventually, the Luftwaffe component of the Legion Condor was to reach the size of a Fliegerhorps and consisted of the following: A/88

Reconnaissance Gruppe with two Staffeln, one with He 70s, the other with He 45s.

Naval reconnaissance Staffel with nine He 59 and one He 60 floatplanes.

Base-airfield operating company at the aircraft park. Anti-aircraft detachment with four batteries of 88 mm guns and two batteries of 20 mm weapons. Fighter Gruppe initially with three (occasionally four) Staffeln equipped with He 51s. Bomber Gruppe initially with three (occasionally four) Staffeln equipped with Ju 52/3ms. Field Hospital.

Signals battalion (with four companies). Ammunition depot. Depot and aircraft supply Abteilung. Operations staff. San/88 Medical Abteilung. VB/88 Experimental bomber Staffel. VJ/88 Experimental fighter Staffel. VS/88 Liaison staff to the Spanish and Italian forces. W/88 Weather station.

AS/88

F/88

J/88

K/88

Laz/88

Ln/88

MA/88

P/88

S/88

Hugo Sperrle

lkirn in 1895.Generalmajor Hugo Spcrrlc (code named "Sander" in Spain) served Willi the German Flying Service during Ihc Firsl World War. lie was appointed tirst commander of llie Legion Condor but proved somewhat of an abrasive character. Alter he returned to Germany in October 1937. he assumed command of Lul'twafTcngnjppcn-kommando .i (later Luftfloilc ,i). In August 1944, at the age of 59. he was transferred to the reserve.

lkirn in 1895.Generalmajor Hugo Spcrrlc (code named "Sander" in Spain) served Willi the German Flying Service during Ihc Firsl World War. lie was appointed tirst commander of llie Legion Condor but proved somewhat of an abrasive character. Alter he returned to Germany in October 1937. he assumed command of Lul'twafTcngnjppcn-kommando .i (later Luftfloilc ,i). In August 1944, at the age of 59. he was transferred to the reserve.

Insigne Char Legion Condor

The first of the new aircraft to arrive in Spain were twenty Ju 52/3ms for K/88 under Major Robert Fuchs, the machines flying from Greifswald by way of Rome and Melilla in Spanish Morocco to Sevilla. Henceforth four transport aircraft were dispatched to Spain from Germany each week and cargo boats were sent on average every five days. Included among the cargo of the latter were sixty He 51s for J/88 (Jagdgruppe 88). Commanded by Major Hubertus Merhardt von Bernegg, the unit comprised three Staffeln-, l.J/88 under Hptm. Werner Palm, 2.J/88 under Obit. Otto Lehmann and 3.J/88 under Obit. Jürgen Roth. After the Gruppe was assembled at Sevilla, the existing He 51 Staffel was redesignated 4.J/88.

The 4. Staffel shot down four enemy aircraft on 12 December and four days later l.J/88 claimed its first victory. By now. however, the appearance of the new Russian fighters mentioned earlier ended a period of easy victories for the German pilots. Both the 1-15 'Chato" and 1-16 "Rata"fighters outclassed the He 51, and although Knüppel had scored eight victories, Eberhardt seven and Trautloft five by this time, relatively few successes were to be achieved during the first three months of 1937. At this time 3J/88's pilots were quartered in a Wohnzug or housing train, a unique facility which comprised nine carriages with a steam locomotive at either end. Three carriages were used as sleeping quarters, two served as a mess hall, another as a kitchen, a seventh as a command centre and the remaining two as storage for spare parts. Aside from providing comfortable living quarters, the train had the useful advantage of being mobile.

RIGHT. A Hclnkcl lie 70 reconnaissance aircraft ol' A/88 being escorted by two Italian Fiat C.R.32 fighters.The Flat could hold its own with the early Russian aircraft that were sent to Spain and was far superior to the He 51.

ISIH.OW: The first type of bomber used by the Legion (xindor's bomber unit, Kampfgruppe 88, was the Ju 52/3m.All such types carried the aircraft code "22".

BELOW AND RIGHT. Often known as a 'Curtiss" by pilots of the Ix:gion Condor, the Polikarpov 1-15 *Chato" was one of the most successful biplane fighters, outclassing the lie 51. Powered by a 700 hp M-2S radial engine, the 1-15 possessed a maximum speed of 360 km/h (224 mph) and was highly manouvreable. It carried an armament of four 7-62 mm machine-guns.

Polikarpov Chato

BELOW AND RIGHT. Often known as a 'Curtiss" by pilots of the Ix:gion Condor, the Polikarpov 1-15 *Chato" was one of the most successful biplane fighters, outclassing the lie 51. Powered by a 700 hp M-2S radial engine, the 1-15 possessed a maximum speed of 360 km/h (224 mph) and was highly manouvreable. It carried an armament of four 7-62 mm machine-guns.

Condor Legion AircraftVilla Del Prado

Inferior in every aspect of performance to the Soviet fighters, the He 51 could also be easily outpaced by the fast new Tupolev SB-2 bomber. Another problem was that it possessed no radio, and its guns had to be manually cocked after each burst of fire. Fighter pilots, rather than protecting the bombers, were often forced to seek the shelter of their charges' guns. Distressed at their inability to fight on equal terms, Major Merhardt von Bernegg sought an interview with Sperrle at which he refused to send his pilots into the air against such overwhelming odds. He also warned that if he were directly ordered to do so he would demand to be relieved of his command and returned to Germany. The result of this unpleasant confrontation was that four prototype Bf 109s, the V3. V4. V5 and V6, plus the He 112 V3, were sent to VJ/88 in Spain early in December 1936. The Bf 109 V4 crashed, but Trautloft continued to test the other Messerschmitts and Lt. Günther Radusch the He 112.

Meanwhile the He 51s of J/88 were forced to operate as ground attack aircraft, a role in which they were to have some success. The unit also scored three aerial victories on 4 January 1937.

By early February 1937, l.J/88 was at Escalona, 2.J/88 at Almorox, 3.J/88 at Villa del Prado and 4.J/88 at León. On 11 February, Lt. Rehanh was killed in an accident and next day, Hptm. Palm and Lt. Hepe were both shot down in flames, though they both managed to parachute to safety in friendly territory near Madrid.

ABOVE'. At the end of the Spanish Civil War a number of victory parades were held in various Spanish cities. For one of these, held at Sanjurjo/Zaragoza, ten captured Republican I-16s were flown in to the city. Here, Obit. Helmut-Felix Bolz of 3 J/88 (3 victories in Spain) stands in front of one of them.

RIGHT. With a maximum speed of 420 km/li (261 mph) at 5.000 m (16.500 ft) thelbpolev SB-2 Katiuska bomber was faster than Jagdgruppe 88-s first fighter, the He 51.This aircraft was captured by the Nationalists and repainted in that air force's markings.

Hannes Trautloft Spain Civil War

Messerschmitt Bf 109 V3

Flown by Obit. Hannes Trautloft of VJ/88 from Sevilla/Tablada airfield, December 1936. This aircraft, W.Nr. 760, was one of four Bf 109 prototypes sent to Spain for testing under operational conditions, the others being the V4, V5 and V6. When flown by Trautloft, the V3 carried the "Green Heart" badge later used by JG 54 which he commanded from August 1940.

RIGHT. Hannes Trautloft (centre) standing in front of the Bf 109 V3 after deliver)- to Spain in December 1936.The aircraft had a large green heart painted below the cockpit.

Condor Legion Avila

UUT: The Bf 109V4. D IAI.Y. was one of four prototypes of Mcsserschmitt's famous li&luer to be sent to Spain.This aircraft was destroyed in a take-off accident on 10 December 1936, having been allocated the code 6-2 in Spain.

RIGHT. Hannes Trautloft (centre) standing in front of the Bf 109 V3 after deliver)- to Spain in December 1936.The aircraft had a large green heart painted below the cockpit.

HI-I.OW: The poor performance of the He 51 in combat with the Republican 1-15 and 1-16 fighters led Germany to send prototypes of its newest fighters to Spain.The first Bf 109 prototype delivered was the V3 which arrived in December 1936-The code 6-1 was applied and the aircraft test flown by Obit. Hannes Trautloft for the first time on 14 December from Scvilla-Tablada airfield. A total of four Bf 109 prototypes arrived in Spain, the V4 being destroyed in a take-off accident on 10 December 1936 with Uffz. Erwin Kley at the controls.

ABOVE-. The He 112 V3 arrived in Spain in November 1936 where it was lest flown by Obit. Giiniher "Hps' Radusch.Thc prototype, which had been built without armament, had been fitted with an experimental engine-mounted 20 mm C/30 L cannon for tests. Shown here atTablada airfield, the aircraft was given the code 5#1 and was later flown operationally against Republican armour by liffz. Max Schulz of 1./J88 who destroyed three tanks.

RIGHT. A crowd of Chilians watch as the engine of \l. Ekkchard Hefter's He 51 fails just after lake off from Vitoria during the transfer to Avila on 28 September 1936. Shortly afterwards, the aircraft's left wing struek the tower of Vitoria town hall and Heftcr crashed to his death. He was the first German pilot to be lost in the Spanish Civil War.

s of Lt. Hefter s He 51 lie in front

A iinc-up of the first He 51s to arrive in Spain pictured at Salamanca airfield.This photo was taken in early 1937 after the. aircraft type code had been applied to "5".

Schleissheim Airfield

One of my bitterest moments...

WOLF-HEINRICII FREIIIERR VON HOUWALD_

A iinc-up of the first He 51s to arrive in Spain pictured at Salamanca airfield.This photo was taken in early 1937 after the. aircraft type code had been applied to "5".

Wolf-Heinrich von Houwald was soon to

W:>lf-Hcinrich von Houwald entered the army on 1 April discover that the He 51 was no match for the

1931. and transferred shortly afterwards to the Deutsche Russian fighters used by the Spanish

Verhebrsfltegerscbule at Schleissheim where he learned Republican Air Force, to fly. Between 25 April and 3 June 1933 he was at Lipezk. He joined Jagdgescbwader "Ricbtbofen" on 4 March 1935 and became one of the first six pilots to be sent to Spain. Von Houwald ended the Spanish Civil War with five victories. He later led II./JG 231 and then formed DLJG 52 and commanded this unit until he was shot down and killed on 24 July 1940.

-We arrived at Salamanca, the second stopping place on our way to Escalona, a small city near the Madrid Front. Salamanca was the first combat airfield I saw. We took a big chance in actually finding it because everything, including the aircraft, was very well camouflaged. We refuelled and took off for Escalona, an airfield that we heard was incredibly small and hard to find. It lay so close to the front that it was quite probable that we would engage the enemy. Nevertheless we found it after half an hour and landed. The airfield was so poor that we were worried whether our Spanish comrades would be able to fly our aircraft from there. Next day I had one of my most bitter moments. Full of enthusiasm and idealism, five Spaniards proudly climbed into our aircraft.They did not want foreigners to fight for them while they had to stay on the ground with nothing to do. But as they returned, my aircraft crashed on landing. Fortunately, the other Heinkels managed to land safely. From now on, without an aircraft. I had to stay on the ground while the others each shot down two or three enemy in short order. I had nothing better to do than to wait for new aircraft to come from "Heim<tt"(\\oxnc). I kept thinking that they would arrive too late because the Rojos would be forced to surrender in front of Franco's massive offensive.

"On Friday 13 November 1936, we encountered the Ratas for the first time and a wild melee resulted.There were about 24 of them, only about nine of us. We shot down five of them, but what were these victories when compared with the loss of our Staffelfuhrer, Obit. Eberhardt and I.t. Ilenrid. Hcnrici had a brilliant career in front of him, having already shot down three enemy aircraft in one day.This only served to show that our good old He 51 s were too slow compared with the new Ratas - they could play with us as they wanted. Furthermore the Soviet" Martin Bombers" which were arriving daily, were 50 km/h (30 mph) faster than us and the people were scared of them. Feverishly, we waited for the Bf 109s to arrive from Germany.

"Nevertheless, in spite of their technical advantage, the Soviet fighters had not attacked us with determination since 13 November.'They respected us and the main target became our bombers which we had to escort.This also happened on the northern front when I was posted to 2 .J/88 led by Hptm. Lehmann."

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