Condor Legion: The Wehrmacht's Training Ground (Spearhead)

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9780711030435: Condor Legion: The Wehrmacht's Training Ground (Spearhead)

The new ‘Spearhead’ series is designed to look at the cutting edge of war, dealing with units capable of operating completely independently in the forefront of battle. Each volume in the series examines the chosen unit’s origins and history, its organisation and order of battle, its battle history theatre by theatre, its insignia and its markings. Also covered are biographies of the most important commanders of each unit. Each title ends with an assessment of unit effectiveness — as seen by the unit itself, by its opponents and the light of more recent historical research. The books also include a detailed reference section with a critical bibliography, a listing of relevant museums and web sites, information about re-enactment groups and memorials. On 27 July 1936, Adolf Hitler sent the Nationalists 26 German fighter aircraft. He also sent 30 Junkers 52s from Berlin and Stuttgart to Morocco. Over the next couple of weeks the aircraft transported over 15,000 troops to Spain. In September 1936, Lieutenant Colonel Walther Warlimont of the German General Staff arrived as the German commander and military adviser to General Francisco Franco. The following month Warlimont suggested that a German Condor Legion should be formed to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Hitler gave permission and the initial force consisted a Bomber Group of three squadrons of Ju52 bombers; a Fighter Group with three squadrons of He51 fighters; a Reconnaissance Group with two squadrons of He99 and He70 reconnaissance bombers; and a Seaplane Squadron of He59 and He60 floatplanes. Under the command of General Hugo Sperrle, the legion was an autonomous unit responsible only to Franco. Initially equipped with around 100 aircraft and 5,136 men, the legion would eventually total nearly 12,000 men and include ground forces. Naval units (especially Deutschland) took part, too. Sperrle demanded higher performance aircraft from Germany and he eventually received the Heinkel He111, Junkers Stuka and the Messerschmitt Bf109—Spain being the perfect testing ground for this new equipment. The Condor Legion participated in all the major engagements including Brunete, Teruel, Aragon and Ebro. During the war it threw up a number of important names—such as Werner Moelders, credited with fourteen kills, more than any other German pilot and Adolf Galland. It also allowed the Germans to practise the tactics that Blitzkrieg would make famous, such as close-air support. In the Asturias campaign in September 1937, Galland experimented with new bombing tactics. This became known as carpet bombing. German aircraft dropped 16,953,700 kilos of bombs during the war and air units expended 4,327,949 rounds of machine-gun ammunition—the most obvious casualty was the market town of Guernica whose obliteration has been immortalised by Picasso. A total of 19,000 Germans served in the Spanish Civil War. Of these, 298 were lost, with 173 being killed by the enemy. This included 102 aircrew, 27 fighter pilots and 21 anti-aircraft crew. A large number were killed in accidents and others died of illness. The Condor Legion lost 72 aircraft to enemy action. Another 160 were lost in flying accidents. The Condor Legion returned home in 1938 and there was a big parade through Berlin to commemorate its success. For all those interested in military history, the new ‘Spearhead’ series is an excellent account of each of the individual units. Written by acknowledged experts in the subject, each volume is a detailed account of the development and operational record of some of the most famous military units in history

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Westwell, I.
Editorial: Ian Allan (2004)
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Westwell, Ian
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