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Spanish Civil war - Germany and Italy


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#1 von_noobie

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 07:53 AM

Have just started reading a book my boss lent me "The Longest Siege Tobruk the battle that saved north Africa" by Robert Lyman and while I dont hold unwavering faith in the complete accuracy of the numbers mentioned in the book it does state on page 18 that the Italians lost some 3,400 machine guns, 1,400 mortars, 1,800 artillery pieces, 6,800 vehicles, 160 tanks and 760 air craft, Either destroyed or left behind. On top of this thy also lost about 20% of the men that went to Spain.

It gives me the impression that rather then helping the Italians improve them selves for a future war it actually put them at a disadvantage, It played no part that I can see in improving there officer corps or training for there troops and cost them a great amount of equipment which badly affected there attack into Egypt.

While on the other hand it proved extremely useful to the Germans, Especially for the Luftwaffe.

While I dont intend to turn this into a WI thread (Feel free to shift it to the AH section should it become so) I am curious to know if this equipment might have made a difference? Most importantly the Mortars, Artillery and vehicles.. Something they lacked a lot of in NA.

#2 PzJgr

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 01:47 PM

The question would be if Italy went in with the goal of testing out new men, equipment and tactics. That was what Germany did. I'm not an expert on the Italian military but it seems that all Italy did was provide support to Franco. Not take a lead and use the Civil War as a stage for learning. As for the equipment being of use later on.....I would think that all of that equipment, like Germany's, would have been obsolete. If anything, Italy did not learn from their participation in the Civil War and paid the price for it
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#3 harolds

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 04:02 PM

There's a lot of things that the Italians lacked in N. Africa. In addition to what PzJgr mentioned, they lacked: 1. good modern weapons. 2. A solid industrial base on which to be able to partake in modern war. 3. A proper military ethic. Their officers lived like princes and didn't know their job, while the EM lived like chattle. 4. A population that supported the war.
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#4 steverodgers801

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 05:02 PM

A very good book is "Mussolini and his generals". It discusses the debates the Italian military had on the armed forces. A major drain on the forces was the occupation of Ethiopia.

#5 B-17engineer

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 05:17 AM

There's a lot of things that the Italians lacked in N. Africa. In addition to what PzJgr mentioned, they lacked: 1. good modern weapons. 2. A solid industrial base on which to be able to partake in modern war. 3. A proper military ethic. Their officers lived like princes and didn't know their job, while the EM lived like chattle. 4. A population that supported the war.


So then this dispels the idea they were testing new technology in Spain? Or could they have and it was still just obsolete?
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#6 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 06:18 AM

AFAIK they learned the wrong lessons, or to be more correct what they learned was not enough to shift the solidly entrenched interests of the FIAT-Ansaldo group and stimulate the very conservative officer corps..
- The success of the CR 32 against he more advanced I-16, thanks to better pilot training and inappropriate tactics on the repubblican side justified the CR 42, that ended up as the most numerous Italian WW2 plane, but was obsolete from inception.
- The limited success role played by armour didn't make getting a true tank (the L3 tankette was all the Italians had before 1940) and a high power AT gun (the low velocity 47mm Bohler they used is not comparable with similar caliber French, Tchech, Japanese or Soviet guns in the AT role) a priority.
- Level bombing attacks against ships were still considered effective based on experience in Spain.
- The poor showing of the troops, especially when going head to head against the highly motivated international brigades, was igored as an "isolated incident".

Had the above "missed lessons" not been ignored Italy may well have had in 1940 the force it had in 1942 (no industrial miracles are required to get there just realistic training), and ..... (what-if stuff deleted).

The resources spent in Spain, and before that in Ethiopia, were a big drain on the economy , so the Army went to war imn 1940 with what was basically, with very few exceptions, 1918 era equipment. I don't think the limited amounts of equipment sent to Spain was the issue, though it was the best they currently had, it was the overall cost of the two campaigns coupled with a terrible, and corrupt, military industry that brought about the general lack of modern equipment in 940.
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#7 steverodgers801

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 04:00 PM

The Soviets also learned the wrong lessons in Spain. Pavlov an armor expert decided large tank formations were not practible and convinced Stalin to disband the Soviet tank formations, which is a major reason why Pavlov was shot at the start of Barbarossa as commander of the western front.

#8 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 08:04 AM

The Soviets also learned the wrong lessons in Spain. Pavlov an armor expert decided large tank formations were not practible and convinced Stalin to disband the Soviet tank formations, which is a major reason why Pavlov was shot at the start of Barbarossa as commander of the western front.

I agree the Soviets failed to get the right lessons but at the start of Barbarossa there were still plenty of tank divisons and mecanized corps around, they failed to be decisive due to lack of training, logistics, and planning and command problems but they often gave the Germans a big scare. The dibanding of the surving divisions into brigades came in late 1941 well afer the attack, they were later (IIRC early 1942) formed up into divison sized "corps" and corps sized "armies".
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#9 steverodgers801

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 08:34 PM

Yes the Soviets started reforming them after France fell, The Tuhkachevsky based corps were disbanded around 1938 I still believe that the bad advice was a major reason for
Pavlov being shot. Making that major of a mistake was often had a fatal result.

#10 Kai-Petri

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 06:20 AM

From Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia....anish_Civil_War

The Italian Government sent large amounts of material aid to the Nationalists. This aid included:

one cruiser, four destroyers, and two submarines;
763 aircraft, including 64 Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 bombers, at least 90 Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bombers, 13 Br.20 bombers, 16 Ca.310 bombers, 44 assault planes, at least 20 seaplanes, more than 300 Fiat CR.32 fighters, 70 Romeo 37 fighters, 28 Romeo 41 fighters and 10 other fighter planes, and 68 reconnaissance planes;
1,801 artillery pieces, 1,426 heavy and medium mortars, 6,791 trucks, and 157 tanks;
320,000,000 small arms ammunition, 7,514,537 artillery rounds, 1,414 aircraft motors, 1,672 tons of aircraft bombs and 240,747 rifles.[

.........

I recall reading that Italy would have left the artillery pieces to Spain, not sure what happened to the planes.
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#11 von_noobie

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 06:29 AM

From the book I read (mentioned in first post) it does state that the equipment was left behind, If that mean's all of it or most of it I'm not sure.. But I do get the feeling that there biggest loss would have been with the artillery, mortar's and vehicles (Apparently they had enough to equip a few brigades, Maybe a division for mobile warfare, not the 250,000 Mussolini wanted) and possibly the air craft?

When considering Italy's industry what they sent and lost in Spain is quite substantial. But still not as substantial as there failure to learn from there lack of decent training.

#12 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 02:35 PM

The Itaian land forces Corpo Truppe Volontarie (CTV ) included one regular army division (Littorio at the time a fully motorized, but not armoured ,unit) and 3 Camicie Nere fascist volunters units plus a lot of support units (mostly artillery).
That size a force is likely to use up a lot of equipment and ammo in two years of combat. AFAIK a lot of equipment was left behind but not all.
From the list you made:
one cruiser, four destroyers, and two submarines - the two submarines are Archimede and Torricelli but AFAIK no cruiser was trasfered, the four "destroyers" are likely to be Aquila and Falco scouts and Poerio and Pepe 900t WW1 designs, IMO none of the "destroyers" would have made it to 1940 in the Regia Marina as all of their sisters had been scrapped by then.
763 aircraft ..., I think the figure refers to all planes sent including those flown by Italian crews, not just the ones actually transfered to Franco's air force. AFAIK no Spannish squadrons were operating Italian types (except the CR 32) in 1939 so it's likely some were brought back.
1,801 artillery pieces, 1,426 heavy and medium mortars ... Ok for the arty (even if it looks a bit high) but "heavy mortars" ? AFAIK the Italian army had none to send, more likely most of that 1426 were 45mm Brixia.
6,791 trucks, the figure looks reasonable and they will be sorelly missed in 1940.
157 tanks ... if you call the L3 a tank ;
320,000,000 small arms ammunition, 7,514,537 artillery rounds, 1,414 aircraft motors, 1,672 tons of aircraft bombs and 240,747 rifles. I have no info but it sounds about right.

Edited by TiredOldSoldier, 20 August 2012 - 02:45 PM.

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#13 urqh

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 03:41 PM

As an aside, while reading up on Spanish civil war lately, I came across many of the International Brigade. My American cousins may find these guys a good read..

Albert Baumler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Frank Glasgow Tinker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Abraham Lincoln Brigade - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

British Army 1939-1945 - World War II Tribute Video

 

 

[URL="http://youtu.be/Zbp_4XBmD4w"]

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 


#14 aitor2d

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 09:30 AM

Great information in this post. Thanks guys.

My grandfather was in the Spanish Civil War. He never spoke about that. 



#15 efestos

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 04:20 PM


It gives me the impression that rather then helping the Italians improve them selves for a future war it actually put them at a disadvantage ...
While on the other hand it proved extremely useful to the Germans, Especially for the Luftwaffe.

 

 

IMHO. True, but they had many fails : The SCW kept the LW in the idea that the bombers "would always get through" . Maybe because even the I-16 lack of firepower. A great miss for the BOB.

 

The Do 17 got a new rifle-caliber machine gun in the SCW ... and then the LW chose the JU 88: It  was relative slow to be a real "schnell bomber". No Mosquito for Göring ...

The "Condor" SCW veterans disliked the droppable tanks ...

I assume that the KM didn´t tested its new torpedoes (wich failed miserably  in the start of the WWII)
The KM had no ocassion to prove their tactics against a convoy (the German U boote just lurked near the Republican harbours, like they did during the WWI) So the KM didn´t realise how difficult would be to  find the allied convoys during the next war ...

Curiously, there were not much "gerrilla" in the SCW and both sides repressed enthusiastically the other so they didn´t realised how difficult would be to keep the order in Rusia , they actually didn´t got it...


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#16 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 07:18 AM

Did anyone actually use the air droppable tanks ? I think we need to wait for the Hamilcar borne late WW2 use to see that, AFAIK the Me 321 were never used for assault landings just as transports. 

Kriegsmarine active participation was minimal, IIRC one of the pocket battleships was damaged during a "neutrality patrol" but they did nothing like the covert blockade the Italian submarines did, I actually don't think any U-Boats were sent, Germanyin 1936 had very few of them and they were desperatly needed for training. The Italians submarines  learned nothing of value as the repubblican ASW capability was minmal.

 

IIRC correctly the German torpedoes failure was tied to the peculiar magnetic and temperature conditions ofthe Norwegian campaign, not a more general failure like the US ones, so they would not have discovered the problem in the much warner and "Souherly" Spannish waters. 


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#17 Takao

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 10:35 AM

U-33 & U-34 participated briefly in the Spanish Civil War as part of "Operation Ursula."

http://www.uboat.net/articles/59.html

 

The German torpedo problem was somewhat similar to that of the Americans:  Torpedoes running deeper than set, a contact pistol(detonator) that did not perform as advertized(although their problem was the opposite of the Americans - the Germans needed fairly perpendicular hits to detonate, while the Americans needed more oblique shots), and, of course, the magnetic pistol. 

 

A good general synopsis of the German torpedo problems can be found here:  http://www.uboataces...torpedoes.shtml

 

A more thorough one here:  http://eaglescholar....H_201005_MA.pdf



#18 efestos

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 08:42 PM

Even the absolute amateur (like me) known that the italian submarines blocked the Republica's harbours, they made a great job, and only few german submarines took part in the operations,

 

U - 27 ... Wolfgang Luth.    and OPERATION URSULA from u-boat net (Julio de la Vega) .

 

Dropable tanks: I asked the same question the past year, and the answer is some where in the forum. I can't recall the post. I'll try to find it.

 

Heinkel 51 with belly tanks, inthe Spanish Nationalist marks.

 

  ddfthjk-500x353.jpg

 

  HS 123 with droppable tank SCW

 

(I'm only allowed to insert one image ¿?) From the article : Drop tanks in Spain "Weapons and war fare"

 

From the Spanish Civil War to the Fall of France: Luftwaffe Lessons Learned and Applied

Did the Spanish War play a decisive role in influencing the Luftwaffe operational doctrine that contributed to Germany's defeat in World War II?


“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past” (George Orwell, 1984)

#19 JeffinMNUSA

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 05:39 PM

The USSR Did develop their covert warfare abilities during the SCW and it seems to have stood them in good stead during the GPW.  the experience was marred by The Great Terror however; http://worldwardiary...Alexander_Orlov  An interesting take on Francisco Franco; http://www.nytimes.c...nted=all&src=pm  Interesting that he was still shooting lefites in the 1970s-I remember the National Lampoon headline "Franco Dies-Goes to Hell!" joke when he passed.  It was when I bumped into a Spanish student that my wife was teaching writing to, that I got a different perspective on Francisco Franco.

JeffinMNUSA

PS.  "The Spanish Civil War" series from 1983 is on Youtube in it's entirity; 

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#20 JeffinMNUSA

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 07:16 PM

And Marina Ginesta actually survived the SCW; http://unspokenpolit...barcelona-1936/

http://www.publico.e...magen-simbolica

FDR and the SCW; 

 

Khalkhin Gol had a much larger influence on the Red Army than did the SCW; http://www.historyne...halkhin-gol.htm

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