The Experimental Units of Hitler’s Condor Legion – German Aircraft in Action during the Spanish Civil War
By Rafael A. Permuy López & Lucas Molina Franco, 2017
Reviewed by Dom Sore
For both ideological and military purposes, Germany chose to use the Spanish Civil War as a place to field-test under combat conditions much of their equipment. The formation of the Condor Legion tested such famous, or infamous, aircraft like the Messerschmitt BF109, Junkers Ju87, and Heinkel He111. It was German pilots who conducted these tests with the supposedly hidden support of the Nazi Regime. In this book, originally published in Spanish, the authors look to provide more detail on the Condor Legion, its operations, and the aircraft used. Although a short book of just 93 pages, it contains a lot of photographs of the aircraft with 8 pages of colour plates.
It is obvious the authors have done their homework, scouring archives for pictures, documents, and operational details. They reveal that the first three fighters deployed were not Bf109s but two BF109s and a He112. This attention to detail is a real plus for anyone wanting to know what plane flew what sortie where. The authors also imply that attacking armoured vehicles using cannon mounted on aircraft was a Spanish idea, which it may be, but could equally be Spanish boasting given the lack of clear evidence. The photographs show mostly the planes but my favourite is the one where the ground crew are resting using bombs as pillows!
There is one major problem with the book; it has a serious misprint where pages 55 through 62 have been inserted ahead of page 47! All the pages are there but this shows a lack of quality control and sadly it detracts from the overall book. The same can be said of the translation, which in parts follows what seems to be the literal Spanish to English translation rather than having been translated to convey the meaning. One other significant problem is the infamous bombing of Guernica that is skipped over in two paragraphs plus a sentence; that is a major disservice to the victims. A little more analysis of the action, a map or two, and an index would also have improved the book immensely.
Anyone wanting to know more about the Condor Legion and its operations would do well to buy this book as long as you can overlook the printing error, or the lack of coverage for Guernica. It is a good book, though let down in places, that leaves you wanting more. It will help you produce accurate aircraft for your Spanish Civil War games or maybe even extra ideas for possible German intervention in A Very British Civil War. Fingers crossed that future printings have the page issue corrected.