Nationalist Forces

The Spanish Civil War
1936 - 39

General Franco recieving accolades at a victory parade in March 1937. - Photo research by Dr. André Louis Maurois

Backing: Germany, Italy

The German contingent - Panzer Bn 88 (Colonel von Thoma) - is deployed in conjunction with a Luftwaffe expenditionary force - the Condor Legion. Consisting of three light mainly PzKpfw1 conpanies, transport, anti-tank (3.7cm) and signal units, the battalion serves basically as a Nationalist training cadre.

The Italian involvement (Corpo Truppe Volontarie) in the civil war north-east of Madrid was headed by 'Littorio' a motorized division serving General Gervasio Bitossi. The division is accompanied by 60 light tanks and some armored cars.

PzKpfw I - Picture research by Ralph D. Norton---German Condor Legion---German Condor Legion

Nationalist PzKpfw1 being loaded aboard a truck. - Photo courtesy of Dr. André Louis Maurois.---Nationalist Victory Parade in Valencia 1939. Note the Soviet T26 in the extreme background. - Photo research by Dr. André Louis Maurois---Photo courtesy of Dr. André Louis Maurois.

A photograph of one of the three BREDA tanks that the Nationalists produced in 1936 with PZKW-IAs and the Breda Italian 20mm guns. No more of these tanks were produced due to the large number of Republican T-26s that were captured by the Nationalists.---PzKpfw1a - Located at the "Museo de Unidades Acorazadas in Madrid. - Photo evidence by Pete Lago---PzKpfw1b - Located at the "Museo de Unidades Acorazadas in Madrid. - Photo evidence by Pete Lago

Spanish PzKpfw1 Ausf. A
PzKpfw I

With an armor skin made of mild steel, and twin machine guns on a rotating turret, this little tank had it's work cut out for it. This was Germany's first attempt at a mass produced tank when she rearmed.  This tank that was meant for training purposes even though it was used in combat right through the Battle of France in 1940. Production was stopped in 1941. These units were then withdrawn from frontline action BUT there were various interesting attempts made to prolong the use of the chassis - including an assault version with as much armor as a Tiger!  Both model A and B were sent to Spain. Some variants were locally produced by the Spanish.

Designation Sd Kfz 101 (A) Sd Kfz 101 (B)
Combat weight 5.4 tons 6 tons
Max. speed 37kph 40kph
Length (m) 4.02 4.42
Width (m) 2.06 2.06
Height (m) 1.72 1.72
Turret MGs 2 - 7.92mm 2 - 7.92mm
Crew 2 2

PzKpfw II - Picture research by Ralph D. Norton
PzKpfw II

Small numbers of the Panzer 2 made it into combat in Spain. Armed with a 20mm cannon, they were ineffective against Russian T-26 and BT-5 tanks. These units in various marks were produced right up to 1941. Afterward, the chassis were modified for units such as the Wespe (Wasp).

Search as hard as I might, I have yet to find photographic evidence of an actual PzKpfwII in use in Spain. Lately, I have begun to suspect that this tank may never have been used there. In December of 2000, I received an email that gave credit to my beliefs:

"m a Spanish "aficionado" with some interest on the Spanish Civil War (36-39). I saw in your website that you mentioned some PzKpfwII being tested to Spain. To the extent of my knowledge there is not a single source of reliable information that can support it. This caused a much heated debate in a discussion group that you may like to join at Egroups. Furthermore, Spanish specialist Mr. Mazarrasa (writer of the best two books on armored vehicles during the SCW) also confirmed this point. German armor support to the Nationalists side consisted mainly of PzKpfw I." - Francesc Xavier Cebrian

"There’s been lot of discussion about the presence of PzKpfw II in the SCW, but nobody seems to find any real evidence. What did exist was a Spanish upgrade of PzKpfw I, where the turret was enlarged and the two machine guns were replaced by a Breda 20mm guns, and I think this might be some source of confusion. Also another variant of PzKpfwI was sent to Spain, It was the Betchswagen (or something like this, but I don't have the right spelling right now), wich was basically a PzKpfwI turret-less, radio equipped, with only 1 machinegun, used as a command vehicle in PzKpfw I formations." - Pablo Perez

And so, until I receive actual photographic evidence of Spanish soldiers, or German soldiers operating this tank in Spain, I consider this area under contention.

Combat weight 10 tons
Max. speed 55kph
Length 4.64m
Width 2.3m
Height 2.02m
Gun caliber 20mm cannon
Turret MGs 1 - 7.92mm
Crew 3

Carro Veloce CV33---CV33 - Manned here by Italian "volunteers".---Carro Veloce CV33

Carro Veloce CV33---Carro Veloce CV33---Carro Veloce CV33

Spanish Ansaldos in the Victory Parade in Valencia in April 1939 - Photo contributed by Dr. André Louis Maurois.---Nationalist CV33s at the Barcelona victory  parade, April 1939. - Photo courtesy of Dr. André Louis Maurois.---Italian "volunteers" on the road to France. - Photo courtesy of Dr. André Louis Maurois.

CV33 prototype with a 20mm Breda AA gun - Photo provided by Stirling D. Lowery.
Carro Veloce CV33

Some CVs that survived operations during the Spanish Civil War were left in Spain and were incorporated into the Spanish Army.  Ansaldo also built a prototype of an enlarged version of the CV for Spain that mounted a 20mm gun in a rotating turret; although the Spanish Army showed no further interest in the prototype, the vehicle influenced later development of the L6 light tank.

CV 33 (L3/33) CV 35 (L3/35)
Weight : 2.7 tons Weight : 3.3 tons
Length: 3.03m Length: 3.15m
Width: 1.4m Width: 1.4m
Height: 1.2m Height: 1.28m
Armor (max) : 12 mm Armor (max) : 13 mm
Range : 110 km Range : 150 km
Speed: 42 km/hr Speed: 42 km/hr
Weapons : 1 x 6.5mm Weapons : 2 x 6.5mm 
Crew : 2 Crew : 2

The Ethiopian campaign demonstrated a severe handicap due to the machine guns' narrow traverse capability. In one event, Ethiopian soldiers (who had no tanks are were basically a medieval army with muzzle loading cannon) actually attacked a troop of CV33's. After the initial fear and worry had worn off, and getting a bit hot under the collar because their beloved leader had fallen, they formed a plan. Noting the limited traverse of the MG's, they simply attacked from the side! In the narrow area in which this occured, the poor CV33 tankers simply could not turn around. After a liberal stabbing of port slits with sabers and knives, the angry soldiers then poured gasoline on the tanks and set them afire. To add insult to injury, the Ethiopians then flipped the tanks over - barehanded. Only one crew survived to surrender out of 13 tanks in this encounter - and that was by shouting Christo - Christo! Seems that the Ethiopians did not understand that hands up meant surrender... to them, the Italians simply made better targets of themselves!

The Spanish Civil War was and entirely different story. Here the poor underpowered, underarmored CV33 had to face superior Soviet armor. There is a report of a brave CV33 tanker sneaking up behind a T26 and trying to douse it with it's flame thrower (yes there was a flame thrower model)... The CV33 did not return. One thing, the Italian soldier was certainly a brave and disiplined soldier to follow orders in a machine of this inferior quality.

Other terms often applied to this vehicle are: L5/21, L5/30, L3/35, L3aa, L3LF. I have read that the tank should be always called a CV33 despite an upgrade done later causing some to call them CV35. I understand that CV35 was not a term used by the Italian Army. Simply put, except for some variations of machine guns and speciality weapons, the vehicle looked and performed the same - poorly.

Lancia Ansaldo IZM - Italy
Lancia Ansaldo IZM - Italy

Based on the Lancia IZ Truck, the IZ armored car was an advanced design for it's day. For firepower the vehicle was equipped with a turret mounted machine gun and a further small turret on top with another (later models)- giving this car considerable firepower. Steel rails were added over the top tor cutting wire. Little used in WW1 due to terrain on which the Italians fought, many were sent to North Africa for police work. Total production by 1918 was 120. After WW1 some were sent to Albania where they formed the sole armored force of the country for many years. Some were sent to Spain and used by the Italians during the Spanish Civil War. At this point they performed poorly due to being outmoted.

Crew 6
Weight 8140 lbs
Length 17' 8.66"
Width 6'
Height  7' 10" (early model)
Range 186 miles
Armor 9mm
Armament 2 x MG
Engine 35 or 40 hp
Performance 37 mph

Spanish Nationalist T-26---Spanish Nationalist T-26---Photo taken at the "Museo Militar" in Madrid, June 1970. - Photo taken by Dr. Georg V. Rauch. Photo courtesy of Dr. André Louis Maurois.---Nationalist captured T26 after the battle of Jarama in February 1937. - Photo research by Dr. André Louis Maurois
Spanish Nationalist T-26---Spanish Nationalist T-26
----Photo taken by Dr. Georg V. Rauch. Photo courtesy of Dr. André Louis Maurois.
Spanish Nationalist T-26

All shown pictures are of captured Republican T-26 tanks pressed into Nationalist service. The bottom right photo is a nationalist T-26 model 33 late production. The Nationalists prized the Republican (Soviet) tanks going so far as to offer a bounty for each tank captured intact.

A rare color photo of German soldiers during the civil war. - Photo provided by Dr. Andre Maurois---Photo provided by Stirling D. Lowery
German SdKfz7

A prime mover for the famous 88mm AA and AT gun. An unknown number were sent to Spain during the war.

Spanish Nationalist BT-5
Spanish Nationalist BT-5

Shown here newly captured by the Condor Legion. Note that the tank was running without it's tracks.

Photo provided by Stirling D. Lowery
Spanish Nationalist Komintern Prime Mover

Shown here being inspected by Nationalist Forces.

General Franco---Photo provided by Stirling D. Lowery
A proud General Franco reviews troops in Chevrolet trucks

Thousands were purchased from Chevy dealers around Spain.

Other Vehicles I Cannot Locate

Other vehicles I cannot find pictures or information on are: Autocannoni da 75/27 CK, Autocarri L, Autocarri M, Autocarri P, PzKw IB, If you can explain or add information on any of these, please email me.



Last Update: Wednesday, March 12, 2003