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Stukas Over Spain: Dive Bomber Aircraft and Units of the Legion Condor by Rafael A. Permuy and Lucas Molina, Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, Pa., 2013, $34.99.

 The Spanish Civil War saw a contingent of Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe, which came to be called the Condor Legion, providing air support to the Nationalist side—and taking advantage of the situation to combat test its latest warplanes and formulate tactics for their use. Compiled and written by two Spanish military historians, Stukas Over Spain gives a concise account of the Condor Legion’s dive bombers in action. This started with the Henschel Hs-123, a rugged biplane with an open cockpit that soon gave way to the Junkers Ju-87 V-4, which was followed by the first production Ju-87As. The “Antons” achieved a measure of fame for the deadly efficiency of a three-plane flight called the Jolanthe Kette (Jolanthe being a fat pig that was a popular character in Germany at the time, and was painted on the wheel pants of the flight’s Stukas).

December 1938 saw the debut of the Ju-87B-1, which replaced the Anton in time for the Nationalists’ final victorious campaign in Catalonia. One of them had the dubious distinction of being the first Stuka to fall victim to an enemy fighter, on January 21, 1939. Among the multitude of rare photographs in the book are some of that Ju-87, which was brought down reasonably intact inside Republican lines, complemented by a firsthand account of the action from the victor, Polikarpov I-15 pilot Sergeant Francisco Alférez Jiménez. Combining day-by-day mission reports with a detailed narrative of the notable events during what amounted to the Blitzkrieg’s dress rehearsal, Stukas Over Spain chronicles an interesting prelude to two fighting careers: the Hs-123B’s as a close support ground attacker and the Ju-87B’s as the notorious vanguard of the Wehrmacht’s intoxicating successes during the first two years of World War II.


Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.