Spanish Air Force During World War 2...

...Germany's Hidden Ally, from Kagero, via Casemate Books

Title:  Spanish Air Force During World War 2

Author: Eduardo M. Gil Martinez

Publisher:  Kagero

ISBN:  978-83-66148-17-8

Number 6 in the Library of Armed Conflicts series from Kagero and a topic that is easily overlooked. A small format, 128 page  softcover book takes on a subject which is commonly overlooked. During the 1930's Spain was ravaged by Civil War. Countries such as Germany, Spain, Russia and others had all contributed war material to the conflict. Not long after it finished, with a victory for General Franco, WW2 began. Perhaps surprising to some, Spain remained neutral rather than coming in on the side of Germany, who had been one of their primary supporters.

This book, filled with archive photos and some excellent colour profiles, tells us the story of Spain's Air Force over the period of WW2. They had to contend with the huge re-building task within Spain itself and cope with defending their own territories against foreign aircraft incursions during the war while trying to retain their neutrality. While Germany respected their neutral position, they did put pressure on the new Spanish government to provide some support, by way of repaying their debt. So a focus in the book we hear the story of what ended up as 5 squadrons of Spanish volunteers, the 'Blue' Squadrons, who fought alongside the Luftwaffe on the Eastern Front, though the 5th and final unit to be formed was only operational for a month before being withdrawn.

A very interesting story that expands on what happened to the Spanish Air Force after the end of the Civil War, when it found itself equipped with a very large number of machines, but of a very varied mix of types. I think many will be familiar with Spanish markings on the early model Me Bf 109s but here we see Spanish pilots using not only later variants of the 109 but flying the FW 190 as well, and in combat on the Eastern Front.

Thanks to Casemate Books, who kindly provided my review copy.