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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > World War II > Spanish Civil War

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Spanish Civil War This forum is for discussion of the Spanish Civil War. , this sub-forum appears in the World War II section because Spain was both a training ground for and preview of what was about to break loose in Europe.

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  #1  
Old 07 Jun 15, 01:41
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The Naval War

I'd like to start this out with an entire class of Battleships that died fighting (more or less), the Espania Class BBs.

These were actually the smallest Dreadnoughts ever built, lighter even that some of the pre-dreadnoughts. This is a reflection of the small size of Spanish docks and the poor state of Spanish finances.

These ships were only about 16,000 tons displacement and 460 feet long, and mounted four twin 12" turrets, plus twenty 102mm guns in casemates. Their best armor was 8" thick, except for the conning tower. They could make 19.5 knots and had a crew of 854 men. The crew accommodations were poor and unhygienic, and the range was only 5,000 miles at 10 knots. A major flaw was the poor underwater protection, but improving that would have cost the ships one knot of speed.

Launched in 1912 and 1914, these ships were never modernized due to the costs of the Riff War, which claimed the lead ship, the Espania.

Espania ran aground in 1923 while engaged in shore bombardment and was eventually broken up by the surf. Its guns were salvaged and placed in Coast Defense strongpoints, and some of those were still maintained as such until 1999.
That's no typo, and must be an interesting story in itself.

Alfonso XIII was renamed as the new Espania after the King of that name was overthrown in 1931, and it fought on the Republican side in the Civil War. Jamie I wound up on Franco's side, and was a lead ship in the blockade.

It would have been pretty fantastic if they had fought, two identical Battleships banging away at each other... but it was not to be.
Espania was very lightly damaged by bombs in August of 1936, and was wrecked by internal explosions while in a repair dock. Jamie was intercepting Blockade-runners when it was sunk by a single mine.
A mine laid by it's own side.

Ignominious ends, considering what might have been, but also indicative of how so many BBs would meet their ends in WW2.
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  #2  
Old 08 Jun 15, 11:41
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The correct names are

España (not Espania)

and

Jaime I (not Jamie).

I also suspect you swapped the two; AFAIK, Jaime I served with the Republic and España with the Nationalists.
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Old 08 Jun 15, 11:49
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British designed and engined completion delayed because Spain dependant on Britain for materials and Britain had a small matter of a World War to fight and other uses for it.
According to Tony Gibbons Battleships and Battle-cruisers page 195 it was Jaime I and not the 2nd Espania that was damaged by a Riff Coastal battery in 1925 and badly damaged by an air raid on Malaga 13th August 1936 whilst serving on the Republican side being blown up at Cartagena 17th June 1937 - scrapped 1939. Espania served the Nationalists being mined off Bilbao

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Old 08 Jun 15, 11:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
The correct names are

España (not Espania)

and

Jaime I (not Jamie).

I also suspect you swapped the two; AFAIK, Jaime I served with the Republic and España with the Nationalists.
You are correct. España served with the Nationalists and was sunk April 30, 1937 off of Bilbao on a mine laid by the Nationalist destroyer Velasco.

Jaime I served in the Republican Navy and was destroyed in June 1937 in a dockyard explosion while being repaired. Sabotage was suspected but careless welding operations seem to be the actual culprit.

Jaime I was a singularly unlucky ship. In addition to its air raid damage mentioned above it also suffered damage in a grounding off Punta Sabinal April 15th 1937. The performance and abilities of the Republican Navy were very much below par in spite of them having acquired the bulk of the Navy (less most of the officers) at the beginning of the SCW

Source: The Spanish Civil War At Sea: Adrian English.

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Old 08 Jun 15, 12:02
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Originally Posted by CarpeDiem View Post
You are correct. España served with the Nationalists and was sunk April 30, 1937 off of Bilbao on a mine laid by the Nationalist destroyer Velasco.

Jaime I served in the Republican Navy and was destroyed in June 1937 in a dockyard explosion while being repaired. Sabotage was suspected but careless welding operations seem to be the actual culprit.

Source: The Spanish Civil War At Sea: Adrian English.
Sabotage was almost always suspected (especially by the Republicans who saw 5th columnists lurking in every shadow). Even if Pablo was last seen walking into the gun powder store with a lighted fag in the corner of his mouth they'd still be looking for someone to shoot after the explosion
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Old 08 Jun 15, 13:53
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Destroyers

There was something of an imbalance here. The Republicans had 16 destroyers and the Nationalists had one (they managed to buy another two from the Italians but the buyers were either very naive or badly conned as these were so old and slow that they couldn't perform escort duties being slower than the ships they were supposed to escort). The only Nationalist destroyer was the not that modern four funnel Velasco. This was the ship that managed to mine its own flagship España off Bilbao/
The Republican destroyers consisted of 14 relatively modern Churruca class and 2 older Alsedo class (same as the Velasco).
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Old 08 Jun 15, 13:57
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Well, this is what I get for using Wiki.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/España-class_battleship

however-
Quote:
it was Jaime I and not the 2nd Espania that was damaged by a Riff Coastal battery in 1925 and badly damaged by an air raid on Malaga 13th August 1936 whilst serving on the Republican side being blown up at Cartagena 17th June 1937 - scrapped 1939. Espania served the Nationalists being mined off Bilbao
So, two BBs ran aground fighting the Riff, but one was saved.

Now, the first raid was one bomb hit on the bows and did very little damage, the 2nd raid saw 3 bombs hit. They didn't have great bombs, but this class only had 1.5" deck armor.

But yeah, damn Wiki crap...
I'll grab a book of my own and clean this up a little.

Anyone got anything on Submarine operations in that war?
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Old 08 Jun 15, 15:10
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Anyone got anything on Submarine operations in that war?
Here's an article from U-boat net on Operation Ursula and the sinking of the Republican submarine C-3 by U-34:
Operation "Ursula" and the sinking of the submarine C-3
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Old 08 Jun 15, 15:14
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I totally agree with Mark
"British designed and engined completion delayed because Spain dependant on Britain for materials and Britain had a small matter of a World War to fight and other uses for it.
According to Tony Gibbons Battleships and Battle-cruisers page 195 it was Jaime I and not the 2nd Espania that was damaged by a Riff Coastal battery in 1925 and badly damaged by an air raid on Malaga 13th August 1936 whilst serving on the Republican side being blown up at Cartagena 17th June 1937 - scrapped 1939. Espania served the Nationalists being mined off Bilbao.
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Old 08 Jun 15, 19:00
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That's because there was no 2nd Espania (I can't get that ~ in the right place) until 1931.

Give me a sec to find a better reference.

Now I have information that Jamie I (which is exactly how I named it above) did not run aground, but was damaged by Riff Coastal artillery in May of 1924. That must have been one hell of an insurrection!

BTW- yes, those were Vickers guns, but why? Hontoria did a good job with naval guns up to 12.6" in bore, as with the Pelayo. Why the switch to foreign guns?

And finding concise information about this whole war is proving to be a bit of a minefield.

The Kriegsmarine sent ships in, and they were technically part of the International Non-Intervention Patrol ... boy oh boy, doesn't that sound like BS?
After a humanitarian mission that rescued about 10,000 civvies, half of them Germans, they stuck around for about a year, got bombed once, and the left after bombarding Almeria... altho covert actions continued.

They had a few DDs with them, but by contrast, the Italians are said to have had about 58 Submarines in the area.
I wonder if anyone noticed?
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Old 09 Jun 15, 03:27
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1. The name of the ship is definitely Jaime I, not "Jamie I". Any source claiming the second does not know Spanish.
http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaime_I_(1921)
http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaime_I_de_Arag%C3%B3n

2. I do have some info about the submarine war, but it's an article in Italian and it would take some time to locate the magazine and make a summary in English.

3. The main features of naval warfare in this war were indeed the two blockades.
3a. First, since most of the rebellion, including troops, was in Africa, the Marina de Guerra de la República seemed to have a good chance of bottling that up. As it often happened, seamen were recruited in seaport cities, and were on average better educated and more politically aware than the peasant laborers in the ranks of the Ejercito. That's why most of the units sided with the Republic. But, as mentioned above, often without most of their officers - and that's why the poor performance.
But, as we remember, the rebels sidestepped this thanks to foreign help. First the Italians and then the Germans too sent them bomber/cargo aircraft that were used for an airlift to Europe. Thus the failure of this blockade.
3b. The second blockade was that of merchant shipping loaded with war materiel. The most relevant part of it amounted to piracy by the Regia Marina's submarines, sinking lone cargo ships without warning or a chance to surrender. The success of this campaign, albeit costly in terms of attrition and fuel consumption, contributed to misleading Italian decision-makers as to the effectiveness of their arms. The sort of targets this war was waged against would not compare to the WWII environment of convoys and escorts.


And "ñ" appears with ALT-164. For the numbers you have to use the small numeric keypad, with numbers lock. In any case, at least write "Espana" and not "Espania".
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Old 09 Jun 15, 05:59
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Torpedo bombing

Were there any air borne torpedo attacks? The Italian Aviacion Legonaria had the capacity with the Cant Z.506B tri motor float plane.
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Old 09 Jun 15, 06:41
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Interesting, perhaps not surprising that they were coal burners in an oil fired age.
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Old 09 Jun 15, 08:52
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Were there any air borne torpedo attacks? The Italian Aviacion Legonaria had the capacity with the Cant Z.506B tri motor float plane.
Yes, there were, flown by the He59s of AS.88 of the Legion Condor which used torpedoes as well as bombs in its attacks on shipping.

See below for a picture.



The Spanish nicknamed the planes Zapatones (big shoes, galoshes).

There is a book on the unit's actions in English:

Sea Planes of the Condor Legion



and on page 163 is a list of the torpedo attacks carried out by the unit:

Quote:
30.1.37 The mail ship Delfin. The torpedo failed to detonate
31.01.37 The steamship Nuria Ramos. The attack was aborted under orders
25.04.37 The main body of the Republican fleet before Motril. One torpedo launched but again failed.
06.05.37 The Republican cruiser Libertad. The torpedo passed close to the stern
09.06.37 The Republican destroyer Almirante Antequera. Close miss
20.07.37 3 He 59s armed with torpedoes tasked to attack shipping in Valencia. Mission aborted
12.08.37 Danish merchantman Edith Prior to bombing a torpedo was launched but failed
13.08.37 Danish merchantman Edith Another torpedo launched, this time with success and the ship sunk
07.09.37 A Republican [ship] squadron involved in combat at Cherchel. One torpedo launched and failed
09.10.37 British steamship Cervantes Torpedo launched which the ship was able to avoid
21.06.38 The seaplane carrier Dedalo Order to attack cancelled at the last moment
21.06.38 British steamship Thorpeness, torpedoed and sunk at Valencia
The unit enjoyed more success with bombs than torpedoes developed such tactics as shutting off the engines and gliding in silently for night attacks. The following statistics are given in the AS.88 book: of the 148 ships that were captured and sunk by the Nationalists in the conflict, 48 were sunk by seaplanes of AS./88. 26 by the Nationalist air force/Italian Legion, 8 by other units of the Condor Legion and the rest by the Nationalist Navy.
Interestingly enough, the Luftwaffe concluded the operations of AS./88 were of limited success so did not pursue its anti-shipping methods or look to improve or expand on its torpedo attack ability. Which meant they started WW2 at a disadvantage in dedicated anti shipping units and airborne torpedo equipment/units and had to play catch up.

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Old 09 Jun 15, 08:54
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Interesting, perhaps not surprising that they were coal burners in an oil fired age.
Given that Spain's economy was in a bad way and foreign currency reserves not exactly vast but that she had a significant coal mining industry in Asturia there would be little incentive to convert to oil fired which meant expensive imports.
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