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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bolt Action - Review: The Condor Legion by Osprey Publishing

Osprey already has an amazing reputation, so when I received a trilogy of Osprey books about the Spanish Civil War I was very excited. The three books I have in my hot little hands are ‘The Spanish Civil War’, The International Brigades’ and finally ‘The Condor Legion’. In this review I will concentrate on The Condor Legion as this is what drew me towards this period in history.

Written by Carols Caballero Jurado and Illustrated by Ramiro Bujeiro

Between 1936 and 1939 a civil war waged in Spain along political lines which tore the country apart and drew the attention of the world. This sentence from the book encompasses the conflict well “Therefore, at the outbreak of the Civil War, the rebels declared that they had risen ‘against Communism’, while their enemies said they were fighting ‘against Fascism’. The rebels called themselves Nationalists, the Popular Front called themselves Republicans. 

Panzergruppe Drohne, October 1936
Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared support for the Nationalists whilst the Soviet Union declared support for the Republicans, this was a clash of ideologies with Spain as the battle ground. Germany initially supplied transport aircraft to move the Nationalist Africa Army to the mainland however with escalating involvement of the Soviet Union Hitler stepped up aid in the form of military advisors and combat aircraft with supporting troops.

Germany allowed its military members to discharge from the German Army and volunteer for service in Spain and notionally come under the command of Nationalist Spanish Germans. This however was really at face value as all the Germans were kept together under the banner of the Condor Legion and led by German Officers. The Spanish Civil War was to be a proving ground and a chance to get German Officers experience in combat as well as test out doctrine and equipment.

Germany sent PzKw 1 Ausf A’s to Spain to be crewed by both nationalists and Germans and their failure against the Soviet T-26’s would drive further tank development in the lead up to World War II. Tactics were tested with the Luftwaffe and AA capabilities and the full potential of the 88 was discovered. 

How is this relevant to a World War II game? It is interesting as a precursor to that period and may help you to understand the complexities surrounding the later politics and make some sense of the alliances and hatreds. As an alternative setting for the game as well, you could easily build and field a Condor Legion force using the guides for equipment and uniforms.

Military Instructors
Overall the book is an amazing reference for those interested in the period and whilst I am far from a historian, I have neckbeard tendencies and a general interest in history and I knew practically nothing about the Spanish Civil War until I picked up this book. Expect this book to stand up to the high standards we have learnt to expect from Osprey and I encourage readers to pick it up in either hard cover or many of their publications are not available in digital format. 

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