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In 1936, the Spanish civil war broke out between the Republicans and nationalists – the supporters of General Franco. During this conflict, the country has turned into a kind of testing ground on which to run in new weapons and tactics designed its use.

Of course, there were tanks. Republican Spain received from the Soviet Union for more than three hundred tanks T-26 and BT-5. Franco’s troops were reinforced by German tanks Pz I and Italian CV 35.

“fire brigades” Republicans

Spain – a country with a specific set of mountain ranges and plateaus, dividing it into semi-isolated area. For the transfer of armored vehicles to the place of fighting the Republicans actively used the powerful German and American trucks. Drivers had to be careful: the narrow mountain roads was enough to deviate a few centimeters to collapse into the abyss. Justifies the potential risk of less than a day to deliver the tanks at a distance of over 400 kilometers.

Spanish tankers went to the attack of 10-15 times per day, fought with broken ribs, burnt and wounded. If needed, they got into the tanks with pierced towers.

This was very important for the Republican army, which at the time of the onset of the Franco now and then had to quickly plug holes in the front. Tanks played the role of “fire brigade” and could not leave the battlefield for several days. Crews have exhausted to the limit. Eyewitnesses spoke of nervous breakdowns and fits of hallucinations have exhausted people.

Courage tank was great: they went to the attack of 10-15 times per day, fought with broken ribs, burnt and wounded. If needed, they got into the tanks with pierced towers. And when you need to replace the deceased or lost the fighting capacity tanker, often took the first available soldier. On the way to the front he hastily explained how to load a gun, and that ended Study.

Neither of which the interaction between the tanks themselves or with other kinds of troops in such circumstances can not speak. Therefore, in Spain tanks fought in small groups or even alone, without complicated maneuvers and firing on all targets only from a cannon. Fire tried to carry on with the place – it was easier to get into. Shots are not spared, releasing a day and seven ammo armor-piercing shells. They even fired machine guns, the benefit of an exact 45-mm gun T-26 allowed to fall into small goals.

School of local war

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Interaction troops was generally serious trouble Republican Army. Theoretically, the tanks had to go behind the infantry, and when she approached the enemy orders – quickly overtake her, attack the enemy and then leave behind the infantry. In practice, the tankers constantly complained about the infantry, which, instead of fight “lies, admires.”

Exploration was also poor: about where the enemy is, tankers knew, at best, in the direction of the map. Reconnaissance of the area is almost not carried out, so that the tanks went on the attack almost blindly.

Franco, on the other hand, fought more thoroughly. At first they were “treated” defenses aviation and artillery. Then went on the attack tanks with infantry. Such an attack could not withstand even a well-trained volunteer fighters foreign units (Brigades), who fought on the Republican side. Capturing even a small piece of territory, the soldiers dug Franco immediately, but after two or three days erected and concrete fortifications. Immediately behind the infantry moved up the gun.

T-26 tank is rightly called the main striking force of the Republican army, along with the aircraft. Praised for his label and trouble-free gun, reliable engine and decent speed. Motors T-26 was maintained at 100-150 hours of operation, there was a case when the motor is working flawlessly for almost a day in a row. In the battle “tank to tank” German machinegun Pz. I and Italian CV 35 were not for the T-26 serious contenders. They do not often mistaken for the “real” tanks, and for wedgies. It was the Spanish experience has meant that machine-gun tanks left the scene in the near future.


Thus, as technology Republicans outnumbered Franco. But the last, not even having enough anti-tank guns, did not run from the tanks, and resisted. In the course were the means at hand, such as bottles filled with gasoline or dug on the road barrels of tar.

tank crews quickly learned to knock down shots balconies of houses from which to him threw bottles with “goryuchku.” However, the war in settlements tanks was difficult: the enemy could be anywhere, and notice it from inside the car – is not easy. Especially that the Spanish villages covering centuries built like miniature fortress – with narrow winding streets, dead ends and areas that sweep from all sides. The thickness of the stone walls of the houses could be up to two meters, were commonplace and four-meter fence. After the first skirmishes and losses tanks were strictly forbidden to enter the settlements, they were supposed to surround and fire from a safe distance.

When the armor lost projectile

main enemy tanks in Spain were anti-tank guns. They appeared even during the First World War, but really it is widely used in the 30s. In the USSR the methods of struggle against them were, and Soviet instructors teach them Spanish soldiers. But notice the low and small 37-mm gun from the “sighted” T-26 was difficult. Given that the armor of the tank breaks from 200-300 meters even armor-piercing bullet, the fate of the car, which hit the projectile was unenviable. Guns have become increasingly Franco, had all the ways to detect them.

The use of anti-tank artillery in the Spanish war put an end to wedgies and led to the tanks protivosnaryadnym booking. Then there were concerns that the armor plates to be installed at an angle to the shells ricocheted. It is the understanding of what is needed to improve the optics of the tank, to make it more “seeing.”

had very little time to the moment when the tanks are constructed on the basis of the experience of the war in Spain, will be tested a great war.

Also read:

Lyricist – Eugene Belas


  • Baxell, Richard. British Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War: The British Volunteers in the International Brigades, 1936-1939. Routledge, 2004.
  • Payne, Stanley G. The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, and Communism. London: Yale University Press, 2004.
  • Zaloga, Steven J. Spanish Civil War Tanks: The Proving Ground for Blitzkrieg. Osprey publishing, 2010.
  • Wrestlers Latvia in Spain 1936-1939. Memories and documents. Riga: Liesma, 1970.
  • RSMA, f. 31811, op. 4, d. 28.

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