Sunday 7 November 2010

Stukas in Spain - Junkers Ju 87 Anton in the Legion Condor

 My good friend TJ has recently published a series of interesting posts on his excellent aviation blog  "TJ's Hangar"  covering the service of Condor Legion Stukas. You can go directly to his site via the link at the bottom of this post.  I have here reprised and translated some of his text and illustrated it with some of the photos he has collected depicting the Anton sub-type. Click on the images for a bigger view.

The Stuka was first used operationally during the Spanish Civil War, when an initial deployment of three 'A' or Anton sub-types were flown by the Condor Legion. This small group became known as the 'Jolanthe- Kette' named after the popular comic antics of a Berlin pig !

First pic below is a beautiful shot of a Kette of Ju-87 A-1 "Antons" of the Legion Condor in flight.  "29-3" and "29-2" were here photographed from "29-4". Note the lack of emblem on the spats indicating that this shot dates from the beginning of the German intervention in the Spanish Civil War. The meanders of the river are very interesting  - with Google Maps it is possible to locate the approximate spot where the photo was taken. Candidates are the Alfambra river, because of its relative proximity to the field of Calamocha in Teruel from where the type was operated, the Ebro, or around Zaragoza.

On 7 February 1938 the "Kette" composed of the aircraft "29-2" "29-3" and "29-4" was moved from La Cenia field to Calamocha Vitoria to take part in the battle for Teruel. In the picture below the crew of "29-2" with parachutes on their backs are ready to board their mount, engine running, ready for takeoff. Note that there is still no emblem on the spats.  

This picture of "29-3" shows the aircraft displaying one of the first emblems seen on Condor Stukas comprising a bowler hat pierced by an umbrella. This apparently refers to the 'civilian' nature of the mission - the 'volunteers' of the Condor Legion were considered civilians (during the transfer from Germany by ship, personnel wore civilian clothes), despite taking part in acts of war. In the event the emblem in question did not satisfy the German High Command who ordered its removal.

A new emblem was created for the Stuka detachment, in this instance, a drawing within an oval shield of the pig "Jolanthe", who had 'stared' in a popular comic film entitled "The Problems of Jolanthe."

"29-3" ready to launch on a sunny day in 1938, perhaps from the field at Calamocha. In the background are parked the other two Stukas that make up what would henceforth be known as the "Jolanthe Kette ".

"29-5" was a replacement for  "29-4" damaged by anti-aircraft fire and returned to German for repairs

The olive trees behind the "29-5" - seen here encased in protective tarps and perhaps photographed shortly after the aircraft's arrival -  indicate that this is La Cenia, where the Legion arrived on 21 April 1938. A unique feature of "29-5" is the distinctive light coloured starboard wheel spat, used to identify this plane in the pictures where the fuselage code cannot be seen.  The photo below depicts the flak damage on "29-4". This aircraft went back to Junkers for repairs, shipping out from a Basque port. The photo below that was published as a cover illustration by Der Adler magazine and shows well the upper surface camouflage scheme

This image of "29-5" from a private album of a member of the Legion shows the aircraft parked at La Cenia awaiting a new mission. It will be the last of the Antons operating in Spain. The three machines returned to Germany in October 1938 to be replaced a new "Kette" of three aircraft of the new 'B' or Bertha sub-type.


TJ's Hangar

Recommended reading on the Condor Legion if you can find a copy and illustrated with over six hundred photos is this volume by author Heribert García i Esteller, "The airfield at La Cenia 1937-1939, a photo chronicle". According to TJ this is an impressive work of more than six hundred photos depicting the aircraft and units of the Legion and the Republic at La Cenia airfield during the civil war. Published in large format, high quality, it is simply essential for the enthusiast and features rare photos of "Stukas"... " that have left me open-mouthed ..". Thank you TJ ! Below two more views of Ju 87 Antons at La Cenia...