Hispano Aviación HA-1112


Before his appointment, Yagüe had traveled to Germany as part of the Spanish mission that accompanied the return of the Legion Condor. There, he took the opportunity to learn many details of the Luftwaffe structure and organization, which was the example to be followed by military aviation in Spain. During the 10 months that General Yagüe led the ministry (he was ceased in June 1940 and replaced by Juan Vigón who was not an aviator either), he drew the operational and organizational lines to be followed by the EdA, which was none other than the one of the German Luftwaffe. Although many of Yagüe’s ideas were finally fulfilled (his plan marked the development of the EdA in the following years after WW2), one of the illusions that was evidently never fulfilled was getting 5,000 aircraft in the EdA in a time of only 5 years since his arrival at the ministry.

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Spain during World War 2
The Spanish situation that was decreed at the beginning of the world conflict in September 1939 was neutrality despite the fact that a good part of the Germanophile population existed in Spain; in that decree we can read that “knowing officially the state of war that unfortunately exists between England, France and Poland on one side, and Germany, on the other, is hereby ordered, the strictest neutrality to the Spanish citizen”.
After the important Allies defeats against the German Army, on June 12, 1940 Spain went to “non-belligerency” situation,  in a similar way to how Italy did before joining the world conflict. Despite the first step that Spain took towards Germany, the negotiations for the entry into the war carried out with Von Ribbentrop did not culminate in the union of Spain with the Axis due to lack of understanding (voluntary or not) on both sides.
The events were developing at great speed in Europe and on June 25, 1940 the armistice came in France. In October 1940 Hitler and Franco met in the French town of Hendaye with the intention that Spain would join Germany in the war (as happened with Mussolini in Bordighera in February 1941), but the Spanish demands prevented the pact. For this reason, the situation in which Spain was facing Germany was quite complex.
It is true, according to Neulen, that Spain was possibly the only country in which a large part of the population saw Germany’s attack on the USSR with satisfaction. The Spanish Civil War (SCW) was very recent (it ended on April 1, 1939) and the USSR had helped the defeated side. The winning side (the Nationalists) under Francisco Franco command was clearly opposed to communism and of course to the country that was the communism symbol: the USSR.

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The invasion of the Soviet Union decreased the pressure that Adolf Hitler performed on Francisco Franco, by means of the shipment of an expeditionary force to Russia. This step was considered by the Germans at the beginning as a first step for the gradual entry of Spain into the war. Also this troops shipment to integrate in the German Army, would allow them to “pay” indirectly part of the debt contracted by Spain with Germany in concept for the help of Germany in the SCW to the Nationalist band.
It is a known fact, although most of the Spanish population is not familiar with it, the existence of the Spanish Volunteers Division, (popularly known as the Blue Division or División Azul) that emerged as a response to popular clamor on part of the Spanish population that after the German army attack to the USSR in June 1941, showed the desire to fight the Soviets
Due to the great popular enthusiasm that was generated, little effort was necessary to recruit its members among the military and thousands of volunteers who prepared to sign their names in the recruitment offices that were created for that purpose. Among these volunteers, there were some soldiers who had not fought in the Spanish Civil War and wanted to prove to themselves and their comrades that they were capable of going to the front. It is said that some young officers fresh out of the Academy, faced with the war in the world, did not agree to let this opportunity that was presented to them pass by. Also in young university students with a desire for adventure, or with the romantic ideal of defending convictions such as God and Homeland, they strongly grasped the idea of enlisting in the Spanish Volunteers Division that was integrated within the German army with the denomination of Infanterie Division 250 (Infantry Division 250).

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As an element of support to the Spanish ground forces, it was decided to also create an air unit to accompany them on the battle front. For this reason, an air component corresponding to a Fighter Squadron was created; officially called the Expeditionary Squadron in Russia and popularly known as the Blue Squadron (Escuadrilla Azul). We will see later how the Spanish infantry never received the support of their compatriots from the Blue Squadron, even though that was the intention of the Spanish Government.
We have already commented the political situation of Spain during the years of the WW2, so in this chapter, without further delay, we will narrate the participation of Spanish pilots in the world conflict. The winning side in the SCW commanded by General Franco, was evidently close to the German (after the aid of both Germany and Italy in the Spanish conflict) so after the German invasion of the USSR in 1941, as well as the organization of The Blue Division, the Blue Squadron was also created to provide air support to its Blue Division compatriots who fought in the north of the USSR (a fact that would never come to true since the Spanish air unit remained in central Russia, despite the requests of the Spanish Government to be added to the Blue Division). This decision was made at the last moment as Blue Division initial location was also the Central sector, which caused some upset among the volunteers. The Expeditionary Squadron should be the equivalent of a Luftwaffe Staffel, although it was not like a Staffel in reality.

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During the SCW, the National Aviation had learned a lot from its Italian comrades and especially from the Germans. One of the aspects that were assimilated by the newly created EdA to impose them on their Blue Squadron was the rotation of the pilots. The pilots of the Legion Condor were rotated every time period with the intention that the maximum number of pilots could take part in the SCW and therefore accelerate their learning and handling of modern aircraft. In the same way, the Spanish Expeditionary Squadron acted during its participation in WW2 within the Luftwaffe. For this reason we should not really talk about the Blue Squadron, but about the Blue Squadrons, since there were 5 Spanish squadrons that fought in the Russian skies throughout their stay on the Eastern front between September 1941 and March 1944 approximately, every six months a Squadron was relieved with the following one.
The 5 Squadrons operated in the USSR without having any relationship with their comrades in the Blue Division, since their actions were developed in the Army Group Center sector during such important moments as the German offensive on Moscow or the battles of Kharkov, Smolensko and Kursk.
The Spanish Expeditionary Squadrons or Blue Squadrons had the opportunity to fly different aircraft models while fighting in the skies of Russia.
There were six main aircraft models: Messerschmitt Bf 109 E7, Messerschmitt Bf 109 F2, Messerschmitt Bf 109 F4, Focke Wulf Fw 190 A2, Focke Wulf Fw 190 A3 and Messerschmitt Bf 109 G6. All the planes were the same as those used by other units of the Luftwaffe, although it is true that when the Spaniards used the E model, some Luftwaffe units already used the F; or when the Spanish used the F, and some German units used the Fw 190. Only the 1st Squadron, the 2nd Squadron and the 5th Squadron flew the Bf 109s, scoring more than 27 destroyed Soviet planes during their combat period.
The main Bf 109s that were flew by the Spanish pilots were:
Messerschmitt Bf 109 E7: the Spanish pilots of the 1st Squadron managed to adapt more easily to this Bf 109 model since during the SCW it was already used in Spain. In addition the EdA had several Bf 109 E1 and E3, so there were several pilot officers who already knew about the use of the plane.

[…]

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