Friday, 7 May 2021

More French

Some more French vehicles 

Having a good week

Early War Miniatures White TBC 

Lovely resin/plastic cast body with a white metal turret and commander

Painted a dull green as illustrated in a couple of books i have on vehicles used in Syria and during Operation Torch. I don`t usually apply decals, but made an exception in this case 

Staff car for my French commander 

Style and elan is everything, a 1933 Plymouth which started out like this (1 Euro)

Now looks like this

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Renault UE "Colonie"

 Renault UE "Colonie" 

A bit of support for my under equipped Vichy forces for Syria/Operation Torch or maybe even Madagascar??

Model by Early War Miniatures

Basically a machine carrier with 9mm armour

More deserty British

More British stuff for the desert

 I actually motivated myself to do some modeling and paint  

These all came from Bill Krieg

A classic Airfix Morris quad, a limber and 6pdr all needed some love and repairs (new barrel for the gun)

The Quad with added stowage

limber (added stowage)

6pdr in tow position

Quad with limber

Quad with 6pdr (based loosely on this photo which i believe is in Italy)

Monday, 3 May 2021

Air attacks on Alicante during the SCW


                                       Air attacks on Alicante during the SCW

Map showing the fall of bombs (red) and the Air raid shelter (green) in Alicante 

 Following the Aragon Offensive Franco wanted to break Republican morale by eliminating marine commerce, he therefore authorised The Legionary Air Force (Italian: Aviazione Legionaria, Spanish: Aviación Legionaria) and Condor Legion to undertake indiscriminate bombings of the Republican cities: Valencia, Barcelona, Alicante, Granollers and other Spanish town and cities were bombed. Alicante suffered around 70 attacks, somewhere between 500 and 750 citizens were killed.

A complete list of bombing attacks against the Alicante Communidad by town and date.

 The worst attack by far occurred on May 25th 1938, when between seven and nine Italian SM.79 and SM.81 bombers of the Aviazione Legionaria bombed Alicante. The anti-aircraft artillery of the city was obsolete (a common theme during the SCW) and the air-alarm system of the city failed to give warning - possibly due to the Italians attack coming from the inland rather than seaward taking the city defences by surprise!

The bombers dropped ninety bombs and many of them fell in the central market of the city. There were between 275 and 393 civilian deaths (100 men, 56 women, 10 children and more than 100 unidentified bodies), and 1000 wounded. This death toll is on a scale of that of the notorious raid on Guernica a year earlier! 

An amazing photo of a burning SM-81 over the mercado!


 The square behind the central market was renamed Plaza de 25 Mayo

 At the market, aside from a memorial of the tragic event, there is in display the clock which stopped at the time of the bombing and the anti-aircraft alarm that did not go off that day. 

 Savoia-Marchetti SM81

 Excerpt from an article published in The Singleton Argus on Monday May 30th 1938

"In a note to Great Britain, the Spanish Government points out although, in conformity with the request of great Britain and France, Spanish Government "planes had not bombed open towns, the bombardment of Alicante last week by rebel aircraft had not elicited a single public word of condemnation.

"The Spanish Government," adds the note - "is therefore obliged to request from Great Britain a concrete statement on the negotiations which Great Britain and France initiated in February to prevent air bombings of open cities and also whether Great Britain intends to initiate measures to prevent a repetition of such cities"

A similar note has been delivered to France."

A brief piece from The Times

As well as the town the port itself and shipping was targeted by the Fascist planes

The British owned and registered SS Franham took a direct hit to her bridge on June 27th 1938 and sunk at her moorings in the harbour!
She was raised later by the Nationalists and confiscated, and renamed Castello Montiel




Saturday, 1 May 2021

Canelobre Caves and Rabassa Aerodrome during the Spanish Civil War

 Canelobre Caves and Rabassa Aerodrome during the Spanish Civil War

 Las Cuevas del Canelobre (Spanish for Candelabra) Is located near the town of Buscot 700 meters up, on the northern slope of Mount Cabezón de Oro. Discovered by the Moors around 740AD. A piece of amazing natural splendour, with the highest vault of all the caves known in Spain at 100 meters high!

Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) During the Spanish Civil War the CASA Getafe factory was located in the Republican zone. It was moved to Alicante, another opened in Sabadell. At the end of the war production returned to Getafe. CASA manufactured the Russian Polikarpov I-15 biplane fighter, producing 287 aircraft before the end of the civil war.

Until November 1936 part of the manufacture of planes for the Republic was developed by Hispano Suiza located in Guadalajara. It was called SAF-1 (Aviation Manufacturing Service)

Due to the progress of the Spanish Civil War, production was transferred to the existing airfield at La Rabasa, the current site of Alicante University in San Vincente del Raspeig (the nearest town to where we live here in Spain). There, the Republican aviation had already taken advantage of an existing aerodrome to establish a permanent base of the 4th Air Region for the defence of Alicante and it`s vital port. Secondary manufacturing centres were located near the flight field.

 It was decided to build a secure facility within the Canelobre Caves. Inside precision work was carried out, such as those required for the assembly and repair of aircraft engines. In order to turn the cave into a workshop, two main platforms were build as well as smaller ones (which are no longer there, but you can still see where they were bolted to the walls) unfortunately during the construction work they were forced to damage/destroy some of the original geological formations in order to fit things in and also protect workers from falling rocks caused by machine vibrations. With the loss of thousands of stalactites and stalagmites, today of great geological value. It would be unfair to blame the people of the time, mired in a bloody and desperate war with the hindsight that 70 years of scientific and geological advances offer us, but a good way to imagine the magnitude of the damage caused by dynamite is to know the Stalactite growth process: 1 centimeter every 100 years. The future, at times, is a cruel and sad history teacher.

The current 150 meter access tunnel was drilled to allow access to the workshop area.

 The inside of the caves was then developed into a maintenance factory for engineers working on Polikarpov I-16 type 5 & 6 engines. The I-16 colloquially  called the Mosca ("fly") by the Republicans, and the Rata ("rat") by the Nationalists. 

There was also an ammunition magazine all safe from enemy attack, deep within the mountain. 

According to the testimony of Pepi Miralles Mut, his father Francisco Justo Miralles (Muchamiel 1902-1984) whose profession was a mechanical turner specialised in the adjustment and other colleagues were recruited by the government to work in the caves as a turner. He and his family settled in Buscot, where they lived from the end of 1937 to the end of the war in Alicante in March 1939.Inside the cave there was 5 lathes  and 5 workers along with an undefined number of soldiers and a Captain Doctor.

According to his childhood memories in Buscot, he only saw women and children in the town, because the men were at the front. Moreover, when the breeze was blowing from the coast you could hear the sirens warning of air attack coming from Alicante and for the top of Mount Calvary you could see the bombs falling on the city!

The caves themselves were also targeted. Planes were sometimes seen flying over the area and an attempt was made to bombard the surroundings of the Cabeco, According to reports from workers such as Francisco they sometimes had to postpone their exit from the cave after working all day, as there were "little birds about" as they referred to enemy planes.   

Whilst nothing except the entrance tunnel and concrete platforms remains, there was an information centre which has this wonderful 1/87th scale model of the factory.

Rabassa Aerodrome

Rabassa airfield (Spanish: Aeródromo de Rabassa, also known as Rabasa, La Rabassa Alicante-Rabassa and Alicante-Rabassa airport) was an airfield 355kilmoeters southwest of Madrid on the coast of Spain. It was situated on the site of what is now Alicante University (where our son goes to language school).
The airfield first opened in February 1919, it was replaced by Altet (the site of the modern Alicante/Elche Airport) in 1927.

The airfield was reopened in 1936 by the Aviación de la República (Spanish Republican Air Force).

It hosted and was integrated with the 4ª Región Aérea (4th Air Region) and received the name Rabassa.
During the Spanish Civil War the airfield was responsible for the air defense of Alicante, equipped with Polikarpov I-15 'Chato'.
During this time it was bombed several times by the Italian Air Force.
In October 1939, after the creation of the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) Rabassa again became an air base.
It continued to fly the Polikarpovs, designated 32 Regimiento de Asalto (32 Assault Regiment).

Wartime maps of the aerodrome

Possibly post war images of the aerodrome control tower and hanger

Nationalist aircaft at Rabassa after the war
Savoia-Marchetti S-71
Polikarpov I-15 A4 "Chato"

When the province was redeveloping the the area and planning to build what is now Alicante University on the site of the aerodrome it was decided to preserve both he control tower and main hanger, to maintain some link with the history. The control building is classically art deco but the hanger was frankly an ugly metal rectangle, so they decided to keep just the frame and use the area as a garden/park - pretty cool I think.