Thursday, 1 June 2023

28mm Riff War

 28mm Riff War

Every now and again I see some figures that make me say WOW I`d like to try and paint those! Well Baraka GM of Madrid produce a superb collection of Riff War miniatures in 28mm. As some of you may know this conflict has been an obsession of mine for a number of years and this is the only conflict for which I have a small (ish) skirmish set-up in 28mm. Now I`m not a good painter at the best of times but I really struggle with 28mm - I just don`t have the talent or brush control and its harder to hide mistakes than it is with 20mm. But I just couldn`t resist these recent personality releases. Baraka GM can be found at their website:

Captain Fidel Pages 


A doctor and a military man, he is credited in Spain as the inventor of epidural anesthesia (though others elsewhere claim credit also) which he used in the field. He wrote several books on military medicine and reorganised Spanish military medicine after his experiences both in Africa and in Vienna during WW1 which allowed him to develop many new forms of treatment.

Following the events at Annual (June-July 1921), he returned to Morocco as head of medical services, unfortunately he was killed in a trafic accident whilst on leave in Madrid on 21 September 1922. 

José Millán-Astray y Terreros 
(July 5, 1879 – January 1, 1954) 

Now this figure was a special given to peaple who bought the very first releases from Baraka (which i did) He and they have stayed in their undercoated state until now, as i was in a painting mood I added him to this batch.

Millán Astray was the founder and first commander of the Spanish Foriegn Legion, sometimes referred to as "The Old Scared One" as during his military career in Morocco he was wounded several times including losing his left arm and right eye!

Medical assistant



Wounded soldier
This figure is not Baraka he comes from a joblot I bought yrs back from a guy in Scotland


Thursday, 25 May 2023

Art instalation University of Alicante

 Art Instalation University of Alicante

As some of you may know Debbie and I have beeen trying to learn Spanish, frankly the only way to take formal classes was through Alicante University. This year we`ve been in building 1 on the campus and all around the ground floor they have had an art instalation about the pain and suffering of the Civil War. So today 25th May the anniversary of the worst bombing attack on Alicante during the war I took some photos to post here. War and history isn`t just fun and games, its sadness, destruction and horror.

For more about the bombing and war in Alicante I refer you to previous posts:

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

The Blue Squadrons in Russia

 The Blue Squadrons

Spanish Volunteers with the Luftwaffe on the Eastern Front

By Richard Baber with additional information from Phil Gray

An earlier version of this article appeared in the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers (SOTCW) magazine The Journal

When Franco despatched his volunteers for the “Crusade against Bolshevism”, who formed the 250 Infantry (or Blue) Division of the Wehrmacht, he also authorised a volunteer air force to take part in the Crusade. This force, of squadron strength, would fight with the Luftwaffe as the 15th (Spanische) Staffel of JagdGeschwaders 27 and 51, leaving Spain on June 25th 1941 and finally returning in April 1944. To the Spanish it was known as the Azul Escadrilla, the Blue Squadron. It should be noted that whilst the Spanish Volunteer Blue Division was just one of 135 German Divisions at the time in Russia, their volunteer squadron was one of just fifty fighter squadrons!

The  Squadron's emblem - the motto is "Vista suerte y al toro".

The First Blue Squadron

The First Squadron, 130 men including 17 pilots, commanded by Commandante Angel Salas Larrazabal left Spain on June 25th 1941.  These pilots had shot down a total of 79 Republican aircraft between them and were familiar with Me109 fighters.  Even so they were made to go through Luftwaffe instruction on the type in Germany, which took until September 1941.

By September 26th the Squadron was operational, flying their Me109E-7s from Mozhna airfield near Minsk, on the Central Front, as the 15th Staffel of Jagd Geschwader (JG) 27 in Luftflotte VIII, under Wolfram von Richthofen, himself a veteran of Germany’s Condor Legion. The Squadron commander, Comandante Larrazabal was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class for his action in shooting down an I-16 fighter and Pe-2 reconnaissance bomber in October 1941.

“I saw coming 6 Pe-2 and I went after them, cutting the distance between us I found myself below I opened fire from 150 meters with my small machine [guns?] and much closer with my canons, I saw pieces jump from the aircraft after the second burst, it occupant taking to his parachute. Later I continue towards Cholm to join up with the group and see a ‘Rata’ I attack him in a turn while trying to flee in a fast dive that rips his left wing and he crashes near the confluence between Dnieper and Wjasna. Later I attack twice another ‘Rata’ with no effects.”

Larrazabal’s own account of the action.

The squadron was, for the most part, denied the “free hunt” missions that would have offered the best opportunities to engage the Soviet VVS, and was instead ordered to fly low level attack missions in support of German forces in Army Group Centre.

 As Army Group Centre advanced so the Squadron moved further East to support its operations, moving as far as Klin, and then, in the face of the Soviet Winter offensive, falling back to Vitebsk.  The squadron was relieved on January 6th 1942 and returned to Spain in February, having flown 460 missions and claimed 10 enemy aircraft in air to air combat, and four destroyed on the ground in exchange for five of their own pilots, including Commandante Jose Munoz Jimenez, Deputy Squadron Commander.  Six of the 10 aircraft shot down, and two of those destroyed on the ground, were scored by the Squadron Commander, making him an ace in both the Spanish Civil War (where he shot down 17 republican aircraft) and the Second World War.

The Second Blue Squadron

 The Second Squadron commanded by Capt. Noriega, was formed in Spain on February 6th 1942, and underwent similar training in Germany to the First Squadron did not become operational till June 8th and was assigned to JG 51 as its 15th Staffel, flying the Me109F-4 - better armoured and with faster firing cannon than the Me109F-2 that their German counterparts in the rest of the Geschwader were still flying at this time. The Squadron was not directly involved in Fall Blau but was used around Orel, the boundary with Army Group Weichs. By November 30th 1942, when they were relieved, they had flown 403 sorties, shooting down 13 Soviet aircraft for only two losses.

 The Third Blue Squadron

 The Third Squadron, commanded by Comandante Carlos Ferrandis Arjonilla, began its tour on December 1st 1942.  It was short of pilots so six of those from the Second Squadron remained with it temporarily.  It was an inauspicious start, as Capt Andres Asensi Alvares-Arenas was shot down and taken prisoner on the first day of its operations. 

Atrocious weather conditions provided limited flying opportunities, and the Spaniards scored only two victories until January 27th 1943, when they successfully shot down seven Soviet aircraft.  Operations were still sporadic, with 11 victories claimed between 22-24 February and seven more between 7 and 10 March, flying Me109G‑2s and G‑4s as the 15th Staffel, JG 51 – it was only in March that the remaining Third Squadron pilots joined the unit, allowing those six that had stayed on from Second Squadron to finally return to Spain

The Luftwaffe decided to re-equip the Spaniards with the new FW190A-3 fighter in March and they became operational on the type by April 25th 1943, and so were able to take part in the aerial battles that preceded the battle for Kursk.  The Third Squadron was officially relieved on July 8th 1943, having scored 62 aerial victories (29 of them with their new FW190s) and without losing a single Ju87 from the formations they had escorted.

 The Fourth Blue Squadron

 The Fourth Squadron began to replace the Third in July 1943, again the pilot complement was incomplete and some of the Third Squadrons ‘old hands’ stayed with them, under Comandante Mariano Cuadra Medina.  The squadron was based at Seschstsniskaya, to the South‑East of Roslav

 The squadron had arrived just in time for the last great German offensive in the East, and, with the rest of the staffeln in JG51 and JG54, bore the responsibility providing fighter cover for Generaloberst Walther Model’s 9th Army attacking the North of the Kursk salient. The intense fighting is reflected in the Squadron’s operational record: although only officially operational for three weeks in July they flew 391 sorties, and shot down 12 Soviet aircraft, in August they shot down 21 and in September another 15.  These victories were scored over the latest Soviet types, the Il2m3 tank busting Sturmovik introduced for Kursk, and the Lavochkin 5 and 7 fighters. 

 On at least two occasions the pilots of the Blue Squadron had the opportunity to renew old acquaintances in the air as they fought against Spanish fighter pilots flying in the VVS. 

 Although the Blue Division was withdrawn from the Eastern Front, to be replaced by the Blue Legion brigade sized formation, at Franco’s command in October 1943, the Blue Squadron was allowed to remain with JG51, staying until January 1944.  By the time they were withdrawn they had scored some 52 aerial victories, and 22 destroyed on the ground, but at significantly higher cost to Spain – seven of its 20 pilots had been killed in action (including 8 victory ace Sen Lt Sanchez‑Arjona) and three of the remaining 13 were badly wounded.

 The Fifth Blue Squadron

 The Fifth Squadron, under Major Murcia Rubio completed its training on FW190s in early February 1944, and within a couple of weeks, was active on the Eastern front, albeit flying Me109G-6s!  Political pressure from the Allies forced Spain to recall its forces from the Eastern Front, the Blue Legion being ordered back on March 6th and the Blue Squadron in April - the Fifth Squadron still managed to fly 86 sorties, fight six aerial engagements and lose one pilot though.

The Blue Squadron’s Record

Between them the five Blue Squadrons had brought 89 Spanish pilots into action with the Luftwaffe, flown over 3000 operational sorties, including 606 aerial engagements, resulting in the shooting down of 159 Soviet aircraft the loss of 23 of the 89 pilots - 18 killed in action, 2 missing in action and 1 POW, a loss rate over 25% of the 89 pilots committed.  The Spanish airmen never did get to fly in support of their Spanish compatriots in the Wehrmacht.

Gaming the Blue Squadron In Action

Depicting the Blue Squadron in action is relatively straight forward given its use of German aircraft types.  Aside from the unit emblem shown in Figure 1 these aircraft are marked identically to those of the German staffeln in the same Geschwader. 

Aside from the battles around Kursk and its aftermath – the time of the First, Second and Fifth squadrons, the Spanish were most often tasked with either low level ground attack or escort missions in support of German ground and air units.   The Third Squadron was faced by a resurgent VVS keen to disrupt German preparations for the Kursk battle, and the Fourth by a further reinforced VVS contingent – the 1st and 16th Air Armies – over the battlefield itself.

A&A Game Engineering’s “Scramble” rule set covers all these mission types in some detail, and will allow you to distinguish between ace and novice pilots on both sides, while fielding the whole of the Azul Escuadrilla in action if you wish.

“Airforce” covers the distinctions between fighter types and air to air combat in great detail, The Blue Skies rule set module “Red Star Blue Sky” concentrates on low level battlefield interdiction and has the stats for the aircraft involved.

While the contribution of Franco's Nationalists was made as a contingent the former Republican pilots who flew with the VVS were scattered across the VVS fighter regiments.  However at least four aces, Vicente Beltran, Antonio Aras, Antonio García Cano and José Pascual Santamaria (killed 1942), flew together in 283 Fighter Regiment (IAP) when the war broke out. 283 IAP was initially equipped with MiG 3 fighters. Both Arias and Santamaria were aces in both the SCW and Great Patriotic War.


  1. In the Skies of Europe, Hans Werner Neulen
  2. Axis Europa magazine issue 17, spring 1999 has a good article of the Blue Squadrons

Sunday, 21 May 2023

Airfield accessories

 Airfield Accessories

I have a couple of scenarios in the works where airfields are either the central element of are part of the tabletop. I have the planes and various bits which can be used to simulate an airfield, but wanted to add something (as you do). Anyway that nice man Alan Hamilton was selling off some kits and one of them was an old Hasawaga Toyota starter truck - perfect for what I wanted. A bomb trailer comes with the kit and as it happened I had another already in the bits box so built both to add to the general clutter.

Now I know the French never used the Toyota starter truck, but it looks like a funky between the wars vehicle and my little men won`t care 😁 

bomb trailers

A few photos so you can see the general idea

My airfield fleet, the truck nearest is another Toyota this time with surplus  GS body

Friday, 19 May 2023

Mouadammiye, Syria, 18th June 1941


Syria, 18th June 1941

As 5th Indian Brigade advanced towards Mezze, they moved away from the road to avoid a series of well defended Vichy road blocks. The next obstacle was the fortified village of Mouadammiye (Mouad from here onwards), as the column tried to move past it in the pre-dawn darkness, heavy fire from the defenders caused casualties and confusion! So it was decided the village had to be silenced and whilst the main column moved on towards Mezze “A” Company 3/1st Punjabs were detached to do just that.

 Indian orders

Clear or at least supress the Vichy forces in the village

 Indian forces

HQ: CO, Subalten, Indian officer, NCO, RTO team, medic

4 infantry platoons with:

10 men each inc Bren team *

Support platoon

Officer, NCO, 3 ammo bearers, AT rifle team, 2” mortar team

* Special rule - grenades, usually in our games only figures actually posed throwing grenades may do so, but in this action the Punjabi are noted for using lots of grenades so allow any infantry figure to do so.


Any time after turn 6 (to be selected in advance by the Allied player) a single Hurricane fighter-bomber arrives over the village and can attack targets of opportunity – one bombing attack, followed by a strafing run the next turn.

Vichy Defenders

HQ + MMG team

2 platoons 24th Mixte Colonial Regiment

1 x 75mm mle 1897

1 x R35

1 x Renault UE “coloniale”

 My table

A smaller scenario than I`ve been running of late just for a change of pace. Now this game is smaller than the ones I`ve played recently which requires a slightly different approach particularly to spotting & observation and command and control. I decided to apply rolls for spotting/observation 5-6 (1D6) and allow officers/NCOs to give commands on a similar roll.

The game started with the French occupying most of the forward buildings, they held their two pieces of armour in reserve. The `75 was positioned in the centre, though this effectively masked it for the track leading into the village because of the palm grove!  

The French centre

The Punjabi advanced in a rough line L-R: No4 platoon, No3 platoon (with the Boyes AT rifle team); No1 platoon + Coy. HQ and No2 platoon on the right with the 2” mortar team. The basic plan was for No3 platoon to advance up the track flanked by No4 to their left and No2 plus the Coy HQ to the right. While this was keeping the Vichy busy, No2 platoon would move up on the right setting up the 2” mortar to support the companies advance.

No4 platoon on the left

No3 platoon on the track

No2 platoon on the right

 Turn 1 the Vichy note the Punjabi advance and the `75 fires an opening shot causing casualties amongst No1 platoon!  

 Turn 2 No1 platoon spread out and use the palm grove wall for cover, the `75 fires again and again causes a few casualties. On the track No3 platoon comes under MMG fire from the village and also takes a casualty. The other two platoons move forward unmolested.

 Turn 3 No1 Platoon begins to climb into the palm grove, they are masked from the `75 but receive sporadic rife fire and a VB grenade launcher takes two more men! No3 platoon by the track splits and takes cover from the MMG, half go into the palm grove, whilst the rest move into field with strong stone walls to their left, the platoon takes no hits this round due to cover. No 4 platoon is fired on by an LMG and loses a man, their Bren gunner returns fire causing the first French casualty of the game. The `75 is redirected to fire at No2 platoon (miss). The Punjabi 2” mortar has set up and lobs its first bomb towards the `75 (also a miss).

Turn 4 No1 platoon now joined by the company HQ is pinned in the palm grove by rifle rife and VB grenades, luckily the French shooting is at long range and casualties are light. The French order forward their R-35 in an attempt to flush out No 3 platoon by the track.


No 4 platoon move into a gully which masks them from the Vichy LMG, though they lose another man in the move; their Bren gunner kills the Vichy LMG No2, which leave the gunner on his own.

No2 platoon on the right starts climbing over the wall into the goat filed, they come under long range LMG fire losing one man. The French `75 causes two casualties among members of No1 platoon who are trying to link up with No2 platoon. The Punjabi 2” mortar drops a bomb smack onto the `75 killing 3 out the 4 crew – the last man abandons the gun and runs for the nearest cover.

 Turn 5 No1 platoon still pinned, the R-35 moves forward and opens up on No3 platoon – the thick walls resist its fire which causes no casualties this turn. No 4 platoon breaks cover and rushes the Vichy LMG, they lose another man but take out the gunner! No 2 platoon now joined by some of No1 led by the company RSM advance cautiously through the goat field, they continue to take fire from the LMG and from a small red roofed cottage – they take more casualties. Their return fire is very accurate including the entire Vichy LMG team!

Turn 6 No1 platoon still pinned, the R-35 closes on No3 platoon firing at point blank range taking the platoons Bren team. But the platoon officer makes a “heroic command” roll (6 on 1D6) and orders his men to close assault the French tank with grenades – which they do and a magnificent 11 on 2D6 was enough to knock it out!!

No 4 platoon find themselves unopposed and begin to move into the village

No2 platoon continue their cautious advance across the goat field, they move into position to assault the red roofed cottage next turn.

The 2” mortar drops a bomb onto the open rooftop occupied by Vichy troops firing on No1 platoon, shrapnel causes casualties among the defenders including their officer!

The French commander orders the UE Coloniale forward to protect his now vunerable left.

 Turn 7 no1 platoon is still pinned although fire against them has slackened. On the track No 3 platoon are still forced to shelter from the MMG, some of them use the burning R-35 as cover

No 4 platoon moves towards the house with the MMG (from behind)

No 2 platoon close assaults the red roofed cottage with grenades wiping out the defenders

The 2” mortar land another bomb on the same roof killing all but one defender who breaks and abandons his position.

The UE Coloniale moves towards the red roofed cottage

 Turn 8 No 4 platoon launches its surprise attack from the flank a flurry of grenades wipes out the MMG at the same time their Bren team dispatches more Frenchmen who had been firing on No1 platoon killing most of those too!

No1 & No3 platoons were still being targeted this turn and neither can move.

The company RSM makes and heroic command roll and leads some men to close assault the UE Coloniale, they successfully knock that out also!!

With his armour all gone, most of his men killed or captured the French commander decides to live to fight another day and orders the last few defenders to slip away. The battle ended with the Punjabi advancing on the village from three sides unopposed.

Historically after a stiff fight, the Punjabi eventually cleared the village.

This game has been set-up for a couple of weeks ready to run, we got busy with revising for our end of term Spanish exam. In the mean time I had as is my nature tinkered with the scenario, but today in my excitement you will note I forgot to allow the Punjabi to get their air support - d`oh! I must next time remmber to re-read my scenario notes before actually starting to play.