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Aircraft of the Spanish Civil War - D 37 and He 112

Written by Sakhal

Dewoitine D.37

In 1931 Emile Dewoitine established the Societe Aeronautique Francaise (SAF), intended for the production of military aircraft for l'Armee de l'Air, starting the project of a high- winged monoplane fighter derived from the D.27 that he had built for the Swiss Air Force. This new aircraft, denominated D.37, entered service in 1933. Of fully metallic structure made of aluminum tubes, it was coated with fabric with exception of the fore section of the fuselage, which was coated with aluminum plates. The wings, metallic as well, were coated with fabric. The landing gear was one of independent braced legs. The D.37 had a nine-cylinder radial engine Gnome-Rhone 14KD of 800 horsepower, which moved a three-bladed metallic propeller and provided a notable rate of climb. The D.37, which had the reputation of being very hard on the controls and whose machine guns did not always work correctly, had a wingspan of 11.80 meters and a length of 7.44 meters, being able to reach a maximum service ceiling of 11000 meters and a maximum speed of 300 kilometers/hour, with a minimum speed of 120 kilometers/hour.

At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the French government sent 40 aircraft D.37 in support of the Republican Government, which rendered it as the most numerous aircraft model of French origin used in Spain. They arrived unarmed, so it was necessary to install two 7.5-millimeter machine guns in the upper surface of the wing. With the code CD, 36 of these aircraft were incorporated to the 2da Escuadrilla Lafayette (2nd Small Squadron Lafayette), piloted by foreign volunteers and Spanish pilots that were available. The other four aircraft fought in the North. Along with the Nieuport, the D.37 endured all the weight of the air combats during the first months of the war, fighting until October 1936, when no one remained, over Madrid - and its vicinity -, Toledo and Andalusia.

Heinkel He 112B

The He 112B was conceived and realized during the early 1930s to participate in the contest convoked by the Luftwaffe to provide itself with a new fighter. The prototype flew for the first time in the summer of 1935, being built another six experimental aircraft. Finished the tests, it was requested a lot of 30 exemplars for the Luftwaffe, to be delivered in 1938. Finally discarded in Germany, were interested in the aircraft Japan and Romania, country which acquired 24 exemplars in 1939 in view of the qualities shown during the combat in the Spanish skies. Of totally metallic construction, it was a single-seat monoplane with a modern and revolutionary silhouette for its time. It had an engine Junkers Jumo 210Ea of 12 cylinders in inverted V, water-cooled and of 680 horsepower, which actuated on a two-bladed metallic propeller, achieving a maximum speed of 510 kilometers/hour at an altitude of 4700 meters, with an operational range of 1100 kilometers and a maximum service ceiling of 8500 meters. With a length of 9.30 meters and a height of 3.84 meters, its wingspan reached only 9.10 meters, while takeoff weight was 2250 kilograms. As armament it carried two 20-millimeter cannons in the wings and two 7.92-millimeter machine guns in the nose, on each side of the engine.

In December 1936 arrived to Spain, incorporated to the Condor Legion, a He 112B that operated sporadically for experimental purposes. Later it was constituted a patrol piloted by Germans to check its behavior during flight. In 1938 a total of nine He 112B were incorporated to the recently constituted Escuadra de Caza (Fighter Squadron) adopting, as the Fiat CR-32, the famous badge and ensign of Garcia Morato, as well as a numeral from the 5-1, and taking part in the campaign of Catalonia. Several enemy pilots affirmed to have fought against them, calling them - mistakenly - "Rayos" (popular nickname of the reconnaissance/bomber aircraft Heinkel He 70). Ended the campaign in Catalonia, the already fifteen He 112B constituted, along with the new Messerschmitt Bf 109E and the original Bf 109, the Grupo 5-G-5 led by Captain Jose Munoz Jimenez, receiving a numeral from 5-51. These aircraft rarely engaged in combat, downing in one of those rare occasions - the pilot Garcia Pardo - a "Chato" (popular nickname of the Russian fighter Polikarpov I-15), only combat victory of these aircraft, which were used in surveillance patrols at sea, giving cover to the Nationalist Fleet.

After Catalonia they moved to Grinon, where three days before ending the war two of them crashed, causing the death of the pilots Garcia Pardo and Rogelio Garcia de Juan. After the war, along with the Fiat G-50, they formed the Regimiento Mixto de Africa (African Mixed Regiment), based in Melilla. The ensign of the jumping greyhound replaced the birds used by Garcia Morato. During this period, Commander Entrena, piloting one of the He 112B, shot down an American fighter Lockheed P-38F "Lightning" when this one invaded the Spanish air space in occasion of the Allied landings in North Africa, being this one the only Spanish aircraft that downed an American aircraft ever.

Aircraft of the Spanish Civil War - D 37 and He 112

Dewoitine D.37 and Heinkel He 112B used by the Condor Legion during 1938-39.

Categories: Aviation - 20th Century - [General] - [General] - [General]


Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2015-07-18

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