Malraux Squadron

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edinburgh
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Malraux Squadron

Postby edinburgh » 05 Nov 2006 18:39

How amny aerial victories were scored by this unit? I have less than ten, but some histories indicate many, many more.

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Postby Hoss » 06 Nov 2006 01:40

Didn't the Malraux squadron fly primarily bombers? Some variety of interwar Bloch flying brick if memory serves.

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Postby paul philippou » 06 Nov 2006 08:50

The famous French writer Andre Malraux commanded an air squadron of international pilots (around 12) - with a sizeable ground support team - that flew a score of Potez 54 bombers with Madrid as base. The squadron was based initially in Barcelona and then moved to Barajas, close to Madrid.

Other planes (Marcel-Bloch 210, Negus, Dewoitine 371) were utilised by Malraux’s men, but the Potez 54 was the main one flown. By February 1937, many of these pilots were dead and those survivors were assimilated into the main air force.

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Postby edinburgh » 06 Nov 2006 21:56

They scored at least three flying Dewoitines, but several pilots are credited with victories.

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Postby Hoss » 07 Nov 2006 05:26

Anthony Beevor rips Malraux and his flyers pretty hard in his new edition of The Spanish Civil War, renamed the Battle for Spain. They were extravagantly overpaid and seem to have very little effect on the course of events. I'll post the passage later when I have my copy of the book around.

I've tried researching the Malraux squadron on the internet, the results are scanty.

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Postby paul philippou » 07 Nov 2006 20:41

The other thing I know about the Malraux squadron is that Malraux was succeeded as squadron leader at the end of 1936 by another French pilot, Abel Guidez.

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TISO
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Postby TISO » 19 Nov 2006 13:23

Try here:
http://potez54.turincon.com/
This is site about Potez 54 (and couple of other French planes) that flew in Spain. Unfotunatly link to English version of the site doesn't work.
L´ESCUADRA ESPAÑA article on that site.

edinburgh
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Postby edinburgh » 19 Nov 2006 15:37

I have found a few references, which seem to indicate Guinot had two victories, Darry and Veniel two or three each. Abel Guides isn't mentioned at all, except as squadron leader and so his tally of ten must be pretty suspect.

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Postby Parisien » 26 Nov 2006 02:01

Just for information André Malraux was incapable of driving a car and certainly unable to fly a plane. Now in France more people think of him as a fraud with only an extremely large vocabulary. His only positive legacy is the law making compulsory the cleaning of evry façade in Paris at least once each 15 years.

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Re: Malraux Squadron

Postby paulrward » 10 Dec 2008 21:07

To all;

Malraux may have been incapable of driving an automobile, or flying
an airplane, but he flew a number of missions as an air gunner on
the Potez 54s flown by the Escadrilla Espana. This was dangerous
in the extreme, as the Fascists had air superiority and the Potez's
flew without fighter escort. A number of the E.E. bombers were shot
down, and others were 'shot up', with heavy casualties.

Respectfully

Paul R. Ward

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alieneyes
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Re: Malraux Squadron

Postby alieneyes » 03 Oct 2016 19:55

Is there anything like an Operations Record Book for Malraux's "L'escadrille España"?

I'm interested in the ops of Marcel Florien before the crash of his Potez on 27 December 1936.

Many thanks.

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Re: Malraux Squadron

Postby paulrward » 04 Oct 2016 04:46

Hello All ;

To Mr. AlienEyes ;

First, you have to get a little background: When the Civil War broke out, the majority of the Spanish Air Force ( Arma de l'Air ) were officers, and of the upper classes of Spain. Naturally, their sympathies lay with the Falangists, and so, for the most part, they joined the Fascist forces. ( the Nationalists ) This left the Government in a curious situation: They had control of the majority of the Fighters ( Nieuport 52's , about 60 in number ) and a large number of the Breguet 19 Bombers, ( also about 60 in number ), but they had less than 40 pilots. The Government immediately recruited any Spanish civilian pilot who would join ( but again, as flying was a 'rich man's sport', they only got a few in this manner.) Thus, the Republicans had the aircraft, while the Fascists had the pilots.

For this reason, the Government began recruiting foreigners. The recruitment was done by Spanish Embassy personnel, typically NOT the military attaches, as many could not be trusted. The first two groups were recruited in France and Britain, with the Government offering contracts based on experience and provable flying history, and many pilots were hired for salaries in the range of about 100 british pounds ( about 500 u.s. dollars ) per month, along with bonuses for shooting down enemy aircraft, and an insurance payment to the pilot's heirs in case he was killed in combat. The payments were made directly to the foreign bank of the pilot's choice, and were made in gold, or in the pilot's currency of choice. The quality of pilots varied tremendously. Some were overaged WW1 veterans, some were cast-off or disgraced military or civilian pilots with drinking or other problems, and some were just men with a taste for adventure.

A number of other pilots were also signed up, these included a few Czechs, a Yugoslavian, and a number of Americans. Some of these simply showed up in Madrid, and were accepted based on a flight test, and others, like the Americans, were signed up by Spanish Embassy personnel in Mexico City. The first pilots began to arrive about a month after the war started, in early August, 1936, and were assigned to fly either Nieuports or Breguets, depending on the availabilty of aircraft at that moment.


Thus, by the beginning of August, in Madrid, the Republican Air Force had about one squadron of Nieuports flown by Spanish Regulars, one squadron of Breguets flown by regulars, and, as pilots arrived, they assembled in Madrid a second squadron of Nieuports and a second Squadron of Breguets, each of which was flown by foreign volunteers. These 'volunteer squadrons' were commanded by Spanish Officers, and had a sprinkling of Spanish Pilots, civilian and military, who served as interpreters and flight leaders.

At about this time, Andre Malraux began to assemble his own ' Escadrille Espana ', which was going to have both fighters and bombers. The fighters were Dewoitine D371s and D372s, which were being built for foreign governments, and which, like the Potex 54 Bombers, were released for shipment to Spain by the Government of Leon Blum of France. ( to satisfy the neutrality conventions, they were all shipped without armament.

Malraux recruited his own set of ( mainly ) French pilots, aircrew, and mechanics, some chosen more for their political correctness than their military experience. As aircraft were obtained, they were flown over the border, or shipped in packing crates by train. In Madrid, they were assembled, armed, and began to fly missions.

The other foreign volunteers had, by this time, been flying the Nieuports and Breguets for some weeks, and the two foreign flown squadrons aquired un-official names, the Nieuport Squadron being called the 'Escadrille Espana', and the Breguet Squadron occasionally being referred to' Escadrille Deuxieme Lafayette '. However, some pilots flew missions in both types of aircraft, and so the two names were more or less interchangeable. To add to the confusion, there was the 'Escadrille Espana' of Andre Malraux, which gradually became known as the ' Escadrille Malraux ', or ' Escadrille Potez '.

With the arrival of the Heinkels in early August, and the Fiats in the middle of the month, the ability of the Republican Nieuports to protect the Breguets on bombing and attack missions quickly evaporated. Losses increased in all of the Republican squadrons, both of the foreign volunteers and the Spanish pilots. The Potez bombers could, theoretically outrun the Fascist fighters, but often they were the victim of hit and run attacks. The Breguets, however, could not run, and many were lost, along with a number of the Nieuports and their pilots who tried to protect them from the ravages of the Fascist fighters. Several of the English volunteers were lost, along with some of the French pilots, and many Spanish pilots as well.

The French Dewoitines ( 371s and 372s ) along with a few Loire 46s, helped, but they were too few, had no spare parts or repair facilities, no repair manuals, and the Spanish fitted armament was indifferent at best. ( WW1 vintage Vickers 303s bolted into the wings, and fired by pulling cables ) Since there were not enough pilots in the Malraux Organization, some of the other volunteer pilots and Spanish Pilots also flew the French fighters on missions.

Due to the heavy losses of aircraft, and the change of government in France that ended the shipment of aircraft to Spain, the Republican Government, in desperation, began a program of attempting to buy anything with wings, including a number of antique Potez 25 single engine bombers, along any French, Dutch, English, Czech, Polish, or American aircraft they could get, and, as these trickled into Spain, they were armed and thrown into the fight. often flown by the foreign volunteers.

The arrival of the Soviets in November was, literally, just in the nick of time, as, on the Madrid Front, the Government was down to just a half dozen Nieuports, an equal number of Dewoitines and Loires, and about 20 Breguets, along with the remaining two or three Potez bombers.

While I know of no formalized records of the activities of the Volunteer Squadrons, there are a number of books from this period that are worth reading:

'Mitos Y Verdades', by Andre Garcia LaCalle

'Man's Hope', by Andre Malraux

'Cardboard Crucifix', ( also published as 'The Patrol Is Ended' ) by Hugh Olaf DeWett

'Some Still Live', by Frank Tinker




Hope this is of some value.


Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward

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Ironmachine
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Re: Malraux Squadron

Postby Ironmachine » 04 Oct 2016 08:04

First, you have to get a little background: When the Civil War broke out, the majority of the Spanish Air Force ( Arma de l'Air ) were officers, and of the upper classes of Spain. Naturally, their sympathies lay with the Falangists, and so, for the most part, they joined the Fascist forces. ( the Nationalists ) This left the Government in a curious situation: They had control of the majority of the Fighters ( Nieuport 52's , about 60 in number ) and a large number of the Breguet 19 Bombers, ( also about 60 in number ), but they had less than 40 pilots. The Government immediately recruited any Spanish civilian pilot who would join ( but again, as flying was a 'rich man's sport', they only got a few in this manner.) Thus, the Republicans had the aircraft, while the Fascists had the pilots.

Though the "Republicans had the aircraft, Nationals had the pilots" motto is repeated frequently when talking about air warfare at the onset of the SCW, it is far from accurate. Neither is the statement that, as the sympathies of the officers lay with the Falangists, they, for the most part, they joined the Fascist forces. The upper classes of Spain were conservative, and many officers were so (it could be argued if the Arma de Aviación's officers were more pro-republican that other officers), but the sympathies of most of them would have not been with Falange, which was a revolutionary party and of minimal impact in the Spanish politics at that time; on the other hand, Falange has nothing to do with the uprising, which was strictly a military coup, and so the officers could not join any "Fascist" forces. Also, it should be noted that in addition to the Arma de Aviación, which was the Army's air force, there was the Aeronáutica Naval, the Navy's air force, smaller but not to be ignored.
Returning to the "number of pilots" issue, it is difficult to obtain accurate numbers free from political interests, but a fair discussion of the matter is presente in the article Impulso inicial de la Aviación Nacional, by José Ramón Marteles López, included in La Aviación en la Guerra Española (Monografías del CESEDEN nº 39), available on-line here: https://dialnet.unirioja.es/descarga/libro/562767.pdf):
En el Arma de Aviación, los soldados y la mayoría de la oficialidad permanecieron leales a la República. Los núcleos conspiradores habían sido oportunamente desmontados gracias a la diligencia del director general de Aeronáutica, Núñez de Prado, del comandante Hidalgo de Cisneros y de otros jefes republicanos (Guerra y revolución en España ,1967).
También de fuente soviética más próxima a los hechos (junio de 1937, recogido en Láerophile), aproximadamente las tres cuartas partes de los pilotos se pusieron al lado de Franco, mientras que la mayoría de los cuadros sedentarios quedó al lado de los republicanos. Lo primero porque los destinos de la Aviación Militar y Naval se hicieron «de libre elección» ,con lo que se colocaron mandos «seguros» en la mayoría de las unidades y lo segundo por el descontento general ante esa y otras medidas.
El número de aviadores con que contó inicialmente cada bando, no dice gran cosa respecto a la potencial eficacia operativa, de ahí las necesarias salvedades, pues ni quedaron sin cuadros los alzados, ni sin pilotos el Gobierno, cuadro 1, p. 24.
La partición de Gomá, —88 pilotos sublevados frente a 155 progubernamentales— sería muy aproximada si se incluyen en éstos los 105 que, como el mismo autor indica, se negaron a volar. Pero en las Escalillas de 1936 figuran más de 1.000 aviadores. Se han hecho estudios detallados de las ordenaciones de la época que permiten separar los pilotos propiamente dichos y tripulantes «activos» de otros títulos aeronáuticos, bajas en vuelo y otras situaciones. Referido a pilotos, incluyendo los navales, mantendrían la aptitud de vuelo alrededor de 600, de los que 250 apoyarían al Gobierno, 150 se unirían al Alzamiento y alrededor de 200 se ocultaron, fueron encarcelados o ejecutados.
Salas los ha precisado, por unidades, teniendo en cuenta los destinados, los presentes y las bajas: en la zona alzada, de los casi dos centenares en plantilla, secundaron el Movimiento 160, prácticamente igualados a los 162 leales al Gobierno en cuyo territorio fue neutralizado un número elevadísimo (fugas ,ejecuciones e, tc.) y en el que quedaron las instalaciones mayores de Marina, por lo que contó con 53 pilotos navales adicionales, frente a los 14 rebeldes. En total, se puede aceptar 215 por 174, relación muy equilibrada si tenemos en cuenta que los empleos más preparados y eficaces se alzaron casi masivamente y las reincorporaciones y cambios de bando favorecieron a la zona nacionalista, salvo contadísimas excepciones (Urtubi, Ananías Sanjuán y otros). Hay que admitir que el balance teórico, pese a las cifras favorables, pudo perjudicar, cualitativamente y por sedentarismo, a la República.
Los efectivos se incrementaron a marchas forzadas. A la Aviación gubernamental se incorporaron 20, fueron militarizados 11 (gran parte de la plantilla de LAPE) y, entre contratados y voluntarios extranjeros, casi 70 (19). Aproximadamente un centenar ,frente a unos 95 contrarios (complemento y civiles transformados, principalmente), por lo que la correlación de fuerzas siguió manteniendo la ventaja cuantitativa gubernamental: 315/260 (20).

Regarding the planes:
¿De cuántos aviones realmente «operativos» disponia la Aviación española en 1936? En base a los adquiridos, las plantillas y los inventarios de unidades la cifra en 300 sería muy aproximada. Agrupados por tipos y empleo táctico resultan más, lo que no es sorprendente si tenemos en cuenta que, por citar inexactitudes, los Sa-62 no pasaban de 20 y la fábrica de Guadalajara seguía entregando Nieuport, cuadro 3.
A la hora del reparto, nos parece más realista la relación 188/95 que la 230/104, pero en cualquier caso, la proporción es casi exacta de 2 a 1, superioridad nominal gubernamental ampliamente reforzada con los aviones de segunda línea, casi todos en su zona (200 frente a 15).

These paragraphs should be easy to translate with an online translator, or if anyone is really interested I could provide a translation, but summarizing the conclusion is that the Republicans had at the onset of the war about 215 pilots while the rebels had about 174. The difference was somehow neutralized because there were more pilots that changed sides from the Republicans to the Nationals that otherwise and because the Nationals had the best pilots. With the beginning of recruitment and the arrival of foreigners, the advantage remained with the Republicans. Regarding the planes, there was probably a 2:1 advantage for the Republicans.

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Ironmachine
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Re: Malraux Squadron

Postby Ironmachine » 04 Oct 2016 10:31

More, this time from the book Historia de la Aviación Española, published in 1988 by the Instituto de Historia y Cultura Aérea:
La Aviación, que en las crisis de 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933 y 1934 había mantenido su cohesión interna a pesar de algunos roces inevitables, tampoco registraría en julio de 1936 enfrentamientos traumáticos en el seno de las unidades y dependencias del Arma. Hubo ciertamente situaciones de gran tensión y dramatismo, pero, al final, éstas se resolvieron siempre a favor de la facción que logró la victoria en su entorno geográfico. Ello es fiel reflejo de dos realidades incuestionables: el predominio aplastante que dentro del conjunto de las fuerzas armadas ejercía el Ejército, a cuyos mandos estaba subordinada la aviación, y el no menos importante de que con el bando vencedor siempre se alineaba una fuerte proporción de aviadores, pues las lealtades ideológicas se hallaban, como en todos los sectores sociales, divididas en dos partes de no muy diferente entidad.
Aviación presentó, sin embargo, la singularidad de un claro predominio de la ley de la subordinación, de la obediencia debida a los jefes naturales. La práctica totalidad de los aeródromos quedaron en manos de quienes los mandaban, aunque fueran muchos los que les negaran su colaboración personal y bastantes los que materializaron su discrepancia desertando de una u otra forma: fugándose en avión al territorio dominado por aquellos con los que se sentían compenetrados o a territorio extranjero o, lo más frecuente, buscando un refugio donde esconderse. De Getafe volaron a Pamplona en la mañana del 18 de julio tres Breguet 19, cuando aún no se había sublevado Mola y se les uniría uno más al día siguiente, escapado del Prat de Llobregat; otro saldría de Cuatro Vientos hacia Sevilla y dos más abandonarían León y Tauima (Melilla) en busca de las tierras extranjeras de Portugal y el Marruecos francés. En semanas sucesivas se iría produciendo un rosario de fugas individuales, en ambos sentidos, que siguió hasta finales de 1936, aunque tampoco entonces terminarían definitivamente, pues a lo largo de la guerra aviadores veteranos o improvisados optarían por volar a campo contrario.
[…]
Balance inicial de fuerzas y organización de las Aviaciones en 1936
Después de que los aeródromos y el material en ellos existente quedara así dividido, de las cuatro grandes unidades operativas el 17 de julio, quedaron en poder del Gobierno los núcleos centrales de la 1ª y 3ª escuadras, en tanto los de la 2ª y las Fuerzas Aéreas de África pasaban a poder de los sublevados. Los grupos 21 y 23 pertenecientes a las escuadras 1ª y 3ª, pero separados de sus cabeceras, se sumaron al alzamiento […]
Independientemente de esas cinco masas operativas de la Aviación Militar, existían otras tres dotadas de un considerable número de aviones de posible empleo bélico, algunos, los más modernos que existían en España: los afectos al Servicio de Instrucción; la Aeronáutica Naval y los aparatos de LAPE, todos ellos, casi sin excepción, retenidos por el Gobierno.
[…]
Esta misma proporción de 5 a 3 se mantuvo en los que respecta a personal. En el Arma de Aviación estaban destinados el 1 de julio de 1936 un coronel sin mando, 14 tenientes coroneles, 54 comandantes, 250 capitanes, 127 tenientes, 87 alféreces, 44 suboficiales y 10 cabos primeros, por lo que podemos cifrar el número de pilotos en medio millar, pues no todos los jefes y oficiales poseían el título y había quien teniéndolo no se encontraba en aptitud de vuelo.
A ellos hay que añadir el centenar largo de pilotos navales: un contraalmirante y 53 jefes y oficiales del Cuerpo General en situación A, y un jefe, 13 oficiales y 31 maestros pilotos del Cuerpo de Auxiliares de Aeronáutica Naval, con los que la cifra total excedía los seis centenares de los que cerca de 250 siguieron obedientes al Gobierno, del resto, 150 se unieron desde el principio a los sublevados y unos 200 fueron ejecutados, hechos prisioneros o se escondieron y desertaron, logrando unas decenas irse pasando a la otra zona a lo largo de la guerra.
En cuanto al material aéreo, la desproporción fue mayor, con la única excepción de los Breguet 19, que se repartieron muy equitativamente entre ambos bandos, unos 60 de cada lado; quedaron integramente en poder del Gobierno los 27 Vickers Vildebeest navales; los tres cazas Fury y 50 de los aproximadamente 62 Nieuport 52; los polimotores e hidroaviones gubernamentales triplicaron a los de los sublevados; y de los dos centenares largos de avionetas y aviones de segunda línea los retuvieron todos menos una quincena.

Summarizing, there were more than 600 pilots (from the Army and the Navy), of which about 250 remained loyal to the government, about 150 joined the rebellion, and 200 were executed, imprisoned or went into hiding, of which some tens managed to go the other area throughout the war. Slightly more than 66% of the first-line aircraft remained with the loyalist forces, the advantage increasing to 4:1 when second-line aircraft are included.


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