Weapons used in the spanish civil war

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slothmann
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Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by slothmann » 09 Oct 2015 16:51

Hi, I'm currently attempting to put together a list of all the weapons used in the Spanish civil war Rifles, Tanks etc. The ones I already know are below. Any help would be appreciated.

Rifles:
M1893 (both sides)
Mosin-Nagant (international brigades)
Level 1886 (international brigades)

Pistols:


Machine Guns:
Hotchkiss m1914 (both sides)
MG13 (Nationalists)
MG08/15 (Nationalists??)

Sub Machine Guns:
MP28 (Nationalists)

Anti-Tank
Pak 35/36 (Nationalists)
Soviet 45mm mod. 1932 (republicans)

Tank:
Mercier (Nationalists)
Ft-17 (both sides)
Verdeja (Nationalists)
T-26 (both sides)
Bt-5 ( Republicans)
Vickers 6 ton (Republicans)

Artillery:

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Ironmachine
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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Ironmachine » 10 Oct 2015 08:13

Well, certainly the task upon you are about to embark is not an easy one! You could find some information on the web, but if you want to know "all the weapons", then your best option is to use books. However, the books I know about the matter are in Spanish and they have not an English edition AFAIK. I don't have the time to go through them compiling a list of weapons, but if you think you can manage the language, I can give you the names of the books. Additionally, I can give you some webpages in Spanish that can help you somewhat, but would be not as complete as the books.
As an example of the difficulty of the task you are trying to fulfill, the tank list you posted has some glaring omissions and mistakes, and this is for sure the easiest part of your work!
You are missing the Schneider CA.1 and the Trubia-Naval for the Republicans and the Trubia A.4 for both sides. For the nationals, you are missing the CV.33/CV.35 (in both machine-gun and flamethrower versions) and the Panzer I (including the command version and the Breda-armed Spanish-made "version"). Then, there is the possibility that the single Fiat 3000 of the Spanish Army was involved in the first actions of the war, while it is questionable whether the single Vickers 6-ton actually entered combat. Finally, neither the Mercier nor the Verdeja (nor the Carro de Infanteria modelo 1937) were actually used in the war by the nationals, while the republicans had some similar "ad-hoc" tanks that seem to have not been used in combat either.

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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Knouterer » 10 Oct 2015 18:02

I remember reading that one battalion commander in the International Brigades had fourteen holes drilled in a block of wood, to hold the fourteen rifle cartridges of different calibres used by the rifles in his battalion, and kept it on his desk as an aide-mémoire ... so good luck drawing up that "complete" list. It might take a decade or two :milwink:
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Ironmachine
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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Ironmachine » 11 Oct 2015 07:47

That sounds like an urban legend to me... It is true that recent studies estimate at sixty the number of rifle models used by the Republicans, in 19 different calibers (and 10 rifle models used by the Nationals). However, finding as much as fourteen different rifle calibers in a single battalion (and a frontline battalion for that) would have been almost impossible IMHO. The whole 8ª Division had 7 different rifle calibers in July 1938, and this is often cited as an example of the logistical nightmare suffered by the Republicans (that probably could have been solved if they had had better organization, but that's another question).

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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Knouterer » 12 Oct 2015 12:54

I'm not offering the block of wood as an established fact, more as an anecdote. But the situation was certainly chaotic enough - the Soviets started their "aid" to the Republic by selling them, at a steep price, all the (non-standard) junk left over from WWI and the Russian Civil War, which included old black powder rifles like the Gras, Kropatschek and Vetterli. Any ammunition for these weapons was probably in an even worse state than the rifles themselves.
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Ironmachine
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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Ironmachine » 13 Oct 2015 07:41

The situation was certainly complicated, but fourteen different rifle calibers in a single battalion is utter chaos, and AFAIK it did not happen. And if it really happened, then the responsibility was mainly in the deficient organization of the EPR, and not in the variety of weapons by itself. It should be noted that together with the "(non-standard) junk" the Soviet Union did send modern rifles; in fact, of about 340.000 rifles purchased from the Soviet Union, about 70% (nearly a quarter million) were Mosin Nagant modelo 7,62 mm x 54 mm. In fact, despite the existence of those 19 different rifle calibers, the Republic had three main rifle calibers: 7,62 mm x 54 mm (for the Soviet Mosin Nagants and some other rifles), the 7,92 mm x 57 mm (for the Mausers bought from a number of sources, at least 125.000 rifles, plus captured weapons), and the Spanish 7 mm x 57 mm (for about 300.000 Spanish weapons plus maybe as many as 20.000 Mexican rifles and some Chilean weapons, and captured weapons). It should have been posible, with the proper organization, to arm the front units mainly with these three calibers, leaving the remaining calibres for second-line troops, security units and the like (it should be remembered that the Nationals did employ three main rifle calibers in their combat units: the Spanish 7 mm Mauser, the German 7,92 mm Mauser and the Italian 6,5mm Carcano). However, even if for any reason it was deemed necessary to use some or all those other calibers, there is no reason other than an extremely poor quartermaster work and a complete lack of control over weapons allocation that could explain the presence of fourteen different rifle calibers in a single battalion: can anyone really believe that (if they really tried) they were unable to find about 640 rifles that were not even of the same model but just of the same caliber?

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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Knouterer » 13 Oct 2015 16:32

No need to keep harping on the fourteen calibres, as I said, that's just a story. As I also said, the Soviets started by selling off all their old junk (including also British 4.5" howitzers, German 76 mm trench mortars, and whatnot) - once that was gone, or most of it, they started supplying more modern weapons. New tanks and airplanes were supplied almost from the beginning.

Drawing up a complete list of all the handguns used in the conflict would certainly be a daunting task, if it were possible at all: Spanish pistols produced between say 1890-1938 alone run into many dozens of different models.
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Ironmachine
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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Ironmachine » 14 Oct 2015 07:42

No need to keep harping on the fourteen calibres, as I said, that's just a story.
It is not just a story; it is a story that seems to be false. As an anecdote, if true its value is very limited as proof of any argument. But if it is false, then the danger is that it can present a very distorted view of reality. I think that the forum members should know how probable is that the story is true or false.
As I also said, the Soviets started by selling off all their old junk (including also British 4.5" howitzers, German 76 mm trench mortars, and whatnot) - once that was gone, or most of it, they started supplying more modern weapons. New tanks and airplanes were supplied almost from the beginning
Perhaps you can provide the date in which the first Soviet Mosin Nagant reached Spain. I don't have that date now. However, for the sake of the argument, another relevant piece of information should be when was that particular battalion equipped with rifles of fourteen different calibers.
Anyway, you are mixing two different problems here. One is whether the rifles provided by the Soviet Union were old junk or not, and another one is whether it was unavoidable or not to arm a battalion with rifles of fourteen different calibers.
But in fact you are mixing another two different problems: being old is not the same as being junk. Certainly the Soviets took the opportunity to rid themselves (for a good price) of old weapons in which they had no interest, but that does not mean that those weapons were just junk.
Regarding the rifles, certainly there were some that were of little use, like for example the Kropatschek, the Gras and the Vetterli (but these were a few thousands and were used mainly in the rearguard). Many other models, while old, can not be classified in any way as junk as they were perfectly suitable for combat use and were in fact in service in many Armies of the World at the time. It's not as if the Nationals were much better in qualitative terms, either: the 7,92mm Mausers were of World War I vintage, and the Carcano 1891 rifles were old and poor weapons, and they had their own junk rifles in the Vetterli-Vitali. In short, the republican problem was not the quality of the rifles (in fact, only them purchased brand new rifles abroad) but the variety of calibers that was a problem for the ordnance. However, this problem was solved as the war went on. However, not even at the beginning of the war would have been necessary to arm an infantry battalion with rifles of fourteen different calibers. If that really happened (and I doubt it very much), such an event tells us much more about the disorganization and lack of order in the Republican side than about the dearth of weaponry they could be suffering.
Regarding the artillery, the situation is similar. The artillery of both sides was equipped with old weapons (and both sides had their share of junk). And in the field of artillery, it is quite probable that the Nationals used more different models than the Republicans.
As for the specific examples that you mention:
Was the British 4.5" howitzer really junk? In which way was it worse than the Vickers 105mm Mod. 1922 that was in service in the Spanish Army or the howitzers of World War I vintage provided by the Italians? Why was this howitzer still in use with the British Army in World War II if it was junk?
Was the German Erhardt 76mm trench mortar really junk? Well, it was also used by the Nationals.

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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Stephan » 14 Oct 2015 22:23

Also, as I understand it, a common source was weapons taken from the Franco-side. Especielly the Italians could be reliable deliverers. The north african troops fought better, for example. But they too left quite a few weapons, as they did dare attacks.
There was an battle, where the internationals were instead met by 5 (I think) italian divisions. After the battle the government could rearm in full two own full divisions with italian weapons they fetched on the battlefield... Which must mean, these italian divisions must have been completely if not annihilated, so in any case, sheared up, everyone still alive dropping weapons and running back as quickly they managed... (It was in a book about Swedes foughting in wars in the 20 century, with a big chapter about the Spanish civil war. Nay, it wasnt these Swedes alone whom did it, but they did particpated in that fight and could thus witness.

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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Ironmachine » 15 Oct 2015 07:37

Considering how the war went on, though the Republicans did capture weapons from the Nationals, it happened mainly the other way around. With less captured weapons available, more problems to supply ammunition for them, and perhaps a "political" bias, the Republicans used far less captured weapons than the Nationals.
Regarding the battle you mention, the only one that can fit that depiction is the battle of Guadalajara. Unfortunately (for the Republicans), no Italian division was completely annihilated there, nor was there a general "run for your life" flight with everybody dropping weapons. Despite the descriptive excesses of the Republican propaganda, Republican official reports on the capture of Italian materials show that the booty they managed to capture was really poor. Although there are some differences in the numbers, they did not capture enough weapons to arm even an infantry battalion and an artillery battalion. In fact, it seems that the Spanish units operating on the CTV's flank captured more weapons than the Italians lost.

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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Knouterer » 15 Oct 2015 14:49

Weapons like the 4.5" howitzer or the 76 mm Minenwerfer, though obsolescent, might still have been effective weapons in 1936-39 - but of course there is no telling what they looked like after being roughly handled by various owners and users in 1914-22.

What I meant by "junk" is that from the Soviet point of view, they were cleaning out the attic, and must have been very glad to be paid in Spanish gold for weapons they no longer needed because they had much better designs in production, or about to go in production.
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Ironmachine
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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Ironmachine » 15 Oct 2015 16:14

What I meant by "junk" is that from the Soviet point of view, they were cleaning out the attic, and must have been very glad to be paid in Spanish gold for weapons they no longer needed because they had much better designs in production, or about to go in production.
Yes, that's true, and I have already pointed that. But then, from the Republican point of view, they must (or at least should) have been very glad to pay for weapons they badly needed because they had not better designs available, and neither did their enemies.

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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Knouterer » 15 Oct 2015 16:28

Ironmachine wrote: .


Perhaps you can provide the date in which the first Soviet Mosin Nagant reached Spain.
According to Gerald Howson, Arms for Spain, p. 144, the first Mosin-Nagant M1891 rifles (25,500) arrived in Spain on 16 January 1937 on the Sac 2, and the first new M91/30 rifles (10,450) on 10 August 1937.
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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Ironmachine » 15 Oct 2015 18:10

Yes, that is what Howson says in his book.

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Re: Weapons used in the spanish civil war

Post by Ironmachine » 16 Oct 2015 07:05

Ironmachine wrote:
Stephan wrote:Also, as I understand it, a common source was weapons taken from the Franco-side. Especielly the Italians could be reliable deliverers.
Considering how the war went on, though the Republicans did capture weapons from the Nationals, it happened mainly the other way around. With less captured weapons available, more problems to supply ammunition for them, and perhaps a "political" bias, the Republicans used far less captured weapons than the Nationals.
In fact, a very important number of captured weapons used by the National side came from ships captured while sailing towards Republican ports. This has the additional advantage that the weapons were ready for use, unlike most of those captured on the field, which may need a heavy work on collection, transport to depots, repairs and classification. The Republic failed completely in this field.

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