Ancient history

A bloody test bed

These advances in Axis aviation worry military experts. Both Hitler and Mussolini had aircraft – fighters and bombers – whose power and efficiency would weigh heavily in a possible conflict. Precisely, in July 1936, the war in Spain broke out and, little by little, it became a bloody test bed for German, Italian, Soviet and French aircraft.
Observers note, with a cold eye, the maneuverability, the firepower, the speed, the endurance of the planes. The Fiat CR-32 scales well, but is quite slow. The Savoia S-81 trimotor works wonders against infantry. The speed and range of the Savoia S-79 make it suitable for long-range missions. The Polikarpovrusses are solid. The Dewoitine D-371 is the best of the French. The Nieuport-52 seems of an outdated design. At the top of the killer list, the Germans, with the Messerschmitt-109 and the Ju-87 Stuka. In 1940, our troops will see the accuracy of this prognosis.
Great Britain and the United States are absent from this strange competition, but we know that they manufacture formidable devices. The Americans notably line up their Curtiss fighters and their Boeing bombers. The British have the excellent Hurricanes and Spitfires and the Whitley, Wellesley and Wellington bombers. As for the U.S.S.R., it suddenly revealed, during the May Day parades, that it was building modern four-engined bombers. It also has aircraft specially designed for its parachute divisions. But when, during major maneuvers, the white domes of the latter unfold, some military experts shrug their shoulders. “They will be killed by enemy machine guns before they get to the ground,” they say.

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