On April 26, 1937 the world got its first taste of the impact of strategic air power. German aircraft belonging to the Condor Legion attacked the Basque city of Guernica. Ignoring military targets and concentrating on the civilian population, German planes killed somewhere around 1500 people and wounded thousands more. The gutted shell of the city became a symbol of the horrible power of modern arms.
Guernica was just one example of the use of the Spanish Civil War as a test bed for new aircraft and techniques by the Germans. Acting on behalf of the Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco, the Germans employed their latest aircraft, including the Heinkel He.111 and the Messerschmitt Bf.109 in support of Nationalist forces and in sweeping the skies clear of opposing Republican aircraft. The rest of the world was still hoping to appease Nazi Germany. The Germans were already rehearsing for 1939 and the Second World War.
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