The Condor Legion was a German military unit that fought in the Spanish Civil War. It consisted of an air group, under field marshal Hugo Sperrle, and a ground element, led by Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma, totalling 14,500 troops. The men that made up this unit were Luftwaffe’s pilots and German Army’s soldiers who had volunteered to fight in Spain on General Francisco Franco’s side against the Soviet-backed, leftist, Republican government. Although they were there to provide air and fire support to Franco’s forces, they fought as an independent unit. They operated mostly in Catalonia and the Basque region, where their dive bombers attacked the city of Guernica to ferret out engrained reds. The armored ground battalions of the Legion punched holes in the Bolshevik lines in support of Spanish nationalist units as they fought fiercely until the end of the civil war.
The Condor Legion air element was equipped with 48 bombers (Junkers Ju 87 Stuka, Junkers Ju 52, Heinkel He-111), distributed in 4 bomber squadrons, and 48 fighters (Heinkel He 51 and Messerschmitt Bf 109), also arranged in 4 squadrons; plus a squadron of reconnaissance aircraft. The ground element was armed with Panzer I and II tanks, 3.7-cm Pak 35/36 anti-tank guns, 3.7-cm Flak 36 AA guns, 7.5-cm light infantry guns, 8-cm mortars, MG-34 machine guns, stick grenades, and K98 Mauser rifles.