Book Review: Tank Combat in Spain: Armored Warfare During the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939


by Anthony J. Candil

Philadelphia: Casemate, 2021. . Pp. xx, 240+. Illus., tables, notes, biblio., index. $34.95 paper. ISBN: 1612009700

The Tank in the Spanish Civil War

Making use of resources in Spanish and Italian hitherto largely overlooked by writers on the subject, defense analyst Candil, a former Spanish armor officer, has produced the first book-length treatment of the role of armor in the Spanish Civil War. He gives us both an excellent look at how tanks were used, and a fairly even-handed treatment of the war itself.

Candil opens with a look at Spain’s early and limited experimentation with tanks. He then covers the various Italian, German, and Soviet models that arrived during the war, reminding us that these reflected the rather uncertain contemporary thinking about what constituted a proper tank and what its role should be. He goes on to the role of foreign advisors and crews in both training and combat, the organization of tank forces on both side, logistics, maintenances, tactics, and anti-tank weaponry He covers, operations, some in considerable detail, with a number of interesting battle pieces (alas, without maps or plans). Candil discusses the differences between Republican and Nationalist practice, both sides seeing them as an auxiliary to infantry, although in this role the Nationalists made better use of tanks – many captured from their foes – than did the Republicans, tending to concentrate them more, and coordinate them more closely with their infantry.

Candil’s account of the Guadalajara operation is rather “revisionist”, but accurate, and his treatment of both the opening phase of the war and some later operations – notably the Nationalist offensive from Aragon to the sea in early 1938 – should remind us that “blitzkrieg” can be conducted without tanks.

Tank Combat in Spain is a valuable read for anyone with an interest in armor or in the Spanish Civil War.



Note: Tank Combat in Spain is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi   

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