Wargaming the Spanish Civil War in Bolt Action
Wargaming the Spanish Civil War in Bolt Action

Wargaming the Spanish Civil War

Unofficial Bolt Action Rules

Overview

The very term “a Civil War” is an oxymoron in any context, but doubly so in reference to the Spanish Civil War. There are tomes written about this savage conflict and I would be doing a disservice to both you, the reader, and to the history of Spain to try to encapsulate it here.

What I wish to do instead is offer up an unofficial army list and rules to enable Bolt Action players to simulate a tactical platoon level table top game for this conflict.

The war itself is sometimes considered as the first act in the saga soon to be called the Second World War. It did, after all, involve an armed struggle between the forces of fascism and democracy (quickly usurped by Stalin and communism) and it only ended in April of 1939, just months before the September 1st invasion of Poland.

But it was far more complex than that simple summary, and it involved age-old conflicts between regions, between rural and urban values, between Catholicism and secularism, and between the property-owning class and the dispossessed. All these factions are represented in the composition of the forces in this conflict and in this document.

A (very) brief overview of the start of the Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War (or “SCW”)  itself officially commenced in July of 1936, but the social and political disintegration within the Spanish empire had been progressing for centuries. The last stages involved the forced abdication of King Alfonso XIII in 1931 and the establishment of the new Republic with a Socialist-leaning government being elected. The political factional fighting grew in intensity, particularly due to the economic down-turn caused by the world-wide depression, and the rise of extremist parties on both sides of the political spectrum, effectively hollowing out the political centre. A right-wing coalition won electoral power in 1933, despite a large disparity between the actual votes and the result: the centre and leftist parties won more votes but the right-wing coalition won more seats. The multiple long-standing pressures on Spanish society – economic decline, regional strife, a feudal system of land ownership, endemic corruption – all came to a boil during this time period.

The 1936 elections resulted in victory for a loose coalition of leftist and regional parties titled the Popular Front. This coalition involved the open participation of the Moscow-controlled Communist party, which tactically allied itself with the Socialists in order to get their hands near the tiller of power.  The election’s immediate aftermath involved land seizures by tenant farmers, extreme violence towards clergy, land owners, rampant strikes, all of which were exasperated by exaggerated press reports, fuelling both internal and external reactions; the fears of a Marxist workers revolution were very real not just in Spain but throughout the establishment of the West.

These concerns resulted in a bumbled coup d’état in July of 1936 when a planned, loosely organized coup by right-wing military officers failed to seize control. Co-ordination was lacking; when launched somewhat prematurely it resulted in many army officers being unprepared or hesitant to act. This hesitancy led to the officers of many garrisons on Spain failing to seize the initiative. In some cases, the troops failed to follow the rebellious officer’s lead; in others their efforts were thwarted by a quick reaction by forces loyal to the Republic. However, in the Spanish protectorate of Morocco, forces of the Army of Africa were successful in seizing control and within days, had acquired control of the army naval assets in Spanish Morocco.

The response of the Republic’s government foreshadowed the traits that crippled it in this war. The Republic’s government was composed of a gaggle of different factions with conflicting agendas and priorities. The  communists, following Moscow’s lead, wanted a strong central authority (under their control of course!). The Catalan and Basque region sought their independence, the sizeable Anarchist factions wished no outside control at all, and the military units that remained loyal had lost most of their officers to the Nationalists or to purges immediately after the start of the rebellion. The officers that survived those purges, even though loyal to the Republic, remained under suspicion.

The rebels, or Nationalists, were also a coalition, but one by their nature more inclined to follow a central chain of command.  It was composed of the Army of Africa, the only experienced and battle hardened force in the Army,  together with the Spanish Foreign Legion (unlike the French Foreign Legion, this was mostly composed of Spaniards), and the Carlists, an ardent group of Catholic monarchists (but loyal not to the deposed King Alfonso but to a former failed royal, Don Carlos, and whose forefathers had fought in the Carlist wars of the previous century). They were sworn enemies of the secular forces of a modern Spain. The landowners and much of the middle class supported the Falangist party, a right-wing party espousing much of the fascist doctrine popular in Europe, but with its goals limited to Spain, and without the expansionist agenda of other fascist movements. This ability to exert a centralized control would be one of the most significant advantages the Nationalists had in this conflict.

For those interested in reading further on this, I would recommend the following three books:

1)“The Spanish Civil War” by Antony Beevor. This was one of his first books, and has been updated to correspond with new data not available when was first printed. It isn’t as fluid as Beevor’s later work, but still gives a good account of the war.

2)“The Passionate War” by Peter Wyden. I really enjoyed this book.  It offers multiple narrative accounts from the perspective of different participants and onlookers. Highly readable and engaging.

3)“The Spanish Civil War” by Hugh Thomas. This is a real chunk of a book that will tell you everything you will want to know. It is, however, a sizeable book and a bit on the scholarly, as opposed to entertaining, side.

Special SCW Army Rules

General rules (Apply to both the Loyalist and Nationalist armies)

The SCW was a minimalist in the sense that Spain was a poor country and neither side had unlimited access to significant resources. Military strategists were only starting to absorb the new  technology and come to grips with the prospect of mechanized warfare. Therefore, certain weapon systems common in Bolt Action will be either not available or have limitations to players of either side:

1.“Yes we have no SMGs”

Submachine guns (SMGs) were a rare and expensive infantry weapon. They were used, but on a very limited scale. Their availability is thus reflected here.

2.“Not many LMGs either”

Likewise, light machine guns (LMGs) were in very limited supply, and will be generally limited to one per reinforced platoon.

3.“Fighting like it’s 1899”

There were no anti-tank rifles in use in the conflict, and items like Molotov cocktails were only first introduced during the war. As such, to represent the rarity of these anti-tank weapons, generally only one squad per reinforced platoon can be equipped with anti-tank grenades (Molotov cocktails)

4.“What’s yours in mine”

Both sides made use of equipment captured/abandoned by their foes, so unless otherwise stated, each side can utilize the armoured vehicles and transports originating from the list of the other side, as inexperienced, regular or veteran.

The usual “unreliable” rule applies to captured vehicles, reflecting the poor maintenance /lack of spare parts for the captured vehicles.

5.“Don’t smoke ‘em ‘cause you ain’t got them”

The artillery ammunition supply for both sides was generally restricted, and in my study of this conflict I have never read of an occasion where smoke was employed, either in a barrage or as a part of a normal supply to an artillery piece or mortar unit. High explosive ammunition was essentially the exclusive type of ammunition used by all sides.

6.Limited artillery barrages

Both sides generally had a paucity of both artillery ammunition supply for the guns. All artillery observers will have a negative modifier to his roll to call in an artillery strike, e.g. an artillery strike will only come on a roll of 5 or 6; a 1 will still result in a miscalculation order, and a 2, 3, or 4 will have the fire order delayed.

7. “Machismo”

Soldiers on both sides were reluctant to use entrenchments even when on the defence, as it was considered unmanly. This observation is recounted in many independent accounts of Spanish troops who choose not to dig in.

As such, when using the “dug in” rule as part of a scenario, the normal benefit of +2 to hit is halved to +1, to represent the inability of most troops to maximize their defensive positions.

** each specific Bolt Action  special rule is defined in the footnotes at the end of the article**

Republican / Loyalist army

The Republican, or “Loyalist”, army in the SCW, consisted of a virtual alphabet soup of different factions. In 1936 the Loyalists could nominally count on the support of the following;

  • PCE – Spanish Communist Party, loyal to Moscow
  • FAI- Iberian Anarchist Federation
  • POUM – Anti-Stalin Workers party of Marxist unification
  • CNT-National Confederation of Labour (anarchists -libertarian)
  • UGT- General Union of Labour (socialist)

A portion of each military service (army, navy and air force) remained with the Republican government, but the most experienced troops (the Army of Africa) together with much of the Officer Corps of each service went to the rebel’s side. Worse, distrust amongst these various groups within the Popular Front – each concerned with their own survival and position – hampered any joint operational effectiveness or supply coordination.  Regional groups – such as the Catalans and the Basques – considered themselves to be now independent of Madrid. The Anarchists were just that, true to their beliefs, and they defied recognizing any central authority. The Communists, of course, were ardent in their belief that central authority was key to a worker’s state, but they were split into different camps of their own over the subject of loyalty to Stalin and his Moscow directives.

The Loyalist government remained the legitimate elected government of Spain, but the western democracies feared the communist elements within it more than they did the fascist leaning rebels. The civil unrest in their own countries made them fearful of encouraging a socialist state. As such, they sat on their hands and imposed a leaky arms embargo to both sides, willfully ignoring the blatant support Franco received from Germany and Italy.

The Loyalists did obtain arms from any and all sources, but for the bulk of their needs, they gave up their soul and their gold reserves to Moscow for armaments. The increased level of Soviet aid only reinforced the West’s concern of an openly Communist state in Western Europe. The Soviet aid wasn’t distributed evenly among the Loyalists, but instead steered towards leaders and factions who had demonstrated loyalty to the Moscow directed Spanish communists.

These special rules for the Loyalist army seek to represent these unique attributes.

1. Lack of equipment and supply. The Republic lost its best officers to the Nationalist cause or to preemptive purges at the start of the SCW. Its efforts to acquire modern weapons were thwarted by the reluctance and soon an embargo by the western democracies to sell weapons to either side, while the same nations turned a blind eye to Germany and Italy supplying the rebels. This led the ill-informed Republican government representatives to make purchases of over-priced and obsolete weapons from any source available. There are accounts of Loyalist forces struggling to supply over a dozen different caliber of small arms ammunition. Troops on occasion went into to battle with only ten rounds per man. On top of that, maintenance was almost none existent. George Orwell, a member of the International Brigades, had recorded the absence of any cleaning equipment or oil for the infantry’s rifles. As such, all inexperienced Loyalist units – infantry and support weapons- experience an additional -1 to hit when firing at long-range, to represent the poor weapons condition and maintenance.

A Member of the UGT faction, carrying what appears to be a lever action Winchester rifle. An example of the ammunition supply issues faced by the Loyalists.

2. Poor communication and cohesion.The Republican forces were an amalgamation of forces with conflicting goals and agendas. This led to hoarding of supplies and failure to support the efforts of unit belonging to competing factions. It even broke down into open warfare, particularly between the communist and the anarchist factions: a “civil war within a civil war”. To represent this, all republican units are required to take an additional -1 to their order roll to bring reserves onto the table. Further, only veteran republican forces are capable of outflanking.

3. Political officers. Not unlike the commissars of the Red Army, the political officer provides “encouragement” to the officers and men of the Loyalist forces. Unlike the Soviet Commissars, they do not shoot shirkers, but their presence and persuasion serves as a back-stop to failed order checks. If a political officer is within 6” of a unit which has failed an Orders check, that unit gets to re-roll the Order roll. This does not include FUBARs.

The presence of a political officer within 6” of a Loyalist HQ increases the number of units that HQ can “snap to action” by +1, to signify the confidence of the men being bolstered.

4. “No pasarán!”– the Loyalist’s multiple factions had the upside in that its breadth of support was quite wide. The Republican forces outnumbered the Nationalists until late 1938, when the territorial losses reduced their recruitment areas.

As such, when a Republican player purchases three squads of inexperienced infantry or workers militia, with a minimum of nine men to each squad, that player will get a fourth squad of that type free, equal in size to the smallest of the three purchased squads.

5. “Non Testati”– the inexperienced conscripts and militia lacked formal training and suffered from spotty leadership and supply. Their performance was often unpredictable; they could break apart at the very rumour of Moor tribesmen approaching their position, or alternatively could be inspired and fight savagely against impossible odds.

This rule applies to specific units as noted in the infantry selectors below.

6. Poor Ground – Air Co-ordination:  Although supplied by the Soviet Union with modern fighter and bomber aircraft, the Loyalists were unable to gain the co-ordination required to use these assets effectively at a tactical level. To reflect this, Loyalist air observers will have a modified chart to roll in order call in an artillery strike, e.g. a roll of a 1 will still result in “Rookie pilot” strike coming in, target placed by his opponent, , and a roll of 2, 3, or 4 will result in “skies are empty”, and a 5 or 6 will result in “here it comes!”

7. Dinamitero Team: The Loyalist army made effective use of the Asturias miners, who were both brave and skilled in the use of dynamite. They were referred to a “Dinamitero”, and would advance on Nationalist positions and light sticks of dynamite with a cigarette in their mouth, and then launch it with a sling. This weapon made up for the much of the deficiencies in weaponry of the Republican forces

Republican Reinforced platoon

Each reinforced platoon will contain a minimum of

  • One HQ team
  • Two infantry squads

Each reinforced platoon may additionally have the following

  • 0 – 1 senior officer command team
  • 0- 1 medic
  • 0- 1 forward artillery observer
  • 0- 1 forward air observer
  • 0-  4 more infantry squads
  • 0- 1 medium MMG
  • 0- 1 ight or medium mortar
  • 0 – 1 light, medium or heavy gun
  • 0- 1 light anti tank gun
  • 0- 1 armoured car
  • 0 – 1 tank
  • 0- 1 sharp shooters
  • 0- 1 flame thrower team
  • 0- 2 Dinamitero teams
  • 0- 1 Political Officer
  • 0- 4 transports

Officer Team

The Republican side did not have a strong officer corps; the officer ranks of the Spanish military was traditionally made up of members of the middle class and those aspiring for social recognition. Many officers moved to the Nationalist side at the time of the July 1936 coup attempt, and those that remained loyal to the Republic were still mistrusted by the conspiracy obsessed politicians in the factious Loyalist government.

Composition

Officer Team: 1 officer

-Inexperienced Second (Junior) Lieutenant 35 pts

-Regular Second (Junior) Lieutenant 50 pts

-Inexperienced First (Senior) Lieutenant 60 pts

-Regular First (Senior) Lieutenant 75  pts

-The officer may be accompanied by up to 2 men of same quality at a cost of:

+7 pts per man (Inexperienced)

+10 pts per man (Regular)

Weapons: Pistol or rifle, as depicted on the models.

Conscript Loyalist Infantry Squad

The Metropolitan Army of Spain of 1936 was generally poorly trained, poorly treated and poorly equipped. The enlisted ranks frequently consisted of unmotivated conscripts. They lacked any combat experience (unlike the Army of Africa) and often had not even participated in field maneuvers. However, dependent on the situation, they could demonstrate ferocious courage or alternatively crumble into panic at a critical point in the battle.

Composition

– Inexperienced

– 1 NCO and 4 men = 35 points

– Up to 7 additional men @ 7 points each

Weapons

– rifles

Options

-One squad only of each reinforced platoon can be equipped with anti-tank grenades (Molotov cocktails) for +2 points per man

Special rules

  • Tank Hunter if equipped with A/T grenades
  • “NonTestati”
  • “No pasarán”

Workers Militia

The Republican cause had its primary support from the working class, particularly in urban areas. Although almost entirely untrained, and poorly equipped, they could prove tenacious in battle, and frequently neither gave nor expected to receive quarter to their opponent.

Worker’s militia:  commonly armed women, a revolutionary concept for the time

The Loyalists has no qualms in employing women in non-traditional roles. These anarchist workers wear the standard blue “boiler suits” of the factory worker.

Composition

– Inexperienced

– 1 NCO and 4 men = 35 points

– Up to 10 additional men @ 7 points each

Weapons

– rifles

Options

-One squad only of each reinforced platoon can be equipped with anti-tank grenades (Molotov cocktails) for +2 points per man

Special rules

  • Tank Hunter if equipped with A/T grenades
  • “NonTestati”
  • “No pasarán”

Assault Guards/ Republican (Civil) Guards

Internal security in Spain was maintained by the Civil Guard. The Civil Guard was considered the iron hand of the land owners and industrialists. Its men all served outside of their home regions to remove any loyalty to the local populace. They served primarily in rural regions. When the Socialist government came to power in 1931, they established the Assault Guards, who served in the same capacity, but in urban areas and with a loyalty to the leftist parties.

Assault Guards on parade. The uniform is a dark blue

At the start of the actual civil war, the ranks of both the Civil and Assault Guards split, but in both cases the majority of each remained with its original side (Civil Guards with the right-wing rebels and the Assault Guards with the left-wing Loyalists). Civil Guard units who switched to the side of feb Loyalist were remained “Republican Guards”. These units had some degree of training and some had even been equipped with armoured cars. The Assault Guards and Republican Guards share the same attributes.

Composition

Regular

– 1 NCO and 4 men = 50 points

– Up to 7 additional men @ 10 points each

Veteran

– 1 NCO and 4 men = 65 points

– Up to 7 additional men @ 13 points each

Weapons

– rifles

Options

-One squad in each reinforced platoon can be equipped with anti-tank grenades (Molotov cocktails) for +2 points per man

-One man per squad can be equipped with an SMG instead of a rifle for +3 points

-One LMG can be added to one squad in a reinforced platoon for 20 points, with one additional man being assigned as a loader.

-Can be tough fighters for an additional 1 point per man

Special rules

  • Tank Hunter (if so equipped)
  • Tough fighters ( if chosen)

International Brigade

The international Brigades are likely the best known units of the SCW. Comprised of volunteers from over 20 different nations, they were composed of committed socialists, as well as adventure seekers. The units were leavened with a few veterans of the Great War, but generally were completely untrained, and the little training they did receive once they arrived in Spain emphasized foot drill; they were used to bolster the morale of civilians by having the foreign volunteers march sharply through the streets.

The Members of the American volunteer Abraham Lincoln BrigadeInexperienced (Green)

– 1 NCO and 4 men = 35 points

– Up to 7 additional men @ 7 points each

Regular

– 1 NCO and 4 men = 50 points

– Up to 7 additional men @ 10 points each

Weapons

– rifles

Options

-One squad in each reinforced platoon can be equipped with anti-tank grenades (Molotov cocktails) for +2 points per man

-One LMG can be added to one squad in a reinforced platoon with 10 or more men, for 20 points, with one additional man being assigned as a loader.

Special rules

  • Tank Hunter (if so equipped)
  • Green

** Note: the International brigade is the only Loyalist infantry units  who did not possess the Iberian attitude against using trenches. The International Brigades also had a significant number of veterans from the Great War, and as Spain did not participate in that war, the foreign volunteers had more familiarity with modern warfare.**

** As such they are not affected with the “Machismo” rule, and thus gain the full benefit of being “Dug In”.**

Cavalry

The use of cavalry was an integral part of the Spanish military, both from a practical method of transport and as a matter of prestige.

Composition

Regular

– 1 NCO and 4 men with horses = 65 points

– Up to 5 additional men @ 13 points each

Veteran

– 1 NCO and 4 men with horses = 80 points

– Up to 5 additional men @ 16 points each

Weapons

– carbines,

– swords

– each man equipped with horse

Special rules

  • Can fire from saddle (6” range)
  • Can engage in close combat while mounted
  • Can not go “down” while mounted
  • When dismounted, can not remount during game
  • Can “recce” when mounted.
  • Tough fighter

Special units

Political Officer/Commissar

Much like the Commissars in the Soviet Red Army, the Republicans used political officers in an effort to ensure the loyalty of the suspect officer class, as well as steel the nerve of their inexperienced front line troops.

Inexperienced Political Officer – 25 points

Weapons

Pistol or rifle, as depicted on the models.

Special rules

  • All units within 6” of a friendly unit will be unable to re-really any failed order test, with the exception of a FUBAR.
  • Any officer team within 6” of a political officer will have a +1 added to their leadership bonus, to reflect the increased confidence the troops will have in their Officer if he is being supported by the political officer.

Dinamitero team

The Loyalist army made effective use of the Asturian miners, who were both brave and skilled in the use of dynamite. They were referred to a “Dinamiteros”, and would advance on Nationalist positions and light sticks of dynamite with a cigarette in their mouth, and then launch it with a sling. This weapon made up for the much of the deficiencies in weaponry of the Republican forces.

Dinamitero about to launch

Composition

– 2 man team

-Regular 30 points

-Veteran 36 points

-Up to 3 additional men per team,

– 15 points each as regular,

– 18 points each as veteran.

Weapons

– pistol

– dynamite and sling

Options

-Any man may be armed with a rifle instead of a pistol for 2 extra points man.

Special Rules

-Tank hunter

-Tough fighter

– Stubborn

Dynamite sling

-Can launch dynamite from 6” to target. Hits on a 4,5, or 6. If it scores a hit on a soft target, it hits with a D3 (1” template)

-If used against a vehicle a hit has a pen on +1, no additional hit modifier.

-** This is based on the fact an 60 mm mortar round generally contains 200 g of HE, a stick of TNT contains 190 g of explosives, and the 60 mm mortar is considered as a “light mortar” in Bolt Action**

-Multiple hits from the same unit are to be scored individually for damage.

-A team member may only fire one weapon per turn, e.g. sling dynamite or his firearm.

Sharp shooter

The Republicans did not employ formally trained sniper teams as utilized later in the following World War, but did employ Sharp shooters to wear down their opponents and neutralize enemy officers and diminish the rebel’s frontline morale.

Composition

Sharp shooter – one man,

–  45 points regular,

–  60 points veteran

Weapons

– rifle

Special rules

-Normal sniper rules

-Small team

– Multiple hit HE when applicable

Flame thrower team

Flame throwers, as known in the following World War, were not used in the SCW. Both sides did, however, improvise portable Flame Throwers. These weapons posed nearly as much risk to the users as they did to the enemy. There are accounts of their use in the Siege of Alcazar in Toledo, as well as later in the war.

Composition

– Two man team

– Inexperienced – 36 points

– Regular – 45 points

Special Rules

-Small team

-Poor maintenance/unreliable

When rolling to determine whether the flamethrower runs out of fuel, you suffer a -1 modifier to the roll.

Improvised armoured trucks

The Loyalists initially held the industrial regions of Spain, in particular Catalonia and the Basque regions. In these areas great ingenuity was employed to create armoured fight vehicles. One class was simply standard commercial trucks with boiler plate fastened to them, providing some rudimentary protection for the engine and occupants. These were produced in a wide variety of styles, but we have standardized the rule and cost as follows:

The improvised armoured trucks were most one of a kinds, without any standardization.

The Improvised armoured truck

Passenger capacity 12 men, or alternatively tow a light gun or ATG

Inexperienced – 35 points

Regular – 46 points

-Can be armed with an MMG covering front arc for 15 points.

Special Rules

-Unreliable – due to  the  extra weight on the suspension and over taxed engine, these vehicles suffer from the unreliable rule

-Cannot be damaged by small arms but can still sustain pins (6+ soft skin)

Armoured Cars

Constructora AFVs

The industrial workers in Barcelona wasted no time after the commencement of hostilities to begin fabricating armoured vehicles. Amongst these were the Constructora series of armoured cars. Built with boiler plate fastened onto a heavy lorry chassis, they were generally armed with an MMG in a revolving turret, and in addition had firing ports on the side for troops to shoot from. They really were a rudimentary Infantry Fighting Vehicle. The Republicans used them in urban fighting to delivery a squad to the base of a building to enable an assault into the building.

A Constructora Armoured vehicle. Note the many weapon ports on the side.

Constructora Armoured Car

Regular –  66 points

Inexperienced – 58 points

Armour 7+, closed top

MMG in turret, 360 degree rotation

Capacity  – 9 passengers

Special Rules

-Unreliable : (due to overworked engine, endemic overheating, and maintenance access points obstructed by Armoured plate installation.)

Domestically produced Armoured Cars

Spanish produced armoured cars include the Bilbao and the UNL- 35, both with the same features of many interwar A/Cs- built on the 2 wheel drive chassis of a commercial lorry, armoured with thin plate, and armed with a turret mounted MMG, sometimes augmented with a frontal hull MG. The point value is easily derived for each model using the Vehcile design system, e.g. a 7+ armour armoured car, with a single MMG would cost 60 points as a regular, the additional front hull MMG would cost an additional 10 points.

A Bilbao in the service of the Loyalists

Other armoured cars used by Loyalist forces

– Soviet Supplied BA-20 ( as per Soviet list, no flame thrower option)

– Soviet Supplied BA-3 ( as per Soviet list)

Tanks

Renault FT (as per French list)

The Spanish army had acquired Renault FT tanks from the French after the end of the Great War, and used them with some success in the Rif war in the 1920s. At the commencement of the SCW both sides ended up with FT tanks under their control.

The FT in the foreground is a command tank equipped with radio

Schneider CA-1

The Spanish army had acquired a limited number of the ponderous Schneider tanks from France. Although relegated to a training role by 1936, they were brought back to front line service by the Loyalists and used in combat by the early part of the SCW.

Schneider CA1 in Madrid, early in the war

Schneider CA1

-7+ (carrier) armour

-Light howitzer firing to front and right arc

-One MMG firing to right arc

-One MMG firing to left arc

Regular –   95 points

Special rules

-Slow… Pitifully slow (maximum speed or 8 kph)

-Unreliable: due to age and minimal maintenance, these machines were not operationally reliable.

Soviet Supplied BT-5 tank  ( as per Soviet list)

Soviet Supplied T-26 Model 1933 tank. ( as per Soviet list)

** Any Soviet supplied tank or armoured car taken as a “veteran” is assumed to be crewed by Soviet “volunteers”.

Artillery

Limited to

-Light howitzer

-Medium howitzer

-Heavy howitzer

-Light anti tank gun (37mm to 47mm ATGs from numerous sources)

Transport/tow

-Horse drawn limber

-Truck

-Improvised armoured truck

-tractor

 

 

Nationalist / Rebel army

Special rules

1. “Order beats Chaos every time”

The Nationalist army benefited from a more cohesive command structure, and the factions within the rebel coalition did not degenerate into conflict as the Loyalist did. The Nationalists also started the SCW with a large body of trained and experienced men and a large portion of the officer corps. As a result, Nationalist units are able to conduct outflanking maneuvers with the normal modifiers.

2. “A little help from your friends”

The Nationalists almost immediately received a steady supply of arms from Italy and Germany. This was followed with a large Italian contingent, as well as the smaller but very effective German Condor Legion.

To reflect this, a Nationalist player will receive a free Bonus support weapon crewed by either Italian or German regular crews, as noted below.

  • Bonus Axis Weapon: The Nationalists received substantial support from the major fascist powers in a much more consistent manner than the Loyalists did from the Soviet Union. To represent this, the Nationalist player can choose one of the following, as an addition to his reinforced platoon:
  • A free regular German or Italian single 20mm auto cannon
  • A free regular German or Italian single light anti-tank gun

3. “Supported by a higher authority”

The authority of the Catholic Church was both a spark for Republican resistance as well as a stiffener of Nationalist resolve. The Catholic Church, in all but a few cases, openly and unabashedly supported the rebel cause. The priest option in the Nationalists’ list reflects this contribution.

Nationalist Reinforced Platoon

Each reinforced platoon will contain a minimum of

  • One HQ unit
  • Two infantry squads

Each reinforced platoon may additionally have the following

  • 0 – 1 senior officer command team
  • 0- 1 medic
  • 0- 1 forward artillery observer
  • 0- 1 forward air observer
  • 0- 4 more infantry squads
  • 0- 1 medium MMG
  • 0- 1 ight or medium mortar
  • 0 – 1 light, medium or heavy gun
  • 0- 1 light anti tank gun
  • 0- 1 armoured car
  • 0 – 1 tank
  • 0- 1 sharp sniper team
  • 0- 1 flame thrower team
  • 0- 1 priest
  • 0- 4 transports

Plus

  • 1 free Axis regular light auto cannon or ATG

Officer Team

The Nationalist side had a strong officer corps; the officers of the Army of Africa had been engaged in decades of fierce fighting in the Moroccan protectorate. The officers of the Metropolitan army had little of that experience, but were motivated to protect the established hierarchy of Spanish society, one threatened with extinction by the socialist movement.

Composition

Officer Team: 1 officer and up to 2 further men.

-Inexperienced Second (Junior) Lieutenant 35 pts

-Regular Second (Junior) Lieutenant 50 pts

-Veteran Second (Junior) Lieutenant 65 pts

 

-Inexperienced First (Senior) Lieutenant60 pts

-Regular Veteran Second (Junior) Lieutenant65 pts

-Veteran First (Senior) Lieutenant80 pts

 

-The officer may be accompanied by up to 2 men at a cost of:

+7pts per man (Inexperienced)

+10pts per man (Regular)

+13 pts per man (veteran)

weapons: Pistol or rifle, as depicted on the models

Falangist Infantry squad

The Falangist party was the major right-wing political entity in Nationalist camp. The Falangist para-military militia were highly motivated, but generally only had minimal training and equipment.

Composition

Inexperienced (Green)

– 1 NCO and 4 men = 35 points

– Up to 7 additional men @ 7 points each

Weapons

– rifles

Options

-One squad in each reinforced platoon can be equipped with anti-tank grenades (Molotov cocktails) for +2 points per man

-One LMG can be added to one squad in a reinforced platoon with 9 or more men, for 20 points, with one additional man being assigned as a loader.

Special rules

  • Tank Hunter (if so equipped)
  • Green

Civil Guards

The central government in Madrid traditionally had to deal with internal security in a country beset with regional differences. The agency responsible was the Civil Guard. The Civil Guard was considered the iron hand of the land owners and industrialists. Its men in their distinctive tricorn hats, all served outside of their home regions to remove any loyalty to the local populace. They served primarily in rural regions. At the outbreak of  the SCW the majority of the Civil Guard sided with the Nationalists.

Civil Guard members in their distinctive uniform

Composition

Regular

– 1 NCO and 4 men – 50 points

– Up to 5 additional men @ 10 points each

Veteran

– 1 NCO and 4 men = 65 points

– Up to 5 additional men @ 13 points each

Weapons

– rifles-

Options

-One squad in each reinforced platoon can be equipped with anti-tank grenades (Molotov cocktails) for +2 points per man

-One man per squad can be equipped with an SMG instead of a rifle for +3 points

-One LMG can be added to one squad in a reinforced platoon for 20 points, with one additional man being assigned as a loader.

-Can be tough fighters for an additional 1 point per man

Special rules

-Tank Hunter if equipped with A/T grenades

-Tough fighter if purchased.

Carlists

The Carlists were a unique component in the rebel coalition. They supported the doctrine and legacy of Don Carlos, a fanatical Catholic and failed claimant to the throne of the 19th century. The Carlist rejected all modern dogma in regards to social change and secularism, and sought to restore the values of Spain in the 17th century.

Carlist soldier’s favoured a distinctive red beret, here receiving a blessing

Inexperienced (Green)

– 1 NCO and 4 men – 35 points

– Up to 5 additional men @ 7 points each

Regular

– 1 NCO and 4 men – 50 points

– Up to 5 additional men @ 10 points each

Weapons

– rifles

Options

-One LMG can be purchased per squad, maximum of one such squad per reinforced platoon,  at a cost of 20 points. One other man is assigned as a loader.

-One squad per reinforced platoon may be equipped with anti-tank grenades at cost of 2 points per man.

– Fanatics at + 3 points per man.

Special rules

-Tank hunters (if so equipped)

-Green.

-Fanatics (if chosen)

Moorish infantry

The indigenous natives of Spanish Morocco, upon the end of the Rif war in the 1920s, were recruited into Spanish service. The Moroccans were savage fighter, particularly in close combat, and were not constrained by European concepts of rules of warfare. In addition to their issued small arms, they delighted in the use of knives in close combat. As such their very presence on the battle field, particularly early in the war, sowed panic amongst inexperienced Republican units.

Moors at rest still look capable of instilling fear

The Moors gain the “Blood cuddling charge” characteristic  (please see footnotes)

Composition

Veteran

– 1 NCO and 4 men = 80 points

– Up to 5 additional men @ 16 points each

Weapons

– rifles and knives

Options

-One squad in each reinforced platoon can be equipped with anti-tank grenades (Molotov cocktails) for +2 points per man

-One man per squad can be equipped with an SMG instead of a rifle for +3 points

-One LMG can be added to one squad in a reinforced platoon for 20 points, with one additional man being assigned as a loader.

-Can be fanatics for an additional 3 points per man.

Special rules

-Fanatics (if chosen)

-Tank Hunter (if so equipped)

-Tough fighters

-“Blood cuddling charge”

Spanish Foreign Legion

The Spanish Foreign Legion was established in the 1920s specifically to fight in Spain’s few remaining overseas colonies. Unlike the French Foreign Legion it was modeled on, the Spanish Legion had many Spaniards in its enlisted ranks. The Legion’s troops were accustomed to hardship and combat, and were amongst the finest troops in Nationalist army.

To reflect the Legionaries battle hardened quality, they are “stubborn” and they have the “tough as boots” characteristic.

Composition

Veteran

– 1 NCO and 4 men = 75 points

– Up to 5 additional men @ 15 points each

Weapons

– rifles-

Options

-One squad in each reinforced platoon can be equipped with anti-tank grenades (Molotov cocktails) for +2 points per man

-One man per squad can be equipped with an SMG instead of a rifle for +3 points

-One LMG can be added to one squad in a reinforced platoon for 20 points, with one additional man being assigned as a loader.

Special Rules

-Stubborn

-Tank hunter (if chosen)

-“Tough as boots” (please see foot notes)

Cavalry

The use of cavalry was an integral part of the Spanish military, both from a practical method of transport and as a matter of prestige.

Composition

Regular

– 1 NCO and 4 men with horses = 65 points

– Up to 5 additional men @ 13 points each

Veteran

– 1 NCO and 4 men with horses = 80 points

– Up to 5 additional men @ 16 points each

Weapons

– carbines,

– swords

– each man equipped with horse

Special rules

  • Can fire from saddle (6” range)
  • Can engage in close combat while mounted
  • Can not go “down” while mounted
  • When dismounted, can not remount during game
  • Can “recce” when mounted.
  • Tough fighter

Special units

Priest

Although actual practicing Catholics were a minority in Spain (church attendance on Sundays pre-SCW was estimated to be 20% or less), the Catholic Church maintained substantial authority in Spain, and the local priests could flame the passions of anti-republican sentiments. Factions of the Republicans army committed atrocities against priests and nuns, which were reported world-wide and did much to deter the western democracies support  of the Loyalist government.

Peter Kemp, an English volunteer serving with a Carlist unit, recounted how his ability to shoot in battle was affected by the unit’s chaplain shooting in his ears to shoot the “atheist rabble!”.

Regular priest – 15 points

Weapons: none.

Special rules

-All units within 6” of a friendly unit will be able to re-roll any failed order test, with the exception of a FUBAR.

Flame thrower team

Flame throwers, as known in the following World War, were not used in the SCW. Both sides did, however, improvise portable Flame Throwers. These weapons posed nearly as much risk to the users as they did to the enemy. There are accounts of their use in the Siege of Alcazar in Toledo, as well as later in the war.

Composition

Two man team

Inexperienced – 36 points

Regular – 45 points

Special Rules

– Team (2 men)

– Poor maintenance/unreliable

When rolling to determine whether the flamethrower runs out of fuel, you suffer a -1 modifier to the roll.

Armoured Cars

The nationalist made use of Spanish produced armoured cars including the Bilbao and the UNL- 35, both with the same features of many interwar A/Cs- built in the chassis of a commercial lorry, armoured with thin plate, and armed with a turret mounted MMG, sometimes augmented with a frontal hull MG.

UNL-35 armoured car.

They also used

– Lancia IZM armoured cars. (Costed as per the Italian Army list)

– BA-20 ( as per Soviet list, no flame thrower option) captured from / abandoned by the Loyalists)

– BA-3 ( as per Soviet list, captured from / abandoned by the Loyalists)

Tanks

Renault FT (from the Army of France list)

The Spanish army had acquired Renault FT tanks from the French after the end of the Great War, and used them with some success in the Rif war in the 1920s. At the commencement of the SCW both sides ended up with FT tanks under their control.

PZ 1a

Germany supplied large numbers of the light tanks to the Nationalist. Costed as per the German Army list.

Pz 1 Breda

After disastrous contact with the Soviet supplied BA-3s, T-26s and BT-5s, the Spanish mounted an  20mm auto cannon into a modified turret of the Pz 1. Although not a tremendous success, it did serve as a better anti-tank option than the twin MMGs of the Pz 1a.

Pz 1 Breda

The Pz1 Breda is costed, as a regular, at 80 points, substituting the 2 x MMGs for a single auto cannon for +10 points.

Trubia Naval tank– an indigenous design was manufactured in small numbers and used by both sides, but primarily by the Nationalists.

The Trubia Naval tank was an indigenous design, mounting a hull MMG and a turret mounted MMG

L3 – CV/33 and CV/35– tankettes, including the flame thrower option, (costed as per the Italian army list).

BT-5 tank (captured from / abandoned by the Loyalists – listing from Soviet book)

– T-26 Model 1933 tank. (captured from / abandoned by the Loyalists. – listing from Soviet book)

*interesting trivia *: The Spanish Army continued to use the Pz-1 and the T-26 until the early 1950s, not by choice but by economic and political necessity. It was not until the Cold War descended that the West (the Americans really) recognized they could live with a fascist Spain more easily than a communist Western Europe and commenced  supplying modern arms to Spain.

We have the Spanish Army to thank for the M-47/48 “Panzers” in the films “Patton” and “Battle of the Bulge”.

Artillery

Limited to

-Light howitzer

-Medium howitzer

-Heavy howitzer

-Light anti tank gun (37mm to 47mm ATGs from numerous sources)

( plus additional free Axis Aid of light 20mm gun or light ATG)

Transport/tow

-Horse drawn limber

-Truck

-Improvised armoured truck

-Tractor

The Italian Option

Italy supplied a large ground force to aid the Nationalists. Initially Italy claimed these troops were volunteers who sought to join Franco’s fascists, but once the reluctance of the western democracies to react to foreign intervention became clear, Italy abandoned all pretense of adhering to the non-intervention policy and employed an entire Corps, working in concert with Franco’s command – the “CTV” –  the “Corps of Italian Volunteers”.

They fought from the early stages – being formed in late 1936, and  up until the final battles of the Ebro River.

As such a Nationalist player could choose an entire Italian reinforced platoon and not violate historical accuracy, so long as the choices were restricted to the following list

-Regular infantry

-Inexperienced infantry

-Blackshirt militia

-Cavalry section

-L3 (CV33/35) tankette

-Lancia IZM armoured car

-** NO medium or heavy AA or AT guns**

-** NO autoprotecto transports!**

All regular Italy army book rules apply (no Western Desert Rules)

 

“What about the Condor Legion?”

Well, the contribution from Germany never exceeded a few thousand troops at a time (records are spotty on the accurate number) and most of those were engaged in support of their effective air units, flying Heinkel 51 and early Bf-109 B & C fighters, Ju-87 dive bombers, Ju-52 bomber/transports and early He-111 bombers. They did employ 88mm AA guns, occasionally on ground targets, but unlike the Italians, they didn’t field any sizeable ground units. The German role was much more in the training and support end, and they were using the conflict as a testing ground for their new weapon systems. Hitler viewed a lengthy war in Spain as a beneficial distraction for him – he was still playing the Soviets against the western democracies – and was not wishing a quick conclusion to the SCW.

Thus, you won’t find German units in this list.

 

Special Rule references:

“Tough fighter” :

(p91) When a tough fighter scores a casualty in close quarters against infantry or artillery, it can immediately make a second damage roll.

“Green” :

(p90) Green units are inexperienced with morale rating of 8. The first time the unit suffers a casualty, roll a die. On a roll of a 1 the unit suffers an additional D6 pin markers and goes Down. On a 2, 3, 4 the unit fights on. On a 5 or 6 the unit is immediately up rated to Regular with morale value 9 for the rest of the battle. There is no further effect.

“Stubborn”

(p. 91) If forced to take a morale check, they ignore negative morale modifiers from pin markers. Remember that order tests are not morale checks.

“Fanatics”

(p. 90) When a fanatic unit loses half of its numbers from enemy fire, it does not take a morale check so long as it has at least two men. Fanatic units with at least two men are not destroyed when they have a number of pin markers equal to their morale value. When a fanatic unit is defeated in close quarter fighting, the fight counts as a draw instead and another round is immediately fought. Continue fighting until the fanatic unit wins, is completely wiped out or is defeated and left with a single model in which case it is destroyed.

“Unreliable”

If the vehicle suffers one or more pin markers as a result of an enemy attack, it automatically suffers one additional pin marker.

“Recce”

Please see p. 118 of 2nd edition main rule book.

“Tank Hunter”

(p. 91) If a tank hunter unit wins an assault and scores damage against an armoured vehicle, the effect is resolved on the Damage Result table as for a normal anti-tank penetration rather than as for superficial damage.

“Tough as boots”

If the unit has this special rule then all Regular or Veteran infantry units roll bonus attack dice when fighting at close quarters. For every three men fighting in the combat roll one extra die – so seven men would roll two extra dice, and ten men would roll three extra, and so on. This extra attack can be assumed to come from any of the men fighting.

“Blood cuddling charge”

If a unit has this special rule then enemy units cannot react to an assault by shooting at them – they are simply transfixed with horror at the sight of their foe. This rule does not apply if the units launching the assault are Inexperienced – including any units that start out as ‘green’.

“Non-testati”

A unit considered  “non-testati” are often only summarily trained, but some elements had a very strong ideological motivation and some combat experience. While this often meant a unit quickly lost its nerve before a foe, it frequently meant the unit fought on stubbornly. To represent this, immediately before the opponent rolls to hit in shooting or for casualties in close combat, its controller of this unit rolls a D6. On a result of 1-2, the section loses its will to fight and gains Shirkers. On a 3·4, the section remains the same. On a 5-6, the section is filled with patriotic bravery and gains Fanatics. Apply the ability before resolving the shooting or close combat

“Flame Thrower team”

(p67).Flamethrowers never suffer to-hit penalties for cover or Down. Hits multiplied into D6 (D6+1 for vehicle flamethrower). Always hits top armour. No -1 PEN for long range. Gun shield and extra protection rules do not apply. Units hit take D3+1 pins and must always check morale (if fail, then destroyed). Flamethrower rolls D6 – on 1 it runs out of fuel. When rolling to damage vehicle with flame-thrower, add +1 to damage effects chart.

Multiple Hit HE

Please see page 83 of 2nd edition rule book

“Two man team”

(p73) A Team weapon shoots at full effectiveness so long as there are at least two men to serve it. If only one man remains then the weapon suffers a -1 to hit penalty, and (p42) -1 penalty to its morale. For squad-based team weapons, loader must remain within 1″ or weapon suffers the -1 to-hit penalty.

 

 

 

 

3 Comments
  • Trackback: Spanish Civil War Bolt Action | Gaming in Blackshaw Head
  • by Blackshaw Posted April 9, 2019 12:28 pm

    There is a nice Spanish fan made SCW book and on another source a set of English rules. There are some links on my blog. The Chain of Command Espana supplement is also worth tracking down.

    • by Wargaming3D Posted April 9, 2019 6:55 pm

      Thanks, we will check it out, great article you just posted too btw!

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