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Modelo Trubia Serie A

Kingdom of Spain/Second Spanish Republic/Nationalist Spain (1926-1937)
Light Tank – 4 Built

Spain has mainly depended on foreign technology for its tank forces but there have always been enthusiastic engineers, military commanders, and policy-makers who have wanted to break the mold and create indigenous designs. The first of these initiatives would take place in 1925 in the northern town of Trubia, Asturias. Following the satisfactory completion of a prototype, plans were put in motion to design an improved serial production tank which was to be known as the Modelo Trubia Serie A4, or ‘Trubia tank’ for short.

Context – Lessons from Morocco

Colonial competition and internal politics meant that Spain took possession of large areas of what today is Morocco. The locals loathed the Spanish colonial administrators, leading to the Melilla War (1909) and the Rif War (1911-1927). In the latter, Spain would use for the first time in its history the modern technology of aircraft, armored cars, and tanks. The Spanish brought 11 Renault FT’s and 6 Schneider CA-1’s from France which would take part in multiple actions throughout the war with mixed results. The main shortcomings found in the Renault FT, regarded by the Spanish as their finest tank, were: poor performance, speed, range of operation due to a poor engine, and its vulnerability when its only machine gun jammed.

To overcome these, a team involving Commander Victor Landesa Domenech (an artillery officer attached to the Trubia arms factory), Captain Carlos Ruíz de Toledo (a Commander in charge of Batería de Carros de Asalto de Artillería [Artillery Tank Battery] during its first engagements during the Rif War) and the Trubia arms factory’s Chief Engineer, Rogelio Areces, took it upon themselves to design and build a superior vehicle for the Spanish Army.

The Trubia prototype

Designed and built in 1925 on their own initiative and financed out of their own pockets, the Trubia prototype would be tested in 1926 with a very satisfactory reception. So much so, that, a budget was set for the creation of a tank producing workshop at the Trubia factory and a commission led by Areces and Ruíz de Toledo was established to travel Europe and investigate tank technological innovations they could use for an improved serial version of the prototype.

Appearance-wise, the tank resembled the Renault FT, as it was in the minds of Landesa Domenech and co. the best tank they had knowledge of. However, there were a few differences:
– To surmount firepower concerns, two overlapping turrets with independent movement and each armed with a Hotchkiss 7mm machine gun were adopted.
– At the front of the tank there was a small semi-circular plate attached to an elongated nose of the tank which acted as a ram to break through obstacles such as walls and barbed wire.
– Due to circumstances, armor and engine-power were only marginally improved.

The only known photo of the Trubia prototype, which, in this instance, is mounting a brick wall. Date and location unknown. Note the overlapping turrets, frontal nose ‘ram’ and general resemblance to the Renault FT – source: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 6.

The European Expedition, Notions of Tank Design

Areces and Ruíz de Toledo’s European adventure would not be as fruitful as they may have hoped and expected. Tank technology was in its infancy and most tank producing nations were wary of sharing their findings, and the technology they did exhibit and share was mostly outdated. Companies like Vickers did at the time sell custom-made tanks to the buyer’s needs, but it seems that Areces and Ruíz de Toledo did not explore this option as they probably did not want to spend much of their limited budget.

According to Artemio Mortera Pérez, author of the most complete book on the Trubia tanks, in Germany, they were shown a very peculiar suspension inspired by the one intended to be used on the K-Wagen behemoth. However, although the K-Wagen’s suspension was unsprung, the vehicle or suspension system they were shown was probably from or inspired by the earlier Orion-Wagen.

Artist’s impression of the K-Wagen. Apart from the fact it was unsprung, little is known about what is suspension would exactly be – source: The Vintage News
The Orion-Wagen Prototype with its Orion track system of feet treads – source:

This undercarriage system was named ‘Orion’ and was supposed to improve upon traditional systems in addition to enhancing turning capabilities and minimising the effects on roads. In this integrated track design, the links were suspended from the chassis and held together by a lateral metal wall. This system was designed to prevent the tracks from coming off when maneuvering.

It is possible that the vehicle they were shown was a totally different vehicle. In 1926, the Leipzig-based firm Wotan-Werke built to test the differences between a suspended and not-suspended tracked chassis. When considering the suspension of this vehicle (see picture below) and the Trubia Serie A (later in the article), the visual similarities are uncanny. The vehicle was known as the Wotan-Werke Type A. The Trubia tank was designated as Serie A (Eng. Series A). Whilst type and series do not mean exactly the same, it is possible that there is some correlation. Notwithstanding, it could just be a coincidence.

The Wotan-Werke Type A tracked tractor, built in 1926 – source: Walter J. Spielberger

At a time when Germany was prohibited from having a standing army, the designers behind the Wotan-Werke Type A may have been eager to find a foreign buyer and saw in Areces and Ruíz de Toledo an opportunity.

Additionally, a few Daimler engines of different horsepower were shown to the commission. As a side note, the Wotan-Werke Type A used a Typ M 1574 100 hp Daimler-Mercedes 4-cylinder Otto engine.

Satisfied with what they saw, the Commission bought at least four ‘Orion’ systems and Daimler 4 cylinder 75 hp engines for the tank series, and two larger undercarriage systems based on the same principle and two Daimler 8 V-shaped cylinder 200 hp engines with the intention of building a large tank recovery tractor.

The team behind the design had several ideas to improve upon the Renault FT:
– Improving firepower and lessening vulnerability when the only machine gun jammed. For this, the same idea as on the prototype was adapted though the lower turret was intended to use a modified Ramírez Arellano 40mm infantry gun. However, this would not materialize.
– Enhancing the FT’s poor speed, range and performance by equipping the more powerful Daimler 75hp engine.
– Avoiding the vulnerability of the crew having to exit the tank to access the engine for repairs by creating a bigger engine compartment which could be accessed from the inside.
– Improvement of the undercarriage, which had caused many headaches. It is possible that early on a wheel-cum-track system was considered, but given the failures of the Chenilletts Saint Chamond in Spanish service which used this system, the idea was quickly abandoned. The ‘Orion’ system bought in Germany was to be used instead.

The design team was willing to sacrifice small size as they felt their improvements were more important.


Blueprints of the Trubia Serie A. Note, not the original – source: Alabarda

Exterior Appearance

The square-shaped central hull part housed the crew compartment and above it was the turret. The back resembled that of an FT – rear tail included – but was much larger and housed the engine. At the front, to each side was a hinged door to access the engine. Behind it only on the right-hand side was a large exhaust pipe. To the front of the central piece was a sheet going down at a 45º angle. On the center-right were two boxes of different shapes. The most central and smaller one had a vision slit for the driver, whilst the larger one to the right had a forward firing machine gun. This position was a detachable piece which allowed the crew to enter and access the tank. The frontal and side pieces sloped inward meeting at the beak of the tank, upon which was a removable small semi-circular plate which acted as a ram to break through obstacles, such as walls and barbed wire. On the earlier version of the tank, there was a mudguard which covered the whole top of the tracks to prevent enemy infantrymen from planting explosives on them.

The side and frontal armor was 20 mm thick and made with chromium-nickel steel plates riveted to an inner frame.


One of the tank’s most recognizable features, the turret, was made out of two overlapping turrets with independent movement and each armed with a Hotchkiss 7 mm machine gun. Each turret consisted of a truncated cone forged in nickel steel 16mm thick. Each one had a ball machine gun mount which allowed for 65º of vertical and 110º of horizontal fire. On the direct opposite side of the ball mount was a small vision slit, and on either side of the turret there were small sliding windows to improve the gunners’ vision. On the top of the upper turret was a circular outwards opening hinged hatch upon which a cylindrical panoramic visor – a stroboscopic cupola – was fixed. The cylinder had vertical openings around it protected by ‘unbreakable’ glass and turned by means of a small electrical engine, providing a continuous panoramic vision of the exterior by means of the ‘persistence of vision’ phenomenon.


Armament consisted of three 7 mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine guns. Each turret had one (operated by two different gunners, one of whom was also the commander. The gunners would have to load their own weapons) and the third was at the front and operated by the driver. In total, for the three guns. the tank carried enough ammunition for 8,000 shots. Initially, the lower turret was supposed to carry a modified Spanish-built Ramírez Arellano 40 mm infantry gun, but the project behind this gun would not materialize until a few years later. The machine gun was a stop-gap solution, but with plans to fit the infantry gun in the future, though these never materialized. The sides of the tank also counted with small loopholes through which the crew could fire their personal weapons. Additionally, the first series production vehicle had a ball joint on the right side for a Mauser rifle, the purpose for which is unclear – this was later removed.


The engine could be started by means of compressed air provided by a compressor, but if this system malfunctioned, it could always be started up manually with a crank and an Bosch electrical system. The engines used were the Daimler MV1574 4 cylinder 75 hp with 900 rpm bought by Ruíz de Toledo and Areces in Germany fitted with Beru spark plugs.

However, these were modified to improve performance. To ensure that enough lubrication was provided for when the tank was at a 45º angle, the oil container was changed. A cogwheel and chain transmission was added to put the air compressor into motion.

Cooling for the motor and the interior was provided by two large ventilators. One was placed in front in the middle of the vehicle sucking air from inside the crew compartment inwards and was expelled to the exterior one through the second ventilator at the back.

The engine and two ventilators were built as one piece and were connected on each side to the body-on-frame.

The manual engine start was situated in front of the frontal ventilator and could be accessed from outside from both sides through the hinged doors.

Beneath the front ventilator was the double cone clutch which was activated by a pedal to the right of the driver.

The tank was capable of traveling at 30 km/h with a range of 100 km, a slight improvement over the Renault FT. The fuel tank held 180 liters.

Driving Mechanisms

The gearbox was beneath the driver and was made from cast steel. It consisted of four speeds with the first speed being used to overcome obstacles and for driving over uneven ground.

Changing direction was possible by means of a mechanism which immobilized or reduced the speed of one of the tracks.

Body-on-Frame and Tracks

Each track consisted of a long ellipse-shaped structure formed by two parallel steel sheets. Between the two sheets there was a track for the track rollers to travel through. The tracks on either side were joined to each other by 4 u-shaped bars traveling underneath the tank. The engine lay over the two furthest to the back. At the front of the tracks, there was an opening to the inside of the tank for the mechanism to connect them to the gearbox. Between the steel sheets were some sort of drum breaks.

Unlike in most other vehicles, the track rollers were integrated into the tracks and moved in unison with the track links along the tracks set between the two sheets. The track links had a cross pressed into them to improve traction.


The tank’s name has caused some controversy over the years. Officially, it was named Carro Ligero de Combate para Infantería Modelo Trubia 75 H.P., Tipo Rápido, Serie A – meaning Infantry Light Tank Trubia Model 75 hp (the engine’s hp), Rapid Type (30km/h was considered quite fast in comparison to the Renault FT and Schneider CA) Series A. Ruíz de Toledo designated the tank Modelo TRUBIA. Serie A. – with this designation being used throughout the article. From the 1930’s onwards, official documents would add ‘A4’ or ‘4A’ at the end, possibly referring to the fact that 4 were built in total. The name Carro Rápido de Infantería [Rapid Infantry Tank] is also used.

It is, however, incorrect to call them Trubia-Naval, as this was a different tank entirely dating from 1936. Furthermore, many sources refer to the tanks as a prototype to the Trubia Naval, including the original Tanks Encyclopedia article on the vehicle. There was a direct connection between the two and they shared multiple features, but that is as far as it went. The tanks were two different projects with two distinct purposes.

The name follows a general Spanish tendency to name tanks and other armored fighting vehicles after the place where they were designed or built, or after one of the engineers behind the project.

The first Trubia Serie A still inside the Trubia arms factory. It was not yet completed, as it was missing its machine guns and mudguards (though the supports for these are visible) – Photo: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 7
Photo taken shortly after the one above. The tank now has its three machine guns, mudguards, and Mauser rifle which only this version was equipped with – Photo: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 8
The first Trubia Serie A mounted on an open truck bound for Madrid after its completion with all the men involved in its construction. Furthest to the right is the factory’s chief engineer, Rogelio Areces – Photo: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 5


After their construction was rushed by demands coming from Madrid, four vehicles were finished at some point in 1926 as part of a pre-production series. This meant that as soon as they were finished (only one was constructed at each time), they were transported by train to Estación del Norte (modern-day Príncipe Pío) in Madrid. One, most likely the last one, was not even finished when it was transported, and a small workshop garage next to the train station in Madrid had to be hired to finish the vehicle off before it joined the other three at the Escuela Central de Tiro, the Army’s testing ground, in Carabanchel, South Madrid. Due to the hurry imposed from Madrid, the vehicles had not been properly factory tested and a group of factory workers were sent along with the tanks to make sure everything ran smoothly.

The testing of the four tanks would garner lots of interest and many officials would visit during the long demanding tests they were submitted to. These tests included cross-country travel, obstacle demolition, overcoming gradients, pulling heavy artillery and spare armor plates of the same thickness as the tank were fired upon with a 40 mm gun to test the level of protection it offered. The 40 mm gun was the same one as originally planned to be used by the tank. While the tank’s performance was generally considered to be good several important deficiencies were noted.
– The engine was considered overall to be an improvement.
– The space and comfort inside.
– The fact that the engine could be accessed from within the tank.
Cons and recommendations:
– The main con was the undercarriage, which broke down several times.
– The ventilator blades and supports snapped because of their excessive weight and were to be replaced with aluminum ones. Changes were made to soften the abrupt halting of the blades when the engine stopped.
– The support for the ventilator at the back was to be changed from cast to forged steel.
– Improvements to the fuel feed.
– The spark plug was unsatisfactory and was first replaced by a Bosch one and later by a K.L.G. one.
– The compressed-air driving system was to be changed by a driving wheel and pedals.
– The vehicle was found to lack rigidity and its main structure had to be reinforced. The top of the vehicle supporting the turrets was of special concern.
– Adding a hinged hatch for the driver’s entry and exit to the left of the detachable boxes on the frontal plate.
– Eliminating the mudguards.
– Recommendations were made for overall improvement to make the undercarriage more durable.
The accompanying factory workers carried out multiple repairs during the tests and made notes of what went wrong. Along with the official recommendations, these would be used on return to Trubia.

One of the Trubia Serie A4 during trials in Escuela Central de Tiro in Carabanchel, Madrid. Note that because the of the hasty construction, this example has the side door to access the engine open, and the machine guns, detachable frontal piece and detachable ‘ram’ piece not yet fitted – source: World of Armor
Another of the Trubia Serie A’s being trialed in Carabanchel. It may well be the same one as in the previous image, but in this photo it now has had the ‘ram’ piece attached – source: Vehículos Blindados de la Guerra Civil

Death of the Project

The four tanks were taken back to Trubia by train to be disassembled and at least one was modified. The modified tanks are often called ‘segunda serie‘ [second series] to distinguish them from the original ones. The idea was to create a production series from the lessons learnt.
A modified tank was tested in the factory grounds in front of the military commanders of the Asturias region, led by General Zuvillaga. During these tests, the vehicle lacked the detachable frontal boxes, ‘ram’ piece, and machine guns.

One of the modified Trubia Serie A (segunda serie) undergoing balance and slope trials. The man next to the tank is thought to be Captain Carlos Ruíz de Toledo – source: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 9
The same modified Trubia Serie A (segunda serie) as in the above picture during trials at the factory’s grounds. Note the lack of the detachable frontal boxes, ‘ram’ piece, mudguards, and machine guns – source: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 10
The same modified Trubia Serie A (segunda serie) as in the above pictures being inspected by General Zuvillaga and other officers of the Asturias region outside the Trubia arms factory – source: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 10

This vehicle was later sent to Madrid in May 1928 for a second round of testing which took place on the 19th under the watchful eye of Lieutenant Colonel Antonio García Pérez, Secretary General of the Estado Mayor Central, the person in charge of supervising military centers.

The results were judged satisfactory and the tank was given ‘A.T.M. 2204’ as its number-plate and was incorporated into the Army. The commission in charge of supervising the tests concluded in a report that [paraphrasing] “the Trubia light tank, had all the required capabilities for a tank of its nature” and the order was made to build one of the heavy tractors envisioned by Ruíz de Toledo and Areces with the larger suspension system and 200 hp engine. As far back as November 1926, plans were made to equip a section within the Tank Group with an undefined number of Trubia Serie A tanks depending on how many could be made available by the Trubia factory.

Unfortunately, none of these projects would materialize. To understand why, it is important to note the context of what had been happening in Spain. In September 1923, the Captain General of Catalonia Miguel Primo de Rivera led a successful coup with King Alfonso XIII’s blessing. Primo de Rivera’s aim was to put an end to the problems associated with the ongoing war in Morocco and labor and trade union unrest. From his position of power, Primo de Rivera attempted to carry out military reforms. These were very unpopular among Army officers, especially those in the artillery section, leading to the dissolution of the latter. The artillery had been up to then responsible for the production of the Trubia Serie A’s and other military vehicles, and without their budget and blessing, the project was all but dead.
The project was never officially canceled, but without the stimuli and finance, it faded away. However, this would not be the end of the Trubia Serie A nor of Landesa Domenech and Areces’ adventures with tank and military vehicle production.

Active Service

Asturias Revolution of 1934

Popular myth and culture has led to an image of the Second Spanish Republic [established in April 1931] as a radical, progressive and left-wing state. Whilst there is some substance behind this, it is not entirely true. In the second elections held in November 1933, the centrist Partido Radical Republicano (PRR) of Alejandro Lerroux came to power with the support of the right-wing Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas (CEDA). Following a crisis of government in September 1934, CEDA removed their support and demanded that the PRR enter a formal coalition with 3 CEDA members to take a ministerial portfolio. Despite opposition from the left, this was done and as a consequence, the most left-wing elements began to mobilize.
An indefinite revolutionary general strike, organized by radical left-wingers within the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) [left wing social democrats] and Union General de Trabajadores (UGT) trade union with the support of elements of the Anarchist party and trade unions (FAI and CNT) and the Communist Party, was called for October 5th 1934. Following a few days of strike, the revolution was brutally put down, except in Catalonia, where an independent state was declared, only to be toppled by Republican forces a few days later, and in Asturias, where the workers, mostly miners, were well armed and mobilized.

Asturias was where the Trubia Serie A’s were, too. On October 6th, the revolutionary forces (in Trubia led by the Communists among the factory workers) took control of the Trubia factory (the revolutionary forces felt that for their success they had to capture the factory with its large weapons deposits) and with up to three of the tanks inside, some or all of which were without engines. It is likely that two Landesa tanks were in a nearby factory also in Trubia and in much better running condition. In the town, the factory workers fought off the Civil Guard forces, though it is unknown if they used any of the available vehicles.

By October 14th, state forces were putting down the revolution. In a last ditch attempt to save the revolution, an armored train was sent down the line from Trubia to the neighboring Grado where it defeated the state forces. Another armored train was hastily prepared in Trubia using locomotive number 2544 ‘El Cervera’ of the Northern Railway. The train itself was only minimally armed, but it had two open-topped carriages. Upon each carriage a Landesa tank, without an engine, was placed. Until the re-discovery of several photos in the October 1934 edition of Estampa magazine, it was believed that these two tanks on the ‘Cervera’ train were in fact Trubia Serie A’s. By the 17th, the revolution in Asturias had been crushed.

Following the revolution, the 3 Trubia Serie A’s which had been left unmodified following the Madrid trials of 1926 were put back into service with a series of modifications, including the removal of the mudguards which covered the top half of the tracks and the addition of the hinged hatch for the driver’s entry and exit to the left of the detachable boxes on the frontal plate. Three of them had ‘Carro Ligero nº’ [Light Tank No.] written on the sides followed by a 1, 2 or 3 and were attached to the Infantry Regiment <<Milán>> nº 32 which was barracked in Oviedo, the capital of Asturias. The vehicles were in a poor condition, but there were plans to continue to carry out tests on them. The fourth vehicle, which may have had a number 4 written on its side, remained in the factory.

Spanish Civil War

The failed General’s coup which drew the country into a bloody civil war gave the Trubia Serie A’s their chance to prove themselves in combat for the first time, ten years after they had left the factory.
To most people’s surprise, given Oviedo’s history, the coup there was successful and the city would be the only main city in central northern Spain to join the nascent Nationalist forces. In Oviedo were the three Trubia Serie A’s of the Infantry Regiment <<Milán>> nº 32 which would serve the war in Nationalist service. On the other hand, Trubia remained loyal to the Republican government forces, and the tanks within the factory, along with a Landesa tractor (which was transformed into a tank), were pressed into service by the workers and militiamen in the town.

The two Republican tanks were first used in an offensive against Oviedo on September 10th 1936, seeing action in the small town of Las Cruces (north of Trubia and north-west of Oviedo) and Loma del Canto, in the outskirts of Oviedo. In Loma del Canto, both broke down in no-mans-land, apparently because of a burnt-out clutch caused by the inexperience of the crew. Efforts were made to recover the tanks, but this was not possible until October when Loma del Canto was captured. No more is known of the fate of the Republican Serie A4 and it was possibly scrapped.

Fortunately, the history of the three in Nationalist service is slightly better recorded; most likely they were used to quell the first attacks by militiamen on the city and helped consolidate Nationalist control of the city.

On August 22nd 1936, the three Trubia Serie A’s, accompanied by two rifle companies and one machine gun company from the Infantry Regiment <<Milán>> nº 32, a Civil Guard detachment, and a battery of Schneider 105/11 guns, were used offensively against Loma del Campón, on the road to Trubia. The objectives were reached, but nº2, under the command of Engineer Brigadier Antonio Morales Elvira broke down. The vehicle was towed back during the night, but because of the general poor condition of the tank and the unevenness of the ground, the turret fell off. It is unknown if the turret was put back, but the vehicle remained in service.

Trubia Serie A nº2 after it broke down in Loma del Campón. The man furthest to the right is Engineer Brigadier Antonio Morales Elvira, the tank’s commander. The other men in the photo appear to be infantrymen or militiamen, though some of them could also form part of the tank’s crew – source: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 36
Still from a video showing the rear of a Trubia Serie A4 in Oviedo with Moorish troops of Franco’s army marching past – source: Vehículos Blindados de la Guerra Civil

Following this small offensive, the vehicles were to be deployed defensively in the besieged city of Oviedo. Multiple further breakdowns meant that they were used statically in defensive positions; one defended La Argañosa (the western entrance to the city) and the other two, one of which was now operated by elements of the Civil Guards, were situated between Campo de los Patos street and the arms factory defending the eastern approach along the Santander road.
The one situated in La Argañosa was destroyed at some point before the end of the initial Republican offensive on Asturias in October by Nationalist forces to prevent Republican irregulars from capturing it, as it was broken down and could not be towed to safety due to the crossfire. The remaining two Trubia Serie A’s continued to be used for defensive duties.

The remains of one of the Nationalist’s Trubia Serie A in La Argañosa – source: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 38

On October 27th, nº3 was sent to the Naranco Hill to tow back to Oviedo a Republican Landesa tank which had broken through the lines but had broken down.

Series of photos taken in Escandalera square (Oviedo) on October 27th 1936 showing the Nationalist Trubia Serie A nº3 towing a Landesa tank captured at Naranco Hill. The towing through the streets of Oviedo received lots of attention from the besieged Nationalist troops. Not the improvised camouflage on the Trubia Serie A with branches and foliage – Photo: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 41-42

In January 1937, the Republican Army of the North planned a major offensive on Asturias with all available men and vehicles. The offensive would properly commence on February 21st with Republican Army forces penetrating the defensive perimeter near Campo de Patos, where the two remaining Trubia Serie A and Nationalist infantrymen managed to fend them off.

Two Nationalists posing next to a Trubia Serie A in Oviedo – source: Vehículos Blindados de la Guerra Civil

It is unknown if the two tanks survived the whole offensive (at least one did), but they were most likely scrapped once the offensive was over and plenty of German Panzer I’s, Italian CV 33-35’s and captured Soviet vehicles were available. It has been subsequently speculated that one was sent to Seville at the end of the War in the North, and was used in victory parades, but there is no evidence to substantiate this claim and no logical reason why this might have occurred. Unless or until firm evidence of their appearance in Seville is produced this has to be considered unlikely at best.

One of the Nationalist Trubia Serie A in Oviedo defending Campo de los Patos and the eastern entrance to the city – source: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2007), p. 76
A Nationalist Trubia Serie A still in its static position defending the weapons factory in Oviedo following the end of the war in Asturias in October 1937 – source: Artemio Mortera Pérez (2011), p. 143

Legacy and Conclusion

Following the unofficial termination of the Trubia Serie A project in 1928-1929, Landesa Domenech, now a Captain, and Areces embarked in a new project, a tractor for military and agricultural use based on the same, but improved and updated, mechanisms as the Trubia Serie A. The tractor, named Tractor Landesa [Landesa Tractor], would also have an armored upgrade which would be used in the Revolution of 1934 and the Spanish Civil War. In the Spanish Civil War, another vehicle, the Trubia-Naval, influenced by the original Trubia Serie A would see service with both Republican and Nationalist forces.

The Trubia Serie A was a brave, but ultimately, unsatisfactory effort to improve upon the existing Renault FT. Had the vehicle worked properly, it would definitely have been a major improvement; it had improved firepower, improved engine performance, which could be accessed from the inside, allowed for higher speed, range and performance, slightly thicker armor, and more comfort for its crew. However, the experimental suspension system used proved to be inefficient and too prone to breakdowns due to its delicate nature. The problem was, that for a variety of reasons, a copy of this suspension system was still being used in new tank designs as late as 1936.
Regardless, the Trubia Serie A was the first example of a Spanish designed tank to overcome the dependency on foreign tanks and valuable lessons were learnt by the designers and engineers.

Modern Reconstruction

In the Museo de la Historia Militar Española, el Cueto, in Asturias, along its impressive collection of Spanish Civil War era reconstructions, is one of the Trubia Serie A. Whilst due to its complexity and obsoleteness the Orion suspensions system has not been replicated, everything else seems to be an accurate reproduction of the vehicle, including the double rotating turret. The vehicle has been given an engine and is used to drive around the museum’s grounds. A video of the vehicle in action can be seen here.

The reproduction of the Trubia Serie A at el Cueto – source: Facebook, Museo el Cueto
Illustration of the Trubia A by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet, with corrections by Jaycee ‘AmazingAce’ Davis.


Dimensions Excluding tail 4.36 x 2.8 x 1.8 m (14.3 x 9.19 x 5.9 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 8.1 tonnes
Crew 3 (Driver/frontal gunner; Commander/gunner/loader; and Gunner/loader)
Propulsion Daimler MV1574 4 cylinder 75 hp
Max speed 30 km/h (19 mph) on road
Range 100 km (62.14 miles)
Suspension None
Armament 3 x 7 mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine guns
Armor 16-20 mm (0.63 – 0.79 in)
Production 4


Artemio Mortera Pérez, Los Carros de Combate “Trubia” (Valladolid: Quirón Ediciones, 1993)
Artemio Mortera Pérez, Los Medios Blindados de la Guerra Civil Española. Teatro de Operaciones del Norte 36/37 (Valladolid: AF Editores, 2007)
Artemio Mortera Pérez, Los Medios Blindados de la Guerra Civil Española. Teatro de Operaciones de Levante, Aragón y Cataluña 36/39 2.ª Parte (Valladolid: AF Editores, 2011)
Chus Neira, “El primer tanque español salió de la Fábrica de Trubia hace 90 años” La Nueva España [Spain], 30 March 2017 (

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Light Tank Destroyer – 4 Converted

The Nationalists Strike Back

The ‘Panzer I Breda’ (an unofficial name) is a rare conversion from the mid-Spanish Civil War. It was intended as a means of countering the Republican army’s Soviet-supplied vehicles (mainly the T-26 and BA-6). Nationalist forces only typically had CV-35s and Panzer Is armed with machine guns, which were not able to perform AT (anti-tank duties), and as a result, a proposal to mount a 20mm gun onto a tank chassis was put forward. However, as large numbers of captured Soviet-supplied material became available to the Nationalist forces, the Panzer I Breda was no longer required, and only four vehicles were converted. Two are known to have been knocked out before the end of the war, and it is quite possible that the other two did not survive either due to gun barrel damage.

Panzer I Breda “351” of the 3a Compañia (3rd Company, Command). Undated, unlocated. Usually, a black ‘M’ would denote ‘Mando’ (Command), but this vehicle has an ‘E’, believed to still indicate that it belonged to the Command unit. Artemio Mortera Perez, however, believes that this indicates it belongs to the 3a Sección (not least because it is sometimes pictured with a T-26 M1936 of 3a Compañia/3a Sección. The black ‘E’ in the white diamond may mean ‘Especial’ (Special), but this is not proven. This vehicle suffered a broken piston connecting rod on 26th January 1939, and on 28th March, the engine set on fire. The righthand side exhaust is also missing.

Context: First Nationalist encounter with a T-26

Even the most generalist histories on the Spanish Civil War remind the reader that with their 45mm guns, Soviet-built Republican vehicles were able to outfight Nationalist vehicles, which were armed with only machine guns. Moreover, Republican armored forces were also able to outfight Nationalist/Nationalist-allied forces at a basic level leading to unnecessary Nationalist losses, even despite losing the initiative, suffering significant losses to Condor Legion aerial attacks, and engaging in suicidal offensives (examples including the Battle of Brunete, 1937, and the Ebro Offensive, 1938).
Soviet military hardware for the Republicans arrived in Spain on October 4th, 1936, and the first Nationalist encounter with a T-26 tank is reported as taking place during one of two Republican counterattacks as late as late-October or early December 1936 at Seseña (situated south of Madrid, and northeast of Toledo). Nationalist forces also had to rely on towed artillery or exceptionally brave soldiers armed with local variants of the Molotov cocktail (as in this case) for AT duties, which was not considered viable.
Subsequently, the Nationalists had to develop an AFV that was able to provide significant AT duties that was at least on par with the Republican T-26 and BT-5. As a result, a proposal to mount a gun capable of AT duties onto an existing tank chassis was put forward.

The early design stages

Two 20mm guns were put forward for the conversion. These were the Flak 30 and the Breda Model 1935. Whilst both guns were capable of destroying armored vehicles from reasonable distances, the Breda was likely chosen because it was simpler in design and had fewer moving parts, meaning that the gun would be more reliable, and maintenance would be substantially easier.
In summer, 1937, a request was made to a delegation of the CTV (Corpo Truppe Volontarie, an Italian unit) to donate a CV-35 and a 20mm Breda Modelo 1935 gun to the Nationalist army for tests. CV-35 chassis number 2694 was eventually handed over and work began on installing the new gun.
Before the work was complete, Spanish Generals involved in the project decided that the developments seemed very promising, and as a result, General HQ ordered 40 more CV-35s to be modified. However, this order amounted to nothing because General García Pallasar wrote to General HQ about the possibility of having a 20mm gun mounted on a Panzer I, which he thought would be better as it is a much larger vehicle. This was accepted, and a request was made to a German delegation to transfer over a Panzer I for modification.

The Panzer I Breda is born

A Panzer I Ausf.A was transferred and modified with the new gun at some point before late September 1937. Importantly, the new Breda gun was given a gas protection shield, in order to prevent gas from leaking into the tank and harming the crew, and a gun shield for additional armor. The Panzer I’s turret had to be modified in order to mount the large 20mm gun, specifically to allow vertical aiming for its intended AT duties.
The turret of the Panzer I was enlarged for the purposes of mounting the new, larger gun by welding a new superstructure to the existing turret. The original gun mantlet was also removed and replaced by bolting on a much larger, curved mantlet. The original turret hatch was even retained and mounted on the new superstructure. A viewport was also cut into the structure which allowed the gun to be aimed.
By late September 1937, both the modified CV-35 and Panzer I were ready for trials and were then brought to the recently-captured city of Bilbao via lorries (as many tanks were transported in Spain).  Results of the tests showed that the modified Panzer I was the superior vehicle, likely owing to it having a traversable turret and more internal space. Shortly after tests ended, three more Panzer I Ausf.As were converted in the Fábrica de Armas in Seville, and other conversion tests on the Panzer I were later attempted (see sidenote below).
However, a spanner was thrown into the works by General Von Thoma, commander of the ground elements of the Condor Legion. The aforementioned viewport was simply just a hole and was therefore totally unarmored. As a result, it became the subject of significant criticism.

Condemnation from Von Thoma

One commonly mentioned reason as to why only four vehicles were built is that by 1938, the Nationalists had captured significant numbers of T-26s and BA-3/6s, which were being incorporated into the army. With their 45mm guns, these were superior in design to the Panzer I Breda, and therefore the vehicle was effectively redundant. The basic facts of this are correct – the Panzer I Breda was, indeed, made redundant, but this is not the real reason for the project’s termination. The suggestion in contemporary documentary evidence is clear in that Von Thoma was strongly opposed to the conversion because of the poor crew safety resulting from the unarmored viewport, and as a result, he was able to convince the Cuartel General del Generalissimo to cancel the order for more vehicles.
On 6th January 1938, General Pallasar ordered Tentiente Coronel Pujales, the commander of Agrupación de Tanques del Legion Española to deliver six more Panzer I Breda tanks. Two days later on 8th January, Von Thoma penned a letter with significant criticisms, stating: “The people who built it call it the ‘Death Car’“, suggesting that the vehicle’s aiming port, being just a hole, was insufficiently protected with no apparent solution. Von Thoma even reported that crew members refused to even get in the vehicles because they considered them so dangerously unprotected. He also stated, as a final nail in the coffin, that there were simply not enough tanks to go around, and the vehicles could not be spared for the conversion. As a result of this letter, the order for more conversions was canceled the following day by the Cuartel General of the Generalissimo.
General Pallasar was clearly unhappy with the decision and responded to Von Thoma’s complaint by asking General HQ a simple question. He asked whether it would be better to remove the only highly mobile AT duty tank they had, or to run the risk of some tank crewmen receiving injuries inside the tank because of a lucky rifle shot through the aiming port (which he even suggested should be closed until aiming was necessary in order to prevent this minuscule danger).
The Cuartel General del Generalissimo gave their reply on 24th January, suggesting that Von Thoma and Pallasar should see if mounting bulletproof glass over the hole, supplied by the Germans, would resolve the issue. It seems as though on 25th January, Pallasar agreed. The glass must have eventually been fitted, as Lucas Molina Franco (a modern scholar) reports an invoice for “Bullet-proof glass for tanks” costing a total of 4861.08 Reichsmarks.
Despite the effort to improve the safety of the crew, it seems as though no more vehicles were modified thanks to Von Thoma’s successful complaint campaign.
There is, indeed, a question to be asked on how genuine Von Thoma’s fears for crew safety were. An enemy rifleman being accurate or lucky enough to shoot through the small unarmored aiming port seems quite unlikely. It is entirely possible, given Von Thoma’s hint towards an insufficient number of German AFVs, that he was potentially trying to sell the Spanish more tanks – something which may not have happened due to the capture and integration of Soviet-supplied vehicles into the Nationalist army.

Operational organization of the Panzer I Breda

On 1st October 1937, the vehicles were supplied to Primer Batallón de Carros de Combate. On 1st March 1938, they were reassigned into Bandera de Carros de Combate de la Legión (which existed between 12th February 1938 and 31st November 1938). The Bandera de Carros de Combate de la Legión was formed by two Grupos which were subdivided into Compañias. 1a Compañia, 2a, and 3a were in 1er Grupo, and 4a, 5a, and 6a were in 2o Grupo. The Panzer I Bredas are believed to have been divided into these four Compañias:

  • 1a Compañia (Primera – First)
  • 2a Compañia (Segunda – Second) Note: It is possible that this may actually have been 5a, according to combat reports, see below.
  • 3a Compañia (Tercera – Third)
  • 4a Compañia (Cuarta – Fourth)

On 1st October 1938, the vehicles were reassigned to Agrupación de Carros de Combate de la Legión – apparently their final user.

Operational Colours and Identifying Individual Vehicles

The camouflage scheme of the Panzer I Breda has been the subject of significant speculation. The original chassis of the vehicle would have been the usual three-tone Buntfarbenanstrich – Panzer grey was not instituted until July 1940.
Over time, it is known that the vehicles would have their new turret superstructures painted (and the rest of the turret would also likely be homogenized). This means that there is quite a variety in camouflage schemes between all four vehicles, some of which are closer to the original Buntfarbenanstrich scheme than others. In any case, all of the vehicles appear to have used a three-tone scheme similar to Buntfarbenanstrich, using roughly the same colors (in reality, likely local Spanish military grade paints that were not quite the same shades as German paints).
Tactical / unit / operational markings also changed at least two or three times. Prior to December 1938, Spanish tanks used a letters system, whereby they would be given a letter of the alphabet to distinguish their units. After December 1938, a standardized system was put into place, whereby each tank had unit markings based on shapes – diamonds and circles, and were given a Spanish Legion marking in white. However, not all vehicles can be accounted for in both of these systems due to a lack of photographic evidence.
Regardless of the changes in camouflage and markings, by breaking them down into the Compañias system of Bandera de Carros de Combate de la Legión (for a standardization of reference), the following can be used as a general guide for differentiation between vehicles (attempting, as best as possible, to keep in mind that some vehicles may have changed Compañias):

  • 1a Compañia’s Panzer I Breda’s markings are unclear because of a lack of photos. According to one photo (far too grainy to be conclusive), there might have been a large ‘H’ in white on the upper glacis plate. There was also a Nationalist flag painted a few inches to the right of the driver’s viewport. It may generally be assumed that, like the other Panzer I Bredas, this tank was painted in a three-tone scheme of some sort.
  • 2a Compañia’s Panzer I Breda is shown in the little available photographs to have had a (faded) white ‘L’ on the lower glacis plate, and a Nationalist flag a few inches to the right of the driver’s viewport, with a small, white circle painted next to the flag. The ‘L’ indicates that these are the vehicle’s markings before December 1938, as from that date, the markings of Nationalist armor was being standardized from the original letters system into a numbers system. This tank is also believed to have had a three tone camouflage, painted on locally. The colors are likely to have been similar to Buntfarbenanstricht, but much more radiant. The new turret superstructure, for example, appears to have been painted with a very dark color (possibly dark green), whereas the rest of the vehicle is likely to be lighter green or sand and brown. In fact, one photo seems to indicate the hull to have retained the original Buntfarbenanstrich.
  • 3a Compañia’s Panzer I Breda is shown in extant photos to have had a white Spanish Legion symbol (a halberd and crown crossed with a crossbow, and blunderbuss) on the right hand side of the driver’s port, and a white diamond with a black letter ‘E’ in the middle of the diamond (possibly meaning ‘Especial’) on the right of the Spanish Legion symbol. It also had the number 531 in white on the upper glacis plate behind the central headlamp. These markings were painted on from any point after December 1938, and the vehicle likely had fewer markings before that date.
    The colour scheme visible in most photographs (likely painted also painted after December 1938) appears to be very close to the original Buntfarbenanstricht, except the white (or very light brown, as colour footage seems to indicate) stripes are much more radiant (most evidently on the turret and side of the hull). The turret also appears to have been painted darker. This may be an optical illusion caused by the painting of the same paint onto two different metal types (IE the original turret and the new superstructure), or perhaps even an effect caused (or exacerbated) by shadows resulting from the slight outwards sloping of the new superstructure.
    The vehicle is also missing its right-hand side exhaust pipe.
  • 4a Compañia’s Panzer I Breda had a large white cross on the hull below the driver’s port. Whilst it might seem to be an aerial recognition Saint Andrew’s Cross, it is actually more likely a unit marking pre-December, 1938. A Nationalist flag was also painted directly on the right of the driver’s port.
    The turret appears to be painted with a sort of ‘globular’ or ‘amoeba’ paint scheme, whereas the hull looks to be kept in its original Buntfarbenanstrich.
    According to one photograph, after transfer into Bandera de Carros de Combate de la Legión in March 1938, the tank had a crudely painted Cruz de Borgoña on the right side of the hull, (a red cross with a white background) indicating that the crew were Carlists. Carlist crews are known to often display their own insignia on their vehicles, even despite General Franco’s official orders for unity among the Nationalist. The photo also shows that the tank had a long Spanish Nationalist flag painted on the rear of the hull (above the engine deck, but below the turret). The only evidence for the vehicle with the Cruz painted on being from 4a Compañia’s is that Mortera Perez reports this vehicle to belongs to 2o Grupo de la Bandera de Carros (thus, if he is correct, it must belong to 4a Compañia, because 4a was the only Compañia in 2o Grupo with a Panzer I Breda). He also reports that the photo was taken after fighting at Vinaroz, thus on, or shortly after, April 15th, 1938, thus allowing us to date Cruz’s painting to around March 1938, when the tank was transferred into Bandera de Carros de Combate de la Legión.

Extant photos clearly do not show the full history of their paint schemes and markings, and it is probable that as more photos show up, it will become even more evident that as the vehicles saw more combat, additional lines, dots, and dashes may have been added to the paint scheme by the crew.
Consider also that photos may show the vehicles after long marches, from which sometimes a significant amount of dust would gather onto the hull, thus creating the appearance of the tanks being repainted. However, this is not always the case, and often, Buntfarbenanstricht is mistaken for dirt and dust, leading to many tanks being painted a dusty panzer grey by illustrators, scale modelers, and even Spanish museums such as at El Goloso.


Specific combat data on the Panzer I Breda is lacking. Whilst the vehicles undoubtedly saw combat, the majority of what can be ascertained is roughly where and when the vehicle was fielded, and with which units.
Some photos seem to indicate that the vehicle was sometimes dug into a position, camouflaged in shrubbery, and used as an ambush tank, but specific tactics are not recorded in any literary primary sources.

Panzer I Breda (believed to be of 2a Compañia but there are not enough identification details), camouflaged by shrubbery, likely for an ambush attack. Unknown date and location. As taken from “La Maquina y la Historia No. 2: Blindados en España: 1a. parte: La Guerra Civil 1936-1939” by Javier de Mazarrasa.
They were apparently first photographed in Guadalajara, and Soria, in December 1937, at which point, they would have been operated by Primer Batallón de Carros de Combate.
4a Compañia’s vehicle belonging to served throughout and survived the Aragon Offensive (March-April, 1938), as photos show one during the offensive, and at the end after fighting in Vinaroz.

Fate of the vehicles

None of the vehicles are believed to have survived the war due to their destruction or faulty guns.
2a/5a Compañia’s: One vehicle was fielded at the Battle of the Ebro (July-November, 1938), reportedly with the 5a Grupo de Bandera de Carros de Combate de la Legión (this is where the possibility of 2a Compañia’s Panzer I Breda actually being 5a Compañia comes from, or the probability of vehicles changing Compañia). During the Nationalist counter-offensive, on 6th August, three armored groups were formed under two Tentiente Coroneles (Lieutenant Colonels), Linos Lage, and Torrente y Moreno, who controlled sixteen vehicles consisting of T-26s and Panzer Is (one of which was a Panzer I Breda) belonging to the 2a, 3a, 5a, and 6a Compañias de Bandera de Carros de Combate de la Legión. The offensive started at the Vesecri Plateu and eventually reached the River Ebro. During this counteroffensive, the Nationalists suffered four casualties – two wounded (one Captain, and one Legionary), and two dead (two Legionaries), resulting from the Panzer I Breda being “struck by an enemy projectile“. It is unclear if the vehicle was left operational or not.
4a Compañia’s (and likely 1a Compañia’s): On 19th November 1938, the gun of the Panzer I Breda from 4a Compañia (then fielded with 2a Batallón de Agrupación de Carros de Combate) was reported as having suffered an internal explosion. Two new guns were requested in a note of the Staff of the Jefatura de M.I.R. addressed to the Cuartel General del Generalissimo (dated in Burgos, 11th November 1938 – meaning either the date of the internal explosion or the date of the note is wrong). The chassis of multiple Panzer I Breda tanks were reported as in perfect condition. Two days later, General Pallasar replied that there were no more Breda Modelo 1935s available and that the broken guns on the vehicles should be sent to the artillery arsenal at Saragossa for repairs. No further information is available on this, but it seems to imply that two vehicles had broken guns, which was likely to be 4a and 1a Compañia’s, by deduction.
3a Compañia’s: On 26th January 1939, a piston connecting rod broke on the 3a Compañia’s Panzer I Breda in unreported circumstances. On 28th March, the engine caught fire, and the vehicle was disabled, also in unreported circumstances.


The Panzer I Breda, whilst quite a sound idea on paper, was evidently flawed because of the limitations of the chassis it was based on, and a handful of problems are apparent in the design. The Panzer I, without any modification to the armor, was clearly vulnerable to the guns of the Republican army’s Soviet-supplied vehicles. The Panzer I Breda’s turret was, even with the new superstructure, too small for the purpose, also. The somewhat feeble 20mm gun was also simply not on par with the 45mm gun of Soviet-supplied vehicles, and it seems apparent that there were not enough spare parts for the Panzer I Breda to be viable in the long term. Whether the aiming sight, even with the bulletproof glass, also made the conversions hazardous to the crew or not is debatable. Indeed, the capture and integration of Soviet-supplied tanks made the need for more vehicles redundant anyway.
With only four Panzer I Breda tanks built, the extent of the photographic evidence of the tank is quite surprising – an estimated thirty photos of the vehicle are known. Many of these are private photos taken by Condor Legion soldiers. It is quite probable, if not certain, that more Condor Legion private photos exist in other private collections which will reveal more on the still somewhat mysterious tanks.

Carro Breda
Panzer I Breda of 4a Compañia with a Cruz de Borgoña. The other side of the vehicle is shown in photos to have the Cruz, but it is possible that this side also had one. The camouflage scheme appears to be a locally painted amoeba pattern on the turret, painted over the original Buntfarbenanstrich, still visible in photos on the hull.

A depiction of 4a Compañía’s Panzer I Breda fictionally illustrated in a two-tone livery. The correct scheme should be three tone. This three tone scheme was, as indicated above, probably a mix of the usual three-tone Buntfarbenanstrich of pre-WWII Panzers on the hull, and a new scheme on the turret. The Cruz de Borgoña has also been mistaken for a typical aerial ID cross in this depiction.

Panzer I Breda, illustrated here in another fictional livery, likely based on 3a Compañía’s vehicle. The Panzergrey base is particularly anachronistic, but the sand stripes are in fact quite accurate. In reality, the scheme should, in fact, look more like this, with green, dark-grey-ish brown, and sand stripes.

Panzer I Breda “351” of the 3a Compañia (3rd Company) with a T-26 M1936 of the 3a Compañia/3a Sección, dated to some time between 1st December 1938, and 28th December 1939. Usually, a black ‘M’ would denote ‘Mando’ (Command), but this vehicle has an ‘E’, believed to still indicate it belonged to the Command unit. The ‘E’ in the white diamond may mean ‘Especial’ (Special), but this is not proven. Weld beads are also visible where the original turret meets the new superstructure.

A different view of the above, along with a Panzer I Ausf.B of 3a Compañia, Mando. From this angle, the white (or, again, very light brown) stripes and dots on the Panzer I Breda’s hull side and turret are clearly visible. As taken from “Los Medios Blindados en la Guerra Civil Española: Teatro de Operaciones de Levante, Aragón, y Cataluña, 36/39 1a parte” by Artemio Mortera Pérez.

Panzer I Breda, undated, unlocated. There is a flag on the vehicle’s mantlet, likely a signal flag. The vehicle is missing its right-hand side exhaust, indicating it to belong to 3a Compañia. This is likely from before December 1938, as the new camo scheme and markings seen in other photos are not visible in this photo. Source: Author’s collection.

A different view of the above. Source: Author’s collection.

Panzer I Breda from 2a Compañia, apparently marked with the letter ‘L’ on the lower glacis plate. at Guadalajara or Soria, December, 1937. As taken from “Los Medios Blindados en la Guerra Civil Española: Teatro de Operaciones de Levante, Aragón, y Cataluña, 36/39 1a parte” by Artemio Mortera Pérez.

Panzer I Breda reportedly of 2a Compañia, with the turret clearly showing a three-tone camouflage. This was almost certainly Buntfarbenanstrich, or, more likely a Buntfarbenanstrich scheme in non-standard and more radiant tones (as evidenced by the turret). The hull appears to have remained in the original Buntfarbenanstrich. Unknown date and location – possibly at the Battle of the Ebro (July-November, 1938).

Panzer I Breda reportedly of 2a Compañia. Unknown date, unknown location – possibly at, or just after (based on the soldier’s overcoat) the Battle of the Ebro (July-November, 1938).

Panzer I Breda of 4a Compañia with a Cruz de Borgoña on the right side of the vehicle (a red cross with a white background). The tank also had a long Spanish Nationalist flag painted on the rear of the hull (above the engine deck, but below the turret). “Los Medios Blindados en la Guerra Civil Española: Teatro de Operaciones de Levante, Aragón, y Cataluña, 36/39 2a parte” by Artemio Mortera Pérez reports this to belong to 2o Grupo de la Bandera de Carros (if correct, this vehicle can only belong to 4a Compañia, as this is the only unit in 2o Grupo that had a Panzer I Breda). The photo was taken after fighting at Vinaroz, thus on, or shortly after, April 15th, 1938.

Panzer I Breda of 4a Compañia, likely at an earlier point in time to the above, with a large white cross on the hull (likely a unit marking). The turret hatch is also open in this picture, apparently the Panzer I’s original hatch. Credit: Museo del Ejercito.

One of few photos available believed to show 1a Compañia’s Panzer I Breda. The hull is apparently marked with a large, white ‘H’, but this is unclear.

A different view of 1a Compañia’s Panzer I Breda. Even in this poor resolution image, the white ‘H’ (indicating this to be 1a) is clear, as is the Nationalist flag on the hull. To the left of the flag may be a small white dot, similar to 2a Compañia’s Panzer I Breda, but the image is too poor resolution to be sure.

Unidentified Panzer I Breda (more likely 4a Compañia, but possibly 2a – although there are no useful identification details visible), at the Aragon Offensive, 1938. As taken from “Los Medios Blindados en la Guerra Civil Española: Teatro de Operaciones de Levante, Aragón, y Cataluña, 36/39 2a parte” by Artemio Mortera Pérez.

A still from some original color footage of a Spanish Panzer I Ausf.A (belonging to 2a Compañia/1a Sección). This clearly shows the type of Buntfarbenanstricht three-tone camouflage used on Spanish Panzer Is. Note: This particular vehicle may have additional camouflage markings, as it appears as though it has been repainted since it was supplied by the Germans (beyond the addition of unit markings).

Sidenote: Panzer I with 37mm and 45mm guns?

On October 23rd, 1937, shortly after testing the Panzer I Breda and CV-35 20mm, the Ejército del Centro was ordered by National Command to send a Panzer I to Seville in order to study the possibility of mounting captured Soviet 45mm guns. A month later, the Ejército del Norte also sent a 37mm McLean field gun (AKA Maklan), captured in Asturias in order to test being fitted to a Panzer I. In spite of the orders, these tests do not appear to have gone much further than concepts with the possibility of some design work. As such, there only appear to have been two major Panzer I modifications done in Spain – mounting a Breda Modelo 1935, and another project concerning mounting a flamethrower in the original turret.
Private Correspondence with Guillem Martí Pujol regarding the Panzer I con Breda 20mm – its paint scheme, its organization, and scholarship on the vehicle.
Los Medios Blindados en la Guerra Civil Española: Teatro de Operaciones de Levante, Aragón, y Cataluña, 36/39 1a parte” by Artemio Mortera Pérez.
Los Medios Blindados en la Guerra Civil Española: Teatro de Operaciones de Levante, Aragón, y Cataluña, 36/39 2a parte” by Artemio Mortera Pérez.
Heráldica e historiales del ejército, Tomo VI Infantería” by Ricardo Serrador y Añino.
La Maquina y la History No. 2: Blindados en España: 1a. parte: La Guerra Civil 1936-1939” by Javier de Mazarrasa
La Base Alemana de Carros de Combate en Las Arguijuelas, Caceres (1936-1937)” by Antonio Rodríguez González
AFV Collection No. 1: Panzer I: Beginning of a Dynasty” by Lucas Molina Franco
Spanish Civil War Tanks: The Proving Ground for Blitzkrieg” by Steven J. Zaloga
Discussion of Panzer colours on
Colour footage of the Spanish Civil War, including some tanks