APR II INSURGENT
With dry spring weather here to stay, the Nationalist Aragon offensive along the Huesca-Barcelona axis kept grinding on and reached the Cinca river at Barbastro. This time the Loyalists took heavy losses. However, the Nationalists failed to exploit the gap in the front they had created (only the Kondor Legion’s motorized 88AA had sufficient mobility to sally into Cataluna to wreak havoc, but was apparently judged too valuable at the front to send it on such a suicide mission). Near the French border, Nationalist mountain troops and cavalry made good use of their mountain savvy to bypass, trap, and wipe out the POUM Maurin Brigade on the slopes of Monte Perdido. All other fronts remained quiet. With no cargo to ferry, the Nationalist Navy took the week off. Their Airforce, however, made a determined effort launching strikes against factories, airfields, and rail lines. Barcelona experienced the heaviest attacks. Savoia-Marchetti-81 bombers caused damage to plants, and Heinkel-45s of the Legion Kondor sank several ships in port. Also hit were airbases in Valencia and Albacete. Aircraft were destroyed at both locations and the Albacete field is out of commission. Heinkel-51 fighter bombers damage the crucial Barcelona-Huesca rail line north of Lerida. However, another raid against Valenica’s rail yard failed to find the target.
APR II LOYALIST
The Barcelona government’s worst nightmare has become reality. Barcelona and much of Cataluna rose in open revolt, instigated by the Partido Obrero de Unification Marxista, Andreas Nin’s anti-Stalin communists. Reaction was swift. At the front, all POUM units were disarmed. Uprisings in Lerida and Tarragona were quelled by Guardia Civil. Negotiations eventually ensured an uneasy truce with Anarchists and Catalan separatists. However, parts of Barcelona are still held by die-hard POUM militia. The Loyalists marshaled all available reserves including two new infantry divisions to patch up their front in Aragon. A few units were withdrawn from Castilla to help out and to begin to reestablish order in Barcelona. To guard against any Nationalist breakthrough, security forces were deployed at some distance behind the actual front. Anti-aircraft units were moved to Barcelona in response to the devastating Nationalist air raids. While the Republican Fleet remained at anchor in Catagena, fighter bombers attacked rail lines in Aragon and caused damage between Zaragoza and Huesca.
In Aragon the Nationalists have reached the Cinca river, a major obstacle. Whether they are strong enough to breach it remains to be seen. The success of the raids against Republican airbases have swung the balance of forces in the air back in the Nationalists’ favor. Although at this time their fighters are still outmatched by the Soviet “Ratas” (I-16s and I-15s), their bombers and ground attack aircraft now outnumber their counterparts about 2:1. Especially noteworthy is the destruction of the Albacete base and the Po-540 bombers it served. Until these are replaced, the Loyalists find themselves without a strategic force whereas the Nationalists can count on their SM-81s and Ju-52s.