How did German planes get to Spain for the Civil War?

My understanding is that during the Spanish Civil War, Germany provided considerable assistance to the Nationalists, including air support and bombing (e.g. Guernica).

So how did Germany fly its planes to Spain? I assume France would have denied overflight privileges. Did they fly over Austria and Italy? did they have to land in Italy for re-fueling, or did they have that far a range to make it in one flight?

Sez Wiki they went via Morocco, using false-front companies as a cover.

Heavy planes with long range (He-11,Ju52)I’d imagine would fly more or less directly. Smaller AC,fighters and such, mostly by boat.They would need to ferry dozens of troops, supplies,fuel,spare parts and so on anyway, might as well strap the AC to the boat while at it.

That was how they moved troops from Africa to Spain, using JU 52s, but it doesn’t say how the JU 52s got there.

That’s my question - directly from where to where? Since France was supporting the Republicans, I can’t imagine they would allow overflight from Germany to Spain. Switzerland is neutral, so would not likely allow overflight. That leaves a route over Austria to Italy and then to Spain. Did Austria grant overflight privileges?

Or, back then, was it easier to do overflight without permission, since there wasn’t radar? Or did Germany just do it, regardless of the niceties of national sovereignty and overflight rules?

Without any recondite knowledge I’d say from Germany via Italy overflying Austria. I don’t think Austria was anti German.

The Junkers had a range of 1000 kms so it would have been easy. Maybe not so much for the 109’s but it could be done.

I seem to recall reading in Hubert Malloy Mason’s The Rise of the Luftwaffe, that France was overflown on occaision by Germany during the Spanish Civil War. This was done with high-speed aircraft carrying priority cargo or personnel.


Austria and Germany came to a diplomatic agreement in July of 1936 after years of tensions between Austrian Nazis and the government, so I imagine Austria would have been quite willing to allow German overflights into Italy.

I’d say the bigger headscratcher was how the Soviets managed to get their material assistance to Spain. Unless it was all by ship?

Most of the heavy equipment and loads did go by ship and it apparently was a long voyage involving subterfuge, ship disguises and hidden compartments. Presumably some of the aircraft went that way as well, though I cannot confirm that so far.