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A refurbished Spanish Spit!

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Hispano Aviación Spitfire XIVe - Ala 36, Ejército del Aire, 1952

 

The UN Conference on International Organisation opened in San Francisco on April 25th, 1945 and quickly drafted the historic United Nations Charter with the United Nations officially coming into existence on October 24th, 1945 and headed by the five permanent members of the Security Council; France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the UK and the US. The first meetings of the United Nations General Assembly took place in London in early 1946 and in an effort led by the Allied Powers, the United Nations placed a trade embargo on Spain for it's part in aiding Germany and the Axis Powers during WW2. In February 1946, France closed it's border to commerce with Spain following the execution of an exiled Republican who had fought in the French Resistance. These events quickly resulted in the economic and diplomatic isolation of Spain, badly hindering any hope of progress for the Spanish economy. 

 

During December 1946, the United Nations recommended that all member states should withdraw their ambassadors from Madrid and in early 1947 Spain was excluded from the Marshall Plan for the economic recovery of Europe as long as the Franco dictatorship remained. Economically and culturally isolated from the outside world, the Spanish people quickly became disillusioned with the military dictatorship seeing all trade unions and political parties banned (except for the official Falange party). In June 1947, just when it seemed that a violent revolution or re-ignition of the Spanish Civil War would result, Franco made an unexpected approach to the United Nations for assistance and applied to join the European Recovery Program. Only in later years, and after Franco's death in 1975, would it be revealed that this event was due to the political horse-trading between President Truman and Franco with the former appreciative of Franco's aggressive anti-communist policies and the latter seeking the support of the United States over the retention of it's African colonies and the return of Gibraltar from the United Kingdom.

 

In the Autumn of 1947, Ejército del Aire (EDA) officials began the slow modernisation of the EDA with the acquisition of 38 ex-RAF Spitfire XIVe's that were refurbished by Hispano Aviación at it's Tablada factory in Seville with the first Spitfires entering EDA service with Ala 36 at Alcantarilla Air Base near Murcia in May 1948. Although outdated by modern Western standards, the EDA's Spitfires were well-suited for the task of controlling Spanish colonial territories in Africa where a higher level of technology was unnecessary. In EDA service the Spitfire's armament consisted of two 20 mm Hispano-Suiza 404/408 cannons plus two Oerlikon-built M2 Browning machine guns. It remained in service until late 1965 and surviving examples then embarked upon a successful theatrical career starting with the 1969 film 'Battle of Britain'.

 

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