Spanish Civil War Painting Guide: Nationalist and Pre-War

In general the Nationalists of the Spanish Civil War continued wearing the Pre-War Peninsular Army uniform. This section covers Nationalist Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, Mountain Artillery, Tank Crews, Medical and other support services, Foreign Legion, Falangist, and Carlist Requetés. Most of these wore greenish-tinged khaki, but the Legion wore a distinctive grey-green.

Default: Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, Engineers, Militia, etc

Typical illustrations

Typical uniforms are given by the following illustrations:

Service Rank Period Illustration
Nationalist Light Infantry Private 1st Class Bueno, 1971, fig. 85
Nationalist Light Infantry Major Bueno, 1971, fig. 84
Nationalist Infantry Private

Bueno, 1971, fig. 72, 74, 76;
Turnball, 1978, B3

Nationalist Infantry Corporal

Bueno, 1971, fig. 75;
Turnball, 1978, B1, D2

Nationalist Infantry Sergeant (provisional) Bueno, 1971, fig. 67
Nationalist Infantry Second Lieutenant (provisional) Bueno, 1971, fig. 65
Nationalist Infantry Lieutenant

Bueno, 1971, fig 63.;
Turnball, 1978, C3

Nationalist Infantry Lieutenant Colonel Bueno, 1971, fig. 64
Falangist Infantry Private Early war Bueno, 1971, fig. 108, 109
Falangist Infantry Private Late war

Bueno, 1971, fig. 110, 117;
Turnball, 1978, B2

Falangist Infantry Major Late war Bueno, 1971, 115
Carlist Requeté, Navarrese Brigade Private Late war Turnball, 1978, B2
Carlist Requeté, Navarrese Brigade Second Lieutenant (provisional) Late war Bueno, 1971, fig. 78
Carlist Requeté, Navarrese Brigade Lieutenant Late war Bueno, 1971, fig. 79
Foreign Legion Infantry Private Early war

Bueno, 1971, fig. 17;
Scurr, 1985, D1

Foreign Legion Infantry Private Late war Bueno, 1971, fig. 21
Foreign Legion Infantry Private 1st Class Late war

Bueno, 1971, fig. 19;
Turnball, 1978, C2

Foreign Legion Infantry Corporal Early war Bueno, 1971, fig. 18
Foreign Legion Infantry Sergeant Early war

Bueno, 1971, fig. 14;
Turnball, 1978, C1

Foreign Legion Infantry Sergeant Late war Scurr, 1985, D3
Foreign Legion Infantry Lieutenant Bueno, 1971, fig 12
Foreign Legion Tanks Captain Late war Scurr, 1985, D2

Branch-of-service indicators

I presume Carlist Requetés used the same badge and colours as the branch-of-service they served as, that is, infantry, artillery, or cavalry.

Spanish Branch-of-Service English Branch-of-service Piping Badge Officer Galetta
Infanteria (Regimientos) Infantry Red Gold bugle-horn, crossed musket and sword (Bueno, 1971, p. XXVI En el ángulo) Red
Infanteria (Batallones de Cazadores, Batallones de Montaña) Light Infantry; Mountain Infantry Grass-green Gold bugle-horn, crossed musket and sward Grass-green
Caballería Cavalry Light blue Silver crossed lances Light blue
Artilleria Artillery Red Gold bursting grenade Red-over-black divided diagonally from bottom left to top right
Ingenieros Engineers Dark red Silver castle Dark red
Armoured troops Black Silver Renault tank Black
Sanidad Militar Medical troops Yellow Silver caduceus Yellow
La Legion Foreign Legion Red Gold crossed musket, halberd and crossbow (Bueno, 1971, p. VIII En el ánglo) Black
Falange Falange Red Red yoke and arrows Dark Blue
Unit commanders (Majors through Colonels) As unit As unit Black
Provisional officers As unit As unit Black
Brigadiers through Generals Gold As unit Black

Rank devices

The Nationalists used a common ranking system that they inherited from the per-war army (see Bradley, 1994, figure I1 to I8). The early war Falangists differed and are discussed in a separate section. .

Spanish Rank English Rank Rank Device Illustration
Soldado Private None
Soldado de 1a clase Private 1st Class Chevron from shoulder to elbow on both sleeves. In branch-of-service colour for Infantry (Red), Artillery (Red) and Light Infantry (Grass-green), so possibly for other services as well. Turnball, 1978, C2
Cabo Corporal Colourof chevrons, diagonals, and bars: branch-of-service colour (actually the piping colour), eg red for infantry, grass-green for light infantry, light blue for cavalry, etc.
On shirt sleeve: 3 chevrons (edged black) just below the shoulder.
On tunic sleeve: 3 diagonals (edged black) just below the elbow.
On cap: 3 vertical bars (edged black) coming to a single point at the top.
On breast: 3 horizontal bars (edged black) coming to a single point at each end. Not normally used with a galleta; backed by a black galleta for provisional ranks.
Turnball, 1978, B1, D2
Sargento Sergeant As Corporal, but gold edged red.

Turnball, 1978, C1;
Scurr, 1985, D3;
Bradley, 1994, I8

Brigada Sergeant Major As Sergeant, but two bars, diagonals or chevrons, not three. Bradley, 1994, I7
Alférez Second Lieutenant 1 six-pointed gold star *
Teniente Lieutenant 2 six-pointed gold stars * Turnball, 1978, C3
Capitán Captain 3 six-pointed gold stars * Bradley, 1994, I1 and I6; Scurr, 1985, D2
Commandante Major 1 eight-pointed gold star *
Teniente Coronel Lt. Colonel 2 eight-pointed gold stars *
Coronel Colonel 3 eight-pointed gold stars * Bradley, 1994, I5; Scurr, 1985, C1
General de Brigada Brigadier 1 four-pointed gold star superimposed on gold crossed swords * Bradley, 1994, I4; Turnball, 1978, D1
General de División General Gold crossed swords between 2 four-pointed gold stars (smaller stars than Brigadier) * Bradley, 1994, I3

* Officer ranks were shown in a number ways. Typically it was shown on the tunic, shirt, and cap/hat:

· Tunic and shirt. Either:

o On the cuff (Captains and below had it just above the cuff; higher officers had it actually on the cuff), or

o On a biscuit (galleta) on the left breast. This was a coloured piece of rectangular material on immediately above the breast pocket. See branch-of-service section for the colour.

· Cap/hat depending on the style worn:

o Front of the fore-and-aft forage cap (except the Legion)

o Band of a peaked cap

Spanish Helmet

Helmet (if worn)

Hannan (n.d.) says painted a nondescript dark greenish grey like the photo, however, Bueno (1971, 1983) has all the helmets in plain steel, which matches what I’ve seen on colour movies of the period (Palmer, 2005).

Fore-and-aft forage cap (if worn)

The forage cap was called a gorillo or isabelino in Spanish.

Default: Greenish-tinged khaki, piped in branch-of-service colour and with tassel of same shade. Rank device on front of cap.

Falange: Black or dark blue gorillo, piped and tasselled in white or red with the rank device on front of cap. Front line combatants had white chevrons on the left side of the cap.

Foreign Legion: Grey-green gorillo [Coat d’arms 226 Olive] piped in red and with tassel of same shade. The branch-of service device was at the front of cap (crossed musket, halberd and crossbow in gold), and the rank device on the right.

Beret (if worn)

Default (eg official gear for Navarrese Brigades): Greenish-tinged khaki.

Mountain troops (Infantry and Artillery): Greenish-tinged khaki.

Nationalist Tank Crews: Black.

Carlist Requeté and typical Navarrese Brigades: Red, often with a yellow tassel.

Officers and NCOs: Same colour as men, but with the rank device or branch-of service device on front (probably not both at the same time).<

Ski cap (pasamontana) (if worn)

Greenish-tinged khaki.

Floppy Sun hat (if worn)

Light khaki drill. Had the branch-of service device on the band at the front.

Officers peaked cap (if worn)

Default: Greenish-tinged khaki with branch-of-service badge on the crown and the rank device on the band.

Foreign Legion: As default but grey-green [Coat d’arms 226 Olive].

Tunic / jacket (if worn)

Default: Regardless of whether they wore the thigh-length tunic (Guerra) or a waist-length blouse jacket (cazadora), it was in greenish-tinged khaki with brown buttons and branch-of-service badges on collars.

Carlist Requeté: As default, or civilian clothes

Foreign Legion: Grey-green [Coat d’arms 226 Olive] with black buttons and branch-of-service badges on collars (see Scurr, 1985, D3).

NCOs: as men, plus rank badges on sleeve or on left breast.

Officers: as men, plus rank badges on sleeve or on biscuit (Galleta) on left breast. The Galleta would be in branch-of-service colour.

Shirt (if visible)

The shirt was often not seen under the jacket, although it was fashionable to have the collar visible over the jacket collar (see Turnball, 1978, B3 or C2).

Default colour:

Men: Light greenish-tinged khaki (see Bueno, Turnball, 1978, B2).

NCOs: as men, plus rank badges on sleeve or on left breast (see, Bueno, 1971, fig, 67).

Officers: Light khaki drill / sandy colour (see Bueno, 1971, fig. 63, 65; Turnball, 1978, C3) plus rank badges on sleeve or on biscuit (Galleta) on left breast. The Galleta would be in branch-of-service colour.

Falange:

Early: Black or dark blue in colour for all ranks. Front line combatants had white chevrons on the sleeves just below the shoulder.

Late: Light greenish-tinged khaki with optional dark blue collar, shoulder straps and/or pocket-flaps (applies to all ranks). Front line combatants had a white chevron on the left sleeve just below the shoulder. (see Turnball, 1978, B2)

Foreign Legion: Light grey-green [Coat d’arms 513 Faded Olive] in colour for all ranks (see Scurr, 1985, D1).

Carlist Requeté: As default or civilian clothes

Trousers

Grandero trousers were similar to riding breeches being flared over thigh and tight over the calf; buttoned on outside of calf, and forming a spate over the boots. Sometimes trousers with puttees and rolled socks would be worn instead.

Default: Granadero trousers in greenish-tinged khaki .

Cavalry and horse artillery: Tan riding breeches (with riding boots)

Falange, Carlist Requeté:

Early: Mostly Civilian trousers (brown), but some military gear (the default).

Late: As default.

Foreign Legion: As default but grey-green [Coat d’arms 226 Olive] (see Scurr, 1985, D1).

Officers: As men, but riding breeches (with riding boots) rather than trousers.

Cape (if carried/worn)

The Capote-manta (cape) was often worn rolled around the body when not in use.

Default: It was the greenish-tinged khaki with ranking device on left breast. The branch-of-service device could appear below the ranking device on a khaki base or a base in the service colour.

Foreign Legion: As default but grey-green [Coat d’arms 226 Olive] (see Scurr, 1985, D1).

Cavalry Officer: Dark brown (see Bueno, 1971, fig. 89).

Blanket (if carried)

Brown, khaki, or civilian (simple check, or plain colour with contrasting grid overlaid).

Like the capote-manta (cape), blankets were often worn rolled around the body when not in use.

Belt, Y-braces

Default: Brown leather with bronze buckle (with branch-of-service emblem embossed).

Foreign Legion:Black Leather with silver buckles.

Bayonet sheath

Black with bronze fittings.

Water bottle strap

Brown leather

Water bottle, cups, pots etc

Painted dull green, or cloth covered, so probably greenish-tinged khaki.

Puttees (if worn)

Greenish-tinged khaki.

Socks (if seen)

White

Shoes/Boots

Default: Brown leather boots (or shoes or sandals)

Foreign Legion

Officers: Black boots

Early Men: White canvas shoes

Late Men: Black boots

Haversack and strap

Canvas [Coat D’arms 225 Khaki]

Horse equipment

The horse equipment was brown leather. The horse blanket was grey / brown or grey with brown checks.

Cavalry

Wore the Nationalist Service uniform with tan riding breeches.

Mountain Artillery

Wore the Nationalist Service uniform with a large khaki beret or ski cap (pasamontana), and tan riding breeches.

Tank Crews

Wore the Nationalist Service uniform with a black beret.

Emblem of
La Legion

La Legion (Spanish Legion)

The Foreign Legion wore a variation on the default service uniform. Although included in the description above the differences have been repeated here for convenience.

Base Colour of Caps, hats, tunics, jackets, and trousers

Grey-green [Coat d’arms 226 Olive] (see Scurr, 1985D1, D2, and D3). The summer uniform was a lighter shade [Coat d’arms 513 Faded Olive], and from what I can tell the same shade was used for the shirt. If you use the Peter Pig Legion figures in shirt sleeve order, then the combination of Coat d’arms 226 Olive for the trousers and Coat d’arms 513 Faded Olive for the shirt looks right.

Forage cap (if worn)

Grey-green [Coat d’arms 226 Olive] piped red with red tassel. Branch-of service device at the front of cap (crossed musket, halberd and crossbow in gold), Rank device on the right.

Tank Crew Berets (if worn)

Black.

Tunic / jacket

Grey-green [Coat d’arms 226 Olive] with Black buttons.

Shirt

Light grey-green [Coat D’arms 513 Faded Olive] for all ranks – officers and men (see Scurr, 1985, D1).

Belt, Y-braces, bayonet sheath

black.

Canvas shoes (if worn)

White (worn by the men, not officers, during early war).

Boots (if worn)

Black (Officers during entire war, and men during latter war).

Carlists

Militia de Requeté (Carlist Requetés), Brigades Navarras (Navarrese Brigades).

For their flags see http://www.requetes.com/banderas.html

Early war Carlist Requetés

Beret: Red beret with yellow tassel

Clothes: with mostly civilian clothes (usually brown), and some Military gear.

Ranking Devices: They had there own ranking devices.All illustrations are from Bueno (1971, page XCIX).

Spanish Rank English Rank Rank Device Illustration
Soldado Private
Cabo Corporal Left breast: 2 red vertical bars coming to a point.
Hat and Sleeve: 1 red chevron.
Fig. 9
Sargento Sergeant As Corporal but green. Fig. 8
Brigada Sergeant Major Left breast: 2 gold vertical bars coming to a point.
Hat and Sleeve: 2 gold chevrons.
Fig. 7
Alférez Second Lieutenant Fig. 6
Teniente Lieutenant Fig. 5
Capitan Captain Fig. 4
Commandante< Major Fig. 3
Teniente Coronel Lt. Colonel Fig. 2
Coronel Colonel Fig. 1

Late war Navarrese Brigades

Beret: Red or Greenish-Khaki beret.

Cloths: Normal Nationalist uniform (mostly).

Ranking Devices: normal Nationalist.

Branch-of-service emblems and colour: As Nationalist service uniform. .

Emblem of
the Falange

Falange

The Falange started out as a militia force, and gradually became militarised.

Early war Falange

In general they wore civilian clothes but some normal military gear was seen. The distinctive, and universally military, features of their early uniform were:

Fore-and-aft forage cap: Dark blue (or sometimes black) gorillo, piped and tasselled in white or red with the rank device on front of cap. Front line combatants had white chevrons on the left side of the cap.

Shirt: Dark blue (or sometimes black), typically with the red yoke and arrows emblem on the left breast; this was sometimes on a dark blue rectangle. Front line combatants had white chevrons on the left sleeve just below the shoulder.

Rank devices: Early war Falangists used a different ranking system from that used in the Army. All illustrations are from Bueno (1971, p. XCVIII):

Spanish Rank English Rank Rank Device Illustration
Sub-jefe de escuadra Private 1st Class 1 red arrow horizontally on a black patch Fig. 14
Jefe de escuadra Corporal 1 silver arrow horizontally on a black patch Fig. 12
Sub-jefe de falange Sergeant 2 red arrows horizontally on a black patch Fig. 11
Jefe de falange Sergeant Major 2 silver arrows horizontally on a black patch Fig. 10
Sub-jefe de centuria Second Lieutenant 3 red arrows horizontally on a black patch Fig. 9
Jefe de centuria Lieutenant 3 silver arrows horizontally on a black patch Fig. 8
Subjefe de bandera Captain 1 red yoke on a black patch Fig. 7
Jefe de bandera Major 1 silver yoke on a black patch Fig. 6
Sub-jefe de tercio Lt. Colonel 2 red yokes on a black patch Fig. 5
Jefe de tercio Colonel 2 silver yokes on a black patch Fig. 4
Jefe divisionario de Milicias Brigadier 1 silver four pointed star Fig. 3
Jefe directo de Milicias General 2 silver four pointed stars Fig. 2
Jefe nacional General 3 silver four pointed stars Fig. 1

Late war Falange

As the war progressed the Falangist’s civilian attire was militarised, becoming largely identical to the Nationalist service uniform. For example, the ranking was identical to the regular infantry, eg red galletas for officers. Two features remained distinctive about Falangists (see Turnball, 1978, B2):

Fore-and-aft forage cap: Black or dark blue gorillo, piped and tasselled in white or red with the rank device on front of cap. Front line combatants had white chevrons on the left side of the cap.

Shirt: Light greenish-tinged khaki with optional dark blue collar, shoulder straps and/or pocket-flaps. Typically the shirt had the fascist red yoke and arrows emblem on the left breast; this was sometimes on a dark blue rectangle. Front line combatants had a white chevron on the left sleeve just below the shoulder.

References

Bradley, K. (1994). International Brigades in Spain 1936-39. Osprey.

Bueno, J. M. (1971). Uniformes Militares en color de la Guerra Civil Espaola. Madrid: Libreria Editorial San Martin.

Bueno Carrera, J. M. (1983). La Infanteria de Linea; El Ejercito de Alfonso XIII. Madrid. [Spanish]

Cordery, B. (1993). La Ultima Cruzada: A Wargamers guide to the Spanish Civil War (2nd ed.). Partizan Press.

Palmer, R. (Director). (2005). Defenders Of The Faith – The Spanish Civil War In Colour (DVD).

Scurr, J. (1985). The Spanish Foreign Legion. Osprey.

Turnball, P. (1978). The Spanish Civil War 1936-39. Osprey.

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