The War industry in Vic during the Civil War: el Sucre

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In August 1936, after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the Government of the Generalitat promoted a huge transformation of the Catalan industrial fabric to create its own War Industry. This transformation was intended to supply the troops, loyal to the Republic, with armaments and other basic elements for the soldiers, such as clothes or blankets. This titanic task was led by the War Industries Commission, or CIG, led by the then Councillor Josep Tarradellas.

Despite the fact that the CIG created a total of 15 arms factories or warlike elements, the Generalitat managed to control some 500 work centres where some 80,000 people worked. Following the events of May 1937, the Government of the Republic abolished almost all the powers of the Generalitat de Catalunya. Therefore, the CIG was losing industries and workshops, which were controlled by the corresponding Ministries. His formal disappearance took place on August 11, 1938. After this date, the productivity and effectiveness of Catalan arm factories plummeted.

Picture of a  I-15

Within the industrial network of the CIG, the Generalitat of Catalunya stands out for its eagerness to assemble and manufacture fighter jets. Most of the fighter planes that the Spanish Republic received came from the Soviet Union, one of the few states that sold war material to Republicans. At first, these planes were assembled in Catalan factories as they arrived either by sea or by the French border. For example, it is worth mentioning the old factory in Barcelona, where the engine was installed for these aircraft. Due to the bombardments of Francoist aviation, many of these factories broke down into different workshops and spread throughout the Catalan territory. In this way it was much more difficult to completely destroy a war industry. This system was copied by British aircraft factories during World War II.

One of the most significant examples of this is the aircraft factory located in Vic during the Spanish Civil War, called SAF-24 once it has been intervened by the Republican government. This factory was closely related to the Vic airfield, located on the grounds of the Griell.

At first, we have news of the confiscation of the Rovira Garage (or Can Rovira), located on Jacint Verdaguer Avenue. In the spring of 1938, it became part of the assembly of Grumann “Dolphins” aircraft, which ended up in the hangars of the above-mentioned airfield. A few weeks later, a Polikarpov I-15 “Fly” fighter factory was established in the Sucre. This installation is part of an assembly network of Republican planes, originally located in Reus and dispersed after several attacks. In any case, the Rovira Garage will continue to be part of the assembly of fighter planes, despite protests by the City Council of Vic to move this workshop, a possible target of the bombs, away from the city centre.

In Sucre the rear wings were first assembled, but soon there will also be the installation of engines and the most complete manufacture of these aircraft. I-15 fighter was the backbone of Republican aviation in protecting cities and air missions against fascist bombers. In Catalonia, technical improvements were made that would be adopted by the Soviets in World War II. We can say, in general terms that the Generalitat manufactured more than two hundred aircraft.

During the four air strikes Vic suffered at the end of the war, the Sucre was one of the main targets of the fascist bombs. On February 1st 1939 the city of Vic fell into the hands of the Franco regime. Six ready-to-fly aircraft were seized at the aerodrome and Sucre facilities, twelve in the process of assembly and sixty aircraft engines.

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