What is it?
It’s a preserved FT-44, a Spanish-built hybrid weapon based on the dreaded German “Eighty-eight” multipurpose gun.
You can just see the snow-sprinkled peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the centre background of this image. This really is a beautiful spot.
What’s the story?
The German FlaK 18 anti-aircraft gun was already in service when German units of the Condor Legion became involved in the Spanish Civil war. This versatile weapon was used in Spain not just in the AA role for which it was originally designed but also to provide direct and indirect artillery support to ground units and as an anti-tank weapon – in this latter role it was lethally effective during the Civil War and during World War Two.
German troops of the Condor Legion operating a FlaK 18 gun in Spain during the Civil War. Most contemporary photos seem to show that when this weapon was used in Spain, it was not fitted with the armoured shield seen in other theatres.
Over 200 Flak 18 cannon were brought to Spain during this conflict and all were left behind when it ended, after which they were used by the Spanish Army. In the early 1940s, Spain ordered more of these weapons from Germany and these were assembled by Fabrica de Trubia in Oviedo. The weapons assembled by Trubia were given the designation FT-44 (Fabrica de Trubia Mod. 1944) in Spanish service. These were hybrids, using the barrel from the Original FlaK 18 combined with parts from the later FlaK 36 and 37.
The FT-44 with the town of Lanjeron in the background.
The information board for this gun (which is provided in Spanish only) identifies it as an “FT-44 Galileo.” However, the “Pieza de 88/56mm Galileo” was a single prototype using the FT-44 combined with the power feed of a Bofors anti-aircraft gun. This weapon never entered production and I suspect that this is more likely to simply be a retired FT-44 of the Spanish Army.
Where is it?
This is not marked on Google maps. It is sited in a public space off the A-348 road, less than 1km east of the town of Lanjeron in the Alpujarras area. Three other cannon (all much older than this and all pre-dating the Civil War) are also displayed within the town as part of a display titled “ruta tradicion canonera” which was finalized in March 2020, just before the COVID 19 pandemic struck.
If you are driving east from Lanjeron, on the A-348 towards Orgiva, you will pass this gun on your right soon after leaving the town. This gun is sited on a Mirador with stunning views down the valley to the south-east and up towards the Sierra Nevada mountains to the north-east.
OK, I know, this particular gun wasn’t actually used during the Spanish Civil War. But it’s very close indeed in looks and function to the FlaK 18 that was widely used by the Nationalist side in that conflict. As a bonus, this example is in good condition and fairly complete and it gives a rare opportunity to get up close to this iconic weapon in beautiful surroundings.