Aeródromo de Lamiako, Leioa

The Lamiako airfield

Did you know that in Leioa, there used to be an airfield that was built during the Spanish Civil War where over 300 people worked? Find out about it here.

A little bit of history

The history of Leioa, from the beginning of the Civil War until its occupation by the rebels on 17 June 1937, was marked by the creation of a military airfield in the Vega de Lamiako.

It was the target of the fascist air force, whose air raids not only caused casualties among the military and volunteer personnel assigned to the airfield but also caused civilian losses in several areas of the town.

The new military airfield

The refurbishment of this strategic military site, along with the Sondika airfield and the Iron Belt, was one of the Basque Government’s major projects in its attempt to confront the rebels.

At that time, these two airfields had only two bombers and the pilots José Ribera, Felipe del Río, José María Yanguas Yañez and Julio Alegría, the latter two being civilian pilots.

In the first months of the war, several 19th Breguets departed from Lamiako to bomb areas controlled by the rebel troops, such as Burgos and Vitoria.

Shortly afterwards, a squadron of Bristol Bull-Dog aircraft led by British volunteers joined them.
The situation changed at the beginning of November with the arrival of 15 Polikarpov I-15 fighters known as “chatos” and several Russian and French pilots.

The main characters in the story

Luis Cerro organised Bizkaia’s scant air force in such a way that Sondika would have the bombers and Lamiako the fighters.

To protect this airfield, several military gudaris (soldiers of the Euzko Gudarostea) were assigned to machine gun stations in the districts of Ondiz and Aketxe.

One of the pilots assigned to Lamiako was the Cantabrian pilot Felipe del Río, who was promoted to captain and commanded the Basque Squadron.

He died on 22 April 1937 during air combat over the Lamiako airfield while defending Leioa and Getxo from the Condor Legion attack.

The attacks by Franco’s air force intensified, and finally, on 17 June 1937, the Italian-Spanish pro-coup forces took the airfield, which was completely devastated by the bombing raids.

During its operational period, it was staffed by more than 300 volunteer workers from Leioa and the surrounding villages, at least 25 of whom were women.

Can you recognise the area that today corresponds to the Lamiako airfield site?

Leioa 1936-1945. Volumen I. Human rights violations during the Civil War and the early Franco regime. Javier Buces Cabello

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