The combat debut of the Pz.Kpfw. Ia, German's first tank since the Treaty of Versailles, was during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Only 106 tanks, (102 Ausf a, Ausf b and 4 kl.Pz.Bf.Wg I (LeadWarrior kit LW35008) saw service with "Legion Condor" and General Franco's Nationalist forces. Major Ritter von Thoma's Panzer Abteilung 88 (also known as Abteilung Drohne) with its 3 companies was based at Cubas near Toledo. Here, German instructors trained Spanish crews, while the unit was used for training duties and combat. By the spring of 1938, "Bandera de Carros de Combate de la Legion" consisting of two tank battalions, was formed. The 1st Tank Battalion, Agrupacion de Carros, was equipped with Pz.I's, while captured T-26s equipped the 2nd Battalion. The German High Command used the opportunity of the Spanish Civil War to test and compare their new weapons and modern tactics.
The Pz.Kpfw. I was designed as a light training tank for the pre-war Panzer Divisions, and was never intended to be used in combat conditions. It was cheap, fast and maneuverable, but its armor and MG armament were both very weak, because of its original design capabilities. Pz.Kpfw. I tanks proved to be outclassed by Soviet T-26 and BT-5 provided to the Spanish Republican troops. In an effort to overcome this deficiency, several Pz.Kpfw. I were rearmed with Italian 2cm. Breda model 35 anti-tank guns mounted in a modified turret.