Wednesday, 29 April 2009

(1940-1949) L3/35 tankette

Captured L3/35. The text reads 'The Avenger of Elli' (the Greek cruiser that the Italians sunk before the war)Before World War 2, Greece had tested and considered ordering Renault NC2 tanks from France, but the breakout of the war forced France to refuse. The Greeks also ordered 14 Vickers 6-ton MkVI from Britain, but these weren't delivered in time for the Italian invasion. As a result, they started the war without any armoured fighting vehicles at all. However, they quickly captured L3/35 tankettes from the Italians and efforts were made to form the mechanised 19th Division, with truck borne Infantry supported by them.

Captured L3/35. Photo from War Illustrated, 13 April 1941

Operational History
Late 1940 - About 40 L3/35 tankettes are captured from the invading Italians and are turned against them.
1941 - All are destroyed during the German invasion of Greece.
1945 - More captured Italian L3/35 tankettes are obtained from Greece's allies. They are used during the Greek civil war.

Greek soldier on L3/35Specifications
L3/35 Tankette
Weight: 3.2 tonnes
Length: 3.17 m
Width: 1.4 m
Height: 1.3 m
Armour: front and driver - 13.5mm, front angled - 8.5 mm, side and rear - 8.5 mm, top - 6 mm
Speed: 42 km/h on road
Range: 120 km
Crew: 2 (commander and driver)
Armament: 2×8 mm Machine Guns (in Greek service some were re-armed with .50 cal)
Engine: FIAT-SPA CV3 water cooled 43 HP (32 kW)
Operational Range: 125km

For gamers and game designers
The tankettes can be used only in anti-personnel role. They are relatively fast and their machine guns can be quite effective. However, they are vulnerable even to machine gun fire.

For modellers
Greek L3/35 schematic

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

(1940-1941) Bloch MB.151 fighter

Bloch MB 151 The Bloch MB.151 was the most modern fighter of the Greek Airforce in 1940; clearly superior to the Italian G.50s and at least equal to the MC.200s. However, out of the 25 ordered before the German invasion of France, only 9 were received and even fewer were operational in Oct. 1940. Due to lack of spares after the fall of France and the fact that they were initially reserved for the defence of Athens, the MB.151s did not see as much action as they should. The Italians and Germans seemed unaware of their existence in Greece, and would always report them as British Hurricanes and Spitfires, although these were not operating there at the time. While not massively inferior to any contemporary fighter, the fact that its engine was optimised for the relatively low altitude of 3km, placed it at a disadvantage, especially against German BF109Es. It's also worth pointing out that all 9 MB.151s were delivered with second-hand engines that were not in good shape and would easily overheat.

Operational History
April 1940 - Greece receives only 9 of the 25 MB.151 aircraft that it had ordered from France.
August 1940 - No more than 4 or 5 MB.151s are serviceable.
October 1940 - Commanded by Cpt A. Anagnostopoulos, the 24th Mira (Squadron) in Elefsina consists of these MB.151 aircraft. The Squadron belongs to the Greek Anti-Aircraft Command and is assigned the defence of Athens/Piraeus.
Bloch MB.151 of 24 Mira, under repair after forced landing in Thessaly
13 Nov. - 6 Dec. 1940 - Assigned to defence of Thessaly.
16 Jan. 1941 - Anagnostopoulos takes command of 24th Mira.
19 Jan. 1941 - Assigned to defence of W. Macedonia.
15 April 1941 - Last 2 surviving MB.151s are moved to Amfikleia airfield together with the rest of the Greek airforce.
19 April 1941 - One MB.151 is destroyed in a strafing attack and the last one is shot down by German fighters.

Air Kills
CLAIMED 25 Jan. 1941 - Michalis Savelos (Bloch 151) downs a Cant Z.1007 bomber over Thessaloniki
CONFIRMED 9 Feb. 1941 - El. Smyrniotopoulos (Bloch 151) downs a Cant Z.1007 bomber over Thessaloniki.
CLAIMED 6 Apr. 1941 - El. Smyrniotopoulos (Bloch 151) downs a (Do.17 ?) reconnaisance aircraft over the Strymonas estuary. Pan. Oikonomopoulos contributed.
CONFIRMED 6 Apr. 1941 - Pan. Oikonomopoulos (Bloch 151) downs a Do.17Z reconnaisance aircraft over the west part of the Strymonas river
CLAIMED 6 Apr. 1941 - Pan. Oikonomopoulos (Bloch 151) possibly downs a German aircraft over the Strymonas estuary
CLAIMED 10 Apr. 1941 - Pan. Oikonomopoulos (Bloch 151) downs a Cant Z.1007
CLAIMED 15 Apr. 1941 - Giorgos Mokkas (Bloch 151) downs two Stukas during the 20-Stuka and 20-Bf109E strong German raid at Trikala Airfield, before being shot down by German Ace Gustav Rödel.

Fate of individual aircraft
D.172 - Downed by German Messerschmitts and burned (north of Trikala, 15 Apr. 1941)
D.173 - While out of service, strafed and burned by enemy aircraft (Larisa airfield, 15 Apr. 1941)
D.174 - Together with Avia 534 DK2, strafed by Messerschmitts (Amfikleia airfield, 19 Apr. 1941)
D.175 - Destroyed by the squadron's rearguard, when the squadron was moved out of SEDES airfield. The aircraft's engine lacked two cylinders (SEDES airfield, 8 Apr. 1941)
D.176 - When the squadron was transfered out of Amfikleia airfield, this was left behind to be moved to KEA for repairs, following enemy strafing (Amfikleia airfield, 19 Apr. 1941)
D.179 - Destroyed by the squadron's rearguard, when the squadron was moved out of SEDES airfield. The aircraft needed an engine (SEDES airfield, 8 Apr. 1941).

Bloch MB.151 C1 fighter
Crew: 1
Length: 9.11 m
Wingspan: 10.54 m
Height: 3.64 m
Wing area: 17.21 m²
Weight: empty 2,073 kg, loaded 2,800 kg
Powerplant: Gnome-Rhône 14N-35, 920 HP
Max. Speed: 483 km/h at 4 km, 437 km/h at 2.6 km
Climb: 1 min 57" to 1km, 7 min to 5 km
Ceiling: 10,000 m
Range: 640 km at 5.5 km
Armament: 4 x 7.5mm machine
guns with 300 rounds per gun (not clear if the Greeks used the same)

For gamers and game designers
The natural opponents of the Greek MB.151s are the Italian G.50 and MC.200 fighters that are relatively weaker but more manoeuvrable. Try to stay at low to medium altitude, since the engine is not optimised for higher altitude.

For modellers
The Greek MB.151s had random camouflage that differed significantly from aircraft to aircraft, typically using green, brown, light blue and dark blue grey. They were marked with a Delta serial ("Dioksis": Pursuit Fighter) and a roundel on the fuselage. The blue of the roundel was relatively dark. The serials ranged from 171 to 179.
The following are some models and paintschemes from various sources:

D 173
A model by D. Georgiadis and a profile from unknown source:
MB151 (D173) made by D. Georgiadis MB151 (D173) profile from unknown source
MB151 (D173) MB151 (D173) right side MB151 (D173) right side MB151 (D173) damaged

D 177
A model by D. Georgiadis and a cardboard 1:33 model kit:
MB151 (D177) made by D. Georgiadis MB151 (D177) cardboard model kit
D 179
A model by Ilias of and a model by D. Georgiadis:
MB151 (D179) made by Ilias of MB151 (D179) made by Dimitris Georgiadis

Monday, 27 April 2009

(1914-1932) Battleship "Limnos"

Limnos (15 Sep 1919, Smyrna)"Limnos" was the pre-dreadnought American Battleship "USS Idaho" (BB-24) that served with the US Navy from 1908 to 1914. At the time, the Turks were strengthening their navy with ex-German ships, which would tip the Aegean naval balance in their favour. To address this, the Greeks hastily bought the "USS Idaho" and her sister "USS Mississippi" for the very high price of $6.3M (33M drachmas) each. Not only they were significantly overpriced, but they were also quite slow and had shallow draft. While they were good enough against the Turkish pre-dreadnoughts, in August 1914 the Turks acquired the Battlecruiser "Yavuz" (ex-German "SMS Goeben") that completely outclassed them.

Operational History
22 July 1914 - Commissioned
1916 - Since Greece has not yet entered WWI, both ships are seized by France along with the rest of the Greek Fleet.
1917 - Both ships are returned when Greece enters the war on the side of the Entente.
1919 - They see action in the Crimean expedition of the Russian Civil War (1919) on the side of the White Russians.
1919-22 - "Limnos" becomes the flagship of the Second Fleet, based in Smyrna, under Rear Adm. G. Kalamidas. Her mission is to patrol the Black Sea, Dardanelles and Asia Minor coasts.
1926-28 - Boiler repairs.
1932 - Decommissioned. Her guns are removed and used as coastal defence battery on the island of Aegina.
1941 - The hulk of Limnos (and Kilkis) is bombed in Salamina by Stuka dive bombers during the German invasion and sinks in shallow waters.
1950s - Her wreck is salvaged for scrap.

Limnos and Torpedo Boat Dafni (1919, Constantinople)Specifications
Mississippi-class Pre-Dreadnought Battleship
Displacement: Full 14,095, Stand. 13,000 tons
Length: 382 ft (116 m)
Beam: 77 ft (23 m)
Draft: 24.7 ft (7.5 m)
Propulsion: Engines: triple-expansion reciprocating engines, Shafts: 2 (twin screw ship), Power: 10,000 hp
Speed: 17 knots maximum
Complement: 744
Armament: 4×12-inch (305 mm), 8×8-inch (203 mm), 8×7-inch (178 mm), 12×3-inch (76 mm), 6×3 pdr, 2×1 pdr, 6×.30 MG, 2×21-inch (533 mm) Torpedo Tubes
Armour: Belt 9in, Turrets 12in, Deck 3in,
Conning Tower: 9in

For gamers and game designers
Their natural opponents are the two ex-German Pre-dreadnought Battleships of the Turks (Torgut Reis and Barbaros Hayreddin), which are a bit slower and have weaker guns. The following are some technical details of the guns that would be useful to a game designer:

Range @15-degree elevation: about 20,000 yards
Penetration with 870 lb AP Shell Vs. face-hardened Harvey plates: (6,000 yards) 422mm, (9,000 yards) 310mm, (12,000 yards) 251mm

For modellers
Mississippi class top view

The following images show a 1:6000 "Limnos" and a 1:1800 "Kilkis" model for wargaming.1:6000 Limnos by Hallmark

1:1800 scratchbuilt Kilkis by Seisen
An award-winning "Kilkis" displayed at IPMS-Hellas 2010:
Award-winning Kilkis from IPMS-Hellas 2010

Additional photos of the Battleship Limnos:
Smirni, 15 Sep. 1919. Limnos saluting USN Admiral Mark L. Bristol. Notice the Italian flag on mainmast, as well as Greek and American flags on foremast. The other ship is a British D-class cruiser.