Sunday, 14 September 2014

(1914-1940) Cruiser "Elli"

Cruiser Elli border=Built by New York Shipbuilding, Elli was originally ordered by the Chinese as the Fei Hung, but the order was cancelled due to the Nationalist Revolution of 1912-13. The Greeks bought it in 1914 as part of a naval expansion program following the Balkan wars. As Greece was neutral at the beginning of World War I, the French confiscated the Greek ships, including Elli, which they used in convoy escort and patrol duties in the Aegean Sea until the Greeks sided with the Entente in June 1917. Until the end of the war, Elli continued its operations in the Aegean as part of the Greek navy. In 1925-27, she was modernized in France, where she acquired modern antiaircraft armament and minelaying equipment. Elli is best known for having been sunk by an Italian submarine in peacetime. After the war, as part of the war reparations for the sinking of Elli, the Greeks received from Italy the cruiser "Eugenio di Savoia", which they renamed "Elli" (II). 47 m below the surface, Elli (I) was scavenged in the 1950s over a period of two years by a private company (presumably with the tolerance if not bribing of the local authorities), and as a result only a few pieces of her remain in the sea off Tinos today.

Operational History
14 June 1911 - Laid down.
4 May 1912 - Launched.
November 1913 - Completed and looking for alternative buyers after the Chinese order is cancelled due to the 1912-13 Nationalist Revolution. (The photos below are from Fei Hung being built and then on trials in 1913)

1914 - Purchased by the Greeks and commissioned in the Greek Navy.
November 1916 - Seized by the French, with whom Elli takes part in convoy escort and patrol duties in the Aegean (photo below is of Elli in French service; Corfu, 1917).

June 1917 - Elli is returned to the Greeks, and continues operations in the Aegean until the end of World War I.
1925 - 1927 - Undergoes major alterations in France, where she acquires modern antiaircraft armament and minelaying equipment for 100 mines.
15 August 1940 Elli lays at anchor off the island of Tinos, participating in the island's religious festivities, when at 06:45 an Italian spotter plane (with its markings painted over) flies over the harbour. Elli's antiaircraft guns are trained on the plane, but hold fire. The pilgrims on the island wave at the plane thinking that it is a Greek plane that has also come for the festivities. Two hours later, Italian Submarine Delfino (commanded by G. Aicardi) launches four torpedoes, one finding Elli below the active boiler, which explodes and causes a fire to spread. Without propulsion, the crew tries to use the help of nearby merchant ships to beach Elli in shallow waters, but fails and abandons ship. Elli begins to sink at 09:45, with nine crew killed and 24 wounded due to the explosion and the fire. The other three torpedoes have missed their target, two having exploded on the harbour's jetty (causing a woman to die of heart attack) and one having changed course and headed out to sea. The following days, fragments of the torpedoes are recovered and identified as Italian, but the Greek government announces instead that the submarine's nationality is unknown so as to delay the beginning of the Greco-Italian War

According to the early reports:
Dead or missing: Engine Chief Petty Officer Papanicolaou, Engine Petty Officer Mantouvalos, Firemen Sailors Anastelopoulos, Grivas and Bonos
Wounded: Petty Officer Electrician Kimoulis; Chief P.O. Engine Papadopoulos; P.O. Engine Syrigos; P.O. Engine Eugenopoulos; P.O. Torpedoes Rakkas; P.O. Fireman Kokoras; P.O. Signalman Anagnostopoulos; Warrant Officer Fireman Mammis; Chief P.O. Bossn's mate Tsirigotis; Sailors Argyriou, Aggeloudis, Anthoulis, Panagos, Hatzispyrou, Mantzouranis, Apostolakos, Synodinos, Pallis, Dendrinos, Giannakis, Mavromatis and Hatzidemetriou.

Chao Ho class Protected Cruiser "Elli"
Displacement: (standard) 2,149 t, (full) 2,642 t
Length: 98 m (321 ft 6 in)
Beam: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
Draft: 4.3 m (14 ft 1 in)
Propulsion: 3 propellers
Speed: (1914) 26 knots, (1940) 18 knots
Complement: 238
Armament: 3×6-inch (152 mm), 2×3-inch (76 mm), 3×40mm AA, 2x19-inch (483 mm) Torpedo Tubes, 100 mines

For Gamers and Game designers
By 1940, Elli was too slow and underarmed to be of significant use to the Greek navy, except for minelaying. Her sinking though, in peacetime and on the day of a major Greek Orthodox festivity, increased the resolve of the Greeks. The photo below shows a captured Italian L3-35 tankette with "Elli's avenger" written on it.

For Modellers

A profile by Chadoulas:

Models of Elli from the Chania Maritime Museum and the Hellenic Maritime Museum:

Additional photos of Elli:

A documentary (in Greek) of all that is left of Elli.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

(1914-1931) Battleship "Kilkis"

Battleship Kilkis (in Malta, probably 1920s) border=Previously USS Mississippi BB-23, Kilkis was built in 1905 and sold to the Greeks together with her sister Limnos in 1914 in an effort to counterbalance the Turkish naval rearmament at the time. After arriving in Greece, Kilkis became the flagship of the Greek Navy.

Operational History
12 May 1904 - Laid down.
30 Sep. 1905 - Launched.
1 Jan. 1908 - Commissioned in the USN as USS Mississippi BB-23.
30 June 1914 - Mississippi and sister Idaho are sold to the Greeks for $12,535,277.
22 July 1914 - Commissioned in the Greek Navy.
19 Oct. 1916 - Seized by the French, reduced to a skeleton crew, with the breech blocks for her guns removed to render them inoperable, and all ammunition and torpedoes removed.
1917 - Even after a pro-Entente government replaces the king and declares war on the Central Powers, Kilkis does not see active service with Greece's new allies, and instead is used solely for harbour defense until the end of the war under Kakoulidis.
1 Nov, 1918 - After the Turkish capitulation in WWI, Kilkis sails to Nikomideia and then Constantinople. 1919 - Takes part in the operations in the Krimean against the Bolsheviks. Then returns to Constantinople to take part in the 1919-22 Greco-Turkish War.
5 May 1919 - Kilkis and a pair of destroyers escort a convoy of six troop transports to Smyrna, where the soldiers are disembarked. The Ottoman Navy cannot provide opposition because it has been interned by the Allies after the end of World War I.
3 June 1920 - Despite in the middle of a war with the Turks, Kilkis leaves the theatre to represent Greece during the Fleet Review in Spithead in honour of King George V.
July 1920 - Kilkis and a pair of destroyers escort a convoy carrying 7,000 infantrymen, 1,000 artillerists, and 4,000 mules to Panderma.
Aug. 1922 - Kilkis and Limnos support the Greek Army's retreat. They then both sail to Chios instead of covering the Greek population during the Catastrophe of Smyrna.
1926 - 1928 - Kilkis undergoes repairs and upgrades. It has her boilers re-tubed. An ambitious plan to upgrade her against Turkish Yavuz does not even start.
29 Nov. 1929 - The Greek navy announces that Kilkis will be withdrawn from service and broken up for scrap.
1930 - Averof becomes the Greek Navy's flagship.
1931-32 - Kilkis is withdrawn from active service and becomes a training ship.
1935 - She becomes a training ship for anti-aircraft gunners.
1940-41 - She is used as a floating Anti-air battery and bunker. Spare guns are used as coastal batteries around Greece.
23 Apr. 1941 - Sunk by German Stuka bombers in Salamis. According to Parramore et al., she attempts to get underway to evade the attacks but is hit by three bombs and succumbs. Later the Germans will cut the masts and stacks.
1947-49 - Salvaged by Organismos Anelkysis Navagion (OAN) and broken.

Mississippi Battleship "Kilkis"
Displacement: Full 14,697 t, Design 13,000 t
Length: 382 ft (116.4 m)
Beam: 77 ft (23.5 m)
Draft: 24.8 ft (7.5 m)
Propulsion: Engines: 2x triple-expansion reciprocating engines, 8 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers, Power: 10,000 ihp (7,500 kW)
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, 2×21-inch (533 mm) Torpedo Tubes
Armour: Belt 9in, Turrets 12in, Deck 3in, Conning Tower: 9in

For Gamers and Game designers
Although relatively obsolete even by WWI standards and decommissioned before WW2, Kilkis is puzzlingly a popular unit for inclusion both in WW1 and WW2 naval wargames. In his "Hellenic Warships 1829-2001" book, Vice Admiral Paizis-Paradellis has chosen her low speed and low freeboard as her main disadvantages, and acknowledged the extensive use of electrically driven machinery as a novelty for the Greek navy at the time.

For Modellers

A profile by Chadoulas:

A model of Kilkis (I believe from the National Maritime Museum in Faliro):

A 1:1800 miniature for Axis & Allies Naval miniatures by Seisen:

An award-winning Kilkis displayed at IPMS-Hellas 2010:

Additional photos of Kilkis:

Saturday, 13 October 2012

(1918-1932) Airco De Havilland DH9

One of the Greek DH9 aircraft. The specific one is said to have been a gift of the British to A. MoraitinisAfter the end of World War I and over the next two years, the Greeks received 41 RAF surplus Airco de Havilland D.H.9 two-seater bombers. These were mainly used by the Naval Air Service during the Asia Minor campaign, with at least six of them converted into hydroplanes in 1926. A few D.H.9s were used for training up to 1932.

The photo above shows the E8991 aircraft. According to the Ptisi magazine and the personal archives of H. Daloumis, it was built in Airco, Hendon, in the summer of 1918, as part of RAF order 35a/418/C.296 for 66 such aircraft. It reached London in a package on 19 Sep. 1918, and Moudros, where it was assembled ready to fly, on 3 Oct. 1918. Greek sources mention that it was offered as a gift to A. Moraitinis, the top Greek fighter ace of all time.

Operational History
Late 1918 - The first D.H.9s reach Greece.
1919-1920 - The aircraft are being delivered to the Greek Naval Air Service.
May 1920 - The DH9s begin operations from Paradisi airfield, Smyrna.
1926 - At least six D.H.9s are converted into hydroplanes.
1932 - D.H.9s are removed from service.

Airco De Havilland D.H.9
Length: 9.27 m
Wingspan: 12.92 m
Height: 3.44 m
Wing Area: 40.3 sq.m
Weight: (empty) 1,014 kg, (max take-off) 1,723 kg
Engine: 1x Siddeley Puma engine 230 HP (172 kW)
Speed: 182 km/h
Endurance: 4.5 hrs
Ceiling: 4,730 m
Climb to 10,000 ft (3,048 m): 18.5 mins
Crew: 2
Armament: Forward firing Vickers machine gun and 1 or 2 × Rear Lewis guns on scarff ring. Bomb payload 209 kg

For Gamers and Game designers
The DH9 was exported widely mainly for its low cost rather than for its performance, which was inferior to most contemporary bombers. Interestingly, the Turks used the same bomber.

For Modellers
E8991 (The personal aircraft of Aristidis Moraitinis)
Profiles by D. Georgiadis, Insignia Magazine and Pierre-Andre Tilley (Aero Journal No.14, Aug.- Sep. 2000):

A profile by W.I. Boucher of The specific aircraft was stationed at Afion-Karahisar in July 1921. According to the same source, roundels on the lower wing surface do not have an 1-inch white outline. The second profile is from Insignia magazine.

A profile by D. Georgiadis and a photo taken in Smyrna, 1919.

A very impressive 1/20 RC model by George Kandylakis as posted in :

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

(1928-1943) Submarine Y-1 "Katsonis"

Y-1 KatsonisA sister of Y-2 "Papanikolis", Y-1 "Katsonis" was one of only six submarines available to the Greeks in 1940. Despite being an aged submarine by World War II, it was used extensively in war patrols and commando operations in the Adriatic and the Aegean Sea, before being sunk by a German subchaser in 1943.

The crew of Katsonis:
The crew of Katsonis

Y-1 Katsonis in Malta before WWII

Operational History
1925 - Laid down
1927 - Launched
8 June 1928 - Commissioned. First captain is Cdr Κ. Arvanitis.
3 - 10 Nov. 1940 - First war patrol (under Cdr Spanidis). Adriatic, 216 hours (84 subm./132 surf.).
22 Dec. 1940 - 4 Jan. 1941 - Second war patrol (under Cdr The Argus, 6 January 1941 (Australian newspaper)Athanasios Spanidis). Adriatic, 312 hours (132 subm./180 surf.).
31 Dec. 1940 - Sinks the 531-ton Italian freighter Quinto (531 GRT) off Antivari
14 - 21 Feb. 1941 - Third war patrol (under Cdr Spanidis). Adriatic, 168 hours (60 subm./108 surf.).
24 Mar. - 1 Apr. 1941 - Fourth war patrol (under Cdr Spanidis). Adriatic, 216 hours (84 subm./132 surf.).
From Port Said to Port Sudan Apr. 1941 - After the German invasion, Katsonis escapes to the Middle East, operating with the British Pennant number N 16.
2 July 1942 - Damaged while exiting a dry dock at Port Said.
28 Mar. - 10 Apr. 1943 - Fifth war patrol (under Cdr Laskos). Aegean/Crete, 408 hours (170 subm./238 surf.). After patrolling the North Aegean and later disembarking commandos in the Lakonia, Katsonis encounters three sail boats, which, contrary to orders, Laskos spares because they were carrying food to Piraeus during the famine. The same day they encounter another sail boat, one of the crew of which offers information regarding the movements of an enemy patrol boat off Letter by Vasileios Laskos Gytheio. They take him on board and give him the nickname "Lafiro" (plunder).
2 Apr. 1943 - Katsonis approaches the port of Gytheio and sinks an Italian minelayer with torpedoes. According to a British article, it was carrying depth charges and torpedoes, and 20 Italian officers and soldiers were killed on it.
5 Apr. 1943 - Sinks the Spanish/German 1,500-ton merchant steamship San Issidro (322 GRT) off Kythnos.
21 May - 4 June 1943 - Sixth war patrol (under Cdr Laskos). Aegean, 456 hours (186 subm./270 surf.).
Vasileios Laskos 29 May 1943 - Sinks the German freighter Rigel (552 GRT) near Skiathos.
2 June 1943 - Fires two torpedoes at the Italian cargo ship Versilia (591 GRT) off Karlovassi, but misses.
5 - 14 Sep. 1943 - Seventh war patrol (under Cdr Laskos). North Aegean, 212 hours (107 subm./105 surf.). The mission is to patrol North Aegean and land commandos. The boat quickly shows its age, with main problem the failure of one engine. Nevertheless, Laskos continues the war patrol.
8 Sep. 1943 - Katsonis receives the message for the Italian armistice.
11 Sep. 1943 - Lands the Greek commandos without incident.
12 Sep. 1943 - Intercepts two sail boats and Laskos finds out that a captured French ship, Simfra, is carrying German soldiers on leave.
13 - 14 Sep. 1943 - Charges its batteries and submerges to patrol the area between Pilio and Skiathos, looking for Simfra. Laskos spots a sail boat and decides to surface to try to get more information about Simfra. While he is still talking probably to the boat's skipper, what looks like Simfra is spotted in the horizon. Katsonis soon receives optical identification signals from the ship, but it isn't Simfra. It is the German subchaser UJ-2101. Katsonis crash dives, but soon receives depth charges and is forced to resurface. Laskos orders the crew to return fire with the cannon, and after the gunners are killed, he himself takes their place, but is soon killed too, and Katsonis sinks.

31 men of the crew, including the captain, as well as "Lafiro" went down with Katsonis:
S. TROUPAKIS (photo)
X. MITSIALIS Tsoukalas

15 were captured, while Lt. Tsoukalas (photo) and petty officers Tsingros swam for 9 hours to reach Skiathos and Antoniou to reach Pilio. They later returned to the Middle East.
A map of the successes of Y-1 Katsonis.
Y-1 Katsonis
Y-1 Katsonis submarine
Oil painting of Katsonis by I. Kalogeropoulos
Displacement: Surfaced 576 tons, Submerged 775 tons
Length: 62.4 m
Beam: 5.3 m
Draft: 3.35 m
Propulsion: 2 × 2-cycle Schneider-Carels diesel 1,300hp, 2 × electric 1,000hp
Complement: 39-45
Max. Dive: 73 m
Speed: (Surf.) 14 knots, (Subm.) 9.5 knots
Range: (Surf.) 3,500 nm @ 10 knots, (Subm.) 100 nm @ 5 knots
Armament: 6x 533mm torpedo tubes (2 internal bow, 2 external bow, 2 external stern; 7 torpedoes), 1x 100mm cannon, 2x machine guns
For gamers and game designers
An aged submarine, Katsonis was obsolescent by 1940.

Captain Vasileios Laskos
Vasileios Laskos Laskos was born on 17 Sep. 1899 in Elefsina. In 1922, he was a Sub Lieutenant on the torpedo boat Aspis. In September, he leaves his commander on the shore and joins the rebel fleet of the Plastiras movement in Cavo Doro. General Pangkalos takes power militarily, abolishes the monarchy and declares the Second Hellenic Republic. A close supporter of Pangkalos, Laskos stays with him until the Kondylis movement overthrows Pangkalos and sends him to prison. As a collaborator of Pangkalos, Laskos is now relegated to being in charge of only a warehouse of 50 faulty torpedoes. However, Laskos takes on the task to repair these torpedoes and subsequently receives the congratulations of the Minister of Naval Affairs and is rewarded with a trip to England to supervise the purchase of 50 newly ordered torpedoes.

When he returns, he decides to join the submarine fleet. In 1930, at the age of 32, he is assigned to Y-1 Katsonis. After the failed elections of 1933, he is convinced into taking part in the Venizelos movement. On 1 Mar. 1935, he manages to take control of the submarine base and helps the ships to receive their ammunition and escape. When the movement fails on land, the protagonists escape to the then Italian Dodecannese and then Italy. While in Italy, Laskos is charged back home with treason and sentenced twice to death. A year later, they are all pardoned and return to Greece. After being unemployed for a while, he is trusted to build and organise a factory in Elefsina, a project he carries out succesfully.

On October 1940, Laskos returns to active duty, leading a squadron of auxiliaries. When the Germans invade, he tries to escape to the Middle East. He is first caught by the Turks and is returned to Chios, where he hides as a nurse in a clinic. In the Spring of 1942, he tries again and manages to join the Free Greek forces in the Middle East. He wishes to return to the submarines, but he is now already 43 and Vasileios Laskos has missed the last eight years. He convinces fellow Arvanites, Admiral Aleksandros Sakellariou and Captain Panagiotis Konstas to give him command of Katsonis, which was the submarine most in need of repairs. After 7 months of repairs in Port Sudan, Katsonis is now in Port Said for dry docking. There it sinks due to human error. Laskos manages to convince the British to raise it, and a few months later the submarine is operational.

For modellers
A model of Katsonis
Katsonis model (unknown creator)
Some more photos:
Katsonis in 1928 Katsonis Stefanos Troupakis. Katsonis heading towards Haifa