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 Modelclub.gr and a model by D. Georgiadis:
MB151 (D179) made by Ilias of Modelclub.gr MB151 (D179) made by Dimitris Georgiadis


  1. Too bad the Greeks couldn't get a few more of these before France fell. Would have helped quite a bit fighting the Italian Air Force.

  2. The Bloch MB-151 was a fairly modern fighter, but it was a recent design by that French Company and didn't have all the bugs worked out of it. In particular they had overheating problems with the Gnome-Rhone engine. Still, the 9 that Greece had at the start of the conflict with Italy were at least the equivalante of Macchi and Fiat monoplane fighters with retracatble gear. Problem was, lack of spares and the limited number of aircraft the Greek had (they'd ordered 25, only 9 had been delivered at the time of the Italian invasion) meant this type didn't play a major role in the conflict.

  3. Just a couple of observations: 1. The August 19th date should be April 19th and 2. The MB.152 with the four MG armament had 500 rpg. The 151 is mentioned as having 300 rpg.

  4. You are right. I've corrected them.

  5. At least 3 of the 9 Bloch MB-151's received were originally armed with 2x 20mm HS (Hispano) 404 Cannon (60 rounds each) and 2x 7.5 mm MAC 1934 machine guns (675 rounds each).

  6. That's interesting and quite surprising considering the serious shortage of 20mm rounds in Greece in WW2.

  7. In France the MB-151 C1's were built alongside the newer MB-152 C1's and many received the same armament.
    Because of ammunition shortages the RHAF may have replaced the cannon with machine guns at some point during the war (same with the Greek PZL 24's armed with 2 x 20 mm Oerlikon cannons and 2 x 7.9 mm Colt-Browning MG40's).
    Unfortunetly definitive records have not surfaced.

  8. That's what I would expect too. Thanks :).