Sunday, 31 October 2010

(1920-1936) Avro 504

The Hellenic Navy used two distinct versions of the Avro 504; the 504 K during the Asia Minor Campaign, and the 504 O/N during the interwar period.

Near Dekeleia airport, following a forced landing during training. The plane belongs to the Naval Aviation Service (1920, from the collection of P. Tsekas)Greece received a small number of Avro 504 K trainers after World War 1. They were used to train pilots in Dekeleia during the Asia Minor campaign. The photo above shows a damaged plane belonging to the Naval Aviation Service (taken near Dekeleia airport in 1920; from the collection of P. Tsekas). The colours are not certain, but I chose clear doped linen, which is the most probable as the Greeks hadn't started using the silver colour yet.
Greek Avro 504 N
In 1925, the Greeks ordered six of the newest variant, the Avro 504 N/O, as part of a very large modernisation programme. The 504 N had a number of design modifications, with most important the use of the much stronger Armstrong-Siddeley Lynx engine. It also had new, modified ailerons, no top centre section of the top wing, two 18 gal. fuel Greek Avro 504 Otanks below the top wing instead of one on top of the top wing, as well as a new undercarriage.
The naval version, 504 O, was different in that a vertical stabiliser was added, and of course it had floats.

The text below is from a contemporary British publication describing the strengthening of the Greek Naval Air Force during the late 1920s:
"The Director of the Greek Air Force at the Ministry of Marine, Captain Demestichas, during 1925 submitted to the Superior Council of Marine a long report, with suggestions for the reorganisation of the Naval Air Force.
Capt. Demestichas, as a justification of his views, recalls that practically all the countries, without excluding those neighbouring Greece, have for some time past considered the exceptional importance of aviation, as they are of the opinion that a powerful Air Force constitutes the best weapon for the defence of the country and is at the same time an efficient means to ensure the necessary mastery to the naval forces and the communications on sea.
A powerful airforce, Capt. Demestichas declares, will render important services, the principal being: to supply the first information regarding the enemy; to attempt the destruction of his naval forces and to attack the enemy fleet in its own base. For the whole duration of the war, the Air Force shall keep a constant watch on all the seas, chase and attack the submarines and the enemy ships; it will continually send wireless messages to the chiefs of the naval units during combats; it will discover the places where the enemy has put mines, so that the Greek ships may protect themselves against the danger; it will put up aerial fights against the enemy attacking, in conjunction with the Army Air Force, the means of communications and the military units; it will conduct the long-distance bombing by the big naval units; it will supply information regarding the movements of the enemy; it will facilitate the action of friendly ships by means of smoke bombs during the day and with illuminating bombs at night; Lastly, it will defend the country against aerial attacks by the enemy which, if not prevented, would have a disastrous effect on the morale of the inhabitants.
In order to achieve the above aims, it is essential to have aircraft of high speed and great manoeuvrability, so as to chase and destroy the enemy machines. It is also necessary to have aircraft for reconnaissance and for carrying out raids into the enemy's territory, and also heavy bombing machines and of long range, suitable in addition to be used for night work.
At the end of his report, Capt. Demestichas suggests the acquisition on the part of the Greek Government of 15-18 scout machines, 15-18 fighting and reconnaissance aircraft, 3 twin-engined machines for heavy bombing at long distance, 12 heavy bombing machines and 12 torpedo-carriers. He also suggests the purchase of 12 school machines for training purposes.
In this connection, it may be stated that 12 school machines have already been ordered, six of which are of the Avro "Lynx" type, which arrived in Greece at the end of April, 1925.
The purchase of all these machines demands a sum of about £400,000, and Capt. Demestichas suggests that these expenses should be entered in the balance-sheet of the Ministry of the Marine for the next two financial years.
The report, which has been considered by the Superior Council of Marine, was entirely approved and was communicated to the Ministry of Marine, to the Prime Minister and the Council of National Defence.
By special law published in 1925, a Greek Air Force Fund was endowed with a large amount of valuable property in Athens and other parts of Greece. Also, the Fund was authorised to collect voluntary contributions from all Greeks at home and abroad. By this organisation it was hoped that the Fund would collect sufficient finance to obviate the necessity of burdening the Budget with any special expense for the provision of an efficient Air Force.
According to recent information, the Municipality of Salonika has contributed sufficient money for the purchase of twenty-five aeroplanes, Kavala, the famous Macedonian tobacco town, has offered ten aircraft, and other Greek towns have offered smaller numbers. The result of the Fund would appear to be satisfactory.
A Carte Postale reading 'Aeroplane type AVRO - Palaion Phaleron 1926' (source
The chief Naval Air Station is at Phaleron Bay, with an additional Seaplane Base at Suda Bay, Crete, and the machines used up to the point of re-organisation were D.H.9s (240 h.p. "Puma" engines) for reconnaissance purposes and Sopwith "Camels" for pursuit purposes.
A number of Naval officers have been sent abroad for training, and from these will be selected the training staff for the new reorganised service..."


Operational History
1920-22 - A few Avro 504 K used for training during the Asia Minor campaign.
April 1925 - The first six Avro 504 O and N arrive in Greece.
1934-35 - The State Aircraft Factory in Phaliron constructs a small number of Avro 504 O and N aircraft, before turning into the licensed construction of Avro 621 Tutors.
1936 - Withdrawn from service. This date is not certain, as records show that between January 1938 and 28 October 1940, 28 Avro 504N/0 aicraft were repaired at the State Aircraft Factory.

Avro 504 K
Length: 8.97 m
Height: 3.17 m
Wingspan: 10.97 m
Wing area: 330 sqr ft
Weight: (empty) 558 kg, (max take-off) 830 kg
Engine: 1 × Le Rhône Rotary, 110 hp (82 kW)
Armament: 1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun, up to 4x104 kg bombs
Range: 402 km
Speed: (max) 145 km/h , (cruise) 126 km/h
Ceiling: 4,875 m
Climb rate: 3.6 m/s
Climb to 3,500 ft (1,065 m): 5 min
Crew: 2

Avro 504 N
Length: 8.69 m
Height: 3.33 m
Wingspan: 10.97 m
Wing area: 320 sqr ft
Weight: (empty) 718 kg, (max take-off) 1,016 kg
Engine: 1 x Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IV (of 160 hp or 180 hp) or Lynx IVC of 215 hp
Armament: 1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun, up to 4x104 kg bombs
Range: 402 km
Speed: (max) 161 km/h
Ceiling: 4,450 m
Crew: 2

For Gamers and Game designers
One of the most successful trainers of its time, unusually for modern Greek history, the Avro 504N was a brand new model when the Greeks started using it.

For Modellers
Manuele Villa's computer models of the 504K (left) and 504N (right) for MS Flight Simulator:
Manuele Villa's MS FS model of the 504K Manuele Villa's MS FS model of the 504N

Sunday, 24 October 2010

(1926-1939) Blackburn Velos

A Greek-built Blackburn Velos torpedo-carrier (450 hp Napier Lion Engine) taking off in Phaliron Bay
The "Velos" was the first airplane that was built under license in Greece. The basic design of the Blackburn Dart was developed into a two-seater to meet a Greek Navy requirement for a coastal defence seaplane that could be used for bombing, torpedo launching, reconnaissance and training. The aircraft became the T.3 Velos, a twin-float seaplane, which differed from the standard Dart T.2 in having a two-seat cockpit with a rear-mounted Lewis Gun, an increased weapons load and provisions to fly as either a seaplane with floats or with a conventional land undercarriage. In 1925, four were built at Brough Aerodrome for the Greek Navy. Later in the same year, the aircraft was chosen as the first licence-built aircraft in Greece in a factory built by Blackburn and operated under a five-year contract. The Aircraft Factory, later renamed the State Aircraft Factory or Greek National Aircraft Factory, produced 12 Greek-built T.3A Velos aircraft with a raised rear cockpit to give an improved field of fire for the observer and a larger radiator. They were equipped with specialised equipment like electric intercom system, a 200 mile range radio and bomb rails. The first of the production order flew in March 1926.

The Blackburn T.3 Velos fulfilled an operational role as a coastal defence/torpedo bomber in the Naval Air Component Squadrons in Greece and helped establish an indigenous aviation industry. The aircraft began operations in 1926 with the Greek Navy deployed at Tatoi Aerodrome and Phaliron Bay, Athens. It remained in squadron use until 1934 with all examples retired by 1936. The Greeks operated 16 Velos aircraft in total (4 made in Britain and 12 made in Greece).

Operational History
Some sort of Blackburn leaflet that features a Velos launching a torpedo1925 - Blackburn Aeroplane Co. and the Greek government conclude an agreement whereby they undertake to organise an aircraft factory at Phaliron, near Athens. The factory operates under the control of an inspection service belonging to the Greek Air Ministry. The general manager is G.W. Cannel and the technical manager is Herbert B. Bentley, previously manager of the company's establishment at Brough, East Yorkshire. The factory in Phaliron will construct Blackburn Velos torpedo-planes, Armstrong Whitworth Atlas two-seat fighters, and a number of Avro sea and land training aircraft (504-O and 504-N).
March 1926 - Maiden flight of the first Greek-built "Velos", named "Hope". 12 airplanes are to be constructed in total at Phaliron Airplane Factory, introducing for the first time in Greece, the metallic structure airplane construction technology. They will be used mainly with fixed landing gear.
Late 1930s - Withdrawn from service.

Blackburn Velos
Blackburn T.3 Velos torpedo seaplane
Length: 10.82 m
Height: 4.16 m
Wingspan: 14.78 m
Wing area: 654 sqr ft
Engine: 1 x Napier Lion V or Napier Lion IIB (450 hp)
Armament: 1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun, up to 4x100 kg bombs or one 457mm torpedo
Crew: 2

Blackburn T.3A Velos landplane
Length: 10.82 m
Height: 3.73 m
Wingspan: 14.78 m
Wing area: 654 sqr ft
Weight: (empty) 1,711 kg, (max take-off) 2,895 kg
Engine: 1 x Napier Lion V or Napier Lion IIB (450 hp)
Armament: 1 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun, up to 4x104 kg bombs
Endurance: 4.5 hrs
Speed: (max) 172 km/h , (cruise) 114 km/h
Ceiling: 4,300 m
Climb rate: 3.2 m/s
Crew: 2

Almost identical was the Blackburn Swift (export version of Blackburn Dart) that Greece received at about the same time. The one below has the number T23.:

Greek Blackburn Swift

For Gamers and Game designers
The T.3 Velos was never tested in battle and it is difficult to assess how useful it could be. It was extremely slow even for its time, but as the world war 2 successes of the Fairey Swordfish indicate, a slow torpedo plane is still a torpedo plane.

For Modellers
Profiles of the Blackburn Velos (unknown source):
profiles of the Blackburn Velos

Thursday, 21 October 2010

(1929-1941) Hawker Horsley Mk.II

Greek Hawker HorsleyIn December 1929, six British-made Hawker Horsley aircraft were delivered to the Greek Naval Air Force. They could carry the impressive for the time, load of a 975 kg torpedo. They were based at Tatoi, near Athens, from the beginning to the end of their service. In their final years, they were used for training purposes. They did not take part in any operation during World War II.

Operational History
Dec. 1929 - 6 Horsleys are delivered to the Naval Air Force.
21 Jul. 1934 - 3 Horsleys take part in the "Tour of the Balkans", a good-will operation after the signing of the Balkan treaty that involves visiting most of the Balkan capitals, starting from Istanbul. Involved are: Georgios Themelis (mission leader; later Defence Deputy Minister), Pavlos Sachtouris, Georgios Fraggistas, Charalambos Potamianos, Xenophon Varvaressas.

Hawker Horsley Mk.II

Length: 38 ft 10 in
Height: 13 ft 7 3/4 in
Wingspan: 56 ft 6 in
Weight: (Take Off) 7800 lb (bomber), 9271 lb (torpedo bomber); (empty) 4670 lb (bomber), 4958 lb (torpedo bomber)
Engine: 1 x Rolls-Royce Condor IIIA (665 hp)
Service Ceiling: 14000 ft
Speed: 203 km/h (bomber), 190 km/h(torpedo bomber)
Armament: A Vickers machine gun at the nose and a Lewis machine gun in the gunner position, up to 680 kg bombs or one 975 kg torpedo
Crew: 2

For Gamers and Game designers
One of very few aircraft types in the Greek Air Force that could carry a considerable bombload.

For Modellers
As designed by Manuele Villa for MS Flight Simulator:
Greek Hawker Horsley from MS Flight Simulator, designed by Manuele Villa

Sunday, 17 October 2010

(1939-1941) Potez 633

Greek Potez 633In January 1938, the Greeks signed an agreement with the French, for the delivery of 24 twin-engine Potez 633 B2 Grec bombers, with a deadline of one year. 13 aircraft were delivered, one of which was destroyed with French crew on the delivery to the Tanagra Air Base. The remaining 11 were confiscated by the French upon the outbreak of the war. The Greek Potez 633 had bombing configuration, except one that was delivered with photographic equipment. Their equipment included Hydraulic variable-paced propellers, F.R. radio, periscopic Bronzavia type bombing sight, OPL 36 fixed gunner sight, and GPU rails for four or two bombs. They took part in the operations in 1940 - 1941, with the 31st Bombing Squadron, until their final immobilisation due to lack of spare parts.

Operational History
Jan. 1938 - 24 aircraft ordered from France
1939 - Only 12 are delivered, one has been destroyed by the French crew delivering it and 11 have been confiscated by the French due to the outbreak of the war.
1940-1941 - At the beginning of the war, No. 31 Bomber Squadron has eight serviceable Potez 633 B2 and is stationed at Niamata, Larissa. The Squadron’s flying personnel consists of 23 officers and non commissioned officers. The Potez 633 aircraft take part in numerous bombing and reconnaissance operations until they are grounded due to lack of spares, shortly before the arrival of the Germans.

Air Kills
CONFIRMED 22 Nov. 1940 - Chr. Christidis (Potez 633, rear gunner) downs a Fiat fighter over Lake Maliki.

Potez 633 B2 Grec

Length: 11.07 m
Height: 3.62 m
Wingspan: 16 m
Wing Area: 32.7 sq. ft
Weight: (max) 4,500 kg, (empty) 2,450 kg
Engines: 2x Gnome Rhone 14 M6/M7 700 hp
Range: 1,300km
Service Ceiling: 8,000 m
Speed: 393 km/h at sea level, 439 km/h at 4200 m Armament: FN-Browning 7,92 mm machine gun, 8 x 60 kg internal bomb payload and 4 x 60 kg external bomb payload or 2 x 220 kg on external rail carriers
Crew: 2

For Gamers and Game designers
Although a relatively modern type, the Potez 633 was too slow and could not carry large bombloads. Its contempary German equivalent was the BF 110 C, which was 100 km/h faster with the same bombload.

For Modellers
The 12 Greek Potez 633 were the B221-B231, B233 and B234. Originally in natural metal, they were later painted in the typical Greek wartime colours of green-brown-light blue. The following are some models and paintschemes from various sources:

B 221
A profile by Michail Solanakis and a model by Dimitris Georgiadis in wartime colours:

B 222
A profile by Richard Caruana:

B 223
One of the few Greek world war 2 aircraft released as ready-to-build model kit. This one is from Azur in 1/72:
Greek Potez 633 Greek Potez 633

B 235

Additional photos

Sunday, 3 October 2010

(1943-1973) Minesweeper "Paralos"

Minesweeper MykonosOne of four BYMS class wooden motor minesweepers that were transfered from the Royal Navy to Greece during World War II. Her sisters were Afroessa, Karteria and Salaminia. The BYMS class minesweepers were built in the US and were originally offered to the Royal Navy as part of the lend-lease programme between 1941 and 1943. They were able to perform magnetic, acoustic and mechanical minesweeping. Paralos did not serve with the Royal Navy at all. It was transfered brand new to the Greek Navy.

Operational History
9 June 1943 - Accepted to the Greek Navy in Grimsby by Lt Cdr Ch. Foufas HN, Squadron Commander of these four minesweepers.
1 Sep. 1943 - Sails to Alexandria. Used in minesweeping operations in the Eastern Mediterranean.
From 1945 - Participates in the post-war large-scale minesweeping of the Greek waters.
11 Sep. 1973 - Decommissioned.

MMS class minesweeper "Paralos"

Displacement: 223 tons
Propulsion: Diesel 1,000 hp
Length: 41.45m
Width: 7.5m
Draft: 1.8m
Speed: 12 knots
Armament: 1 × 3 inch/50 gun, 2x 20mm guns, and four machine guns
Crew: 33

For Gamers and Game designers
A relatively modern minesweeper with adequate armament.