"On Spartan Wings - The Royal Hellenic Air Force in WW2" by John Carr

Discussion in 'Non-fiction' started by vikingBerserker, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    "On Spartan Wings - The Royal Hellenic Air Force in World War Two"
    by John Carr
    Pen Sword Aviation - 2012
    ISBN: 978-1-84884-798-9

    Spartan.jpg


    Recently released in the US, the book follows the RHAF from the days leading up to the Italian invasion, to the post year period when the later renamed Hellenic Air Force or HAF participated in the Korean War with C-47's modified to carry 5k of bombs.

    At the time of the Italian invasion, the RHAF had a total of 221 aircraft from various countries, purchased (for money or tobacco) from:

    France: Breguet XIX (18 ) , Potez 25 (15) , Potez 63 (11), Bloch 151 (9)
    Germany: Do-22 (12 - seaplanes and those converted to land), Hs 126 (16), Ju-52 (3), Ju G24 (4)
    UK: Fairey III Seaplanes (9), Avro Anson (9), Bristol Blenheim (12), Fairy Battle (12), Gloster Gladiator (2), Hawker Horsley (6), Avro Tutors (20), Avro 626 (22)
    Poland: PZL-24 (35)
    Czechoslovakia Avia B534 (6)

    After the fall of Greece, 13 Mira (Light Bombing) was the only full squadron that was able to escape from Greece (to Crete) and then later evacuated to Egypt when Germany invaded there. Under the RAF, 335 336 Pursuit Mira’s were created and manned by the Greeks who escaped the German onslought. By the end of the war, these 3 Squadrons had flown almost 23,000 Combat hours. In total, it was suspected that the RHAF had confirmed kills of 70 with another 23 probable – most which appear to be Italian.

    The book is 169 pages long divided into 16 Chapters, 2 Appendix’s, and 20 photographs and is a fairly easy read. For such a short book is goes into depth the problems they faced throughout the war, from the problems they had with the RAF (they apparently were a rowdy lot) and even covering a number of mutinies (helped along by Stalin) that occurred during the war.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the book and could not put the darned thing down and had it read within 24 hours. It is a great book on an air force that has not had a lot written about it. I give it 9 Baklavas (the really good ones, not the crappy Wal-Mart kind!).
     
  2. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    I would be interested in any information on the Greeks use of their nine Bloch 151. Pictures, info, line drawings, paintings, cave drawings, whatever... Hope you can help a brother out. :D
     
  3. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Always glad to lend a hand. There is only one picture but that was of one before it was delivered. It's a very poor B&W photo and you cannot make out anything. Here is all the info the book had on them:

    Page 3: “A flight of Bloch MB151s under Flying Officer George Doukas was finally sent up, but by that time the raiders were well away” [They were trying to intercept SM81s, around Nov 2, 1940]

    Page 17: “24 Pursuit Mira with Bloch MB151s, nominally independent but in actuality under Army control, based at Sedes.” [Of the 9, 3 were unserviceable.]

    Page 20: “The newest aircraft in Greece’s fighter force were nine French-built Bloch MB151 monoplanes in 24 Pursuit Mira, the only ones delivered out of the twenty-five ordered, as the fall of France cancelled the rest. The Bloch MB151 had the appearance of a sleek, modern fighter, but it had a slow rate of climb and was heavy at the controls. Yet it manoeuvred well and could take considerable punishment. Its main drawback was the 900hp Gnome-Phone engine that was prone to overheating. The Bloch was not a favorite of the crews of 24 Mira, who would joke that its main value was that jumpy Italian pilots would sometimes mistake its humped profile for a feared RAF Hawker Hurricane and makes themselves scarce!”

    Page 49: “Flight Lt Michalis Savellos, the CO of 24 Mira, claimed a kill before the .303 Hispano machine guns of his Bloch MB151 jammed.

    Page 51: “In mid-February Italian pilots bombing Thessaloniki reported tangling with “Greek Hurricanes’, which can only have been the Bloch MB151s of 24 Mira………One CantZ1007 was shot down.” [Per Christopher Shores Air War for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete 1940-41 page 78 Sgt E Smyrniotopoulos claimed this kill].

    Page 60/61: Flight Sergeant Eleftherios Smyrniotopoulos emptied his 7.5mm Machines Guns into a Do17 that he had a hard time keeping up with. The Do17 later made an emergency landing.

    Page 65: [April 15th] “Twelve fighters – six PZLs, three Blochs and three Gladiators, all that remained of the mainland RHAF – rose wearily to tangle with the invaders [Germans] 9,000 feet up.”

    Page 66: “Several BF109s took on Sergeant George Mokka’s Bloch, which quickly went down trailing smoke. Mokkas was the last Greek airman to die in the mainland fight against the Axis.”

    Page 73: “On 16 April 1941, all remaining RHAF aircraft at Argus and elsewhere were ordered destroyed.”

    Hope that helps!
     
  4. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! Interesting stuff!
     
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