Saturday, 30 May 2009

(1879-1931) Cruiser "Miaoulis II"

Cruiser Miaoulis II (1897)It may seem trivial today, but until 1900 no Greek warship had ever sailed the Atlantic to reach the United States. This was first achieved by the cruiser Miaoulis II, commanded by Koundouriotis. Built in 1879 at the Forges & Chantiers de La Med La Seyne dockyards, she was purchased by Greece as part of the naval modernisation and expansion program that followed the unsuccessful Cretan uprising of 1866. The largest part of the cost of the ship was met by K. Nikodimou's newly founded "Company For Formation of National Navy". Her military moment of glory came in 1897, when she prevented a Turkish warship from landing troops in Crete. She quickly became obsolete though, as both Greeks and Turks were upgrading to newer, faster and most importantly armoured warships. She served on active duty as a training ship until stricken in 1931.

Operational History
Painting of Miaoulis II1878 - Laid down. Dockyards: Forges & Chantiers de La Med La Seyne in France.
1879 - Commissioned.
1897 - Flagship of the 4th Squadron, under K. Zotos, during the Cretan revolt. It prevents the Turkish warship "Fonat" from landing troops in Siteia, Crete.
1900 - Under Koundouriotis, sails the Atlantic and arrives atNew York Times on the arrival of Miaoulis II at New York (2 Oct. 1900) the United States (Boston and Philadelphia). The first Greek warship to do so.
1912 - Becomes training ship for the school of gunnery and for the school of officers, in Poros.
1931 - Stricken.

Miaoulis II light cruiser

Displacement: 1,820 tons
Shell Weight: 256 g
Length: 75 m
Beam: 11 m
Draft: 4.4 m
Propulsion: Both sail and 2,400 HP engine
Speed: 13.5 knots Painting of Miaoulis II
Complement: 180
Armament: 3x 170 mm Krupp 25cal single, 1x 170 mm Krupp 20cal single, 6x 37mm 1pdr single
Armour: none
Cost: 2.3 million Gold Drachmas

For gamers and game designers
Miaoulis II had become obsolete by 1900. Its lack of armour and relatively low speed made it no match for the Turkish pre-dreadnoughts and cruisers.

For modellers
A scale model of Miaoulis II from the Hellenic Maritime Museum.
Scale Model of Miaoulis II from the Hellenic Maritime Museum

Friday, 22 May 2009

(1927-1945) Submarine Y-2 "Papanikolis"

Y-2 PapanikolisAt the beginning of the Second World War, Greece had six submarines. The most well-known of them is Y-2 "Papanikolis", which was built at the Chantiers de la Loire shipyards between 1925 and 1927. It was the one of only two Greek submarines that survived the war. Today, tourists can see its bridge outside the Hellenic Maritime Museum and can visit the cave in Lefkada, which is rumoured to be the hideout of Papanikolis during the Greco-Italian war. A 1971 Greek movie is based on its exploits, which included about 15,000 tons of enemy shipping sunk and a number of special operations in the Aegean.

From a 2006 interview with the last surviving member of the crew, N. Tasiakos. Presented in the form of memoirs and first published in the newspaper "Makedonia": (translated from Greek)
"-Where are you from? asked the officer.
-Drakotrypa Karditsas, I replied
-Where is this village?
-South Pindos (a mountain)
-And you want to enlist in the navy? Tell me, what is a thermastis?
-The one who puts coal in the engine.
-You are in!


Three years later (1939), I applied for a transfer to the submarines. I was first in Nereus, then Proteus and finally Papanikolis, where the captain was that brave Miltos Iatridis...
The Germans had announced that any ship that isn't in its base would be bombed, and so we received a message from headquarters to return to base. ... On 27 October 1940, I was given a motorcycle and was ordered to inform all members of the crew that were on leave to return to base. The next day, the Greco-Italian war started. We were equipped with torpedoes and were sent to patrol the Adriatic Sea. On 22 December 1940, we met an Italian cargo ship, Antonietta, that was carrying supplies to Albania. We rammed it and when that failed to sink it, we burned it. We captured the 6 crew and I remember that the Italians thought we were English. They didn't believe that the Greeks had submarines in their 'mare nostrum'. Michalev, who was from Corfu and could speak Italian, learned from the ship's captain that the next day there would be an Italian convoy in the area. At 12 noon, we spotted the convoy. Cargo ships, destroyers and aircraft. We took a good position inside their right side and fired four torpedoes. All four hit the target. We heard the explosions and stayed at 30m (depth). The Italians attacked us with depth charges that were set at 100 m and had a radius of 50 m. So, having stayed at 30 m, we were relatively safe. Both aircraft and destroyers were attacking us. I remember very well one of the depth charges settling on our stern. I informed the captain that a suspicious object was on our stern and he ordered a slight move, so that we get rid of it. The depth charge fell over. It didn't explode, because it wasn't 100 m. To remain silent, we were not using our engines, so we had been carried north by the streams and we had reached Yugoslavia. It must have been midnight when we managed to resurface. I must add here that our submarines were pretty old and they needed to surface at least every 17-18 hours for air. Papanikolis had been bought from the French in 1926 as a training ship. Captain Iatridis informed the Naval Command of our success and we returned to Piraeus. There, we were welcomed as heroes, with naval marches and patriotic songs. The same day, Iatridis was promoted."

A map of the successes of Y-2 Papanikolis. Apart from Firenze and Antonietta, the locations of the rest are not exact

Operational History
1925 - Laid down Papanikolis
19 Nov. 1926 - Launched
21 Dec. 1927 - Commissioned. First captain is P. Vandoros.
1940 - Lt Cdr Miltiadis Iatridis becomes captain and carries out 4-6 war patrols against the Italians (until 1941)
22 Dec. 1940 - Rams and sinks Italian motor sailer Antonietta. About 30 nautical miles east of Brindisi in position 40 40'N, 18 40'E. One of Antonietta's mechanics gives a map of the minefields of the Adriatic Sea to the Greeks. A torpedo of Papanikolis from the War Museum in Athens
24 Dec. 1940 - Torpedoes and sinks 3,952-ton troop carrier Firenze in the Adriatic about 12 nautical miles west-north-west of Saseno Island in position 40 34'N, 19 02'E
Apr. 1941 - Flees to the Middle East to avoid German capture
1941 - Lt Nikolaos Roussen becomes captain
1 Jan. 1942 - Lt A. Panagiotou becomes captain (until 13 Mar. 1942)
14 Mar. 1942 - Lt Cdr P. Libas becomes captain (until 20 Apr. 1942) The bridge of Papanikolis outside the Hellenic Maritime Museum in Piraeus
20 Apr. 1942 - Cdr Athanasios Spanidis becomes captain (until 10 Oct. 1942)
11 Jun. 1942 - Sinks a small sailing vessel with gunfire off Cape Malea, Southern Greece
12 Jun. 1942 - Sinks the Greek sailing vessels Katina and Agia Aikaterini with gunfire off Cape Malea
13 Jun. 1942 - Sinks a Greek sailing vessel with gunfire off Cape Malea
14 Jun. 1942 - Sinks the Greek sailing vessel Evangelista with gunfire off Nafplia
15 Jun. 1942 - Sinks two sailing vessels with gunfire off Scarpanto
Jun. 1942 - Disembarks SOE agents in Crete and receives a team of 15 New Zealand commandos
31 Aug. - 15 Sep - Unsuccessfully attacks a 8,000-ton oil carrier. Disembarks two mixed British-Greek commando teams at Rhodes, which succeed in attacking the island's two airfields and destroying a number of enemy aircraft
10 Oct. 1942 - Lt Nikolaos Roussen becomes captain (until 1943)
Nov. 1942 - Offloads men and equipment at Crete
30 Nov. 1942 - Sinks a 8,000-ton cargo vessel at Alimia islet, near Rhodes
17 Jan. 1943 - Carries agents and equipment to Hydra. Then captures 220-ton sailing vessel Agios Stefanos off Cape Malea, and mans it with part of her crew, which sails it to Alexandria
18 Jan. 1943 - Sinks 150-ton sailing vessel Agia Paraskevi with gunfire north of Iraklio, Crete
16 Mar. 1943 - Sinks Greek sailing vessels Agios Stefanos and Fiamenta with gunfire and by ramming, near Rhodes
18 Mar. 1943 - Sinks 200-ton sailing vessel Rina with gunfire and by ramming, S.E. of Cape Krio
8 May 1943 - sinks the Italian sailing vessels Varvara and Maria, totalling 400 tons, with gunfire north of Crete
1944 - Lt. Ch. Botsaris becomes captain
Oct. 1944 - Having survived the war, Papanikolis returns to Greece after the liberation
Papanikolis on a stamp1945 - Papanikolis is decommissioned. Hull is sold for scrap. Conning tower is preserved (initially at the Submarine Naval Base and currently at the Hellenic Maritime Museum, Piraeus)

Y-2 Papanikolis submarine of the Katsonis class
Papanikolis on patrol during the Greco-Italian war
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: 30 (39?)
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)

For gamers and game designers
In 1940, Papanikolis was already an aged submarine with mechanical problems.

For modellers
A model of Papanikolis from the Hellenic Maritime Museum
Papanikolis model (unknown creator)
A scratchbuilt model of Papanikolis made by D. Georgiadis

Papanikolis scratchbuilt model by D. Georgiadis

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

(1917-1923) Dorand A.R.1 / A.R.2

This is often captioned as a photo of Greek army pilots in front of a Dorand AR.2, but it may be a mistake and these may actually be French.When the Greeks entered the First World War, they acquired 12 Dorand AR.1/AR.2 aircraft from France. These comprised the core of the Greek 532nd Reconnaissance Unit, which was established on 12 December 1917. They were used until 1923 for reconnaissance and as trainers.

Operational History
Dec. 1917 - 12 Dorand AR1/AR2 aircraft are purchased to comprise the core of the 532 Reconnaissance Unit during the First World War.
1923 - Removed from service.

- Dorand AR.1 two-seater reconnaissance / trainer

Origin: French
Crew: 2 (pilot and observer)
Length: 9.14 m
Height: 3.30 m
Wingspan: 13.29 m
Wing Area: 50,36 m²
Weight: Empty 810 kg, loaded 1247 kg
Powerplant: 1× Renault 8 Gd V-engine, 190 hp (140 kW)
Speed: 152 km/h at 2,000 m, 147 km/h at 3,000 m, 141 km/h at 4,000 m
Climb: 2,000 m in 11 min, 3,000 m in 22 min 20 sec, 3,000 m in 39 minGreek Dorand AR.1
Range: 375 km
Endurance: 3 hours
Ceiling: 5,500 m
Armament: 1 × fixed forward-firing .303 inch Vickers machine gun for the pilot, 1 or 2 × Lewis gun(s) on a movable mounting for the observer, and 82 kg of bombs (4 x 120 mm bombs) carried internally

- Dorand AR.2 two-seater reconnaissance / trainer
Origin: French
Crew: 2 (pilot and observer) Length: 9.14 m
Height: 3.30 m Wingspan: 13.29 m
Wing Area: 50,36 m² Weight: Empty 810 kg, loaded 1247 kg Powerplant: 1× Lorraine 8Bb, 240 hp
Speed: 159 km/h at 2,000 m
Range: 375 km
Endurance: 3 hours
Ceiling: 5,500 m
Armament: 1 × fixed forward-firing .303 inch Vickers machine gun for the pilot, 1 or 2 × Lewis gun(s) on a movable mounting for the observer, and 82 kg of bombs carried internally

For gamers and game designers
The Dorand A.R.1/A.R.2 is considered a relatively slow day-time reconnaissance aircraft compared to its contemporaries.

For modellers
Dorand AR1 profileIt is not certain what colours the Greek Dorands had. Most probably they were like all other French ones during World War 1 and probably different when used as trainers after the war. The colours on the photos are speculative.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

(1949-1953) SB2C Helldiver

Greek Helldiver (Greek Civil War, 1949)Most of the bombing missions of the Royal Hellenic Airforce (RHAF) were performed with Spitfires and Dakota transport aircraft. A few months before the end of the Greek Civil War, RHAF acquired their first dive-bombers, 42 Helldiver aircraft from the United States Navy. It was clearly the best strike aircraft in the arsenal of the National Army, but it entered the civil war when the result had been more or less decided. Still, it was useful at bringing an end to the civil war faster by accurately and effectively bombing the mountain bases of the Democratic Army of Greece, a task that was beyond the capabilities of the Spitfires and the Dakotas. On 24 August 1949, when General Papagos attacked the Grammos base of the communists once again, the helldivers used rockets, conventional bombs and napalm bombs. Napalm is the name given to any flammable liquid used in warfare, and is often jellied gasoline. In the form of a bomb, it was used for the first time in the final stages of World War 2 and in the Greek Civil War, long before the Vietnam War, where it gained worldwide notoriety. According to the Greek Communist Party (KKE), 388 napalm bombs were dropped on the mountain line Grammos-Vitsi since September 1948 (see the relevant colourised photo below: a person examining the result of such an attack, during the civil war or shortly after). 114 of these were in operations that Helldivers participated in. Today, a preserved Greek SB2C-5 helldiver (BuNo. 83321) can be seen at the Hellenic Airforce Museum, Tatoi Air Base, Greece.

Operational History
After a Napalm strike on the mountains of Grammos-Vitsi. During the war or shortly after.Spring 1949 - At least 41 Helldivers (some sources mention 42) are obtained from surplus United States Navy stocks. Squadron 336 is equipped with them.
Aug. 1949 - The Helldivers are used in the final operations of the civil war.
6 Sep. 1949 - 18 Helldivers perform a fake dive-bombing show at the center of Athens.
1953 - The Helldivers are retired from the Greek airforce.

Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver dive-bomber

Origin: United States
Crew: 2 (pilot and radio operator / gunner) Greek Helldivers (Greek Civil War)
Wingspan: 15.16 m
Length: 10.90 m
Height: 3.94 m
Range: 1,773 km
Wing area: 39.2 m²
Weight: Empty 4,870 kg, loaded 6,202 kg, max. takeoff 7,471 kg
Powerplant: 1× Wright R-2600-20 Cyclone radial engine, 1,900 hp (1,400 kW)

Speed: 473 km/h at 4,940 m
Service ceiling: 7,240 m
Rate of climb: 8.9 m/s
Armament: wings 2x20mm, rear cockpit 2x7.62mm Browning MGs, internal bay 450 kg of bombs, underwing hardpoints 450 kg of bombs and 8 rockets or 2 napalm bombs (The American navy used it as a torpedo bomber too)

For gamers and game designers
The helldiver is by far the most modern and most accurate bomber of the RHAF in 1949. It can make rocket, torpedo, bomb and napalm strikes against ground targets, and does not have any opposition during the civil war, apart from the few antiaircraft guns of the communists.

For modellers
Greek SB2C-5 Helldiver (schematic)
All Greek helldivers were painted in semi-gloss Sea Blue overall. They wore white serials on the rear fuselage and under the wing. Some were seen also with single tail-numbers on the top of the fin and engine cowling
(2: 3480, 6: 9386, 8: 3353, 9: 3329, 10: 3719, 11: 9250, 15: 9193, 17: 3350).

A MS Flight Simulator model of the Greek Helldiver made by Manuele Villa:

A model from IPMS Hellas 2007:

Thursday, 14 May 2009

(1940-1941) Brixia 45mm mortar

Greek troops with a Brixia mortar (1940-41)As far as I am aware, the Greek army did not have light mortars at the beginning of World War 2. They did, however, capture many Brixia mortars during the Greco-Italian war. In true Italian style, it was an elaborate design that was expensive to mass-produce and easy to malfunction. On the other hand, it provided a relatively high rate of fire, it was steady and it could even fold, which made it convenient for carrying. The mounting was a folding tripod with a padded seat or frame hinged to its rear leg. When the mortar was in firing position, this padded frame acted as a cushion for the man's chest, and when folded in transport it eased the load on his back. The shell was hand-loaded and the range could be adjusted by the ports located under the barrel. Elevation should also be taken into consideration. The primer mixture was the corrosive type, containing mercury fulminate, antimony trisulfide, potassium chlorate and ground glass. The mixture was covered with a thin film of lacquer.

Operational History
Greek troops with Brixia mortars (1940-41)Nov. 1940 - During the first battles, the Greeks capture a lot of Italian equipment, including Brixia mortars.
Apr. 1941 - Capitulation to the Germans. It is not known whether the Greeks fighting in the Middle East acquired more Brixia mortars from their allies.

Brixia Model 35 light mortar

Action Weight: 15.5 kg
Shell Weight: 256 g
Length of barrel: 260 mm Brixia mortar from the National War Museum, Athens, Greece
Caliber: 45 mm
Range: 530 m
Rate of fire: 8 to 15 rounds/min. In ideal conditions, well-trained troops could achieve 18 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity: 83 m/s
Traverse: 20°
Elevation: +10° to +90°

For gamers and game designers
In practice, the Brixia 45mm mortar was considered unsuitable for most types of battle fought in World War 2, due to its short range and poor fragmentation of the shell.

For modellers
Brixia Mortar Schematic

Monday, 11 May 2009

Greece in World War 2

This is the first in a series of videos for the involvement of modern Greece in wars during the last two centuries. I will be making more such videos in the future. I hope you enjoy them. The first is in English and the second is the Greek translation.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

(1890-1929) Battleship "Psara"

Battleship Psara (unknown date)In 1885, the government of Charilaos Trikoupis bought the Battleships "Hydra", "Psara" and "Spetsai" from France, as part of an effort to modernise the armed forces that had proved inadequate during the Cretan Revolt of 1866-1869 and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878.

In the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, Psara, Spetsai and Hydra were at least 25 years newer than their Turkish counterparts. Nevertheless, due to their lack of coordination, they had little impact.

Operational History
1885 - Ordered from France.
1887 - Laid down at Forges et Chantiers de la Mediterranée at Granville, France (while the Hydra was built at St.Nazaire). Plans made by French Admiral Dupont.
1890 - Launched and commissioned.
1897 - Commanded by Vice-Admiral K. Chatzikiriakou, Psara sees limited action against the Turks in the Greco-Turkish War of 1897.
1899 - Psara represents Greece at the founding anniversary of the city of Nice in France, and at the festivities for the crowning of British King Edward VII.
Battleship Psara in 19051912 - Although antiquated by now, Psara participates in the two decisive naval victories of the Balkan Wars (Battle of Elli and Battle of Limnos). She is commanded by Andreas Miaoulis, a descendant of the famous Admiral of the 1821 Greek War of Independence.
1917 - Greece enters World War I and Psara serves as Coast Defence ship.
1919-1922 - Psara serves as Coast Defence ship during the Asia Minor Campaign.
1932 - Psara is scrapped.

From Adm. Mezeviris' memoirs: (translated from Greek)
"[Battle of Elli, 2 Dec. 1912] The dawn of the first great day of the modern Greek Navy, 3 Dec. 1912, found our navy sailing between Imbros and Gallipoli. Until that day, our hopes to meet the enemy had been denied. In fact, crew and officers were spending their time being entertained by a flag officer's jokes. When the sun started to set, we saw the smoke of several ships coming from the narrows. Our flags were raised and the war trumpets sounded. Following the captain's order, I went to the guns and read the historic message of the Admiral to the crew:
'With God's power, the King's wishes and in the name of justice, I sail full speed ahead, certain of the win against our nation's enemy.'Ensign Mezeviris inspecting Austrian steamship (1912)
During the battle, my role as safety officer was to deal with fires and damages, but there was no such problem. So, from the deck I could watch the battle evolving, although I would often inspect the teams below the deck, because they didn't have any officer. I vividly remember the 'Averof' speeding up and taking independent action against the enemy fleet and under attack from the enemy shore batteries. At some point, the ship seemed to be surrounded from every direction. With great anxiety we were looking (from the old battleships) at the ship that was in danger, but we couldn't help, because we were too slow. When Averof survived the engagement, everyone felt relief and there was wild enthusiasm. As we later realised, this audacious attack did not inflict the crucial blow against the enemy fleet that we were hoping for, because Averof's speed was limited due to overheating of the plastic shutters of the guns. Still, the retreat of the enemy, despite being at a better position and having suffered little damage, was a major victory of morale for the Greek Admiral.
Battleship Psara in 1895The gunnery officer, afraid that his men's morale would drop if they stayed idle during the battle, had ordered them to fire from a distance that was out of range and without giving precise target. Being near him at the time, I reminded him about it and he replied: 'Let them fire anywhere, as long as they fire'. After many shells were wasted, the gunnery officer was convinced to order them to stop. The replenishment of these shells was manual and was done mainly by the kitchen crew, led by the athlete-sized civilian cook. With such speed replenishment was carried out that despite the continuous firing, in the end, the superstructure was full of unused shells. These were posing a danger, so they were ordered to move them back in the powder magazine.
At some point, I went out on the deck and found out that the some of the crew had left their stern powder magazine posts and were watching the battle, cheering whenever they would think an enemy ship was hit. With great difficulty I convinced them to return to their posts. The old battleships survived the battle without damage, but a little later were put in danger when a friendly torpedo from 'Averof' was accidentally fired against them."

"[Battle of Limnos, 5 Jan. 1913] ... Our old battleships took part only in the first half hour of the battle. Aboard 'Psara' we had the pleasure to identify at least one good hit against 'Messudiye', which was targetted by us and 'Hydra'. Since the guns of these ships were firing independently, we thought it was ours (the stern tower) that made the hit. There was wild cheering at that part of the ship and we could hardly hold the men below the deck from leaving their posts and coming to see the result of the hit. Apart from this case, however, we serving on the old battleships felt left out of the action. Psara in folk artSeveral discussions, a lot of conflicts between officers and a lot of ink spent about this choice. The Admiral (Kountouriotis) had ordered the squadron of the three old battleships to follow him, but the message was not received, because the radio of battleship "Spetsai" had been damaged during the battle. One of the oddities of war! I was on the bridge at that time and what I vividly remember is the exasperation of Captain Andreas Miaoulis. Eventually, that brave seaman, so calm normally, but so full of energy during the battle, turned towards the officers and said: 'I believe I must exit the line'. He ordered a turn and full speed ahead until we reached 'Hydra' that was in front of us. At that time, the squadron leader 'Spetsai' changed direction and positioned itself in front of 'Psara' on the same route. 'Psara' slowed down and took its normal position in the line. It was, however, too late for the squadron to reach the retreating enemy."

Hydra-class Battleship "Psara"

Displacement: Standard 4,885 tons
Length: 103 m
Beam: 15.8 m
Draft: 6.4 m
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 17 knots in trials, but less than 13 knots in battle.
Armament: 3x 274mm, 5x 150mmBattleship Psara on an old Greek stamp
Armour: Hull 100-280mm, deck 70mm

For gamers and game designers

The three Hydra-class battleships were a failed experiment in terms of gun layout.
The central battery housed both the two 10.8" and five 6" guns, which meant that a single hit would take out almost the whole of the firepower.

There was no fire control system and due to the various gun sizes on the ship, it would be difficult to tell which splash corresponded to which gun.

In terms of protection, while they had a thick Creusot steel belt below water, the the above waterline armour was only 3", which left the boilers and engines quite vulnerable, and the ship could be taken out with one good hit. Nevertheless, gunhouse and barbette were well-armoured.

The following are some technical details of the guns that would be useful to a game designer:

274mm Guns: Weight of shell 260 kg, velocity 815 m/s
150mm Guns: Weight of shell 45 kg, velocity 597 m/s, range 8,000 yards

For Modellers
The three battleships had a small pipe ("auxiliary funnel") immediately before the first funnel; this was removed on Psara just before World War I. While Spetsai and Hydra were two-masted, Psara had three masts.
A model of Psara from the Hellenic Maritime Museum:

A profile of Psara without the auxiliary funnel (unknown source).
Profile of Psara

Saturday, 2 May 2009

(1964-1993) F-104 Starfighter

Greek F-104 Starfighter outside the National War Museum in AthensIn 1964, following the Turks, the Greeks acquired their first F-104 Starfighters under the US Military Assistance Program (MAP); F-104G fighter-bombers and TF-104G trainers. Later they acquired several second-hand ones from other NATO countries, including RF-104Gs for reconnaissance. The Starfighters gained a "flying coffin" reputation, especially in Germany where 292 of the 916 crashed. In Greece, at least 11 pilots were lost between 1965 and 1987.

Operational History
F-104G Starfighters arriving in Greece
1964 - Greece acquires 45 F-104Gs (35 built by Canadair and 10 by Lockheed) and 6 two-seat trainer TF-104Gs (Lockheed) under MAP funding. They arrive at 114 Combat Wing and the new 335 Fighting and Bombing Squadron is formed with them.
1965 - 336 Strike Squadron is equipped with F-104s.
1971 - Greece acquires 3 second-hand TF-104Gs from West Germany.
1972 - Greece acquires a further 9 second-hand F-104Gs and 1 TF-104G from Spain.
1982 - Greece acquires a further 10 second-hand F-104Gs from the Netherlands.
A F-104 Starfighter on a Greek stamp1981-1988 - Greece acquires a further 38 F-104Gs, 22 RF-104Gs and 17 TF-104Gs from West Germany.
March 1993 - The F-104s are phased out of service.

Pilot losses (none in combat)
19/06/1965 - S. Nikolaou (F-104G, Tanagra Airfield).
15/07/1965 - C. Efstathiou (F-104G, Tanagra Airfield).
31/07/1972 - A. Damianidis and C. Filippou (TF-104G, Ileia).
24/02/1976 - S. Roulias (F-104, Araxos; parachute didn't open due to low altitude).
21/10/1978 - D. Bibikos (F-104G, sea near Loutra Kilinis).
22/01/1979 - K. Davillas (F-104G, Prof. Ileia hill, Achaia).
15/01/1980 - S. Papastavrou (F-104G, Preveza).
15/04/1980 - S. Bourtzinakos and S. Laourdekis (TF-104G, sea NW of Araxos).
23/09/1987 - S. Zografos (F-104G).

F-104G Starfighter, 1st Generation Jet Fighter-Bomber

Weight: Empty 6,350 kg, Loaded 9,365 kg, Max takeoff 13,170 kg
Length: 16.66 m
Height: 4.09 m
Wingspan: 6.36 m
Wing Area: 18.22 m²
Rate of climb: 244 m/s
Speed: 2,125 km/h
Ferry Range: 2,623 km
Combat Radius: 670 km
Crew: 1
Armament: 1x 20 mm M61 Vulcan gatling gun (725 rounds). 7 handpoints with a capacity of 1,814 kg. Provisions to carry combination of 4x AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, Bombs, rockets, etc.
Engine: General Electric J79-GE-11A afterburning turbojet. Dry thrust: 10,000 lbf (48 kN). Thrust with afterburner: 15,600 lbf (69 kN)
Ceiling: 15,000 m

For gamers and game designers

For modellers Greek F-104 Starfighter schematic
The original MAP-funded Starfighters were in metal finish, but later the fleet started getting a disruptive pattern of olive drab / dark green / sand on top and light gray on the bottom. A nice silver Starfighter made by D. Georgiadis can be seen in the following photo:
F-104G model by D. Georgiadis
A model from IPMS-Hellas 2006:
F-104G model from IPMS-Hellas 2006

Friday, 1 May 2009

(1918-1941) St. Etienne Mle 1907 Machine Gun

Greek soldiers carrying a St. Etienne Mle 1907 Machine Gun (Greco-Italian war, 1940-41)At the time of the Italian invasion, the Greeks had a total of 4,852 machine guns. Almost half of them were of the antiquated St. Etienne Mle 1907 type that was designed by the national arsenal at Saint Étienne (MAS) in 1907. It was a fairly complex design (with 64 parts) that had been gradually taken away from the French front lines towards the end of the First World War, in favour of the simpler and more reliable Hotchkiss Mle 1914 (also in the Greek arsenal in 1940). Although obsolescent, it was not disliked by the Greeks, who found it sufficiently effective during the Italian invasion.

Operational History
Possibly 1918 - (certainly before 1919) the Greeks receive several of these machine guns from France. It is not clear whether they are sold or offered to Greece when withdrawn from French service.
1919-22 - The St. Etienne is the main Greek machine gun type during the Asia Minor campaign.
1935 - With a war in Europe seeming imminent, the Greeks start repairing their old St. Etienne machine guns and buy new types too.
1941 - Greece falls to the Germans and the St. Etienne machine gun will not be used again in the Greek army.

St. Etienne Mle 1907 machine gun

St. Etienne Mle 1907 Machine Gun displayed in the National War Museum, AthensWeight: 25.73 kg
Length of weapon: 1.18 m
Length of barrel: 0.71 m
Caliber: 8 mm
Action: gas actuation
Rate of fire: adjustable 8 to theoretical max of 650 rounds/min, but below 500 in practice
Muzzle velocity: 724 m/s
Feed system: 25 rounds metal strip or 300 rounds fabric belt

For Gamers and Game designers Due to its mechanical complexity, the St. Etienne machine gun is prone to overheating. From an official French battlefield evaluation in 1917: "In summation, it functions well but only in the hands of the most meticulous of machine gun virtuosos". In some cases, it was also used in the anti-aircraft role. E.g. from the memoirs of General G. Berdeklis: "[Battle of Crete, 1941] There can be no comparison between our equipment and the equipment of the German paratroopers. Not only we lacked air support, but we were practically out of ammunition too. We had only one St. Etienne machine gun and we used it as antiaircraft. When its last round was used, we destroyed it on the spot."
This photo shows a St Etienne used as antiaircraft by Greek soldiers. Notice the unusual 30-round magazine.

For Modellers
St. Etienne Mle 1907 schematic