On Spartan Wings: The Royal Hellenic Air Force in World War by John Carr

By John Carr

Hardly has an air strength long past into wrestle as poorly ready and outgunned because the Royal Hellenic Air strength needed to whilst Mussolini’s Italy dragged Greece into battle on 28 October 1940. unexpectedly, as Italian forces poured over the frontier from Albania, the RHAF’s paltry powerful lineup of 128 conflict valuable airplane, so much of them out of date, have been pitted opposed to the 463 fielded by way of the Regia Aeronautica, whose pilots had honed their talents within the Spanish Civil battle. at the Greek facet, even though, aces similar to Marinos Mitralexis, together with his audacious ramming of an Italian bomber at the 5th day of the battle ensured that morale within the RHAF remained high.

Though the RAF pitched in with no matter what support it will probably supply in machines and manpower, the aerial battle used to be unequal from the start. through the tip of 1940 the RHAF was once heavily depleted, even though person pilots and crews persevered to struggle valiantly. the top got here in April 1941 whilst Hitler sped to the rescue of the Duce. The Luftwaffe blasted out of the sky what remained of the RHAF and no matter what RAF devices remained to aid out its final stand.

A unmarried mira (squadron), with simply five Avro Ansons escaped intact to Egypt, the place British forces have been bracing for Rommel’s onslaught. Out of this small squadron grew 3 complete mirai, whose pilots, now outfitted with smooth plane, performed a decisive half within the Allied victory at El Alamein. until eventually Greece used to be liberated in October 1944 the RHAF devices within the Allied air forces ranged over objectives within the Aegean Sea, Italy and Yugoslavia. The RHAF used to be little plagued by a communist-inspired mutiny within the Greek forces in Egypt that in brief threatened to neutralize the Greek contribution. After the top of worldwide warfare II the RHAF used to be referred to as upon to confront the specter of an tried communist takeover of Greece and performed an immense half in overcoming the uprising and saving the rustic for the West. Meticulous study interwoven with firsthand money owed makes this a becoming tribute to the ability and heroism of the Greek airmen and a worthwhile account of a ignored element of WWII air warfare.

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Carr's important quantity is still the definitive English-language examine of Hellenic air energy in global battle II. and that i enjoyed it.
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Extra info for On Spartan Wings: The Royal Hellenic Air Force in World War Two

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Neither had he been idle on the diplomatic front. Having rather better relations with the Germans than with Fascist Italy (he had been top of his class in the Imperial German War Academy in 1903), he hoped he could talk Hitler into restraining Mussolini. The Fuehrer himself suspected that the Duce was toying with the idea of invading Greece and didn’t approve. At a time when the issue over the skies of Britain was far from decided, and an invasion of Britain was still on the cards in Berlin, Hitler believed action against Greece would be a waste of Axis manpower and energy.

The whole squadron turned out to watch as the Blenheim, flown by Flying Officer Dimitrios Papageorgiou, with Pilot Officer Kleanthos Hadjioannou as navigator/ observer and Warrant Officer George Sakis as gunner, gunned its engines for take-off. But heavy rain during the night had turned the runway into a quagmire, and the Blenheim’s wheels refused to come unstuck. The 32 Mira CO, Squadron Leader Haralambos Potamianos, was determined that the mission should go on, and ordered one of the squadron’s crack pilots, Flying Officer Alexander Papaioannou, into the pilot’s seat in place of Papageorgiou.

The result was a continuous compromise process that did nothing to advance the concept of independent air force tactics. 6 Politics was a constant menace. At one point in 1932 it looked as if the air force would have a brief life indeed when Venizelos was unseated as prime minister and his opponents pandered to the fears of the Army and Navy chiefs, ever disdainful of the upstart RHAF, that an independent air force might usurp their own influence and even, heaven forbid, form its own power centre.

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