When Greece was drawn into World War II by Italy’s attack in October of 1940 they put up an unexpectedly stout resistance.
Let’s look at one of the aerial defenders.
PZL is the Polish State Aircraft Company. They made a splash on the International scene with spectacular flight demos of their latest fighter designs in 1930. The P.7 design and its update the P.11 were considered state of the art in 1932/33 when they entered service. They were fast and highly maneuverable.
But PZL was unable to export their new fighter because it used a licence built version of the Bristol Mercury engine that was strictly for domestic use only. In 1934 they partnered with French company Gnome-Rhone for a new design they could sell on the International market. The new plane, the P.24, was mostly an update of the P.11 with enclosed canopy, wheel spats and increased firepower. Oh, and a new engine that offered 970 hp, compared to 560 on the P.11.
This new fighter was blazingly fast at 250 mph…
Okay, fast for its time. It was successful as an export with sales to Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.
The Greeks received 30 P.24F and 6 P.24G in 1937 and 1938. The only difference being that the underwing guns on the “F” were 20mm cannon, while on the “G” all four guns were machine guns but small bomb racks were added. Early in the War all Greek P.24s were recondition to “G” specs because of difficulty in servicing the cannon. Most also had the wheel spats removed, they tended to accumulate mud for little if any speed increase.
In late 1940 Italy had had a frustrating year. Attempts to join both the Battle of France and Battle of Britain had exposed Italian weakness. Mussolini then tried to conquer Egypt in another fiasco. He then decided an attack on Greece was an easy path to glory. This involved coming from previously defeated Albania into northwestern Greece. Even though Greek forces were badly outnumbered, they were better motivated and fighting in mountainous terrain that favored defense. In the air, the P.24 was the most modern and numerous Greek type and equipped three squadrons. Although it was plenty powerful and had good firepower the wing was an obsolete airfoil; that means the type was slow for 1940! By targeting bombers and avoiding Italian fighters whenever possible they had scored 64 kills for 24 losses by April 1941. And indeed, the whole Italian offensive went nowhere. They were even driven back into Albania.
But by April they were mostly a spent force. Only 5 P.24s remained. They were combined with 5 Gloster Gladiators into a single understrength squadron. And then Nazi Germany joined the attack. They claimed four more kills before none were left.
From this point, the fall of Greece becomes a shared Greek and British tragedy. I will have more of that story on another post.
This is the Mirage kit. It is multi-media with plastic, resin and photo-etch. It sort of straddles the line between mainstream kits and limited run. Although the molding is crude, surface textures are nice and fit is okay. Apart from working with some different materials its not a particularly hard build.