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Hellenic Air Force History

Greco-Italian War ... German Invasion

Shot down Caproni
bomber plane at Koritsa

Fairey III,
naval support hydroplane

Personnel of the 32nd Bomber
Squadron at the front line

The ramming of the
Italian bomber plane by
the lieutenant M. Mitralexis

1. Shot down Caproni bomber plane at Koritsa. 2. Fairey III, naval support hydroplan. 3. Personnel of the 32nd Bomber Squadron at the front line. 4. Medals awarded to pilots (Price of bravery, Military Cross, Pilot's Cross, Cross of the Airforce, Distinctive Actions, Memorial War Medal 1940-41). 5. The ramming of the Italian bomber plane by the lieutenant M. Mitralexis.

Upon the declaration of the war between Greece and Italy, 77 front-line RHAF aircraft were called upon to confront 463 Italian ones. Despite the overwhelming superiority of Regia Aeronautica, the Hellenic Air Force, thanks to the incomparable self-sacrifice of its crews and adequate support of the other personnel, upset, from the first days of the war, the enemy’s plans since it managed to impede the Italian Air Force’s activities, to collect information on the enemy’s movements, to destroy significant enemy lines of supply and to provide protection to the friendly troops.

Worth noticing is the mission of November 2, 1940 during which a Breguet Bre 19, performing a low flight along the Albanian frontier, intercepted the Italian Mountaineers Division «Julia» ’when it was penetrating Pindos Mountain Range and moving on to occupy Metsovon. This event radically changed the developments on the front in favour of the Greeks. On the same day, Flying Officer Marinos Metralexis, during an air fight, having exhausted his ammunition, struck the rudder of a three-engined Italian bomber with the propeller of his P.Z.L., thus causing the Italian aircraft to crash on the ground.

The Hellenic Air Force’s activities continued unabated during the offensive struggle too, while the large Spring attack of March 1941 was confronted successfully. The German invasion and the unequal (as realised from the begining) conflict with Luftwaffe did not prevent RHAF pilots from carrying out their duties once again in full.

The Hellenic Air Force shot down 64 enemy aircraft while another 24 were claimed, too. Fifty-two dead aviators paid the price of freedom