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Τετάρτη, 27 Απριλίου 2016

WW2 Pacific Treasures: Operation Cartwheel, Bougainville, November 1943 to August 1945


Bougainville, Papua New Guinea - 1943
Photos : William C. Shrout - LIFE Collections

The Bougainville Campaign was a series of land and naval battles of the Pacific campaign of World War II between Allied forces and the Empire of Japan. 

It was part of Operation Cartwheel, the Allied grand strategy in the South Pacific. The campaign took place in the Northern Solomons in two phases.

The first phase, in which American troops invaded and held the Perimeter around the beachhead at Torokina, lasted from November 1943 through November 1944. 

The second phase, in which primarily Australian troops went on the offensive, mopping up pockets of starving, isolated but still-determined Japanese, lasted from November 1944 until August 1945, when the last Japanese on the island surrendered.


Operations during the final phase of the campaign saw the Australian forces advance north towards the Bonis Peninsula and south towards the main Japanese stronghold around Buin, although the war ended before these two enclaves were completely destroyed.


Before the war, Bougainville had been administered as part of the Australian Territory of New Guinea, even though, geographically, Bougainville is part of the Solomon Islands chain. 

The United Kingdom and Germany had traded it for another islands territory which became British rather than German. 

As a result, within the various accounts of the campaign it is referred to as part of both the New Guinea and the Solomon Islands campaigns.


During their occupation the Japanese constructed naval aircraft bases in the north, east, and south of the island; but none in the west. They developed a naval anchorage at Tonolei Harbor near Buin, their largest base, on the southern coastal plain of Bougainville. 

On the nearby Treasury and Shortland Islands they built airfields, naval bases and anchorages. 

These bases helped protect Rabaul, the major Japanese garrison and naval base in Papua New Guinea, while allowing continued expansion to the south-east, down the Solomon Islands chain, to Guadalcanal and New Guinea and beyond. 

To the Allies, Bougainville would later also be considered vital for neutralizing the Japanese base around Rabaul. 


In March–April 1942, the Japanese landed on Bougainville as part of their advance into the South Pacific. 

At the time, there was only a small Australian garrison on the island which consisted of about 20 soldiers from the 1st Independent Company and some coastwatchers. 

Shortly after the Japanese arrived, the bulk of the Australian force was evacuated by the Allies, although some of the coastwatchers remained behind to provide intelligence. Once secured, the Japanese began constructing a number of airfields across the island. 

The main airfields were on Buka Island, the Bonis Peninsula in the north, at Kahili and Kara, in the south, and Kieta on the east coast, while a naval anchorage was constructed at Tonolei Harbor near Buin on the southern coastal plain, along with anchorages on the Shortland Islands group. 

At the opening of the Allied offensives, their estimates of Japanese strength on Bougainville varied widely, ranging between 45,000 and 65,000 Army, Navy, and labour personnel.


These forces constituted the Japanese 17th Army, commanded by General Harukichi Hyakutake. 

Hyukatake reported to General Hitoshi Imamura, commander of the Japanese Eighth Area Army, headquartered at Rabaul on New Britain Island.



Naval command at Rabaul was the responsibility of Vice Admiral Jinichi Kusaka, commander Southeast Area Fleet. 

The level of cooperation between these two officers was greater than that usually found between the branches of the Japanese armed forces.
On Bougainville, the Japanese forces consisted of the following formations: the 17th Infantry Group – consisting of the 81st Infantry Regiment and the III Battalion, 53rd Infantry Regiment under Major General Kesao Kijima and elements of the 6th Division. 

The 17th Infantry occupied northern Bougainville, while the 6th had responsibility for the island south of Tarina.























Τρίτη, 26 Απριλίου 2016

1948: Nazi aircraft with the star of David and the irony of History


An artist's representation of a dogfight between an Israeli Bf109 (Avia S199) and an Egyptian Spitfire in 1948

Just try to imagine the scene and grasp the irony of History: 

Israel’s first fighter plane was the famed German fighter Messerschmitt Bf109. 

The Czechs sold 25 of their own version of the fighter to Israel, named Avia S-199.

A Bf109 with the star of David

Constructed in Czechoslovakia, with parts and plans left over from Luftwaffe aircraft production, the aircraft had numerous problems and was generally unpopular with its pilots. 

It had a bomber motor, making it very unwieldy to fly and land. Many of the planes crashed shortly before or after arriving in Israel. 

Czechoslovak pilots nicknamed it Mezek ("Mule"), while in Israel it was officially known as the Sakeen ("knife" in Hebrew). 
A downed Egyptian Spitfire on the beach of Tel-Aviv

In practice, the aircraft was more often called Messerschmitt or Messer (which also means "knife", in German and Yiddish).


On May 15, 1948, immediately after the Israeli Declaration of Independence on the previous day, a full-blown Arab-Israeli war broke out, the first in a series of clashes between the two parties in the following decades, a deep hatred that continues to fuel clashes to this day, with no foreseeable resolution.


One of the three B-17 bombers sold to the Israelis for $15,000 a piece


A combined invasion by Egypt, Jordan and Syria, together with expeditionary forces from Iraq, entered Palestine.


An artist's representation of a dogfight between an Israeli Bf109 (Avia S199) and an Egyptian Spitfire in 1948
The invading forces took control of the Arab areas and immediately attacked Israeli forces and several Jewish settlements.

The 10 months of fighting, interrupted by several truce periods, took place mostly on the former territory of the British Mandate and for a short time also in the Sinai Peninsula and southern Lebanon.




Arab Air Forces: Spitfires, T-6 Texans, C-47 Dakotas, Hawker Hurricanes, Avro Ansons
Israeli Air Forces: Spitfires, Avia S-199s, B-17 Flying Fortresses, P-51 Mustangs, C-47 Dakotas


SOURCES: 1 2 3 4

Παρασκευή, 22 Απριλίου 2016

The rare warbirds of the Hellenic Air Force Museum - Part One



The Hellenic Air Force Museum, located at Dekelia Air Base (ICAO: LGTT), at the north of Athens, features some unique aircraft, ranging from WW2 to today. 


The Air Base started operating in 1918 and features a single runway with a length of 1764 metres. 


The airport is currently used by the Hellenic Air Force and is also home to civilian Air Clubs.



Many rare warbirds are exhibited at the HAF Museum, including WW2 salvaged aircraft, such as a Ju87 "Stuka", a Ju52 "Tante Ju", a Bristol Blenheim and parts of an Arado Ar-196.


Post-WW2 aircraft account for the vast majority of the exhibits, with some of them being unique worldwide, having seen active service with the Hellenic Air Force, over the past decades. 












Aircraft collection

Agusta Bell AB-47J-2
Agusta Bell AB-206A Jet Ranger
Bell 47G-5
Bell OH-13H Sioux
Bristol Blenheim Mk.IVF
Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk.2
Cessna T-37B Tweety
Cessna T-41D Mescalero
Convair TF-102A Delta Dagger
Convair TF-102A Delta Dagger
Convair TF-102A Delta Dagger
Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver
Dassault Mirage F1CG
de Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth
Dornier Do28D-2
Dornier Do28D-2
Douglas A-26B Invader
Douglas C-47B Dakota
Douglas C-47B Dakota
Douglas C-47B Dakota
Grumman Gulfstream I
Grumman HU-16B Albatross
Grumman HU-16B Albatross
Junkers Ju-52/3
Junkers Ju-87D-3
Lim-2Rbis
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter
Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter
Lockheed T-33A
Nord N.2501D Noratlas
North American F-86D Sabre
North American T-6G Harvard
Northrop F-5A Freedomfighter
Northrop RF-5A Freedomfighter
PZL-Mielec M-18B Dromader
Republic F-84F Thunderstreak
Republic F-84G Thunderjet
Republic RF-84F Thunderflash
Sikorsky UH-19B Chickasaw
Supermarine Spitfire LF.IXe (not exhibited)
Vought A-7H Corsair II

Address: HAF Museum, Dekelia Air Base, 13671, Tatoi
Exhibitions Office: +30 210 8195254, +30 210 8195255
Security Office: +30 210 8195275, Fax: +30 210 8195258, +30 210 2461661
E-mail: museum@haf.gr
GPS Coordinates: 38.1002204 - 23.7803797,375
Visiting Hours

Saturday - Sunday
10:00 to 16:00 during nightlight saving time (Last admission 15:00)
10:00 to 18:00 during daylight saving time (Last admission 17:00)
Working days (only for groups – students – associations)

Prearrangement is obligatory at least 4 days before the visit, on the museum’s phone numbers, from 08:00 to 14:30 (Last admission 13:30).

Public Holidays: Closed

Access

The central gate of Dekelia Air Base is located on Tatoiou str. (Acharnes, Attica), and it can be accessed through:

The Railway Station "DEKELIA", in a 50 meters distance from the central gate.
The 537 Bus line, at the stop "AER. VASI DEKELIA".
Athens - Thessaloniki Highway (E75). Take the "Thrakomakedones – Olympic Village" exit, follow Kimi’s Avenue. Take "Acharnes – Varimbombi" exit and the central gate is at 300 meters towards Varimbombi.
Entrance

For the entrance at Dekelia Air Base is needed:

1. For Greek Citizens, the demonstration of their ID.
2. For non Greek Citizens:
i. For Greek residents, the demonstration of their ID or Passport and residence permission or a photocopy stamped by Greek Authorities.
ii. For foreign citizens :
• Citizens of countries under Schengen agreement, the demonstration of their ID or Passport.
• Citizens of non-Schengen countries, the demonstration of their Passport, stamped for the entrance in Greece by a Greek Authority.
The entrance in the museum is free of charge.

The areas of the museum are easily accessible to persons with disabilities. If a special assistance is required, prearrangement with the museum’s personnel is advised.