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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: December 15th, 2020, 2:43 am
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Sweden

Sweden had been the only northern European nation to have not been actively in combat. That was not due to the triumph of Swedish diplomacy nor the strength of the Swedish military, but rather the luck of geopolitics. Like all its neighbours Sweden had embarked on a military expansion programme in the late 1930’s, both with domestic design and production and international purchases, and had instituted a national draft in 1938, and created the Hemvärnet Home Guard in May 1940.
Although no longer an imperial power, both Finland and Norway had very close history and ties to Sweden. The Soviet invasion of Finland was treated with great concern in Sweden, and although the Swedes were technically neutrals in the conflicts in Europe, they more realistically maintained a position as non-combatants in the Winter War; supplying both equipment and manpower to Finland. This extended to a complete air force unit, Flight Regiment 19, comprising 25 Swedish aircraft and all operational and support crews operating as volunteers. The Gloster Gladiators of F 19 claimed 12 Soviet aircraft for the loss of only 2 aircraft in combat and 4 to accidents in 2 months of operations. With the cessation of hostilities the aircraft and crews returned to Sweden.

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Both the German invasion of Norway and the planned British invasion were centred on the supply of Swedish steel to Germany through the Norwegian port of Narvik. The German plan was just to hold and secure Narvik, while the British plan was to capture Narvik and push onwards into Sweden to capture the ore mining district of Sweden and the Swedish Baltic port of Lule, using the justification of defending the supply line for war matériel through to Finland. At the time Sweden was unaware of this British plan, but were suspicious that a British occupation of Narvik in neutral Norway, and “securing” the Malmbanan railway corridor would lead to an unacceptable British occupation of Swedish territory, while provoking both Germany and the Soviets to enter combat on Swedish soil. With the Finno-Soviet armistice the dubious British justification for action into Sweden was removed, but in London the planning for British action into Sweden continued. Then in a quirk of fate, both the British and German actions against Norway were launched simultaneously, with the British navy mining the waters of Norway in Operation Wilfred as the start of their invasion plan on the 8th April 1940, while the Germans landed troops before dawn on the 9th in Operation Weserübung.
The Germans had managed to capture and hold Narvik, although combined armies from Britain, France, Poland and Norway had been at the point of liberating the town before the Armistice. With the German withdrawal and the establishment of the Samling government in southern Norway the export abilities of the port at Narvik were secured to allow unrestricted iron exports. Now with the Soviets calmed by their Armistice with the Finns and distracted by their assimilation of the Baltic States, and with the Anglo-German Armistice lowering the threat from those nations, Sweden continued her armaments programme, aware that the international situation was still very volatile, and that they were surrounded by potential threats.
With the German invasion of Denmark, the Swedes had impounded an undelivered order of 15 Landsverk Lynx armoured cars, and impressed them as Pansarbil m/39’s. A further order for an additional 30 vehicles for the Swedish Army was placed with Volvo, as Landsverk was already committed to domestic tank production. This second batch of vehicles became m/40’s with slightly higher powered Volvo engines and a Bofors gun. In the immediate aftermath of the German assault on the west Volvo attempted to export additional vehicles, but the only order was for licence construction of the m/39 model in Belgium.

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Landsverk had been too committed with production and development of the L-60 S light tank and new designs. Already batches of L-60’s had been delivered as the m/38 and m/39 and with the escalation of international tensions in 1940 an additional order as the m/40L was on the construction line. But even this was not enough for Swedish needs, and in March 1940 an order was placed for 90 Czech TNH tanks, which were delivered after the Armistice and served as the Stridsvagn m/40T. The armament was soon changed out for the same 37mm Bofors gun equipping the m/40, with the regunned vehicles redesignated as the m/41T.
In the early 1930’s Landsverk had designed a family of self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, but the lack of an adequate armoured chassis meant the vehicles were not progressed. With the battles in the Low Countries the effect of airpower on massed armour had been demonstrated, and now the need for tanks able to defend themselves against aircraft was obvious. With the L-60 already in production Landsverk now had a viable vehicle to use as the gun carriage, and with a request for an anti-aircraft tank from Finland, a customer willing to actually pay for that development expedited the process.
Landsverk had designed the L-62, -63, -64, and -65 as similar vehicles differing in the anti-aircraft gun fitted. The Finns required a vehicle fitted with their version of the Bofors L/60 autocannon, which had been included in the original L-62 design. The L-60 chassis was lengthened by adding a road-wheel to allow the fitment of a newly designed circular turret for the gun for the new L-62. Simultaneously Landsverk worked on a version for domestic use, utilising a dual mount of the Swedish naval Bofors m/32 autocannon, upgrading the L-63 to become the Kanonvagn m/40.

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Sweden had also investigated foreign aircraft purchases and licence building to bolster its air force. From the United States the Northrop A-17 had been selected as a light bomber to be licence-built in Sweden by ASJA. Before the prototypes had been delivered to Sweden, Northrop had become Douglas – and changes in Sweden led to ASJA being taken over by SAAB shortly after. With the need for skis to be fitted for winter operations, Sweden specified that their version of the aircraft be fitted with fixed undercarriage, enabling an easy transfer to skis for winter operations, most notably the Swedes chose to install a domed canopy above the pilot and fitted local guns and radios. By the end of ASJA’s production run in 1940 63 aircraft had been constructed as B 5B’s, while future construction was under the name of SAAB.

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Looking for new fighter aircraft as well, Seversky had flown its EP-1-68, a modified AP-7 racing aircraft, itself a modified P-35 fighter, to Sweden as a demonstrator in 1939. By the German invasion of Poland 60 aircraft had been ordered, with another order for a further 60 being placed in January of 1940 before the first aircraft had even been delivered. The initial batch of aircraft were shipped to Trondheim in northern Norway and, still crated, trained to Sweden for final assembly as J 9 fighters. After the German withdrawal from Norway the port of Trondheim remained in royal Norwegian control, and so the import of the second batch of fighters was able to continue in late 1940.

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Seversky had also developed a 2-seat variant of the P-35, the 2PA-204A “convoy fighter”, and Sweden also ordered 52 as the B 6 light bomber. Only 2 aircraft were delivered with the initial J 9 shipments through the Kingdom of Norway, with the remaining aircraft being delivered with the second batch of J 9’s in late 1940.

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SAAB had also been working on designing a single seat fighter. In September 1939 in response to a Swedish Air Board request for tender, SAAB presented plans for the L-12 powered by a Bristol Taurus engine. Production was ordered as the J 19 for a first flight by July 1941 and delivery by 1943. An inability of the British to supply the engines, and with SAAB already being committed to developing the B 17 and B 18 designs led to the cancelation of the project in December 1940.
Instead Sweden concentrated its efforts on purchasing foreign fighters, and in February 1940 the Swedish government signed an order for the purchase of 144 Vultee J 10 fighters. Delays in construction for this brand new design, caused by engine cooling and controllability issues meant that the first flight of the production prototype only occurred in September, with delivery only envisioned for late 1941.
European manufacturers had also featured in Sweden’s aircraft shopping spree. After the Armistice, and in an effort to rebuild friendships and gain foreign currency, Germany honoured its export agreement for 18 Dornier Do 215B-2 bombers starting in August 1940. Becoming the S 11 in Swedish service, the aircraft were deployed over the Baltic monitoring the forced integration of the former Baltic republics into the Soviet Union.

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The more modest Bréguet 694 had been ordered from Belgian manufacture, and with the inability of French engine manufacturers to supply foreign orders the 12 aircraft ordered as S 10’s were constructed to 694bis standard with American engines with delivery starting in late 1940.

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Before the German advance westwards, Sweden had purchased 18 Fokker G.I light bombers as an interim aircraft to provide coverage until the SAAB B 18 bomber entered service. The Dutch had embargoed export delivery to ensure their own defence, and with the German withdrawal continued production with all aircraft allocated to the Dutch Air Force. However a production line had been setup in Denmark for licence production of Fokkers for Danish service before the German invasion of Denmark. After their liberation the Danes had restarted construction of their aircraft, only to have the political decision made to no longer operate combat aircraft. With no aircraft available from Dutch manufacture, Sweden took the opportunity to instead purchase aircraft constructed in Denmark. Thirty-six aircraft were ordered as B 7 attack aircraft, with delivery scheduled for early 1941 after the initial order for Finland was completed. With their mission including dive bombing, the B 7’s included the fitment of the dive brakes trialled originally by Fokker.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Re: Manchester AUPosted: December 27th, 2020, 10:11 am
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Slovak Republic

Starting with the Munich Agreement of October 1938, Czechoslovakia was progressively dismembered. Both Nazi Germany and Poland occupied border regions of Czech territory, while with the following Vienna Award in November Hungary occupied the southern border areas of Slovak territory.
In March 1939 Slovakia was urged by Nazi Germany to declare its independence, under threat of further partition, which they did on the 14th March. Using this loss of stability in Czechoslovakia as a pretext, German forces occupied and annexed the Czech areas the following day, with Hungary seizing Carpathian Romania. With further Hungarian demands for territory, Slovakia immediately entered into a Treaty Of Protection with Germany. Aware that the Treaty would come into force with German ratification on the 23rd, Hungary hurriedly launched an assault on eastern Slovakia at dawn on the 23rd. The Little War was fought for a week, with Slovak forces being caught mostly unprepared as former Czechoslovak forces redeployed between the new territories. Germany chose not to honour its commitments to Slovakia both during the war and in the subsequent Slovak-Hungarian negotiations, with Slovakia ceding the eastern border region to Hungary. Notwithstanding their betrayal by Nazi Germany, Slovakia entered into a close relationship, becoming a German satellite state.
With Slovak-Polish border tensions, Slovakian army and air forces attacked southern Poland as a part of Fall Weiß with the German invasion on the 1st September 1939. Successfully capturing border territories, the Slovak troops withdrew back to Slovakia at the end of the campaign. Slovak military forces then returned to a defensive and policing posture.

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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: December 30th, 2020, 12:58 pm
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Hungary

With the end of the Great War the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dismembered, with the creation of an independent Hungary. After the turmoil of a socialist revolution, a communist revolution, and a nationalist counter-revolution, the Treaty of Trianon signed at Versailles in 1920 stripped the new Kingdom of Hungary of two thirds of the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen. The creation of new buffer states bordering Hungary, while designed to balance Hungarian nationalism, only served to create a Hungary driven by irredentism. Even more so than with Germany, the post-war Treaty crippled Hungary financially, industrially and militarily.
In 1920 Czechoslovakia, the state that became Yugoslavia, and Romania entered into the alliance of the Little Entente to defend themselves against Hungarian expansionism. France was a strong supporter of the Little Entente, using it as a tool for French economic interests in the region, and to have a “second front” united as a threat to German expansionism. The power of the Little Entente had been demonstrated with the thwarting of Charles IV’s attempt to reclaim the Hungarian throne in 1921.
Without friendly neighbours Hungary’s domestic policies had led it into close relations with the nationalism of Mussolini’s Italy and the revanchism of Hitler’s Germany. Although Hungary signed to the anti-German Rome Protocols of 1934 and tried to place itself as an ally of Italy, Hungary tied itself to Germany’s economic coattails. With German economic assistance Hungary pulled itself out of the Great Depression, while still chaffing under the restrictions of the Treaty of Trianon.
In 1938 Bulgaria obtained permission to exceed the bounds of its own Great War disarmament treaty and commence rebuilding its military, and this spurred Hungary to enter into negotiations with the Little Entente to negotiate her own rearmament. In the Bled Agreement of 22 August 1938 the Little Entente and Hungary renounced military action against each other and gave Hungary the right to rearm. In secret Hungary had already been taking limited steps to rearm, including the delivery of 52 Fiat CR.32 fighters to I. Meteorological Group in 1936, but now Hungary was free from foreign oversight of its military affairs.
German action against Czechoslovakia happened rapidly, with the Munich Agreement of 30 September 1938 leading to the partition of Czechoslovakia, and with the following First Vienna Award of 2 November 1938 Hungary received the southern Slovak territories. With their acquiescence to Germany, France suffered a complete loss of prestige and confidence in the region, and French economic power waned as Germany’s increased.
With the negation of the Treaty of Trianon, Hungary immediately looked to build itself a modern air force. To speed its air force growth Hungary purchased 52 Fiat CR.42 biplanes, accepting quantity of aircraft over the fact that they were an already outdated design. Hungary also attempted to invest in state-of-the-art German aircraft. Given its record though, Germany did not consider that Hungarian interests were in accordance with its own in southern Europe, especially with regards to oil-producing Romania, which was a vital resource for Germany’s civil and military economies. As such Germany’s assistance with Hungary’s rearmament programme was rather reluctant. A contract was signed for sale of the Heinkel He 112, but delays with production priorities and conflicts over other users left the order in limbo after 3 low powered B-1/U2 test aircraft had been supplied. In response Weiss Manfréd Steel and Metalworks received a licence for HE 112 production, and a Hungarian contract for 12 aircraft with upgraded engines. Delays now with engine delivery led to the construction project also stagnating, and in December 1939 the Hungarian plan for Heinkel 112’s was terminated.
Hungary now turned back to Italy, ordering 70 Reggione Re.2000, which were able to be supplied from an order rejected by the Italian military. Although a modern design the Re.2000 was of a problematic build quality, with leaking fuel tanks and poor controllability bugging the aircraft from its introduction.

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Even though the construction of the He 112 was cancelled in December 1939, Weiss Manfréd had already been working on a wooden-winged design based on the He 112. The resultant WM-23 was pushed into production, using the WM manufactured K-14 radial engine. The first prototype was painted metallic silver at the factory, earning it the name “Silver Arrow”, however a failure of a flight control led to the loss of the prototype during testing. With modification to the ailerons, construction of the initial batch continued, with the first aircraft entering squadron service in November. Due to the complexity of the new aircraft compared to the earlier Fiat biplanes, the second prototype was modified to become a two-seat trainer, as the model WM-23G.

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Hungary’s second largest industrial company, MÁVAG, who had modified the Re.2000’s to accept Hungarian weapons and equipment were also given design work for the WM-23, working to redesign the wooden wing to become all metal, and reworking the aircraft to accept the DB600-series engine.
Hungary had also been producing armoured vehicles for the army. After the Great War, the Hungarian police had been permitted armoured vehicles, and this had allowed the purchase of tankettes and light tanks from Italy. By the late 1930’s they had become obsolete, and so the Swedish Landsverk L-60 was selected for licence production as the 38M Toldi in 1940.

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While purchasing the initial L-60 in Sweden, Hungary also saw the L-62 anti-aircraft tank and chose to purchase a single vehicle and set up local production. With Hungarian modifications an initial order for 46 40M Nimród was placed in 1940. The 40M was fitted with a Hungarian built 40mm Bofors L/60 autocannon, and Hungarian doctrine deployed the vehicles in both the anti-aircraft and anti-armour roles.

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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: January 22nd, 2021, 12:46 am
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Romania Before Hitler’s War

Romania had nearly doubled in size in the aftermath of the Great War and the collapse of the Central Powers and Tsarist Russia. Surrounded by bitter neighbours Romania was involved in several military engagements in the period immediately after the War, and entered into military alliances to counter the multiple potential threats to her security. To counter Hungarian resurgence Romania entered into the Little Entente with Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, formed an alliance with Poland against Russian aggression, and in 1934 formed the Balkan Entente with Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey to defend against Bulgaria. In April 1939 Great Britain announced that it was extending its guarantee of protection from Germany given to Poland to include Romania and Greece.
Romania rearmament had gotten underway in 1936 with Czechoslovak investment and imported machinery. Until 1938 the vast majority of Romanian military hardware was imported from Czechoslovakia, with a small German component and almost nothing from Great Britain or France. Meanwhile British interest in Romanian oil was decreasing with interest in the cheaper American oilfields, while French investment was moving to new oilfields in Iraq.
Although a western-leaning democracy, in early 1938, King Carol II established a royal dictatorship and a new constitution was issued giving full powers to the King. King Carol tried hard to interest the British and French governments in investing more capital in Romania, where they already owned a significant share of Romanian oil. When he realized these powers were not interested in supporting Romania, he turned to Nazi Germany, with a treaty signed with Germany in March 1939 giving Germany virtual control over Romania’s economy.
In 1934 Romania received 49 PZL P.11b fighters and a single prototype P.11f. Licence construction by IAR produced a further 95 IAR P.11f’s to form the backbone of Romania’s air force in the mid 1930’s. By 1936 the Air Force had embarked on an expansion plan to have acquired an additional 406 aircraft by 1938. The first acquired were 5 of the updated PZL P.24E pattern aircraft, and IAR continued production of a further 25 aircraft as the IAR P.24E until late 1939.
France had been the supplier of large bombers to Romania since the Great War, and by the mid-1930’s Romania’s bomber force was still equipped with lumbering biplane bombers. In 1935 Romania received the first Potez 543, with a total of 8 aircraft being received. Whilst being a new design, the 543’s were rapidly rendered obsolete by technological advances, and were relegated to a transport role.

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Romania still needed to secure a more modern large bomber. In a break with tradition, an order was placed with Italian Savoia-Marchetti for their SM.79. Unsure about a three-engined aircraft, the twin-engined SM-79B was selected, but fitted with the Romanian built IAR K14 engines. By September 1938 22 of the order of 24 arrived, with 2 having been lost during delivery and replacements arriving later. The aircraft was a massive leap forward from the Potez Po.543 they replaced, and although enjoyed by their crews, their the engine power was insufficient for the aircraft. Consequently a further order was placed for 8 of the JIS-79B version with Jumo 211 D engines, to serve as the basis for Romanian licence production of another 36 aircraft fitted with Jumo engines as IAR JRS-79B’s.
With pressure to also “buy French” orders were placed with the only French manufacture able to provide a large bomber by ordering 10 Bloch MB.210 Bn4’s. The Bloch MB.210 had just entered series production in France, and although its performance was disappointing and was suffering from problems with the fitted engines it was available as one of the few aircraft that French industry could supply in excess of France’s own military requirements. The Bloch’s were quickly determined to be little better than the outdated aircraft they were supposed to replace and were soon withdrawn and replaced by the incoming Savioa-Marchetti’s.

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Early in 1938 an order was placed for 20 Potez Po 633B2 light bombers, modified for Romanian service. French production was slow, but by 1939 all had arrived, and an additional order was placed for a further 20. Events in France led to that order being impressed into French air force service though, with only 1 aircraft from this second batch being delivered by early 1940.

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In 1938 with European tensions rising, Romania embarked on an additional armament programme. Initially airfield infrastructure was upgraded and additional anti-aircraft artillery deployed. A second phase planned for an further 169 aircraft purchased by 1942, with an additional 96 bombers by 1944. This led to a Romanian purchasing delegation being sent to the major aircraft manufacturers of Europe to select fighters, bombers, and engines for licence production.
In England, the delegation visited several production facilities and displayed great interest in the new Spitfires, with the first production batch in construction. With the RAF requiring all aircraft under construction the Spitfire was unavailable for export, however Hawker was producing the Hurricane at a rate greater than domestic requirements and had approval to build for export. The Hawker Hurricane was chosen and an order made for 50 aircraft with delivery commencing at the end of 1939. However, with the British declaration of war against Germany in September 1939, deliveries of the Hurricanes was halted after only 12 aircraft had been delivered.
Two weeks later the delegation toured Germany’s aircraft manufacturers who were just as willing as the British to showcase their products. Thirty-two Heinkel He 111 H-3 were ordered, and although interest was also expressed in the Dorner Do 17 and Junkers Ju 87 neither was available for export as all production was for Luftwaffe needs. As a significant advance over the French bombers then in service, the He 111’s, when delivered in January 1940 they were organised into an elite "heavy" bomber unit, the 5th Bomber Group. Typical of aircraft imported into Romania, the Heinkels retained their delivery camouflage schemes until undergoing heavy maintenance, in this case the late-1930’s German grey and green splinter over pale blue.

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The Messerschmitt Bf-109 was also selected as the next generation fighter upgrade from the PZL’s, but the aircraft were not immediately available as all production was allocated to the Luftwaffe. Instead 30 He 112B fighters from cancelled export orders were available for immediate delivery, and so these were purchased as an interim measure until the Messerschmitt’s could be manufactured. That time came in December 1939, and an order was placed for 50 Bf 109E’s for delivery in late 1940.
Last stop on the sales tour was France. The delegation discovered that France was disconcerted with Romania’s purchase of German aircraft, while the delegation themselves were very disappointed by the poor state of French aircraft production, with French industry not displaying any sense of urgency. With even the Potez Po 633 order having missed its delivery deadlines no further Romanian orders were placed with French manufacturers.
Meanwhile, Romania’s local aircraft industry was also working to produce aircraft. While IAR had been licence manufacturing foreign-designed aircraft and aero-engines, their engineers had also been working to create indigenous combat aircraft. Further developing the Potez XXV, the IAR 37 light bomber first flew in 1937 and entered production the next year. Delays with the production of the IAR K14 engine led to the aircraft being re-engined with the lower powered BMW 132 as the IAR 38. By early 1939 the production problems with the IAR K14 engines were resolved, and the definitive model was now produced as the IAR 39.

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IAR had also been working on developing the PZL IAR P.24E into a frontline fighter for the 1940’s, the result being the IAR 80 fighter. The prototype first flew in April 1939, and with the arrival of the first He 112’s the IAR 80 was given a modern benchmark to gauge its performance and potential. In a series of flight tests with the Heinkel the IAR 80’s performance was impressive enough to ensure that no further Heinkels were ordered, and instead in December 1939 an order was placed for 100 IAR 80’s.


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Sheepster
Post subject: Posted: February 4th, 2021, 2:16 am
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Romania After The Invasion Of Poland

With the start of hostilities in September 1939 Britain’s delivery of Hurricanes was put on hold with only the first batch of 12 aircraft delivered. Instead to supplement Romania’s defence Britain sold 40 Bristol Blenheim Mk.I light bombers, however only 37 were received as 3 were lost during delivery. Although the Blenheims were no longer a first tier light bomber, their long-range abilities were utilised for reconnaissance duties along the borders of Romania’s hostile neighbours.
With the German assault on Poland in September 1939 the decision was made to not activate Romania’s alliance with Poland to bring Romania into the conflict, so as to leave the Romanian ports neutral and open to receive the promised Anglo-French support for Poland. This enabled the Poles to prepare the Polish-Romanian border region as their defensive fall-back, the “Romanian bridgehead”. However the Soviet assault from the east completely derailed Polish planning. With a war now on 2 fronts and with no prospect of Anglo-French relief, the defence of Poland was no longer possible. Faced with inevitable imminent defeat, the Polish military evacuated through Romania planning to reform in France and continue fighting. While personnel were given transit, the evacuating Polish aircraft and armour were abandoned once they had crossed the border into Romania. Although significant numbers of service personnel were evacuated, the Polish military in exile was now without equipment. Eventually, despite efforts to retrieve them by the Polish government in exile and both France and Britain, all the abandoned matériel was integrated into the Romanian military, either as operational equipment or parted out as the spares to keep the operational equipment serviceable.
Already in service with Romania were the PZL P.11, and P.24E fighters. Amongst the Polish refugee aircraft were numbers of the earlier P.7a, P.11a and P.11c aircraft. Although the PZL fighters were losing their relevance with the next generation of fighters already entering the Romanian inventory, the PZL’s were gladly taken in to join their Romanian stablemates. While the P.11’s were still combat capable, the P.7a’s were truly outdated and were relegated to become trainers. This was not a big reprieve for the P.11’s though, as both the Polish and Romanian P.11’s were also gradually phased out to become trainers as more capable fighter aircraft entered service.

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A large number of PZL light and medium bombers also made their way into Romania. Before hostilities Romania had been offered the PZL.43 light bomber, and updated export model of the PZL.23. The aircraft had been rejected in favour of the locally manufactured IAR 37, but now Romania found itself receiving 19 PZL.23’s. The aircraft were all overhauled before entering Romanian service late in 1940, as a part of the new bomber group formed specifically for the ex-Polish aircraft, Grupul 4.

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During its programme of armament buying Romania had placed an order for 30 PZL.37D’s for delivery in 1940, an order which had been paid for but then rendered moot by the collapse of Poland. With the evacuation of the Polish military, Romania now had a fleet of 27 PZL.37A’s and B’s delivered. The PZL.37’s were considered to be one of the most advanced bombers in the world and Romania considered their deployment into service vital for her own defence. Nineteen aircraft were rapidly impressed into squadron service in Grupul 4, with the remainder of the ex-Polish machines becoming spare parts.

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In late 1937 Romania had placed an order for 200 Renault R35 light infantry tanks. Industrial action and prioritising French military orders resulted in only 41 tanks being supplied before the invasion of Poland, and no further deliveries. With the fall of Poland, Polish armoured vehicles were also evacuated into Romania, and the Romanian army found itself with its R35 fleet expanded with an additional 34 new vehicles. The Romanian 2nd Armoured Regiment was expanded into 2 battalions to accommodate the new R35’s.

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Adjusted PZ.L37 crediting


Last edited by Sheepster on February 7th, 2021, 12:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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eswube
Post subject: Re: Manchester AUPosted: February 6th, 2021, 9:34 pm
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Nice stuff. But on Łoś Rhade should be credited too. :)
(and cockpit looks odd - IMHO change is for the worse)

P.S. What mistakes I've made with MB.210, that prompted You to draw it from scratch? ;)


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Sheepster
Post subject: Re: Manchester AUPosted: February 7th, 2021, 12:45 am
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Thanks @eswube, that crediting slipped through the keeper.
The cockpit glazing on the smaller models is awkward at best. Having the 3-pixel deep window frame (colour strip with 2 black borders) can be grossly exaggerated for a window pane that may be only a couple of pixels in size itself. I've been trying to reduce some to a darkened colour strip with a single black border, or just a single black border to try to keep the "look" better is scale, so concentrating on the size of the glass pane rather that the frame.
I've redrawn a couple of models from scratch as I've found the scaling has been out, the Renault R35 and Avia B.135 are examples of that (and then maybe my sources for dimensions are wrong). On some of the smaller models the internal detailing has been awkward and so I've redrawn those rather than fiddling through their guts, like the Avia B.543. Sometimes a slight rotation of the model (I assume from using a background source scanned at a couple of degrees angle) leads to a model slightly too off the vertical/horizontal axes to my eye. Again I've redrawn as its can be an impossible task to adjust that, like I've done with the Letov S-328.
Nothing horrible about your MB.210, the actual aircraft is a masterpiece of art deco in flight, and I just didn't like your slightly bent back and sharp cockpit windscreen, so I tried redrawing it with a different source. It came out almost identically, we really have differences only in how smaller features are stretched or compressed which really is probably just our own interpretation of the foreshortening process of FD scaling. I probably wasted effort on that model, but mediocre as the machine was in real life I like its looks.


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Post subject: Posted: February 12th, 2021, 4:37 am
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Second Vienna Award

With escalating tensions between Hungary and Romania, the two states entered into negotiations over their mutual borders on the 16th August 1940 in the Romanian city of Drobeta-Turnu Severin. After almost 2 weeks the discussions were broken off with no headway having been made from Hungary’s claim of 69,000km2 of territory.
While it dealt with its own internal political readjustments, Germany was in no position to either militarily or economically force a permanent resolution. Hungary was becoming increasingly militant in its irredentism, and the potential for the Soviets to move in to Romania and its oilfields as a “protection measure” against Hungarian aggression was a threat that Germany had to negate at all costs. Italy, with its own territorial and economic interests in the region was also weary of giving the Soviets an excuse to penetrate further into the Balkans.
Together Germany and Italy proposed an arbitration that would be characterised in Romania as the “Vienna Dictate”. Essentially they adopted the position that Hungary had to be placated in its demands so as to defuse the escalating tensions, with Romania being offered incentives to acquiesce to the claims, ceding nearly 44,000km2 to Hungary, and at Italian insistence Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria.
King Carol was horrified at the position Romania had been manoeuvred in to. Surrounded on all sides by states looking only to seize territory, and with no allies able to offer assistance the position was bleak. Frantic attempts were made to backpedal on the renounced protections from Great Britain and France, but neither considered Romania to be within their spheres of immediate interest, and neither were willing to offer any guarantees to Romania, although Britain did ship the remaining 38 undelivered Hurricanes, with an offer to sell another 50 Hurricanes from Canadian production. Although the Romanian military was strong, any conflict would be one of defence and requiring defence from potential attacks from every direction, already Romanian fighters had been interdicting patrolling Hungarian and Soviet aircraft.

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On the 31st August, King Carol officially accepted the terms of the Award, with Romania being given 14 days to evacuate the ceded territory, and on the 5th September the first Hungarian troops crossed the old frontier, to have completed the take-over by the 13th. With a display of pageantry, the Hungarian Regent led the advancing troops on a white stallion, with Hungarian national pride reaching fever pitch.
The take-over was not without incident, as several skirmishes and civilian massacres were conducted by the Hungarians, Romanians, and civil populations as ethnic tensions flared and refugees and former refugees moved between the states.
Hungary was now in a buoyant mood with strong support for the Regent and the military. With Germany still not providing Hungary with its desired level of military support, Hungary’s relations with Italy strengthened, with Hungary and Italy entering into a formal alliance in September 1940. With its territorial claims to both the north and east accepted, Hungarian attention now moved to its southern and western claims in Yugoslavia.
With this second round of massive territorial loses without a military response, the power of King Carol II was shattered. The Nationalist Iron Guard and the Romanian military formed an uneasy alliance and forced the abdication of Carol in favour of his son, who came to the throne as King Michael. With the promised German military aid as the only positive on the diplomatic horizon, the new Romanian government moved closer to Germany.
Having learnt its lessons from the Fall Gelb, Germany had started removing ineffective equipment from its frontline forces, leading to an ability to export weaponry to nations still trying to rearm, and Romania was one of the states most anxious to acquire aircraft like the Dornier Do 17’s and Junkers Ju 87’s that were being phased out. The Stuka’s had shown themselves to be potent against soft-skinned targets, but against armour or emplacements they had achieved little in the West. An initial repurposing trialled the fitment of Rheinmetal’s 3.7cm autocannon on underwing pods of the Ju 87 B-1 to create an anti-tank ground-attack aircraft rather than a divebomber. Romania had already entered production of the 3.7cm autocannon, and so was considered to be a vital partner in developing the aircraft and operational doctrine. Germany immediately supplied 50 Stuka’s to Romania, and sent a training detachment of experienced Stuka crews as instructors and advisors for the Junkers “panzer cracker” project, also serving to reinforce Germany’s protective umbrella over Romania and its resources.

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In a display of friendship, the Reichsmarine was also committed by their new political masters to demonstrating Germano-Romanian partnership. The new German battleship Bismarck and its support vessels were very publicly sailed to Constanța to conduct Bismarck’s sea and gunnery trials, a move strongly opposed by the German naval command. Although not counter to the terms of the Armistice, the deployment of a new German capital ship through the Mediterranean Sea raised serious concerns to Britain, France and Italy, but was considered politically vital to demonstrate German willingness to defend Romania, and its oil. British and French vessels were deployed to assist in Bismark’s progress, “escorting” the German flotilla to the Dardanelles, and “standing by to render all assistance necessary” in the event Bismark had not been able to complete the shakedown voyage.


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Post subject: Posted: February 18th, 2021, 1:22 am
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Bulgaria

As an ally of the Central Powers, Bulgaria had suffered through territorial loses, reparations, and a reduced military under the terms of the Treaty of Neuilly after the Great War. Bulgaria remained a poor, predominantly agrarian society, and although Bulgarian citizens looked to Russia as their "big brother" who had liberated them from Ottoman rule in 1878, the aftermath of the Great War meant that politically there was little inter-state friendship, and Soviet communism gained little traction.
In February 1934 the Balkan Entente was formed by Romania, Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia to maintain the political status quo and renounce territorial claims against other Balkan states, aimed specifically at Bulgaria’s revisionist claims to Macedonia and Dobrudja. Although invited, Bulgaria did not sign into the Entente and was politically isolated from all her neighbours.
In May 1934 a military coup, led to a group called the “Military League” seizing power, but without any broad support. In January 1935 Tsar Boris III led a counter-coup and established a civilian royal dictatorship. Under the new government Bulgaria thrived and underwent a period of prosperity and growth. Although Bulgaria had protested the restrictions placed on it by the Treaty of Neuilly, it had maintained a good record of abiding by them. However it now began to evade them by buying military equipment from Germany. Bulgaria argued, with the support of the United States, that the League of Nations, which was designed to protect weak and disarmed states, was not powerful enough to protect Bulgaria. Even Britain adopted a "blind eye" policy and pressured the Entente and France to do the same to prevent Bulgaria from falling under the influence of the German or Italy.
Germany pre-empted aircraft purchasing, with a personal gift to Tsar Boris III from Herman Göring as Reich Aviation Minister, of a complete air force; 12 Arado Ar 65 fighters, 12 Heinkel He 51 fighters, 12 Dornier Do 11 bombers and 12 Heinkel He 45B reconnaissance aircraft. Although these types were now surplus to Germany’s requirements they were more than adequate for Bulgaria to start building its air force.

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By 31 July 1938 Bulgaria signed the Salonika Agreement with the Balkan Entente. All parties agreed to a policy of non-aggression, although Bulgaria was not forced to abandon its territorial claims. The arms restrictions imposed on Bulgaria after the Great War were finally lifted, and both Bulgaria and Turkey were able to occupy their demilitarised border zones.
In early 1939 a Bulgarian delegation had visited the former Czechoslovakian aircraft manufacturers to purchase newer aircraft designs. The Avia B-71 bomber, licence built Tupolev SB-2M-100, was selected and 24 ordered, and considerable interest was shown in the Avia B-534 biplane fighter and the new B-35 fighter prototype. The B-35 aircraft was undergoing initial flight testing and was considered suitable for local Bulgarian production by the delegation. The German annexation of western Czechoslovakia put a hold on further negotiations, but once the political landscape stabilised Bulgaria returned to investigating options for aircraft purchases.
With the demobilising of former Czechoslovak Air Force aircraft with the Czech lands integration into the Reich, Germany placed many of the aircraft types that Bulgaria had wanted up for sale. Bulgaria made a large purchase and again as it had with Göring’s gift, built itself a new air force in a single stroke. Czech-built types from the obsolescent Aero MB.200 bombers, Avia B-534 fighters and Letov Š-328 reconnaissance aircraft were purchased for immediate delivery, but Bulgaria still wanted to produce its own frontline fighter based on the Avia B-35.

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A sizeable Bulgarian technical delegation set up at the Avia facility to train in the design and manufacturing processes for the fixed gear B-35, which soon was modified to become the retractable geared B-135. With the cancellation of Avia’s other aircraft projects work on the B-135 progressed rapidly, even with the second B-35 prototype being written-off in a landing accident by a Bulgarian pilot. However production priorities dictated from Berlin soon made it obvious that Avia would not be able to supply the projected 12 production aircraft or the engines required for the licence production in a timeframe suitable to Bulgaria. Instead Bulgaria modified their requirements from Avia to only supply 2 pattern aircraft, being the B-35 and B-135 prototypes, while the tooling and components required for production of the aircraft as the DAR 11 Swallow were shipped to the DAR factory in Bulgaria.
The engine was the weak point in the construction process with Avia not being able to supply the required Hispano-Suiza engines. French-built engines were also impossible with France’s own supply issues, but the Soviet Union saw an opportunity to extend its friendly influence in Bulgaria and agreed to sell the Klimov M-103P engines, it’s own licence produced version of the Hispano Suiza, propellers and ShVAK autocannons. The new engines delivered almost 15% more horsepower and required a redesign of the aircraft tail. The first locally assembled DAR 11 took to the skies at the end of December 1940, with an initial production run of 50 aircraft planned.

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Post subject: Posted: February 24th, 2021, 6:51 am
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Greece

With its position as a leading member of the Balkan Entente, and with traditional hostile neighbours in Bulgaria, Turkey and Italy, Greece had been surprisingly reticent to prepare itself militarily into the 1930’s. After an internationally condemned war against the virtually unarmed Bulgaria in 1925, the Greek Republic moved further from its democratic constitution with a succession of military coups bringing various generals to the role president.
With the forming of Balkan Entente in early 1934 Greece assumed a leading role in the southern Balkans, and in 1935 after another military coup the monarchy was restored and King George II returned to the throne of Greece. While the King established a democratic parliament, the elections of 1935 resulted in the communists holding the balance of power in a hung parliament. With royal approval Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas suspended parliament and established a new nationalist regime, styling himself Archigos, being dictator, commander-in-chief, minister of foreign affairs, and in 1938 also minister of education. One of the first priorities of the new government was building Greek defences in the face of growing international tensions.
In August 1936, a Greek businessman purchased 2 Avia B-534 which were donated to the Royal Hellenic Air Force to found a modern fighter corps, as only 4 outdated Avia BH-33 aircraft comprised Greece’s frontline fighter corps. In September 1936 Greece ordered 36 of the new PZL P.24 fighters from. Fresh from the factory, the PZL’s were delivered in 1937, finally giving Greece a defensive air force. By 1938 another Greek businessman had purchased 2 Gloster Gladiator’s from the factory and also presented them to the Greek air force. Interestingly neither gift led to further purchases.

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Instead in 1938 Greece turned its purchasing attention to reconnaissance and light bombing types from Germany, France and Great Britain, ordering new aircraft but requiring them to be custom models.
To replace her aging Fairey IIIF seaplanes Greece ordered 12 Germano-Swiss Dornier Do 22K seaplanes. The Greeks had preferred to have either Gnome-Rhône or Bristol radial engines fitted, however as the Hispano-Suiza engines had already been flown on the prototype they were accepted. The Dorniers were the second batch completed after the Yugoslavian order, designated Do 22Kg, and the first aircraft were delivered at the end of 1938, with the remainder in early 1939. The aircraft were supplied with additional landing gear sets to allow the aircraft to be reconfigured as landplanes.
From Henschel the Hs 126 was also ordered for purchase, although the Greeks initially wanted a manufacturing licence. The Greek model was modified to fit a second pilot’s fuselage gun, and the observers gun was not factory fitted as the guns and mountings were to be installed in Greece. Even with Germany’s military actions in late 1939 the aircraft were delivered to Greece in December 1939, although a further purchase requested in May 1940 was blocked by the German government.

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Other purchases went to Britain and France, but with both nations committed to production for their own forces, Greece had left it too late to have these orders filled before both nations were at war with Germany. In January 1938 an order was placed for 24 Potez 633 B2 Grec light bombers, with the stipulation that they be delivered before the end of the year, and again the aircraft were custom modified for Greek service. However French industrial output was not up to the task, and only 13 aircraft had been delivered, with one being fatally crashed enroute, before Franco-German hostilities in September 1939 led to the remaining 11 aircraft being impounded and impressed into French service.
Likewise although a British order for 12 Avro Anson Mark.I’s was filled, an order for 24 Bristol Blenheim Mark.IV light bombers was held with only 12 delivered while the remaining 12 were impressed into the RAF and never left Britain. The aircraft that were delivered were a custom Greek version without bombing and radio systems fitted and so unsuitable to be integrated into the RAF.

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Like the French, the Greeks pinned their national defence on a fixed defensive line, a combination of natural rugged terrain along the Albanian/Yugoslav borders, and along the Bulgarian border a constructed line of fortifications: the Metaxas Line. Construction of the Metaxas Line had commenced in 1936, but progressed slowly.
With its rugged northern countryside motorised units were not a priority for the Greek army, and in fact very few armoured vehicles were considered for service by Greece. In 1931 Greece had purchased a pair of Vickers 6-ton light tanks for evaluation, but it was only with the escalating international tensions in 1940 that Greece finally ordered 14 Vickers 6-ton Mark VI’s to form an armoured corps.


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