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The Battle for Greece and Crete (April - May 1941)

The Battle for Greece and Crete (April - May 1941)

The Battle of Crete (German: Luftlandeschlacht um Kreta) was a battle during World War II on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of May 20th, 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code-name Unternehmen Merkur ("Operation Mercury"). Greek and Allied forces, along with Cretan civilians, defended the island.

After one day of fighting, the Germans had suffered appalling casualties and none of their objectives had been achieved. The next day, through miscommunication and the failure of Allied commanders to grasp the situation, Maleme airfield in western Crete fell to the Germans, enabling them to fly in reinforcements and overwhelm the defenders. The battle lasted for about ten days.

The Battle of Crete was unprecedented in three respects: it was the first mainly airborne invasion; it was the first time the Allies made significant use of intelligence from the deciphered German Enigma code; and it was the first time invading German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population. In light of the heavy casualties suffered by the parachutists, Adolf Hitler forbade further large scale airborne operations. However, the Allies were impressed by the potential of paratroopers and started to build their own airborne divisions. This was the first battle where the Fallschirmjagers ("hunters from the sky") were used on a massive scale.

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German Arado Ar 196A-3 Shipboard Reconnaissance Floatplane - Seeaufklarungsgruppe 125, Suda Bay, Crete, 1941 German Arado Ar 196A-3 Shipboard Reconnaissance Floatplane - Seeaufklarungsgruppe 125, Suda Bay, Crete, 1941 (1:72 Scale)

The Ar 196 was a shipboard reconnaissance aircraft built by the German firm Arado starting in 1936. The next year it was selected as the winner of a design contest, and became the standard aircraft of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) throughout World War II.

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German Junkers Ju 87B Stuka Dive-Bomber - 7/Stukageschwader 77, Balkans Campaign, 1941 German Junkers Ju 87B Stuka Dive-Bomber - 7/Stukageschwader 77, Balkans Campaign, 1941 (1:48 Scale)

During the early to mid-stages of the Second World War, the Stuka (short for "sturzkampfflugzeug" or dive-bomber) struck terror in the hearts and minds of soldiers and civilians alike. The Stuka was a rugged machine, designed to swoop down and destroy its target using 500-lb bombs or tear into them using 37mm flak guns mounted underneath the wings.

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German Junkers Ju 88A-10 Medium-Bomber - II./Lehrgeschwader I, Crete, 1942 German Junkers Ju 88A-10 Medium-Bomber - II./Lehrgeschwader I, Crete, 1942 (1:72 Scale)

The Luftwaffe's Junkers Ju 88 was a twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Among the most versatile planes of the war, it was used as a bomber, close-support aircraft, nightfighter, torpedo bomber and reconnaissance aircraft.

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RAF Bristol Blenheim Mk. I Light Bomber - No. 211 Squadron, Paramythia, Greece, 1940 RAF Bristol Blenheim Mk. I Light Bomber - No. 211 Squadron, Paramythia, Greece, 1940 (1:72 Scale)

Bristol Aeroplane's Blenheim was a British high-speed light bomber used extensively in the early days of the Second World War. It was later adapted into a successful heavy fighter. A Canadian-made variant named the Bolingbroke was used as an anti-Submarine and training aircraft.

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German Junkers Ju 52-3m Tri-Motor Transport - 2/Kampfgeschwader zur besonderen Verwendung 1, Milos, Greece, 1941 German Junkers Ju 52-3m Tri-Motor Transport - 2/Kampfgeschwader zur besonderen Verwendung 1, Milos, Greece, 1941 (1:72 Scale)

Like the USAF C-47, the Junkers Ju 52 tri-motor was first built in the 1930s and remained in service for more than a quarter century. It made its maiden flight in April 1931, and three years later a heavy bomber variant entered service with the German Luftwaffe.

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German Junkers Ju 52 Tri-Motor Transport - 4U+NH 2/Kampfgeschwader zur besonderen Verwendung 1, Operation Merkur, Crete 1941 (1:72 Scale) German Junkers Ju 52 Tri-Motor Transport - 4U+NH 2/Kampfgeschwader zur besonderen Verwendung 1, Operation Merkur, Crete 1941 (1:72 Scale)

Like the USAF C-47, the Junkers Ju 52 tri-motor was first built in the 1930s and remained in service for more than a quarter century. It made its maiden flight in April 1931, and three years later a heavy bomber variant entered service with the German Luftwaffe.

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German Junkers Ju 52-3m Tri-Motor Troop Transport - I./KGrzb V 172, Crete Campaign, 1941 German Junkers Ju 52-3m Tri-Motor Troop Transport - I./KGrzb V 172, Crete Campaign, 1941 (1:48 Scale)

Like the USAF C-47, the Junkers Ju 52 tri-motor was first built in the 1930s and remained in service for more than a quarter century. It made its maiden flight in April 1931, and three years later a heavy bomber variant entered service with the German Luftwaffe.

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German Junkers Ju 52-3m g4e Troop Transport - IV./KGZV1, Balkans, 1941 German Junkers Ju 52-3m g4e Troop Transport - IV./KGZV1, Balkans, 1941 (1:48 Scale)

Like the USAF C-47, the Junkers Ju 52 tri-motor was first built in the 1930s and remained in service for more than a quarter century. It made its maiden flight in April 1931, and three years later a heavy bomber variant entered service with the German Luftwaffe.

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