Author Topic: Eastern Observations Pt.1: Saiman 200/I  (Read 298 times)

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Offline comrade harps

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Eastern Observations Pt.1: Saiman 200/I
« on: May 15, 2019, 06:00:35 am »

Saiman 200/I
a/c 5, Spanish Blue Division Flight, Italian Air Force Expeditionary Corps in Russia, Regia Aeronautica 
Russia, Socialist Union, January 1943

After their defeat in the Spanish Civil War, Franco's Fascist forces regrouped in Italy, Mussolini inviting them to recreate the Hispanic Legions of the Roman Empire. Several Spanish units were formed for service in Italy?s army, navy and air forces, the most prominent of which was the Blue Division which fought as part of the Italian Army in Russia. 

The Italian Air Force Expeditionary Corps in Russia included fighter, bomber, reconnaissance and transport aircraft, the Blue Division bringing having their own semi-independent Flight within its structure. This included a variety aircraft including several Saiman 200 biplanes, used for liaison, battlefield reconnaissance and artillery spotting. Designed as a trainer, the Saiman 200 featured tandem open cockpits, the Blue Division taking 3 of these planes to the Socialist Union in August 1941. Although Franco successfully arranged for the Blue Division to experience the campaign's first winter regrouping along the Amalfi Coast, he figured that he might not be so lucky for the campaign?s second winter. As such, he issued orders to winterise his forces,
having them train with the Italian Alpine divisions, prepare winter clothing and such like. 

Having experienced the significance of properly coordinated airpower in Spain, Franco made sure that the Blue Division had its own aviation assets. Although part of the Regia Aeronautica, the Spanish Blue Division Flight was assigned permanently to the Blue Division and was mostly made up of Spanish exiles. One of the Flight?s steps to prepare for the northern winter was to adopt a winterised version of the Saiman 200. To create this, they arranged for the delivery of 4 Saiman 200/S ​instrument trainers, a model which featured a heavily braced rear-sliding cockpit canopy with a retractable curtain for the student pilot. The curtain was removed and heating, underwing flare tubes and additional radios were added to produce the Saiman 200/I (I for inverno = winter). 

These planes were in service with the Blue Division when the Red Army launched the Ostrogozhsk?Rossosh Offensive as part of Operation Little Saturn to encircled and push back Axis forces along the River Don north of Volgograd. Serving alongside the Italian 8th Army's Alpini (Mountain) Corps, the Blue Division held their ground against Red Army attacks but was outflanked to the north and the south and forced to break out from the enemy?s enveloping pincer movements. Retreating through contested territory with Germain, Hungarian and Italian troops, the Blue Division was instrumental in defeating a series of Red Army defensive lines established to their rear. A critical asset the Spaniards brought to the withdrawal was the coordination conducted with the Division?s Saiman biplanes, whose pilots scouted for the Axis troops and marked targets for Italian and Hungarian fighters with flares.

One unmodified Saiman 200 and three 200/Iwere available at the start of the battle on 13 January 1943, with just a single 200/I still airworthy when the retreating Spaniards made their way to friendly lines on the 31st. Samain 200/I Red 3 crashed in adverse weather on the 17th, killing the pilot.  Samain 200/I Red 4 was shot down by ground fire near Nikolayevka on the 23rd, its pilot surviving an emergency landing and successfully exiting the plane before it burnt out; he later hitched a ride in the open cockpit Saimain 200 Red 2. This plane was itself destroyed on the 27th in a takeoff accident. Only Red 5 survived the campaign and was returned to the Italians at the end of February when they withdrew from the Socialist Union.  Having distinguished themselves in the overwise disastrous retreat, the Blue Division transferred to German patronage for the remainder of the war.

This aircraft was painted in a winter camouflage with the standard Regia Aeronautica's wing and flank roundels; the rudder painted with the red-yellow-red bands of the Spanish Nationalist flag and the wheel hubs were painted in the Falangist blue of the Blue Division. Next to the individual aircraft number (in red) was a black saltire, which was a simplified Cross of Burgundy.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 06:07:09 am by comrade harps »

Offline NARSES2

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Re: Eastern Observations Pt.1: Saiman 200/I
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2019, 06:05:53 am »
Interesting model and an even more interesting back story  :thumbsup:
Decals my @r$e!