State Aircraft Factory (Greece)
The State Aircraft Factory of Greece, usually known through the acronym KEA (Greek: Κρατικό Εργοστάσιο Αεροπλάνων) is the most historic Greek aircraft manufacturer, originally known as the EAF (Εργοστάσιο Αεροπλάνων Φαλήρου, "Phaliron Aircraft Factory").
The decision to establish an aircraft manufacturing company was taken in 1917, but the wars that followed delayed its foundation until 1925. It was based in Phaliron near Piraeus (the same area where the AEKKEA-RAAB aircraft maker was later headquartered) and technology and initial management were provided by British Blackburn Aircraft Limited, a company selected as a partner by the Greek military. The first type produced by the factory was the T3 Velos, designed by the British company.
In 1927 an all-Greek EAF design was introduced (although according to other sources, a British engineer was a part of the design team), the Chelidon (Swallow) multi-purpose military aircraft. It used a Salmson 120 hp engine and had a maximum speed of 150 km/h. However, only one was built for the Greek Navy, as it was considered inferior to alternative types. Later, the factory produced a series of aircraft types under license, including numbers of Avro 504 aircraft (504N and 504O models), a version of the Armstrong Whitworth Atlas (featuring certain modifications from the original Armstrong-Whitworth model) and the Avro 621 Tutor. At least 61 Tutors were produced, with a rate of seven per month in early 1940, as part of Greece's preparations after the outbreak of WWII.
The company had been fully nationalized since January 1938, when the name KEA was officially used. Preparations for the production of the PZL P.24, the main fighter used by the Greek Air Force at the time, as well as the Henschel Hs 126K-6 light bomber (for which an order of 90 units had been made to KEA) were never completed due to the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War in October 1940. Thus, the only KEA-produced type that saw action in World War II was the 621 Tutor (in addition to training, a number was incorporated in combat squadrons as liaison aircraft). Production also covered other areas, including bombs, and specialized parts and tools. During Greece's occupation by the Axis powers the KEA facilities were used by the German Luftwaffe for technical support, while airport infrastructure, where some of its facilities were located, became targets of Allied bombing.
After the war KEA divisions produced a number of gliders but it eventually focused on maintenance work for the Greek Air Force with only limited construction activity - which went to the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) when the latter was founded. Nonetheless, KEA has produced since the 1990s a number of Pegasus UAVs, developed by HAI and a Greek State Research Institute. The historic company survives to date, incorporated into the Greek military command.
Aircraft types produced
(Years in parentheses indicate starting of production)
- EAF Blackburn T.3/T.3A Velos (1926). Reconnaissance, training, bomber, designed by Blackburn. 12 built.
- EAF Chelidon (1927). Trainer, surveillance, developed in Greece. 1 built (out of 18 initially ordered).
- EAF Atlas (1931). A lower-cost derivative of the Armstrong Whitworth Atlas army co-operation aircraft, with changes in wing structure, engine and propeller. Proven inferior to the original, 10 built.
- EAF Avro 504 (1934). Trainer (N and O versions). Unknown number built.
- Zoegling glider (1937). 4 built.
- KEA Avro 621 (1938). Trainer and (during WWII) liaison aircraft. At least 61 built.
- Vrona2 glider (1939). 10 built.
- Schneider SG-38 glider (1953). 3 built.
- Cavka glider (1958). 10 built.
- E1-79 Pegasus (small number produced in the 1990s). UAV designed by Hellenic Aerospace Industry and Hellenic Air Force Research Institute, introduced in 1982.
- Pegasus II (2005). UAV, improved version of Pegasus. 16 units built (or under construction) to date.
- Jane's "All the World's Aircraft" (1928 edition)
- L.S. Skartsis, "Greek Vehicle & Machine Manufacturers 1800 to present: A Pictorial History", Marathon (2012) ISBN 978-960-93-4452-4 (eBook)
- Official Hellenic Air Force site (info about KEA)
- Gliders in Greece, by Kostas Pikros (in Greek)