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Johnny Plagis. Inscription reads - "Hello Woody - Plagis here. Red section airbourne. Listening out".
Woody (Woodhall) was the air traffic controller who directed fighters onto incoming enemy aircraft.
Photo courtesy of Martin Woodhall

Initial flights of Spitfires into Malta encountered a problem in taking off from HMS Eagle as the flight deck was only 660 feet long. To get over this wooden wedges were inserted between the flap & the wing to lock flaps down half way. Pilots would lower their flaps fully on becoming airbourne to drop the wedges into the sea.
On 7th March 1942 the first 15 Spitfires arrived from Algiers on HMS Eagle. These aircraft landed on Ta Qali & were operational on the 10th March.
On 21st March HMS Eagle returned & delivered a further 9 Spitfires to the Island.
On March 29th HMS Eagle delivered another 7 Spitfires.

Operation Calendar - HMS Wasp a US carrier took over from this point & collected 47 brand-new Spitfires Mk. VC from the Clyde (Greenock?). The torpedo & dive bomber aircraft from Wasp were offloaded here. Her Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters were left onboard to cover the launch of the Spitfires. Launch position was reached on 20th April.
Unfortunately German radar picked up this delivery & most of the aircraft were destroyed by Ju 88's (Stuka) dive bombers at Ta Qali.leaving only 7 aircraft serviceable.

Operation Bowery on 9 May, USS Wasp and the newly repaired HMS Eagle delivered 64 Spitfire Mk. VC to Malta. Only one aircraft was lost piloted by Sgt/Pilot Herrington whose aircraft lost power on take off & plunged into the sea.
Another non delivery by Sgt/Pilot Smith who mistakenly dropped his long range fuel tank. He returned to the carrier & went into the record book as the first landing of a Spitfire on a carrier.
On arrival at Ta Qali 2 mechanics & 2 soldiers refueled & rearmed each aircraft & got them airborne again in only 6 minutes. Experienced Malta pilots crewed the aircraft.
Although the film 'Malta Story' elaborated a little the Spitfires did shoot down 2 Cant bombers & 3 MC 202 fighters.

Between May - June HMS Eagle delivered 142 aircraft of which 135 reached Malta.

In July & August HMS Eagle and HMS Furious delivered 125 Spitfires.

Canons were fitted to these Spitfires but these shells were in short supply & one from each wing were removed to save ammunition.
Many modifications were made to Spitfires supplied to Malta including carburettor, windscreen & propellor to increase speed. The ME 109 still had superiority on speed though.

On the 25th October new long range tanks were fitted carrying 170 gallons which meant aircraft could fly non stop from Gibraltar to Malta. Only 15 aircraft were delivered by this means before the siege was lifted on Malta.

Five Squadrons of Spitfires were based on Malta in 1942; 2 at Luqa; 2 at Ta Qali & 1 at Hal Far. These from Squadrons 126, 185, 229, 249 and 1435.

Spitfire preserved in the Aviation Museum, Ta Qali, Malta.
Photo courtesy of Michael Sanderson.

Spitfires burning after a raid. Unsure which airfield or date.
Photo courtesy of Dave Charles

Possibly PP-H flown by Wing Co.Peter Prosser Hanks. Photo could be taken on Luqa airfield.
Photo courtesy of Charles E. Mac Kay

Spitfire thought to be from 185 Squadron in safety pen

Spitfire 5C being loaded with practice bombs at Ta-Kali.
Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Mason

Spitfire burning after German attack

Rearming Spitfire in safety pen

Spitfire Mark IX from 185 squadron.
Photo courtesy of Brian Chauchi.

Spitfire in safety pen. Mk V. 1435 Sqdn Luqu & Safi July 1942 - Oct 43.
Photo courtesy of John Pearson.

Alan Laing, 185 Squadron. Hal Far.
Photo courtesy of Brian Chauchi.

Spitfire dressed up as a night fighter.
Photo courtesy of Brian Chauchi.

Spitfire cockpit, Malta.
Photo courtesy of Brian Chauchi.

Spitfire over launch, Malta.
Photo courtesy of Brian Chauchi.

Spitfire EF 593, Malta.
Photo courtesy of Brian Chauchi.

Changing a wheel of a Spitfire.
Photo courtesy of Dave Powell.


Spitfire taking off from the carrier HMS Eagle. This was one of the first 15 Spitfires to land on Malta.
Photo courtesy of Peter Marrow.



Damaged Spitfire in pen.
Photo courtesy of Chris Rukin.

Spitfire in pen. Photo courtesy of Chris Rukin.

Damaged Spitfire at unknown location.
Photo courtesy of Chris Rukin.

Photo courtesy of Chris Rukin.

Four Spitfires. Photo courtesy of Chris Rukin.

Wing section showing recent rearming.
Photo courtesy of Chris Rukin.

Ground crew refuelling Spitfire.
Photo courtesy of Dave Prince. His father Jack Prince is shown on the wing facing the camera.

References Amazing site detailing all spitfires made with their histories. I could only get the 'Productions' page down at the time of browsing but this contains the lists of aircraft. The Spitfire Society Page containing loads of links to other sites