Content description. . On June 10, 1942, exactly 70 years ago, the Seige of Malta began. [1][note 1] The condition of the aircraft was no better than it had been for Calendar; the essential long-range fuel tanks still fitted badly and, consequently, leaked. Beurling never flew a fighter for Israel, however. Now incapable of reaching friendly territory, he jettisoned the tank and circled until the deck was clear before landing back on the WASP with full authorisation of the ship's Captain. [3], On Malta, lessons had been learnt from the disaster of Operation Calendar and detailed preparations had been made to get the Spitfires airborne before they could become targets. In April 1942, I was an ensign on the aircraft carrier USS Wasp off the coast of Great Britain when, at the request of the British government, we received orders to ferry British Spitfires to the island of Malta. Tragically, when the Spitfires reached Malta and had either landed, or were in the process of landing, German and Italian planes were waiting for them. . In 1942 the odds were raised in favor of Malta’s defenders when, on March 7, 15 Spitfire Mark Vbs flew in from the carrier HMS Eagle and joined 249 Squadron. 249 Squadron flying the Supermarine Spitfire VC. . Naval Reserve with the rank of Commander on 1 September 1974. Supermarine Spitfire Mark VB(T), EP257, being operated by No. After loading 47 British Spitfires aboard on 13 April, we took off into the Atlantic at a speed of 25 knots, ringed all the while by destroyers for protection. The entire ship felt a great sense of pride – not only for a job well done but because we had done our duty and accomplished our mission. Turning the tables, they released the belly tanks and engaged the enemy with a full complement of fuel. 507 likes. It would have been far too risky for us to take them all the way to Malta. See more ideas about Malta, Safi, The spitfires. Spitfires taking off from the USS Wasp on April 20, 1942, during Operation Calendar. Here, at last, was a British fighter with the speed and firepower to match the Me-109. [4], HMS Welshman had been risked on a high speed run to Malta, carrying, apart from food and general stores, 100 spare Merlin aircraft engines and RAF ground crews trained on Spitfires. A member of the groundcrew runs alongside to warn the pilot of obstacles ahead. . She unloaded amidst the mayhem of the 10 May air raid (see below) and was damaged by falling debris. Which is precisely what happened. British Royal Air Force Spitfire V fighter takes off from the carrier, after a 200-foot run, May 1942. The operation was substantially a repeat of the earlier Operation Calendar, in which the American aircraft carrier USS Wasp had flown off 48 British Spitfire fighter reinforcements to Malta. . Hailing originally from Canada, after hard training and combat across the Channel, Beurling finally made it to Malta in the summer of 1942. This book is dedicated completely to covering the markings and colors of Spitfire Mk Vs on Malta in 1942. Spitfires over Malta is the companion volume to Hurricanes over Malta published in 2002. [3], The defenders, further reinforced by more aircraft deliveries during May and June and aided by the transfer of Luftwaffe aircraft to Russia, retained their initiative thereafter.[1]. There was considerable interchange of aircraft between … ### Spitfires arrived just in the critical phase of the Axis bombing offensive over Malta, which reached its apex between 20 March and 28 April 1942. [2], USS Wasp returned to Glasgow on 29 April 1942, where she loaded 47 Spitfires Mk Vc at King George V dock at Shieldhall.  Several Rolls complete this large study of Malta Spitfire Operations including Roll Of Honour, Spitfire Aces Malta, Combat Claims, Spifires in Malta by Serial Number with details of fate. President Roosevelt agreed at once. Another, Canadian P/O Jerrold Alpine Smith, found after take-off that his long range fuel tank was u/s (failed to draw). The aircraft were desperately needed to bolster the island's defence against strong Axis air raids. Malta: The Spitfire Year 1942 - Christopher Shores & Brian Cull with Nicola Malizia - Grub Street . So we all thought that this time would be it. The AOC decided that if the aircraft arrived in… Wasp's captain, Reeves, refused to continue loading until the fault had been fixed on some tanks and then agreed to perform the remaining work with his own personnel. The British had sent their destroyers out to clear a path for us. On the morning of 9 May, 64 Spitfires destined for Malta took off from the decks of the carriers USS Wasp and HMS Eagle and, this time, Malta was ready for them. 126 Squadron RAF, taxies along the dusty perimeter track at Luqa, Malta, for a sortie. A further 17 Spitfires, delayed from previous "Club Runs", were transported by HMS Eagle, which joined Force W on 7/8 May from Gibraltar. On the 11th August 1942, Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Wellum DFC, having just taken off from the deck of HMS Furious, leads his section of gathering Spitfires on the long journey to Malta.