By the end of 1941, following its participation in the Battle of Britain, 249 Squadron was posted to Malta. Having been informed that its pilots would be required to fly from the deck of an aircraft carrier, intensive practice flights took place with two Hurricanes fitted with long-range tanks, making shortened take-off runs from an airfield runway. The following month, having been ferried to Gibraltar, the aircraft were off-loaded on to the Ark Royal and all twenty safely reached Malta – an area dubbed a fighter pilot’s paradise.
This was the beginning of 249’s adventure in the defence of Malta. Spitfires would follow early in 1942 and by the time it moved to a new theatre of operations, 249 had claimed 245 air victories, producing ace pilots such as ‘Screwball’ Beurling, ‘Laddie’ Lucas, Johnny Plagis and John Lynch to name but a few. There was seldom a shortage of targets as the Luftwaffe endeavoured to flatten the defences and destroy the small air force, in which it failed, but only narrowly.
|234 x 156 mm
|15 May 2017
|61 black-and-white photographs
Brian Cull has been writing Second World War aviation history for the past twenty-five years and has more than twenty-five titles to his credit, many of which have been highly acclaimed. For Fonthill Media, he is the author of First of the Few: 5 June-9 July 1940, The Diary of Sonny Ormrod DFC: Malta Fighter Ace (with Frederick Galea), 249 at Malta: RAF’s Top-Scoring Fighter Squadron (with Frederick Galea), Fighters Over the Aegean: Hurricanes Over Crete, Spitfires Over Kos, Beaufighters Over the Aegean, 1943-44 and Battle for the Channel: The First Month of the Battle of Britain 10 July-10 August 1940.
Frederick Galea has been Malta’s National War Museum Association’s honorary secretary and newsletter editor for the last twenty years. He is also an accomplished aviation author in his own right and has written several books dealing with the air war at Malta. Additionally, he has co-authored a number of books with Brian.