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Friday, April 28, 2017 Military Aviation » Royal Air Force Luqa » Two weeks in Malta  
 
Two Weeks in Malta, 1962.

I received the following e-mail about this article.

Just found your website, brings back memories. I was stationed there from 1958-60. I had joined 69 SQD at Laarbruch (Germany), we flew to Malta in March '58.

Then in June we disbanded and reformed as 39 Sqd. There was a lot of unrest with the erk's about changing over to 39 Sqd. at that time. But we got used to it.

What I wanted to correct was: the writer of "2 weeks in Malta" said 39 SQD's Canberra's were silver. Wrong, they were camouflaged on top and the underwings and belly were sky blue. Only the T4 trainer was in silver. Plus he missed WE926 out.

I'm sending you two photos, you can see the Sqd line up with the T4 at the right of the photo. We had a parade at the time for the A.O.C of the middle east.

The other photo, a "bit of trivia" was WE139, it was the winner of the 1953, United Kingdom - New Zealand air race, 23 hrs and 51 mins.

        
 

(This unsigned article appeared in Military Aviation Review, June 1980.)

Aircraft listed in this article are to be found in separate tables, according to airfield in which they were seen. Within each table, the aircraft have been grouped in two groups, British Services and NATO visitors. There were a total of 18 photographs, all taken at RAF Luqa. ‘Author’ refers to the (unknown) writer of this article.


I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to Malta with the RAF in the summer of 1962 for what turned out to be a very good holiday and no mean aeronautical extravaganza.

Having reported into the famous Lyneham route hotel on the evening before, we left the UK at 0715 on a sunny August morning and landed 4 hours 20 minutes later at an equally sunny, but considerably hotter, Luqa having been very well treated aboard 'whispering giant' Britannia C.1 XL658 flown by a 511 Squadron crew. It is worth recording that then, as now, Lyneham was a place with a steady flow of visiting aircraft and on that summer morning I had logged Hastings C.1A TG509 visiting from 70 Squadron in Cyprus, Valetta C.2 VX573 of the Gibraltar Communications Flight and Hunter FGA.9s XF431 and XF456 beginning their journey back to the Middle East after overhaul. On the apron at Luqa to greet our arrival were Valiant BK.1 WP221 of 207 Squadron and Vulcan B.2 XL386 of 9 Squadron, both in the white scheme of the day, together with Argosy C.1 XN818 from A & AEE, Boscombe Down.

Resident at Luqa in those days were 38 Squadron equipped with 8 Shackleton MR.2Cs and 39 Squadron with 12 Canberra PR.3s and one T.4. The Shacks wore the standard grey scheme with white roof, but WL740 was unusual in having the words 'Royal Air Force Coastal Command' across the fin below the fin flash and a union jack above; the unit emblem of a seagull appeared on a white disc on the nose and the squadron number appeared in customary style on the rear fuselage with large letter codes on the nose. The identified aircraft on strength at that time were WR961/S, WL795/T, WL740/U and WR956/W, with codes V/X/Y/Z being seen but remaining elusive. The 39 Squadron Canberras, on the other hand, were less colourful; they were finished in silver overall (the T.4 with yellow training bands) but with a yellow and black arrow head on the tip tanks, in the centre of which was the black number 39. They carried their codes in white on the black anti-dazzle panel in front of the cockpit only and the identified aircraft were WE137/A, WE138/B, WE139/C, WE144/D, WE168/E, WE169/G, WE174/H, WF924/K, WT481/L (T4), WF927/0 and WE135/P, with codes F and J seen but unidentified. The only other resident at Luqa was the remains of a Javelin on the fire dump carrying the serial 7740M (was this XH840 which crashed there on delivery to 60 Squadron in Singapore?)

[Webmaster’s note: XH840 was an FAW.9, which suffered damage during start up on 27.09.61. It was given Cat. 5 damage status on 28.09. On 02.01.62, the aircraft was given serial 7740M and used for ground instruction.] See 1960s military accidents page for additional information about this incident.

The first 2 days were spent around Luqa during the morning, sightseeing around the island in the afternoon (the British at Luqa mostly packed up work at 1300 hours) and Valletta at night. During those first 2 days, I logged the following military visitors which quickly shows why Luqa whilst the RAF were there remained one of the high spots for the military aircraft enthusiast: Argosy C.1 XN820 114 Sqdn, Javelin FAW.9 XH885/E 23 Sqdn, Canberra B(1)8 WT348 and XM272 of 88 Sqdn, the 2 Hunter FGA.9s which we had seen at Lyneham, C-119G Packet CP-28/ OT-CBH 15 TW Belgian AF, Varsity T.1 WL678/C 115 Sqdn, Devon C.1 WB530 of RAF Idris Station Flight, an unidentified SO.95 Corse of the French Navy and a similarly elusive French AF Dakota, plus the star, perhaps, of my whole stay, Turkish AF Dakota serialled CBK-04.

The next day we were taken to the naval air station at Hal Far to visit the 705 Squadron detachment equipped with a motley collection of early Whirlwinds and at least one Dragonfly; I could also see in the distance that 728 Squadron were resident with at least 6 Meteor TT.20s visible along with a couple of Meteor T.7s. Then we were whisked off to some wet dinghy drill in the clear blue water of Marsaxlokk involving an RAF launch and Whirlwinds WV203/961 and WV205/962 from 705 Squadron - I managed the route launch/sea/chopper/launch without getting my camera wet. Sometime later we were back at Luqa where Army Beaver AL.1 XP816 had arrived for a weekend stop. That weekend the RAF did not stop as Canberra B.2 WK121 and Hunter FGA.9 XE617, both from Boscombe Down, turned up and I had a six-hour flight in Shackleton WR956 courtesy of 38 Squadron.

The following Monday we were again seeing various sections of Luqa and I noted Pembroke C.1 WV747/I, of 152 Squadron, Canberra B.2 WF914, silver with no markings but showing evidence of recent service with 73 Squadron in Cyprus, and white Valiant BK.1 XD857 from Marham without any squadron identity. Next day we set out to RAF Ta Qali, the third airfield on the island and at that time the only residents were the Malta Communication Flight equipped with Valetta C.2s VX539 and VX574 plus Devon C.1 WB535; VX539 took us on a one hour 15 minute trip south to RAF Idris in Libya where we were to have a one night stay. Idris was a little disappointing, aviation-wise, the only military aircraft to be seen being Scout AH.1 XPI65 and Whirlwind HAR.10 XP300, both out from Boscombe Down on tropical trials, plus the two 88 Squadron Canberras which had earlier, been through Luqa. We paid a visit to the nearby bombing range and watched the Canberras doing some toss bombing, and then we were back again to Luqa aboard VX539 again, but not before I had observed an IL-14 taxying in - almost certainly a civilian.

The remaining week or so was spent on and around Luqa and the main island but I kept a quiet eye on the transit ramp at the airfield and noted the following: R4D-8 50828 from NAF Naples, Hastings C.IA TG582 from 70 Sqdn at Cyprus, Bristol Freighter XJ470 from Boscombe Down; Canberra B.15 WJ780 from Cyprus but devoid of unit markings; Canberra PR.3 WF925 from 231 OCU; SC-54D 42-72647 from the USAF base at Wheelus in Libya; Beverley C.1s from Abingdon XB267/B, XB269/F, XB283/G, XB284/H, XB285/J and XHI16/Y and Hastings from Colerne TG55I, TG606, WD476, WD477, WJ327, WJ331 and WJ340 all taking troops to a NATO exercise in Northern Greece; Canberra B.6 (mod) WT301 from 51 Squadron with a pointed nose like the T.11 at that time and painted all silver; T-33As BD+840 and BD+845 of WS-50, WGAF; Hastings C.IA TG509 of 70 Sqdn; Canberra B.2 WH741, like WF914 before it showing signs of recent 73 Squadron ownership on the fin; Canberra B(1)8 XH228/C of 3 Squadron, Valetta C. 2 VW195 from the Middle East Comm Flt in Aden; Meteor TT.20 WD785/HF-582 from 728 Squadron at Hal Far; Sea Devon C.20 XK896 from Hal Far Station Flt; Hastings C.2 WJ338 'Iris 3' on one of its many overseas signals visits; Valiant B.1 WZ378 from Marham; C-54E 45-0544 of the USAF AFCS; Argosy C.1 XN852 114 Squadron; and finally Hastings C.4 WD500 the personal aircraft of the C-in-C Near East Air Force based in Cyprus.

After a splendid 2 weeks in the sun with the RAF and with no money left and very tired from too many late nights, we piled aboard Britannia C.1 XM497 for the flight home and slept most of the four and a half hours back to Lyneham. The sight there of Heron CA+001 and an unidentified camouflaged Noratlas of the WGAF along with Hastings C.1A TG512 of 70 Squadron finished off a memorable trip in all respects and one for which I shall always be grateful to the RAF.
        
 

RAF Lyneham, UK


SERVICE TYPE SERIAL SQDN NOTES
Royal AF B. Britannia C. 1 XL658   Flown by a 511 Squadron crew.
Royal AF HP Hastings C.1A TG509   Visiting from 70 Squadron in Cyprus.
Royal AF HP Hastings C.1A TG512 70  
Royal AF H. Hunter FGA.9 XF431, XF456   Delivery to the Middle East after overhaul.
Royal AF V. Valetta C.2 VX573   Gibraltar Communications Flight.
WG AF DH Heron CA+001   After Malta trip.
WG AF N. Noratlas      


        
 

RAF Luqa, Malta


SERVICE TYPE SERIAL SQDN NOTES
British Army DHC Beaver AL.1 XP816   Arrived for a weekend stop.
Royal AF AW Argosy C.1 XN818   A & AEE, Boscombe Down.
Royal AF AW Argosy C.1 XN852 114  
Royal AF A. Shackleton MR.2C WR961/S, WL795/T, WL740/U and WR956/W 38 Also seen aircraft coded V, X, Y and Z. Serials never confirmed. WL740 carried 'Royal Air Force Coastal Command' across the fin below the fin flash and a union jack above. Based at RAF Luqa.
Royal AF A. Vulcan B.2 XL386 9 White
Royal AF AW Argosy C.1 XN820 114  
Royal AF B. Beverley C.1 XB267/B, XB269/F, XB283/G, XB284/H, XB285/J and XHI16/Y   From Abingdon.
Royal AF Britannia C.1 XM497   Returned author back to the UK.
  Bristol Freighter XJ470   Boscombe Down.
Royal AF DH Devon C.1 WB530   RAF Idris Station Flight.
Royal AF EE Canberra PR.3 WE137/A, WE138/B, WE139/C, WE144/D, WE168/E, WE169/G, WE174/H, WF924/K, WT481/L (T4), WF927/0 and WE135/P 39 Also seen were a/c coded F & J. Finished in overall silver. Tip tanks carried yellow and black arrow head on the tip tanks, in the centre of which was the black number 39. Based at RAF Luqa.
Royal AF EE Canberra T.4 WT481/L 39 Finished in colours similar to PR.3s, but with the addition of yellow training bands. Based at RAF Luqa.
Royal AF EE Canberra B.2 WF914   Silver, ex-73 Squadron markings, RAF Cyprus.
Royal AF EE Canberra PR.3 WF925 231 OCU  
Royal AF EE Canberra B.2 WH741   ex-73 Squadron markings, RAF Cyprus.
Royal AF EE Canberra B.15 WJ780   From RAF Cyprus, without unit markings.
Royal AF EE Canberra B.2 WK121   From Boscombe Down.
Royal AF EE Canberra B.6 (mod) WT301 51 A/c had a pointed nose like the T.11, silver finish.
Royal AF EE Canberra B(1)8 WT348, XM272 88  
Royal AF EE Canberra B(1)8 XH228/C 3  
Royal AF Gl. Javelin 7740M   At the fire dump.
Royal AF Gl. Javelin FAW.9 XH885/E 23  
Royal AF HP Hastings C.1A TG509 70  
Royal AF HP Hastings C.1A TG582 70 RAF Cyprus.
Royal AF HP Hastings TG551, TG606, WD476, WD477, WJ327, WJ331, WJ340   From Colerne, ferrying troops to a NATO exercise in Northern Greece.
Royal AF HP Hastings C.4 WD500   Personal aircraft of the C-in-C Near East Air Force based in Cyprus.
Royal AF HP Hastings C.2 WJ338   'Iris 3' on one of its many overseas signals visits.
Royal AF H. Hunter FGA.9 XE617   From Boscombe Down.
Royal AF H. Hunter FGA.9s XF431 and XF456   A/c had already been seen at Lyneham.
Royal AF P. Pembroke C.1 WV747/I 152  
Royal AF V. Valetta C. 2 VW195   Middle East Comm Flt in Aden.
Royal AF V. Valiant BK.1 XD857   From RAF Marham, without any squadron markings, white.
Royal AF V. Varsity T.1 WL678/C 115  
Royal AF V. Valiant BK.1 WP221 207 White colours.
Royal AF V. Valiant B.1 WZ378   From RAF Marham.
Royal AF DH Sea Devon C. 20 XK896   From Hal Far Station Flight.
  Gl. Meteor TT.20 WD785/HF-582 728 Hal Far based.
Belgian AF F. C-119G Packet CP-28/ OT-CBH 15 TW  
French AF Dakota      
French Navy SO.95 Corse      
Turkish AF Dakota CBK-04    
USAF DC SC-54D 42-72647   Wheelus AFB, Libya.
USAF DC C-54E 45-0544   AFCS
US Navy DC R4D-8 50828   NAF Naples
WG AF L. T-33A BD+840, BD+845 WS-50  


        
 

Hal-Far, Malta


SERVICE TYPE SERIAL SQDN NOTES
  Whirlwind WV203/961, WV205/962 705  
  Dragonfly      
  Gl. Meteor TT.20   728 At least six a/c observed.
  Gl. Meteor T.7   728 At least two a/c observed.


        
 

RAF Ta Qali, Malta


SERVICE TYPE SERIAL SQDN NOTES
Royal AF V. Valetta C.2 VX539 and VX574 Malta Communication Flight VX539 took author on trip to RAF Idris in Libya .
Royal AF DH Devon C.1 WB535    


        
 

RAF Idris, Libya


SERVICE TYPE SERIAL SQDN NOTES
  Scout AH.1 XPI65 Boscombe Down Tropical trials.
  W. Whirlwind HAR.10 XP300 Boscombe Down Tropical trials.
Royal AF EE Canberra   88  
  IL-14     Civilian.


        
 
Major Exercises Armament Practice Camps Two weeks in Malta
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