Tuesday, July 23, 2024 Air Shows » Royal Air Force » 1970s  

Royal AF airshows/open days during the 70s

3rd October 1970 – RAF Ta’ Qali/Marsamxett Harbour

Although Ta’ Qali had been handed over to the Maltese Government in 1965, it was still in a decent state.

There was no static line-up, and neither did the participating aircraft land. The stars of the show would undoubtedly would have been the Red Arrows aerobatic team. Later in the evening, the team repeated their display over Marsamxett harbour.

The table below lists the known participants, but serial numbers aren’t known, except for the Red Arrows Gnats.

Avro Shackleton MR.3/3 Royal AF   203  
EE Canberra PR.9 Royal AF XH135, XH136, XH171 and XH173. 13 Photographed making a low pass with everything “down or open”.

(Information & serials courtesy of Godfrey Mangion, from his Aviation MT Facebook page.)
Fo. Gnat Royal AF XR540, XR545, XR986, XR987, XR991, XR993, XR994, XR996, XS107, XS111 Red Arrows Display over Ta’ Qali, and over Marsamxett harbour in the evening.
W. Wessex HAS.3 Royal Navy XS149/403   From HMS Fife.

203 squadron Open Day - 6 June 1975

This was the last open day organised by No. 203 (Nimrod) Squadron. Helping to spice things up were the F-4 Phantoms of 43 Squadron, which was in Malta on a month-long Armaments Practice Camp.

A. Shackleton AEW Royal AF WR690 8 Performed touch & go’s.
EE Canberra B.2? Royal AF     Towing a banner.
EE Canberra PR.7 Royal AF   13 Line up.
HS Nimrod MR.1 Royal AF XV246 203 Flying display.
McD F-4 Phantom Royal AF   43 Line-up.
McD F-4 Phantom Royal AF   43 Flying display.
W. Gazelle Royal Marines     Based at St. Patrick’s barracks.


203 squadron disbandment

HS Nimrod MR.1 Royal AF XV260 203 Brief flying display as part of 203 squadron’s disbandment ceremony on 31.12.77. The last Nimrod to leave Malta would be XV252 on 20.01.78.

8 June 1977 – Queen's Jubilee

An open day for servicemen and their families was held at RAF Luqa on this day. I have no further details about participating aircraft, but unlike the celebration of its Diamond Jubilee in September 1978, no Royal Air Force aircraft were brought over specifically for the event, but use was made of aircraft stationed at, or visiting, RAF Luqa at the time.

Avro Vulcan B.2 Royal AF XM647 9 Static display Park 2.
EE Canberra PR.7 Royal AF WH775 13 Static display Park 2.
EE Canberra PR.7 Royal AF WH779, WH794, WT532 13 Flying display.
HS Nimrod MR.1 Royal AF XV248 203 Flying display.
HS Nimrod MR.1 Royal AF XV263 203 Static display Park 2.
L. C-130 C.1 Royal AF XV201   Static display Park 2.


29 September 1978 – RAF’s Diamond Jubilee

The following report was written in Take-Off of the time.

The Royal Air Force celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of its foundation and 60 years of operational flying from Malta in a ceremony at on 29 September 1978.

The flying programme was initiated by Harrier GR.3 XV762, which made a vertical takeoff from Park 3, followed by a steep climb away from the airfield, to come in again in a low-level pass over runway 14. The aircraft then proceeded to demonstrate its unique flying capabilities, including flying backwards. It ended its display by the customary dipping of the nose towards the crowds as a salute.

Following the Harrier were displays by a 13 Squadron Canberra PR.7, and Jaguar GR.1 XX759

The final flying display of aerobatics were given by the Red Arrow Gnats, in a 25 minute routine.

With the sun beginning to set, the programme was brought to end with No. 13 Squadron Canberras flying low over the airfield, in three formations of three aircraft each.

The table below lists the participating aircraft. The callsign, were known, is listed in the NOTES column.

BAC Jaguar GR.1 XX758/18 226 OCU 25  
BAC Jaguar GR.1 XX759/19 226 OCU 25  
Avro Vulcan B.2 XM569 9 26 callsign MPJDA.
Folland Gnat T.1 XS101, XS107, XR977, XR540, XP535, XR955, XR572, XP514, XR987, XS991   26 Red Arrows Team also gave a display over Marsamxett on the 27th.
L. Hercules C.1 XV178   26 Callsign Ascot 5205, Red Arrows support aircraft. The previously listed Hercules, XV293, c/s Ascot 4133, was also seen the same day, but isn’t known if it was on a Jubilee related flight.
HP Victor K.2 XL164 57 27 Rafair 801
McD F-4 FGR.2 XV424/B 111 27 Callsign Rafair 951. In 1979, this a/c was repainted in a special colour scheme, and made the record-breaking run to celebrate the anniversary of the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic (in 1919) on 21.6.79 to Greenham Common.
McD F-4 FG.1 XT857/C 111 27 Callsign Rafair 952
HS Harrier GR.3 XV762/G 233 OCU 27 Callsign MCKYA.
HS Harrier GR.3 XV807/L 233 OCU 27 Callsign MCKYB.
HS Nimrod MR.1 XZ285 42 28 Callsign MTUTS
EE Canberra PR.9 XH165 39 28 Callsign MTZZA
EE Canberra PR.7 WH779, WH794, WH815, WH817, WH821, WT530, WT538 13   These a/c are known to have been serving with 13 Squadron in Malta at the time.
EE Canberra TT.18 WJ721 7 28  
HS Andover CC.2 XS794 32 29  


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