23 July 2024 Military Aviation » Deliveries  
Military Aircraft Deliveries


With most of these deliveries occurring long before I became an enthusiast, or when still new to the world of aviation, I have relied almost exclusively on publications of the Malta Aviation Society (which started out as the Malta Aircraft Enthusiasts and Association of Aircraft Enthusiasts). These include the Society’s newsletter Take-Off, Luqa Airport Movements and various editions of the Malta Aviation Yearbook.

With thanks to my colleague, Charlo Stafrace, who provided me with information on the BAC 167/145s, Indian AF Canberras, Abu Dhabi Hunters and Islander, as well as the Iranian O-2s. Also thanks to Phillip Evans for his assistance with Kenya Hunters and Zimbabwe Hawks.

Links to each aircraft type are to be found at the bottom of this page.

British Aircraft

As stated in the home page, Malta had a 180 year association with Great Britain, and it is not surprising that British military aircraft would use Luqa Airport on their delivery flights.

This is what my colleague, Charles Stafrace, wrote in his article “From Grassy Fields to Sandy Strips”, which appeared in Malta Flypast Issue 3. I am grateful for his and the museum’s permission to reproduce it here.

One of the principal effects of the decolonisation process of the 1950s and 1960s was the formation of local defence forces by the newly-emerging states. The parting 'mother' nations, mainly Britain and France, did not lose the opportunity to equip these new defence forces with their own products, largely surplus and often outdated equipment which they considered good enough for a new force whose main responsibilities would probably have consisted of quelling local uprisings. Things began to change of course, not only with maturity and experience but also as a force majeur on the part of the new states who quickly found out that external threats were as real as internal ones. This became very true of the Arab states whose newly-discovered petroleum enabled them to purchase, not second-hand equipment, but new-built aircraft more often than not of first-line standard, to defend their precious oilfields.

Since many Arab states, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean and Gulf regions, were formerly administered by Britain as mandated territory, the origins of their armed forces is owed to the British and to the supply of such equipment.

Little information is available of deliveries effected in the late 1940s, or whether these passed through Malta or not. Lancaster B.1s, Spitfire F.22s and Meteor F.4s for the Royal Egyptian Air Force did pass through Luqa in 1950-51, as did Royal Iraqi Air Force Sea Furies in the same period. A Royal Jordanian Air Force Airspeed Ambassadors was in Luqa on its way to Amman in 1959 while Jet Provost T.52s, Vampire FB.50s and T.55s of the Iraqi Air Force also transited through Luqa in 1964-65. But then came the mid- to late 1960s, which were the years of the Hunters and Strikemasters, dozens of which passed through Malta on their way to the various receiving Arab countries. Islanders and Caribous followed later, as did the Hawks which replaced some of the earlier Strikemasters, and the Jaguars to supplant the Hunters, and Omani BAC 111s. In the late 1970s/early 1980s we did see some aircraft destined for Libya passing from Luqa as Rallye Club light trainers from France and Let L-410s from Czechoslovakia, although all of the much desired Libyan Mirages delivered from France remained elusive. So did the many Tornados destined for Saudi Arabia, which benefited from aerial refuelling to arrive at Dhahran, as had done the Lightnings for the Saudis and Kuwaitis back in the 1960s.
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