Tuesday, July 23, 2024 Military Aviation » Royal Air Force Luqa » Trails  


Royal Air Force/Navy aircraft sent to Malta for various trails of equipment.

This page was added on 23.06.20.



A. Lancaster   PA417 Arrived on 02.04.48 for Anomalous Propagation Investigation from the Telecommunications Research Establishment (T.R.E.) (from RAF Watton?). Departed on 16.08.48.  
A. Lancaster   TW917 As above, but departure date unknown.  
Av. Lincoln Empire Air Navigational School RE364 Aircraft, named “Aries II”, arrived from Shawbury on 20.10.47, departing for Habbaniya on the 21st. It returned from Khartoum on 16.12.47, departing for Shawbury on the 18th, to allow for repair work to be carried out. (See also military Accidents page.)

The purpose of the flight, which covered a total of 32,000 nautical miles, was meant to :-

Provide training and experience for three students of No.2 Advanced Spec. “N” Course;

To carry out liaison with the R.A.A.F. and R.N.Z.A.F.;

To conduct an investigation into compass problems.
Aircraft was destroyed after it caught fire when being re-fuelled on 26.01.48 at its base of RAF Shawbury.
Av. Shackleton Mk. I ASWDU VP282 Advance party left RAF Ballykelly for Trails 391 on 22.10.59, main party departing on the 23rd.

Trails flying started on the 26th. Four sorties were cancelled because of weather, one because of aircraft unserviceability. Departure was on 08.11.59.
First flown 1.5.51 and A/Cn 29.5.51. To 38MU 31.5.51 and delivered to ASWDU 14.6.51, receiving code F-K. At A&AEE Boscombe Down for Lindholme tests 6.56 and underwent mods by 49MU starting 20.11.56. Returned to ASWDU and moved with unit to Ballykelly 30.8.58. 'Special fitment' installed by 49MU commencing 9.10.58, after which VP282 used for Orange Harvest ECM trials until 19.8.60, when dispatched to 23MU for storage. Declared NEA and sold as scrap 31.5.62.
Av. Shackleton Mk. I ASWDU * VP285 Aircraft arrived from St. Mawgan om 17.03.57 for submarine co-operation on P.7 scanner vertical polar diagram under operational situations. Departed on 04.04.57.

* Air-Sea Warfare Development Unit. The ASWDU was disbanded on 01.04.70. During the last sortie, the opportunity was taken to carry first day covers commemorating the occasion.
First flown 26.5.51 and A/Cn 31.5.51. Ferried to 38MU 28.6.51 and issued to 236 OCU 11.7.51. Code C-W. On 30.12.51 received Cat.3 damage to the rudders from buffeting whilst taxying in a gale. The damage was repaired on site at Waddington, the aircraft returning to 236 OCU on 1.2.52. To 38MU 1.8.53 for storage, during which Cat.3 repairs were made by CWP. Issued to the A&AEE Boscombe Down 9.9.54 on C(A) free loan for Blue Silk trials. The original six month loan was extended until 22.10.55 for desert and additional sea Blue Silk (doppler) runs. To 49MU 27.1.56 for mods, the aircraft being allocated to Avro at Colerne for a TI of ASV Mk 21 on 13.3.56 against Contract 6/Acft/ 13083/CB6(a). The loan was further extended to 30.6.57 and the aircraft visited TRE Defford 14.5.5611.7.56 and ASWDU 7.5 - 12.6.57 while still on C(A) charge at Boscombe Down. To ASWDU 16.7.57 for further operational trials of the ASV Mk 21/Blue Silk equipment. On completion of trials the equipment was apparently removed at St Mawgan before despatch to 23MU 7.1.58 for STS. Issued to MOTU 20.4.58 and the ASV Mk 21/Blue Silk reinstalled 7.588.58 for training purposes. To 23MU 22.3.60 for further storage, but declared NEA and broken up in 1962. Sold as scrap 28.2.63.
Av. Shackleton Mk. 2 ASWDU WG553 At RAF Luqa with VP282 above.  
Av. Shackleton Mk. 2 ASWDU WG553 Arrived at RAF Luqa on 28.07.60 for Explosive Echo Ranging and Tactical trials of Mk. 1C sonobouy. Departed on 13.08.60. First flown 2.10.52 and A/Cn 30.10.52. Ferried to 23MU 5.12.52 and issued to ASWDU I. I .53, coded F-A. Modified by CAPMF St Mawgan 3.54. Cat.3 damage 27.1.56, when the bomb doors buckled in a high-speed dive, repaired on site at Farnborough by Avro CWP 8.2.56-15.3.56. Returned to ASWDU 21.3.56 and received a 'special fitment' 5.4.56 - 9.5.56. Cat.3 damage sustained 15.5.56 and was repaired by Avro CWP 24.5.56 - 14.6.56. Transferred to 49MU 11.2.57 for Phase I modifications, returning to ASWDU 12.5.57. Again Cat.3 2.5.58, repairs being made by Avro CWP 5.5.58 - 11.6.58. On return to ASWDU 12.6.58 WG553 was recoded A. Another 'special fitment' completed 30.6.58 - 24.9.58 the aircraft returning to ASWDU 30.9.58. To Avro for Phase II update 2.3.61, completed 30.4.62. Issued to 205 Sqn 16.7.62 and coded D. Declared Cat.3 18.7.67 and with Phase II1 aircraft available WG553 was patched up and flown back to the UK, arriving at 27MU Shawbury 5.10.67. Declared NEA the same day, WG553 was sold as Cat.5(Scrap) to Bushells of London 24.6.68.
Av. Shackleton Mk. 2 ASWDU WG554 To renew trails of sea-water activated batteries in passive sonobouys. The main reason for choosing Malta was to seek calm and quite deep waters. In the event, the wind was moderate to fresh for the whole period, and the sea fell below state 3 on only one occasion. Two trail sorties were flown, and only nine experimental sea-water batteried sonobouys were dropped out of an available batch of 30.

Up to 5 sorties to be flown between 05-11. One marine craft requested for trails observation and sonobouy recovery.

Aircraft was in Malta between 01-12.04.65.
First flown 10.10.52 and A/Cn 30.10.52. Delivered to 23MU 5.12.52 and issued to 42 Sqn 30.1.53. Coded A-A. Modified 17.6.55 - 9.7.55 and 26.3.56 - 26.4.56, when coded A. Dispatched to Avro 10.1.58 for Phase I modifications. The work was completed 27.2.59 and WG554 was ferried to Gibraltar for 224 Sqn 12.3.59, becoming M. Returned to Avro 11.7.60 for Phase Il conversion, completed 28.2.61. Delivered to ASWDU 3.3.61 and coded A. Declared Cat.3 1.8.62, repaired on site by 23MU and returned to ASWDU 10.8.62. More Cat.3 damage 27.5.66, repaired by 60MU and WG554 was back with ASWDU 13.6.66. To 205 Sqn 5.9.66 and recoded G. To HSA 16.1.67 for T.2 conversion at Langar. On completion ferried to MOTU St Mawgan 6.6.68 and coded V. Cat.3 damage 14.1.69 was repaired by HSA CWP 20.1.69 - 6.2.69 and similar damage 2.2.70 was put right by 71MU 9 17.2.70, when WG554 returned to MOTU. To 5MU 10.7.70 for removal of training equipment and issued to the St Mawgan Gulf Detachment 25.9.70 as a Phase III aircraft. Transferred to 210 Sqn 13.10.70, retaining V code. To St Athan MU 1.6.71 and declared NEA 27.8.71. Cat.5(Scrap) 16.11.72 and dumped at St Athan
Av. Shackleton Mk. 2   WG556 c/s MBFAB, landing at Luqa on 07.10.67. A sortie each were flown against HMS Alcide and HMS Alderney. Departed on the 18th. First flown 28.10.52 and A/Cn 28.11.52. To 23MU 9.12.52 and issued to 42 Sqn 12.1.52 with WG555. Coded A-J. Underwent mods 6 - 20.6.55 and was declared Cat.3 15.7.55 after a heavy landing. Repaired on site by 49MU 19.7.55 - 18.11.55. Returned to 42 Sqn 22.11.55 and recoded J. To 23MU for storage 12.2.56, but transferred to 5MU Kemble 14.3.57 and prepared for issue to 120 Sqn, arriving Aldergrove 20.5.57 and coded C. To RAF Khormaksar 10.2.58 and issued to 37 Sqn three days later as K. To Avro 5.7.59 for Phase I update, which was completed 30.6.60. To 224 Sqn and coded A until allocated to the MoA Air Fleet 1.62 and loaned to Avro Langar for Phase III trials work on the carriage of mixed weapon loads against Contracts KD/L/091 and 092/CB6(a). Delivered to the A&AEE Boscombe Down 14.9.65 for radio and navigation CA release tests, the aircraft returning to Langar 7.12.65 and prepared for RAF service. Instead WG556 was sent to the RAE Farnborough 12.5.66 for the installation of Jezebel sonics equipment by the Radio Department. On completion the aircraft was dispatched to Ballykelly 1.9.66 for ASWDU trials on the equipment. Coded B with ASWDU, the aircraft remained on strength until 1.4.70, when the unit disbanded. Transferred to the Ballykelly Wing, probably still coded B, until 7.10.70, when ferried to St Athan and placed in open storage. Refurbished in 1977 and issued to 8 Sqn 5.5.77 to replace WL738 as a pilot-training aircraft with the unit. Coded A. Suffered a heavy landing at Lossiemouth during 1980 and declared Cat.5(GI). Issued with maintenance serial 8651 M and used by the Battle Damage Repair Flight at Lossiemouth until transferred to the Fire Section 20.2.81 and scrapped 7.82.
Av. Shackleton Mk. 2 ASWDU WG556 c/s MPXAB. One sortie against HMS Ambush. Aircraft equipment removed prior to detachment to Malta for exercise “Eden Apple”. Aircraft was at Luqa between 08-16.11.68.

A US Navy exchange officer was attached to the crew.
Av. Shackleton Mk. 2   WL748 Aircraft was at Luqa between 02-09.06.69. First flown 6.2.53 and A/Cn 27.2.53. Delivered to 23MU 11.3.53 with WL747. Issued to 240 Sqn 8.4.53 and possibly coded P. Transferred to 204 Sqn 9.8.54 and reportedly coded T-S. Underwent mods 20.10.55-14.11.55, remaining with 204 Sqn until 11.11.58, when moved over to 269 Sqn. also at Ballykelly. Remained on strength when unit renumbered 210 Sqn 1.12.58, but uncoded. To 204 Sqn 10.10.59 until allocated to Avro 15.1.60 for Phase I modifications. Completed 10.1.61, WL748 was issued to 210 Sqn the following day and coded X. To Avro for Phase II update between 10.62 and 5.63, when was again on 210 Sqn strength, still as X. To HSA Langar 21.4.66 for Phase III conversion before going to RRE Pershore 1967 for infrared scanner trials. Sent to 205 Sqn 20.10.67 and coded C. To the Ballykelly Wing 13.1.69 and coded R. To the RRE 6.69 for removal of infrared equipment, returning to Ballykelly and transferring to 204 Sqn 10.70. To the Majunga Detachment Support Unit (part of 204 Sqn) 22.3.71, but returned to the UK 2.72 when the Beira blockade lifted and rejoined 204 Sqn at Honington. To Catterick for the RAF Fire School 8.5.72 and slowly destroyed.
Av. Shackleton Mk. 2 ASWDU WL759 Aircraft was in Malta with WG554 between 01-12.04.65. First flown 24.4.53 and A/Cn 26.5.53. To Hawarden 28.5.53 and on to 23MU for storage the following day. Issued to 37 Sqn 2.9.53 and coded B. To CAPMF St Mawgan 30.3.54 (direct from JASS detachment at Ballykelly), returning to 37 Sqn on completion of mods 15.4.54. Underwent Cat.3 repairs at 137MU Safi 19.5.54 - 14.6.54 when the rear fuselage was strained during a heavy landing. Replaced as B 11.54, WL759 underwent mods 6 - 19.7.55 on completion of repairs and returned to 37 Sqn 2X 7.55 as J. Suffered more Cat.3 damage in another heavy landing 26.11.55, again to 137MU for repair. On completion back with 37 Sqn as J until 5.6.57, when dispatched to 49MU for 'special fitment'. On completion to 204 Sqn 27.8.57, uncoded. To 49MU 27.8.58 for Phase I update, completed 24.2.59. Issued to 38 Sqn 10.3.59 and coded V. To Avro Langar 3.1.62 for Phase II modifications. On 30.1.63 WL759 was loaned to the MoA and remained at Langar for Tl of Mod 1103 (carriage of Mk 44 torpedo), Mod 1096 (intercom changes) and Mod 1079 (Dowty Rotol tailwheel jack redesign). To the A&AEE Boscombe Down 22.5.63 for official flight trials of Mod 1103 by 'B' Sqn. An allocation to 23MU 17.12.63 was cancelled and WL759 was retained at Boscombe for carriage and release trials of the modified Marker Marine No.4 Mk I and Underwater Sound Signal Mk 400. On completion the aircraft was delivered to ASWDU. Ballykelly, 18.2.64 and coded B. Cat.3 damage 28.6.66 was repaired by HSA CWP, returning to ASWDU 21.7.66. Allotted to FEAF 1.8.66 and ferried to Changi for 205 Sqn, retaining code B. Recoded N 1.68 and as the last Phase II aircraft in service with 205 Sqn, WL759 took part in a 'goodbye' formation on 8.11.68 flanked by E and D. SoC Cat.5(Components) 11.11.68 the aircraft was broken up at Changi 1969.
Av. Shackleton Mk.II Phase III ASWDU WL801 Arrived from/returned to, Ballykelly via Gibraltar on 17.10.69. Carried out tests with HMS Astute to test LOFAR-CODAR radar. Departed on the 27th. First flown 10.10.53 and A/Cn 30.10.53. To Hawarden 9.11.53, going on to 23MU Aldergrove for storage the following day. Allotted to MEAF 27.1.54, arriving 137MU Safi 4.2.54. To 38 Sqn 15.2.54 and coded T. To 49MU Colerne for Autolycus fitment 24.1.55, the work being completed at CCMC St Mawgan 8.3.55, when returned to 38 Sqn. To Safi/ Avro Langar 2.3.56 - 14.5.56 for mods and major servicing and recoded W on return to 38 Sqn. Transferred to 37 Sqn 8.7.57 and coded B. Cat.3 damage in flying accident 26.11.57 repaired on site, WL801 returning to 37 Sqn 28.2.58 still as B. Allocated to Avro 19.3.58 for Phase I modification, completed 27.5.59. Issued to 38 Sqn 17.6.59 and coded Z. To DH Chester 25.6.61 for Phase II update, arriving Hawarden the following day. On completion delivered to St Mawgan 21.2.62 and ToC by 42 Sqn 26.2.62 as B. To HSA Langar 28.4.64 for Phase III modernization, completed 28.7.66. To Ballykelly and ToC by ASWDU 1.8.66 and coded A. On disbandment of unit WL801 was flown to 5MU Kemble 5.5.70 and stored. Issued to 8 Sqn 15.8.74 and used for crew training coded OI until the aircraft's fatigue life was expended. Ferried to Cosford 11.6.79 for use as an instructional airframe by No.2 SoTT with maintenance serial 8629M. Transferred to the Cosford Aerospace Museum. Scrapped at an unknown date.
Av. Shackleton Mk. 3 ASWDU WR974 c/s MCVLT, at Luqa between 05-22.03.68. First flown 1.5.57 and A/Cn 24.5.57. Released for C(A) development work on 12 month free loan 31.5.57 and prepared by Avro Woodford/Langar for tropical and winter trials. Delivered to the A&AEE Boscombe Down from Langar 5.7.57 and flown out of Idris, Libya, for armament trials in tropical conditions 7.57 - 8.57. On return to Boscomhe transferred to 49MU 27.8.57 for additional 'winterization' by Avro CWP. Back to Boscombe Down 20.9.57 and dispatched to CEPE Canada 8.10.57. Damaged 19.11.57 the aircraft was repaired in Canada and the trials completed. WR974 was delivered from Boscombe to 49MU Colerne 16.4.58 and modified to full Phase I standard by Avro CWP against Contract 6/Acft/15025/CB6(a). Allotted to 23MU 27.8.58 and ferried to Aldergrove 25.9.58. Issued to 203 Sqn 12.58 and coded F. Badly damaged landing at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 18.8.59, WR974 was repaired on site by Fairey Aviation of Canada 11.69 - 6.60 and returned briefly to 203 Sqn before delivery to Avro Langar for Phase II update. Retained on completion and transferred to the MoA Air Fleet for use as a Phase III TI aircraft against Contract KD/L/081 and 082/CB6(a). Suffered damage in hangar accident 20.4.64. Allocated to the A&AEE for radio and navigation trials 16.7.64 and delivered to Boscombe Down 7.9.64. Carried out winterization tests on equipment after which returned to HSA Langar for pre-service preparation 3.3.65. Reallocated to the A&AEE 17.5.65 for further tropical trials of Phase III navigation equipment and flight tests of the Griffon 58 equipped with modified oil coolers. Arrived at Boscombe 21.6.65 and returned to Langar 10.9.65 for more Tl work, including stand-by bomb bay heating, photographic electronic flash unit and sonobuoy homer tests against Contract KD/L/125/ CB6(a). To Boscombe Down 23.3.66 for acceptance trials on the new equipment, on completion of which WR974 was dispatched to ASWDU at Ballykelly 20 6.66. To HSA Bitteswell 7.66 for modification transferring to Langar until allotted on loan to MinTech 17.2.67 for further evaluation of sonobuoy homer equipment. To the RAE Farnborough 12.5.67 for tests by the Radio Department. Transferred to the A&AEE Boscombe Down for armament trials to ASR 816 12.7.67. WR974 returned to Ballykelly for more ASWDU trials 8.2.68, departing to HSA Bitteswell 5.4.68 for preparation to current service Phase 111 standard, completed 27.8.68. To 203 Sqn coded H. Loaned to 42 Sqn 9.68 - 1.69, returning to 203 Sqn until 1.70, when sent to Bitteswell for mods 1.70 - 3.70. Back with 203 Sqn 26.3.70, but transferred to the Kinloss Wing 6.4.70 and coded K. To Cosford 11.12.7() for No.2 SoTT as an instructional airframe with maintenance serial 8117M. Offered for sale 1988 and purchased by P. Vallance of Charlwood, West Sussex. Currently, Gatwick Aviation Museum, Charlwood, Sussex.
DH Comet 2E Royal Aircraft Establishment XN453 c/s MPDXC. The aircraft was brought over to investigate the theory of propagation of very low frequency wave. Three daily flights were conducted between 09-11th, returning to the UK on the 12th.

The aircraft was again seen three days later on the 15th, departing for Nicosia on the 16th for two days.
Previously G-AMXD, to RAE on 01.05.59, scrapped at Farnborough 1991
EE Canberra B.2   WD945 Aircraft arrived from Cyprus on 15.11.54, for bombing trails using the T-4 bombsight and dropping 100 lb. practice bombs. Trails took place between 16-24.11.54.  
EE Canberra B.2   WJ582 Two officers and one civilian Meteorological Observer arrived from RAF Farnborough between 23-27.02.61 for measurement of physical quantities above 20,000 ft.  
EE Canberra B(I).8 WT337 Two days at Luqa between 26-27.07.65 for LABS manoeuvres in hot weather conditions following a history of vibration and “clunks”. Issued to 88 squadron, but stayed with the squadron when it was renumbered No. 14, based at RAF Wildenrath.
F. Gannet VR557 Aircraft arrived at Hal-Far for warm weather trails related to its Armstrong Siddeley Motors Double Mamba DM.214 engine. Arrival/departure dates, and length of stay unknown, but sometime in mid-1953. c/n F8271. This was the second prototype Gannet anti-submarine aircraft design to military specification GR/17/45, which first flew on 06.07.50. In May 1953, the aircraft was being used by Armstrong Siddeley Motors at Bitteswell in flight trails of the Double Mamba engine. (Information courtesy photo/11637/VR557.
Gl. Javelin   XH754 c/s MPDXS, landed on 15.03.61 with Hastings TG506. Aircraft was to be used in flight trails at Changi May 1961, for visibility in the rain testing through Malayan storms at uncomfortably high speeds.

Return flight to the UK through Malta not known.
HP Hastings   TG506 c/s MPDXD, landing on 15.03.61. Technical support for Javelin XH754. Aircraft was to carry a Javelin spares pack sufficient for the return flight. It also had to carry sufficient spares for itself, as several airfields on the route have no RAF facilities (Orange, Diyarbakir, Teheran, Karachi, Delhi, Calcutta, Rangoon).

Additionally, the aircraft was to carry a balance survival pack for flying over water, jungle and desert, sufficient for a crew of six and nine passengers.

Return flight to the UK through Malta not known.
HP Hastings C.1 Royal Aircraft Establishment TG619 c/s MPDXJ. Ground monitoring stations used in the investigation of very low frequency wave propagation, required replacement of parts and general servicing. Aircraft carried a party of scientists to Rome on 24.04.61, landing at Luqa on the 25th.

Departed Malta on the 27th, night stopping at Ciampino, landing in the UK on the 28th.
S. Sunderland   N9091 Arrived from MAAE* Felixstowe on 15.04.39 for trails. Trails continued throughout the month. Departed for base on 01.05.39 arriving the same day in a non-stop flight.

* Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment.
V. Varsity T.1 Royal Aircraft Establishment WL679 Aircraft brought over equipment for a radio receiving statin was to be set up on HMS Phoenicia (Manuel Island).It arrived from RAF Farnborough via Lyon and Rome on 27.02.61 with four crew and four scientific observers, departing on 02.03.61 via Nice.  
V. Varsity T.1 Royal Aircraft Establishment WL679 c/s MPDXJ. A radio receiving station was to be dismantled from HMS Falcon and returned, by air, to the Radio Department at the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

Aircraft arrived from RAF Farnborough via Nice on 27.03.61 four crew and four scientific observers. Departed on 29.03.61 via Rome and Lyon.

Flying to Karachi

This was a demonstration flight to Mauripur, Karachi (then western India, today Pakistan) to ascertain the suitability of a Warwick C Mk. III aircraft for use on overseas transport services. The routes taken are listed in the table below.

The aircraft used was Vickers Warwick C Mk. III, of 525 squadron, serial HG219.


Lyneham – Elmas - Luqa

Luqa – Cairo West

Cairo West – Shaibah

Shaibah – Sharjah

Sharjah – Mauripur

Mauripur – Bahrein – Shaibah

Shaibah – Habbaniya

Habbaniya - Cairo West – Luqa

Luqa – Istres

Istres – Lyneham

There were a number of mechanical problems, which in the opinion of this writer, could have happened on any other aircraft. The following are the conclusions of the aircraft’s crew.

The radio was judged to have operated normally without any failures, save for the changing of one valve.

Navigation: The navigational equipment was found to be entirely satisfactory. The table is large and admirably situated for plotting and map reading. The drift sight can be used without leaving the chair. The large Bristol type dome makes astro observations easy and also the use of the Astro compass is greatly facilitated by this excellent dome and astro compass mountings.

A possible improvement might be made by providing a series of trays or holders for navigational gear at the side and forward of the navigational table.. This would overcome the possibility of instruments rolling of the table due to the aircraft vibration. The vibration and noise said to be associated with Warwick aircraft, more than any other types of aircraft, were not apparent on the flight.

General Conclusions: The flight was made under normal conditions and it is considered essential that to maintain a scheduled service, a flight engineer must be carried, as the servicing personnel at the staging posts have no knowledge of Warwick aircraft, except at Cairo and Mauripur.

The aircraft is considered suitable for use on any service provided the engines are handled properly, and the maintenance carried out by personnel with knowledge of the engines.

It is important that from Shaibah onwards, the oil coolers would not bring the oil temperature down after take-off. These coolers require a larger coding margin if the aircraft is to be operated beyond Cairo West.

Major Exercises Armament Practice Camps Two weeks in Malta Trails
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