14 July 1940: Malta’s Three Fighters Struggle Against New Enemy Tactics

14 Jul

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Enemy tactics during the last two days indicate attempt to reduce Malta’s fighter effort by sending large numbers of fighters on raids, with formations approaching in two-tiers.  Hurricanes which attack bombers in the lower formation are being counter attacked by the upper tier of enemy fighters.  The manoeuvrability of these Italian aircraft is making it difficult for the Hurricanes to get away.  Although pilots have been warned of the new tactic, visibility difficulties in two recent raids have led to them being caught out on both occasions. 

Only one Hurricane and two Gladiators left

Only one Hurricane and two Gladiators remian

New tactics have also been identified during night air raids on the Island.  In recent attacks, a single bomber has approached, followed at a distance of about 15 miles by a second aircraft.  Bombers are carrying both high explosive and incendiary bombs which they are dropping from high altitude,

With Malta fighter numbers now reduced to one Hurricane and two Gladiators, RAF chiefs anticipate considerable difficulty in keeping Italian raiders at bay.  Meanwhile they stress the urgent need for further Hurricanes to attack bombers and Gladiators for tackling fighters.


Developments are underway to increase facilities at Luqa airfield.  A small Station Headquarters is being established at the meeting of the two runways.  Six hangars, barracks, offices, and a petrol store are planned for the site, which will be ringed by defensive machine-gun posts.


Weather  Fine. 

0545-0601 hrs  Air raid alert for five enemy fighters which approach Grand Harbour and are attacked by guns at Tigne, San Pietru, Spinola and HMS Terror.  One Gladiator and one Hurricane are scrambled but do not engage.  The raiders circle over Grand Harbour just out of range of the Ack Ack guns, seemingly hoping to attract Malta’s fighters.  They then briefly cross the coast before heading away to the north east.  They then approaching again.      

0615-0643 hrs  Air raid alert for returning enemy raiders.  Malta fighters are still airborne over Luqa.  The enemy aircraft approach to within 15 miles before turning away to the south east.  They circle several times before heading away to the north east.    

1600 hrs  A farmer reports seeing two submarines to the south of the Island.  Initial investigations suggest that this a misidentification of wave patterns.

2110 hrs  Signalling is again reported from Dingli, identified by the RAF as the letters ‘ASK’, sent using a lamp or torch.  The source is identified as a house to the west of the village which is already under observation.  A return signal is also observed and its source noted.  Five minutes later red flashes are observed from the west of Rabat. 


ROYAL NAVY  Emily on inshore patrol unsuccessfully attacked a submarine with gunfire off south east Malta. 

AIR HQ  Anti-submarine and reconnaissance patrol by Swordfish: nothing to report.


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Posted by on July 14, 2020 in 1940, July 1940


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