15 September 1940: First Messerschmitt Fighters Over Malta

15 Sep

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Messerschmitt Bf 109E

Messerschmitt Bf 109E

Messerschmitt 109 fighters were identified for the first time over Malta today. Six of the German fighters were spotted approaching the Island just before 8 o’clock this morning, as part of a massive formation which also included ten Italian CR42 fighters and 20 German JU 87 dive bombers.

The appearance of ME 109s is seen as a major development in the enemy air campaign over Malta. The high-performance, manoeuverable aircraft is regarded as a ‘killing machine’ by some and is feared by many since its use during the Spanish civil war. Its speed enables the Messerschmitt to out-perform Malta’s tiny Gladiator force and even the Hurricane is significantly slower; only the Spitfire seems to be able to defeat it.

RAF headquarters in Malta has responded with a message to the War Office warning that the Island’s fighter strength must be increased urgently to counter the recently escalated attacks.


Weather  Fine and warm; cloudy in the evening.

0758 hrs  Air raid alert for a formation of enemy aircraft consisting of six Messerschmitt 109, ten CR42 and twenty Junkers 87s which approach the Island from the east. The JU 87s dive bomb Hal Far aerodrome from different angles, each releasing four bombs at a time, damaging the RAF ration store and some transport. Eight anti-aircraft gunners and one civilian are injured. Malta fighters are scrambled; one Hurricane is forced to land. Ack Ack, including Lewis guns at Delimara, and small arms fire engage low flying raiders. Eight Ack Ack personnel and one civilian are injured. One enemy aircraft is believed shot down by fighters out to sea but is not seen hitting the water; others are believed damaged.

17 unexploded bombs are reported around Hal Far aerodrome. They are inspected following the raid and identified as delayed action bombs. It is noted that those bombs which did explode did so after 5-10 seconds.   As the location of the UXBs does not prevent use of the aerodrome an exclusion zone is marked out around them which will be enforced for seven days. During that time all military personnel in the area are required to wear steel helmets and follow restricted movement orders.

1837-1845 hrs  Air raid alert for an aircraft reported by the Naval Signal Station on the roof of the Castille. The aircraft is later identified as friendly.


AIR HQ  Arrivals 1 Sunderland. Departures 1 Sunderland.

KALAFRANA Two Sunderlands on patrol; one left for Alexandria and one arrived from there.

ROYAL ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS Bomb Disposal UXB  High explosive 17 x 250kg or 500kg believed delayed action inspected and left 7 days Hal Far.

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Posted by on September 15, 2020 in 1940, September 1940


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