Faith, Hope & Charity: The Defence of Malta by Kenneth PoolmanFaith, Hope and Charity is a story of three Gladiator biplanes flown by six volunteers from their base on Malta and fighting alone against the Italian ‘Regia Aeronautica’ between June and October 1940.
The story is also about the bravery and spirit of the Maltese people who gave their lives to keep the aircraft in the air and the men who toiled to keep the runway fit to fly on.
The defense of Malta can justifiably be included among the epics of World War Two. The part played by ‘Faith’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Charity’ is symbolic of the courage and endurance displayed by the people of Malta during the struggle against vastly superior Axis Air Forces.
Hal Far Fighter Flight
Three of these cases were shipped back to England and the aircraft took part in the failed defence of Norway. Three more went to Egypt. Four of them were sent on to the carrier HMS Eagle to give her some defensive cover in anticipation of Italy joining the war. Gloster Gladiators on Malta which staved off the Regia Aeronautica. After a bit of dithering which resulted in the aircraft being assembled, taken apart ready for onward shipping and then finally reassembled once again, the remaining aircraft formed the Malta Fighter Flight. When Mussolini finally committed Italy to war against Britain it was these fighters which stood alone against a vast armada of Italian fighters and bombers based 60 miles away in Sicily. Whether they were so christened by the deeply religious Maltese, by members of the RAF or by some bright spark in the propaganda unit has never been satisfactorily answered.
The flight is the source of the myth that only three aircraft, named Faith , Hope and Charity formed the fighter cover for the island. Three of the airframes N, N and N were later shipped to Britain to take part in the Norwegian campaign and another three were sent to Egypt. In March, although Malta was not facing attack, it was decided that six Gladiators would be assembled to form an air defence unit. Five aeroplanes were eventually assembled, including N, N, N and N but a few days later, they were dismantled again. In April, it was decided that Malta had a need for fighter protection and although the Gladiators were obsolete, they could hold their own in air combat against Regia Aeronautica bombers.
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What a wonderful place for any enthusiast of WW2 aircraft. One thing i dont understand is why they do not have the preserved fuselage of Gloster Gladiator "Faith"here instead of at the St Elmo War museum. Spitfires and hurricanes delivered by aircraft carriers in are represented here as well as a big Douglas DC3 Dakota. Great newsreel films of the second siege of malta this time by air bombardment are very informative and well worth a look. There are also some interesting airfield vehicles on display.