Spitfire v Me 109 over Malta
21 April 1942: A true baptism of fire as newly arrived pilots are thrust into the action, outnumbered above Malta
Denis Barnham1 had arrived on Malta after flying off the USS Wasp on the 20th April. With regular air attacks on the island it was not long before he was in action, scrambled to deal with the latest wave of bombers to appear.
As usual they were heavily outnumbered:
We are climbing higher into a rusty purple void: in all this haze I can’t see the island or the sea, only the two Spitfires ahead of me and the glaring Cyclopian eye of the sun staring down at us. Fifteen thousand feet, still in haze - Gracie turning left. I follow in a long stern chase as we dive back in the direction we’ve come from. I stare through the windscreen at Gracie’s tiny Spitfire closely followed by the C.O.’s, both turning slightly right in the distance. In front of the two retreating planes a faint brown trace of the island with bursting anti-aircraft shells is looming towards us. Gracie steepens his dive, continues turning. We are plunging vertically but I can see no enemy planes.
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