The Ill-Fated Second Flight Even as the first flight was joining up with the Short Sunderland, the second flight departed from the deck of the HMS Argus. Six more Hurricanes and the second Skua were en route to the Galite Islands. Earlier, the bomber had departed from Malta as planned for the rendezvous point. As the weather continued to worsen, the six Hurricanes and single Skua of the second flight completely missed the Galite Islands, most likely having been pushed to the north by the wind. The join up with their navigational escort had failed. On their own and without sufficient navigation training or tools, the six Hurricanes and one Skua were soon lost over the empty sea, completely out of sight of any land and landmarks. With fuel running out, they held to their heading hoping to find the tiny dot of Malta in the vast sea. One by one, the Hurricanes ran out of fuel. With each, the anguished radio calls could be heard on the HF sets on board the ships of Admiral Somerville’s fleet as well as at Luqa Airfield. Yet there was nothing they could do — without the necessary equipment, Luqa could not get a radar fix on the planes and give them a heading to fly, nor could the Short Sunderland launch in time to help with an aerial search. The Royal Navy fleet, with all of the equipment, was too far to the west, hundreds of miles away, and the planes were out of range of the ships’ radar systems. Finally, only the single Blackburn Skua with its two man crew remained aloft. The rest of the planes and pilots simply disappeared, ditched somewhere at sea, probably north of Malta.

johnbr, Dec 7, 2012
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    Dec 7, 2012
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