011419 - 249 AT MALTA: RAF's Top Scoring Fighter Squadron
By Brian Cull and Frederick Galea
By the end of 1941, following its participation in the Battle of Britain, 249 was posted to Malta. Having been informed that its pilots would be required to fly from the deck of an aircraft carrier, intensive practice flights took place with two Hurricanes fitted with long-range tanks, making shortened take-off runs from an airfield runway. And that was that. The following month, having been ferried to Gibraltar, the aircraft were off-loaded on to the 'Ark Royal' and all 20 safely reached Malta. This was the beginning of 249's Mediterranean adventure in the defence of Malta. Spitfires would follow early in 1942 and by the time it moved to a new theatre of operations, 249 had claimed 245 air victories in the skies over Malta, producing many ace pilots such as 'Screwball' Beurling, Laddie Lucas, Johnny Plagis, John Lynch, to name but a few.
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