The story of Faith, Hope and Charity will go down in Maltese history forever. Telling the tale of the only three aircraft available to protect Malta’s skies during its horrific World War Two siege in 1940, it’s etched in every local school’s history books and is taught in history class.
The aircraft’s courageous and valiant buffer against Italian raiders has become a symbol of Malta’s courage against the Axis forces… but did you know that it was pretty much an accident?
An avid historian would say yes, but I would reckon that most people who know the story have no idea that the aircraft was in fact discovered in crates on the island and quickly assembled for use.
According to the documentary World War II In Colour, four gladiator fighter biplanes were found in crates on the island, hastily assembled and went on to put up a fierce show of resistance, before British fighter reinforcements arrived and the Italian bombers were temporarily beaten off.
As impressive is the fact that Faith wasn’t exactly a Gloster Gladiator in the first place
The plane was fitted with an engine salvaged from another plane (a Bristol Blenheim) which also used the Bristol Mercury engine and a Blenheim three-blade Hamilton propeller.
At the end of the day, though, that didn’t stop Faith. In fact, it was also the only aircraft of the trio to survive the war and its fuselage is now on display at the National War Museum in Valletta.
With a backstory that seems more like a myth than actual reality, we truly appreciate the names that were given to the Ħal Far Fighter Flight. After all, the argument can be made that they were crucial in deciding Malta’s fate during World War II.
Pretty cool stuff, don’t you think?