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RAF Station Ta Kali
Malta
Type Diversion airfield for fighters
Coordinates Latitude:
Longitude:
Built 1939 (1939)
In use 1940-1968 (1968)
Current
condition
Extensively developed as a cultural site
Current
owner
Various
Battles/wars Siege of Malta WW2
RAF Ta Kali aerial photo 1942

Aerial imagery of RAF Ta Kali in 1942, showing extensive bomb crater damage and trackways to aircraft dispersals.

Hurricane 261 Sqn RAF at Ta Kali 1941

A Hawker Hurricane of 261 Squadron at RAF Ta Kali in 1941.

Spitfires 249 Sqn at RAF Ta Kali 1942

A Supermarine Spitfire of 249 Squadron at RAF Ta Kali in 1942.

Gloster Meteor T.7 WA637 Q3-5 613 Sqn Takali 07.52 edited-2

A Gloster Meteor T7 of 613 Squadron at RAF Ta Kali in 1952.

Royal Air Force Ta Kali was a Royal Air Force fighter operations base located on the island of Malta, which started life in 1940 as a diversion airstrip for the main operating bases such as RAF Luqa[1]. Other diversion airstrips similar in function to Ta Kali were located at RAF Hal Far and on Malta's second island of Gozo at Xewkija airfield. The base's name reflects an anglicised corruption of the correct Maltese spelling of Ta' Qali, other phonetic variants of the correct name also appear regularly.

HistoryEdit

Pre-War UseEdit

Ta' Qali originally had an unpaved airstrip before the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. The original airfield was built on a dried lake bed in the interior of the island on reasonably featureless plain situated between Rabat and Valletta. Before the war it was used by civil aircraft[2], but its runway surface became unusable in heavy rain and so it was improved somewhat by the RAF.

Second World WarEdit

The former civil aviation facility was renamed RAF Station Ta Kali on 8 November 1940.[3]

RAF Ta Kali was developed at a time when Malta was under intense aerial bombardment and Malta's Air Command needed to have alternative diversion airstrips on Malta, as the RAF's main operating bases were being bombed. Airfield improvements started in 1940 and for the next three years the RAF base was heavily developed. The following fighter squadrons were based at RAF Ta Kali:

RAF Ta Kali remained a target for Axis aircraft attacks during the height of the siege.[5]

Post warEdit

Control of the airfield would transfer to the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm in 1945 as a shore establishment known as HMS Goldfinch[6], eventually it would be returned to RAF ownership in 1953. It was eventually closed as an active RAF base in 1968.[7]

In 1952 RAF Gloster Meteor T7s were based at Ta' Qali. 601, 609 and 613 Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons RAF all deployed to Ta' Qali with their Gloster Meteor and de Havilland Vampire fighter aircraft during annual summer training camps in the early 1950s.

The base was finally handed back to the Maltese Government in 1968.

Current useEdit

The former Ta' Qali airbase now hosts the Malta Aviation Museum, a highly popular venue for aviation and military history enthusiasts.[8][9]

There is also a craft village in some of the airfield's WW2-vintage support buildings.[10]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Ta Qali" (in en). http://www.forgottenairfields.com/malta/island-of-malta/ta-qali-s390.html. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  2. Cox, Harold. "Newsletter, Vol 15 No 2 TA’QALI AS A FIGHTER BASE". http://www.maltastudycircle.org.uk/site/userfiles/newsletter/15-02/15-2_t.htm. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  3. "8 November 1940: Former Airport Renamed RAF Station Ta Qali". 8 November 2015. https://maltagc70.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/8-november-1940-former-airport-renamed-raf-station-ta-qali/. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  4. UK, National Archives. "RAF Regiment, Ta-Kali, Malta; formed 6 August 1942. AIR 29/58". http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7159146. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  5. Richards, Denis; Saunders, Hilary (2014) (in en). Official History of the Royal Air Force 1935-1945 — Vol. II —Fight Avails [Illustrated Edition]. Pickle Partners Publishing. ISBN 9781782893424. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=WQdwCwAAQBAJ&pg=PT336&lpg=PT336&dq=takali+suez&source=bl&ots=eH3DumsRQR&sig=BK04FsACGhjtXlcVOr6Hls0Q_qk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-_fPhrqXVAhXlLsAKHRvCCVMQ6AEIKzAB#v=onepage&q=takali%20suez&f=false. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  6. "HMS Goldfinch, Takali". http://www.royalnavyresearcharchive.org.uk/FAA-Bases/Takali.htm#.WXdv4YTyupo. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  7. "RAF Ta kali Malta - Regiment History, War & Military Records & Archives". https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/704/raf-ta-kali-malta/. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  8. "Malta Aviation Museum-Ta' Qali-Malta". https://www.maltaaviationmuseum.com/ta-qali-aerodrome. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  9. "British heritage, architecture, sights & museums in Malta". 13 October 2016. http://maltainsideout.com/14574/british-memorabilia-museums/. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  10. Mitev, Georgi. "Ta’ Qali Crafts Village in Malta, Lace, Artefacts, Glass" (in en). http://www.malta.com/en/attraction/shopping/ta-qali-crafts-village. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 

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