The underwater aviation heritage of the Second Siege of Malta

By:  Anthony Burgess and Timmy Gambin

Between the years 1940 and 1943, the skies over the Maltese islands and their surrounding seas witnessed some of the most intense aerial combat of the Second World War. The prolonged duration of this conflict in a relatively well-delineated area has resulted in a submerged legacy that bears witness to a period of rapid advancement in aviation technology. After discussing the potential size of this cultural resource, this paper will explain why all of the in situ aircraft remains from this conflict now exist underwater, as well as a working hypothesis as to its composition. This paper concludes by urging a re-appraisal in how this archaeological resource is regarded and treated, advocating a wider holistic approach to construct an ‘airscape’ of Malta during the Second World War.