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RAF Hal Far

Coordinates: 35°48′59″N 14°30′29″E / 35.81639°N 14.50806°E / 35.81639; 14.50806
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RAF Hal Far
HMS Falcon
South Eastern District, Southern Region in Malta
U.S. Navy Grumman F9F-8P Cougars from VFP-62, flying from USS Saratoga, over RAF Hal Far in 1958.
RAF Hal Far is located in Malta
RAF Hal Far
RAF Hal Far
Shown within Malta
Coordinates35°48′59″N 14°30′29″E / 35.81639°N 14.50806°E / 35.81639; 14.50806
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Royal Navy
Controlled byFleet Air Arm
Site history
Built1923 (1923)
In use1929-1946
1946-1965 (1965) (RN Control)
Airfield information
Direction Length and surface
09/27 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) Concrete
13/31 1,800 metres (5,906 ft) Concrete

Royal Air Force Hal Far or more commonly RAF Hal Far is a former Royal Air Force station which was the first permanent airfield to be built on Malta. It was operated by the RAF from 1 April 1929 until 1946 when it was transferred and renamed to HMS Falcon, a Royal Navy stone frigate, and was used by Fleet Air Arm crews. It was transferred back to the RAF on 1 September 1965 and returned to the Maltese Government and redeveloped from January 1979.[1] It is now closed and one of its runways is used by drag racing enthusiasts. The second runway is now a road leading to an industrial estate which was developed recently.[2] The Maltese fire service, the CPD occupy the newer building with the glass control tower on the roof. The old Royal Naval Air Station building is now occupied by the International Safety Training College who utilise part of the runway for firefighting training.


This airfield consisted of two runways, namely Runway 13/31 which was 6,000 feet (1,800 m) long and Runway 9/27, which was 4,800 feet (1,500 m) long. Runway 13/31 was resurfaced between 20 April and 26 May 1959 while the resurfacing of Runway 9/27 was carried out between 12 June and 28 July 1959.[3] Its location on Malta was of great strategic importance in the Mediterranean, since it provided a base for aircraft carrier units en route to the rest of the British Empire. Compared to other airstrips on the island, Hal Far had better approaches over the sea and was the preferred diversionary base. It also provided excellent range facilities, making it the ideal location for armament training by the squadrons.

Hal Far airfield provided various facilities, including an armoury, explosives area, workshops, a compass base and a control tower. It had also a radar test base and a number of hangars. It also included living quarters for H.Q. Staff, Officers and other ranks, and a sick bay, for medical purposes.

Second World War[edit]

Hal Far under attack, 1941.

During the Second World War, Hal Far airfield was one of the main targets for the Luftwaffe and the Regia Aeronautica and suffered several bombings during the blitz. On July and August 1940 in the beginning of the Siege of Malta, the Italian air-raids managed to damage several squadron aircraft. As the raids intensified during 1942 more damage was inflicted on the airfield and the squadrons, present on the airfield. On one particular attack on Hal Far by Junkers Ju 88s, a Fairey Swordfish was badly damaged. Further raids during January 1942 resulted in the destruction at Hal Far of two other Swordfish and a Blackburn Skua, and damaged 15 Hawker Hurricanes, three other Swordfish and a Fairey Fulmar. Further damage to aircraft, airfield buildings and loss of personnel resulted during attacks in 1942 and 1943, with the last bombing being recorded on 21 May 1943.

Hal Far had been the first Maltese airfield to be bombed on 11 June 1940. During this period, 2,300 tons of bombs were dropped on the airfield, nevertheless it was never made unserviceable, due to the efficiency of the airfield repair parties. On the airfield itself the ground crew casualties numbered 30 killed and 84 injured. Various officers and Maltese civilian employees were awarded the George Cross, George Medal and other awards for their courage and bravery in the face of enemy action. With enemy air raids practically at an end, and as aircraft became heavier and traffic had increased significantly, paved runways and taxiways were added to the airfield, together with the completion of runways 13/31 and 09/27.

Post war[edit]

By 1944 Malta had therefore returned to normal and new aircraft were appearing all over the Island. The influx of large numbers of aircraft needed an expansion of dispersal areas and more huts, an undertaking carried out in October 1944. Further accommodation areas were added when FAA squadrons started arriving regularly at Hal Far for training periods.

A different kind of event occurred in January 1945, when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Malta in anticipation of the Malta Conference with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. To deter any possible enemy attack, nine Spitfire IXs of No. 1435 Squadron, and six Mosquito night fighters of No. 256 Squadron, deployed to Hal Far from Grottaglie and Foggia respectively, two of the Mosquitos escorting the Prime Minister's Avro York transport aircraft outside Malta and into Luqa airfield on 29 January. All aircraft remained at Hal Far into early February until all VIPs had left.

After the evolution from piston to jet engines in the 1950s, the airfield had to be closed for three weeks for the resurfacing of the runways. The airfield started housing various training camps by the UK-based Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) Air Divisions. Training including live depth charges dropping, live armament practice and rocket firing on the uninhabited islet of Filfla, and hide and seek exercises with RN submarines in which aircraft sought out and shadowed the underwater 'raiders' and finally carried out mock attacks if they managed to find them. Several units used HMS Falcon for these annual summer camps, which started in 1950, stopped in 1951, and continued from 1952 to 1956.

During 1957, the airfield also served as a civilian airport while the runways at RAF Luqa were being resurfaced. During 1958 Hal Far was the proving base for the world's first assault helicopter squadron.

After being used by the Royal Navy, the Hal Far airfield was returned to the RAF for a short period of time in the mid 1960s, and the last squadron was disbanded on 31 August 1967. This brought to an end 43 very active years of Malta's oldest and most historical airfield. It was subsequently placed on a 'care and maintenance' basis and served as a satellite for RAF Luqa. Between March 1967 and September 1978 the airfield served as a base for the American aircraft maintenance company M.I.A.Co.

During the resurfacing of Luqa's runways, all civilian and military flying was transferred to Hal Far until Luqa became operational again.

RAF Squadrons[edit]

RN squadrons[edit]


  • Air Headquarters Malta Communication Flight RAF formed here on 1 March 1944 from part of the ASR & Communication Flight RAF, moving to Luqa on 2 January 1946.[35]
  • Air Sea Rescue & Communication Flight RAF between 1 March and 25 August 1943, returning on 31 January 1944 and was renamed to the Malta Communications Flight on 1 March 1944.[36]
  • Communication Flight Malta RAF was formed here on 1 February 1943 and was disbanded into the ASR & Communication Flight RAF on 1 March 1943[35]
  • Hal Far Station Flight: DH.60M, Avro 504N, Tutor, Queen Bee & Swordfish[37]
  • Malta Fighter Flight between 19 and 29 April 1940 with the Sea Gladiator, reformed here on 2 May 1940 and was disbanded into 261 Squadron on 1 August 1940[35]
  • No. 418 Flight RAF disbanded here on 2 August 1940[38]


The old control tower of Hal Far

With the transfer of the airfield to the Maltese Government, who planned to convert Hal Far airfield into an industrial area, MIACO was asked to vacate its hangars and offices by September 1978. Both runways have been dug up and further development of the area reduced the airfield to a scar on the land. Runway 13/31 is currently being used by the Malta Drag Racing Association as a quarter mile dragstrip. Runway 9/27 is now a public road linking the various sections of the industrial area. Its scar can still be clearly seen on Google Maps when using the satellite image function. The control tower and the officer's quarters are still intact, together with a few Nissen huts. The kitchens and mess halls, the electricians and radio section cabin are still standing, but in a dilapidated state.

The hangar being used as a refugee camp.

Other parts of the airfield such as the hangar have been transformed into a refugee camp.

On 5 August 2010, the Employment & Training Corporation inaugurated an Underground Sick Bay which lies within the premises. This has been turned into a museum emphasising the period from 1923 to 1945. The website[39] gives an insight of the Museum. A number of model aircraft 1/72 scale have been built by a number of enthusiasts which shows some of the aircraft that landed at Hal Far in this period.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Startpages, Malta (31 March 2014). "Hal Far". Malta Startpages. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Forgotten airfields europe". www.forgottenairfields.com. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  3. ^ "RAF Hal Far - Regiment History, War & Military Records & Archives". www.forces-war-records.co.uk. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  4. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 32.
  5. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 38.
  6. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 39.
  7. ^ a b c Jefford 1988, p. 47.
  8. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 52.
  9. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 55.
  10. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 66.
  11. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 69.
  12. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 74.
  13. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 76.
  14. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 77.
  15. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 78.
  16. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 79.
  17. ^ a b Jefford 1988, p. 83.
  18. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 99.
  19. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 101.
  20. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 105.
  21. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 51.
  22. ^ a b Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 52.
  23. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 58.
  24. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 66.
  25. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 71.
  26. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 72.
  27. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 82.
  28. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 85.
  29. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 126.
  30. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 131.
  31. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 135.
  32. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 138.
  33. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 141.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, p. 368.
  35. ^ a b c Sturtivant & Hamlin 2007, p. 186.
  36. ^ Sturtivant & Hamlin 2007, p. 53.
  37. ^ Sturtivant & Hamlin 2007, p. 261.
  38. ^ Sturtivant & Hamlin 2007, p. 122.
  39. ^ halfarairfieldmalta.com/ Archived 14 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine


  • Jefford, C.G. (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Sturtivant, Ray; Ballance, Theo (1994). The Squadrons of The Fleet Air Arm. Tonbridge, UK: Air-Britain (Historians). ISBN 0-85130-223-8.
  • Sturtivant, Ray; Hamlin, John (2007). Royal Air Force flying training and support units since 1912. Tonbridge, UK: Air-Britain (Historians). ISBN 978-0851-3036-59.

External links[edit]