The Beaufort Fighter, Malta
Following take-off from Luqa airport in Malta on 17 March 1943, Sergeant Donald Frazee’s Beaufort fighter, in the air with eight others from RAF 272 Squadron, began to lose speed and vibrate. His only option was to ditch the aircraft just outside the mouth of St Julian’s Bay. Both Sgt Frazee and his observer, Sgt Sandery, were rescued unharmed.
More than 60 years later, the Beaufort lies at a depth of 37m and can be reached in about ten minutes by boat from Sliema. Considering its age, the wreckage is in pretty good condition. The emerging outline of the fighter on the sandy bed as you descend through the clear blue water is a superb sight.
The plane is half-buried in the sand and inverted, and the first things that you notice are the undercarriage and gun barrels under the cockpit. The propellers are in place and have been colonised by red sponge. The wheel and tyre remnants hang lazily from the undercarriage legs, accompanied by large bunches of squid eggs.
Although the fighter is smaller than Malta’s other famous aircraft wreck, the Blenheim Bomber, it is in slightly shallower water and is very photogenic. It’s a great treat for experienced divers.