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NATO ships search for 'Charity'

One of the wartime Gloster Gladiators in Malta.

One of the wartime Gloster Gladiators in Malta.

NATO minesweepers have launched a seabed search off Malta for the remains of a Gloster Gladiator biplane aircraft popularly named Charity, which formed part of the wartime trio of Faith, Hope and Charity.

Charity, which had serial number N5519, was shot down in flames off Malta in July 1940. Its pilot parachuted but was badly burned.

The minesweepers, which are due to enter Grand Harbour tomorrow, are carrying out the search under the supervision of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and the Malta Aviation Museum.

The vessels, using advanced underwater search equipment, are also looking for the remains of other crashed aircraft including a Sky Raider, a Sea Fury and wartime aircraft including a Barracuda naval bomber, an Italian Macchi 200/2002 fighter and a Swordfish naval bomber.

The origin of the Faith, Hope and Charity names is obscure, especially as more than three Gladiator biplanes were eventually pressed into service over Malta, although there were never more than three at any one time.

The fuselage remains of one of them, N5520, known as Faith, are displayed at the War Museum. Hope (N5531) was destroyed on the ground by enemy bombing in May 1941.

The Nato warships are also providing the AFM with a platform for helicopter deck landing training.

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