Undertaking a variety of missions in the Middle East, Mediterranean and European theaters, the Baltimore's roles included reconnaissance, target-towing, maritime patrol, night intruder and even served as highly uncomfortable fast transports. The Baltimore saw limited Fleet Air Arm service with aircraft transferred from the RAF in the Mediterranean to equip a squadron in 1944. Used in the anti-submarine role during the war, the Baltimore achieved moderate success, sinking up to eight U-boats.
The RAF also transferred aircraft to other Allies in the Mediterranean area. After the capitulation of Italy in 1943, the type was used intensively in the Italian campaign to clear the road to Rome for advancing Allied forces. After the armistice, an Italian-manned squadron, the 28th Bomber Wing, was equipped with ex-RAF Baltimores, becoming the co-belligerent Stormo Baltimore. The Italians suffered considerable attrition during their training phase on the Baltimore. The majority of accidents were during takeoffs and landings due to the aircraft's fairly high wing loading, high approach speed and a directional stability problems during takeoffs. The Italians only operated the Baltimore for roughly six months. Many of those operations were in Yugoslavia and Greece, providing air support for partisan forces or dropping supplies.
Baltimores in Malta
No.69 Sq was the permanent squadron based on the island equipped with Maryland and Beaufort but in Mid 1942 the first six Baltimores arrived. One was almost destroyed on the ground when a Beaufort bomber parked nearby caught fire and its torpedoes exploded. At the end of the month the squadron’s strength was recorded as a mix of three Baltimores and three Spitfires. More aircraft arrived and Wellington VIII with ASV radar joined the squadron. By February 1944, 69 Sq found that it was too far from action and move was made to Montecarvo in Italy. Five Baltimore IVs and five Mk.Vs flew to their new home on the 7th February 1944 at the end of most significant period of the squadron’s life.
No.21Sq RAF with Baltimores also visited the station at Hal Far. A tragedy occurred on 9th August when a Baltimore of 21Sq AH173 leaving Hal Far for routine inspection of Castel Benito crashed on take off with the death of all the three crew members. The wing’s final operation was on the 17th August when 11 Boston and 5 Baltimores raided transport targets in the toe of Italy One Boston HK869 returning early with engine trouble crashed at Luqa with the loss of all on board. Two days later the wing left Hal Far and moved to Gerbibi/ Cuticchi in Sicily.
The Baltimore Mk.5.was upgraded with two 1,700 hp (1,268 kW) Wright R-2600-29 radial piston engines, wings fitted with 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns. 600 aircraft of the type were
built. The Mk.4, under lend-lease to RAF. Carried four 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Brownings machine guns in the wings. 294 aircraft being built.
In general the squadron was equipped with a mothly collection of Beaufighter Xs, Martinets TT1s, Baltimore Vs, Seafire IIIs, Mosquito XXV, Oxford 1 and
Walrus amphibian. The Mosquitos were used for converting pilots to twin-engined type and for radar calibration duties. At the
end of their service life the two Baltimores along with other types were dumped down the cliffs at Hal Far into the Mediterranean sea.
Kit: Martin Baltimore
Photos below show the real Baltimore at Hal Far during service and when its service came to an end being dumped down the cliffs at Hal Far into the sea.
Carmel J. Attard
Photos and text © by Carmel J. Attard