Descending from the Knights of Saint John, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta modern day role is focused on providing humanitarian assistance and assisting with international humanitarian relations.

But less than a 100 years ago, they operated an air force with with long range transport and bomber aircraft.

In 1947, the post WWII peace treaty forbade Italy to have bomber aircraft and only operate a limited number of transport aircraft. The Italian Air Force opted to give their inventory of SM.82 aircraft because they had not been classified yet as bomber/transport aircraft.

What did the Order of Malta do with their air force?

“These aircraft were operated by Italian Air Force personnel temporarily flying for the Order, carried the Order’s roundels on the fuselage and Italian ones on the wings, and were used mainly for standard Italian Air Force training and transport missions but also for some humanitarian tasks proper of the Order of Malta (like the transport of sick pilgrims to the Lourdes sanctuary).”

In the early 50’s as post-wartime treaties were relaxed, the Order returned the aircraft to the Italian Air Force.

Today, an Order of Malta aircraft is still preserved in the Italian Air Force Museum.

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