Living in East Anglia (the bulge on the southeast side of the UK, to the north of London) you're quickly struck by the sheer number of airfields around, all built during the Second World War. This has lead to the suggestion the UK was one of the worlds largest aircraft carriers during the Second World War, from which a constant stream of aircraft bombarded the German war machine. If this is the case then an escort carrier would have been Malta.
Its well known that planes operating out of Malta caused massive havoc amongst the supplies heading for the North Africa. And that the dogged resistance and perseverance of the people of Malta in the face of overwhelming bombing, drought and starvation led to the island receiving a well deserved Victoria Cross. However there is a lesser known story to be told. When the Italians opened the siege their front line fighter was the CR.42, which at first glance was utterly outmatched by the Hurricanes of the RAF. However the first few engagements went the CR.42's way as the nimble biplanes were easily able to out turn the Hurricanes, and they were built well enough to take a burst or two from the Hurricanes. However tactics quickly changed and the tempo of the air war stepped up, and the humble CR.42 found itself pushed to one side.
The CR.42 then found itself in another role. From the outbreak of the siege British bombers flew from Malta to attack targets on the Italian mainland and Sicily. Often these would be lone aircraft marauding around the countryside making nuisance raids. Here speed wasn't needed to catch the lumbering bombers. The planes robust construction allowed them to survive the bombers guns and the twin nose mounted 12.7mm machine guns could potentially do serious damage if well aimed.
An example is the battle between Maresciallo Vincent Patriarca, an Italian American serving with the Italian Air Force, and Pilot Officer D. F. Hutt, an Australian serving with 40 Squadron.
40 Squadron had only recently been converted to Wellington's, starting out the war in Blenheim's. A month after their conversion in October 1940 they deployed to Malta. At 1845 on the 5th of December 1941 twenty Wellington's took off from RAF Luqa. Their target was the Royal Arsenal in Naples. Upon learning of their approach Maresciallo Patriarca took off from Capodichino airfield.

Maresciallo Vincent Patriarca
He spotted PO Hutts Wellington at around 2130, and began an attack. There followed a long protracted fight where he fired nearly all his ammunition before he finally shot the Wellington down. When he landed he found his tail plane had been shredded by return fire, and he was almost out of fuel.
PO Hutt and his flight engineer, Pilot Officer J.E. Miller, were seen to bail out of the crashing Wellington, and later taken prisoner. Of the other four men of the crew nothing is known, however one of the other Wellington's on the raid reported seeing distress lights off the coast, and despite a SAR operation being launched from Malta no trace of them was ever found.

But to close this article I want to talk about a much more daring incident. Earlier in the campaign a pilot called Ken Rees (who was shot down in 1942 and was sent to Stalag Luft III from where he participated in the Great Escape), was flying a solo mission against Naples. On the night of November the 6th over Naples Rees rear gunner spotted a CR.42 in the bright moonlight, closing on them. Rees immediately reacted by throwing his plane into a dive, only to be caught and dazzled by searchlights. By the time he'd regained his vision he was hurtling above the city at 500 feet. Whilst his wild dive had lost the night fighter, the searchlights still had him pinned, so he took the only course open to him, he flew lower. At roof top height he finally lost the searchlights, at this point in his account Rees remarks about how wide the streets of Naples are, so you can imagine how low he was. Suddenly they flashed out into the middle of the harbour, Rees took them down even lower hoping to sneak out to sea and escape.
Suddenly in the gloom loomed a battleship, and they would pass to starboard. The battleship let fly with everything they had, however the surprise of finding a heavy bomber skimming the waves at practically point blank range meant that all of the Italians fire went wide. Rees' front gunner began to rake the battleship, and in Rees own words:

"As we shot past it full throttle, I could see Joe’s .303 Brownings blazing away. Silly bugger was trying to sink a battleship with a pair of .303s."

Despite this hair raising incident the bomber made it back to Malta safely.