Argentine Skyhawks in the Malvinas
for the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean located approximately 300 miles east of the coast of Argentina. They are a territory of the United Kingdom, but are claimed by Argentina. In South America the islands are known as the "Islas Malvinas".
(02 APR 1982 - 14 JUN 1982) Argentina Malvinas War Aviation Events.
- 22 MAR 1982:
Argentina finalizes plans to invade the British occupied Falkland Islands based on a long standing claim that they belong to Argentina. The islands are known as the "Malvinas" in Argentina.
- 28 MAR 1982:
The Argentina Navy Third Escuadrilla flying A-4Q (slightly modified A-4B) Skyhawks performed recon missions and provided air cover from their Aircraft Carrier the "25 de Mayo" of "Task Force 20" for the amphibious ships of "Task Force 40" as they approach the islands.
- 02 APR 1982:
Argentina ground forces invade and occupy the islands.
- 30 APR 1982:
An approximation of the Argentine Air forces preparing for combat with the approaching British Forces is:
- 14 A-4C Skyhawks (Grupo 4 de Casza Escuadron III) at SAn Julian
- 18 A-4B Skyhawks (Grupo 5 de Casza Escuadron IV and V) at Rio Gallegos
- 2 KC-130 Tankers based out of Rio Gallegos during the war
- 6 Canberra B62 Bombers located at Terlew
- 24 Daggers at Rio Grande and San Julian (Daggers were Israeli built Miarage 5 aircraft)
- 8 French Mirage IIIEA at Rio Gallegos and Comodoro Rivadavia
- 12 +- Pucaras at Comodoro Rivadavia and Sant Cruz
- Aprox. 60 Pucaras, MB-339A and Mentor aircraft located in various fields in the islands.
- 6 Learjet 35A
- 7 C-130E
- 01 MAY 1982:
British forces commenced Malvinas operations with a Vulcan bomber dropping twenty-one 1,000 pound bombs across the Port Stanley runway.
Later in the day a British Sea Harrier piloted by Flight Lieutenant Barton shot down a Argentine Air Force Grupo 6 Mirage with a Sidewinder missile. Second Mirage flown by Captain Garcica Cuerva is damaged by a British Sidewinder and is later shot down by not so friendly AAA fire over Port Stanley. Captain Cuerva is killed.
Three Argentine Daggers bombed three British ships shelling Puerto Argentino (Stanley), the British ships Glamorgan and Alaccrity are subject to close misses.
Grupo 4 A-4C Skyhawks flew four missions of four aircraft each making no significant contact with the British.
Grupo 5 A-4B (A-4P) Skyhawks fly several missions but do not make contact with any British shipping.
Both naval fleets were close enough to enter combat. The Argentine Carrier Task Force was positioned northwest and the British task force northeast of the islands.
Argentine Navy Task Force 79 with "25 de Mayo" at its center attempts to locate the British Task Force using S-2E Tracker Aircraft. The A-4Q Skyhawks are kept on alert for an attack against the British Carrier Group if they are found. Some British ships are found, but a second recon flight fails to relocate them. The Navy A-4Q Skyhawks, without a target, are not launched.
- 02 MAY 1982:
The Argentine Carrier Task Force could not locate the British Task Force which had apparently sailed east and out of range. She was also concerned with poor weather conditions for launching heavily loaded aircraft. Then due to the sinking of the Argentine Cruiser "General Belcrano" by a British submarine she was ordered home and she retired from the area.
Poor weather conditions prevented Argentina based aircraft from flying missions to the islands.
- 04 MAY 1982:
A British Sea Harrier of 800 Squadron and piloted by RAF Flight Lieutenant Ted Ball was shot down by Argentine anti-aircraft fire at Goose Green killing Lieutenant Ball.
LCDR Augusto Bedacarratz and LT Armando Mayora flying Dassault Super Etendard aircraft equipped with Exocet missiles attack the HMS Sheffield (Type 42 Destroyer) striking her with one missile. The missile does not explode by starts serious fires. HMS Sheffield sank later in heavy seas.
- 05 MAY 1982:
Before entering port, the Third Escuadrilla flew nine air defense missions armed with AIM-9B air-to-air missiles. British bogies had been detected by Argentine Navy Destroyer radar but no contact took place with the Sea Harriers.
- 06 MAY 1982: The British lose two Harrier jets, possible due to a mid-air collision.
- 09 MAY 1982:
The Third Escuadrilla sent all eight A-4Q Skyhawks and 12 pilots, including squadron leader Capitan de Corbeta Castro Fox, to the Argentine Navy's Río Grande Base in Tierra del Fuego State.
Grupo 4 attempted to strike the British ships but deteriorating weather forces most Skyhawks to abort. One flight attempting to complete the mission lost two Skyhawks. Teniente Jorge Farias flying C-303 simply disappeared, and C-313 flown by Teniente Jorge Casco crashed into cliffs of South Jason Island. Teniente Casco's body was found in the wreckage.
- 12 MAY 1982 - 14:00 hours:
Three formations of Argentine Aircraft arrive. The HMS Brilliant (Type 22 frigate) and the HMS Glasgow were attacked with bombs and 20MM Cannon, with near misses causing damage to the Glasgow. Air Force Grupo 5 lost 3 of 4 Skyhawks during the attack. Flight Leader Primer Teniente Oscar Bustos (C-246) and Teniente Jorge Ibarlucea (C-208) were shot down by Seawolf Missiles from HMS Brilliant, and Teniente Mario Nivoli (C-206) crashed into the sea evading a SAM. Only Teniente Alfreez Jorge Vazquez survived the mission and returned to base.
During the second wave of the attack, Argentine Air Force Grupo 5 A-4B Skyhawks again attacked the HMS Glasgow and HMS Brilliant. Capitan Zelaya, Primer Teniente Fausto Gavazzi and Primer Teniente Alfreez Dellepiane attack the Glasgow and Teniente Juan Arraras attacks the Brilliant. HMS Brilliant is not hit when Arraras 500 lb bombs skip over the Brilliant when they strike the water. Gavazzi dropped a bomb that struck Glasgow in the side at the water line. The bomb passed through Glasgow without exploding within the ship but left Glasgow with two large hull holes on the water line. While egressing the area Gavazzi's Skyhawk (C-248) was shot down by Argentine flak near Darwin, killing the pilot. The other returning aircraft experienced what was to be a common problem for returning Skyhawks in that their low level flying had caused salt spray to form a crust on the canopies causing difficult landing conditions.
Believing HMS Brilliant had been sunk, her name was painted below the canopy of C-239.
Argentine C-130 refueling two Skyhawks.
From Maximiliano Guillen
- 21 MAY 1982:
Argentina uses an Italian built Naval Macchi 339 to strafe and rocket the British ship Argonaut.
A ground based British Stinger downs an Argentine Pucara Tubo-Prop Aircraft.
Three Argentine Daggers attack the British Ships, one is downed by Seacat Missile from the HMS Plymouth, a second strafes HMS Broadsword and the third strikes the HMS Antrim with a 1000 lb bomb that does not explode.
Three Argentine Daggers attack the British ships, one is downed by a Seacat Missile from HMS Broadsword, the second attacks the "Fort Austin" but is downed by a Sea Wolf Missile from the Broadsword and the third strafes and bombs the Broadsword. The bomb is a very near miss.
Two Argentine Pucaras attack, one is destroyed by a British Harrier.
Grupo 4 Skyhawks fly s sorties, are intercepted by the British CAP and suffers losses. British Harriers down two of the departing Skyhawks with Sidewinder Missiles killing both pilots. LCDR Neill Thomas in Harrier XZ794 and LCDR Mike Blissett in Harrier XZ496 shoot down Teniente Nestor Lopez in C-309 and Teniente Daniel Manzotti in C-325.
Two flights of three A-4B Skyhawks each; the first flown by Primer Teniente Filippini with Teniente Vicente Autiero and Alferz Vottero and the second by Primer Teniente Mariano Velasco with Teniente Fernando Robledo and Teniente Mariano Osses attack HMS Argonaut, a Leander Class Frigate. Eight bombs came very close, two 1000 lb. bombs strike the ship but do not explode. However the HMS Argonaut is severely damaged and no longer effectively in the war.
A Grupo 5 flight of two Skyhawks flown by Capitan Carballo and Primer Teniente Aleferez Carmona find and Carmona mistakenly attacks the abandoned Argentina freighter Rio Carcarana. Left with a single 1000 lb.bomb, Carballo continues the mission and finds HMS Ardent. His attack results in a near miss. Both Skyhawks return safely to their base at Rio Gallegos. Four Argentine Daggers attack, one is downed by a British Sidewinder Missile prior to the attack. They are taken under fire by the British Ships Antrim, Plymouth and Intrepid using Seacat Missiles. No Daggers are hit by the missiles, but one is struck by AAA from the Fort Austin. One Dagger strafes HMS Brilliant with 30MM Cannon.
Three Argentine Navy Third Escuadrilla Skyhawks attack the HMS Ardent striking her with several 500 lb. bombs, but are downed by the British CAP (Harriers) as they egress the area.
After attacking HMS Ardent, A-4Q Skyhawk 3-A-314 piloted by Teniente de Fragata Márquez exploded in flight when hit by gunfire from Flight Lieutenant Leeming, Royal Navy in Sea Harrier FRS.1 (XA457) of 800 Squadron. Skyhawk 3-A-314 pilot Teniente de Fragata Márquez, Argentine Navy, died instantly.
Skyhawk 3-A-307 piloted by Capitan de Corbeta Philippi was shot down by an AIM9L air-to-air missile fired by Lieutenant Morrel, Royal Navy in Sea Harrier FRS.1 (XA457) of 800 Squadron. The Argentine pilot ejected near the south mouth of the San Carlos Strait. Capitan Philippi was rescued and back in Argentina on 30 May 1982.
Skyhawk 3-A-312 piloted by Teniente de Navio José César Arca was hit by gunfire from Lieutenant Morell, Royal Navy in Sea Harrier FRS.1 (XZ457) of 800 Squadron. He later ejected over Port Argentino Bay. The pilot-less Skyhawk circled nearly hitting Teniente de Navio Arca who was hanging in his parachute. A Argentine anti-aircraft battery opened fire and shot down Skyhawk 3-A-312, on the beach, 400 meters south of the Argentino airport.
A second flight of three Argentine A-4Q Navy Skyhawks attack the HMS Ardent. They receive some AAA damage but are able to return to their base at Rio Grande.
This second flight was flown by Teniente de Navio Benito I. Rotolo in 3-A-301, Teniente de navio Carlos Lecour in 3-A-305 and Teniente de Navio Roberto Sylvester in 3-A-306.
The HMS Ardent sinks 22 MAY 1982 due to the damage caused by the attacks.
British Frigate HMS Ardent after being hit by the Mark 82 bombs of the section lead by Capitan de Corbeta Philippi, of the Argentine Navy.
Photograph provided by Jose Gonzales.
Third Escuadrilla Mission Debrief.
Two British Harriers intercept 3 Argentine Daggers and down three of them. ( The British Sidewinder Heat Seeking Missile was superior in performance to the Argentine version of the Air-to-Air Missile.)
Five A-4 Skyhawks from the 5th Air Brigade are met by heavy British AAA fire with no damage to either side.
- 22 MAY 1982:
Eight Argentine Skyhawks attack the HMS Broadsword but obtain no hits.
Three Argentine Daggers attack, one is shot down by a British Harrier.
British report Argentine Super Etendards north of Port Stanley but they do not find the task force.
The British lose a Harrier to unknown causes.
- 23 MAY 1982:
A flight of four Grupo 5 A-4B Skyhawks attack in two groups. The first attack is led by Capitan Carballo with Primer teniente Alferez Gomez flying his wing. They approach HMS Antelope fast and low over the water. The results of the attack are one 1000 lb. un-exploded bomb in the Antelope's stern. It is believed that the Skyhawk piloted by Alférez H. Gómez stroke Antelope with the 1000 lb. bomb that did not explode. (Later this bomb did explode while being defused, leading to further explosions that sunk the ship.) Capaitan Carballo's Skyhawk is severely damaged by AAA and an exploding SAM, and barely escapes a second SAM. Carvballo's damaged Skyhawk makes it back to base and post-flight inspection finds a damaged fin on one of his drop tanks. This may have been caused by striking the mast rigging of the Antelope.
The second attack from this flight is flown by Primer Teniente Guadagnini and Teniente Rinke and results in another 1000 lb. unexploded bomb in the Antelope. Primer Teniente Guadagnini flying A-4B Skyhawk C-242 was killed when his Skyhawk was struck, mostly likely by a British Sea Wolf SAM from HMS Broadsword.
Later,Argentine Navy Third Escuadrilla A-4Q Skyhawks, attack the British Frigate Antelope. The Navy flight consisted of Capitan de Corbeta Castro Fox and Zubizarreta, Benitez and Oliverira. Zuizarreta would die when his aircraft, laden with un-expended ordinance he could not discard, blew a tire causing his aircraft to veer of the runway upon landing. Zuizarreta ejected but did not have the needed speed to facilitate completion of the chute deployment and was killed. His aircraft, 3-A-309 ironically was not damaged.
The British Frigate HMS Antelope going down by the stern at San Carlos Bay.
Photograph provided by Jose Gonzales.
Five Air Force Escuadron I Grupo 4 A-4C Skyhawks attacked the Sir Galahad, the Sir Lancelot and the Sir Bedivere with hits on each of the ships with a 1000lb bomb.
Four Daggers strike the British task force bombing the Sir Lancelot, strafing Fearles and Sir Galahad, and dropping near misses close to Fort Austin, Norland and Stromness.
Another Formation of Daggers is intercepted by British Harriers and three are shot down with Sidewinders.
Grupo 4 Skyhawks flew missions without loss of aircraft or recorded damage to British shipping.
- 24 MAY 1982:
A British LSL is badly hit, another one loaded with am munitions has an un-exploded bomb on her stern.
Grupo 5 Skyhawks, five A-4B, attack British shipping and obtain near-misses on several ships. Most of the Skyhawks received AAA damage but all are able to return to base. Ships attacked are not identified.
HMS Sir Galahad is struck by 500 lb. bomb that fails to explode.
HMS Sir Lancelot is struck by a bomb that fails to explode but it started fires.
A flight of three Grupo 4 Skyhawks led by Teniente Ricardo Lucero, and a second flight of three led by Primer Teniente Jose Vazquez, are likely responsible for the Sir Galahas and Sir Lancelot hits. Skyhawk C-305 flown by Teneiente Jorge Bono was damaged and losing fuel, as were others, but his aircraft lost altitude and crashed into King George Bay killing the pilot.
- 25 MAY 1982:
LSL (landing ship) RFA Sir Bedivere was strafed by Navy Mirage-5 Daggers with 30mm canon fire.
HMS Broadsword detected a formation of Skyhawks preparing to attack, passed this data to the HMS Coventry which fired a Sea Dart Missile and destroyed one of the Skyhawks. This was a Grupo 5 A-4B C-244 flown by Palaver in the process of aerial re-fueling from an Argentine KC-130H. This missile attack disrupted the planned Grupo 5 mission.
Four Grupo 4 Skyhawks led by Capaitan Garcia with Teniente Lucero, Teniente Paredi, and Alferez Gerardo Isaac attack the British ships. Teniente Lucero flying A-4C C-319 was exploded at low level possible by a Sea Dart from HMS Yarmouth, the other three aircraft completed their runs but obtained no hits. Teniente Lucero was recovered HMS Fearless. HMS Coventry tracks and destroys a Skyhawk with a Sea Dart Missile as the Skyhawks egress the area. Grupo 4 A-4C C-304 flown by Garcia is damaged and he is forced to bail out. However, neither force is aware of his survival. His body was found more than a year later in his survival raft when it washed ashore on Golding Island.
Skyhawk C-312 of Grupo 4 flown by Teniente Paredi was so damaged that it required aerial tanking with the Argentine KC-130H all the way back to San Julian.
Late afternoon four Skyhawks (Air Force Escuadron III Grupo 5 Skyhawks piloted by Captain Carballo, Teniente C. Rinke, Primer Teniente Velazco and Primer Teniente Alférez J. Barrionuevom attacked the British Force, the first two Skyhawks (Carbello and Rinke) going for the HMS Broadsword. Four bombs were dropped, three very close and the fourth entered the ship five feet above the waterline. It crashed upward and wrecked a Lynx Helicopter on the ship's landing pad and then crashed into the sea. The second flight of two Skyhawks (Captain Velazco's flight) then attacked, going for HMS Coventry. Broadsword was tracking them with her Sea Wolf Battery, but HMS Coventry turned into the line of fire. The Skyhawks were taking AAA hits but stayed the course and Velasco in C-207 struck the Coventry with bombs which resulted in her sinking.
Air Force Grupo 5 A-4P (A-4B) Skyhawks Attack - May 25, 1982.
- 27 MAY 1982:
Four Grupo 5 Skyhawks flown by Capitan Carballo, Teniente Rink, Primer Teniente Velasco and Teniente Osses are armed with anti-personnel 400kg parachute retarded bombs. Capitan Carballo and his wing-man Teniente Rink attack the British troops at Ajax Bay. Velasco and Barrionuevo follow up Carballo's flight and Velasco's Skyhawk (C-215) is severely damaged by ground fire and AAA. (It is believed HMS Fearless does the fatal damage.) Velasco is forced to eject and he lands safely and is able to find friendly forces on the ground. The remaining Skyhawks return to Rio Gallegos with heavy damage.
Early evening two Argentine Etendards attacked with Exocet Missiles against HMS Ambuscade (Type 21 Frigate) who released countermeasure chaff. The missiles were diverted from Ambuscade, but then found and locked in on the Sea Atlantic Conveyor, a large freighter loaded with supplies and helicopters. Both Exocets hit the Conveyor, dooming her and all her cargo.
- 29 MAY 1982:
Until May 29th, Argentine bombing missions were directed at San Carlos. Several Skyhawks were lost.
- 30 MAY 1982:
Two Argentine Etendards, one equipped with an Exocet missile, attack the British Task Force containing the two British Aircraft Carriers. According to the Argentine account the HMS Invincible was struck. The British account states the missile passed between HMS Exter and HMS Avenger. HMS Invincible returned to England showing no damage to the carrier.
As a planned follow-up attack to the Exocet attack, four Argentine Air Force Escuadron I Grupo 4 Skyhawks with 500 lb. bombs attack what they believe was the target of the "Exocet", the Invincible. However what they find is the HMS Avenger and the nearby HMS Exeter. Exeter shoots down two Grupo 4 Skyhawks using Sea Dart Missiles. First Lieutenant Vazquez in C-301 and First Lieutenant Castillo in C-310 ware killed in this action. First Lieutenant E. Ureta, First Lieutenant Alférez G. Isaac were able to return to their base convinced the attack was against the Invincible.
Gurpo 4 Capaitan Mario Cafaratti, Teniente Zattara, Teniente Paredi and Alferez Codrington attack after sunset. Flying through heavy AAA all the Skyhawks were damaged and required repeated re-fueling all the way back to base. One Skyhawk ran our of fuel as it taxied towards the hangars.
- 01 JUN 1982:
Argentine C-130E delivering supplies to Argentine ground forces is downed by British Harrier. Entire crew is killed.
- 07 JUN 1982:
Argentine Lear Jet on a photo/recon mission is destroyed by a British Sea Dart Missile from HMS Exeter. These aircraft also served as "Pathfinders" for Skyhawk attack missions. The entire crew is lost.
- 08 JUN 1982:
Five Argentine Daggers strike HMS Plymouth with four 1000 lb bombs, but none explode.
Grupo 5 Skyhawks loaded with 500 lb. bombs and led by Primer Teniente Cachon with Teniente Rink , Primer Teniente Alferez Carmona, Teniente Galvez and Teniente Alferez Gomez fly low over the British troops at Fitzroy where Galvez's Skyhawk receives damage from ground fire. They then find two British ships in Port Pleasant, the HMS Tristam and the HMS Sir Galahad. The Skyhawk Pilot Cachon scored hits with 500 lb. bombs on Sir Tristam which was devoid of troops. HMS Sir Galahad was also struck by 500 lb. bombs from Skyhawks flown by Galvez and Gomez and many of the troops aboard her were killed or injured. Sir Galahd is towed out to sea and sunk as a war grave on 26 MAY 1982.
Grupo 5 Skyhawks fly their second mission of the day with anti-shipping ordnance, with Primer Teniente Bolzan, Primer Teniente Sanchez, Teniente Arraras and Teniente Alferez Vazquez. At the mouth of Choiseul Suond Teniente Vazquez finds HMS Fearless landing craft (L-703 Foxtrot 4) and hits it with one bomb which explodes and sinks the craft. The British Harrier CAP then discovers the Skyhawks and dive at high speed toward the Argentine formation. British Flt Lt. Dave Morgan in ZA177 shoots down Teniente Arraras in C- 226 with a Sidewinder heat seeking missile and Teniente Arraras is killed. A second Sidewinder from Morgan destroys C-228 flown by Vazquez and he is killed. Primer Teniente Bolzan flying C-204 was then killed, either by cannon fire from Morgan or a missile from Lt Dave Smith in XZ499. Primer Teniente Sanchez escaped the attack by the British CAP and egress-ed the area. He was, however, very low on fuel. It was only with the aid of a courageous KC-130H Tanker Crew who flew dangerous into the British CAP operating area was he able to find the tanker and obtained the needed fuel to return home.
Grupo 4 Skyhawks are loaded with anti-personnel ordnance and attempt to attack British ground troops. All receive damage from ground fire, AAA and exploding SAMs but are able to return to base`.
- 13 JUN 1982:
Grupo 5 Skyhawks fly their final missions. They bomb British ground forces but no significant damage is reported. Several Skyhawks are damaged but all are able to return to base.
- 14 JUN 1982:
A Canberra B62 Bomber is shot down by an Sea Dart SAM from HMS Exeter, one of the crew of two survives, This is the last Argentine aircraft lost in the conflict.
Conflict comes to an end.
Argentine Air Force Skyhawk losses:
Grupo 4: 9 A-4C aircraft and 8 pilots
- C-301: Capitan José Daniel Vazquez (KIA) 30 MAY 1982
- C-303: Primer Teniente Jorge Ricardo Farias (KIA) 09 MAY 1982
- C-304: Mayor Jorge Osvaldo Garcia (KIA) 25 MAY 1982
- C-305: Primer Teniente Jorge Alberto Bono (KIA) 24 MAY 1982
- C-309: Primer Teniente Néstor Edgardo Lopez (KIA) 21 MAY 1982
- C-310: Capitan Omar Jesus Castillo (KIA) 30 May 1982
- C-313: Primer Teniente Jorge Eduardo Casco (KIA) 09 May 1982
- C-319: Teniente Lucero (Recovered) 25 MAY 1982
- C-325: Capitan Daniel Fernando Manzotti (KIA) 21 MAY 1982
- C-204: Capitan Danilo Rubén Bolzan (KIA) 08 JUN 1982
- C-206: Primer Teniente Mario Victor Nivoli (KIA) 12 MAY 1982
- C-208: Primer Teniente Jorge Rubén Ibarlucea (KIA) 12 MAY 1982
- C-215: Teniente Velasco (Recovered) 27 MAY 1982
- C-226: Primer Teniente Juan José Arraras (KIA) 08 JUN 1982
- C-228: Teniente Alfredo Jorge Alberto Vazquez (KIA) 08 JUN 1982
- C-242: Capitan Luciano Gudagnini (KIA> 23 MAY 1982
- C-244: Mayor Hugo Angel Palaver (KIA) 25 MAY 1982
- C-246: Capitan Manuel Oscar Bustos (KIA) 12 MAY 1982
- C-248: Capitan Fausto Gavazzi (KIA> 12 MAY 1982
Argentine Navy Skyhawk losses:
Third Escuadrilla: 3 aircraft and 2 pilots
- 3-A-307 Capitan de Corbeta Philippi was recovered
- 3-A-312 Teniente de Navio Jose Cesar Arca was recovered
- 3-A-314 Teniente De Fragata Marquez KIA
Major British ship loses from air attack, according to the British Task Force Commander:
Two Destroyers sunk, three damaged
Two Frigates sunk, two damaged
One freighter (container ship) sunk
Two LSL sunk, one damaged.