May 25 is Argentina’s National Day.
On that day in 1982 the Fuerza Aérea Argentina (Argentine Air Force) carried out an attack with A-4B Skyhawks belonging to the Grupo 5 de Caza that had been given the task to target HMS Coventry and Broadsword, two British ships on duty to the northwest of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).
The A-4 Skyhawks flew just a few feet above the water to avoid radar detection as the following historical photograph, depicting Captain Pablo Carballo (on the left plane) and Lieutenant Carlos Rinke (right, barely visible below the horizon) attacking HMS Broadsword, shows.
Image credit: MoD (RN)
Both Capt. Carballo and Lt. Rinke (flying as “Vulcano flight”) survived the attack (as well as the HMS Broadsword from where the picture was taken), reportedly because the Sea Wolf missile system was unable to choose between their A-4s when they became visible on radar after hiding behind West Falkland and Pebble Island to the South.
The two aircraft released one bomb each one of those missed the target whereas the other one managed to hit the Broadsword in spite of the intense anti-aircraft fire. But the Mk.17 failed to explode.
“Zeus flight”, two A-4s piloted by Lt. Mariano A. Velasco and Alférez Leonardo Barrionuevo, armed with three lighter bombs, soon followed on. Velasco fired his cannons and then released his three bombs that hit and heavily damaged HMS Coventry, that sunk within 20 minutes.
- Sea Harrier, the forgotten hero that won the war in the Falklands. To be replaced by the F-35B.