This impressive image was taken 30 years ago today: Argentine A-4B Skyhawks low level attack on HMS Broadsword

May 25 2012 - 7 Comments

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.


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    • trnsprt

      I don’t appreciate the intent but I love the courage! The A-4… what a wonderful aircraft.

    • Luciano

      Actually, May 25th celebrates the creation of the “Primera Junta”, the first step in Argentina’s independence from Spain, in 1810. It just happens the attack happened the same day.

    • Andrew X

      Ditto Luciano – I actually had to google to confirm, as I could not believe that any country would wrap a national day around that. That would actually have been rather pathetic. (They didn’t even sink the ship!). The writer certainly implies something that should be corrected.

    • wau! it takes you where the action was

    • gerka

      we sunk a royal navy ship, i cant remember such a casualty for the brits since WW2!, wow, i certainly feel proud…

    • Claire

      I have to put the record straight here…….this picture was not taken from HMS Broadsword, but from HMS Penelope……and how I know, it my husband took the photo……he has never wanted fame from it, but with so many people & publications using the photo……..we have the original picture here in his album from he conflict

      • Spider Webster

        Lt Bell Davis took the photo from Broadsword. There were 4 aircraft split up into 2 pairs, 2 attacked Broadsword and 2 attacked Coventry moments apart. I also have an original photo scanned and uploaded onto One of the bombs dropped seconds after this photo missed me by about 10ft.