This Impressive Image Was Taken On This Day In 1982: Argentine A-4B Skyhawks low level attack on HMS Broadsword

Argentine Skyhawks attack
Image credit: MoD (RN)

Argentine A-4 Skyhawks flew ultra low level to attack the Royal Navy warships during the Falklands War in 1982.

On May 25, 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 historical photograph, depicting Captain Pablo Carballo (on the left plane) and Lieutenant Carlos Rinke (right, barely visible below the horizon) attacking HMS Broadsword, shows.

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.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.