The real war, in terms of order and organization, is surprisingly similar to a brothel in fire. The Falklands conflict was no exception - the chain of sea and land battles in the South Atlantic, which rattled in May-June 1982, was a good example of what modern military operations look like in practice.
Crazy conflict on the edge of the Earth, in which Argentina but not very well-off with impoverished Britain “butted”. The first urgently needed a “small victorious war” and she found nothing better than to unleash a territorial dispute 150-year-old. The British accepted the challenge and set off to defend the honor of the British Empire for 12 000 miles from their native shores. The whole world watched in amazement at the "dispute between two bald men because of a comb."
As it often happens, the “small victorious war” has become a cruel defeat. Argentina was completely unprepared for any serious hostilities. A total of six anti-ship missiles AM38 "Exochet", two tanker aircraft and two more or less serviceable SP-2H "Neptune" radar detection aircraft. Fleet - stupid "stubs" of fleets of leading powers:
- the menacing cruiser "General Belgrano" - the old American cruiser "Phoenix", miraculously escaped death in the bay of Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack. You can't escape the fate - after 40 years, “Phoenix” - “Belgrano” was sunk in the Atlantic after all.
- the super-aircraft carrier Bentizisco de Mayo - the former Dutch Karel Dorman, originally the British aircraft carrier HMS Venerable, launched in the 1943 year;
- destroyers "Ippolito Bouchard" and "Luis Piedrabuena" - former American destroyers of the type "Allen M. Sumner" are also from World War II.
Isn't it true, the dubious forces for attacking a country that from 1588 of the year to the beginning of the 40s of the 20th century had no equal in the sea?
Queen's fleet goes to the South
The Great Victory of the British fleet you cannot call it an accident: a third of the ships of the squadron of Her Majesty were hit by Argentine bombs! Fortunately for the British, Argentine pilots used rusty American ammunition - after lying in the warehouse for thirty years, for some reason they refused to explode.
The explosion of the cellars of the ammunition frigate "Entiloup"
A small frigate Plymouth received a “gift” from the sky, but none of the bombs worked properly.
Destroyer "Glasgow" - a direct hit 1000-pound bombs. After breaking through several decks, a dangerous object rolled into the engine room, but ... an explosion did not occur.
The frigate "Antrim" - a direct hit 1000-fnl. aerial bombs Argentine pilots again failed fuse.
The frigate “Broadsward” - unsuccessfully discarded 500-fnl. the bomb ricocheted off the crest of a wave and tore the frigate aboard. She flashed a black shadow across the interior of the ship, crashing flimsy bulkheads and mechanisms on her way, flew out to the flight deck, crushed the helicopter, and ... waving goodbye with stubs of stabilizers, she fell into the water.
The frigate "Argonaut" - heavy damage from two unexploded bombs. The ship lost its combat capability.
The death of the frigate "Entiloup"
The landing of the British troops hung in the balance:
The landing ship "Sir Lancelot" - on the approach to the Falkland Islands received a direct hit 1000-fnl. air bomb Fortunately for the British, detonation did not happen - otherwise, the ship, loaded to the brim with marines and equipment, would have turned into a hellish brazier.
The landing ship, “Sir Galahed”, could also die on the way - in the open ocean “Sir Galahed” received a terrible blow by 1000-fnl. a bomb that, once again, spared the British
However, the ship could not get away from fate: the Argentine Air Force ground attack aircraft burned the "Sir Galahed" on boarding the Bluff Cove. By that time, most of the marines had landed, however, 40 people had burned down with the ship.
The third landing ship, Sir Tristram, during the landing of the Marines in Bluff Cove, was fiercely attacked by the Argentinean aviation, as a result, 500-fn was stuck in his deck. bomb. The British sailors and marines in horror rushed into the icy water - away from the dangerous "attraction". The “humane” bomb, having waited for the last sailor to leave the ship, was immediately activated. “Sir Tristram” burned for several hours - it’s scary to imagine if at that moment hundreds of Marines were on board.
"Sir Tristram" returns from war
By the way, during the raid on Bluff Cove, the Argentines, in addition to the two landing ships, managed to seriously damage one of the 200-ton lighters with a British landing force (later sank).
In total, according to statistics, 80% of Argentine bombs and missiles that hit the ships of Her Majesty, did not work in a regular manner! It is easy to imagine what would happen if they all exploded - Glasgow, Plymouth, Argonaut, landing ships — they would all inevitably die. Having lost a third of the squadron, Great Britain lost the opportunity to conduct military operations on the other side of the Earth and lost the Falklands War. Truly, the British were on the verge of disaster!
But the 20% of the detonated ammunition was more than enough to destroy six ships of the British squadron!
- the destroyer "Sheffield" - burned down from unexploded PKR "Exochet";
- the destroyer "Coventry" - died under the bombs of Argentine stormtroopers;
- the frigate "Ardent" - numerous hits of aerial bombs, explosion of ammunition cellars;
- frigate "Antilup" - two unexploded bombs, detonation when attempting to mine;
- air transport “Atlantic Conveyor” - simultaneous entry of two Exocset anti-ship missiles;
- the previously mentioned amphibious assault ship “Sir Galadhead” - the damage was so heavy that the British had to sink the ship in the Atlantic.
Argentine Air Force, the road to victory
It is amazing how the Argentine Air Force was able to inflict such damage on its own limited forces. At that time, the Argentines had only six (!) Anti-ship air-launched missiles and the same number of their carriers - the newest fighter-bomber "Super-Etendard" of French production. Moreover, the last sixth “Super-Etandar”, which had arrived in Argentina before the start of the war, was unable to take to the air for a completely banal reason - the lack of a part of avionics.
10 of outdated Canberra bombers acquired in Great Britain in the early 70s occasionally participated in the fighting - the Argentines only achieved that they lost 2 machines without any success.
Attack A-4 "Skyhawk"!
The effective use of the Argentine Dagger and Mirage was impossible - the runway on the Falkland Islands was too short for modern supersonic airplanes, and the Argentine Air Force had to operate from airfields on the continent. Due to the lack of an air-to-air refueling system on the Dagger and Mirage, they could only reach the combat zone with a minimum bomb load. Combat missions at the limit of the range did not promise anything good, and the active use of modern fighter-bombers had to be abandoned.
Note. Dagger, also known as Nesher, is an unlicensed Israeli copy of the French Mirage 5 fighter-bomber. Having served their Israeli cars, after upgrading, sold to Argentina. Here on this "junk" had to fly the Argentine Muchachos!
The subsonic A-4 Skyhoek attack aircraft became the key strike force of the Argentine aviation: initially adapted for long-range combat missions, the old machines turned into a formidable weapon - the overwhelming majority of the losses of the British fleet are attributed to them! Argentine pilots had to operate at a distance of hundreds of miles from the coast, to break at extremely low altitude through rain and snow charges, avoiding encounters with enemy combat air patrols. On the outside of the suspension - a ton of bombs. Ahead is the endless ocean, on the expanses of which the British squadron is hiding. Find and destroy! And on the way back - be sure to meet the air tanker, otherwise the plane will fall into the cold waters of the Atlantic with empty tanks.
Subsonic strike aircraft Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Hero of the Falklands War
Only the stupidity and carelessness of the British command allowed the Skyhawks to attack ships so brazenly and feel like “kings of the air." The British went to war, saving even on anti-aircraft artillery self-defense complexes (such as "Phalanx", AK-630 or "Goalkeeper"). On destroyers and frigates, there was nothing but imperfect air defense missile systems, unable to fight low-flying targets. In the near zone, British sailors had, at best, to rely on a pair of manual-guided “Oerlikon” guns, and at worst - to fire at low-flying aircraft from rifles and pistols.
The result was predictable - a third of the ships of Her Majesty came under rocket-bombing strikes and received severe damage.
From the point of view of order and organization, the Falkled War was really a hell of a mess. An explosive mixture of mistakes, cowardice, negligence, original decisions and unsatisfactory characteristics of military equipment. A close acquaintance with the episodes of the Falkland conflict, it seems that the fighting was filmed in the halls of Hollywood. The actions of the British and Argentines sometimes look so naive and paradoxical that it is impossible to believe that such a thing could happen in life.
A striking example is the triumphant sinking of the newest destroyer Sheffield.
“The newest destroyer Sheffield in fact was a small“ pelvis ”with a displacement of about 4000 tons - now these ships are called frigates. The combat capabilities of the “newest destroyer” were identical to its size: the sea Ci Dart air defense system with the 22 missile, the universal gun of the 114 mm caliber, the anti-submarine helicopter ... that's probably all that the Sheffield team could count on.
However, even the newest American super-destroyer Zamvolt would not have saved the British sailors. On the fateful morning, being in a combat zone, the commander of Sheffield ordered to turn off all the radar and electronic devices of the ship - so as not to interfere with his conversations on the satellite channel Skynet.
The flying rocket was visually noticed from the bridge only a second before it hit the destroyer. The Exochet struck the side, flew through the galley and collapsed in the engine room. The warhead of the Argentine rocket, as expected, did not explode, but the destroyer had a torch from the rocket’s engine running - aluminum hull structures flashed, the synthetic decoration of the rooms broke with an unbearable heat, and the cable shells cracked. The tragicomedy ended sadly: the Sheffield completely burned down and a week later sank during towing. 20 people died from the crew of his team.
The victory was not easy for the Argentines: the SP-2H Neptune ARLO aircraft, due to the failure of the onboard equipment, was only able to make radar contact with the ships of the British connection for the fifth time - which is not surprising, it was an aircraft from the middle of the 40-s.
By the way, on the 15-th day of the war, both Argentine Neptuns were completely out of order, and in the future naval reconnaissance was carried out in even more sophisticated ways: using the Boeing-707 airliner, the KS-130 air tanker and the Liarjet 35A business class aircraft.
The sinking of the Coventry destroyer looks no less wonderful.
Argentine Skyhawks overtook him in 15 miles from Pebl Island - suddenly appearing from behind the rocky cliffs of the island, four attack aircraft launched a squall of free-falling bombs on the destroyer and his escort frigate Broadsworth.
The British compound was covered by deck "Sea Harriers", but at the time of the attack the fighters were withdrawn due to the threat of defeat by the anti-aircraft fire of the ships. However, it was not possible to cope on its own - the destroyer SAMs did not work. “Coventry” tried to drive off enemy planes with universal weapon fire, but to no avail - the planes had already laid down on the combat course. As luck would have it, the Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun was jammed - as a result, the destroyer crew was unified against low-flying aircraft using rifles and pistols.
The frigate escaped relatively easily - one of the bombs pierced through it from the bottom up (this case was considered a little higher) and did not explode. The destroyer "Coventry" was less fortunate - of the three 500-fnl that fell into it. Aerial bombs, two exploded - after 20 minutes after the attack, the ship turned over and sank.
The Argentines at that time, too, had many problems - of the six aircraft of the strike group, only four flew to the target. Another dilapidated Skyhawk was not able to complete the bombing due to the failure of the bomb dropping mechanism.
The events of the Falklands War were distinguished by a whole range of amazing decisions and military ingenuity.
Having spent a reserve of anti-ship "Exosets" of airborne, the Argentines went on to improvise. From the old destroyer Segui, local craftsmen removed and reprogrammed two Ship-based Exosets - both missiles were transported by plane to the Falkland Islands, where they were secretly deployed to the coast waiting for British ships. Targeting was issued by the army mobile radar RASIT.
12 June 1982 of the year under fire from the coast hit the destroyer "Glemmorgan" - the first missile missed, the second struck on the upper deck near the helipad and exploded, forming a 5-meter hole. The fragments and products of the explosion penetrated into the helicopter hangar, where at that time there was a fully fueled helicopter. The fire raged for four hours, 14 sailors died in the fight against fire. The next day, with the help of the shipmaster, the destroyer managed to regain limited combat capability.
As in any war, there was not a drop of black humor here.
Trying to stop the advance of the fleet of Her Majesty, the Argentines began to use as bombers everything that could fly and bomb, including the Hercules C-130 military transport aircraft (analogous to the Russian An-12). 29 of May 1982 of the Year “Hercules” was discovered by a lonely British naval tanker “British Way” - 500-fnl immediately flew down. bombs that are rolled down by hand with a tilted cargo ramp. Despite the absence of any sighting devices, more than half of the ammunition hit the target, and, of course, did not explode.
The bold C-130 “bomber” raids ended sadly - two days later the Argentine “Hercules” was discovered and attacked by the deck “SiHarrier”. However, knocking down a military transport aircraft proved to be difficult - the huge Hercules ignored the hit of the AIM-9 Sauwinder rocket, continuing to pull towards the coast on the three remaining engines. The Sea Harrier pilot, Lard Ward, had to release all the ammunition ammunition - and these are 260 shells to destroy the Argentine "sea corsair".
The tragicomedy in the South Atlantic lasted 74 for a day and, according to official data, 907 was human lives. We have to admit that both warring parties sought to minimize loss of life - at the slightest threat, the divisions preferred not to tempt fate and surrendered to captivity. Fortunately, military operations were conducted over the ocean and over the deserted, almost uninhabited islands, which made it possible to eliminate civilian casualties — the military solved their problems in a fair fight.
In the undoubted military successes of Argentina, the Wehrmacht traditions played a certain role - after the end of World War II, South America became a refuge for many German military specialists. And it must be admitted, they knowingly ate their bread in a new place - the training of Argentine officers turned out to be much better than anyone expected.
Alas, despite all the efforts, Argentina smashed the Falklands war to pieces: when 80% bombs do not explode, they don’t have to dream of victory. The British fleet was not a simple enemy - with the help of nuclear submarines, the British in a matter of days drove the Argentine fleet into its bases. The garrison of the Falkland Islands was isolated, and victory was only a matter of time. The British have avenged themselves for the death of their warships - the 74 of the Argentine Air Force aircraft did not return to the airfields. It is noteworthy that the SiHarrier carrier-based fighters accounted for only 28% of the unitized Argentine aircraft, the rest of the machines recorded SAMs and anti-aircraft artillery of Her Majesty's ships.