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Falklands 40

Old 21st May 2022, 16:53
  #81 (permalink)  
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21st was D-day and the amphibs managed to get all our initial troops ashore without any major trouble. Shortly after dawn a Gazelle was fired on by Argentine troops retreating from Fanning Head and crashed in San Carlos Water. A second one sent to investigate was also downed and the crews were killed. The first attack on the ships came at 0900(L) when an MB339 from Stanley stumbled upon the amphibious group in San Carlos Water and attacked HMS Argonaut with rockets.

The main raids started shortly afterwards and continued unabated all day with waves of Daggers and Skyhawks coming in at low level from West Falkland. We established CAPs to the north and south of Falkland Sound as well as over land to the west. The Argentine aircraft were all too low for radar to pick them up and it was very much a visual fight. By the end of the day, 801 on Invincible had downed a Pucara (guns) and 2 x Daggers and we had dealt with 1 x Dagger and 5 x Skyhawks. One of our newly-arrived reinforcement pilots (ex-GR3) couldn’t get his Winder to lock, so attacked with 30mm at extremely close range. The target exploded with him very close behind and he flew through the debris without damage! On RTB he snagged the missile system but we discovered that he hadn’t turned them on!! His type conversion (a couple of trips) hadn’t covered selecting missiles - oops!

Another AIM9L had a thermal battery problem and launched several seconds after it had been fired, missing the target. The pilot then sprayed the A4 with 30mm and left him trailing smoke before he had to bug out with low fuel. The Skyhawk diverted to Stanley, where they discovered that one of his main u/c legs had been shot off and he was ordered to eject.

The day ended with 17 Argentine fast-jet losses and two helicopters taken out near Mount Kent by GR3s from Hermes. We had also got our troops ashore virtually unopposed. On the negative side, HMS Ardent had been sunk by Skyhawks in the Sound and three other warships had been damaged. No1(F) also lost a GR3 pilot on his first mission when he was hit by a Blowpipe missile over Port Howard. The pilot ejected at very low level, travelling very fast and ended up in the water with serious injuries and unable to get into his dinghy. He was saved by some Argentine soldiers, who rowed out in a small boat to rescue him.

We all realised that the next few weeks were going to be busy.

Mog
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Old 21st May 2022, 17:58
  #82 (permalink)  
 
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Immediately after the war a British Frigate did a tour of the St. Lawrence river in Canada and visited Montreal.
The boys stumbled upon the very popular Sir Winston Churchill Pub on Crescent Street.
They were ushered past the waiting line and welcomed with open arms.
I don’t think that for the duration of the week any officer or sailor paid for a drink in the WCP or any other bar on Crescent, Bishop or Mackay streets.
I must note that there were zero negative incidents during the visit to Montreal. Much fun was had by all.
It helped that the father of the manager of “The Winston Churchill” was a RCN LCDR veteran of WW2. Strangely enough he and I were recalling that visit just last week.
The day some of the regular clients, managers, bartenders, barmaids and various hangers-on did a tour of the ship was a spectacular success.
I am sure that some RN vets still have their WCP pins.
It. was the least we could do to show our support and appreciation of their service.

Would anyone have a clue as to the ship involved? Darned if I can remember.

( added info: When I was flying for the UN (UNIKOM) mission in Kuwait / Iraq in 92 after the first Gulf War our CASO ( Chief Air Staff Officer ) was Maj. Hector Sanchez who had flown on the Argentinian side. He went in one day as leader of a flight of A-4 Skyhawks. He was the only one to survive. Great guy. When he left he visited the UK and was invited as a guest to the RAF Club. )



Last edited by albatross; 24th May 2022 at 20:54.
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Old 21st May 2022, 18:59
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
to be fair, the weather in the Falklands is ridiculously changeable - the classic all 4 seasons in a day at any time of year. They are much better at it now they have had time to practice
The Mobile Met Unit [MMU, all commissioned and in RAF uniform] took the strain on Ascension and later at Stanley. I was not involved at the sharpish end, so only know the half of it. What I do know is that the people worked amazingly long hours. Almost always the current team were one forecaster and one observer, with a second team off duty. Minimum 6 months at 94 hours a week plus covering for any illness ....... nearest relief thousand of miles and many hours distant.

Like very many, they were totally unprepared for "upside down" weather ............... never taught in the in-house college, and negligible text-books. We had a few Falklands experts scattered around the UK but they were not MMU so could not be used operationally, and the Met Office did not have the wit to utilise them to run crash courses before the MMU men deployed.

One important and unsung aid was the rapid expansion of the current prediction model run at Bracknell. It was of little use in the "4 seasons in a day" scenario but it did, I believe, a decent job of high level wind forecasting.

As for the RN Met: I understand that the officers [of whom there were few] were oceanographers/ meteorologists, and were not highly regarded by our people. On Purple exercises the commander was often confronted by a RN forecast significantly different from that of the MMU, who dealt not in the fundamental orifices of zebras.

Last edited by langleybaston; 21st May 2022 at 19:00. Reason: speelin
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Old 21st May 2022, 19:00
  #84 (permalink)  
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One of the problems we had to face was the weather. I have never seen 60kt fog before but it happened several times during the conflict. As LB will be attest, moist air over a very cold sea does not for good flying make! On one occasion I returned from a mission and was told that the clobas was “below 100ft”. Since our minimum was 200ft, I told the D to just give me the centreline and I would manage the glide path. Having had a quick skeg with the radar and confirmed no hard metal on the approach, I let down early on the rad alt and saw the sea at about 30ft.

I creamed on in taking more nozzle and slowing to around 100 kts, preparing for a hefty decel to the hover but at 1/2 NM the ship turned hard to stbd. In the mist, I saw what I thought was the wake and aimed for it - only realising very late that it was the bow wave! No sweat, braking stop decel followed by flying under the bow and a quick spot turn to line up alongside the ship on the port side before climbing into cloud and landing on 3 spot.

Apparently the captain stormed into Flyco and asked wings what the hell I was doing as I disappeared underneath the bow. Wings replied “I think he’s crashing Sir!” We did stop flying for a few hours after that, to let the weather improve slightly.

Heady days!

Mog
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Old 21st May 2022, 19:08
  #85 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Mogwi View Post
One of the problems we had to face was the weather. I have never seen 60kt fog before but it happened several times during the conflict. As LB will be attest, moist air over a very cold sea does not for good flying make! On one occasion I returned from a mission and was told that the clobas was “below 100ft”. Since our minimum was 200ft, I told the D to just give me the centreline and I would manage the glide path. Having had a quick skeg with the radar and confirmed no hard metal on the approach, I let down early on the rad alt and saw the sea at about 30ft.

I creamed on in taking more nozzle and slowing to around 100 kts, preparing for a hefty decel to the hover but at 1/2 NM the ship turned hard to stbd. In the mist, I saw what I thought was the wake and aimed for it - only realising very late that it was the bow wave! No sweat, braking stop decel followed by flying under the bow and a quick spot turn to line up alongside the ship on the port side before climbing into cloud and landing on 3 spot.

Apparently the captain stormed into Flyco and asked wings what the hell I was doing as I disappeared underneath the bow. Wings replied “I think he’s crashing Sir!” We did stop flying for a few hours after that, to let the weather improve slightly.

Heady days!

Mog
Hat duly doffed.

The Harrier is a tiny little office, wedging hairy sphericals in that large must have been a chore.
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Old 21st May 2022, 20:52
  #86 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Mogwi View Post
21st was D-day and the amphibs managed to get all our initial troops ashore without any major trouble. Shortly after dawn a Gazelle was fired on by Argentine troops retreating from Fanning Head and crashed in San Carlos Water. A second one sent to investigate was also downed and the crews were killed.

***

Mog

There's a detailed Twitter thread article on this here:


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Old 21st May 2022, 21:39
  #87 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Mogwi View Post
21st was D-day and the amphibs managed to get all our initial troops ashore without any major trouble. Shortly after dawn a Gazelle was fired on by Argentine troops retreating from Fanning Head and crashed in San Carlos Water. A second one sent to investigate was also downed and the crews were killed. The first attack on the ships came at 0900(L) when an MB339 from Stanley stumbled upon the amphibious group in San Carlos Water and attacked HMS Argonaut with rockets.

The main raids started shortly afterwards and continued unabated all day with waves of Daggers and Skyhawks coming in at low level from West Falkland. We established CAPs to the north and south of Falkland Sound as well as over land to the west. The Argentine aircraft were all too low for radar to pick them up and it was very much a visual fight. By the end of the day, 801 on Invincible had downed a Pucara (guns) and 2 x Daggers and we had dealt with 1 x Dagger and 5 x Skyhawks. One of our newly-arrived reinforcement pilots (ex-GR3) couldn’t get his Winder to lock, so attacked with 30mm at extremely close range. The target exploded with him very close behind and he flew through the debris without damage! On RTB he snagged the missile system but we discovered that he hadn’t turned them on!! His type conversion (a couple of trips) hadn’t covered selecting missiles - oops!

Another AIM9L had a thermal battery problem and launched several seconds after it had been fired, missing the target. The pilot then sprayed the A4 with 30mm and left him trailing smoke before he had to bug out with low fuel. The Skyhawk diverted to Stanley, where they discovered that one of his main u/c legs had been shot off and he was ordered to eject.

The day ended with 17 Argentine fast-jet losses and two helicopters taken out near Mount Kent by GR3s from Hermes. We had also got our troops ashore virtually unopposed. On the negative side, HMS Ardent had been sunk by Skyhawks in the Sound and three other warships had been damaged. No1(F) also lost a GR3 pilot on his first mission when he was hit by a Blowpipe missile over Port Howard. The pilot ejected at very low level, travelling very fast and ended up in the water with serious injuries and unable to get into his dinghy. He was saved by some Argentine soldiers, who rowed out in a small boat to rescue him.

We all realised that the next few weeks were going to be busy.

Mog
801 nailed 3 Daggers in the area of Mt Caroline, 2 to Steve Thomas and one to the Bearded One, who also downed the Pucara. In the three tours that I've down down there, I've only seen 4 aircraft wrecks which were all happened on 21st May 82. The Pucara I've only seen from the air, but the two Choppers taken out by 1(F) near Mount Kent and Dagger C-403 killed by Steve Thomas, I've seen up close.

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Old 23rd May 2022, 08:34
  #88 (permalink)  
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The 22nd started slowly for us because the mainland bases were socked in. I flew two CAP missions without getting any trade but a pair from Hermes found an enemy patrol boat in Choiseul Sound and attacked it with 30mm, driving it ashore. On one of my missions, I picked up a transmission on 243.0 in the area of Port Howard, so we hoped that the GR3 pilot had survived his ejection the day before. A Sea king went to investigate but was fired on by a Blowpipe missile.

Air raids developed during the afternoon and the ships shot down three attackers, SHARs claiming another Dagger.

On the 23rd, I was flying CAP over West Falkland at 8000’ when I spotted the “snail trail” of a helo flying at ultra low level over an inlet on the west side of the sound. I dived down to around 50’ and flew head-on to the helo, to try to identify it and my wingman picked up a further 3 in trail and attacked from the opposite direction. At very close range, I realised that it was a Puma and therefore Argentine. Being too close to engage, I passed feet above him, pulling loads of G and pulled up for a dumbbell to attack with guns. As he appeared behind me, I realised that all was not well and he gyrated wildly before smashing into the side of the hill and bursting into flames.

Meanwhile, my wingman (same one who didn’t know how to select the missile,) was attacking the last aircraft, an A109A gunship. He missed by around 100 yards (wrong sight depression - another hole in his conversion!) but that allowed me to get visual and attack. I opened fire out of range in my enthusiasm and did a grid-square removal job without hitting the target. On my second attack though, I hit him with at least one round and the secondary explosion from the fuel tank obliterated the aircraft. With my wingman’s help, I got visual on a second Puma but only had 2 rounds remaining. Luckily one hit the tail rotor boom and incapacitated the aircraft, to be destroyed completely a few minutes later by two SHARs from Invincible.

On returning to Hermes, I was congratulated by the captain but told that we thought that the GR3 pilot had been captured on the 21st and was being ferried to Stanley - in a Puma. For some days, I was very concerned that I might have killed my mate. Luckily that was not the case, he was on another aircraft and the crews of all the helos actually survived the encounter.

The day did not end well for us though. HMS Antelope was hit by a formation of A4s (one literally hitting the mast!) and was left with at least one UXB deep inside her. That evening, a pilot launching on a night raid from Hermes hit the water around 1/2 mile ahead of the ship and blew up in a spectacular fireball. We had now lost 4 SHARs with their pilots and a GR3. The odds were starting to be a concern.

”Death says live while you may - for I am coming”

Mog
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Old 23rd May 2022, 10:08
  #89 (permalink)  
 
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Teeteringhead - Re question about engines being acquired for Gazelle or Jetstream. I was working in Int at HQ BFFI in Stanley Nov 82 - Mar 83, and we were told to recover aircraft instruments and other useful parts that had been liberated by the troops and recovered from them before departure back to the UK. These were all wrapped up and sent Boscombe Down to assist in getting the recovered Pucara airworthy again. At some stage, probably in early 83, 2 chief techs arrived looking for directions and assistance to get to derelict Pucaras to recover some specific part of the engines for the RAF Jetstreams - not the whole engine. I seem to remember that they were either from Cranwell or Finningley.
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Old 23rd May 2022, 11:29
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
to be fair, the weather in the Falklands is ridiculously changeable - the classic all 4 seasons in a day at any time of year. They are much better at it now they have had time to practice
In a pre-deployment briefing we were told the FI are a similar latitude S as Bedford is N. Therefore the weather will be similar!
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Old 23rd May 2022, 12:09
  #91 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by NickB View Post
The above Pucara (ZD485) was displayed on static at the IAT, RAF Greenham Common in July 83 just before being retired to Cosford.
It was flown/tested/displayed at the time by a former Lightning pilot - there is footage on YouTube of it landing at Greenham and said pilot being interviewed.
A/C SERIAL No (rafmuseum.org.uk)
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Old 24th May 2022, 08:13
  #92 (permalink)  
 
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Gents........keep it coming! This is a fascinating thread. Thank you.
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Old 24th May 2022, 09:00
  #93 (permalink)  
 
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On the FI weather, I arrived mid-winter about 11 months after the cease fire (fashionably late…) as part of the F4 det. I lost an engine after T/O on my split-crew theatre famil trip and never got further than 15 miles from Stanley, one straight in approach and landing.

Trip #2 was the first opportunity to have a look round, but we were out east of E Falkland when we were told to RTB as the wx was clamping. Sure enough, the cloud base got lower and lower as we headed home, and we agreed it was far too bad to go up into it as neither of us knew how good MPN11 and his colleagues were. Oh, and we had no viable diversions without launching the C130 tanker.

I still have a mental snapshot of weaving gear down through the ships in the outer harbour with the base now at 100-150 ft. Turned finals on the “about now” principle and, courtesy of some top info from my ex-mud mover nav who had the INAS spot on, grubbed my way in until the runway edge lights appeared. There were no approach lights, not a surprise as the undershoot was full of Argy mines and UXOs from Mog and his mates.

We weren’t lined up well but, encouraged by a nav reminder that we wouldn’t be going round, I managed to get us to a point where the combination of horizontal vectors, landing gear built for the deck and a choice of 5 cables was sufficient.

Interesting debrief followed, at which the duty auth admitted he should probably have recalled us a bit earlier! The MMU had predicted the deterioration but the timing caught everyone out. We started an informal rule of thumb which prompted decisions when the gap between the cloud base and the top of Mt Longdon reduced to zero. Happy days.
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Old 24th May 2022, 13:39
  #94 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Fortissimo View Post


Trip #2 was the first opportunity to have a look round, but we were out east of E Falkland when we were told to RTB as the wx was clamping. Sure enough, the cloud base got lower and lower as we headed home, and we agreed it was far too bad to go up into it as neither of us knew how good MPN11 and his colleagues were. Oh, and we had no viable diversions without launching the C130 tanker.

I still have a mental snapshot of weaving gear down through the ships in the outer harbour with the base now at 100-150 ft. Turned finals on the “about now” principle and, courtesy of some top info from my ex-mud mover nav who had the INAS spot on, grubbed my way in until the runway edge lights appeared. There were no approach lights, not a surprise as the undershoot was full of Argy mines and UXOs from Mog and his mates.

We weren’t lined up well but, encouraged by a nav reminder that we wouldn’t be going round, I managed to get us to a point where the combination of horizontal vectors, landing gear built for the deck and a choice of 5 cables was sufficient.
...
We liked to think we in ATC were good, but the pilots were much better!

Strangely, a day or so ago I was pondering posting something about this incident after the earlier weather discussion. I watched what I assume was ‘your’ ULL circuit from ATC as the cloudbase tried to reach to ground level, and the SOF was debating launching the tanker Herc. And I gazed with a mix of admiration and horror as you disappeared from view behind the ‘hillock’ (elev some 75' amsl, according to Google Earth) on which our mobile AR-1 radar was perched.

A bit later, I installed a funnel of Sodium lights, very WW2, to at least give a bit more of a clue of where the AM-2 planks and those lovely 5 cables were located.

Interesting times!

Last edited by MPN11; 24th May 2022 at 18:18.
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Old 24th May 2022, 15:35
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MPN11

Yep it was indeed an interesting environment.

FWIW there was at least one similar incident to the one Fortissimo described back end of 82/early 83 (I think one of those involved used to post here)...I'm also trying to remember if a rapid weather change was a factor in the incident in Autumn 82 where an F-4 stab had bruising, or perhaps more correctly a cutting encounter, with the cable.

Anyhow apologies for getting ahead of those genuine fortieth anniversary tales, maybe we can return to the post war stuff when it's appropriate in a few months and in the meantime hopefully the likes of Mogwi will be back with the genuine war stories.

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Old 24th May 2022, 19:15
  #96 (permalink)  
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The morning of the 24th was back to business as usual. We launched 2 x SHARs with KFFs for a loft attack on Stanley to soften them up for a GR3 attack with KRTs. The SHARs stayed high but distant after their attack to draw fire whilst the GR3s did their work (poor b*stards!). The second pair of GR3s got a bit close to the lead pair and the HUD film showed a shower of large bits of metal and debris falling all around them from the first pair!

CO 800 launched as they returned and managed to get a left and right on Daggers off the northern end of the sound after vectors from Broadsword. Both missiles were airborne at the same time and his #2 took out a third. The Boss was in a much better mood when he returned and was chaired away from his aircraft by our great maintainers.

We turned in that evening knowing that the 25th was Argentina's National Day and we were due for a pounding.

Mog

CO's return
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Old 24th May 2022, 19:17
  #97 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Mogwi View Post
.....On the 23rd, I was flying CAP over West Falkland at 8000’......

That evening, a pilot launching on a night raid from Hermes hit the water around 1/2 mile ahead of the ship and blew up in a spectacular fireball. We had now lost 4 SHARs with their pilots and a GR3. The odds were starting to be a concern.

Mog
Mog, Ex-fast jets, all, fascinating stuff thank you.

A question about fuel management and sortie duration on the Harrier and Sea Harrier. Mog, what would have been your longest duration mission down South? 1.2 hours perhaps? What would be your loiter speed be on a CAP at 8,000 feet? I recognize the situation dictates the CAP altitude, but would fuel burn on a CAP at 8,000 feet be significantly more than say at 25K feet? Regarding the tragic G.B. hit the water incident, I have heard some rumor that it could have been a detonating dumb bomb (free wheeling bomb fuse). While we will likely never know the exact circumstances, has there been additional thought on that?

Ex fast jets- similar question, how much time could a GR.3 spend aloft? What was your longest GR.3 sortie during the conflict? (minus the rear numbing long ferry flights), Shortest?
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Old 24th May 2022, 19:22
  #98 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by wiggy View Post
MPN11

Yep it was indeed an interesting environment.

FWIW there was at least one similar incident to the one Fortissimo described back end of 82/early 83 (I think one of those involved used to post here)...I'm also trying to remember if a rapid weather change was a factor in the incident in Autumn 82 where an F-4 stab had bruising, or perhaps more correctly a cutting encounter, with the cable.

Anyhow apologies for getting ahead of those genuine fortieth anniversary tales, maybe we can return to the post war stuff when it's appropriate in a few months and in the meantime hopefully the likes of Mogwi will be back with the genuine war stories.
Agree, it is our esteemed Coporate posters that should be allowed to put their memories together in a chronological order and be questioned on the other factors that never got mentioned in certain publications.
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Old 24th May 2022, 20:29
  #99 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by wiggy View Post
MPN11
.I'm also trying to remember if a rapid weather change was a factor in the incident in Autumn 82 where an F-4 stab had bruising, or perhaps more correctly a cutting encounter, with the cable.
I heard the damaged F4 was the first one to land at Stanley. The RHAG was an American design, not the usual one the RAF used. Anyway the stop was a bit more abrupt than pilots may have been used to, and the the cable whipped up with the arrestor hook stricking the underside of the airframe. The aircraft spent the rest of its tour sitting on the pan near ATC, and its next flight was under a Chinook.
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Old 24th May 2022, 21:29
  #100 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Dan Gerous View Post
I heard the damaged F4 was the first one to land at Stanley. The RHAG was an American design, not the usual one the RAF used. Anyway the stop was a bit more abrupt than pilots may have been used to, and the the cable whipped up with the arrestor hook stricking the underside of the airframe. The aircraft spent the rest of its tour sitting on the pan near ATC, and its next flight was under a Chinook.
Do your agree that this thread should refer to the timeline of the OP or not? seems not.
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