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A-4Q Argentinean Skyhawk

by Fabian Nevarez

 

A-4Q Slyhawk

 


Hobbycraft's 1/48 scale Skyhawk is available online from Squadron.com

 

Introduction

 

The model here is the 1/48 Hobbycraft A-4B kit that I built to resemble an Argentinean Navy A-4Q which has no other external differences with the "B" variant except for the after cockpit blade antenna, being larger and of square shape, so no further modifications were needed to do to the original model.

The kit was built out of the box, and the only addition I did was the Mk-82 Snakeye bombs from the Hasegawa Weapons Set instead of using the regular Mk-82s included in the kit. I had a particular reason for doing so because I wanted to re-create one of eight Skyhawks of the Armada Argentina that were readied for combat against the Royal Navy in the opening ours of the Malvinas/Falklands War on what some people called "the naval battle that never was".

 

 

As a Mexican and Latin American, I am very interested in the Malvinas War history and in building Mexican and Latin American Air Forces. 

I feel particular respect and admiration for Argentinean airmen. Even when flying old and obsolete aircraft and at the limits of their range, they gave their lives for their country against a far superior adversary who was backed up by much more modern equipment and supported by other superpowers.

 

 

Historical Background

 

During the Argentinean reoccupation of Islas Malvinas on April 2nd, 1982, the country's only aircraft carrier, "ARA 25 de Mayo" was deployed as flagship of Task Force 20 for "Operacion Azul" (codename for amphibious landings near Port Stanley) carrying onboard the 3a. Escuadrilla's eight available A-4Q from a total of ten it had in service by then and which mission was to provide cover for the assault forces of Amphibious Task Force 40. Lack of British airborne opposition made it unnecessary to use the A-4Qs and with the Malvinas islands secured, the aircraft carrier returned to port and 3a. Escuadrilla flew back to their shore base at NAS Comandante Espora.

Having only returned to port, ARA 25 de Mayo put to sea again between 15/17 April, again with eight 3a. Escuadrilla Skyhawks onboard. As the British Task Force approached, the likelihood of an open seas battle grew and Task Force 79, of which 25 de Mayo was a part, practiced in anticipation on just such a battle. Naturally, the A-4Q formed the major part of the anti-ship strike force and the pilots trained hard for attacks against major British ships, the two carriers being the prime targets.

 

 

On 2 May 1982, the day after the first RAF/Fleet Air Arm raids over the Malvinas, the fleets of both countries were on the verge of a classic World War II-type action, with the Argentine task force sailing northwest of the Malvinas. This was the only time that such an opportunity existed, and had an engagement taken place, the course of the war could have been quite different.

That day, the Skyhawks were in a high state of readiness. Seven of them were loaded with six Mk 82 Snakeye bombs for a possible strike against the Royal Navy carriers. The remaining A-4Q was kept in air defence mode armed with two AIM-9Bs and carrying one centerline drop tank, and with the pilot already in the cockpit. During the day, orders to launch the bombers were cancelled at least three times at the last minute. Officially, these cancellations were due to lack of wind which made catapult launches with a heavy bomb and fuel loads a marginal affair. In any case, the Royal Navy warships had moved to the east and the Grumman S-2E Tracker which had been shadowing them had lost contact. Later that day, ARA General Belgrano was sunk by its submarine shadow, and 25 de Mayo was ordered back to port to save it from similar fate, were it remained for the rest of the conflict.

 

 

3a Eacuadrilla Aeronaval de Caza y Ataque was dispatched south to join the Air Force units at AFB Rio Grande were pilots began trainig operations. It was until the Battle of San Carlos on 21 of May that they would be involved in action.

During the war, 3a. Escuadrilla Skyhawks participated in 4 attacks, launched from its land base: In May 21, six aircraft in two divisions were sent to attack a type 21 frigate. Approaching at a low 50ft level, succeeded in bombing HMS Ardent which sank the following night. During the escape, first division was intercepted by a Sea Harrier CAP and two aircraft are immediately shot down, while the third is abandoned by its pilot due to damage from 30mm gunfire.

On May 23, 4 A-4Qs are launched with same mission as 21 May. In this event, HMS Antelope was attacked but the bombs didn't explode. Later that day while a disposal team tried to defuse 2 1000-lb bombs, one of them exploded, killing the team and eventually sinking Antelope later that night. One Skyhawk was shot down by AAA and one more damaged. Third and fourth missions were flown in May 8 and 12 with no tangible results.

 

 

In total, 3a Escuadrilla lost 4 aircraft in combat (50% of its strength) and four pilots were killed, one of them while landing his aircraft after a mission, which veered off the icy runway. Deciding the pilot to eject, his seat failed to work properly and he died from his injuries. Ironically, his aircraft was slightly damaged and after repaired was returned into service.

 

 

References

 

La Guerra Inaudita. Ruben O. Moro, Pleamar Editors.

The World's Navies. David Miller, Crescent Books. 

Wings of Fame, Vol. 12. Airtime Publishing.

 

 


Model, Images and Text Copyright 2001 by Fabian Nevarez
Page Created 05 June, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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