25 May 1982 - Argentinian A-4B Skyhawks incredible low level attack on HMS Broadsword and Coventry

25 May 1982 - Argentinian A-4B Skyhawks incredible low level attack on HMS Broadsword and Coventry

A head on view from HMS BROADSWORD of two Argentine A4-B Skyhawks (piloted by Capitan Pablo Carballo and Teniente Carlos Rinke of V Air Brigade) as they fly through a hail of anti aircraft fire to attack the Ship north of Pebble Island on the afternoon of 25 May 1982. During this attack (which also resulted in the sinking of HMS COVENTRY), a bomb passed through the starboard stern of HMS BROADSWORD. It exited via the Flight Deck without exploding, but did destroy the Ship's Lynx helicopter en route.

HMS Coventry is hit by 3 1000 lb air bombs dropped from Argentine Skyhawks; 19 British dead. The MV Atlantic Conveyor is hit by an Exocet missile and sinks 3 days later, 12 more British dead.


1982 May 25th. - Argentinian A-4B Skyhawks incredible low level attack on HMS Broadsword and Coventry (Falkland War Hero's)

O.F. 1236. Code name: VULCANO

C-225: Capitan Carballo

C-214: Lt. Rinke

This is the Argentine National Day and during the morning HMS Coventry and HMS Broadsword, as radar picket operating some miles North of Borbon (Peeble) Island, had shot down two Skyhawks (Capt. Palaver of Grupo 5 and Capt. Garcia of Grupo 4, both acting commanders of their Squadrons) that were returning to the continent flying high as they had been hit during attacks to San Carlos and were loosing fuel. The Air Force decided to end this threat (the “64 (Type 42 + Type 22) combination” as Admiral Woodward called it) and sent two waves of 3 planes each.

After refueling and finding that his vision was somehow impaired by the sea salt stuck to his front (oval) windshield, Carballo decided to continue flying above the water not to crash against any ground obstacle. The Tactic Controller told them that a CAP of Harriers was to the South of them and flying in their direction (Lt. Com Thomas in XZ496 and Lt Smith in XZ459). Realizing that he would get to the target before the enemy fighters were able to get into firing position, Carballo decided to continue with his mission. Carballo spotted the ships in the horizon where they were supposed to be and called Rinke to the attack. Worried that they were going to be exposed to the defenses for a long time (from the coast to the ships), Carballo accelerated as much as his plane could.

Carballo: “OK girls, I have them in sight! Viva la Patria (long life our Homeland)! Full (throttle)! To the one behind!”.

The moment they started flying over the water, the ships started firing at them. The CAP was called off because the missiles that the British were about to fire could shoot them down.

Rinke: “Which one shall we attack?”

Carballo: “Let’s go to the one behind because she is less defended”.

This was Broadsword. The Sea Wolf system could not get a lock on them because the planes were difficult to detect with the island behind them and then it shut itself off, leaving the ships undefended during this critical moment. After passing the British defensive gunfire they arrived to the calm waters just before the ships. As his windshield was covered in salt, Carballo released his bomb when the ship was covering his whole vision. The leader’s 1000 lb bomb bounced on the sea and while going up in the air it hit the hull, breaching the flight deck and removing the nose of the Sea Lynx parked on it. It then fell to the sea on the other side without exploding. The bomb of C-214 missed the target.

Carballo: “Have you passed, #2?”

Rinke: “Yes sir, I have you in sight and I am behind you”.

The ships kept on firing at them and shrapnel hit C-225 under the right wing.

Seconds later they heard the leader of the ZEUS (1st Lt. Velasco in C-212 and Alf. Barrionuevo in C-207) saying that they could not find the ships. Carballo marked gave them a reference.

Carmona (Velasco’s wingman): ”There they are, right on our left”.

Rinke and Carballo, while getting away in a gentle turn and now not being challenged, could see the attack of the next Section.

Broadsword had stopped and was smoking. Coventry turned around and when facing the planes fired a Sea Dart that missed.

Rinke: “The missile, look at the missile!”.

When Broadsword had acquired the attacking planes and was about to fire a couple of the very effective Sea Wolves, Coventry got in the way and shielded the planes. The leader dropped his 3 bombs.

Velasco: “Have you passed, #2?”

Barrionuevo: “Yes sir, you hit it perfectly, it was a CL-42, I was able to see her clearly, I almost hit one of the radomes, I saw your bombs hit the hull and the other ship has black smoke coming from the water line”.

At that moment, the four pilots started to shout excitedly until the Tactic controller called them to silence.

To divide the attention of the CAPs, they returned separated. C-214’s speedometer broke and Carballo was able to find his wingman and they formed. While checking the status of Rinke’s plane, Carballo spotted a condensation trail following them. Assuming it was a Harrier, they dove into the clouds below them.

They were getting close to their base.

Carballo: “In the National Day, with the strip in sight. We are all coming back with the mission accomplished”.

Rinke: " I never thought that a landing strip would be so beautiful. Let’s make a fly-past above it”.

Carballo: “Are you nuts? We escaped from the British and you want our own guns to shoot us down?” (it must be remembered that 2 Argentine planes were shot down in two separate incidents by friendly fire over the islands)

So they proceeded to land immediately. The 4 planes made it back to their base. HMS Coventry sunk in 30 minutes with the loss of 19 of her crew as the bombs exploded inside her, below the CIC. HMS Broadsword was damaged but was able to return to operations 5 days later.