One of Our Aircraft is Missing
British Aircraft Losses
Two Wessex's lost
During the operation to retake South Georgia bad weather trapped SAS men on a glacier and a Wessex 3 and two Wessex 5's were sent to retrieve them. The first Wessex from H.M.S. Tidespring lifted off as the wind whipped up the snow but the pilot lost his bearing in the snow and crashed, skidding for some 50 yards and finally tipping over. The other two helicopters had now embarked their troops, so they lifted and landed next to the crashed Wessex and took on her aircrew and soldiers. Both aircraft dumped fuel to carry the extra load.
Visibility by this time was practically zero and the wind and snow had not abated. The helicopters lifted off. The Wessex 3, equipped with radar, took off with the Wessex 5 following astern and made their way down the glacier. Seconds later the helicopters traversed a small ridge and the Wessex 5 flared violently and struck the top of the ridge. It rolled onto its side and could not be contacted by radio. The remaining overloaded helicopter returned to the ship, some 30 miles away to the north and disembarked is passengers. The Wessex 3 returned to the crash site but was unable to land. They made contact by radio and confirmed there were no serious casualties.
The Wessex 3 returned to H.M.S. Antrim to wait for a break in the weather. An hour later an opportunity presented itself and the Wessex 3 flew back, embarked the survivors and flew back to H.M.S. Antrim piloted by Lt-Commander Ian Stanley RN, who was awarded the DSO.
23rd April 1982
Sea king lost
A Sea king HC.4 of No.846 sqn, carrying out a night vertical replenishment mission from Hermes, ditched in the sea. The pilot was rescued but PO Air crewman Casey drowned.
4th May 1982
6th May 1982
Two Sea Harrier losses; Lt. W.Curtis and Lt-Commander J. Eaton-Jones Killed.
Two No.801 Squadron Sea Harriers crashed in fog. It is thought that the two aircraft collided with each other in the fog
12th May 1982
17th May 1982
19th May 1982
Sea King Lost
A Sea King crashed while moving a large group of SAS troops from H.M.S. Hermes to H.M.S. Intrepid killing 22 men. The Sea King had taken off from H.M.S. Hermes at dusk. The Aircraft was slightly over loaded but because it was short fight the pilot reduced his fuel load to lighten the helicopter. At 300 ft the Sea King started it's decent towards H.M.S. Intrepid. those on board heard a thump, then another from the engine above them. The Sea King dipped once then dived . Within four seconds it hit the water. Some men were killed instantly and other knocked unconscious in the initial impact. Amazingly 9 men managed to scramble out of the open side door before the helicopter slipped below the waves. They were the only survivors. Rescuers found bird feathers floating on the surface were the helicopter had impacted the water. It is thought that the Sea King was the victim of a bird strike. One theory is at the Sea King was hit by a Black Browed Albatross which has a 8 ft wing span. The SAS lost 18 men on this night. The regiment had not lost so many men at one tine since the end of the second world war. The accident killed a member of the Royal Signals and the only RAF casualty of the war Flt Lt G.W. Hawkins. The helicopter crewman Corporal 'Doc' Love, a member of 846 NAS died in this incident.
21st May 1982
On the morning of the San Carlos landings a Sea King helicopter carrying Rapier missiles and escorted by a light Gazelle helicopter, armed with a pintle-mounted machine gun and pod mounted SNEB rockets, flew straight over an Argentine party, which had evacuated Port San Carlos when the landings started. The Argentines opened fire and heavy accurate machine gun fire struck the Gazelle, mortally wounding her pilot Sergeant Andy Evans. Even so, he managed to turn away from the fire and ditch in the water. The two crew men were thrown from the aircraft when it hit the water. As they struggled in the water, the same Argentines who had shot the helicopter down, opened fire on the two crew men in the water, despite their officer ordering them to cease fire. The Argentine troops continued to fire on the two helpless men struggling in the water for 15 minutes. When the shooting stooped Sergeant Ed Candlish, managed to drag Evans ashore, where he died in his arms. The Sea King they were escorting had managed to avoid the fire. This incident had marked effect on the British troops in the Task Force.
Minutes later a second Gazelle, unaware of the peril ahead, followed the same route and was raked by machine gun fire from below. The helicopter crashed to the ground in flames. When rescuers dragged the crew, Lt. Ken France and Lance Corporal Pat Giffin, from the wreckage they found them dead. Surgeon Commander Rick Jolly arrived at the crash site soon after in a Wessex from Canberra. There was nothing he could do for the France or Giffin, but he decided to return the bodies of the two men back to the task force, which was against orders, but he did so out of respect. That evening aboard the landing ship Sir Galahad, the Brigade Air Squadron held a memorial service for their three dead colleagues and all three were buried at sea. Sergeant Ed Candlish recovered form his ordeal abaord HMS Uganda.
21st May 1982
23rd May 1982
One Sea Harrier lost; Lt-Commander G. Batt killed.
On a night mission to bomb Port Stanley, Sea Harrier crashes into the sea and blows up after takeoff. Lt-Commander Batt did not have time to eject and died in the crash.
25th May 1982
A Westland Lynx, six Westland Wessex HU5s and three Chinooks lost
When the Argentines bombed and sank the Atlantic Conveyor. Six Westland Wessex's of FAA 848 Squadron, three of five Chinooks of RAF 18 Squadron and a Lynx of FAA 815 Squadron were lost.
27th May 1982
28th May 1982
Scout Helicopter lost
Pilot Lt. R. J. Nunn flying a Scout of B Flt, 3 CBAS and his Air Gunner Sergeant Belcher were operating in Direct Support to 2 Para during the Battle of Darwin and Goose Green. He was flying as a pair with his Flight Cdr, Capt J Niblett and Sergeant Glaze in another Scout from B Flt. Casualties from both sides were being flown back to Ajax Bay and small arms and mortar ammunition was flown forward to the Battalion. About 11.55 hrs, Niblett & Nunn, with their crewmen, were tasked to fly forward and pick up Col. "H" Jones, CO 2 Para, who had been wounded. As the pair of Scouts left Camilla Creek House at very low level, heading towards Darwin, they were attacked by two Argentine Pucaras flown by Lt. Giminez and Lt. Cimbaro. These two had left Stanley earlier and descended through low cloud into the Goose Green area and by chance met the two Scouts head on. Despite avoidance turns and evasive flying, Nunn's aircraft was hit by a short burst of cannon fire and then he was killed with a burst of machine gun fire during a second attacking pass from Giminez. The aircraft crashed immediately and burst into flames. Sergeant Belcher survived the crash despite having one leg severed by cannon fire and being thrown clear during impact. Niblett and Glaze evaded the attack from Cimbaro through application of skilful and violent evasive flying and later returned to the scene to evacuate Sgt Belcher. Nunn was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and was buried along with other members of 2 Para who died on that day. After the attack the two Pucaras headed back to Stanley. They flew so low that stones and mud from the ground shattered Cimbaro's canopy. Both aircraft flew into low cloud and Cimbaro lost radio contact with Giminez. He never returned to Stanley. Sadly his body was not found until 1986 when the wreckage of his aircraft was discovered on Blue Mountain. He had flown straight into the mountain in zero visibility. Lt. Giminez was buried at Goose Green by his family. They were the first Argentine relatives to visit the island since the end of the War. Capt Niblett was awarded the DFC for his distinguished flying on the 28th and later in the campaign. Sgt Glaze was given a C in C's Commendation for his contribution during Op Corporate.
29th May 1982
Sea Harrier lost. Lt Commander M. Broadwater ejected and picked up.
No.801 Squadron Sea Harrier slides off deck in high winds. Pilot ejects and is picked up.
30th May 1982
1st June 1982
5th June 1982
A British Army Gazelle was shot down near Port Fitzroy, possibly by Sea Dart from H.M.S. Cardiff.
The Gazelle was carrying two aircrew and two members of 5th Infantry Bde HQ and Signal Squadron (the OC, Major Mike Forge, and the squadron Quartermaster Sergeant). It is believed that the chopper was shot down by the Royal Navy as the aircraft was exceeding the speed/height restrictions imposed on friendly aircraft. The practice was that all friendly helicopters flew below 100 feet and at less than 100 knots (or something similar). Any aircraft exceeding these limits would therefore be hostile and could be engaged. It was some years however before the MOD admitted that it was a blue on blue contact and we all thought at the time it had been shot down by ground fire. ( Thank you to Barrie lovell for the information on the above 5th of June incident )
Guy Smith writes:
I flew over the wreckage that morning. We knew that day that one of our ships had shot it down with a missile. I recall hearing at the time that they had made the flight at night, and so we assumed that perhaps they had flown high to avoid terrain. We had been briefed that we would be shot down by our own side if we flew more than 2000 feet (two thousand feet) above sea level. However, communications and information for those of us camping ashore were spotty at best, and I would not be surprised if the Gazelle crew had not been briefed on this.