Wings of the Malvinas  [9781902109220]

Wings of the Malvinas
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Date Added: Wednesday 18. July, 2012
With the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War this year is comes as no surprise to see a new book on the subject, but this time with a difference as the sub-title indicates – The Argentine Air War over the Falklands. The author has been an aviation journalist and photographer since 1977 and specialises in Latin American aviation and defence matters, also managing Argentina’s defence and aviation archive, so is well qualified to write this from the other side.

The introduction explains the history of the Falklands from before their British occupation in 1833, going back nearly 400 years. The pre-invasion period is full interesting details such as the hi-jacking of an Aerolineas DC-4 by terrorists who forced it to fly to the islands and land, delivering a letter to the Governor claiming sovereignty!

The breakdown of Argentine military aviation is interesting early in the book, while individual aircraft histories – serial, c/n, date taken on charge and notes are given in an appendix, while British aircraft are merely shown by type and unit. The 1982 Argentine Order of Battle notes all units and aircraft available to the air force, navy and army, and a map shows their locations.

The main combat aircraft were Mirages, Skyhawks and Super Etendards, two of the latter of which, following the Royal Navy attack on the cruiser General Belgrano, carried out an attack on HMS Sheffield and MV Atlantic Conveyor, damaging the former and sinking the latter and returning safely to base. Ground attack Pucaras were also in action and suffered heavy losses. A few Canberras were involved, two of which were shot down. Also used in action were MB-326s and MB-339s. The appendix shows individual fates of all aircraft.

One chapter covers civil aircraft used during the war. One hundred and two civil pilots, some of which were recalled from retirement, were integrated into the Escuadrón Férex which fulfilled some wartime air force requirements, while Aerolineas Boeing 737s were pressed into service to carry soldiers to the islands. Support also came from Austral for logistics flights using MS-18s and BAC One-Elevens.

There are many personal accounts here and a mass of interesting reading. The majority of illustrations will not have been seen before, most are of reasonable quality while others, understandably taken under difficult conditions, are not very sharp.

This is a major contribution to the history of this unfortunate conflict of 30 years ago and is well worth its high price.

Mike Hooks
Aeroplane – August 2012
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
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