Hobby Master HA1404 Argentine McDonnell Douglas A-4P Fightinghawk Attack Aircraft - Mariano Velasco, Falklands Conflict, 1982 (1:72 Scale)
"The significance of the Falklands War was enormous, both for Britain's self-confidence and for our standing in the world...We had come to be seen by both friends and enemies as a nation which lacked the will and the capability to defend its interests in peace, let alone in war. Victory in the Falklands changed that. Everywhere I went after the war, Britain's name meant something more than it had. The war also had real importance in relations between East and West: years later I was told by a Russian general that the Soviets had been firmly convinced that we would not fight for the Falklands, and that if we did fight we would lose. We proved them wrong on both counts, and they did not forget the fact."
- Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, commenting on the Falklands Crisis, ten years hence
The A-4 Skyhawk is an attack aircraft originally designed to operate from United States Navy aircraft carriers. Fifty years after the type's first flight, some of the nearly 3,000 Skyhawks produced remain in service with smaller air arms around the world. The aircraft was formerly the A4D Skyhawk, and was designed by the Douglas Aircraft Corporation, later McDonnell Douglas, now Boeing.
The Skyhawk was designed by Douglas' Ed Heinemann in response to a U.S. Navy call for a jet-powered attack aircraft to replace the A-1 Skyraider. Heinemann opted for a design that would minimize size, weight, and complexity. The result was an aircraft that weighed only half of the Navy's specification and had a wing so compact that it did not need to be folded for carrier stowage. The diminutive Skyhawk soon received the nicknames "Scooter", "Bantam Bomber", "Tinker Toy Bomber", and, on account of its nimble performance, "Heinemann's Hot-Rod."
The Navy issued a contract for the type on June 12th, 1952, and the first prototype first flew on June 22nd, 1954. Deliveries to Navy and U.S. Marine Corps squadrons commenced in late 1956.
The Skyhawk remained in production until 1975, with a total of 2,960 aircraft built, including 555 two-seat trainers. The US Navy began removing the aircraft from its front-line squadrons in 1967, with the last retiring in 1975. The Marines would pass on the A-7 Corsair II. The last USMC Skyhawk was delivered in 1979, and were used until the mid-1990s until they were replaced by the similarly small, but V/STOL vertical landing AV-8 Harrier.
This particular 1:72 scale Fightinghawk was flown by Mariano Velasco of the Argentinian Air Force during their conflict with the UK over the Falkland Islands.
Release Date: August 2007
Historical Account: "Daggers and Decoys" - The Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas/Guerra del Atlantico Sur), also commonly known as the Malvinas War, the South Atlantic War or the Falklands Conflict/Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The Falkland Islands consist of two large and many small islands in the South Atlantic Ocean east of Argentina, whose ownership had long been disputed. (See Sovereignty of the Falkland Islands for the background to that dispute.)
The war was triggered by the occupation of South Georgia by Argentina on March 19th, 1982, followed by the occupation of the Falklands, and ended with Argentine surrender on June 14th, 1982. War was not actually declared by either side.
The initial invasion was considered by Argentina as reoccupation of its own territory, and by Britain as an invasion of a British dependency. It is the most recent invasion of British territory by a foreign power.
The Falklands had only three airfields. The longest runway, and the only paved runway, was at the capital, Port Stanley. Stanley's runway was too short to support fast jets, so the Argentine Air Force (FAA) had to launch its major strikes from the mainland. This severely hampered Argentine efforts at forward staging, combat air patrols and close air support over the islands. The effective loiter time of incoming Argentine aircraft was low, and they were later compelled to overfly British forces in any attempt to attack the islands.
The first major strike force comprised 36 aircraft (McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawks, Israel Aircraft Industries Daggers, English Electric B Mk 62 Canberras and Dassault Mirage III escorts), and was sent on May 1st, in the belief that the British invasion was imminent or landings had already taken place. Only a section of Grupo 6 (flying IAI Dagger aircraft) found ships, which were firing at Argentine defenses near the islands. The Daggers managed to attack the ships and return safely. This was a great morale-boost for the Argentine pilots, who now knew they could survive an attack against modern warships, protected by radar ground clutter from the Islands and by using a late pop-up profile.
Meanwhile, other Argentine aircraft were intercepted by Sea Harriers operating from HMS Invincible. A Dagger and a Canberra were shot down.
Combat broke out between Sea Harrier FRS Mk 1 fighters of No. 801 Naval Air Squadron and Mirage III fighters of Grupo 8. Both sides refused to fight at the other's best altitude, until two Mirages finally descended to engage. One was shot down by an AIM-9L Sidewinder AAM (Air-to-Air Missile), while the other escaped but without enough fuel to return to its mainland airfield. The plane made for Stanley, where it fell victim to friendly fire from the Argentine defenders.
As a result of this experience, Argentine Air Force staff decided to employ A-4 Skyhawks and Daggers only as strike units, the Canberras only during the night, and Mirage IIIs (without air refuelling capability or any capable AAM (Air-to-Air Missiles)) as decoys to lure away the British Sea Harriers. The decoying would be later extended with the formation of the Escuadron Fenix, a squadron of civilian jets flying 24 hours-a-day simulating strike aircraft preparing to attack the fleet. On one of these flights, an Air Force Learjet was shot down, killing the squadron commander, Vice Commodore Rodolfo De La Colina, who was the highest-ranking Argentine officer to die in the War.