May 19, 2019

The Falklands War - Glossary

As the Falklands War series has now been going on for a year, I've decided to put together a glossary, listing the ships, airplanes, weapons, and so on. I usually try to link to wiki when I introduce something new, but it's easy for me to forget that the last time I talked about something was 6 months ago. Hopefully this will close some of the gap. For those wanting to catch up on the series, the full list of posts is here.

Ships

I have only listed major weapons systems for the ships, primarily good surface-to-air missiles.1 Almost all British ships had at least one 4.5" gun and a helicopter, but the presence of these should be obvious from context, and full lists are available in the relevant wiki articles. I've mentioned and linked to significant events regarding some ships, but only those that have come up in the narrative so far.

British Warships

  • HMS Hermes: A carrier that was originally laid down during WWII, although it had been extensively modernized. The British flagship, loaded with Harriers and Sea King helicopters.
  • HMS Invincible: The second British carrier, commissioned less than two years before. Besides its air group of Harriers and Sea Kings, it also was armed with Sea Dart surface-to-air missiles.
  • HMS Sheffield: Type 42 air-defense destroyer, armed with Sea Dart missiles. Part of the first wave off the Falklands. Sunk by Exocet attack on May 4th.
  • HMS Coventry: Type 42 air-defense destroyer, armed with Sea Dart missiles. Part of the first wave off the Falklands.
  • HMS Glasgow: Type 42 air-defense destroyer, armed with Sea Dart missiles. Part of the first wave off the Falklands. Damaged by air attack on May 12th.
  • HMS Exeter: Type 42 air-defense destroyer, armed with Sea Dart missiles. Arrived off the Falklands on May 22nd.
  • HMS Cardiff: Type 42 air-defense destroyer, armed with Sea Dart missiles. Part of the Bristol group, which reached the Falklands on May 26th.
  • HMS Bristol: Type 82 air-defense destroyer, armed with Sea Dart missiles. Part of the Bristol group, which reached the Falklands on May 26th.
  • HMS Antrim: County class destroyer, armed with obsolescent Sea Slug missiles. Used mainly as a general-purpose escort. Part of the first wave off the Falklands. Hit by a bomb that failed to detonate on May 21st.
  • HMS Glamorgan: County class destroyer, armed with obsolescent Sea Slug missiles. Used mainly as a general-purpose escort. Part of the first wave off the Falklands.
  • HMS Brilliant: Type 22 frigate, armed with Sea Wolf point-defense missiles. Part of the first wave off the Falklands.
  • HMS Broadsword: Type 22 frigate, armed with Sea Wolf point-defense missiles. Part of the first wave off the Falklands.
  • HMS Alacrity: Type 21 general-purpose frigate. Part of the first wave off the Falklands.
  • HMS Arrow: Type 21 general-purpose frigate. Part of the first wave off the Falklands.
  • HMS Antelope: Type 21 general-purpose frigate. Escort for the Amphibious Group, arrived off the Falklands on May 20th.
  • HMS Ardent: Type 21 general-purpose frigate. Escort for the Amphibious Group, arrived off the Falklands on May 20th. Sunk by Argentine bombs, May 21st.
  • HMS Ambuscade: Type 21 general-purpose frigate. Arrived off the Falklands on May 22nd.
  • HMS Active: Type 21 general-purpose frigate. Part of the Bristol group, which reached the Falklands on May 26th.
  • HMS Avenger: Type 21 general-purpose frigate. Part of the Bristol group, which reached the Falklands on May 26th.
  • HMS Argonaut: Leander class general-purpose frigate. Escort for the Amphibious Group, arrived off the Falklands on May 20th. Badly damaged by Argentine bombs on May 21st.
  • HMS Andromeda: Leander class frigate modernized with Sea Wolf point-defense missiles. Part of the Bristol group, which reached the Falklands on May 26th.
  • HMS Minerva: Leander class general-purpose frigate. Part of the Bristol group, which reached the Falklands on May 26th.
  • HMS Penelope: Leander class general-purpose frigate. Part of the Bristol group, which reached the Falklands on May 26th.
  • HMS Yarmouth: Rothesay class general-purpose frigate. Part of the first wave off the Falklands.
  • HMS Plymouth: Rothesay class general-purpose frigate. Part of the first wave off the Falklands.
  • HMS Fearless: Fearless class amphibious transport dock. Carried four LCU and four LCVP, as well as troops and supplies. Flagship of the Amphibious Group, arrived off the Falklands on May 20th.
  • HMS Intrepid: Fearless class amphibious transport dock. Carried four LCU and four LCVP, as well as troops and supplies. Part of the Amphibious Group, arrived off the Falklands on May 20th.
  • HMS Endurance: Ice patrol vessel, usually stationed in the South Atlantic. The only British vessel on-station during the Argentine invasion.
  • HMS Conqueror: Churchill class nuclear submarine dispatched to support the task force. Sunk Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano.
  • HMS Courageous: Churchill class nuclear submarine dispatched to support the task force.
  • HMS Valiant: Valiant class nuclear submarine dispatched to support the task force.
  • HMS Spartan: Swiftsure class nuclear submarine dispatched to support the task force.
  • HMS Splendid: Swiftsure class nuclear submarine dispatched to support the task force.
  • HMS Onyx: Oberon class non-nuclear submarine sent to the South Atlantic for special operations.

British Auxiliaries

Argentinian Warships

Argentinian Auxiliaries

Aircraft

British Aircraft

  • Sea Harrier: Carrier-based short takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) fighter. Usually referred to with generic "Harrier". Capable of carrying rockets, bombs, and Sidewinder missiles, as well as 30mm cannon.
  • Harrier GR3: Royal Air Force STOVL attack aircraft, not normally carrier-based. 10 hastily modified for carrier operations and sent to the South Atlantic. Used primarily for recon and ground attack. Armed with rockets, bombs and 30mm cannon.
  • Sea King: Ship-based heavy antisubmarine and utility helicopter.
  • Wessex: Medium helicopter family including both ship-based anti-submarine versions and both ship and land-based utility/cargo aircraft.
  • Lynx: Advanced medium anti-submarine helicopter, armed with torpedoes, machine guns, and Sea Skua missiles.
  • Wasp: Light anti-submarine helicopter, with minimal avionics. Armed with torpedoes and AS.12 missiles.
  • Vulcan: 1950s bomber, used in epic long-range bombing missions against the Falklands.
  • Victor: Tanker converted from 1950s bomber, used to support long-range missions from Ascension.
  • Nimrod: Maritime patrol/reconnaissance aircraft used for distant support of the Task Force.
  • Hercules: Tactical transport, used with extensive refueling for urgent drops of supplies to the Task Force.
  • Scout: Light land-based helicopter, used for reconnaissance and transport.
  • Gazelle: Light land-based helicopter, used for reconnaissance and transport.

Argentinian Aircraft

  • A-4 Skyhawk: American-built attack aircraft, used in slightly different variants by the Argentine Air Force and Navy. Armed with cannon and bombs.
  • Dagger: Israeli-built fighter/attack aircraft used by the Air Force. Armed with cannon and bombs.
  • Super Etendard: French-built attack aircraft planned for use on Veinticinco de Mayo, but instead deployed with Exocet missiles from land bases.
  • Mirage III: French-built fighter and backbone of Argentina's air defenses, armed with missiles. Withdrawn from service over the Falklands after heavy losses the first day.
  • Pucara: Argentinian light attack aircraft. Propeller-driven and designed primarily for use against insurgents, it still proved useful in the Falklands.
  • Boeing 707: American airliner used by Argentina as a long-range patrol aircraft.
  • Canberra: British-built light bomber, used for attacks on the Falklands and the Task Force.
  • KC-130 Hercules: American-built tactical transport, with several aerial tanker variants used to give extra range to Argentine air strikes.
  • SP-2H Neptune: American-built maritime patrol aircraft, used to provide targeting for Exocet strikes. All out of service by May 15th.
  • MB-339: Italian-built jet trainer, based in the Falklands and used for light attack.
  • T-34 TurboMentor: American-built turboprop trainer. Several based in the Falklands and used for recon and light attack.
  • Learjet: American-built business jet, used for navigation and decoy duties by the Argentinians during the war.

Weapons

British Weapons

  • Sea Slug: 1960s naval SAM. Intended for shooting down bombers, obsolescent by the time of the Falklands War.
  • Sea Cat: 1960s naval point-defense SAM. Widely used, although manual control and subsonic missiles meant that it was obsolescent and largely ineffective during the war.
  • Sea Dart: Long-range naval SAM. Very effective at high altitude, although prone to software glitches. Used by both sides.
  • Sea Wolf: Naval point-defense SAM. Intended for shooting down missiles, but also very effective against aircraft. Only limited numbers available.
  • Exocet: French surface-launched2 anti-ship missile.
  • Ikara: Australian long-range antisubmarine missile.
  • Sidewinder: American infrared-guided short-range air-to-air missile.
  • Sea Skua: Helicoper-launched light anti-ship missile. Not cleared for service at the start of the war, but rushed into service.
  • AS.12: Helicopter-launched anti-tank missile.

Argentinian Weapons

  • Exocet: French anti-ship missile used by Argentina in both air-launched and surface-launched versions.
  • Sea Dart: Long-range naval SAM. Very effective at high altitude, although prone to software glitches. Used by both sides.
  • Sidewinder: American infrared-guided short-range air-to-air missile.
  • R530: French semi-active radar-homing short-range air-to-air missile.
  • R550 Magic: French infrared-guided short-range air-to-air missile.
  • Retarded bomb: Bombs fitted with special devices to slow them down and allow the launching aircraft to escape before the bomb went off. These didn't always work, and many bombs that did hit their targets were duds.

Other

  • Sandy Woodward: The Admiral in charge of the British Carrier Task Force.
  • VYCA-2: Argentinian air-control unit at Stanley. Made excellent use of radar data to keep Argentine aircraft clear of the British, or guide them in, as desired.

1 Many of the ships with no SAM listed had Seacats, but it was obsolescent by the time of the Falklands and I don't believe it scored any kills. Likewise, I've excluded their Exocets because of the lack of surface targets.

2 An air-launched version did exist, but was not used by the British.

Comments

  1. May 20, 2019AlphaGamma said...

    Tiny nitpick: QE2 was not an MV (motor vessel) but an SS (steam ship) at the time of the war, when she still had her original steam plant. This was replaced with diesel-electric propulsion later in the 1980s.

    No prefix was normally used in publicity for QE2, only in official documents. RMS is also not correct as QE2 never had the contract to carry Royal Mail.

  2. May 20, 2019bean said...

    Good catch. I was working off the wiki list when I wrote this, and they presumably used the later prefix.

    Also, I was in the library this weekend and ran across a book that was something like "A Citizen's Guide to Stupid Wars". The blurb on the back made me very suspicious it was written by people who's cynicism exceeded their knowledge of military affairs, and this was confirmed when I opened to the section on the Falklands. Discussing the situation immediately after the landing, I quote:

    "The Argentine air force responded by sinking three British capital ships: the Arden, Antelope, and Atlantic Conveyor."

    Reminder: Capital ship is the biggest, most powerful instrument of sea control around. Depending on how you argue it, the British might have had zero, two (carriers) or five (submarines) capital ships in the task force. Things that do not count as capital ships include general-purpose frigates. Things that absolutely are not capital ships include chartered container ships with no weapons.

  3. May 20, 2019Chuck said...

    @Bean

    That is an interesting note about the term "capital ship", one that I would hazard most people don't know. I include myself, since I had always assumed that a capital ship was determined by tonnage and the ability to operate as a combatant outside of the fleet. It really does raise the question of what is a capital ship in a modern navy, and whether the term is completely outdated?

  4. May 20, 2019bean said...

    Capital ships almost never operate outside of the fleet. They're too rare and too important. Independent operations are the providence of the next level of ship down. And I don't think it's outdated. Carriers fulfill most of the roles of the classic capital ship, particularly the non-combat ones like showing the flag/political presence. The big issue is in a shooting war, and the SSN/carrier balance there will hopefully never be fully worked out.

  5. May 21, 2019Aula said...

    The second Guerrico should be Granville (according to the link target, at least).

  6. May 21, 2019bean said...

    Thanks. Looks like I updated the link, but forgot to change the name. Fixed now.

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