THE LAST EXOCET AND HMS INVINCIBLE (3)
Click on the images to enlarge
MAY 30, 1982. INVINCIBLE?
After the successful operations of May 4 and 25, the Argentines had one last chance to attack with EXOCET. Despite remaining only one missile available, it was decided to also fly a second SUPER ETENDARD as radar support. It was planned to change the direction of the attack again and this time to do it from the south. But something unexpected happened. The Argentine Air Force requested to reinforce the effect of the attack by flying its own planes equipped with bombs behind the wake of the missile launched by the naval planes. In this way, when attacking a ship already damaged by the impact of the missile, it could be more defenseless.
The aircraft chosen by the Air Force were the DOUGLAS A4C SKYHAWK, for their refueling capacity and oxygen autonomy. To be able to attack from the south it was necessary to cover a great distance and the resupply had to be double, on the way out and on the way back. Refueling six aircraft twice was a complex task that could be flawed, but was the only way to achieve it if the objective was to be reached from that direction.
Behind, a Hercules with extended hoses and three SKYHAWKS.
Click on the image to enlarge
Two SUPER ETENDARDs and four DOUGLAS A4Cs took off from Rio Grande and flew east until they met the KC-130 resuppliers. One of the KC-130s corresponded to the SUE and the other to the A4C. For 300 kilometers, the KC-130s accompanied the fighter planes as they took turns at the hoses. After the refueling was completed, the six aircraft continued east to a point where a northward turn was pre-established. Once on the final heading, they continued to advance until the SUEs estimated they were within 30 miles of the targets. At that point, the SUEs rose to capture the targets on their radars, but when they did not obtain contacts, they descended again. At 24 miles they rose again, picked a target, and the plane carrying the last EXOCET launched it.
"Twenty miles ahead, was the indication that the A4 pilots received from the SUE."
According to the account of the Argentine pilots, the 4 SKYHAWKs were launched at maximum speed behind the wake of the missile. Little by little the wake of the missile began to lose itself. When they were an estimated 5 miles from the target, the A4 furthest to the left exploded. It was that of First Lieutenant Daniel Vázquez. Then the remaining pilots began to see the silhouette of a ship almost directly ahead of them. As they got closer, they began to see plumes of smoke billowing from the ship on either side. When they were only 1 mile from the target, the plane that was at the time furthest to the left also exploded. In this case it was that of First Lieutenant Jesús Castillo. The two remaining SKYHAWKs, piloted by First Lieutenant Ernesto Ureta and Ensign Gerardo Isaac, continued the flight until they reached the ship where they dropped their bombs. Ureta estimates having hit the target, Issac not, but he managed to fire his cannons hitting the superstructure. After making the escape Ureta turned and saw the ship engulfed in smoke. According to the testimony of both, the attacked unit was HMS INVINCIBLE.
However, INVINCIBLE returned to England three and a half months later in perfect condition.
The British version says that no missile reached INVINCIBLE. They do not know what happened to EXOCET, which in this case was not tracked by any ship. They did detect the AGAVE radars of the SUPER ETENDARDs in the MAE systems of several ships, and the A4 ones in the 965 radars, but their number was confusing. Some saw two, others three planes. In the AVENGER frigate they assured that the attack was on them and that they shot down an A4.
Parece que sólo en el EXETER tuvieron claro lo que pasaba. Lograron enganchar a los SKYHAWK en su radar de tiro 909 en dos oportunidades consecutivas, lanzando dos misiles SEA DART y logrando sendos derribos.
The ship attacked that day was about 50 nautical miles SE of the point of attack on the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR. We can think that the British decided to move the aircraft carriers further east to a distance that they believed was the limit to be able to receive an attack with EXOCET, even with resupply. And they did so despite the fact that it decreased the time spent on the islands of the Harriers packs.
Click on the image to enlarge
In those days, the hypothesis had arisen among the intelligence officers that the attack on the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR received from the NO could have come from Puerto Deseado. This could be the reason why, in addition to taking the fleet east, they have also moved it further south.
On May 25, in addition to the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR, the COVENTRY had also been lost. So the fleet was left with only one fully operational Type 42 ship: EXETER. However, the next day, May 26, another type 42 destroyer, HMS CARDIFF, and a type 82 destroyer, HMS BRISTOL, which also had the SEA DART system, arrived in the conflict area. That same day the damaged GLASGOW left for the British Isles. According to British versions, BRISTOL had problems with SEA DART as she also had INVINCIBLE after launching 6 missiles on May 25.
So, the type 42 ships that were on the first defense perimeter of the fleet on May 30 were: the EXETER, 10 nautical miles to the west (heading 270 °), and the CARDIFF at the same 10 miles in the heading 330 °. The location of these two ships shows that the axis of the expected threat was 300 °, which practically confirms the hypothesis that they expected an attack with a probable departure from Puerto Deseado. After the attack on the Atlantic Conveyor, the measure had been taken to adjust the distance of this first defense perimeter to only 10 nautical miles from the core of the fleet, since it turned out to be the only way to cover the SEA DART envelopes with the core ships when the attacks were carried out at low level. However, doubts remained about the ability of SEA DART to neutralize the threat from EXOCETs. Until that moment, the EXOCETs had only stopped after having hit a ship. Putting ourselves in Woodward's shoes, many of us would have thought that there was no alternative but to protect the essential aircraft carriers by placing a less valuable ship in the way between them and the missile, and if possible not as valuable a ship as the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR. Woodward must have ensured that each aircraft carrier had from that moment on a goalkeeper ready to position himself on the side of the threat the moment one of the two type 42s yelled AGAVE, CONDOR, HANDBRAKE or whatever the appellation of the SUE that day.
There are many articles published on the internet about the result of the attack of May 30, 1982. There are them from those who deny that the attack has reached INVINCIBLE, to those who proclaim its sinking, going through all kinds of intermediate damages: slight damages with missile and bombs missing or not exploding, serious damage leaving the ship out of action, without propulsion, on fire, etc.
The first logical conclusion that can be reached is that the divergence of opinions shows that there is no type of data or evidence that validates the possible damage to the ship during the attack.
There are four types of hypotheses regarding the outcome of the attack, plus a hypothesis of the author listed last:
1. There was no attack on INVINCIBLE. The final run of the attack was made on the AVENGER frigate.
2. No damage: The attack was made on the INVINCIBLE but it was not damaged.
3. Slight damage: The damage was slight and repaired in the following days or after June 15 when the war ended. The fire caused by EXOCET was controlled and the bombs did not explode.
4. Serious damage / Sinking: The damage was so serious that it caused the sinking of the ship, or because it was impossible to repair without being shown to the public, the intentional sinking was decided to hide the facts.
5. Author's hypothesis where everyone tells the truth: In this hypothesis all the documents and stories used in this work are combined without disqualifying the British or Argentine versions.
1) There was no attack on INVINCIBLE
This version is unquestionably contested in the work "MAY 30, 1982. INVINCIBLE or AVENGER?" carried out by who during the war was responsible for the operation of the Argentine Air Force radar in Malvinas, the then Major Miguel Ángel Silva. By analyzing the data in a military simulator, Silva shows us that the AVENGER frigate could not be the attacked ship.
Taking as reference the relative positions of AVENGER, EXETER and INVINCIBLE, and the lethal envelope of the SEA DART missiles carried by the EXETER, Silva shows us that it is materially impossible for the EXETER to have shot down two SKYHAWKs before they reached the AVENGER.
AVENGER was 10 nautical miles south of EXETER. When the attack came from the south at an altitude of 30 feet, the planes would have only entered the detection field of EXETER at about 15 miles and only 5 miles from AVENGER. Under these conditions it would have been impossible for SEA DART system to engage the target, calculate the trajectory, launch the missile and hit the target before it reached AVENGER. All this is developed in detail in the work of Miguel Ángel Silva, which is available at the following link: http://www.radarmalvinas.com.ar/descargas/avenger-invincible.pdf
In the same work we can also see that the 2 SKYHAWKS could have been shot down by EXETER if they had attacked a ship that was in the core of the fleet. Its position perpendicular to the attack 10 miles to the west would have allowed it to run the SEA DART system process twice to shoot down the first SKYHAWK within 5 miles of the attacked ship and the second at 1 mile, coinciding with the account of the Argentine pilots.
In short, the first part of Silva's work shows that AVENGER could not have been the attacked ship. Instead, it could have been any ship that was in the core of the fleet, including the INVINCIBLE.
In the second part of the work, the AVENGER and INVINCIBLE logs, both declassified in 2012, are compared with what was seen by the Stanley radar operators. Although an aerial radar was operated that could not detect the positions of the ships, it was possible to detect the positions of the aircraft once they reached a certain height after taking off from the aircraft carriers. From the positions where the aircraft appeared and disappeared, it was possible to deduce the approximate location of the aircraft carriers.
When studying the INVINCIBLE log, inconsistencies arise. For example, if the position at the beginning of the day (09:00 am) is taken as a reference and the movements made are applied, the result does not coincide with the position declared at the end of the day (5:00 pm). Nor does the location of the ship coincide with the position estimated by the Stanley radar operators.
The AVENGER log does not present this problem and also its position does coincide with that observed by the radar operators, taking into account that AVENGER's position, according to British statements, was 10 miles south of EXETER, and this in turn it was another 10 miles from INVINCIBLE to the west.
The inconsistencies in the INVINCIBLE's blog suggest two options: That it may contain errors or that it is directly adulterated. On the other hand, the coincidence of what was observed by the radar operators with the AVENGER log gives the latter greater credibility. In addition, there is a third coincident element, which is the trajectory of the attack contained in the fragmentary order of the Argentine Air Force. It says that the starting point of the final run of the attack was 55° 00'S 53 ° 30'W. Then the pilots reported that the direction of the attack was 345° / 350 °. Taking these data into account, the trajectory of the aircraft coincides both with what was observed by the radar operators and with the AVENGER log.
Click on the image to enlarge
The conclusion of the second part of the work "MAY 30, 1982 INVINCIBLE or AVENGER?" it is the coincidence of the direction of the attack run with the estimated position of the INVINCIBLE, both according to the AVENGER log and as observed by the radar operators. It is not possible to determine that the INVINCIBLE was the attacked ship because it could also have been another ship that was in the core of the fleet. However, her position to the south of the fleet, mentioned in several British accounts, makes her highly likely to have been the target attacked.
2) No damage
In the previous point we have seen that there is a significant degree of certainty that the attack is directed at the core of the fleet. It is also known that the EXETER shot down 2 SKYHAWKS, one within 5 miles of the attacked ship and another within 1 mile of it. What could have happened from there to make the INVINCIBLE come out unscathed?
After the missile was launched, the A4 pilots darted behind its wake. The missile was traveling faster than airplanes so its wake must have been lost from sight. It could have happened that the missile did not hit any ship, either by failure, or by having used up its fuel without finding a target. In this case, the A4 pilots would have found themselves without a guide. Then the planes of his companions were shot down, and finally when they reached the place where the ship should be, they found nothing and began to return. This hypothesis implies that the Argentine pilots lied to us and that they continue to lie to us today, since they still continue to repeat the same story to whoever wants to hear it.
3) Slight damage
On June 15, after the war, the INVINCIBLE left the Falklands. According to British versions, she traveled to the 23rd parallel (Rio de Janeiro side) to replace one of her Rolls Royce Olympus turbines that was damaged. The turbine change was carried out on the high seas, a process that had not been carried out before or afterwards because it makes no sense to do it in those conditions when it can be done with much more comfort in a port. The ship reappeared in Stanley on July 3.
These 18 days could have been used to repair the damage suffered in the May 30 attack. For this hypothesis to work, the damage should have been slight. The bombs should not have exploded and the EXOCET missile should have produced contained damage, similar to that suffered by GLAMORGAN in the EXOCET attack from the ground on June 12.
4) Serious damage / Sinking
It seems unlikely that a ship the size of INVINCIBLE was sunk by the impact of a missile and some bombs. However, we have to remember that the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR was similar in size to the INVINCIBLE and it did sink under the impact of the EXOCET. Although in this case the explosion of the war material it was carrying also helped.
Nor can the action of the bombs be minimized knowing the result they gave in the case of COVENTRY, SIR TRISTAN and SIR GALAHAD.
Even if the ship was foreseeably not sunk, we can think that some serious, eye-catching and non-repairable damage might not have been admissible in the eyes of public opinion. Even more so considering that that ship had two twins under construction that were to be the base of the embarked air resources of Great Britain in the following decade.
An aircraft carrier is always an iconic ship within a fleet and more so if it is the flagship, and even more so if its name is INVINCIBLE. A dangerous name in our understanding and that we would not choose for our own ship. It sounds a bit like TITANIC. Invincible, too pretentious a name. What would we do if our fleet defeated the invincible? Wouldn't we be tempted to hide the damage if we could?
In the book "One Hundred Years" Sandy Woodward talks little and nothing about INVINCIBLE, but makes some comments that are related to him. On the occasion of the attack on SHEFFIELD he says that if the results of that attack had not been publicly shown, which was not necessary because the attacking pilots had not been able to corroborate the damage, the Argentines would not have acted in the same way in the subsequent attacks. Another comment he makes is that as of June 4 there were only three ships left that had no problem in the fleet, and he names HERMES, the frigate MINERVA and PENELOPE. He then he lists the problems or damages suffered by each unit and forgets to name the INVINCIBLE. The ship does not appear among the healthy but neither among the damaged, so she is left in mysterious oblivion. To end Woorward's words, he also said on more than one occasion that in case of losing one of the aircraft carriers they would have to give up making the landing.
Presumably then, there was a protocol in place in the event that one of the aircraft carriers was damaged to the point of being out of service.
What could that protocol have been to follow?
In the first place, it would be necessary to find a way to continue operating the air means. In this sense, there was the advantage of using a vertical take-off aircraft that did not need a runway to get into the air. The answer had to come from the side of taking advantage of every place where a HARRIER could land and take off, and in fact in those days several things were done in that sense:
- A runway was built in San Carlos that was operational in the first days of June.
- The logistics ships FEARLESS and INTREPID were adapted to be able to resupply the HARRIERS.
- It is possible that a sister ship of the SS ATLANTIC CONVEYOR such as the SS ATLANTIC CAUSEAWAY was also used for the same purpose.
Click on the image to enlarge
It would certainly be much more difficult to operate airplanes from several different locations than from a centralized location such as an aircraft carrier. And it is also fair to point out that in the event that the INVINCIBLE had been out of service on May 30, the deployment of aircraft in the moments and days after the attack did not suffer any decrease compared to what was seen previously. Even several members of the Argentine Air Force were astonished at the number of aircraft, especially helicopters, that the British fleet kept in an almost constant simultaneous flight.
The second part of the protocol to follow would be to hide the damage. But how could it have been done? Is it possible to hide serious damage on a 200-meter long ship with a thousand crew members on board? At least the UK has the capacity to do it. In fact, they have done it before: in 2013, the document on the sinking of HMS DASHER that occurred on March 27, 1943, was declassified.
70 years were taken to declassify the sinking of an aircraft carrier despite clashes with the relatives of the crew who clamored for recognition of the tragedy, and who were treated as crazy.
Going back to what we said before, it does not seem likely that the impact of an EXOCET and the explosion of one, two or three bombs would have been enough to sink the ship, but it would have been enough to cause significant damage that would not be quickly repaired and hidden. In this case, the decision could have been made to make the ship disappear to replace it with one of her twins. One of them, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, was about to go into operation and in fact did so on June 20. Obviously the construction of it was accelerated due to the war. The same must have happened with the third twin, the ARK ROYAL. The construction of these ships, which had been done slowly for several years, suddenly accelerated with no one complaining about the exorbitant budgets they demanded.
In our opinion, the UK had more than enough capacity to replace INVINCIBLE with another twin unit, either by upgrading the ILLUSTRIOUS to resemble the INVINCIBLE or by completing the construction of the ARK ROYAL in INVINCIBLE mode, then building another ARK ROYAL in the years to come.
Detractors of this hypothesis argue that there are many images of INVINCIBLE after May 30, some of them in July 1982 showing the landscape of the Falklands in the background, but the ship in those images could perfectly be the ILLUSTRIOUS converted to INVINCIBLE. And the images of August 24 of the supposed ILLUSTRIOUS / INVINCIBLE meeting could well be later, nothing guarantees its date. We don't even need to think that it could be a montage. With regard to the triumphal entry of the INVINCIBLE into Portsmouth on September 17, it should be noted that it is customary for the relatives of the crew to board the ship when it returns from war. This was done in all naval units when they returned from the Falklands, except INVINCIBLE where only the queen came on board to take a picture of her with her son.
Click on the image to enlarge
There were a whole series of events that, while taking them out of context, do not show anything, added to what has already been described, they make the most unlikely thing that nothing has happened to the INVINCIBLE. Let's name a few:
- On the same day of the attack, May 30 in the afternoon, General Moore moved the headquarters of the general staff to San Carlos.
- The day after the attack, June 1, Australia annulled the purchase order it had for INVINCIBLE. If they were already in the middle of the conflict, couldn't Australia wait for the war to end to annul the order? No, they did it just that day.
- Also on June 1, the adaptation of the logistics ships FEARLESS and INTREPID began to be able to resupply the HARRIERS.
- Between June 2 and 3, the nuclear charges carried by the INVINCIBLE were transferred to other ships. They had plenty of time to unload them before and during the war, but it occurred to them to do so just two days after the date the ship is suspected of being attacked. The image that follows is taken from the document “Operation Corporate. Carriage of nuclear weapons by the task force group assembled for the Falklands campaing ”, declassified in 2008. The table in the image details the passage of nuclear weapons from one ship to another during the Falklands conflict. According to this document, in the case of INVINCIBLE, the nuclear charges were transferred to RESOURCE on May 14 and to FORT AUSTIN on June 2 and 3. Also there you can see passages of nuclear weapons from the SHEFFIELD and COVENTRY just in the days before they were sunk. It would seem that these nuclear charges were narrowly saved from going to the bottom of the sea ... but this is an issue that escapes the present work and that deserves a separate treatment. The complete document can be downloaded from the link in the bibliography.
Click on the image to enlarge
In the previous attacks with Exocet, the Argentine pilots had not been able to verify the result of the attack, but they did in this one. What they told us may be true or false, but if the Skyhawks had not come after the missile, no one would ever have considered that this attack could have been any success, all the articles written on the subject would not exist, and neither would this one.
Now let's look at a hypothetical chronology of what the events may have been like. Of course it may have been otherwise, and evidence to the contrary is admitted.
30-5: Attack. Result: serious damage.
30-5: Later. General Moore moves the headquarters of the General Staff to San Carlos.
1-6: Australia cancels Invincible purchase order
1-6: Adaptation of the logistics ships FEARLESS and INTREPID to resupply HARRIERS.
1-6: Transfer of two HARRIER GR3s from Ascención in flight with refueling.
2-6: Transfer of nuclear charges from Invincible to other ships.
14-6: The surrender is signed.
15-6: Hermes takes over air defense. Nobody sees the INVINCIBLE. She is supposedly going to repair a turbine in the middle of the sea.
20-6: ILLUSTRIOUS is commissioned in Great Britain. She is supposedly going to do sea trials, but she could have left immediately for the Falklands. After a couple of days of settling down the machines, she gets up to speed enough to get Stanley on July 3. In Ascension she may have received HARRIERS from the ATLANTIC CAUSEAWAY or from other ships. These HARRIERS were the ones in INVINCIBLE.
3-7: The ship arriving at Stanley is the ILLUSTRIOUS but observers are not qualified to determine that it is not the INVINCIBLE. Recently some images of this supposed INVINCIBLE appeared but all of them are taken from a great distance, not allowing to see the details clearly.
4-7: Hermes leaves for Falklands.
27-7: Hermes arrives in England.
17-9: The ship that "arrives" in UK is ARK ROYAL that was already under construction at the time of the attack on INVINCIBLE. Its construction could have been modified imitating the characteristics of the INVINCIBLE: crane position, absence of PHALANX. But beware that in the images of September 17, in the place where the PHALANX should be, there is an object that covers just that place, as if trying to camouflage something.
There are photos of INVINCIBLE encounters with the ILLUSTRIOUS that supposedly would disqualify this chronology. Those photos taken in the middle of the sea could well be later. The only photos that can be taken as valid are those in which there is an element in the environment that leaves no doubts regarding the date. For example, the arrival of September 17.
The 30-year secret ended in documents partially declassified in 2008, such as the BOI of the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR that has crossed out the part corresponding to the defensive movements of the ships prior to the impact of the EXOCET. Also in 2012, an adulterated INVINCIBLE blog was declassified as if there were already few suspicious elements. This is demonstrated in the work of Miguel Ángel Silva: "May 30, 1982, Invincible or Avenger?" (Link in bibliography).
And in the end, 90 years of secrecy from the rest, which shows that there are still many relevant things hidden.
5) A hypothesis where everyone tells the truth
What follows is not written anywhere. It is own construction. Let's allow ourselves to use our imaginations. What if we tried to unite all the documents and stories used in this work without disqualifying any of them?
Let's start by imagining the four SKYHAWKS as they launch in the wake of the missile.
Loaded with the bombs, their speed is 420 knots. At that speed they travel 7 miles per minute, which will take them to cover in just under 3 minutes the 20 miles that according to the SUE pilots separate them from their target. One minute after launch, the missile's wake vanishes into the air in front of them and they no longer perceive it. After a minute and a half they begin to see the silhouette of a ship almost right in the place where the missile has just disappeared and immediately they begin to distinguish smoke coming from both sides of the ship. At that moment the missile traveled twice as far as they did and had already made an impact. When they have been running for two minutes, the plane on the right explodes. Ureta and Isaac have not seen it because they are to the right of the attack, but if Vázquez and Castillo could talk to us they would tell us that on the left there was a frigate firing its 4.5-inch cannon. We will never know if it was those shots or the accurate EXETER missile that shot down Vázquez, but the AVENGER crew members told us the truth, they were there, near the attack line, although slightly displaced to the left. In this regard, we knew that EXETER had to be 10 nautical miles west of the fleet core and that this distance had to be exact if its missiles were to provide the correct cover. But AVENGER was not tied to the defensive system. She had refueled and was heading to San Carlos. She didn't need to be in an exact position. That is why the accounts that say that it was 7, 10 or 13 nautical miles from the EXETER should not be precise either, for that reason we can move it in the scheme of our hypothesis, so that what its sailors and the attacking pilots say matches the rest.
Now we go back to the cabins of the A4 Skyhawk.
Isaac says that in the last seconds before reaching the ship, it was already covered in smoke almost completely and that only the superstructure was visible. Ten seconds before arriving he sees Castillo's A4 explode. He takes the center of the smoke as a reference and throws the bombs, squeezes the trigger of the cannons and dodges the superstructure from the right because he considers that it no longer manages to rise to pass over it. After walking away making evasive movements, he turns to the left and only sees smoke in the place where the ship was.
Ureta doesn't see when Castillo's plane is shot down to be further ahead. In his case it has moved further to the left and to pass over the target he has to turn to the right so he faces it from the stern at an angle of 30 °. He claims to have passed over a ship with a superstructure shifted to the right. He observed concentrated smoke rising from the center of the superstructure. After the attack he also turns to look back and sees only smoke.
Is there any chance that the story of these pilots is true and that at the same time the INVINCIBLE was undamaged?
The smoke they saw meant that the missile had hit. From there it is impossible to know how many bombs may have hit the ship and how many exploded, but we do have the certainty of the missile's impact. By pure logic, the only possibility that his story is true and that at the same time the INVINCIBLE has not received damage is that the attacked ship was not the INVINCIBLE.
Entonces, ¿qué otro buque podría haber sido?
It must have been one similar enough in the eyes of the pilots to have mistaken it for the aircraft carrier. In the first place it could have been HERMES but here we would fall into the same dead end as with INVINCIBLE: HERMES did not show damage at the end of the war and also has the handicap of having returned to England on July 21, almost two months before than INVINCIBLE, so the time available to make a repair was also much less.
We could then think of one of the great logistics ships such as the ATLANTIC CAUSEAWAY, twin of the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR. This would make sense when we consider what we saw earlier that the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR saved the HERMES. Then one of these ships could have been used to protect the INVINCIBLE. However, we find the problem that none of them has a superstructure displaced to starboard, as reported by the Argentine pilots who saw that day.
There is a very interesting and extensively documented document written by Dr. Mariano Sciaroni, where he informs us that on May 3, the United States offered the USS EISENHOWER aircraft carrier to the United Kingdom. Declassified intelligence reports show the concern in the United States about the ability of the United Kingdom to recover the islands, especially after the hesitant start of the war on May 1. But the offer was rejected when the British learned that the ship would arrive unmanned. They considered the operation of a ship of such dimensions complex without previous experience. However, in the same note in which they declined the offer, they asked about the availability of an IWO JIMA class helicopter carrier, of similar dimensions to the British aircraft carriers and already prepared for the HARRIERS operation. According to the information available, the operation did not materialize but ... what if for a moment we speculated otherwise?
Imagine the British fleet as we know it with the aircraft carriers and their corresponding escorts, and a little further east, in a remote position where no one would see it, a ship capable of freeing the saturated decks HERMES and INVINCIBLE, from the cumbersome operation of the helicopters, leaving their hangars and decks free for more HARRIERS.
A lonely ship, almost a ghost, as Ureta and Isaac saw it, and with this profile.
Click on the image to enlarge
As we can see, the view from the stern does not differ too much from the one presented by INVINCIBLE.
The IWO JIMA class ships, of which 7 units were built, were prepared since 1975 to operate HARRIERS, and there are multiple images that certify this.
Click on the image to enlarge
This hypothesis solves several problems. First of all, it frees us from conspiracy theories to secretly repair the INVINCIBLE or to replace him with one of his twins. On the other hand, it would have been much easier for the United States to replace an IWO JIMA class ship without anyone noticing it than for England to replace the INVINCIBLE. Of the IWO JIMA class, there were a greater number of units available (7), so their absence would be less noticeable. In addition, the capacity of the United States to build large naval units is infinitely greater than the British. As an example, it is worth saying that between 1943 and 1945 they were able to build 32 aircraft carriers.
Also in this way, one of the doubts of the Argentine Air Force would be dispelled, who as of May 21 drew attention to the number of simultaneous PACS of HARRIERS (up to 7) flying over the Falklands, along with a large number of helicopter flights. Major Silva tells us that some in the Argentine air force did not believe that there could be so many simultaneous helicopter flights and that they believed they were decoys.
With an IWO JIMA-class ship entering the scene incognito, the miraculous happens: all the pieces fit together, no one lies, the AVENGER sailors tell the truth, the A4C pilots tell the truth, and those who show the INVINCIBLE, alive and kicking too. Do you need something else?
We cannot know which of the five hypotheses is the correct one, but we dare to predict that the Royal Navy will no longer give the name INVINCIBLE to any other ship. The future will prove us right ... or not.
And let's not forget what Napoleon said: "There is nothing more false than a battle report."
Fernando Fontenla Felipetti - March 23, 2020
Click on the image to enlarge
- “Historia de la Fuerza Aérea Argentina”. Tomo VI, 1998.
- “Historia de la Aviación Naval Argentina”. Tomo III, 1992.
- Miguel Ángel Silva: “Reconstrucción del ataque al Sheffield”, 2009.
Avaliable in: http://www.radarmalvinas.com.ar
- Miguel Ángel Silva: “30 de Mayo de 1982, ¿Invincible o Avenger?, 2014.
Avaliable in: http://www.radarmalvinas.com.ar
- Gordon Brown: "Atlantic Conveyor. The third aircraft carrier", 2013-2017.
Avaliable in: http://www.atlantic-conveyor.co.uk/
- Ministry of defense: “Operación Corporate. Carriage of nuclear weapons by the task force group assembled for the Falklands campaing”, declassified 2008.
Avaliable in: http://www.radarmalvinas.com.ar
- Mariano Sciaroni: Un portaaviones yankee para la reina, 2014.
Avaliable in: http://184.108.40.206:80/jspui/handle/1847939/769
- Sandy Woodward: “One hundred days”, 1992.
;- Gordon Smith: “Battle atlas of the falklands war”, 1989.
- Nick Childs: “The age of Invincible”, 2009.
- Commander-in-chief fleet. “Loss of SS Atlantic Conveyor. Board of inquiry”, 1982, declassified 2008.
- Commander-in-chief fleet. “Loss of HMS Sheffield. Board of inquiry”, 1982, declassified 2008.
- Commander-in-chief fleet. “Loss of HMS Sheffield. Report of Captain Salt”, 1982, declassified 2008.