Only two days after
arriving, three of the RAF Harrier GR.3's
started their ground attacks by hitting a fuel dump at
Fox Bay East with CBU's. Then next
morning, Friday the 21st, and after G Sqdn SAS reported Argentine helicopters dispersing
at night from Stanley, a number were caught on the ground
Mount Kent and a
Chinook and Puma destroyed by 30mm cannon fire [a31, a32]. Later that morning, two more aircraft left
"Hermes" but one had to return with
undercarriage problems. The lone Harrier carried on and
during a photo-reconaissance run over Port Howard was
hit by ground-fire and
The pilot, Flt Lt Glover ejected and was taken prisoner of war.
The first reaction to the
landings was by Falklands-based aircraft. Grupo
3 Pucaras took off from Goose Green as "Ardent"
shelled the airstrip, and one was shot down over Sussex
Mountains by a Stinger
SAM fired by D Sqdn SAS
pulling back from the Darwin raid [a33]. Then a single Aermacchi MB-339A
of CANA 1 Esc from
a cannon and rocket attack on "Argonaut" at 10 am causing minor damage and
some casualties. Thereafter, mainland-based sorties that
day led to heavy losses on both sides with five of the
ships on the defending gunline lost or
hit by bombs or cannon fire, and only
"Plymouth" and "Yarmouth" escaping
damage. One more Pucara and nine Daggers and Skyhawks
were lost to the Sea Harriers on CAP and one to a SAM
fired by warships. The fierce AA fire from ship and shore
made the Argentine aircraft come in low and fast, and
although many of their bombs were on target, they failed
to explode. Fortunately, they also failed to hit the
transports. The main raids took place around 10.30 am, 1.00 pm
and 3.00 pm.
First to arrive were a
total of eight Daggers of Grupo 6. Attacking the northern
end of the gunline, "Broadsword" was hit by cannon fire and "Antrim" also badly damaged by a UXB with
casualties on both ships, but no one killed. One of the
[a34] was brought down
probably by a Sea Wolf from "Broadsword".
"Antrim" then moved towards San Carlos Water
where the bomb was
removed, before heading that night for the CVBG. Shortly
after midday, the Sea Harriers on CAP had their first
success of the day. Two Grupo 3 Pucaras from Goose Green
attacked a nearby naval gunfire observer directing
"Ardent's" fire from out in Grantham Sound,
three No.801 aircraft
closed in, and shot one of them down with cannon fire [a35].
right - HMS
Ardent mortally damaged with 22 men
killed and 30 injured. The frigate standing by is
probably HMS Yarmouth which took off
survivors (Courtesy - MOD, Navy)The next mainland
attacks were due an hour later at 1.00 pm by eight Skyhawks. Only two of the
four Grupo 5 aircraft reached West Falkland because of fuelling
problems, and one of these wasted its bombs on the
abandoned "Rio Carcarana" in Port King. The
fourth however carried on north up Falkland Sound and
near-missed "Ardent" with two bombs. At
"Brilliant's" command, two No.800 Sea Harriers
chased the returning aircraft without success, but
instead spotted the next four incoming Skyhawks from
Grupo 4 over Chartres in West Falkland. They tried to
escape, but two went down to Sidewinders (see photo
below) near Christmas Harbour [a36, a37].
Then the afternoon sorties followed,
starting at 2.30 pm
with six Skyhawks of Grupo 5 which nearly put paid to "Argonaut" (some sources put this raid in the
morning). Deluged by near misses, two bombs hit without
exploding but two men were killed in the Sea Cat
magazine. Steaming at high speed and with engine and
steering controls damaged, she was anchored by the action of Sub Lt Morgan,
but had to stay in the
area for a week until the UXB's were removed and the
damage temporarily repaired.
Next, twelve Daggers of Grupo 6 were due to
arrive. Out of the first group of six from Rio Grande, two aborted and as the remaining
four came in over West Falkland, "Brilliant"
vectored two No.800 NAS Sea Harriers and one of the
Daggers [a38] was
shot down near Teal River Inlet by yet another Sidewinder missile.
The three surviving aircraft pressed on and caught "Ardent" still in Grantham Sound. Coming in from astern they
blanketed her with hits and near-misses destroying her
Lynx [b14] and Sea Cat installation and
killing a number of men. With only small arms fire left
for defence, she headed for the protection of the other
escorts off San Carlos Water. As these three Daggers got
away, six more from San Julian arrived in two flights of three. The first hit "Brilliant" with cannon fire causing slight
damage and some casualties before they safely headed
back, but the second flight was wiped out before even
reaching the target area. Picked up over West Falkland by
"Brilliant" again, two No.801 Sea Harriers shot
them down with Sidewinders to the north of Port Howard [a39, a40, a41].
The last attacks started
minutes later by two
flights of A-4Q Skyhawks of 3 Esc in the only Navy
sorties to reach the Falklands that day. The
first three aircraft caught poor "ARDENT" off North West Island and again from the stern, bracketed
her with hits and near misses. Badly damaged, on fire aft
and flooding, with 22 men killed and some 30 injured,
Cmdr West ordered abandon ship and
"Yarmouth" came alongside to pick up the
survivors. "Ardent" finally sank the following evening. One of the CANA Skyhawks was
damaged by the return small arms fire, and all three were
caught by two No.800 Sea Harriers near Swan Island.
One was shot down by
cannon fire destroyed a second [a43] and hit the already damaged third.
Unable to land at Stanley with undercarriage problems, the pilot of
this one ejected [a44].
The second CANA flight ran in fifteen minutes later, but
failed to hit any of the ships. The Sea Harriers
continued to fly CAP, but there were no more raids that
day and the transports continued unloading.