May 2021 Part 2


Sea Harriers - Falklands 1982

Link to Website Index:

Sea Harrier FRS.1

800/899 Sqn, HMS HERMES, South Atlantic 1982

Hasegawa 1/72 , with scratch canopy.

As the Falklands Task Force proceeded south in April 1982, HERMES prepared her Sea Harriers for war.  Reinforced by aircraft and pilots from 899 Sqn from RNAS Yeovilton, the aircraft were painted (by hand) all over in dark sea grey.  White parts of the roundels were overpainted in blue (giving them distinctive non-standard proportions) and all squadron markings were removed.  Newly supplied AIM-9L all aspect Sidewinder missiles were fitted.  It was in this form that they saw their first combat on 1st May 1982, when 12 SHARs of 800 Sqn attacked Stanley and Goose Green Airports, with Combat Air Patrol cover by the SHARs of 801 Sqn from INVINCIBLE.   

Later that day, HERMES first air to air victory took place to the north of the islands, with an Argentine IAI Dagger splashed by an 800 Sqn Sidewinder.

Building the Hasegawa Sea Harrier Kit:

Hasegawa’s Sea Harrier was also released in 1983.  This is an older build from my collection, with a scratch built forward canopy section (missing canopies are an occupational hazard when buying cheap second hand kits!).   

With an interchangeable nose section rather like ESCI’s, the mould also formed the basis for a GR.3 kit.  However, unlike ESCI, Fujimi and Sword, its wings are separate sections, to be attached to the fuselage.  This is difficult to achieve without filling and losing some engraved detail.  Decals as supplied cover an 801 and 899 Sqn aircraft pre-Falklands, an 809 Sqn aircraft post Falklands, and this 899/800 Sqn aircraft from the conflict.  

This particular aircraft (XZ457) belonged originally to 899 Sqn but was transferred to HERMES 800 Sqn on 2 Apr 1982.  It shot down two Argentine Navy A-4Q Skyhawks on 21 May 1982 and two Argentine Air Force Daggers on 24 May 1982.

The 28 Sea Harriers (from 800, 801, 899 and 809 Sqns) of HERMES and the second British Carrier, HMS INVINCIBLE, put in a superb performance. Twenty one Argentine aircraft were destroyed by Sea Harriers, using a combination of gunfire and Sidewinder missiles, for the loss of NO aircraft in the air and 6 to ground fire or incidents.  A small number of RAF GR.3 Harriers from 1 Sqn operated from HERMES deck as well, adding their specialist ground attack skills to those of the Sea Harrier.

It was not an easy victory; the Argentines fought skilfully and aggressively and there were high casualties on both sides, at sea, on the ground and in the air.  This was a war that should never have happened, but victory was decisive and complete.  HMS HERMES was key to that victory.

Left:   © IWM FKD 677 - A gunner with GPMG stands watch on HMS HERMES after island as a Sea King Mk.5 lifts an underslung load from the deck.

Back to Part 1 - Sea Harriers - First and Last

On to Part 3 - Cyprus Emergency 1974

On to Part 4 (June 2021) - Strike Carrier

From an outstandingly long career across many oceans, many roles and many conflicts, it is 1982 and the Falklands War that defines HMS HERMES finest hour.  

7,800 miles from home, HERMES finally saw the action that she had been designed for.  A war fought from the sea, against an invader who had taken British territory by force.

Against the odds and facing what looked like overwhelming enemy forces, the British Task Force led by HMS HERMES, retook the Falkland Islands in only 10 weeks.

Above:  © IWM FKD 2343 - Picture by Lt Cdr R Nichol - A SHAR launches from HERMES ramp with another SHAR and 2 GR.3s parked on the forward deck.

Right: © IWM FKD680 - Snow on the crowded deck of HERMES as a lone SHAR sits on CAP alert, armed with Sidewinders and surrounded by GR.3s and Sea Kings.  Weather conditions in the South Atlantic were atrocious throughout the war.

© IWM FKD 679 - Looking aft from the island

© IWM FKD 2087 - HERMES returns to Portsmouth and to a heroes welcome from the nation in June 1982.

Sea Harrier FRS.1

800/809 Sqn, HMS HERMES, South Atlantic 1982

ESCI 1/72 , with Hasegawa decals, refuelling probe and cockpit ladder

Another older build from my collection.  Although this aircraft wears the immediate post-Falklands markings of 809 Sqn in HMS ILLUSTRIOUS (which relieved HERMES at the end of hostilities), it was originally one of the 809 Sqn aircraft transported to HERMES as reinforcements onboard the ill-fated Atlantic Conveyor.

Fortunately, the SHARS were all flown off the day before the ship was sunk.  Once onboard HERMES, 809 was absorbed into 800 Sqn alongside the elements of 899. Whilst flying from HERMES, this aircraft shot down an IAI Dagger on 23rd May 1982.

Link to Website Index:

<<Link to previous month  Link to Next Month >>

Images and text © unless otherwise noted