An interesting read on the raid on Port Stanley

Sure…we’ve all seen the documentary on the Black Buck raid during the Falklands War by RAF Vulcan bombers. Today, while doing some poking around, I came across this article on the Think Defence UK site about the controversy surrounding just how successful the raid was. It is fascinating reading (a bit long, but a great morning breakfast read) with lot of images and history.

It sure would be a perfect theater of conflict for DCS World once the pieces are in place. The aircraft would be awesome (F-4s, A-4s, Pucaras, Harriers, C-130s, etc…) and the terrain and defenses would be great. One can dream!

The interesting part about the article is the use of decoy bomb craters, work by the Argies (no disrespect implied…I don’t know what the shorthand for Argentinians is (?)) to make the damage look worse that it was, and all of the differing intelligence by many parties (UK MoD, USAF, etc…) about whether the Argies intended to ever base fast jets at Port Stanley. Apparently, they tested short takeoff/landing procedures and they decided it was not feasible…but anyway…fascinating read.


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So it sounds like the airport was maybe 4,100’ long at Port Stanley. Much of the article has to do with whether the Argies actually constructed any extensions using AM-1 aluminum matting. According to the article…much of that matting went to building more ramp space for the resupply flights, and some of it went to reinforce bunkers. It sounds like the Argentine Air Force was not terribly interested in operating fast jets from Stanley for several reasons. First, they didn’t think the UK would actually go to war over the Falklands/Malvinas. Second, lengthening the runway was one thing, but getting fuel and other support there for fast jets was another - deemed not worthwhile I guess.

They did operate MB-339 jets…and I found it interesting that both C-130 and Boeing 737s and F-28s were able to squeeze in there for resupply. Interesting…

Sorry…I’m just fascinated by the history of this part of the war…

That was a key point for the entire reason and execution of the conflict. It was a political act more aimed internally for the people the Junta needed to keep distracted. It didn’t work out so well for them.

I need some translation help - I tried Google Translate, and it does a fair job, but it misses some of the details:

Durante la ida, los pilotos prepararon la maniobra. Tenían que descargar en tiempo récord a 110 soldados y sus equipos. El plan era así: después de aterrizar, debían dejar el 737 en la cabecera opuesta, con el lado derecho pegado al límite de la pista, o sea, al pasto. El motor izquierdo quedaría funcionando. Blau bajaría por la puerta delantera izquierda y con un grupo de soldados siguiéndolo daría la vuelta hasta el lado derecho, donde después de abrir las dos bodegas, comenzarían a tirar al pasto todo lo que traía la nave. Una parada en boxes de Fórmula 1. Así fue: “Después de vaciar ambas bodegas en el pasto, cerré las puertas, volví a correr por atrás del avión, subí por la escalera y cerré la última puerta. Simultáneamente, el Tuiti arrancaba el motor derecho. Hicimos un giro de 180 grados y despegamos para el otro lado. Tiempo total en la pista: nueve minutos y medio”.

Google Translate comes up with this:

During the trip, the pilots prepared the maneuver. They had to unload in record time to 110 soldiers and their equipment. The plan was this: after landing, had to leave the 737 in the opposite header hit the right edge of the track, or side, the grass. The left engine would be running. Blau would drop by the front door and left with a group of soldiers would follow him around to the right side, where after opening the two wineries, the grass begin to pull all that brought the ship. A pit stop was Formula 1. So after emptying both wineries in the grass, closed the door, turned to run down the back of the plane, climbed the stairs and closed the last door. Simultaneously, the Tuiti started the right engine. We did a 180 degree turn and took off for the other side. Total time on the track: nine minutes and a half.

So I get the concept of the translation - but I’m looking for exactly what was said. My take:

737 landed (probably to the west given the layout of the runway and the approach from the sea) and rolled out at the end of the 4,000’ runway. After rollout, they kept the right side of the aircraft near the grass (right wheels near the edge of the concrete), shut down the right engine (probably to prevent FOD). FO would get out via the left door onto the runway along with the soldiers, who would go around to the right side to open the cargo doors and pull all the cargo from the aircraft. The stop was similar to a Formula 1 pit stop. After emptying both cargo holds, closed the cargo doors, got back aboard, started the right engine, did a 180 turn and took off the same way they came in.

That sound about right?

Hmm…then again…this photo seems to show them on the left side of the runway with the cargo doors not facing the grass. Perhaps this was unusual though…because that does seem the long way around to unload…

If you’ve not read them I highly recommend

Sea Harrier Over The Falklands


Vulcan 607

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The Vulcan raid had a nice relatively recent documentary worth a view too:

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Awesome…I’m gonna pick up Sea Harrier Over the Falklands. The only book I’ve read on the Falklands…which was very good was the one by Hastings and Jenkins: The Battle for the Falklands.


Knowing that I started reading about Port Stanley in the middle (Part II of the article) - I thought it appropriate to provide a link to Part I:

Another good read about how Port Stanley airport came into being…with some great photos and history…


And Part III…which wraps up the immediate post war history of Port Stanley…

Thanks for that link Beach, absolutely fascinating the whole era.

My late Dad was in the RAF and would have been interested too.

As a point of interest in UK there was some sort of daft government sponsored, almost dating agency in UK to encourage us to keep in touch with those in Southern Hemisphere, I tried it and made friends with a very nice fellow lady school teacher, we kept in touch for a while but soon realised it was obligatory letters from home type stuff and we were being stitched up by our government.

No time is wasted though, and it was good to chat to Kath about her life down under and it was absolutely fascinating to learn how it was , to cling on to the Falklands the way we do it independent style to missing soap opera’s down under.

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Thoroughly recommend Vulcan 607 made me proud :smile: