F L I G H T  D I A R Y  O F  E V E N T S
[ Diary Of Events ] [Flight Diary] [ Spider's Diary Of Events ]

April 8th

Both ships turned around and returned to Gib to await instructions with the Falklands crisis brewing. A further flight run was achieved before sailing – this time without the London taxi which had taken over the starboard side of the hanger. The ship initially tracked 300 from Gib to join the Fearless group before catching up with Hermes and Invincible. The flight started preparing for a bit of action.

April 9th

LMG fired by the flight – lack of GPMG fit suggests that the LMG may be the best air attack/defence gun. The magazines are easily fitted, quickly loaded, the gun is lighter and it is expected that it will not jam as frequently as the GPMG.

April 10th

Ammunition, 4 5 inch shells and 3 inch rockets were vertreped from Yarmouth and Sir Geraint. Fighter evasion theory and practice were taught.
With the ship now approaching the tropics, less flying was exercised to preserve the electrics from damage through overheat. Radios and ESM particularly have caused problems in the hot weather.

April 16th

At Ascension Island, the flight Commander and first Observer went ashore to ‘Wideawake’ to find a second Lynx. By dusk 347 was embarked along with 8 Sea Skuas and a further 5 torpedoes. It seemed a bit ‘help yourself’ with the airstrip geared up to provide stores, weapons and aircraft for the ships as they passed through. A fairly continual vertrep was being run to ships.

April 18th

On sailing, the flight Commander was dropped ashore to collect and fly XZ240 Lynx to Invincible. The Lynx was fitted for Skua and ESM, sporting a large globe with an infra red sight in.

April 19th

The new Lynx was test flown to check its systems. The Lynx is Battleaxes, now fitted with MAD, ESM, and Skua. It was later fitted with LMG and overload tank.

April 20th

Having known that there were problems with the vibration on XZ240 in Invincible, the flight took over the aircraft for the day.

April 21st

Another 910 cal carried out, perhaps a pre action cal?

April 22nd

25 South. Guns fitted to both aircraft, ammunition 1/1 ball/tracer

April 23rd

Cdr Honneyball (FOF1 SAVO) visited to discuss Lynx ops, particularly the use of the infra red sight aircraft which is destined for Glasgow but probably will not fit. It was decided that it would come to Broadsword for continuous training and evaluation, with 346 going to Alacrity who have Skuas but no capable aircraft.
In the evening, a seaking 4 from Hermes hit the sea a couple of miles ahead of Broadsword. The pilot (Flight Lieutenant Bob Grundy) got out, but it appears that the aircrewman was unstrapped at the time and was unable to get out. Broadsword was closely involved in the search.

April 24th

The aircraft swop between Broadsword, Alacrity and Invincible was carried out. The IR helo has to fit in the starboard side of the hanger, going in first. The MAD cab then goes in on the port side, with the  MAD overlapping the IR sight laterally but clear astern. Moving the IR cab from the hanger required the MAD cab to be moved out first then replaced afterwards; the mangler earned its keep.

April 25th

40 south. On testing the IR sight, it found that the focusing motor was unable to focus apart from a bracket of 20 – 50ft. A fair amount of effort went into chasing what appeared to be an insoluble problem, possibly a dirty or misaligned cog. The seaking wheel and flot gear which had been recovered to the boat deck were returned to Hermes, using a form of high line vertrep – the helo was unable to hover directly over the load.

April 26th

The period of extensive garaging of other flight’s aircraft continues. Glasgow flight appeared today for their skua system to be checked out and for a replacement radio. Their SUL was U/S and an internal component change between two U/S SUL’s had to be carried out to make one serviceable one.

April 27th

Alacrity came today for their skua system to be checked and to learn how to check their own system. A skua load was also demonstrated.

April 28th

Glasgow returned still U/S on the three stations not checked out by our functions. Two of these stations were solved by turning around a connector which had been put in the wrong way round. By this stage, the workshop which had been set up in the air EMR was functioning well, repairing radar and radio parts. During the day a further 910 Cal was flown to alter the beacon frequency. The MAD was also tested by FLOBS and P2, bringing it back stuck 4 ft out. The bird was recovered to a shock mat on the deck and the reeling machine changed. The old one was found to be badly corroded inside and the brake pads stuck.

April 29th

With reel-out machine borrowed from Hermes, the MAD was fixed. With both cabs now in the overload tank configuration, the GPMG mount cannot be fitted. Both cabs now have LMG’s

April 30th

52 south, 400 miles east of the Falklands. A CTF was flown on the MAD cab (347) and the IR cab (348) was again tested, with the object of testing its maximum range of picking up the heat from a funnel.

May 1st

A Vulcan attack on Stanley airfield, followed by Sea harriers in daylight heralded the start of hostilities. 347 was launched twice with skuas loaded to see if whales had any magnetic properties. Dolphins seem more interesting, as they show up as a ‘sinker’ as well as a sonar contact. Later in the day a cloud was investigated to check for hostile intent. The sortie was well worth flying, as it gave a chance to test safety procedures. NGS was carried out by Glamorgan, Arrow and Alacrity. Alacrity flight, (using our aircraft 346) appear to have damaged 346 by wilfully carrying out spotting over land (topped up with irate Argies)

May 2nd

Sunday routine. Backed off the east, little flying, RAS Z’s

May 3rd

The action appears to have been with Coventry and Glasgow flights who appear to have attacked two A 69s to the north during the night, one of which appears to have been skuaed during in one of its Exocet launchers or magazine as it appears to have blown up. The second hit by Glasgow (maintained by Broadsword) appears to have been damaged. No search was flown the following day, so full details were not known. The same night the General Belgrano was torpedoed twice (once and a spare) by Conqueror.

May 4th

A quiet day, with alert 15 being the order of the day. The weapon state of 4 skuas takes some understanding, with surface contacts being engaged over 80 miles away. The search/probe Lynx also appeared to be at deck alert: contacts are being confirmed hostile by Seakings who get shot at!
HMS Sheffield hit by Exocet and we deliver Rover Gas Turbine Pump vertrepped to her fx

May 5th

After an overnight alert 15 with the TICM helo, we managed to swop the TOCM for XZ732, 349, which boasted two internal tanks but little else.

May 6th

Alert 5 and 15 for the day, in fog with no flying. Two harriers have disappeared while descending to low level to investigate contact. I suspect the leader flew into the sea, expecting a higher cloud base, with his No2 maintaining close formation on the leader in cloud.

May 7th

Again at alert states on the edge of the TEZ with fog.

May 8th

A flock of birds closing the force brought gunfire chaff, action stations and aircraft launches. 347 was launched twice but is called back if the air raid level increases, which does not allow the sortie to achieve its aim.

May 9th

Coventry and Broadsword closed the coast to the south of Stanley to run the first Seadart trap. When bored, the type 42 is allowed to carry out NGS, through the cloud base negates the chance od successful spotting. The profiles flown by Coventry’s Lynx caused some amusement as the spotter could have seen more from onboard the ship! The aircrew later blamed it on the spotter who apparently was a bit nervous. Four Seadarts were fired, one confirmed helicopter and probably some frightened aircrew in unknown high flying aircraft. By night we flew to check out which land based radars were operating.

May 10th

By daylight we were clear of the Islands, returning to the task force. Brilliant and Glasgow replaced us on the gunline. Two type 21’s Arrow and Alacrity carried out some excursions through Falkland sound. A trawler, the Narwhal, which had been attacked by Sea Harriers the previous day to the south of F.I’s sank, as did Sheffield. Alert 15.

May 11th

Again we returned to the gunline, this time nearly making it to the north of the Islands before turned and being sent back to the Stanley line. The high speed required for the change did not improve the forward Seawolf system, and the day was called off when the forecast of fog was found to be correct. Coventry’s gun and missile systems were not 100% either and we returned to the edge of the TEZ and a gale.

May 12th

The style of Lynx operations seems to be changing somewhat, with surface searches sorties being flown rather than just holding an alert on deck. In retrospect, flying with missiles on for every sortie may not have improved the missiles. Glasgow and Brilliant took the 4th consecutive day on the line at Stanley. Though it was felt that their submarines must by now be in the right place, it was an air attack against the two which was the highlight of the day. Two A4’s were hit by Seawolf, a third hit the sea. The second raid had more success, with a bomb passing through Glasgow without exploding.
A Seaking ditched, with its crew being recovered. Gales continue.

May 13th

Gales replaced by fog. Another desperate scramble into the air to check out whales magnetic properties gave the embarrassment when the MAD proved U/S. Airbourne checkouts of the equipment were carried out on later sorties at regular intervals. In the evening the first run at Pebble Island was started but turned around.

May 14th

Coventry flight visited to have its radar checked out, In the evening, Broadsword escorted Hermes close to the Islands when we closed to land SBS/SAS for the attach on Pebble Island.

May 15th

Glamorgan’s report of the nights antics suggest that 11 aircraft were hit in the nights operations.
With a fairly rough sea, 347 slid to the port side of the hanger while being brought out. Slight damage to the trailing edge of a rotor blade was the only result, with the track being checked out before continuing with tasked flying – ESM/Surface search being among the tasks, with the direction of the search being to the east!.. ??

May 16th

Another dash planned, this time with Hermes to th south of F.I.s to release a sk 4 for duties ashore. Postponed.

May 17th

A mixture of skua sorties with MAD trapping, together with a deck alert with skua while Invincible and Broadsword made their dash to the west, launching their sk4. One sk5 ditched.

May 18th

Finally the assault group arrived, bringing Canberra, 5 LSL’s, fearless, Intrepid and numerous other support ships. The ESM and surface searches continue. With FLOBS demonstrating how easy it is to shake half the fleet with one small radio call – “Agave”. Easy, even if it was called on a survey ship radar!

May 19th

At the end of the first sortie on an Acc drive shut down, hydraulic fluid spilling onto the rotor brake caused a fire. The worst time possible to loose the use of our skua aircraft, the night sortie was carried out in the other aircraft. The skua kit was then rapidly removed from 347 and fitted into 349, which was thought to have a loom problem as well.

May 20th

Preparations for the invasion, with work progressing on making 349 skua capable. One sk4 ditched, with 20 SAS killed. In the afternoon the invasion force enters the TEZ, travelling at slow speed of the LSL’s which seem to be the slowest ships of the force, at 14 knots.

May 21st

By daylight, a good number of the troops were ashore in the San Carlos area. The escorts – Ardent, Yarmouth, Brilliant, Antrim, Broadsword, Argonaut and Plymouth, had the dubious pleasure of forming a line in the sound to the west to provide an AA and ASW barrier for the troop and store ships. Ardent and Broadsword flew the dawn sorties to check for enemy shipping. Ardent flight found and attacked a support ship to the south; We found nothing to the north and returned to the deck. Then began a series of events which will make the 21st May unforgettable. During a series of raids by groups of 3 or 4 Mirages and Skyhawks most of the escorts were individually attacked with cannon and bombs. Antrim and Argonaut were hit by bombs which did not explode. Late in the day, Ardent was hit by two waves of aircraft who’s bombs did work, hitting her aft. With 20 dead, including half the flight, the ship was abandoned.
Broadswords first attack came from the port side, line abreast. With cannon fire being the attack from the aft aircraft, the port side was hit, with two shells through the aircraft,  2 through the hanger side and a further 2 through the hanger door. 349 on deck suffered a fuel leak, a hydraulic leak from being hit near the tail break and damage to the support frame starboard side just behind the pilots seat. Other damage to the tail was considered irreparable in the short term.
Unfortunately, most of the flight had taken shelter in the hanger, and seven suffered shrapnel wounds, the first 3 being casevaced back to the UK. 347 in the hanger also received shrapnel damage, though not very severe.
The second attack came in, line abreast, from the starboard side. Thinking the aircraft were attractive targets, they had been defueled and stowed. Bombs dropped on this attack missed, but Lt Cdr Jones was hit by shrapnel from one of the few cannon shells which hit, and was later casevacced with the SMR to Canberra, returning after a ten day excursion to South Georgia.
 Awaiting further raids gave problems in decision making for the flight. Go inside the ship and possibly catch the bombs; stay outside and catch the cannon. Most opted for inside, sitting alongside missiles and torpedoes in the air weapons maintenance room, which had more layers of metal between it and the outside but also certain other disadvantages.

May 22nd

Coventry and Broadsword again acted as a missile trap to the north. The enemy had lost about 17 aircraft the day before to various systems and as a result, there was less activity.

May 23rd

Again the ship found itself back in bomb alley, patrolling a sector of Falkland sound off the north of San Carlos Water. A dawn coastal search was flown, with a surface probe later to check out three contacts which turned out to be hospital ships. A three deck Lynx shuffle appeared later between Broadsword, Argonaut and Antelope, trying to sort out Skua problems. In the middle of the shuffle, P2 and O2 made the mistake of being on Antelopes deck during an air attack. They launched fairly soon after Antelope took 2 bombs inboard – neither exploding.

May 24th

With Seawolf working in the tv mode, the escorts moved into the limited shelter provided by San Carlos Water.

May 25th

Broadsword and Coventry return to set up a missile trap to the north of west Falkland. The day started well with three successful Seadart engagements, with both flights flying surface surveillance against the possibility of the Argy Navy breaking out. However late in the day a pair of A4’s put a bomb through Coventry and bounced a bomb off the water through our starboard quarter, emerging through the flight deck and over the side, taking the nose of XZ 729 with it, as well as breaking the torpedo which was fitted to the starboard side.
Coventry unfortunately capsized, with the amphibious forces helos picking up some 200 survivors, many coming to Broadsword, thence to Fort Austin and Uganda. The same day Atlantic Conveyor was hit by one, maybe two , Exocets, being abandoned and later sinking. As a separate item, the aircrew from the Seaking that was launched to the west earlier in the war have been flown to UK from Chile.

May 26th

Somewhat licking its wounds, Broadsword returned to the battle fleet to the east, now with three U/S helos on board, and a gaping hole just forward of the grid. AEM(M) Noyes and LAEM(M) Kosior were transferred from the ship, the SMR transferred from Canberra to Hecla, hopefully all bound for the UK. The Flt Cdr transferred from the Meridian Room (ward) to a slum class cabin on 3 deck of the Canberra, now en route to South Georgia to collect five brigade.

May 27th

Lt Ackerman joined the flight to see what could be done to make serviceable helos out of wrecks, while the ship worked to make a flight deck out of a hole! Tail pylons needed swapping, engines needed buttoning up, sheet metal repairs were required, and finally the bombed hulk, now missing its tail, would need to have a few components removed and then transferred to clear our hanger.

May 28th 29th

Repairs continue, with the ship still with the battle group. Darwin and Goose Green were taken by 2 Para. Helo ops in the TA were suspended due to Pucara activity.

May 30th

Flight repairs continue. The British Wye was bombed (unsuccessfully) by Hercules, north of the TEZ. Exocet attacks carried out against the force, with no success.

May 31st

Further repairs. Flight Commander returned from Canberra.

June 1st

347 was finally flown. Broadsword escorted Canberra into the TA to offload 5 brigade. Two Argie Seakings spotted near Pebble Island with Exocets. One harrier went missing, a second shot down a Hercules north west of West Falkland.

June 2nd

The harrier pilot was recovered by Seaking from close to Stanley where he had been shot down by a Roland – after wandering around inside range looking for business: 347 checked and serviceable for Skua. The force twice went to air raid warning red based on a Lynx receiving hydra’s radar.

June 3rd

Work started on 349, to repair the cannon damage by the starboard flying ESM.

June 4th

The land war continued with Argy Canberra’s bombing positions on Mount Kent. ESM sorties seem to be the pattern, being flown by day to the west of the force by 80 miles.

June 5th

Finally the two damaged Skuas were vertreped to Fort Grange; they were later ditched on advice from UK. Invincible and Exeter worked inshore as a Canberra trap; it appeared that harrier launches were all too late to achieve anything.

June 6th 7th

Operations continue outside the TEZ. With Arrow hoping to depart the area, we collected HIFR and stores from her, flying her sortie in the dogs. Arrow flight seems to be in the habit of rigging a stump mast on her deck and declaring herself U/S for flying – daily! Exeter shot down a Canberra; NGS continues nightly.

June 8th

347 cleared to Hermes for the day, leaving the deck free for ground runs and test flights on 349, which had problems with her rigging. Two LSL’s were attacked at Fitzroy, with a number of Welsh Guards being killed, and numerous injured, mainly through burns. Plymouth also appears to have been caught away from the protection of the Rapiers at San Carlos Bay and has sustained bomb damage. Possibly 7 aircraft shot down.

June 9th

Following yesterdays raids, heavy cap was flown over the Islands. Again we sent 347 to Hermes for the day to clear our deck for ground runs.

June 10th

A long days ESM for one crew, with the other crew progressing the CTF to make 349 serviceable. Plymouth returns to the edge of the TEZ to lick wounds – once again the flight appears to be the part of ship taking the brunt of the attack.

June 11th

Again many hours ESM flown. A Seaking was borrowed to remove the hulk – the main body of Brilliants aircraft which lost its nose to a bomb and its tail to 349. A sorry sight, it was removed to Atlantic Causeway, for later robbery as required.

June 12th

The land war progressed, with Two Sisters hill being taken and NGS continuing. On departing from NGS off Stanley, it appears that Glamorgan strayed into the danger arcs for land based Exocets that the Argys have on the back of lorries ashore.

June 13th

Having previously had problems when checking out our Skuas, we suggested that other flights check out their missiles airborne. It appears that some missiles that have seen a fair bit of flying may have suffered from cold wet or vibration and have gone unserviceable. Today we collected 3 replacements from Exeter.

June 14th

The troops ashore seem to have moved ever closer to Stanley, coming under fire from enemy artillery and AAA fire. Cardiff has tested her Seadart in action over night – assessed serviceable. Penelope flight has fired a suspect Skua – later confirmed that actually it was perfectly serviceable. However it appears that the target engaged was very close to the shore, so it was difficult to tell what target the radar reflections onto which the missile homed came from. At 18:30 while returning from an ESM sortie, we were told that Stanley had surrendered.

June 15th

With gales all day there was little flying. 347 was at alert all night on deck and the tail stabilizer was hit by a wave, causing the support spar to bend. A replacement was taken from the spare tail pylon. Ashore it appears that a considerable number of prisoners have been taken, possibly 11,000.

June 16th

With work progressing on the tail boom, 349 was flown in the ESM role – which continues til peace is declared.

June 17th 18th

While the politics of weather we are at war or peace continue, operations and test flying continue.

June 19th – 21st

Broadsword moved back into San Carlos, for Stena Seaspread to assist with repairs to the ships side and the flight deck. The plates were welded properly to the deck, with angle iron supports being fitted underneath to give the strength that was originally there. One section of guardrail framework was produced and one section straightened, returning us to almost as good as new, though there was a faint hope that we could redesign the guardrails from the scratch and wind up with a similar system to Glamorgan’s which hinges about three feet down the side of the ship and therefor sticks out three feet further when lowered – thus giving somewhere to go for safety and also giving better protection for the off balance maintainer on a moving deck. Also while carrying out routine maintenance, both aircraft were found to have problems with the bearings in the flapping hinges. One new hub was rabbited – the matconoff system not impressing at the moment – and the second was giving a part off the other U/S hub. Ground runs and vibros continue.
Plymouth and Glamorgan have departed home.
Other points are giving cause for concern at the moment – the first is that the last aviator hasn’t died yet;  helos are flying everywhere in poor visibility as if there was an air raid on, low and without lighting. The second problem is a buzz that some Lynx may be required to detach ashore later.
Ships seem to be departing north daily, taking with them books and equipment which could be needed to support a detachment.

June 22nd 23rd

Back at the edge of the TEZ again to swop aircraft with Brilliant, so that their helo could be offered to another ship at a later date. They then departed north.

June 24th

For the pleasure of being in the same time zone as the Falklands, the task force adjusted (overnight) to Q time. This now means that the dawn sortie is now an early launch, instead of the relaxed hour of 11am. As we now have a jammer helo, we borrowed Pete Finan, who is with Hermes, to instruct us in the use of the jammer. However, staying at alert 5 for 12 hours a day is an unpopular task, and we didn’t try too hard to cure a sickness which developed in the aircraft (seriously no spares).

June 28th 29th

Exercising with a nuclear submarine with sub-harpoon was an unexpected, but welcome change to the usual tasks. The first Lynx to exercise the procedures, we believe that it was a complete success, with good accuracy. Homing to the masts of Courageous in 1 mile visibility after she had been submerged for 20 minutes transmitting was a good test and we were able to surprise the submarine by calling visual within a minute of them returning to periscope depth.
While back on deck in Fly one, being secured, the aircraft pivoted and one rotor blade suffered damage to a trailing edge and this had to be changed when the weather abated.
From June 25th Lt Chirnside was grounded, and it was interesting to see what two pilots can achieve. Hermes continued to task us for 2 crews, and FLOBS has been trying to get back into the routine of watchkeeping. ESM, surface search , HDS and all have been flown with two pilots, sharing the left and right seats. The only sortie that has been altered to get FLOBS off the bridge has been a night Skua lift.

June 30th July 1st

Having changed a main rotor blade, the vibro CTF showed a problem with the tail rotor, which was eventually sorted out.

July 2nd

Still on the edge of the TEZ, Invincible returned from her trip north with Andromeda to clean up. Once again we swop aircraft with Penelope, giving them the jammer aircraft from Brilliant, and collecting a heap which has problems with its tail stabiliser, one engine, and has a jammer thrown in the back but not fitted

July 3rd

A welcome change was a visit by the ship to Stanley to refuel before departing the operation. Hermes offloaded the backup personnel and stores to go with the harrier GR3’s while we flew a vibro CTF, which nearly took two hours and took in Goose Green, teal Inlet, Fitzroy, Stanley and various other names which had become known to us as objectives in the battle. We also had to wait ashore in HMS Penguin while the deck was foul, which gave the opportunity to talk to some of those who had seen a different piece of the action. In the afternoon was another opportunity to look around while taking the Captain to Hermes. Just north of Stanley we found the biggest colony of Penguins so far, a couple of hundred on a beach, all trying to outrun the helo. A last sortie to collect bodies while sailing was flown, with the Sergeant major running around ashore buying first day covers and LAEM Egan still trying to catch up with Broadsword from British Enterprise III which had taken him to South Georgia and broken down en route.

July 4th

Back at the edge of the TEZ and our last day before departing north, we had the traditional day of shovelling equipment around the fleet. On the last sortie to collect the Captain from Bristol, a bang was felt in flight and we had to return to the deck. Nothing found.

July 5th

Passing Southampton, Birmingham, Apollo and Bacchante vertrepped 7 Skua to them in passing by night, an interesting sortie with the ship pitching in the short sea.

  Operation Corporate Flight Report HMS Broadsword