8 Aircraft Wrecks & Crash Sites of the Falklands War

falkland-islands-aircraft-wrecks (Image: Chris Harris, cc-nc-sa-4.0)

The Falklands War of 1982 may have been a short-lived conflict fought in a remote corner of the globe, but that’s not to minimise the courage and sacrifice of those who participated. Across this small, windswept archipelago the haunting relics of war abound in the form of isolated collections of wreckage marking the spots where military aircraft crashed to earth more than 30 years ago. Though the more intact Falklands wrecks have long since been removed, this list – while by no means definitive – offers an insight into this former South Atlantic battleground.

IAI Dagger (Argentina)

argentine-air-force-dagger-wreck-falklands (Image: Peter Hohenhaus of dark-tourism.com)

The wing of this IAI Dagger – an Israeli-built version of the French Dassault Mirage 5 – still bears the downed aircraft’s Argentine Air Force identification number, C-404. The Dagger A was shot down on May 21, 1982 by Sea Harrier FRS.1 ZA175, flown by Commander Nigel ‘Sharkey’ Ward. Its pilot, Major Gustavo Piuma Justo, survived the incident and returned to his jet’s crash site after the war. Its wreck, of of nine Argentine aircraft lost in action that day, lies near Port Howard.

Peter Hohenhaus, who has also visited the Falklands, wrote on Dark-Tourism.com: “Our guide said that no hard feelings were expressed on that visit – Piuma allegedly just said something to the effect of “we were both just doing our jobs …”

Boeing CH-47 Chinook (Argentina)

falkland-islands-aircraft-wrecks-3 (Image: Paul Davis, cc-nc-4.0)

Both British and Argentine forces operated Chinook helicopters during the Falklands War. Of two Argentine Army CH-47C examples deployed during the conflict, one was destroyed on the ground by Harrier GR.3 XZ963. Its wreckage can be seen above. The other was captured by British forces and transported to the UK. More than 20 years later the helicopter’s rear fuselage was joined to the front of a crashed RAF Chinook in a bid to return it to flight.

Meanwhile, less than 10 days after destroying the Chinook, XZ963 was hit by small arms fire and went down in the South Atlantic. Sqn. Ldr. Jerry Pook ejected from the stricken Harrier and was rescued several hours later.

Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Near Port Howard (Argentina)

a-4-skyhawk-wreck-west-falkland (Image: Matt and Sarah Faulds)

This wreckage belongs to one of several Argentine A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft that crashed or were shot down during the conflict. Though the plane disintegrated on impact, a number of major components are still evident among the torn metal littering the crash site. The jet engine and forward undercarriage leg have survived the decades and camouflage paintwork is still evident on what’s left of the fuselage.

The wreck site, which is reportedly difficult to find, is located on West Falkland north-west of Port Howard.

SA 330 Puma Helicopter (Argentina)

puma-helicopter-wreck-east-falkland (Image: Dan Bernard – website: 131 Design)

Over the course of the Falklands conflict all six SA 330 Puma helicopters deployed by Argentine forces were shot down by Harriers or destroyed by ground fire. This Puma wreckage lies on East Falkland. The aircraft appears to have disintegrated on impact. The rusting remnants of its gears and twisted rotor blades are the most recognisable features.

Another A-4 Skyhawk (Argentina)

falkland-islands-aircraft-wrecks-2 (Image: Tiger 2000, cc-nc-4.0)

This twisted pile of metal belongs to another Douglas A-4 Skyhawk which was shot down on June 8, 1982 by Fleet Air Arm Sea Harrier pilot Edmund Spencer. According to his account, Spencer and his wingman Dave Morgan took off from HMS Hermes on the evening of June 8 to fly a combat air patrol south-west of Stanley. The Bluff Cove Air Attacks had taken place that day. Ten thousand feet below, the British ship RFA Sir Galahad, which had been hit by Argentine bombs killing 56 personnel and wounding 150 more, including Welsh Guard Simon Weston, continued to burn.

A dogfight ensued when Morgan spotted four Skyhawks at a lower altitude. Diving to intercept the aggressors, Spencer took out one of the A-4s with a sidewinder missile and Morgan claimed the others. The Sea Harriers recovered on vapour to HMS Hermes, their tanks virtually dry and fuel warning lights blinking at an alarming distance from the carrier.

As an aside, the Sea Harrier flown by Dave Morgan that day, serial number ZA177, was destroyed the following year near the village of Cattistock in Dorset. The Yeovilton-based aircraft was on a training flight when it entered a spin and crashed to earth, narrowly missing houses. Pilot Lt. Fox ejected safely.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (UK)

falkland-islands-aircraft-wrecks-4 (Image: Douglas Fernandes)

The distinctive grey and green camouflaged tail section, lying amid moorland on the Lafonia Peninsula of East Falkland, is all that remains of Harrier GR.3 XZ988. The No. 1 Squadron jet was shot down on May 27, 1982 during an attack on Goose Green. Sqn. Ldr. Bob Iveson ejected from the crippled Harrier and spent three days in hiding behind enemy lines before being picked up by British forces.

IA 58 Pucará (Argentina)

pucara-wreck-drone-hill-lafonia (Image: Chris Harris, cc-nc-sa-4.0)

Of all the crash sites and surviving aircraft wrecks on the Falkland Islands, this Argentine IA 58 Pucará ground attack aircraft is probably the most complete. The abandoned aircraft lies in the grassland of Drone Hill, Lafonia, and is understood to have been the aircraft of Major Carlos Tomba when it was destroyed by a British Harrier on May 21, 1982. The lead image of this article (top) depicts the same aircraft.

Crashed Puma Helicopter (South Georgia)

puma-helicopter-wreck-south-georgia-island (Image: Pauline and John Grimshaw)

The Falklands War also extended to the invasion of South Georgia, also known as the Battle of Grytviken, when a troop of Argentine marines took control of the east coast of the island on April 3, 1982. Overwhelmed by their numbers, the small British contingent was forced to surrender, but not before a detachment of 22 Royal Marine Commandos led by Keith Mills had brought down this Argentine Puma helicopter.

The chopper was sprayed with intense automatic fire, killing two men and wounding four others. The Puma’s pilot was wrestled his badly damaged helicopter across the bay before crash-landing on its southern bank not far from King Edward Point. The wreckage of the crashed helicopter remains at the site to this day. For his part in the defence of South Georgia, Lieutenant Keith Mills was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Keep Reading – Falklands A-4 Skyhawk Crash-Landed on Slopes of Andes



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