On 2 April 1982, Argentina carried out its threat to invade the Falkland Islands and quickly overcame the small British garrison. The next day, Britain’s Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, announced the formation of a naval task group to regain the islands. The group included two aircraft carriers; HM Ships Hermes and Invincible with 20 of the untested Sea Harrier V/STOL jet fighters. They would be facing approximately 130 Argentine aircraft including supersonic Mirage jet fighters of the Argentine Air Force and the recently acquired Exocet missile armed Super Étendards of the Argentine Navy.
A temporary exhibition will be held at the Museum from 2 April until 31 August to mark the 40th anniversary of this war focusing on the air element of the conflict with information on Sea Harrier and RAF Harrier GR3 operations from the carriers and the Vulcan bombing raids from Ascension Island. The exhibition will also cover the important inflight refuelling role RAF Victor tankers made during the war, the support provided by Hercules aircraft, the RAF’s main transport workhorse and of one of the task force helicopters – Chinook ‘BN’.
Wars are won by people and the exhibition features one of the Sea Harrier pilots who gained a bravery award ‘in the field’ but who sadly did not return and one of the RAF squadron commanders who later became Chief of the Air Staff.
During the exhibition it is planned to hold a ‘Falklands Day’ on Sunday 1 May when aircrew who were involved in the war will be invited to come and share their experiences with us and to see the Museum’s latest aircraft acquisition, Sea Harrier XZ459, that as an FRS 1 flew 53 sorties during the war with No 800 NAS flying from HMS Hermes.