|NOTES:||Built as flown during the South Atlantic War in 1982|
When the conflict in the South Atlantic for the Beagle Channel islands between Argentina and Chile seemed to inevitably be leading to war in 1978 former Argentine Air Force Brigadier Mayor Hidalgo Oliva approached the Air Force’s authorities with an innovative plan: to use civilian aircraft to harass the Chilean rear lines. The plan was approved and the feasibility to attach machine guns and bombs to these planes was studied. Several items were requested from the Air Force and these included uniforms, gunsights, survival kits, armament. Tests were carried out successfully. It is estimated that should there had been a war the Air Force would have increased the available assets with an additional 140 (light) planes (i.e. Piper Azteca and Beechcraft). It was decided, after an exhaustive evaluation, that planes might be armed (with one machine gun and 2 bombs. The scope of missions to be undertaken could have been (this is only theorical): Search and destruction of enemy soft skinned vehicles behind enemy lines, attack to enemy planes if they were in lightly defended airfields, transport and SAR. The hard points to be added under the fuselage of these civilan planes was designed by Paez Allende and a prototype was built at Dammontti Hnos company in Don Torcuato.
During the final days of December 1978 the situation was defused when both Governments accepted the mediation of the Vatican. Even so it was decided to proceed with the evaluation of the mechanism to drop bombs and a successful test was carried out on Jan 4th 1979 when a 100 kg bomb was dropped from a PA 23 Aztec (LV-JGL).
After this the project was shelved and their members returned to their normal life and occupations.
The idea is reborn:
On April 2nd 1982 and after learning about the successful Argentine operation to retake the Malvinas (Falklands) Islands Retired Air Force Captain Paez Allende requested permission not to travel to the US where he was going to undergo a session of training as pilot of Austral Lineas Aereas (one of the two civilian airlines). Ten days later he and many others were called back into active service. His task was to work on projects that would have extraordinary aims and tools. As part of the team several Air Force officers joined his team. Among them Mj Juan Jose Falconier and Capt Hector Ritondale. The new Squadron would carry out non-operational tasks such as transportation of personnel, support to Air units, transport of spare parts and others. Taking into account that the performance of the planes and experience of civilian and military aircrews assigned to Fenix the Commander of Air Force South decided to expand the type of missions to be flown including now non armed offensive ones (patrol and visual and radar reconnaissance, enticing British CAPs to move them away from the true fighter bombers path, guide of combat planes to target area to name a few). By April 23rd the plan had been designed. It included the following actions:
It is interesting to mention that among the serving members there were Jimmy Harvey and “Tito” Withington, Argentine volunteers who flew with the RAF as pilots during WWII.
Most relevant actions of the Fenix Squadron:
May 1st: VERSO: a M2/60 flew in SAR mission
PUA: a diversion mission when during the morning two HS125 pretended to be Argentine fighters and flew close to San Carlos Sound.
Other missions flown included Retransmission of communications in the air and more diversion and exploration.
In total 9 sorties were carried out by Fenix.
OF S/Nº: LR-35A LV-ONN, (RÓTULO). Mission: patrol and reconnaissance. Crew: alféreces Jorge Mac Intyre and Arnoldo E. López. From Naval Base Comandante Espora. Take off 11.55; landed 14.28.
May 2nd: Several missions to look for the enemy were flown by the C-500s, LR-35s and even F-27s from the Air Force. One of those missions, flown by LR-35s and called SANTO was similar to the one the day before when the planes flew and great height close to the islands and then dove to the surface of the sea returning out of sight of the British radars.
May 3rd: Nine more missions were flown this day and were intended to attract the British CAPs, feint attacks, search for the enemy and retransmit communications.
OF 1136: LR-35A LV-ONN, (LINCE). Mission: patrol and reconnaissance with radar. Crew: captain Narciso Juri, Lt. Enrique G. Felice y 1st corporal o Alejandro López. Left Comodoro Rivadavia at 13.25; flew to 53º30’S/54º00’W (southeast of the islands); returned 17.05.
May 4th: 3 missions were flown by LR-35 and C-500 including one that arriver over the islands at 11:00 am
May 5th: the squadron flew another 11 missions looking for the enemy without success. These included both Air Force (such as LR-35 T-22) and civilian planes (C-500 and LR-35s)
May 6th: two OF (2020/1 and /2) were flown to support the flights of C-130s that transported items to the islands. During these missions both LR-35 LV-OFV and T-22 flew at different heights and changed directions several times in order to confuse the British eyes. Three more missions to look for the British Task Force were flown by more LR-35s and some by F-27 (from the Air Force)
May 7th: One Electra from the Argentine Navy saw 5 warships 80 miles away from Isla de los Estados. So two LR-35s here sent to confirm the sighting. LR-35 Leon 1 with Mj Gonazlez, Capt. Ceaglio took off from Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego and found those 5 warships sailing south. In order to avoid being potentially shot down by missiles the Lear dove to the surface of the sea and flew back to their base. A mission to be flown to attack these targets was not carried out by the Super Etendards…
In the evening and into the night two more missions were flown by LR-35 in search of those mystery ships but without success. Three more missions were flown by C-200 and LR-35 in search of enemy ships in the waters close to the continent.
May 8th: The Air Force was trying to force the Sea Harriers to take off from their carries in order to give away their position. Thus a mission with an Argentine CAP (two IAI Daggers) flew close to the islands and succeeded in enticing on of the Sea Harrier CAPs. Their mission accomplished and with several technical problems the Daggers returned to their base. A follow up was carried out, this time by Fenix Squadron. Sections and individual flights of LR-35 arrived over the islands but they were not successful in provoking a British reaction. In total 7 Learjets took part in these missions.
Almost ten more missions to look for the enemy ships were carried out this day.
May 9th: During the early hours the British Task Force units to shell the Argentine positions around the capital. The Argentine Air Force used a new ruse: Two LR-35 tok off from Comodoro Rivadavia at 1:26 and upon arriving over the islands started to fly using a profile that would replicate those used by warplanes. They were even able to see the flashes of the British guns and the explosions on the ground. Ten minutes after they arrived over the islands (02:36) the British ships stopped their attack and turned back. At the same time a British CAP took off to engage the Argentine “warplanes” but they were not able to get close to the Learjets that escaped without further incident.
Later in the morning two ships were detected close to the north of the islands and the Argentines decided to strike. In order to have more precise information two OF (2047/9) were issued for LR-35 to look for these ships. The first one was chased by a CAP of Harriers for 30 miles after they had arrived over Puerto Argentino (Stanley). The second section and flying at angels 350 made contact with the radar operator in the islands. At that moment (10:30) PEPE 2 informed of a missile approaching. Both Lears broke formation and a couple of (Sea Darts) were seen flying almost horizontally. Without further ado the Lears returned home.
Yet another section of Learjets (LITRO) flew to the islands looking for the enemy ships. The first plane had to abort due to mechanical problems but the second one (Capt. Arques, Lt Cercedo and Lt Dominguez) arrived over Puerto Argentino (Stanley) and then they flew north. The radar told them to turn as fast as possible. They started to turn right and the radar operator told them to tighten and speed up their turn (as much as possible). At that moment 1st Lt Dominguez saw a Sea Dart flying past the tip of one of the wings. The Lear dove to the surface and returned without harm to Rio Gallegos.
Aboard HMS Coventry it was thought that these had been C-130 missions to reinforce the Argentines and that they had been successful in preventing them from reaching Puerto Argentino (Stanley) but in fact it had been Learjets who had dodged the missiles. As the echoes of the missiles and the plane had seen to converge and the plane lost attitude HMS Broadsword assumed that the Sea Dart had in fact shot down a plane. When this was denied then HMS Coventry claimed that they had shot down the 2 A4-C lost in this day by the Argentines. For more about HMS Coventry and these missions read http://modelingmadness.com/review/misc/ships/gb/calcov.htm
Finally a 4th section (PICO) managed the lure some Harriers and made them chase them away from the islands for 30 miles. Clearly this added to the frustration of the Sea Harrier pilots as they believed that the Argentine “fighters” did not want to play ball when in fact they were being diverted away from the path that the real fighter bombers were going to use.
Besides these exciting missions there were 8 more flown looking for the enemy Task Force in other areas.
OF S/Nº: two LR-35A, (PACO), T-22 and LV-ONN. Crew: mayor Roberto F. Cardoso and captain Narciso Juri. Took off from Comodoro Rivadavia, landed in San Julián; over the islands at 2.05 and returned at 3.59.
May 10th: more search missions were flown without incident
May 11th: besides the now routine search missions the Argentine Air Force devised an operation to try to lure the Sea Harriers and at the same time detect the plane carriers. In this case a KC-13 (NATO flown by Mj Briend and crew) flew close to the islands and “refuelled” two Argentine fighter bombers. These were in fact two LR-35 (OF2058) called CONDE 1 and 2. The leader was LVO-ONN and was crewed by Capt. Buira, Capt Pane and 1st Cpl Rocha. The 2 Lears formatted on the KC-130 and simulated being refuelled. The trick did not work and no British CAPs or ships were detected.
May 12th: 11 missions were flown by the Learjets as they tried to look for the enemy and feint attacks to distract the British Sea Harriers. At the same time and at much lower height the A4-Bs succeeded in leaving out of combat HMS Glasgow with a bomb that perforated the hull from side to side (but at a high price as 50% of the Skyhawks were lost). Another member of the Fenix Squadron was used to retransmit and control the attack planes. It was HS125 (RAYO) and was flown by Lt Poggi, NCO Acosta, Vice Cdr Torres and Mj Medina). This turned out to be the last daylight mission to shell the Argentine positions around Puerto Argentino (Stanley) as the cost became too high.
OF 2066: two LR-35A (FUEGO) Mission: patrol and visual reconnaissance. Crew LV-ONN: captains Carlos A. Pane and Antonio F. Buira, and 1st corporal Dardo C. Rocha. Crew T-24: 1st Lt. Eduardo E. Bianco and Lt. Luis A. Herrera. Left Río Grande at 7.45 flying over the islands and returning 9.45.
OF 2067: LR-35A LV-ONN (NÁCAR) Mission: patrol and reconnaissance. Crew: captain Antonio F. Buira, Lt. Luis A. Herrera and 1st corporal o Dardo C. Rocha. Left Río Grande at 16.10; returned 17.50.
May 13th: several missions were flown to look for enemy targets over the sea. LR-25 LV-OEL (CASERO 5) found high seas fishing vessel Narwal.
May 14th: many more missions in search of the enemy were flown but to no avail.
OF 2091: LR-35A LV-ONN, (LIBRA) Mission: patrol and visual reconnaissance. Crew: captain Juan M. Martínez Villada, Lt. Luis A. Herrera and 1st corporal o Dardo C. Rocha. Left Río Grande 10.35; landed at Comodoro Rivadavia at 13.35.
May 15th: Thirteen missions were flown by Fenix.
After the SAS attack on Borbon (Pebble) Is. the Air Force sent 4 more IA-58 to the islands. These were led by Mitsubishi LV-ODZ (this was repeated 3 more times during the last days of May)
OF 2103: LR-35A LV ONN (BOMBO). Mission: patrol and visual reconnaissance visual plus diversion. Crew: Juan M. Martínez Villada, Lt. Luis A. Herrera and 1st corporal Dardo C. Rocha. Left Río Grande at 12.50; flew close to Malvinas, and returned at 15.35.
May 16th: as follow up of one of the missions flown on the 15th a Learjet was used in a 5 hour mission to fly above and close to the islands in order to calibrate the radar of Puerto Argentino. More than 5 missions looked for potential targets without success.
May 17th: Lear T-24 was used to
look for enemy radar emissions. Other flights took place in search for the Task
Force (F-27, B-707, TS-60).
May 18th: at least 10 more missions in search of the enemy were flown
OF 2118: LR-35A LV-ONN (POMO). Mission: patrol and reconnaissance visual. Crew: captain Juan M. Martínez Villada, Lt. Luis A. Herrera and 1st corporal Dardo C. Rocha. Left Río Grande at 13.50; returned at 16.25.
May 19th: more missions flown without finding the enemy
OF 2124: LR-35A LV-ONN (MALO). Mission: diversión, patrol and visual reconnaissance. Crew: captain Juan M. Martínez Villada, Lt. Eduardo E. Casado and suboficial auxiliar José M. Cuscueta. Left Río Grande at noon flying to 59º30’S/56ºW and then to 59º30’S/65º00’W; returned at 15.05.
May 20th: As part of the numerous missions flown by Fenix this day LV-ONN searched for suspicious contacts around the Nueva Is. (in the Beagle south of Tierra del Fuego). Call sign was TIFON and this evening mission was flown by the same crew as in previous days.
OF 2133: LR-35A LV-ONN, (TIFÓN). Mission: patrol and reconnaissance with radar. Crew: captain Juan M. Martínez Villada, Lt. Eduardo E. Casado and suboficial auxiliar José M. Cuscueta. Left Río Grande at 19.30, flew over Nueva Is. And whereabouts and landed back at 21.10.
May 21st: Operation Sutton – the British land in San Carlos. On this day almost 10 missions were flown looking for the enemy close to the continental coast. During one of these a B-707 detected two submarines that dove as soon as the Boeing approached them.
As diversion, retransmission and search for the enemy close to the islands the LR-22, 25, 35s and HS-125 flew close the islands, above them and even led Daggers of OF 1193 that successfully attacked HMS Ardent (she sunk the day after). It must be remembered that the IAI M5 Daggers were a simplified version of the French fighter bomber and thus avionics were quite limited.
OF 2139: LR-35A LV-ONN (PONCHO). Mission: patrol and visual reconnaissance visual and diversion. Crew: captain Juan M. Martínez Villada, Lt. Eduardo E. Casado and suboficial auxiliar José M. Cuscueta. Angels 300. Left Río Grande at 11.30 flying to 54ºS y 61ºW and then descended to Angels 20 with heading 70º; landed back at 13.20.
May 22nd: Nine missions to distract the British defences were carried out. One of these succeeded in luring a Sea Harrier CAP.
OF 2156: LR-35A LV-ONN, (POTRO). Mission: patrol and reconnaissance with radar. Crew: captain Juan M. Martínez Villada, Lt. Eduardo E. Casado and suboficial auxiliar José M. Cuscueta. Left Río Grande at 5.30; returned 6.55.
Fenix also continued with the search for enemy shipping north of the islands with B-707, F-27 and other types.
May 23rd: a day with strong attacks on the beach head was planned by the Argentines. Accordingly Fenix flew more missions (15 with the Learjets) than in any other single day. These involved locating radar emissions, distracting British CAPs, retransmitting order and also flew their first missions as Tactical Air Controllers.
OF 2165: LR-35A LV-ONN, (LORO). Mission: patrol and visual reconnaissance, verify contacts (echoes). Crew: captain Juan M. Martínez Villada, Lt. Eduardo E. Casado and suboficial auxiliar José M. Cuscueta. Left Río Grande at; returned at 9.20.
Some of the other planes achieved visual contact with British CAPs (OF2162 made up of a LR-35 and a LR-24, OF 2181 with a LR-25). RAYO 1 (with Lt Poggi, Alf Mariane, Vice Cmdr Torres, Mj Media and NCO Acosta performed as OCAT (Tactic Air Control) and was intercepted by a CAP but they escaped without further incident.
During the mission flown by LR-35 T-22 (FUEGO) the pilot (Capt Buira) was flying with his crew over the islands when the Argentine Radar (Controller) called out a plane that was not identified approaching the islands. Buira asked Lt. Caballero (his co-pilot to verify the position given by the radar and his calculations showed him that the Controller was referencing another plane. Nevertheless the Radar told the “unidentified” plane to turn as there were two British CAPs performing a pincer movement with one climbing ahead and another one behind them. Just in case Caballero had made a mistake and that that “unidentified” plane was them Buira followed the directions of the Radar by changing direction and height. The Argentine Controller realized that the Lear was in imminent danger and told Buira to precisely follow his instructions. The Controller ordered several changes of directions to the Learjet and they managed to dodge the 4 Harriers. But that had not been the end of the adrenaline filled mission. When getting close to the Continent the radar told them that they were being chased by an echo. The Learjet accelerated and the echo disappeared. Was it a damaged Argentine fighter trying to get back to his base that was trailing the Learjet and had exploded? Buira was ordered to return to the area and look for a potential parachute or remains of an airplane. Nothing was found and it was found that no Argentine plane had been lost. It is believed that it was a missile fired at them (but by whom?)…Caballero (the co-pilot) was down due to his mistake that could have cost them their lives…but as Buira answered to him: “We can learn from mistakes, but these can also kill us”.
The everyday missions over the
Atlantic flown by less agile and slower planes (i.e. B-707) were numerous as
May 24th: In order to cooperate with the fighter bombers tasked with bombing the beach head three OF flown by Fenix took place. These (OF 2200 with 2 LR-35, OF 2201 with two LR-35 and OF 2202 with one HS-125) flew at great height simulating MIIIs (and one of them attracted a CAP) while skimming the waves the Daggers entered the combat zone. Only the last of the 3 Dagger sections (ORO) was intercepted by Harriers and the 3 planes were shot down.
Three more OF were ordered to be flown by Learjet looking for the enemy (among these one was flown by Emil Williams).
OF S/Nº: LR-35A LV-ONN. Mission: transporting personnel. Crew: captain Antonio F. Buira, Lt. Alfredo Caballero and suboficial auxiliar José M. Cuscueta. Left Río Grande at 19.15 and landed at Comodoro Rivadavia at 20.45.
May 25th: The Air Force believed that there was a Britsh radar hidden in Beaucheme Is. A HS-125 flew as Tactic Air Controller for the Daggers tasked to find and destroy it. Each one of the sections of Daggers (2) was led by a Learjet of Fenix. One of these Learjets, the one flown by Capt Benza, Capt Despierre and 1st Cpl Mothe not only took his section of Daggers 100 miles away from the target but also remained in the area giving support and after the Daggers returned they also did so.
LR-36 (RANQUEL) was Tactic Air Controller (OF 2207 with Capt. Williams, Lt Cercedo, 1st Cpl Rocha) during the mission that sunk HMS Coventry. They flew over the islands and then returned to their base (Comodoro Rivadavia). In total 22 missions to search for the enemy were carried out on this day.
OF S/Nº: LR-35A LV-ONN. Mission: transporting personnel militar. Crew: captain Rafael A. González Osterode, Lt. Enrique G. Felice and cabo principal Eduardo A. Lagger. Left Comodoro Rivadavia at 23.25; landed at Río Gallegos at 24.
May 26th: on this day the Air Force decided to bomb the British positions. As part of this mission two Daggers bombed above the cloud cover. These Daggers (POKER) were protected by two Mirage IIIEA (SOMBRA). Each one of these sections was supported by Fenix LR-35 (NONO) with SOMBRA and HS-125 (RAYO) with POCKER. Bombs were dropped within the clouds and following the directions of the radar in Puerto Argentino. Consequently results were not observed.
Like on previous days Fenix also undertook the search of the enemy with F-27, B-707, C-500, TS-60, LR-25 among others.
OF S/Nº: LR-35A LV-ONN. Mission: transporting personnel militar. Crew: captain Rafael A. González Osterode and Lt. Enrique G. Felice y cabo principal Eduardo A. Lagger. Left Comodoro Rivadavia at midnight, landed at Río Gallegos at 0.35 taking off at 0.45 and arriving to destination at Río Grande at 1.15.
March 27th: MU 2/60 LV-ODZ guided two Pucaras to the islands. Two missions with Learjets and several with other airplanes from Fenix were flown to look for the enemy or retransmit communications. HS-125 (RAYO) found some British CAPs but returned to base without further incidents.
May 28th: Several missions to look for targets were carried out by F-27 and Fenix planes. C-130s were also used to look for the surface units of the enemy.
OF S/Nº: LR-35A LV-ONN. Mission: patrol and reconnaissance with radar. Crew: captain Rafael A. González Osterode, Lt. Enrique G. Felice and cabo principal Eduardo A. Lagger. Left Río Grande at 9.05; landed at 11.10.
May 29th: Another section of Pucara was guided by a Mitsubishi. Approximately 10 more missions were flown by Fenix.
May 30th: The Squadron flew a very limited number of missions
May 31st: Missions picked up pace for Fenix again with several TS-60, F-27 and Learjets looking for enemy targets. These included
OF 2251: LR-35A LV-ONN, (TORO). Mission: patrol and visual reconnaissance. Crew: captains Clemente I. Velasco and Carlos A. Pane and 1st corporal o Juan M. Mothe. Left Río Grande at 11.25; returned at 13.55.
June 1st: Hercules T-63 (TIZA) was shot down by Cmdr. Ward when looking for enemy shipping with the loss of the entire crew. LR-36 LV-LOG was sent to look for survivors to no avail though theysaw a British CAP at 2,000 ft and therefore Vicecommodore De la Colina dove to the surface of the ocean to escape from the Harriers. Notwithstanding what had happened with TIZA Fenix flew approximately 10 missions (Lear, TS-60, F-27) to look for the enemy.
OF 2152: LR-35A LV-ONN, (NIDO). Mission: patrol and visual reconnaissance. Crew: captains Clemente I. Velasco and Carlos A. Pane, and 1st corporal o Juan M. Mothe. Left Río Grande at 10.30; returned at 12.45.
June 2nd: Two missions with Learjets were flown to try to entice British CAPs when these planes “stooged” above the islands for roughly an hour. Even though a Hercules had been lost the previous day the Air Force sent another one in the same type of mission. Several F-27 and TS-60 missions were carried out in exploration mode.
June 3rd: Several search missions flown with Learjets, TS-60 and F-27 by Fenix this day.
OF S/Nº: LR-35ª LV-ONN (PÚA). Mission:
patrol and visual reconnaissance. Crew: captains Carlos A. Pane and Clemente I.
Velasco, and 1st corporal o Juan M. Mothe. Left Río Grande at 11.25; returned at
June 4th: A similar day as the 3rd but without LV-ONN being involved.
June 5th: LR-35 T-21 was used to look for enemy activity using thermic equipment (Vicecommodroe De la Colina, Mj Falconier, NCO Mondolo, Cpt Lotufo, 1st Lt Bonaz. HS-125 flew a mission to coordinate the attack of A4-B and M5 missions.
OF S/Nº: LR-35A LV-ONN.
Mission: transporting personnel
militar. Crew: captain Rafael A. González Osterode, Lt. Enrique G. Felice and
cabo principal Eduardo A. Lagger. Left Río Grande at 11.30, landed at Río
Gallegos at 12.10; took off at 12.55, landed at Comodoro Rivadavia at 14.10;
took off at 20.10, arrived in Río Gallegos at 21.15, left at 21.20, returned to
Río Grande at 21.55.
June 6th: Another mission with LR-35 (T-23) was flown to divert British CAPs. Only 4 F-27 and a TS-60 missions were flown in search of units of the Task Force.
OF S/Nº: LR-35A LV-ONN. Mission: transporting personnel militar. Crew: captain Miguel A. Arques, Lt. Enrique G. Felice and cabo principal Eduardo A. Lagger. Left Río Grande at 15.45; landed at Río Gallegos at 17.10.
June 7th: Black Day for Fenix. OF2309 ordered two LR-35 to take pictures (recco) of the islands and distract British resources. This section (NARDO) was made up of T-24 in the lead with Vicecommodore De la Colina, Mr Falconier, Capt Lotufo (as photographer), NCO Luna and NCO Marizza as photographer and LV-ONN as wingman (1st Lt Bianco, Lt Casado, 1st Lt Bonaz, 1st Cpl Bornices. NARDO took off from Comodoro Rivadavia at 8 am and at 40,000 ft they flew to the northwest of the islands where at 9 am they contacted the Air Controller in Puerto Argentino (Stanley). Due to lack of complete scope of the mission on the side of the CIC time was lost until instructions were received that would allow them to guide the NARDOs. This caused a delay to forward updated orders and NARDO1 started to turn left. At that moment they were told to keep 90º heading and therefore they turned right. This put them 20 miles away from their original position and at reach of British air defenses. Upon asking about the position of British CAPs they were informed that there were two (one 150 and the second one 190 miles away). At that moment (9:12 am) Lt Casado in LV-ONN noticed two small explosions on the surface of the sea at San Carlos and then 2 smoke trails coming up. He correctly identified them as SA missiles. De la Colina also saw them and told the CIC that he was returning to the continent while turning left. RAF Sgt. Cowburne was at San Carlos airstrip that was servicing RAF GR3 Harriers from 1 (F) Sqn. There was a red alert due to the imminent Argentine attack (it was in fact the Learjets) and he saw HMS Exeter firing two missiles. One did not climb too much before falling back to the ocean but the second one climbed steadily. The CIC told De la Colina that there was no need to worry as the CAPs were far away but De la Colina answered that it was “A ship we have seen on the surface”. Then he told his wingman to keep calm. NARDO 2 was 3 meters behind to the right and 200 feet above NARDO1 climbing faster and turning tighter. At that moment one of the Sea Darts fired by HMS Exeter hit NARDO1 close to the tail and the ball of fire engulfed Learjet T-24. De la Colina said “We have been hit and there is nothing we can do”. The plane was cut in half and the wings and nose section fell in a flat spin. According to British sources they had been able to monitor the communications and could hear the crew while the plane was coming down out of control. Sgt Cowburne and his friends were able to see the plane and several parts floating down on fire. There were no parachutes. T-24 with her crew crashed in Borbon (Pebble) Is. NARDO2 further accelerated in a climbing turn and returned to the continent. Fenix had lost it Squadron Leader and in this incident the Air Force suffered the loss of the most senior officer (De la Colina) during the war. Falconier had left the following letter to his kids in case he did not return from the war, a letter that shows the Spirit of the Argentines fighting for Malvinas:
"To Ñequi and Mononi (nickname of two of his kids): your dad is not abandoning you, he is simply giving his life for others, for you and your kids…and those who will inherit the Homeland.
"You won’t have my presence and advice but I leave you in company of the best and with the wisest advice: God. Hold on to Him, feel that you love Him until your heart bursts with happiness and love cleanly because it is the only way to live “the Good life”. Fight temptation, don’t walk away from Him, and don’t give up. I will be with you, side by side, holding to Love.
Be a “family”, respect and love Mom even though you might find her imperfect; always be ONE, always together
I am leaving you my last name: Falconier for you to use it proudly and dignify it, not with money or material things, but with culture, with love, with beauty of clean souls, being more human and less animal and above all facing life with Truth, being accountable even if it “costs” you unhappiness or even your own life.
I am leaving you:
- Very little material things
- a last name “Falconier” and
- God (in front of Whom the rest does not count)
PS: for my kids to read it when they are young and until they are seniors because as time goes by even though they will be more experienced or might have kids, they will find new and more meaning to these words that I written with a father’s love.
NARDO 2. Crew: 1st Lt. Eduardo E. Bianco, Lt. Eduardo E. Casado, photographer 1st Lt. Miguel A. Bonaz, mechanic Hugo Bornices. Took off at 8 am from Comodoro Rivadavia; flew to 51º 15´ S/63º 30´W Angels 400. LV-ONN landed back at Comodoro Rivadavia at 10.40.
Section PILA (T-22 and T-23) arrived in the area at the same time with the same mission, heard what happened and returned to the continent. T-23 was sent again (alone this time) to search for the enemy in the afternoon.
On this same day Fenix flew several missions with F-27, TS-60 as in previous days.
June 8th: Fenix involvement in Bluff Cove Disaster. When the British were found unloading troops in Bluff Cove (Bahia Agradable) the Air Force sent several waves of attack planes that brought havoc to the operation. Due to the limited avionics of the Daggers (mentioned previously) Learjets were used as guide planes for PERRO and GATO sections that attacked and impacted HMS Plymouth with 4 bombs leaving her out of service for the remainder of the war. This was the last significant mission flown by Fenix.
Several F-27 and TS-60 missions in search mode were carried out.
June 9th till June 14th (ceasefire): More missions searching for the enemy were flown by F-27, TS-60 and Learjets without incident.
OF S/Nº: LR-35A LV-ONN. Mission: transporting personnel militar. Crew: 1st Lt. Eduardo E. Bianco, Lt. Enrique G. Felice and 1st corporal o Juan M. Mothe. Left Comodoro Rivadavia at 21.15, landed at Río Gallegos at 22.25; took off at 22.35, landed at Río Grande at 23.10.
LR-35 A LV-ONN. Mission: transporting personnel militar. Crew: captain Narciso Juri, Lt. Luis A. Herrera and 1st corporal o Alejandro López. Left Río Grande at 16, landed en Río Gallegos at 16.35; took off at 16.55, arrived at Comodoro Rivadavia at 18; left at 18.45, landed in Tandil at 20.35; left at 22.05, landed in Comodoro Rivadavia at 24, left at 0.35 the following day and returned to Río Grande at 2.05.
LR-35 A LV-ONN. Mission: transporting personnel militar. Crew: 1st Lt. Eduardo E. Bianco, Lt. Enrique G. Felice and cabo principal Eduardo A. Lagger. Left Río Grande at 15.30, landed en Río Gallegos at 16.05; took off at 16.20, arrived in Comodoro Rivadavia at 17.25; left at 20.40, landed in Río Gallegos at 21.45; took off at 22, returned to Río Grande at 22.35.
We may conclude by saying that
Fenix Squadron fulfilled the expectations and contributed to the effort of the
Argentine Air Force by probing the British radar, distracting British CAPs,
helping to coordinate attacks (communications), guiding attack planes and
creating confusion among the British defences thus splitting the British them
and increasing the problems faced by Admiral Woodward (as he himself commented).
Additional notes about Fenix:
There was a group called “Los Diez Mas Veloces” (The Fastest Ten) and it was formed by a HS-125 and nine Learjets (2 x -24, 3 x -25, 3 x -35 and 12 x -36). These planes were as fast as most of the combat planes and had very good navigational devices (VLF Omega) that allowed them to safely fly over the ocean.
Enterprises that lent their planes for Fenix include: YPF (HS-125), Loma Negra (LR-35), Dahm Automotores (LR-35 LV-ONN), Editorial Sarmiento (LR-25), Terrabusi SA (LR-25), Banco de Italia (LR-25), Banco de Intercambio (LR-25), Bunge y Born (LR-35), Aeromaster (LR-25), Orue SA (LR-24).
Besides the Learjets Cessna
Citations, Mitsubishi MU2/60, TurboCommander, Aerostar and Merlin III were used
and belonged to Direccion de Fabricaciones Militares, Automotores y Servicios,
Policia Federal, Masssalin y Celasco, Arbol Solo, Lineas Aereas Surenas, Vicente
Robles SA, Ventes SA, Banco interfinanzas, Astilleros Alianza, Coto SA, Gas del
Estado, Sidec SA, Angela Rosa, ENYS SA, Metalurgica Mellan, Colloco SA, Juan
Schanchemayr, Radio Cultural LS-5, Ynque SA, Barneco SA, Acindar SA.
LV-ONN – a brief history:
Learjet Inc 35A C/N 355 was built in 1980 and is powered by a couple of Airesearch TFE731 SER. Airworthiness Test on October 1st 1980. Purchased by Dahm Automotores in Argentina in 1980 and flew as part of the Fenix Squadron in 1982. In October 1993 it was taken as N64RV by RV Investments Inc, then was passed to Richard B. Levitz Sons Inc in August 1994, registered as N345 by Richard B. Levitz Sons Inc in May 1995, to Gulfstream Aviation Enterprises in January 1997, to World Jet Inc in November 1997, to Gulfstream Aviation Enterprises Inc in May 1998, as N351WB to Gulfstream Aviation Enterprises Inc in December of the same year, to World Jet Inc in April 1999, to Plane I Leasing Company Inc in November 1999, to East Coast Jets Inc on May 16 2001.
In the late 90s the plane was owned by Rudi Dekkers who had a flight school in Venice. It is claimed that in that Flight School some of the terrorists that hit the Twin Towers learnt to fly.
On July 25th 2000 US DEA agents were present at OEA (Orlando Executive Airport) as they had they had been tipped that a plane that was transporting drugs was going to land there. It was the former LV-ONN and now N351WB. Two passengers left the plane and were intercepted by the agents. They admitted having 5 kg of heroin in the plane. The pilot of the plane was also detained. It was discovered that there were 8 more kilos hidden in the plane and that this organization had smuggled heroin from Venezuela to the US in numerous occasions. The plane was confiscated by the US Government for drug smuggling, bought by East Coast Jets Inc thru the Insurance Company and picked from DEA in Midland Odessa, Texas.
Currently the plane is part of East Coast Jets Inc. a Private Jet Charter and Aircraft Management based in Allentown, PA, has been modernized and has a new paint scheme.
This is the very old (80’s) Hasegawa kit. All clear parts are “tinted” in light brown and other parts are molded in white.
You basically get a very Spartan interior with seats, raised panel lines, decals for a couple of different options, a very simple landing gear and wheels bays with almost no detail to speak of.
Having pondered the options of which of all the Lear jets flown by Fenix I was going to build based on color scheme, decals available, relevance during the war I finally settled for LV-ONN. In this case the plane has one extra window on each side so this one was the first thing to work on.
I made a template and transferred it to the correct place at the end of the line of windows. Very carefully these two new rectangles were opened and the corners rounded. As the side windows are molded in one long strip I cut the last window on each clear part, removed the thinner area between this window and the one ahead of it and used this plastic to make the glass for the extra window. I carefully cut and trimmed the clear tinted plastic and glued it in place. The internal walls were given a coat of a mix of white and brown paint that delivered a light beige colour. This one was painted over the clear strip of plastic in between windows and I was going to build the plane with the door open and that area was going to be very visible.
The cushioned part of the walls in the passenger’s area was painted in brown and using pictures of this plane posted in Internet as a reference the cockpit ones received a hand of light grey paint
The passengers’ seats were painted in the same beige colour (frame) and brown (cushions). Seat belts made with masking tape were added. For the pilots’ the colours used were the same as the side walls (grey) with more complex seat belts made with masking tape.
The floor where the seats are glued in the kit has a rough surface that represents the carpet. But having decided that I was going to make a plane with more windows now I found out that the floor was too short and the last seats would be sitting BEFORE that last window. So again, based on plans of the interior of the actual plane, I cut the last portion of the floor, added an extension made with plasticard, painted it in the colour of the carpet using an extra strip of plastic underneath as reinforcement. With this modification now the last row of seats was sitting after (behind) the last window.
All the wooden parts of the interior of the plane (division, consoles and locker) were given a hand of light brown and once dry a coat of brown varnish was applied with a brush. Before this one was dry streaks to represent the ones in the wood were made by gently running a piece of cotton over the varnish in a single direction.
The instruments panel was painted according to pictures of this plane’s found in Internet, including the artificial horizons with a light blue upper half and a white lower half. All the dials were given a drop of Future to represent the glass. Pedals were painted in silver and control columns in black.
Once the seats and different consoles in the cockpit were in place I started to dry fit the location within the fuselage. Now that the rear bulkhead was sitting further back I had to trim it to make it fit in the narrower area of the fuselage. I also discovered that the now longer floor was not allowing me to glue the wings undersides because it was in the way of the main wheels wells. To solve this new problem I sanded the front part of the top of the wells and rounded a tiny bit the bottom part of the bulkhead.
The steps located on the lower half of the door were painted in brown and the internal frame in the light beige.
I glued 7.5 grams of lead over the nose wheel well and painted in black the internal walls of the intake located at the base of the vertical tail surface.
With all these modifications done I was finally able to close the two fuselage halves and then glue the bottom part of the wings.
After doing some sanding the surface above the instrument panel shroud was painted in black.
The wing tip tanks were glued and as the nose was cut out as there are lights located there. I found some stubs of clear plastic that matched the diameter of the base of the tip in the spares box and glued them. After the glue was dry these cylindrical stubs were sanded to shape them. Some little gaps left in the union were covered with white acrylic base.
With both wing tip tanks thus modified the top surfaces of the wings were glued to the bottom side ones. Fit was perfect and no putty was required.
The horizontal tail surfaces were glued with no fuss.
The engines nacelles interior and blades were painted in aluminum. The exhaust area was brush painted with rust. Everything was glued in place.
The windshield was attached with little problem and all the clear parts and internal areas of the engine nacelles were masked.
Some putty was required especially along the fuselage behind the windshield and in the union of the underside of the wings and fuselage. The landing gear (minus wheels) was glued.
The entire plane received a coat of dry grey to check for imperfections.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The entire plane got a coat of gloss white. Now the most time consuming part started: painting the orange and red strips.
I decided to take a more time consuming but more efficient way to create them. I first cut long strips of masking take to represent these lines. It was really challenging to calculate the width of these at each point along the fuselage based on the couple of (quite bad) pictures available of the plane in 1982. These lines continued under the engine nacelles in oval concentric patterns. This was the most challenging part as I had to cut ovals in the masking tape and center them under the nacelles. More lines were added, this time, on the wing tip tanks.
This process took probably an entire week. With the strips finished I then placed masking tape exactly bordering the lines and the rest of the plane was also masked this way. Then I peeled off the thin lines or strips of masking tape and thus exposed the areas where the orange and red colours were to be painted.
I mixed red and yellow until I got an orange I was happy with and painted the top strips this colour. Once dry I masked the orange areas and painted the lower strips in red.
The frame of the windshield and all the borders of attack (wing, engine, tail) received a coat of silver. The nose tip was painted in black.
Once all the masking tape was removed the lines were almost neatly there…but in some areas the paint came off along with the masking tape. So I had to mask again those areas and this time with a brush I re painted them.
I have to admit that the lines are far from perfect but it is the best I could do. I had toyed with the idea of printing them in clear decal paper but the nacelles would have been an insurmountable challenge.
The wheel wells and internal side of the landing gear doors were painted with a brush with Interior Chrome yellow.
Navigation lights on top of the tail, just behind the nose landing gear and left wing tank were painted in red. The navigation light on the other tank was painted in green.
All the windows and lights received a coat of Future carefully applied with a brush.
I printed my own letters in clear decal paper and protected the ink using Testors decal spray. The Argentinean flag came from the spares box (I used a couple of large flags and cut them in an angle). There were no more decals to be applied!
Once the decals were dry I used a brush to cover them with a light coat of Future.
The only thing left to do was to glue the main landing gear doors (the nose ones are molded with the fuselage halves), the wheels, attach the two-part access door and scratchbuilt a couple of antennas located above and below the fuselage.
The kit is very easy to build unless you make some modifications like I did. Fit is almost perfect and level of detail is very good.
Be this my tribute to the members of the Squadron Fenix, especially Capt (Res) Jorge Paez Allende and the crew of Vicecomodoro De la Colina.
With a BIG THANKS! to Exequiel Martinez for allowing me to use his paintings to illustrate the article and give it more “action”
Escuadron Fenix by Jorge Munoz)
La Fuerza Aerea en Malvinas (I and II) by the Direccion de Estudios Historicos
4 weeks in May by Capt. Hart-Dyke (HMS Coventry)
Charles Strong at East Coast Jets Inc.
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