Hobbycraft 1/48 A-4B Skyhawk "C-204"
|KIT #:||HC 1433|
|NOTES:||Aerocalcas # 48011 decals used|
(One before) Last Skyhawk Down
The last Skyhawk lost in combat in the history of this noble plane was a Kuwaiti Scooter lost during the first Gulf War.
C-204 was the last Skyhawk shot down
before the Kuwaiti one. It happened during the 1982 war against
This A4-B took part in the following missions:
OF 1189: MULA call sign, each
plane armed with a Mk-17 bomb (1,000 lb). Capt Pablo Carballo (C-204), Lt Carlos
Rinke (C-231), 1st Lt. Carlos
Cachon (C-250), Ensg Leonardo Carmona (C-214). They took off from
While refueling from a KC-130, C-250 experienced technical problems and without being able to top up the tanks, Cachon was forced to return to his base.
Shortly afterwards, the planes
started to fly very low over the sea (20 to 30 mts above the surface). Suddenly
MULA 2 broke the mandatory radio silence and told his leader that there was a
problem and that the fuel was not transferring normally from the drop tanks.
Carballo ordered him sharply: “Return!” But Rinke wanted to continue, though he
knew that his chances of returning to the base were now slim. He insisted: “Sir,
I want to press on!” to which Carballo answered: “I command you to return”. As a
consequence, Rinke broke formation and returned to
As they started to fly over land,
the cloud cover started to increase to a point that they were forced to turn
right as they were running the risk of crashing against the hills (between 600
and 800 mt.). Suddenly they appeared over Estrecho de
now alone, was flying north following the East coast of the sound. Suddenly he
OF 1237, call sign
OF 1254, call sign CUNA, armed with 3 x 125 kg bombs. Capt. Carlos Varela in C-204, Ensg Moroni, Lt. Roca. Their target was a ship that was attacking BAM Darwin / Goose Green during the ground combats for that location. They took off from Rio Gallegos, refueled from a KC-130 but found bad weather and were unable to locate their target. They returned without contacting the enemy.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There are important discrepancies among the actors of this air combat. The actions told hereby are as described by each protagonist, but sometimes they don’t match the perspective of the other witnesses. You can draw your own conclusions.
After the successful attack to the ship unloading troops in Bluff Cove in what was later called the Darkest Day of the Task Force (Sir Galahad destroyed, Sir Tristam and HMS Plymouth seriously damaged by A4-Bs and IAI Daggers), the Argentine Air Force decided to send a 2nd wave to further damage the troops or ships in the area. The V Brigada component was sent into action following
OF 1296: MAZO call sign. 1st Lt Danilo Bolzan (C-204), Ensg Guillermo Dellepiane (C-239), Lt Juan Arraras (C-226). Bolzan had volunteered to return to action (he was an instructor at the Air Force Academy in Cordoba) and this was his second mission in the war after some refreshment sessions in the Vta Brigada Aerea in San Luis (first mission had been the day before when a section he was part of failed to find an enemy ship)
OF 1297: MARTILLO section. 1st Lt O. Berrier (C-212), Ensg Alfredo Vazquez (C-228), 1st Lt Hector Sanchez (C-231)
Berrier returned with problems in
his oxygen supply just before the in flight refuel, while Dellepiane’s plane
experienced problems in his engine (
At the same time, flying in a racetrack circuit over Choiseul Sound and protecting mutually their tales, Flt. Lt. Dave Morgan (in ZA177) and Lt. David Smith (in XZ499) from HMS Hermes 800 Sqn were watching Foxtrot 4 (from Fearless) sailing towards the coast with a load of soldiers and a Land Rover. The sun was setting and they only had 4 minutes left of fuel before they had to return to their “Mother” for their first land in the dark. Their patrol had lasted at this point 40 minutes.
The controller in Puerto Argentino told the Skyhawks that their objective was further to the West. In the turn, Vazquez surpassed Sanchez who accelerated to overtake #4 and get back in position.
Bolzan saw the landing craft Foxtrot 4 from Fearless and turned sharply right towards it. So tight was the turn that 1,2 and 4 crossed in front of Sanchez and he was forced to jump over them again, gaining height. Now he was positioned behind and to one side of his formation.
Morgan suddenly saw a plane very low approaching his protégé. It was Bolzan. He called Smith on the radio: “Four Mirages below. Follow me down!” Smith at that point was giving his back to Foxtrot 4 so he reversed violently his turn and dove to the sea. He had lost track of Morgan who was diving at 600 knots towards Bolzan. At that moment, Sanchez look behind and to his left and saw splashes in the sea. Morgan got close to the Skyhawks a little bit too late, as the first Argentine plane dropped his bombs. Apparently these fell 100 yards beyond the landing craft though one of the bombs dropped by Bolzan could have hit Foxtrot’s bow. Arraras attacked in turn and hit the ship squarely with his 3 bombs. Morgan at that moment realized that there was not only a second enemy but also a third (Vazquez), who were flying parallel to him on his left. He suspended his chase of Arraras, turned left and fired a missile to Vazquez who was closer to him.
Something called Sanchez attention to his right. He looked in that direction and saw a couple of Harriers at the same height and 500 meters to his 3 o’clock that at that moment were firing their Sidewinders. Sanchez only had time to warn his friends: ”Break! Missile in the air! Two Harriers!” Bolzan broke south while Arraras and Vazquez turned north. Things happened really fast. In that small fraction of time, the missiles had eaten half the distance to the Argentine planes.
Arraras saw the missile chasing him and reversed his course to apparently force the missile to run for a longer distance and run out of fuel. But the Sidewinder followed his movements, cut into his turn and exploded close to his tail. The Skyhawk seemed to be untouched, gained height and Arraras ejected. The nose and wings fell to the sea. The other missile entered the exhaust pipe of Vazquez plane, which disintegrated in a fiery explosion that killed the pilot instantly. Suddenly, in front of his windshield, Morgan found a parachute with the pilot hanging from it like a rag doll, arms and legs extended. The ejection had been successful but it seems that Arraras was either dead or had passed out due to the violence of the hit with the air or any other injury provoked in the explosion. He was never seen after he fell in the water. Some versions claim that his parachute was also partially on fire.
Shocked by what he had just witnessed, the death of two of his friends, Sanchez did not do anything for some seconds. When he finally reacted, he looked for the Harriers in the original position. It crossed his mind the idea of attacking them but he remembered that his guns were jammed. The Harriers were not at 3 o’clock anymore. One was now at 12 o’clock, above him, and turning in his direction. The Argentine proceeded to drop his entire external ordinance and start maneuvers to avoid being shot down.
Dave Smith had not been able to
locate Morgan but saw the explosions of the two missiles and planes. Morgan, by
then, was trying to shot down Bolzan using his 30 mm Aden guns. His HUD was not
working and therefore he was not able to aim properly. Those splashes on the sea
showed Smith where the target was, and visually extrapolating backwards and
slightly to the left he then saw Morgan for the first time after their dive.
When he emptied his guns, Morgan shot upwards to return to HMS Hermes as he was
short of fuel. “Sharky” Ward and Steve Thomas from HMS Invincible 801 Sqn were
arriving to the area to take over the
Bolzan was looking for the island in
front of him and trying to evade the gun fire he was under, a term called “guns
Almost out of range, running at
600 knots and no higher than 100 feet, Smith fired his missile. He was unsure if
he had fired his missile to the other Harrier
Sanchez was now flying very low, maneuvering violently to shake off any potential enemy from his tail while taking a southerly direction. He was looking for the sheets of rain in front of him, as he knew that these could give him some sort of protection against the Sidewinders.
Ward and Thomas were about to chase
the last Skyhawk when HMS Cardiff ordered them to climb to engage an Argentine
At that moment, the British dove away and the Argentine controller lost them in the radar.
But Sanchez’s problems had not ended. One of his drop tanks had not transferred all the fuel to the main tank and now he did not have enough gas to return to the continent. After flying some minutes very low to evade any potential enemy, he decided to climb to save fuel while he was calling the tanker to get close to the Islands to save him. The commander of the KC-130 asked:
-“Give me your position”
-“I don’t have it”
-“Read it in your Omega”
-“I don’t have Omega”
-“Turn on your
-“I don’t have
This means that Sanchez aircraft had only the minimum equipment. The plane with all the navigational aids in the formation had been the leader’s, C-204.
The tanker (commanded by Commodore Cano) got close to the island while loosing height, and Sanchez was flying west, gaining height. Finally, the Hercules started to leave a condensation trail as it changed to a colder air layer. Sanchez saw the trail and turned towards his salvation. Flying too fast, he overtook the tanker and had to turn very sharp to try again. He was able to connect his probe to the tankers’ refueling basket. The commander of the KC-130 exclaimed: “You are safe!” but they could hear Sanchez distressed voice saying: “No sir, it’s not worth it this way. I have lost my 3 companions…” Having topped up his tanks, Sanchez returned to Rio Gallegos safely, the only survivor of this mission.
The combat, from the moment the Morgan spotted the planes until Bolzan was shot down, only lasted 90 seconds.
Bolzan was found by some locals and buried in the same spot his plane had crashed, but later on he was taken to the Argentine Cemetery in Darwin.
Vazquez and Arraras were 2 of the 4 survivors of the 8 that attacked HMS Glasgow and HMS Brillant on May 12th. That means that out of the 8 that took part in that attack on May 12th, only 2 survived the war (Zelaya and Dellepiane).
These kills made Dave Morgan the top scoring pilot of the war with 4 victories, and the 2nd and last kill for David Smith. These were also the last Sea Harrier victories in the war.
I want to remark that there is an important discrepancy between Sanchez and the Sea Harrier version of the events, and that is that according to the Argentine pilot, both Harriers initially fired a missile each and that these 2 Sidewinders impacted Arraras and Vazquez (one kill for each). Then, as Morgan is awarded 2 claims, then he is the one that would have shot down Bolzan. The British version of the events is that Morgan fired 2 missiles first and that Smith shot down the 3rd Skyhawk (Bolzan). Regretfully, both versions are irreconcilable at the time of writing this article even though I have checked again with the protagonists.
Foxtrot 4 sank that night, while efforts to tow her to safety failed. The list of casualties is as follows:
* Marine Robert D. Griffin
* Colour Sergeant Brian R. Johnson, QGM (from Foxtrot 4, Johnson had saved the life of Argentine Pilot “Tom” Lucero from the cold waters of San Carlos when he ejected from his damaged Skyhawk A4-C late in May)
* Sergeant Ronald J. Rotherham
* Marine Anthony J. Rundle
* Marine Engineering Arfificer Alexander S. James
* Leading Marine Engineering Mechanician David Miller
As a postscript Dave Morgan and Hector Sanchez are now friends and have met in a couple of occasions, keeping in touch via email.
This kit was in fact built many years ago as C-222, the famous Tordillo. It was the only all gray Skyhawk in service in the Air Force in 1982. When we moved to Canada I brought all my model kits by ship, inside boxes full of Styrofoam. During inspection at Customs, it looks like someone did not believe the description of what was inside the boxes, opened some and broke several of the kits. One of those was my Tordillo.
It lost several critical pieces like: canopy, main landing gear, nose landing gear doors, main landing gear front doors, one main wheel, arrestor hook, some bombs, pitot tube, left slat and flap, an Omega antenna, landing light, some arms of the landing gear system…For a moment I thought about throwing it away or using it as spares. It stayed in that derelict state for many years.
Some months ago I decided to fix it, by making the missing parts using resin copied in rubber casts. One thing I noticed is that the gloss varnish I had used to give the plane a gloss coat of the decals had now yellow. It was Humbrol. As now the entire plane had a yellowish hue, I also made the decision to stick it in bleach to remove the paint. Sitting the plane on different parts of a plastic container full of this solution, I avoided having bleach entering the cockpit. So luckily there was no need to repaint the interior! In this picture you can see the yellowed gray, the original base paint without varnish and the gray plastic. Note the untouched interior and original Tordillo decals.
The dorsal Radome is a mix of the original HC one and a part I had made in resin originally.
The one-minute resin had the disadvantage that it dries too fast and does not run everywhere, especially when the casts have complex shapes (i.e. front doors of main landing gear). As a consequence, these were made up of up to 3 different doors that were partials or had air bubbles. The nose landing gear had a corner missing and I added some plasticard. I used a two-part plumber epoxy glue to fix all the parts that required attention. Some areas in different color show the epoxy.
As there were some bubbles in the new slat, I considered that a light gray color scheme would make them stand out. So I picked a different plane to build. This was C-204, the last Skyhawk lost by the Air Force in the war.
Once all resin parts were fixed and cleaned, I glued the legs. The bomb supplied by HC (spares box) has the wrong fins but overall the right shape. So I cut out the front of the fins (they are square and not triangular like HC depics) and the bomb was ready. The configuration of the plane is the one that Carballo used on May 21st.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The undersides were the first color, in RLM65 from MM Acryl. Then I moved to the top cammo with the red brown (MM Acryl 4707). After masking these colors with blutac, the green was sprayed using MM Acryl 4708.
I left the red areas exposed. That was the next color, along with the black around the guns.
Finally, the wing tips and tail were masked and the yellow ID bands were applied. These ID bands were applied to all the Skyhawks just before May 1st and later on some of those planes had them overpainted in dark brown. C-204 was not the case, based on the clear pictures of the remains of the plane. These pictures clearly show that the bands were ALSO painted under the wings.
I added some stains here and there, specially around the moveable surfaces (black pastel sanded and dry brushed). These surfaces were also highlighted with a very sharp pencil.
With a brush I painted the red rims of the landing gear doors. The arrestor hook was painted in bands of white and black.
Three or four coats of Future sealed the colors and pastels and then I applied the decals.
Serial numbers and the flags on the tail came from a HC sheet that I had left from other Skyhawks I had previously assembled. Roundels, stencils (including the one for the Mk-17 nicknamed the bombola by the pilots as it was a mix of bomb and ball/rock) came from Aerocalcas.
But one thing that I did not have was the “4” for “204”. So I took them from the Carpena decal sheet, which has black numbers (Sheet # 48.38a).
Tanks were glued in place, along with doors, hook, rest of landing gear and wheels, guns, VHF and Omega antennas, bomb, top ejection handle (original, I still don’t understand how it did not get lost with many other parts), slats and flaps.
The entire plane was given a coat of satin varnish.
Two pitot tubes were scratch built and painted. I made a new gunsight and glued two mirrors to the canopy (it is a vacuum canopy made by Falcon). Codes are #53 for Falcon and True Details 48710 for the mirrors. With this, I glued the canopy in place and the kit was finally finished (or restored!)
Most of my friends tell me that they would have thrown it away or used it for spares. I am glad that will some extra work I was able to recuperate this kit, and now I can use the Hasegawa A4-B to make the Tordillo some day.
Hector Sanchez and David Smith for their extensive contribution and all the time they dedicated to try to get the historical part of the text as accurate as possible.
Exequiel Martinez for his painting, Allan White for the pictures of crashed C-204, Pablo Carballo for his support and finally to Steve Thomas for sharing his experiences.
Hostile Skies, Dave Morgan
Falklands Air War, Chris Hobson
Los Halcones no se lloran, Pablo Carballo
Dios y los Halcones, Pablo Carballo
Guerra Aerea en las Malvinas, Benigno Andrada
A4-B Skyhawk, Nunez Padin
Historia Oficial de la Fuerza Aerea Argentina, volume VI, book 1 and 2
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