Hasegawa 1/48 A-4B Skyhawk "C-222"

KIT #: 09426
PRICE: 29.95 Euros
DECALS: Several options
REVIEWER: Pablo Calcaterra
NOTES: The famous Tordillo. Aerocalcas 48008 decals


In 1965 the Argentine Air Force purchased 50 completely overhauled A4-B Skyhawks from the US Navy. Some modifications were added to the model that thus received the designation of A4-P…though in Argentina they were still called B. The list of modifications included: Slats (like in the A4-F),  New communication system (Bendix CAN-4),  Removal of UHF/ADF from the nose,  Removal of IFF located in nose,  New antenna behind the canopy (Bendix RTA-41B/RNA-26C), ,Dorsal radome with DFA-73, Antenna on the tail for VOR, Removal of TACAN NN-ARB-21, and  Removal of radar altimeter

On March 18th 1967 Skyhawk ex USN A-4B BuAer 142752g arrived in the second batch of planes from the first lot of 25. The Skyhawks were based in V Brigada Aérea, Villa Reynolds (San Luis Province). This plane received the tail number C-222. It had served in VMA-255, VMA –224, VMA-553, VMA-242 and VMA-134.

The second lot of 25 planes was received between 1969 and 1970.

In 1982 C-222 was going thru a major inspection in Area Material Rio Cuarto (Cordoba province). Due to the need to get as many planes as possible combat ready, C-222 was sent to the Rio Gallegos base without cammo and painted only with the anti rust paint (light gray). The pilot that flew the plane on April 27th was my friend Capitan Antonio (“Tony”) Zelaya. Upon landing one of the pilots saw the odd color and, being a racing horses fan, exclaimed: “Ahi llega el Tordillo! (The grayish one is arriving!)” It must be explained that Tordillo is the name given to horses that have a mix of black and white hair, thus giving a gray color that would be darker or lighter depending on the ratio of black/white hair.

 Due to the different and outstanding colour the plane was initially used only for training and thus was not used during the actions on May 1st or May 12th.

But May 21st was the day of the landings in San Carlos and therefore the Air Force south (Fuerza Aérea Sur) decided to do a maximum effort. It was the time for the Tordillo to get into the fray.

May 21st:

OF 1196 (ORION)/1197(LEO): This was part of the third wave of attacks to shipping in San Carlos / Falklands Sound (Estrecho de San Carlos). Taking off from Rio Gallegos the Skyhawks B were armed with one 1,000 lb British bomb each located in the central pylon (#2) under the fuselage:

Orion 1 (C-225 1st Lt. Mariano Velasco), Orion 2 (C-239 Lt. Carlos Osses), Orion 3 (C-222 Lt Fernando Robledo)

Leo 1 (C-215 1st Lt. Alberto Filippini), Leo 2 (C-224 Alf. Ruben Vottero), C-240 (Lt Vicente Autiero)

C-225 experienced mechanical issues so Velasco had to abort his participation. Therefore ORION 2 and 3 joined LEO and thus they became a flight of 5 planes. They were not to be refueled on the way in but during their return and only if needed as the KC-130s were engaged with other sections. 1st Lt Filippini took his planes from Rio Gallegos straight to the southern tip of Gran Malvina (East Falkland) and when over land they turned North/Northeast practically flying parallel to the West coast of the Sound. The ground was giving them cover but at the same time prevented them from looking into the Sound. About to reach Bahia Roca Blanca (White Rock bay) Autiero climbed and looked to this right. There were 3 ships: one steaming south (it was HMS Argonaut (F56) that had her radar damaged in the earlier attack by the Puerto Argentino (Stanley) based Aermacchi flown by Argentine Navy pilot Owen Crippa) and two further to the South (most likely HMS Antrim and HMS Broadsword). When he dove again for the ground a missile shot by one of the ships passed overhead…where he would have been if he had not descended! Minimizing radio contact with his leader Autiero said: “Turn right! Now!” and immediately Filippini led his men in a hard turn in that direction. So sharp was the turn that Autiero had to slide underneath Fillipini as he cut in front of him. Now Autiero was on the left side of the formation. When they crossed the coast entering the Sound he saw white things taking off from the water surface. They reminded him of doves taking to flight but then he realized that it was the splashes of the anti aircraft guns already firing at them. The five planes rushed towards HMS Argonaut challenging the withering wall of fire she was putting against them. Fillipini saw one round of the main gun of HMS Argonaut flying thru the position that Autiero was holding. The leader later on commented that he had thought that Autiero had “bought it”, but as Autiero was flying just a few centimeters over the water the round passed over his head!

In a brilliant maneuver HMS Argonaut’s Captain shielded his ship against a cliff of the East coast of Soledad (East Falkland). This would prevent the planes, in theory, from flying too low as they might crash against the cliff behind the ship. But the trick did not work as intended. The first plane to attack was Fillipini’s. After dropping his bomb he broke up and to the right. His left wing drop tank crashed against one of Argonaut’s antennas. As a consequence the antenna broke and the drop tank lost its end tip. Then it was the turn of the rest of the planes. Taking advantage of the gap left by Fillipini’s plane in HMS Argonaut’s structure Autiero dropped the bomb, jumped the ship and dodged the cliff breaking hard right. Now the planes were running south over the water towards the center of the British defenses. They dove again to the surface of the sound (after the brief climb to jump over HMS Argonaut). This change of height was so sudden that Autiero remembers all the dust on the floor of the plane filling his cockpit. The formation then turned east, entered Soledad (East Falkland) and continued their turn to the left now going north. They exited land approximately in the area of Middleground Bay and crossed the Northern mouth of the Sound. Looking back the pilots were amazed to see that the hull of the ship they had attacked had turned from a light pearl gray (before the attack) to brown/orange: it was the fires raging inside the ship that had made the steel red hot.

Out of the five 1,000 lb bombs three missed but two struck the ship without exploding due to the lack of height that did not allow the bombs to get armed. One entered just above the waterline thru a bulkhead shared by the Boiler and Engine rooms. The rudder and engines got damaged. The other one entered below the waterline and hit the Sea Cat magazine. A missile exploded killing two sailors and damaged a boiler.

Without steering and with no way to stop the engines the burning HMS Argonaut was racing towards the cliff that had protected her (Fanning Head). When the crash was imminent the presence of mind of one of the crewmembers saved her as the anchor was dropped and the ship stopped on her tracks. HMS Plymouth took her on tow to safe waters. Lt. Cdr. B F Dutton was awarded the DSO for leading the team that took care of disarming and disposing of the two unexploded bombs dodged in Argonaut. Although she returned to limited air defense duties on the 26th the now disabled HMS Argonaut was three days later sent back to the UK where she arrived to Devonport on June 26th 1982 to be repaired.

The 5 undamaged (except for the tip of Filippini’s left drop tank) Skyhawks returned to Rio Gallegos where they celebrated the fact that for the first time all of them had made it back, even though American pre 1982 statistics and the attack on HMS Glasgow/HMS Brilliant on May 12th had shown them that their chances to return were 50/50. Odds against the Halcones were not that bad after all! 

June 7th:

OF1286 (POTRO) Three Skyhawks B armed with 3 parachute-delayed bombs.

C-222 was reserve plane (POTRO 4) flown by Lt. Juan Arraras in case any of the other 3 members developed any mechanical problem before the attack to a naval target located in the Fritz Roy area. As no problem happened Lt. Arraras was able to return to base without incident. The rest of the planes searched the area but nothing was found returning to Rio Gallegos at 11:30.

June 8th:

British forces were now reinforced with the arrival of the 5th Infantry Brigade and the final push to overcome the Argentine ground forces was taking shape.

In the haste to close the knot around Puerto Argentino/Stanley the troops were sent in two RFA ships with no air or sea protection.  On the 7th (the day of the failed attacks by POTRO) the troops were loaded in San Carlos on their ships for the short travel to Port Pleasant near Fitzroy. The delay meant that instead of unloading before dawn the process started only after sunrise. There was also confusion between Bluff Cove and Port Pleasant and this also delayed the offload. The Welsh Guards waited for hours aboard the ships. There was also the limited amount of small crafts to take them to the shore. Rapier defenses were being installed on the hills. Even though the British historians have called it the Disaster at Bluff Cove, it actually happened in Port Pleasant (In Argentina it is correctly called Bahia Agradable)

From the hills to the North the Argentines were able to watch the movements and called for an air raid. 

The first wave, the one we are interested in due to the Tordillo’s involvement, was made up of 4 squadrons: two of A4-B and two of Daggers. We will focus on the actions of the Skyhawks, as the Dagger’s will be left for another article in the future.

OF 1289 MASTIN: 4 planes armed with 3 parachute-delayed bombs.

Mastin 1 (C-250 1st Lt. Alberto Fillipini), Mastin 2 (C-214 Lt. Daniel Galvez Osses), Mastin 3 (C-237 Lt. Vicente Autiero), Mastin 4 (C-230 Alf. Hugo Gomez)

OF 1290 DOGO: 4 planes with the same configuration.

Dogo 1 (C-201 Capt. Pablo Carballo), Dogo 2 (C-221 Lt. Carlos Rinke), Dogo 3 (C-222 1st Lt. Carlos Cachon), Dogo 4 (C-240 Alf Leonardo Carmona).

Even though his oxygen tank was leaking Carballo decided to continue ahead. Close to the islands they found the two KC-130s (TC-69 Parca 1 – Vice Commodore Alfredo Cano and crew, TC-70 Parca 2 – Vice Commodore Enrique Pesana and crew) that were waiting for them with their hoses deployed. Due to low temperatures during the night the refueling probes of Filippini, Autiero and Carballo were frozen and thus they were unable to top up their tanks even after trying in each one of the 2 hoses of each one of the 2 Hercules. Therefore they were forced to turn back. Thus the attack formation was configured as follows:

Dogo 1 Cachon, Dogo 2 Carmona, Dogo 3 Rinke

And behind them Mastin 1 Galvez,. Mastin 2 Gomez 

Upon realizing that he was not going to be able to continue with the mission Capt. Carballo put 1st Lt. Cachon in the lead and told him: “Attack with 3 planes in the lead and the other 2 one minute behind…and take them to the Glory!”

Realizing that it was his responsibility to take care of these men, Cachon felt a chill down his spine. It was the first time he was going to lead not one but two formations at the same time. He cleared his mind and the planes started their low level flight.

They flew from the south over land and entered an area with heavy rain. When Cachon was starting to wonder if the weather was so bad that they would be forced to turn back…they came out of it. It had lasted 30 seconds (8 miles).

Even though some British publications state that a feint attack with Mirage III to the North drew the Sea Harriers CAP away from the Port Pleasant area fact is that those diversionary sections (FLECHA y LANZA) arrived to the area around 5 pm (see my C-204 article in Modelingmadness) whereas the attack of the Skyhawks took place 3 hours earlier. In definitive there were no British CAPs in the area at the moment of the attack and the Argentines fighter-bombers had a clean ingress and exit.

They saw an enemy helicopter and hid behind some hills in order not to be detected.

Still flying north and getting close to Fritz Roy they saw troops on the ground and were fired at. When they arrived to Fritz Roy bay where the ships were supposed to be they found the area empty. They turned east and then south looking for their targets. They started their return flying south…and this took them to Port Pleasant/Bahia Agradable! They found lots of soldiers that started to fire at the low flying planes. A Blowpipe was fired from their right and crossed behind them at a 30º angle without harm. Gomez, looking to his right (West) saw the two RFA ships clearly against the coast. He shouted: “There they are! Break right now!” Cachon reacted instantly and faced the two seemingly defenseless ships. Light AA fire from the coast was experienced. They had achieved almost complete surprise. So much so that the sailors on board of the ships did not have time to don their anti flash suits.

Cachon put a ship in the Tordillo’s gunsight and the exact moment dropped his 3 bombs. These armed perfectly and hit RFA Sir Galahad (L3005) exploding seconds after impact. Carmona’s bombs did not fall and Rinke’s did  (according to the British sources they were short…according to Argentine observers that were watching the attack from the North the bombs overshoot and exploded in the coast among the unloaded armament)

The other two Skyhawks (Mastin) saw that Sir Galahad was on fire and one of the cranes was crumbling down like a tower of cards. Therefore Galvez chose RFA Sir Tristam (L3505). In the turn his wingman Gomez overtook him and attacked first. Galvez saw Gomez’s bombs hitting the ship just at the waterline. They also saw that people were jumping to the water from Sir Galahad. One bomb exploded killing two crewmembers and another one did not explode. A near miss of a third bomb exploded close to the ramp and started fires that spread throughout the ship.

The Skyhawks escaped untouched except for a 7.62 bullet dodged in the central pylon of Gomez’s plane.

The video with the actual attack of Mastin’s can be found in Internet. British journalists on the ground recorded it. The planes are seen turning while diving towards the ships. Then a hill hides them and the actual moment when they dropped the bombs cannot be seen. Anti aircraft fire and the explosions can be heard. This video and text tell in detail the story of the decisions and problems that led to the disaster)

The ammunition stored on Sir Galahad exploded and 48 Welsh Guards and others were killed in the raging fires. 150 more were injured, many of them seriously.  Sea King crews bravely flew close to the ships to rescue the troops on the deck. With their rotors they tried to move the floating rafts away from the fires. Sea King HC4 ZA313 was less than 200 yards away from Sir Galahad when the Skyhawks attacked. Lt. J.A.G. Miller moved the helo out of the way hiding behind a hill and when the attack was over flew back to the ship to start the rescue operations. Ammo was exploding in the heat and the rescue operation was very risky. The Sea King had to hover close to the ship to see the survivors. Other helicopters in the vicinity joined the rescue efforts and they included Sea King XV700 from 825 Sqn (Lt. Cdr Hugh Clark), XV654 (Lt P Sheldon…who was barely missed by a piece of metal shot by an explosion on Sir Galahad), XV663 (Lt. J. Boughton) and XZ580 (Lt. S Isacke). 847 Sqn helped with their Wessex XT480 (Lt. T Hughes). In his case he spotted a raft with survivors being pushed back to the flaming ship. Hughes positioned his helicopter between the raft and the fire and gently pushed the raft away using the downdraught of his rotor blades. Rescue continued even during the night and injured soldiers were taken to the field hospital at Ajax Bay and ships Fearless and Uganda. For their efforts during the rescue operations Lt. Cdr. Clark was awarded the DSC while Lt. Boughton and Lt. Sheldon were awarded the QGM.

There were two fatal casualties in Sir Tristam that was, anyways, seriously damaged as the fire spread out of control.

Had the attack taken place one hour later the loss of life would have been minimal. But lack of coordination and landing crafts delayed the process and many soldiers were still on board when the attacks took place.

As a consequence Sir Galahad was completely gutted by the fire and after the war was towed out to open sea, torpedoed by HMS Onyx and sunk as a war grave. Sir Tristam, very heavily damaged, was taken on board the heavy lift ship MV Dan Lifter to be rebuilt in the UK, a process that took 3 years before it was operational again.

The follow up attack by the Daggers disabled HMS Plymouth, one by Skyhawks C from IV Brigada Aérea targeted the troops on the ground and another one of 4 Skyhawks that sunk Foxtrot 4 but cost 3 planes and pilots lost to Sea Harriers (see my article in Modelingmadness.

Squadrons I and II (Skyhawks B) from Rio Gallegos were relocated to San Julian the following day. Among them was the Tordillo. And then the Daggers moved from Rio Grande to Rio Gallegos.

June 13th:

This was the Halcones’ last attack of the war. Their target was a concentration of British troops on the northeast face of Twin Sisters. The Argentinean garrison in the islands had detected a large concentration of troops, helicopters and electronic communications in the area. In fact Jeremy Moore was in that place getting ready for the mission to plan the last push of the war. He was at the 3 Commando Brigade HQ.

OF 1319 NENE: 4 planes armed with 3 parachute-delayed bombs. Nene 1 (C-230 Capt. Antonio Zelaya), Nene 2 (C-227 Lt. Omar Gelardi), Nene 3 (C-212 Lt. Luis Cervera), Nene 4 (C-221 Alf. Guillermo Dellepiane)

OF 1320 CHISPA: 4 planes with the same configuration.

Chispa 1 (C-222 Capt. Carlos Varela), Chispa 2 (C-250 Lt. Mario Roca), Chispa 3 (C-235 Lt. Sergio Mayor), Chispa 4 (C-237 Alf Marcelo Moroni).

 Dellepiane’s plane had a mechanical problem and he had to change to the spare one (C-225). This means that he was too late to take off with his Squadron. Strapped in the second plane he heard that Capt. Varela was getting ready to take off and asked for permission to join them. This was granted and as a consequence Nene had now 3 planes and the trailing Chispa had 5 (the leader at the center, two wingmen on each side…a symmetric formation as Dellepiane called it…)

They reached their refueling point with the KC-130s. During the refueling process the liquid splashed over Capt. Zelaya’s plane and entered the air intakes causing the engine to overheat with explosions in the compressor. Following the emergency procedure he abruptly broke contact with the Hercules and descended turning back to return to base. Now “Tucu” (Cervera’s war name) Cervera was in the lead of Nene; Dellepiane was able to rejoin his original flight.

Having more experience Varela asked Cervera if he would allow him to overtake them and lead the attack. Cervera agreed and started to follow Chispa 30 seconds behind. Their route was taking them to the north of the islands with a 90 degree turn south on a straight line to their target area.

They descended thru 5 different layers of clouds with Cervera loosing sight of Chispa many times…but as he was keeping his rate of descent and direction (and was reading his Omega system) he managed to find himself above and behind the leading formation every time they were breaking out of the clouds.

Almost reaching the islands they were flying at naught feet and found areas where it was raining heavily. This gave them problems to follow Varela in the light grey coloured Skyhawk: he was perfectly camouflaged with the rain! The only way the wingmen were able to see Varela’s position was to follow the white wake C-222’s jet exhaust was making on the surface of the sea. It was like following the waves made by a speedboat!

Soon they were flying over the islands on the southward leg. Suddenly they heard the radar operator calling out: “Is there anyone in the air?” They were so low that the radar could not find them. Varela sharply answered: “Chispa”. The radar operator communicated that there were 4 British CAPs in the air and were located as follows: 

1)     Mount Pleasant

2)     San Carlos/Falkland Sound (north entrance)

3)     East of Stanley/Puerto Argentino

4)     San Carlos/Falkland Sound (south entrance)

 In other words, they were surrounded. But Capt. Varela reasoned that if the radar was not able to see them…then the British would not either. Varela thought: “I won’t give up when I am only 2 minutes away from the target”. So he pressed on. Cervera suggested that after the attack they should retrace their steps, as it would give them a chance to escape. Varela accepted the idea.

Shortly afterwards the radar told the Skyhawk leader that two of the British CAPs were flying towards them. It seems that the troops on the ground had passed on their position. It was a race against time and the trap was closing…

The Skyhawks were following every valley and hill in their quest of not being picked up by the enemy radar. The cammo and maneuvers were making Cervera’s task to follow the previous flight quite difficult. Reaching the top of a hill Varela found a British soldier strolling peacefully. The soldier froze and Varela saw his surprised face. Behind the soldier and in the next valley…the British command post! They had made it.

There were tents, modules with rotating antennas, helicopters on the ground and the air…

Chispa attacked first with Nene behind. Flying side by side to maximize the effect of their bombs Varela said: “Bombs gone…NOW, NOW, NOW!” At that instant the 12 x 500 lb bombs fell. Initially caught by surprise British troops started to fire back: guns, missiles, and machine guns…everyone was shooting at the Skyhawks. Nene saw where the bombs had dropped and the smoke of the explosions on the ground. Cervera fired his guns at the enemy concentration. He saw 4 or 5 helicopters in the area and destruction caused by the preceding bombs on the ground. He also saw soldiers running out of the way and taking cover. Clearing the smoke he saw helicopters on the ground, modules like containers, troops and decided to bomb them. He ordered his men to drop his bombs.

Starting to leave the area a Sea King crossed Cervera’s path from right to left. As his gunsight was set to low level bombing he had to aim without it. He saw his tracers flying towards the enemy helicopter and it seemed that they were entering the structure. He remembers that the pilot had a light blue helmet.

The neat formation broke as each plane was trying to find a place to get out of the tracers. The planes were crisscrossing, breaking, turning; their pilots shouted warnings to each other. Roca called out: “Chispa 1, a missile has just exploded between you and me!” Seconds later Varela saw the flash of the explosion of yet another missile beside him and the plane shuddered. Mayor told him to eject, as the Tordillo seemed to have been hit. But the loyal C-222 was still flying.

Tucu! Break right!” called Dellepiane. Cervera reacted immediately and two chasing missiles continued straight ahead passing him on his left. At that moment he ejected his external loads and the sudden shudder of the plane almost made Cervera lost the control. His plane nearly impacted the ground!

Dellepiane saw a Sea King (ZA298 of 846 Sqn – Lt. Commander S. Thornewill) in front of him in the air squarely sitting in his gunsight. He pressed the button but only 2 shots came out from the untrustworthy Colt 20 mm…yet one of the rounds hit the helicopter in one of the blades (passing thru cleanly without exploding) and the pilot made a rushed landing. Dellepiane even was able to see the pilot’s green helmet. Taking off again Thornewill landed in a valley and checked the damage. A new blade was sent and replaced and the Sea King was flying again hours later.

More helicopters were in the air. Varela put one in his gunsight and was about to fire but when he checked his instrument panel he saw his engine was overheating. The missile had actually damaged the Tordillo. Varela forgot the helicopter and turned to get out of there and try to return to base as soon as possible. At that point he realized that the engine was running rough and was vibrating making strange noises. To lighten up his plane Varela pressed the emergency release button and all his external stores (pylons and drop tanks) fell. As he had not communicated his personal decision all his men did the same.

Varela ordered his men to break up, head north as there were no Harriers there, keep silence on the radio and return individually to divide the attention of the incoming Harriers. Roca decided to form on Varela. To Varela’s surprise he heard Lt Gelardi (in his 3rd mission) shouting: “And where is the north???!”…To which Lt. Mayor answered in a casual and jokingly way: “To the right, my son, to the right!”

On the ground, besides the undisclosed damaged to the British position, two more helicopters suffered damages during the attack: Gazelle ZA728 and Scout XT637 from 656 Sqn which had to be airlifted to San Carlos for repair at the 70 Aircraft Workshop.

Cervera saw the shadow of a plane chasing him. No matter what he tried he was not able to shake it off…until he realized it was the shadow of his own plane. Nerves were playing tricks on him. Escaping on a northern route (same way they had entered the area minutes before on the way in) and now flying low over the sea he checked his fuel status and realized he barely had enough to return to his base (2,000 lb when 1,900 were needed). He was about to start to climb when only 700 meters ahead of him he found a British warship! Gently turning west and trying to put distance as fast as possible while keeping a constant eye on his threat Cervera left the ship behind. He cannot, even today, explain how did the British ship allow him to escape without even firing a single shot.

Cervera climbed as high as he could and put the engine on a reduced consumption regime.

The pilots called out the remaining fuel…and then Dellepiane realized he had less than what he needed to return to his base…and yet he had not even crossed the Sound! After several very tense moments (to be told in yet another article) Dellepiane managed to return to his base.

Cervera decided to leave the Hercules all for Dellepiane without refueling and continued to the continent. After many minutes and with only 300 lb of fuel left he descended towards the runway. And suddenly another Skyhawk appeared in front of him! He asked Moroni how much fuel he had left and he answered 1,000 lb. Cervera asked him to do a 360º as he was in an emergency due to low fuel and then landed safely with only 100 lb left in his main tank!

Tucu remained in his cockpit without moving. He was drained. And then the crewmembers started to gather around C-212 and point at the tail. When finally Cervera left his plane he looked and found that 4 shots had passed thru the base of the rudder without even scratching the hydraulic lines in the area!

In the meantime the Tordillo had managed to get to his base without further incident. When Capt. Varela tried to idle the engine it just quit. He left his plane and looked into the air intake along with his ground crew. They could not believe their eyes. The engine had seized. The blades of the engine had melted to less than half their length! Tordillo should not have flown in that state…but it did. A providential engine setting, the constant airflow into the engine and some help from Above had helped Varela. It is said in the Air Force that a plane in such shape should have never been able to continue flying.

This incident only increased the mythical fame of the Tordillo as it was considered that it was indestructible and it would always bring her pilot back.

When the cease-fire was signed the following day Jeremy Moore asked General Menendez how had the Argentineans managed to pinpoint his position the day before…

In short, though some of them were badly damaged, all the Skyhawks returned to their base.

The Tordillo fully repaired and with the standard brown/green cammo with kill marks on the nose (HMS Argonaut and RFA Sir Galahad) served in the Air Force until all the Skyhawks B were retired in 1999. He now rests in the Area Material Rio Cuarto (where it had been inspected and painted in light gray in 1982)

 POSTSCRIPT: Simon Weston OBE, badly burnt in RFA Sir Galahad and Carlos Cachon met after the war in Argentina. Cachon apologized for the pain and injuries caused by his bombs but Weston said that Cachon was only fulfilling his duty and that everything was OK. They are now friends.

 Argentine pilots mentioned above received the following medals due to their involvement in the war:

Valor en Combate (Valour in Combat):   Cano,   Carmona,   Cervera,   Dellepiane, Fillipini, Gomez, Galvez,  Moroni, Paredi, Pessana, Rinke, Roca, and  Zelaya. 

Heroico Valor en Combate (Heroic Valour in combat): Carballo


In three words: beautiful but over-engineered.  Like in many other kits Hasegawa uses the same basic parts to make different versions. The Skyhawks are no exception. There are lots of alternative doors, panels, antennas…which is good as it gives lots of options and spares…but at the same time there is more sanding and panels to hide than say…the often maligned (but more noble if you allow me to say) Hobbycraft. The other shortcoming is the complete lack of ordnance. Luckily there is plenty of spare in the Hobbycraft kit.

Dorsal and tail radomes for the B (or P is you want to call them this way) flown in Argentina are not supplied.


I had built a Tordillo using the Hobbycraft kit many years ago. During the move to Canada it suffered a lot and many pieces were lost. I decided to rebuild it making copies of the missing parts. This Skyhawk was then published as C-204.

My sister graciously gave me two Hasegawa Skyhawks (B and C) when they were just issued. Due to the exquisite level of detail I decided to leave them for a later date when my skills got better.

The light gray color of the Tordillo would show all the finesse of Hasegawa and I wanted to finally build C-222 again…so it was time to use the Hase kit.

What I like of the Hasegawa kit is that the seat has the straps molded in the cushions…something completely lacking in Hobbycraft.

I painted the instruments panel in dark gray with silver highlighted details and a drop of Future on the dials. Side pads are olive green.

Fuselage halves fit was good but I was not impressed…it seems that the undersides were a little bit “folded inwards”. Many panels (with no grids) are located under and around the tail area.

The two little air intakes on the sides of the fuselage, though not called out for the USNavy version are needed for the Argentine one and luckily supplied by Hasegawa.

The top of the tail is the rounded one. Nose was added with 15 grams of lead inside.

There were many areas that required lots of sanding, putty and attention. Mainly due to panels that are to be hidden or the over engineering that delivered too many unnecessary panels and lines. But this also meant that panels needed were somehow sanded and had to be re-scribed (especially behind the cockpit area)

Then I added my home made (in resin) dorsal radome. It was glued with two-part epoxy and carefully sanded.

Then I moved to the air intakes. These are made of 2 parts each and require putty and sanding in the area that sits on the fuselage just INSIDE the air intake. This is another example of problems due to trying to make as many versions starting with the same basic pasts and fuselage…Eliminating the back plate of an Esci/Italieri A4-E or dealing with the Hobbycraft kits is much easier than perfecting the union of these Hase intakes…They also required some acrylic base (white) to hide some little imperfections.

Finally, another of my resin cast radome (for the Argentine version) was added to the bottom of the fuselage under the tail.

Satisfied with the results I moved to the wings.

Missing in the kit (as it a B) are the spoilers on the top of the wings. After checking pictures and scale planes I marked these using a Xacto knife and a ruler as a guide.

The bottom half was added to the fuselage and once dry the top halves were glued.

There are many clear parts (under the wings, tip and landing light close to the fuselage) that are not required for the A4-B in service in Argentina. Still they need to be glued and then puttied and sanded out to eliminate them.

When satisfied I gave the “suspicious” area a hand of intermediate gray to check for imperfections. Some were found (especially in the wing tip lights area) but nothing that took more than a few minutes to fix.

Drop tanks have a curious break out and required a considerable amount of putty and sanding to smoothen the union between the main part and the tail cone.

Using some rubber molds based on scratch built bombs I made some time ago I did several parachute delayed bombs: my resin part for the tail and the nose of the Hobbycraft ones.

The two Omega antennas on the tail were made in resin using a mold I made from the Hobbycraft kit parts.

I attached the nose and main landing gear (with their respective parts painted in silver).

The horizontal planes of the tail were glued with no problem and the kit was ready for the paint session(s).


The landing gear doors, underside of drop tanks, landing gear and wheel bays were the first color, in RLM65 from MM Acryl. During the same session the wingtips (MM 4763) and tail (MM 4757) ID bands were sprayed as well. As the rests of some shot down planes found in the islands have yellow ID bands on the undersides I assume that the same light gray for the top of the wings was used for the bottom.

Once the bands were masked the entire model was painted in FS36307 (MM 4759).

Other colours used were white for the arresting hook, radome below the tail and VHF antenna behind the cockpit, black for the internal side of the frames of the canopy and windshield, red brown (MM Acryl 4707) and green (MM Acryl 4708) for the top side of the drop tanks (after masking the red brown and light blue with with blutac).

Red was applied with a brush to the edge of the landing gear doors.

Bombs were painted in 4728 with yellow rings on the nose and silver plates on the back (thanks Guillermo!)

There was no need to add any detail to the moveable surfaces as these are crisp and no highlighting is required.

The only dirty detail (applied with sanded brick color pastels and a brush) was the stains made by the exhaust on the left hand side of the fuselage. This can clearly be seen in the famous color picture of the Tordillo.

A couple of coats of Future sealed the colors and pastels and then I applied the decals.

The decals are very simple: the Tordillo had practically no stencils. The decal set from Aerocalcas (48008) has everything that is needed. The go with no problem at all.


The entire plane was given a coat of satin varnish.

Now it was the time to put everything together. With the plane upside down on some supports I started from pylon 2 (centerline) moving outwards:

a)     Central pylon in light blue, TER in white (with numbers on the nose taken from the numbers that identify each decal in the Aerocalcas sheet), bombs (attached with two aluminum painted supports each).

b)     Main landing gear doors and wheels

c)     Pylons 1 and 3 and then the drop tanks

d)     Nose landing gear doors and wheels

e)     Arresting hook (black stripes were painted as the Hasegawa decal would not wrap around the piece and started to crack…)

f)       Landing gear light (a drop of silver on the back and then painted over in light blue)

A couple of days later it was the time to put the plane on her legs.

a)     Slats

b)     Refueling probe (shortened to A4-B length)

c)     Two pitots in front of the windshield

d)     VHF antenna behind the canopy

e)     Formation light above the dorsal radome (it was one of the clear lights supplied by Hase, with the underside painted in red)

f)       Gunsight with a drop of aluminum to represent the lighting underneath it

g)     Windshield (with a coat of a mix of Future and green MM 4729 to represent the tinted oval armored glass)

h)     Rear mirrors attached to the canopy (front painted in black, back painted in silver)

i)        Air brakes (deployed)

j)        Small antenna scratchbuilt for the left side of the nose (white)

k)     Top ejection handle in yellow with black stripes

l)        Canopy in the opened position


It was not an easy build. Call me mad but I prefer the simplicity of the Hobbycraft kit…I wish they’d were easier to get these days!

This is my 4th Skyhawk in 8 years and the lineup of significant planes of the 1982 war starts to look nice.

In memory of Alejandro Serra, creator and owner of Aerocalcas who passed away last year. Thank you Ale for allowing us to create our models and filling the gap that existed for many years!

Thanks to:

Luis Cervera for the permission to use the information from his blog and answers to my questions

Tony Zelaya for answering questions about emergency procedures and his trip to the south with the Tordillo in late April.

Carlos Rinke for your answers regarding June 13th

Guillermo Dellepiane for some of the little details about June 13th that I have included here…the rest will be in another article (wink!)

Pablo Carballo for allowing me to transcribe parts of his books

Exequiel Martinez for his permission to share with you his paintings.

Guillermo Posadas for his help with the parachute delayed bombs


Tucu Cervera’s blog is http://losacuatreros.blogspot.com/ (Gracias Tucu!)

Falklands Air War, Chris Hobson

Halcones de Malvinas, Pablo Carballo

Dios y los Halcones, Pablo Carballo

A4-B Skyhawk, Nunez Padin

A4-B y C Skyhawk, Fernando Benedetto

Historia Oficial de la Fuerza Aerea Argentina, volume VI, book 1 and 2

RNA 10 Area (http://www.rna-10-area.co.uk/bluff_cove.html)




Pablo Calcaterra

April 2012

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