SKYHAWKS OVER THE SOUTH ATLANTIC

July 31, 2020
Posted by: CHRIS MELVILLE GROUP CAPTAIN, RAF

I was quite unsure about reviewing this book, particularly for this readership. It is very firmly written by an Argentinian about Argentine Air Force/Naval Aviation Skyhawks during the Falklands War. I was 6 years old when the Falklands War broke out, so my impressions of the war from my childhood are those of a young child: we were attacked, we stood up for the islands, and we won. These were not actions involving my shipmates or squadron crews; the casualties in these pages were not men I drank beer with. I know many of you will have been there: you will have similar memories of the Falklands that I have of Afghanistan and Iraq – each generation has their own war, with all that that entails, which those of us who were there will carry in a way that those who weren’t never can.

That said – taken as a book on its own – this is a remarkably dispassionate and balanced work. It is very short – only 88 pages. The author has picked a relatively niche area of the war and stuck to it, retelling the story of the Argentine A-4 force through detailed narratives from many of the pilots and sailors who were there. There are more Argentine voices than British – but the British accounts are there and the author has produced a balanced and factually correct narrative.

Of particular note are the sequences of maritime air actions, recounted from the cockpit and gun-deck on both sides. These actions tell a story of brave men on both sides in their own words. Because the author has allowed those who were there to tell their own story without reinterpreting it through his own lens, it is intense and compelling without being either stuffy or mawkish.  This book is very much a series of first-person accounts that are enriched by the author’s supporting text, rather than an academic study searching for quotes to support a hypothesis.

Having been unsure of the book when it arrived, I can honestly recommend it for those looking for an unbiased account of the tactical actions of the Falklands War. It is a very approachable book, easy to read, well written and edited.  Politics aside, there is no denying either the bravery of the small band of men who flew obsolete aircraft against a far superior force, or the small band of men thousands of miles from home in unfamiliar waters facing a determined foe.