When the Falkland Islands were invaded by Argentina in April 1982, Britain’s immediate response was to send a task force. But behind the pomp and bravado of its departure, a sober reality lurked. A mere 20 Sea Harriers operating from two aircraft carriers would take on the might of the Argentine air force, some 200 planes strong. The MOD estimated that within four days and against such formidable air power, half the harriers would likely be lost.
To reinforce that meagre force, and in just three weeks, the Navy formed, trained and equipped a brand new squadron from scratch. Not since the Second World War had so much been expected of such a small band of pilots. Their home would be a container ship converted into a makeshift carrier. 809 Naval Air Squadron was born.
Other covert operations mounted by MI6 and the SAS in Latin America would provide vital intelligence to protect the task force from attack, but in the vanguard of the conflict it would be the Sea Harriers of the 809 whose heroics in the South Atlantic which would become legendary.
With characteristic insider knowledge and in thrilling detail, Rowland White tells the story of those amazing exploits - the dogfights, the 23 kills, the deadly Exocet attacks, the ejections - demonstrating just why the Harrier is mentioned in the same breath as the Spitfire, the Lancaster, and the Vulcan and is destined to join them in the ranks of our most celebrated aeronautical achievements.