The Skyhawk & HMSS CoventryMonday, February 16, 2009
The trap at first worked when a FAA A-4C Skyhawk coded C-304 of Grupo 4 de Caza deployed to San Julian was shot down north east of Pebble Island by a Sea Dart missile while returning from a mission to San Carlos Water. Capitán Jorge Osvaldo García successfully ejected but was not recovered from the water, (his body was washed ashore in a dinghy at Golding Island in 1983). Garcia's wingman was also shot down during the raid on San Carlos, by a Sea Cat from HMS Yarmouth (also claimed by various others in the area including a Rapier battery), but he was luckier, and ejected into captivity, in front of waiting News Crews.
They then came under attack by several waves of Argentine A-4 Skyhawks specifically sent to sink them. Despite managing to shoot down two attackers earlier in the day, on the final occasion a wave of four enemy aircraft flew so low that Coventry's targeting radar could not distinguish between them and the land and failed to lock on. Broadsword attempted to target the first pair of attackers with her Sea Wolf missile system, but her own tracking system locked down during the attack and could not be reset before the aircraft released their bombs. Of the four bombs released, one struck Broadsword's flight deck and – though it failed to explode – damaged the ship's Lynx helicopter. Though she was still unable to gain a lock on the second pair of Skyhawks, Coventry launched a Sea Dart in an attempt to distract them and turned to starboard in order to reduce her profile. On Broadsword the Sea Wolf system had been reset and had successfully acquired the attacking aircraft, but was again unable to deploy when Coventry's turn took her directly into the line of fire.
Coventry used her 4.5 inch gun and small arms against the attacking aircraft. Coventry was struck by three of the four bombs released, two exploded and she immediately began listing to port. One of the bombs had struck the computer room and the blast destroyed it and the operations room nearby, incapacitating almost all senior officers.
Within 20 minutes she had been abandoned and had completely capsized, with the loss of 19 of her crew. After the ship was struck, her crew, waiting to be rescued, sang "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Monty Python's Life of Brian. She sank the next day. A memorial cross was erected on Pebble Island after the war.
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