HMS EAGLE in the Falklands

Recriminations and Retribution
Northwood, 22nd May, 0400

Looking at the PM and the Defence Secretary Admiral Fieldhouse wondered just how they could do it. He was kept busy enough in his role as the overall commander of OPERATION CORPORATE not to mention his normal day job as Commander in Chief Fleet (the fact that the lions share of the fleet was committed to CORPORATE made things a little easier). Whereas all he really had to worry about was the ongoing operation in the South Atlantic the politicians were the ones who had to deal with the consequences whatever they were. Despite the stresses and workload that came from being a wartime leader the PM still had the small matter of running the country and having to always think of the bigger picture and justify her every action. Indeed, three weeks ago when the RN had destroyed the Argentine navy in what could be described as one of the most decisive battles since Trafalgar Fieldhouse had received pats on the back and the certainty of a place in the history books while the PM had received the political and diplomatic fallout both good and bad.
Despite the fact that yesterday had been D day and had seen a titanic air battle fought with heavy losses on both sides the PM had not been able to be present at the command centre due to the demanding workload and responsibilities of her office. Though some might have called this dereliction of duty in some ways it was actually for the best. The staff in Northwood were professionals who could be trusted to carry out their roles and having someone like the PM present would just have been a distraction at a critical time.

Someone who had been present throughout the day though had been the defence secretary. His role had mainly been to keep the PM up to date as news came in and given some of the news that had come in today it had been due to his urging that the PM was present for this meeting. Also, present were the Chief of Defence Staff, First Sea Lord and other very senior officers. Given the events of the previous 24 hours all of these very busy and important people had dropped everything to attend this meeting to decide on their next moves.
Knowing just how busy her schedule had been today the Defence Secretary wondered if the PM had even slept at all before he had phoned her an hour ago and almost demanded that she come here. He knew that the next few days were going to quite possibly be extremely unpleasant for the both of them.
In some ways he envied the uniformed officers. All they had to focus on was fighting this (undeclared) war while keeping Britain’s other enemies at bay without worrying about things such as public opinion, political fallout and the media.
Since this crisis had begun, he had been having without a doubt the worst weeks of his life. He had tried to resign repeatedly but the PM wasn’t letting him take the easy way out. It was almost as if those around him had decided that he was to blame for all of this and that he should be made to reap what he had sown. There was no love lost between himself and the senior members of the armed forces, a consequence of the cuts he had forced upon them. Every now and then he would catch a glimpse of a little grin or a smirk at the edge of someone’s mouth or a certain look in someone’s eye. They were clearly enjoying his discomfort and silently mocking him. He was pretty certain that they laughed about him and talked about him when he wasn’t in the room. Though the PM wasn’t letting him run away just yet and though no one was saying it pretty much everyone knew that once all this was over and done with, he would be replaced and be remembered as one of the villains of the story or worse remembered for his incompetence. For this reason, he was certain that he was losing the respect of those who he was supposed to preside over. Worse he could see the PM’s scheme for him. Politically he was a dead man walking who was only being kept around in order to absorb the flak for any bad news and to provide a scape goat for the media who had already started to tear into the government over last years defence review. The Defence Secretary now cringed every time he thought back to that infamous interview on Newsnight when he had stormed out live on camera after being called a “here today gone tomorrow politician”. The annoying thing was that interviewer was now being proved right and that interview would haunt him for a very long time to come. Another thing that had come back to haunt him was the defence review itself which the media had already named after him. It was still his responsibility and now presented a very difficult question. Given the events that had taken place since the review was published if it still went ahead as planned it would probably be political suicide and for this reason this option would almost certainly be unacceptable for the government. On the other hand that review had been conducted as a necessary response to a reduction in his departments budget which had made it impossible to sustain the armed forces at its then present size and fund the various procurement programs. If he was politically unable to implement his review then he would need to find some serious money from somewhere just to maintain the armed forces at their present size (which the officers in the room never tired of telling him was insufficient). However, with government expenditure across the board being slashed as a result of the nations dire financial position it was unlikely that even god knew where the money could come from.
He had tried to explain all of this to his wife when she had asked why he constantly seemed so worked up and stressed. He wasn’t sure if she had understood any of his rambling response but he’d noticed that she did seem to have removed all of the alcohol from the house. Probably for the best.



With the PM now present Admiral Fieldhouse’s chief of staff began a briefing outlining the events of the previous 24 hours. There was a lot to get through. In brief the Task Force had successfully landed elements of 3 Commando Brigade ashore meeting very light opposition. Later in the day the amphibious group had come under heavy air attack which had been successfully defeated and had not prevented or disrupted the landing operation from continuing. The good news was that the estimated losses inflicted upon the argentine air force even allowing for a margin of error had effectively neutralised it as a fighting force meaning that the Task Force now had near total air superiority in the area.

The bad news was that a total of three ships had been sunk and one heavily damaged with over a hundred men lost. While militarily these losses were irritating but not really a game changer politically if this was handled badly the potential was there for it to be catastrophic.
Something that could be militarily catastrophic though was an accident aboard the Task Forces flagship HMS EAGLE which had temporarily put her out of action and resulted in the loss of three precious aircraft.

Once the briefing had been concluded the assembled officers and ministers got down to the business of dealing with the various issues that had been raised. Knowing that the loss of the three ships in San Carlos water could easily drag on for a while the PM asked that they discuss the situation aboard HMS EAGLE first.
As things stood the fire was extinguished and the ship was not in any immediate danger. However, the ship was currently unable to carry out flight operations due to the wreckage on the flight deck and the damage to her arrestor equipment. The big question was how long it would be until the ship was fully operational again as currently the Task Force was without its two most potent weapons, the Phantoms and the Buccaneers and had lost its ability to see over the horizon with the Gannets now firmly stuck on the deck. For operational reasons this incident had been immediately declared secret as despite their aircraft losses if the Argentines found out about this they just may be tempted to come out and try again. Indeed, the journalists embarked aboard the ship were shocked at first to find their equipment seized and that they were now forbidden from communicating with the outside world. This was something of a knee jerk reaction on the part of the officers aboard. It was later decided by Admiral Fieldhouse that as long as their reports were heavily vetted and that they were informed what would happen to them if they ever breathed a word of the accident the journalists should be allowed to continue reporting. This was due to fears that a sudden cut off of information from these journalists without explanation would be noticeable. Certainly, to these men’s editors and possibly to someone conducting OSINT which may cause them to take interest in the ship. Not until almost a year after the event would the MOD admit to there having been a crash aboard HMS EAGLE.
With regards to the question of how long it would take to get the ship operational again the news was not good. Most of the night had been spent removing the unused ordinance from the wreckage. This and the darkness had prevented much else from being done. Once it was daylight the wreaked phantom would have to be pushed over the side, the arrestor wires removed and replaced, the flight deck examined for damage and Fod plodded probably several times over. This alone could easily take hours. Moreover the air group had been operating at its maximum possible tempo the day before meaning that the aircraft themselves were in need of a lot of work. Unfortunately the squadron personnel who would normally be doing this work would be busy helping get the flight deck back into service meaning further delay. All in all it was highly unlikely that EAGLE would be back in service before the sun set later and even then it would probably take most of the night and following morning to get the air group to an acceptable level of serviceability.



The discussion now turned to the recovery of downed airmen. Yes they were enemies who had just been trying to kill them but human life is still human life irrelevant of their allegiance and no mariner could ever feel comfortable about leaving someone adrift and at the mercy of the cruel sea. Unfortunately a lot of pilots had gone into the water the previous day and the South Atlantic is a vast area and not especially conductive to life. The ships of the BRISTOL group to the west of the islands had sent helicopters to search the area where they had engaged a formation of Skyhawks. The helicopters had returned with a total of three pilots. Two of them had already succumbed to hypothermia by the time they had been found but one was miraculously still alive (in the medical sense of the word). Though it pained him to do so Captain Grose had decided against searching further as it was now apparent that there would be no more survivors and he had more pressing taskings. Three more pilots had been recovered alive to the north of the islands when aircraft transiting between HMS HERMES and San Carlos had sighted flares and emergency beacons. Though some had made it out of their cockpits and found themselves POW’s the number of pilots recovered in and around San Carlos was very low. This was due to the fact that the bombing runs and shootdowns had occurred within a matter of seconds. Even the best ejector seats take a second or so to function meaning that the pilots in the aircraft that were knocked out of the sky often didn’t have time to react.
The frozen bodies of many pilots remained adrift at sea. In later years these men along with the unrecovered bodies of sailors who had lost their lives when the RN had sunk their ships became known in Argentina as the lost boys. As well as at least two known incidents of rafts containing the bodies of Argentine war dead washing up on the coast of West Falkland even up until 1984 there were reports of incidents of bodies washing up on the coast of Argentina. In one notorious incident the badly decomposed body of an Argentine pilot still wearing his flight suit, boots and helmet was discovered by a group of children on a family day out at the beach.



Finally the topic came to how to deal with the fallout from the loss of HMS ARDENT, HMS ARGONAUT and HMS ANTELOPE and the loss of life among the crews. Though politicians in the room were dreading the upcoming days when the news of this broke. The military men in the room kept on trying to remind the politicians that the battle had been a victory in that the Argentines hadn’t managed to prevent them from establishing a beach head. The Defence Secretary countered by statin that during the Vietnam war the Americans claimed to be winning because for every American lost, they had killed about ten Viet Kong/NVA. Unfortunately, the American public hadn’t cared about those ten Vietnamese just that one American. He feared that the British public would care about three RN warships and maybe not even notice the 50 plus Argentine aircraft.
The conversation turned to the subject of next of kin. Having taken some flak for the way that the loss of HMS GLASGOW had been handled it had been decided that in future no official announcement would be made until the families had been informed. It had taken until well into the night to do the headcounts and draw up the casualty lists. It had been decided to wait until the following day to send out people to do the knocks as it would look extremely bad if people were dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to be given the news they probably had nightmares about. It would be so easy for the media and opposition to portray that as the government trying to cover up the extent of losses which could very easily undermine support for the campaign.
This threw up another issue as the PM was due to give a press conference that morning and would not be able to announce the names of the lost ships without using the phrase “next of kin have been informed” as this would most likely cause a panic and jam the MOD switchboard again. The PM stated that instead she would have the MOD’s chief of public relations Ian McDonald deliver a statement saying that British forces had landed on the Falkland Islands and had come under a sustained air attack which had successfully been driven off. He would state that there had been some losses but would focus on the number of Argentine aircraft shot down. Once she had received word that the families had been informed the PM would make a speech in the afternoon or early evening detailing the ships that had been lost.
The PM had made it a habit to write letters to the families of all the men lost so far in this conflict. In her mind there was a certain unfairness in the fact that because of the office she held she had the power to send someone else’s son, brother or father to his death. Writing what would now be nearly 150 letters was in a way her way of chastising herself for this while trying to bring some comfort to those who would be enduring their darkest hours.



The conversation now turned to how to proceed militarily. As well as the risk of the political fallout of these losses sapping support for the campaign the members of the government and military present were increasingly becoming concerned about the diplomatic front. They were worried about continued calls from members of the UN for some sort of ceasefire. Such a thing would only work in the Argentines favour as the RN would seriously struggle to sustain the forces ashore as the winter came and the weather became worse and worse. The senior officers of Operation CORPORATE had long been aware that they were up against the clock every bit as much as the Argentinians.
The government was worried that if it appeared that momentum was being lost that political, public and diplomatic support for the operation could drain away and that there was a risk that the UN Security Council may vote for a ceasefire.

The thing that seemed to be causing the politicians worries was the fact that the plan as it currently stood was to not carry out any offensive operations over the coming week and to as far as possible avoid contact with the Argentines.
Brigadier Thompson RM was currently the commander of all land forces on the islands. His orders were to push forward from his beach head just enough to establish a defensive perimeter and conduct recon and intelligence gathering in the immediate area. 3 Commando Brigade would continue to land ashore and would establish a support base and land the supplies necessary for the land campaign. For now his focus would be predominantly defensive. One of his most vital tasks would be to establish an airstrip ashore in order to support helicopter operations as this would allow the helicopters including the new heavy lift Chinooks to be unloaded from the requisitioned container ships ATLANTIC CONVEYOR, ATLANTIC CAUSEWAY and CONTENDER BEZANT and put to work. Once this had been accomplished Major General Moore RM would land with 5 Brigade and assume command. It was expected that it would take until D+7 to get both brigades fully ashore along with the supplies for the campaign and establish the required supporting infrastructure.
Only when he had enough forces to take on the Argentines while protecting his lines of communication would Moore be in a position to begin offensive operations.
A big part of the reason why San Carlos had been chosen as the landing site was because it was felt to be far enough away from the main Argentine troop concentrations around Port Stanley and Goose Green to allow this to take place without the threat of Argentine ground forces intervening.
Prior to the air attacks Brigadier Thompson had planned to begin airlifting elements of 3 Commando Brigade east to Mount Kent on the night of the 24th. The plan had been for 42 Commando with a battery of field guns to assault and occupy Mount Kent and establish a landing zone and forward operating base from which an air corridor could be established with the beach head at San Carlos to allow the rest of 3 Commando Brigade to be air lifted into the area to be joined by units of 5 Brigade as and when they came ashore.
The only other option would involve an extremely long walk!

Unfortunately, the air attacks had thrown something of a spanner into the works as most of the helicopters rather than continuing to ferry troops and supplies ashore had first had to vacate the area and then been retasked to help the ships in distress and search for downed airmen. This had caused considerable delay to the landing schedule and logistics plans meaning that everything was now running hours behind where it should have been. This meant that Brigadier Moore had had to report that he was unlikely to be in a position to carryout the planned assault on Mount Kent on the night of the 24th. Given that the plan relied heavily on the cover provided by the darkness the earliest he could get going would be the 25th.
To the politicians this meant three days where to the public and opposition who would no doubt include a large number of armchair generals nothing would be happening and three days where credibility and support could be lost. Therefore, they were heavily pressuring Admiral Fieldhouse to carryout some sort of early operation or offensive of political and propaganda value.
Fieldhouse had been initially resistant to this on the principle of trying to avoid falling into the trap of military operations being micromanaged by political considerations. He had been persuaded of the necessity of doing something by Admiral Lewin who in his role as Chief of Defence staff acted as the conduit between the political and military worlds and therefore was more in tune with the political and military threats to the campaign. Therefore, Fieldhouse began examining his options.

Initially the possibility of an operation against the garrison at Goose Green was looked at. Intelligence assessments had concluded that the Argentine garrison located there possessed limited offensive capability and did not present a serious threat to the British landing area at San Carlos. Therefore, the current plan for the land campaign called for the area to be isolated and bypassed completely as it was judged to be of little strategic value and could be attacked and degraded from the air.
Some were now arguing that an operation should be mounted to capture Goose Green and its settlements and airstrip as this would provide exactly the kind of victory that the government needed and would bit a big chunk out of the order of battle of the Argentine forces on the island. Looking more closely though Fieldhouse began to turn against the idea. To take Goose Green and defeat the Argentine garrison would take at least a battalion supported by batteries of field guns. In fact it may even require two battalions attacking from both north and south in a pincer movement with liberal amounts of fire support. Moving such a force would take most if not all of the available airlift capability and getting the guns set up alone could take hours. The diversion of the helicopters alone would have severe knock on effects for the timetable for the land campaign. Just as bad irrespective of the outcome of the battle if the units involved may end up too bloodied in the process and unable to take part in the drive towards Port Stanley. With HMS EAGLE still potentially out of action by the time the operation was mounted the lack of CAS may make this last possibility much more likely.
In Fieldhouses opinion there was far too little to be potentially gained from an assault on Goose Green to justify the risks and negative effects on the rest of the campaign.
At this point Air Chief Marshal Keith Williamson the Air Officer Commanding Strike Command stated that while he agreed with the assessment that a land attack of Goose Green was not feasible he just might be able to offer an alternative.

With Goose Green a non starter on of the officers in Fieldhouse’s staff suggested an alternative, Pebble Island.
Just off the north coast of the island of West Falkland pebble island was the site of a small Argentine airstrip light ground attack aircraft and a settlement home to a small number of islanders. The more this option was examined the more attractive it became. The airfield had been judged to be a threat early on in the campaign and so had been on the receiving end of more than one on air strike including one little more than 24 hours ago. There was also a lot of up to date intelligence on the area thanks to the frequent photoreconnaissance sorties and an SAS observation post.
The SAS OP had originally been set up to provide on site intelligence for a planned special forces raid to destroy the aircraft present. This raid hadn’t been carried out in the end as it was judged that the airstrikes had done the job just as well and the plan had called for HMS HERMES to close with the islands in order to carry out a helicopter insertion and extraction. At the time that had been judged as too greater risk for the ship.
While the operation hadn’t been carried out it did mean that a lot of the preparation work and planning for an attack on the island had already been carried out.
Further making this option attractive was the disposition of forces. The airfield was much more lightly defended than at Goose Green and a lot of the British forces that would be needed to carryout the operation were already nearby. The SF force that had assaulted Fanning Head included many men who were originally slated to carryout the raid meaning that they were already familiar with the area. 3 Para were still mostly aboard HMS HERMES waiting to be airlifted ashore. A company or two of Para’s backing up a large SF contingent would be a pretty potent force. Better still the HERMES was already close by and while tasked on this operation if it suddenly became necessary could easily switch back to supporting the landings. While as with the Goose Green option this would have a knock on effect for the land campaign the smaller force involved would lessen this effect. The BRISTOL group would be steaming north to provide cover for the landing and carrier groups anyway which meant that BRISTOL and EXETER would be in a position to provide naval gun fire support with their 4.5 inch guns and thus far untouched stocks of shells (the number of shore bombardment operations that had been carried out recently meant that 4.5 inch shells were becoming something of a precious commodity amongst the ships of the Task Force).
Overall this option was judged to have a greater chance of success and would certainly deliver the propaganda value that the government was after in the capture of an Argentine airfield and liberation of a number of British nationals.
Therefore, it was decided to pursue this option and an order to this effect was transmitted to Brigadier Thompson.

Turning back to the subject of Goose Green Air Chief Marshall Williamson outlined his proposal.
Operation Black Buck was something that had been in the works for a while now. The plan had originally envisaged a record breaking long range strike against Port Stanley airfield an Avro Vulcan flying from Ascension island, a round trip of nearly 7000 miles. Initially approval for the preparatory work for this operation had been given. However, this operation was risky and final approval for a mission had not been forthcoming as it was judged that EAGLE’s Buccaneers could do the job (as they had). However, Eagle was now out of the picture for two reasons. Firstly and most obviously was the accident that had caused a shut down of flying operations. Secondly was the message from Admiral Woodward detailing his concerns regarding the Task Force’s stocks of air weapons and his proposals to begin conserving these for CAS operations for the land forces.
Williamson argued that Black Buck would relive the pressure on the Task Forces munitions stocks and would prevent the Argentines from getting suspicions about the state of EAGLE if they suddenly found themselves not being bombed. Furthermore the image of a heavy bomber carpet bombing the Argentines would do wonders for morale and may provide a good propaganda boost for the government.
He was beginning to feel that he was clutching at straws but truth be told Williamson and the RAF in general had an ulterior motive. Thinking ahead to when all this was over and done with they could see that there were going to be some changes in defence planning. The RAF had survived the last defence review relatively unscathed largely at the expense of the navy. The way things were going in the publics mind tis campaign was largely viewed as a naval affair with some army in support. The RAF was playing a crucial role in maintaining the air bridge to Ascension Island and providing maritime patrol support with its Nimrod’s (which had been crucial in locating the Argentine carrier group) and was supporting the land campaign with its Chinook helicopters. Furthermore, there were RAF personnel imbedded in the squadrons and aboard ships of the Task Force. While this was vital it was largely out of the public eye due to it being “unsexy”.
This led to the senior leadership of the RAF feeling justifiably worried about the prospect of suffering big time in future defence planning. Especially as the navy was likely going to try and use its new found prestige and clout to try and maintain its fixed wing capability and replace its lost ships. The money would have to come from somewhere.
Therefore, the RAF was desperate to be seen to be playing a more active role in this campaign.
In the end Williamson’s arguments won the day. This was backed up by the fact that with a substantial British force now present and able to offer things like radar support, fighter cover and if worse came to worst combat search and rescue the risk had been reduced while the probability of success had increased.

Black Buck was a go.
 

Ming777

Monthly Donor
If that were the case the Fleet Air Arm might be gleeful, and consider it justice for what the RAF did to cripple carrier aviation prior to WWII
 
Brigadier Thompson RM was currently the commander of all land forces on the islands. His orders were to push forward from his beach head just enough to establish a defensive perimeter and conduct recon and intelligence gathering in the immediate area. 3 Commando Brigade would continue to land ashore and would establish a support base and land the supplies necessary for the land campaign. For now his focus would be predominantly defensive. One of his most vital tasks would be to establish an airstrip ashore in order to support helicopter operations as this would allow the helicopters including the new heavy lift Chinooks to be unloaded from the requisitioned container ships ATLANTIC CONVEYOR, ATLANTIC CAUSEWAY and CONTENDER BEZANT and put to work. Once this had been accomplished Major General Moore RM would land with 5 Brigade and assume command. It was expected that it would take until D+7 to get both brigades fully ashore along with the supplies for the campaign and establish the required supporting infrastructure.
It looks as if ATLANTIC CONVERYOR is going to survive ITTL. IIRC IOTL she went down with a portable airstrip for the Harriers and Sea Harriers. Does anyone have any detailed information about it? What I'm thinking about is whether the Gannets could have operated from it because AFAIK they had good STOL characteristics.
 
It looks as if ATLANTIC CONVERYOR is going to survive ITTL. IIRC IOTL she went down with a portable airstrip for the Harriers and Sea Harriers. Does anyone have any detailed information about it? What I'm thinking about is whether the Gannets could have operated from it because AFAIK they had good STOL characteristics.
Take of maybe, but landing no, the island of the ship will block the manoeuvre.

Good work Flasheart !!
 
The Defence Secretary now cringed every time he thought back to that infamous interview on Newsnight when he had stormed out live on camera after being called a “here today gone tomorrow politician”. The annoying thing was that interviewer was now being proved right and that interview would haunt him for a very long time to come.
Are you referring to this?


IOTL the interview was in October 1982.
 
Take of maybe, but landing no, the island of the ship will block the manoeuvre.

Good work Flasheart !!
The portable airstrip was to have been taken off the Atlantic Conveyor and installed at a suitable location ashore...
https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/san-carlos-fob/

This link has information about and pictures of the FOB strip that was constructed at the San Carlos, which was capable of supporting rolling vertical takeoffs for the Harriers. The original plan was for the equipment on Atlantic Conveyor to build a 400 m strip that would support Harriers for point defense around San Carlos Water so the carriers could be used elsewhere. The site of the FOB strip can still be seen in Google Maps, but I don't know if that is also the site of the pre-war air strip that served San Carlos. The strip was eventually built with equipment brought on board Stromness that was intended to repair the Port Stanley airport after it was taken.

The FOB that was built had a 260 m long, 3 m wide strip for rolling takeoffs of fully loaded Harriers and a landing pad that Harriers could use after they had used up their fuel. I don't know if the Harriers used the FOB strip as a refueling point during routine missions from the carriers or if they were permanently based there.

As far as landing a Gannet on the strip, it might be possible but they would probably be more interested in avoiding damage to the strip. IOTL, the strip was damaged by a crashing Harrier on June 8, which put the strip out of action during the Argentine air attacks at Bluff Cove.
 
It looks as if ATLANTIC CONVERYOR is going to survive ITTL. IIRC IOTL she went down with a portable airstrip for the Harriers and Sea Harriers. Does anyone have any detailed information about it? What I'm thinking about is whether the Gannets could have operated from it because AFAIK they had good STOL characteristics.
See here. Original plan was for a 400m strip, reduced to 260m for the OTL Sid's Strip.
A Gannet COD variant did manage a free take-off from Hermes at Lankawi in 1969 (174m long) so provided you can deliver it by ship, barge etc. you might just be able to do it. Horrifically dangerous and only in some wind conditions however.

Ninja'd while writing...
 
https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/san-carlos-fob/

This link has information about and pictures of the FOB strip that was constructed at the San Carlos, which was capable of supporting rolling vertical takeoffs for the Harriers. The original plan was for the equipment on Atlantic Conveyor to build a 400 m strip that would support Harriers for point defense around San Carlos Water so the carriers could be used elsewhere. The site of the FOB strip can still be seen in Google Maps, but I don't know if that is also the site of the pre-war air strip that served San Carlos. The strip was eventually built with equipment brought on board Stromness that was intended to repair the Port Stanley airport after it was taken.

The FOB that was built had a 260 m long, 3 m wide strip for rolling takeoffs of fully loaded Harriers and a landing pad that Harriers could use after they had used up their fuel. I don't know if the Harriers used the FOB strip as a refueling point during routine missions from the carriers or if they were permanently based there.

As far as landing a Gannet on the strip, it might be possible but they would probably be more interested in avoiding damage to the strip. IOTL, the strip was damaged by a crashing Harrier on June 8, which put the strip out of action during the Argentine air attacks at Bluff Cove.
See here. Original plan was for a 400m strip, reduced to 260m for the OTL Sid's Strip.
A Gannet COD variant did manage a free take-off from Hermes at Lankawi in 1969 (174m long) so provided you can deliver it by ship, barge etc. you might just be able to do it. Horrifically dangerous and only in some wind conditions however.

Ninja'd while writing...
AIUI it's the "back end" of Eagle's flight deck which is out of action at this point in the thread and the "front end" is undamaged. The front end has the forward lift and bow steam catapult.

Or put another way Eagle can launch aircraft, but not recover them.

If Eagle is going to be hors de combat for an extended period of time the Gannets might be moved ashore to maintain some AEW if a suitable airfield is available.
 
It's too late for this thread, but...

AFAIK the USN and USMC Phantoms could carry up to 6 Sparrow missiles. The extra pair of missiles were carried underneath the pylons that the 4 Sidewinders were attached to the sides of.

If that's true, were the FAA's F-4Ks capable of carrying 6 Sparrows or 6 Sky Flashes?
 

Errolwi

Monthly Donor
The FOB that was built had a 260 m long, 3 m wide strip for rolling takeoffs of fully loaded Harriers and a landing pad that Harriers could use after they had used up their fuel. I don't know if the Harriers used the FOB strip as a refueling point during routine missions from the carriers or if they were permanently based there.
3m seems rather skinny, even for a Harrier!
So we know the planned width of the strip lost OTL on Atlantic Conveyor? I assume Harriers are happy to do a rolling takeoff on less width than a Gannet will land on.
 
Pertinent to the alt runway 'Pebble Island' conversation - here is pebble island airstrip



And for when the Pebble Island airstrip gets too soggy the 6 km long Elephant bay beach

 
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With the loss of a Gannet AEW3, would it be possible to crossdeck a E2C Hawkeye from the USN? Or would it be too heavy for Eagle to launch and recover?
 
With the loss of a Gannet AEW3, would it be possible to crossdeck a E2C Hawkeye from the USN? Or would it be too heavy for Eagle to launch and recover?
To heavy and to tall to fit in her hangers the Hawkeye is a big Bird the E-1 tracer would be more likely if there are any left since there based on the S 2 which could operated off of the majestic class light fleet carriers
 
The Argies got Turbo Trackers in the 90s. Would there be any turboprops available in the 80s for the UK to have their own fleet of Turbo Trackers, Turbo Tracers, and Turbo Traders? Getting airframes from the US probably wouldn't be too much trouble considering the fact that the Navy was retiring their planes at the time.
 
With the loss of a Gannet AEW3, would it be possible to crossdeck a E2C Hawkeye from the USN? Or would it be too heavy for Eagle to launch and recover?
E2C is too tall, if I remember correctly it could be launched but could not fit into the hanger. The Tracer would barley fit.
 
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