The Beagle War (1978-1979) - The War that destroyed the End of the World...

THE BEAGLE CHANNEL WAR (1978-1979) - Chapter I
Hello, this is my first post as Fer...!, sorry if it's not the place where I can introduce myself, I just couldn't find it. This is a story I wrote with some friends several years ago - despite some improvementes through the years , well...I actually wrote it with 2 more friends, and it was posted in some spanish speaker forums. I decided to post it eventually, due I read here that there is no proper Beagle War story (there was one, but I can't find it, and it was really influential to start this one, so if someone have read it and in some tiny passage you think that it's similar, well, it's not, but I was agree with one or two things perhaps, it is not plagio at all), and when it comes about Argentina it's always the same: Argentina enters a war, and lose, or lose the Patagona to Chile or lose, no matter the scenario.

This story has a few hints that I put due, of course, I was not agree in all with my friends when we created the story (I must say, I've been allowed by them to post it),I even collaborated with some extinct forum that tried to created a Beagle war story, but argentinian and chilean egos made it impossible at that time several years ago. if you see that some pictures are familiar, specially for spanish speakers, it's because yes, there have been uploaded before by me before.

THE BEAGLE CHANNEL WAR (1978-1979) - Chapter I

1977 - that was the year that an apparently inconsequential conflict, within so many endless territorial disputes, began to take a collision course. Argentina and Chile, rival countries in the southern cone, which have been on the verge of war at least three times, due to its unresolved territorial disputes, between 1880 and 1977, resumed all that tensions to explode here, in the . Beagle Channel.

The title to the Picton, Nueva and Lennox islands near the extreme end of the American continent, was submitted to binding arbitration under the auspices of the United Kingdom government. On 2 May 1977 the court ruled that the islands belonged to Chile.

The ruling was disturbing for Argentina since now not only the islands would belong to Chile, but also an area of 200 miles to the East, through the Atlantic, not put into discussion, and of Argentinian sovereignty , recognized by Chile in 1881 and 1902, would now become Chilean. Therefore, Argentina ignored the ruling on May 5.

The crisis continued to escalate, and dictactors, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, from Chile, and Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla, from Argentina, met in Plumerillo, Mendoza and Puerto Montt, Chile, in January and February 1978, to discuss the situation and try to reach an agreement. Of course, neither of the two countries reached anything, and neither of them was willing to give in... Here it became clear that any diplomatic movement in favor of peace would be useless.

However, the Argentinian air superiority over Chile was known, as reported by Chilean media, where it was published that Argentina had at least 70 A-4 Skyhawk fighter-bombers, some 44 of which were in prime condition at the beginning of 1977. Compared to this enormous amount of material from the Argentinian Air Force, Chile continued with a great lack of spare parts and with an inability to alleviate such air superiority in the face of the embargo and prohibition of arms sales by the Humphrey-Kennedy amendment that was reflected in their Northrop F-5 fighters, of which there were not five that could fly.

Between October and November 1978, Argentina acquired the Westinghouse AN-TPS43 and W-430 Radar System, consisting of a three-dimensional radar (3D azimuth, distance and height) of the mobile type, which means that it was designed in a modular way, in such a way that its deployment to different places through air, sea or land means is possible.

This was a major advance for the radar detection and support capability of the Argentinian armed forces. The purchase is part of an acquisition program to increase Airspace Surveillance and Control, the FAA saw the need to acquire transportable (mobile) radars. That’s why, in October 1978, the VYCA Squadron was created, dependent on Group 1 of Air Surveillance School, (GIVA-E).

According to the Belgian Ministry of Defense, in an annual military export report, it was deduced that Belgium has exported thousands of 7.65 caliber bullets to the Argentinian Republic during the years 1977 and 1978 to equip the Mauser rifles with which it’s presumed, it was for reservists, and sniper groups, while domestic plants were engaged in mass production of 7.62mm for the FAL, the recalibrated Garand-Beretta and the recalibrated FN-49, the latter also in service in the IMARA (Argentinian Marines Force) and Argentinian Navy forces.

From Buenos Aires, the two great battle units of the I Army Corps moved: the I Armored Cavalry Brigade, which had the greatest fire capacity, and the X Infantry Brigade, whose natural seat was in Palermo and commanded by General Juan Saisaiñ (who had been under the command of Menéndez in Córdoba and agreed with his thoughts). The first included the 1 "Coronel Brandsen" and 10 "Húsares de Pueyrredón" Regiments of Armored Shooters, the 101 "Simón Bolívar" Armored Cavalry Exploration Squadron, and the 1 "Martiniano Chilavert" Armored Artillery Group.

The units of the II Corps, commanded by Division General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri, and to which the II Armored Cavalry Brigade belonged, under the command of General Juan Carlos Trimarco (included the Armored Shooters regiments) had done the same thing from the Litoral region. Armored shooters 6 "Blandengues" and 7 "Coronel Estomba" and Group 2 of Armored Artillery based in Rosario del Tala), and the VII Infantry Brigade and included, among other units, the 5th Infantry Regiment, with barracks in Paso de los Libres.

Assault and anti-aircraft artillery units had also been prominent, such as the powerful Air Defense Artillery Group 601, based in Mar del Plata, which took up a location in the province of Chubut, at the border of the towns of Rio Mayo and Alto Rio Seguer, together with the troops of the IX Mountain Infantry Brigade.

The concentration of troops in that area, endowed with strong firepower, responded to a very simple reason: there, the Andes Mountains are low and that is why the border line is considered vulnerable.

This worried the Argentinian General Staff, since it posed the risk that the Chilean armored vehicles would overcome it with some ease, targeting the oil fields of Comodoro Rivadavia (Pico Truncado and Caleta Olivia), which the high command was willing to protect with absolute priority. That is why numerous units had been brought to this sector of the border, with an effective presence of no less than 40,000 men. Further south, between El Calafate and Río Turbio, the 24th Infantry Regiment was deployed, whose usual HQ was Río Gallegos.

The final concentration of troops would take place in the first days of December, by air. The gigantic Boeing 707 and 747 of Aerolineas Argentinas - the latter brand new and purchased to be used for transoceanic flights - carried contingents of up to 370 men per flight to the South, with their full armament, after the planes were applied what in military jargon was called the "Vietnam Configuration".

Argentina had spent 1,200 billion dollars to reinforce its armed forces (against 800 million invested by Chile), a large part of them invested in the purchase of modern warplanes and missile systems. In addition, no less than 500,000 reservists had been recalled.


General Pinochet was aware of Argentina's numerical superiority in men and firepower, and although Argentina had one of the strongest armies on the continent, it was not exactly Israel-style in effectiveness. Of course, Chile was mobilized, especially on its Patagonian border, although the Chilean government hardly informed its fellow citizens about the near-war between Argentina and Chile, something known throughout the American continent.

Naturally, Chile also had its military action plans, which were based on the a priori acceptance that it would be a global war and not a localized one. By mid-1978, the High Command had ruled out the hypothesis that the war would only be a zonal or focal clash over the islands, in which the combat would not go beyond limited air-naval actions. And also that the conflict would not be limited to the southern region, encompassing only Magallanes, Aysen and the extreme south of Patagonia-Fueguino, on the Puerto Natales-Río Turbio-Río Gallegos axis, with extensive actions to the Fuegian channels and Antarctic communications.

It was assumed that it would be a "total" global war, from the first to the last kilometer of the Andean border, with the concrete possibility of an extension to other countries, due to the participation of Bolivia and Peru as allies of Argentina and an eventual irruption of Brazil, at least materially, in support of Chile.

The Chilean High Command had prepared for such a war. And from the moment it was discounted that the initial scene of the outbreak would be the south, they moved his naval squadron commanded by Vice Admiral Raúl López Silva to its southern waters and made up of the flagship cruiser Captain Prat, the destroyers Portales, Almirante Riveros, Blanco Encalada, Almirante Williams and Cochrane, the frigate Lynch and the submarine Simpson. The fleet called at the ports of Calbuco, Cuaró de Vélez, Puerto Montt, Ancud, Castro and Puerto Williams, the latter located at the entrance to the Beagle Channel.
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On December 14, 1978, the mobilization stage of the regular forces of Argentinian Armed Forces was completed and reservists mobilization was in an advanced stage; the latter are shipped by rail to the border. The Joint Argentinian State May meet in Buenos Aires in order to finalize the details of the battle plan to be deployed in the event of the failure of the negotiations led by Foreign Ministers Cubillos of Chile and Pastor of Argentina. The code name of the Operation would be "Operation Sovereignty"

On December 22, hours before the start of hostilities, at 11:30 am, an A-4Q intercepts a Chilean CASA 212 on a reconnaissance mission, the A-4Q enslaves the target, and requests confirmation of the kill. But it is denied, so the Chilean CASA 212 breaks towards San Sebastián, the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego. The CASA 212 plane confirms the position of the Argentinian Navy at 134º 120km south east of Cape Horn, and confirms a strong storm.

After the initial suspension on December 20, the war began on the night of December 22, 1978, between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., when “Operativo Sovereignty” was launched. At that moment, the Flomar (Argentinian Navy Fleet) and the Marine Corps began the occupation of the disputed islands; Picton, Nueva and Lennox, also gaining control of the eastern mouth of the Beagle Channel. The first phase began hours before, when the presence of Chilean Marine Corps troops on Deceyt, Freycinet, Hershcel, Wallaston and Hornos islands was denounced by Argentina before the UN Security Council as a clear sign of "aggression and threatens the peace process” in the region.

Before the Chileans could react, the Argentinian land offensive came hand in hand with an amphibious and airborne landing by the special troops of Argentina’s Marine Corps, after a hammering by the air and naval power, which softened the resistance on the islands. Thus, Beagle Channel islands were occupied by Argentinian troops. The Navy had twisted the struggle, launched its desired offensive, and now there was no turning back, despite the anger of the "doves" sector, led by Videla and Viola.

However, and despite all the rumors related to the success of the landing, mixed with some more "fatalistic" rumors; almost a day after hostilities began, the Casa Rosada recently confirmed at 09:00 p.m. on December 23, to the world the success of the landing, helicopter and amphibious, on the Picton, Lennox and Nueva, Wallaston and Navarino islands, by the Argentinian Marine Corps. The death toll, not yet determined, is estimated at 80 Chilean casualties and 102 Argentinians, according to the Reuters agency cables from that time. Chilean resistance on the islands, despite Argentinian naval fire, has been fierce, three Argentinian Navy helicopters were shot down. In addition, the bad weather had initially helped the Chilean defenders, hindering the actions of the Argentinian marines. Chilean General Nilo Floody had confirmed to General Pinochet at 2:00 p.m. that the islands had fallen.

The Chilean response came in the form of a formal declaration of war. Pinochet and his high command knew that where they had the most chance it was by resorting to the UN or the US to intervene in a ceasefire, but for the time being they would have to fend for themselves. In Santiago de Chile, at 11:45 p.m. on December 22, 1978, the order was given for a combat outburst: the Radar in Farellones warned of an imminent Argentinian attack, ground observers reported loud noises of reaction on Cerro El Plomo... sirens sounds throughout Santiago, the people on the bases run to their anti-aircraft artillery posts... civilian population has no idea what’s happening, if fire or what are those noises that sound like thunder... from Cerro San Cristobal, an Oerlikon battery, open fire towards the sky, and everyone on the ground asks a question that will be recurrent on the Chilean side: where is the FACh?

The Argentinian air attack, perhaps by Canberra bombers, focused on air bases and military installations in the capital, there were no attacks on civilian targets and litthe damage.

In the south, once Argentinian landings began, it dragged the other two forces into the war, and thus, the landings were followed by heavy air attacks from the aircraft carrier 25 de Mayo, with its Skyhawk A4-Q fighter-bombers.

The Sea Fleet (FLOMAR), which had been divided into two task groups (GT): the first (GT1) had been deployed in front of the eastern mouth of the Beagle; the other group (GT2), in front of the Strait of Magellan. In southern Argentinian waters were CV 25 de Mayo, the destroyers Piedrabuena, Bouchard and Drummond, the missile corvettes Granville and Guerrico, the ARA Hércules, and others, and General Belgrano cruiser. The latter had been re-equipped with six-inch guns for naval firing and batteries of Sea Cat missiles.

Two hours after completing the occupation of Lennox, Picton and Nueva Islands, placed under the close protection of the GT2, Mirage-Dagger planes and Skyhawks, which departed from their bases in Patagonia, in Neuquén, Río Gallegos, Comodoro Rivadavia, among others bombed military targets in Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams (actually the occupation wasn’t complete, the air raids were launched hours before), while the aerial harassment reached other targets related to transport and supply in the Magallanes region. Simultaneously, to the strategic bombings of the Argentinian Air Force and at 06:00 hrs. on Saturday, december 23 (Hours +8), the operation to destroy its Chilean simile at its ground bases was concluded, focused on the center of Chile, since in the south, the attacks didn’t go so well as expected given that at this stage of the year, there is summer solstice, and southern Patagonia does not offer advantages of night air attack that could destroy the Chilean forces in a surprising way, given the ample natural light that exists during the early morning, although it does destruction of tracks and facilities of the Fach.

These bombers were followed by ground offensives to Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. Of course, when the initial shock of the first hours began to dissipate, the Chileans were able to settle down a bit and strengthen their defenses, as well as establish contingency plans against Argentinian operations. The expected Argentinian invasion, for December 22, when it began, despite the fact that the Chileans already had their defenses or their emergency plans, now had to be tested with reality.

Argentinian Mirage fighters bomb the strategic El Tepual airport in Puerto Montt, but failed to leave unusable the runways. But even so, there were some 15,000 Chilean soldiers stationed in Puerto Natales, on the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego and in Punta Arenas, which meant that, for the Argentinian Army, this would not be a walk; For example, around 02:20 am, in Paso Dorotea, units of the Chilean Army sought to force the Argentinian armored vehicles to go to certain redoubts where Cascavel and motocross units were located to hunt down tanks. The idea was to wear down the Argentinian armored units to force them to withdraw from the field, leaving the Argentinian infantry to their fate... lacking the means, thecleverness, more in desperation.

Further north, advanced Argentinian units are crowding near the town on the way to the city of San Felipe. The first units crossed from San Juan through Los Patos pass, almost without engaging in direct combat, to the town located north of San Felipe, from where Chilean infantry units have left to confront the attackers. On the other hand, the civilian population of the city of Los Andes, still with confusing information, tries to leave the city towards Santiago and Viña del Mar, while cavalry, heavy artillery and mountain infantry units are being prepared to contain a penetration.

To make things worse, Argentina would soon discover that Chileans were more capable than previously thought, as seen in the quick Chilean deployment in Tierra del Fuego and the quick response of the Chilean Navy in the Strait of Magellan.

The Battle of the Strait of Magellan

After initial confusion dissipated, Chilean war fleet was ordered for an immediate counteroffensive against the Argentinian forces; this was the beginning of the battle of the Strait of Magellan

The Argentinian Navy had divided its fleet into two groups: one on the Beagle and the other at the entrance to the Strait of Magellan. Chilean Navy decided to launch a surprise attack against the Argentina’s Group in the Strait, since an attack on the Argentinian Group of the Beagle was considered obvious.

The battle took place in the northern area of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, at dawn on December 23, when the Chilean fleet began to attack the Argentinian Fleet. Unfortunately for the Chileans, luck was not on their side that day. First, the need to get as close as possible to the Argentinian positions, plus the fact that a good part of the Chilean Sea Squadron had passed under the submarine ARA Santa Fe, without realizing it, and that ARA Santa Fe went to a safe place to radiate what happened; allowed Argentina’s naval intelligence to discover Chilean full intentions just in time… which eliminated the surprise. The second Chilean problem was the presence of the aircraft carrier 25 de Mayo.

Despite everything, the Chileans did their best to expel the FLOMAR from the Strait. The battle itself was spectacular, with the A4-Q fighter-bombers dropping their bombs masterfully, and Argentinian and Chilean helicopter gunships launching muzzle flashes, as well as the Chilean artillery anti-aircraft defenses against the Argentinian hawks, for whom the lights of dawn, together with the aerial explosions, provided a unique framework...

The initial Chilean attack managed to sink the destroyer ARA Seguí and severely damage the brand new frigate ARA Drummond, while the destroyers ARA Hércules and ARA Piedrabuena received light hits. The massive air-naval battle continued with the incredible performance of the cruiser ARA General Belgrano, which with its cannons 152mm , managed to sink two Chilean frigates, before being forced to retreat to the Atlantic. By their great good fortune, the Belgrano was hit twice by the Chileans, but only slightly damaged.

Finally, the victory went to Argentina, but in itself it was a Pyrrhic victory, since the Argentinian Sea Fleet (FLOMAR) had to withdraw for a few days from the Strait, but at a cost of 6 Chilean ships sunk by 3 Argentinians (plus some 3 ships damaged), and 15 Chilean aircraft and helicopters for 2 A4-Q and 5 Argentinian helicopters. Casualties on both sides exceeded 2,000 killed, wounded, and missing, with waves bordering 10 to 16 meters of height, and on the end of the battle, winds of more than 150km/h. But in the end the Argentinian Fleet returned, several days later, led by the ARA 25 de Mayo, to the Strait of Magellan, although somewhat diminished. The Chileans, on the other hand, withdrew to Punta Arenas, where, together with another 5,000 soldiers, they regrouped, awaiting a new Argentinian offensive land attack.

Argentina maintains a certain naval superiority but at a high cost. The Argentinian fleet must withdraw to regroup and cover the losses, while Chile has practically been left with a very weakened Sea Fleet, but has managed to prevent Argentina’s ships from entering the Pacific.


Illustration of the sinking of the ACh Cochrane, during the Battle of the Strait of Magellan, by an Argentine A4-Q Skyhawk, taken off from the CV ARA 25 de Mayo, December 1978

December 23, 1978 - Media Management

From early on, Television broadcasts in Argentina, under the express instructions of the Junta, is retransmitting some scenes of the recent World Cup Argentina '78. Between short cuts, 30-second calls are made to age groups of the male population, to report to the barracks closest to their home. After these appeals, the images of Kempes goals along with the image of Videla handing over the Cup are shown over and over again.

The media is extremely restricted in the countryside, in places like Mendoza, San Juan, Neuquén, Comodoro Rivadavia or northern provinces like Salta, TV channels in these areas are limited to giving instructions to the civilian population to adapt to the "new situation". Local networks specify (indeed, repeat) the instructions to be followed regarding blackouts, the steps to be taken during the bombing and distribution of food and water as well as operation of basic services and the capacity for emergency primary care.

Likewise, general appeals are being made, with great frequency, to specific male population of these areas to present themselves to recognize barracks during the course of the day

In several cities of Patagonia Argentina, like Neuquén or Comodoro Rivadavia, many residents population of Chilean origin that is still in the area is compelled to go to the PFA (Prefectura Naval and Gendarmeria Nacional) posts to report their situation and, eventually, receive a copy of the decree of expulsion from the country issued, by the federal government, under penalty of fines and/or indefinite arrest.

Since 5:30 a.m in the morning Radio Nacional AM 870 and other important stations have been broadcasting limited news about the beginning of hostilities, loaded with a strong propaganda load and tending to communicate the "sacrifice of the sons of the country in his crusade against Chilean expansionist hunger in the south”. In between, some marches and patriotic songs are heard

Pinochet is branded a tyrant and a serial killer, supporting these images in the attacks perpetrated by order of the Chilean Junta abroad, such as the former Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army, Carlos Prats, in Buenos Aires, as a sign of the limitlessness of Chilean unscrupulousness.

With the battle front, the official radio, between tangos, folklore and Comunicados de la Junta, transmits, as is the trend of the new times, hymns and marches to raise the spirit of the Argentinian people.

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Chilean defenders, 1978. Right picture, Chilean sniper in Puerto Natales, december 1978



Mirage III, of the Argentine Air Force, ready to take off and bomb targets in southern Chile, hours before the early morning of December 23, 1978. While they were effective, they were no more so due to the area's little darkness during the summer. Notice the traces of the bad weather reigning on the floor.


Chilean Marines in the south, december 1978 - Taken from TVN Chile newsreel


Argentinian Amphibious Commandos , from Marine Corps, after the capture of Picton, Lennox and Nueva Island

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Argentinian Marines during and after the military operation to capture Lennox, Picton and Nueva Islands, on december 23, 1978 Both the left and right images appeared in all the newspapers, as a result of the information management of the Military Junta. In the right picture, a Sea King of the Argentinian Navy is dispatching reinforcements. The defense of the Chilean Marine Infantry, of the Lennox, Picton and Nueva Islands, was stark and even today it is highlighted as an act of heroism, despite the defeat, since their Argentinian counterparts suffered a huge number of casualties, and the loss of a pair of helicopters and an air support aircraft. (Newspaper “Rio Negro”, December 26, 1978)


Argentinian Magazine "Gente" reporting the victory in the naval Battle in the Strait...argentinian press played a very irresponsible role during the war.
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The Battle of Tierra del Fuego

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Argentinian propaganda poster during the Beagle War, december 1978

While the Straits turned purple, on land the war turned to carnage, Argentinian offensive on Punta Arenas and Porvenir stalled despite an initial successful push on the border, thanks to the organized and bitter resistance of 15,000 men under the command of General Nilo Floody. Meanwhile, the battle for Puerto Natales was also grueling, with the Chilean defenders withstanding the Argentinian siege for days under the promise of reinforcements. But the reinforcements arrived in dribs and drabs, and Puerto Natales fell to Argentina’s power, more precisely the 1st Armored Shooters Regiment "Coronel Brandsen".

The bloody battles left at least 800 dead between both forces. The city was battered by strong Argentinian heavy artillery fire which, after being constantly attacked by Chilean A-37 and F-80 planes, ended up enjoying almost total tranquility at first, thanks to the Argentinian anti-aircraft curtain, and the Argentinian troops supported by the firepower of the Pucará. The few Chilean armored vehicles that had been able to surround the Argentinian penetration at the entrance to Puerto Natales were annihilated by the Argentinian AMX 13s and Shermans.

On early 1978, because the TAM development program was still in the prototype phase, Argentina began a modernization program for 120 Shermans, thus obtaining the "Repowered Shermans", which included improvements to the undercarriage, suspension, tracks (manufactured in Argentina), hull repair, engine change and barrel change. The chosen cannon was the 105mm French FTR (made in Argentina), the same used by the Argentinian AMX-13. This has an effective range of 1500 mts and can fire different types of grenades, fragmentation, hollow charge and smoke-incendiary.

At that time, Radio and Television, under the direct control of the Junta, channeled the information through Channel 9 and Channel 7, soon to be ATC. In Puerto Natales, submerged under the control of the Vº Corps of the EA, the March of San Lorenzo could be heard all the time. Initially, the fate of captive civilians and imprisoned Chilean soldiers was unknown.

Argentinian air superiority was totaland in the South (south of Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego) the Naval Aviation had about 50 aircraft of all kinds, and in areas of initial concentration 12,500 marines. Despite what the Chilean media stated in those days, the truth was that the training of the Argentinian Armed Forces at that time was superior to that of their Chilean peers, and this had to do with the planning carried out in advance, although with its shortcomings, and the difference in shooting training, and budget, in both cases combined, in favor of Argentina.

On the other hand, the stock of artillery by the Argentinian Army was enormous: in the south alone there were more than 100 pieces of caliber 105 and 155mm of various models-including a group equipped with CITER, whose production was at full speed and elements AT, hundreds of 105mm s/r DGFM guns, and "Cobra" AT missiles.

Months before the war, the Argentinian superiority in means and men, with a strategy developed and updated for decades, since Chile had been the main hypothesis of conflict for the Argentinian Armed Forces, had already been expressed by a US publication a couple of times. months before the outbreak of war:

“The Argentinian strategy for a possible conflict contemplates a prolonged war along the entire length of the Andes. Argentina is now estimated to have over 300,000 men under arms (including reservists as well as another 16,000 paratroopers underdropping exhaustive training near Córdoba. Argentina is better suited for this kind of conflict. It is self-sufficient in foodstuffs and oil supplies, and its oil refineries are dispersed throughout the country. On the other hand, Chilean refinery facilities are concentrated in the South. Argentina is also much better equipped and has a significant domestic armaments industry. The Chileans are hoping for a quick war, rather like the "Six Day War" of 1967, which would be limited to the Southern regions. However, this is said "tongue -in-cheek"- There is considerable alarm in Santiago and throughout Chili ; however that it would take very little to set off a conflict which would be long in duration."

Weekly Report on Current Events, August 16, 1978”

The fall of Puerto Natales increased the morale of the Argentinian soldier and cut much of the Chilean supply lines to his forces in the south, but also plunged the Chilean lines in their part of Tierra del Fuego into potential disaster, and only one move radical tactician could put an end to such a situation…which happened on December 27, when Lt. Colonel Vargas, of the Chilean Army in charge of 5,000 men in the Chilean part of Tierra del Fuego, decided to implement the instructions received before the war: occupy Río Grande, in the Argentinian side of Tierra del Fuego. He would have the support of the Chilean Marine troops, led by Admiral Pablo Wunderlich.

By no means should the element of surprise be dropped, and so began the final preparation for the attack during the early hours of December 27: three waves of assaults on the Argentinian positions. Once the Chilean attack began, there was no turning back for them or their supplies. As almost all the Argentinian planes were in air support operations over Puerto Arenas and Puerto Williams, this was a kind of bonus for the Chilean troops, who were able to take advantage of this "distraction" to start their advance.

This also allowed the Chilean air force to carry out a strong air attack, with A-37 and A/B-26 units, destroying an artillery complex on an elevation known as “Monte Gallinero”, on the outskirts of Ushuaia. This position was armed with Bofors M45 “DP” cannons of 105mm recovered from deactivated Argentinian Navy ships and its mission was basically to defend and harass the access to Ushuaia Bay from possible surface naval raiders.

The location ensured an excellent view of the bay, while the pieces received an unusual camouflage scheme. The set was completed with a series of trenches, underground posts, ammunition depots, and prevented approaching the city. In the attack, the Chileans lost an A/B 26 to a Roland SAM missile, another A/B-26 to Argentinian F-86 cannon fire, and an F-80 to anti-aircraft artillery; while the Argentinian aviation lost an F-86 due to failure, another F-86 due to an A-37 cannon, and a Cessna 206 BA on the ground.

The success of the Chilean push, forces the Argentinian forces to retreat 20 km by December 28, thanks to the surprise factor and the force of the attack, but by the 29th, the Argentinian air superiority was again available. To worsen the Chilean panorama at sea, the ARA Santa Fe submarine torpedoed and seriously damaged the tanker, "Araucano", which was supplying the Prat Cruiser, survivor of the naval battle, and which recklessly headed towards Río Grande in support Chilean troops seeking to conquer Tierra del Fuego.

The Chilean offensive began to lose strength, and was finally forced to retreat from December 31: the Argentinian troops would suffer some 542 casualties, while the Chileans suffered some 722 casualties, not to mention the material losses, easier to replace than Argentinian side given its Military Manufacturing industries, one of the most powerful on the continent, along with the Brazilian ones. Despite the defeat, this offensive served to convince Chilean public opinion that nothing had yet been decided.

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ARA General Begrano in Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego, January, 1979


A pair of Argentinian A4 Skyhawks over Tierra del Fuego, december 1978. The air power was vital to avoid a catastrophic defeat for argentinian land forces

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Argentinian troops waiting for...something...during a halt, while the battle of Tierra del Fuego, in late december 1978.

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A chilean F-5, while appointed, for the defense of Santiago and to prevent hostile flights in San Felipe and Puyehe Pass (photo ANSA - dec 23, 1978)

Along with the landings in the extreme south, the Argentinian Army began phase II of "Operativo Soberania", a generalized war along the extensive border between Argentina and Chile, with the Army crossing the Andes at four different points, but focused on the center, near Santiago, and in the south, in the Puerto Montt area.

At midnight on December 22, the army entered into action, crossing the Patagonian border at 4 different points with troops from the IX Mountain Infantry Brigade and other units assigned to the Chubut and Santa Cruz area. The advance of the troops would be supported by the Air Force, in a systematic task of softening the enemy defenses. In the extreme south, the same role would be played by the Naval Aviation, if the objective was established in a maritime city attacked by the Marine Corps.

The Air Force was favoured by the fact of having more aerodromes, although the danger of Chilean aviation had already been manifested, due to its training, preparation and the war material at its disposal, such as the recently acquired twelve F-5 fighters., Israeli missiles and other devices on the black market, even though not all of them could get off the ground.

As for the Army, given that the planned offensive had not been confined to the southern sector of the enemy territory, but rather was generalized and extended along the entire border, in a second moment the troops of the III Corps, deployed along the along the Cordillera, its natural operating environment, from Mendoza to Jujuy.

The two large land battle units integrated into said corps burst in, that is, the V Infantry Brigade and the VIII Mountain Infantry Brigade, under the orders of General Saá, one of the most faithful to the criminal Menéndez. Meanwhile, due to its very nature, the IV Airborne Infantry Brigade based in Córdoba, whose chief was General Gumersindo Centeno, would have different operational functions.

A little further south, a movement was carried out whose success could depend on the favorable definition of the conflict of the attack: at the height of the province of Neuquén, near the Puyehue Pass, the powerful X Infantry Brigade and other assigned units burst across the border. to that sector of the front, with the aim of reaching the Pacific and thus dividing the Chilean territory in two. This attack had as a priority objective, to cut the lines of internal communication within the enemy territory.

Almost at 10:00 am, in Paso de Los Patos, after an arduous journey through the Andean gorges, which has claimed numerous casualties and material losses due to the action of the Chilean mountain infantry and light artillery, the III Argentinian Army Corps had managed to enter via penetration vector until reaching El Tártaro and San José de Piguchén with infantry units from the 16th mountain and 141st motorized regiments, in addition to the positioning of units from the 8th mountain artillery group that began to bombard the Chilean defensive positions on the way to Putaendo, managing to rebuild the link with the troops who had been trapped in the valley, on the way to Putaendo, at the mercy of the Chilean defenders.

There was still a long way to go to reach San Felipe and dominate the Aconcagua Valley; Much more remains to be done to establish a stable head of penetration that allows the safe operation of the cavalry (“it would be suicide to make the tanks pass in single file through the mountain range”).

An hour later, after prolonged fire and bombardment by the VIII Mountain Artillery, units of the 141st motorized seem to have dislodged a large part of the defenders of San Felipe towards the Aconcagua River and towards the province of Quillota. The withdrawal of the chilean 3rd Infantry is difficult in itself since it has been divided into 3 factions with different directions and fate: One, the hardest hit, but at the same time smaller, heads towards the city of Los Andes in clear retreat. Another, a little more numerous, forcibly crosses the Aconcagua River, retreating little by little from its positions in the city of San Felipe due to the actions of the Argentinian artillery and, mainly, the speed that the 141st motorized unit prints to take control of the square. The third column, more numerous (and accompanied by thousands of civilians) headed more slowly, covering its retreat towards Quillota and La Calera, to prepare a counterattack, which never came, and to shelter the unarmed population.

Around noon, there were no more Chilean defenders left in San Felipe. The rest of the square and the abandoned defensive positions are occupied by troops from the 16th Mountain Infantry Regiment, awaiting the promised reinforcements of Armored Cavalry from the RC (Regimiento de Caballeria) N° 15, which are to arrive in the next few hours for the continuation of the penetration into the rest of the Aconcagua valley, some 18 AMX 13 tanks, some 6 command and combat vehicles with AMX 13 chassis, 5 all-terrain armored scout vehicles and part of the TAM prototype units (4 in total) sent from the regiments from the Litoral region and from Córdoba.

Ignorant of the Argentinian victory in San Felipe de Aconcagua, the Chilean Mountain Regiment Infantry No. 18, continued to hold fire and repel the Argentinian attackers arranged in selected units of the Argentinian Mountain Regiment Infantry No.16 (RIM 16 based in Uspallata), reinforced by the No.8 Company of Hunters

In the Cajón del Maipo area, at sunset, it was clear that the defenders, the Mountain Carabineros, and armed muleteers, had no luck in the combats that took place in the Santiago mountain range. In Portillo de Piuquenes, Argentinian forces of 11th Mountain could not be repulsed, with 14 Argentinian casualties so far (8 dead, 6 wounded) and 10 Chilean casualties (5 dead muleteers and 2 carabineros and 3 seriously wounded carabineros).

At the foot of the Maipo Volcano, the Argentinian troops forced the Chilean defenders to retreat towards the Alfalfalito sector. 5 argentinian soldiers, 4 Chilean muleteers and 8 carabineros had died there (the number of wounded on each side is undetermined... some have fallen into the abyss and have died for that reason and not for the military action)

In the South, around 4:00 p.m., elements of the Argentinian V Army Corps, made up of the 601 Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group Mechanized Brigade IX and the Mechanized Brigade XI, broke with difficulty the heavy artillery dead zone on Mount Aymond, and small advance and reconnaissance Argentinian groups faced casemates in the San Gregorio sector.

In Cerro Dorotea, the concentrated fire and the use of bazookas, slowed down the passage of armored vehicles, added to the steep terrain, and the inaccessible roads prevent further mobilization. Eventually, the IA-58 Pucará ground support aircraft made the difference for the Argentinian troops. The artillery fire managed to break the siege in Dorotea only late at night, prisoners were taken among the Chilean recruits. A raid of 601 Commandos company destroys Chilean Hawker Hunter aircrafts on the ground, aircrafts that were expected to defend Santiago and surroundings.

Puerto Montt’s Radio Cooperativa reports sporadic shootouts between the Chilean Carabineros and Gendarmería Nacional at various border crossings, with the most serious clashes taking place at the Futaleufú and Palena border crossings in the X Region, which resulted in a total of 8 dead gendarmes and 16 wounded and one undetermined number of carabineros dead and wounded. Part of the Argentinian III Army Corps, under the command of General Luciano Benjamín Menéndez, will penetrate with a considerable number of armored vehicles through the Puyehue pass, towards Osorno. At dawn on December 24, also as described above, elements of the 21st Infantry Regiment and the 33rd Gendarmeria Nacional Squad entered the town of Entre Ríos, Chile, next to Lake Puyehue.

On Christmas Eve 1978, at 6:00 p.m., in San Felipe, Chile, there was a meeting of commanders of advanced forces Argentinian III Corps on the former police station of the place. Ignoring the events that occurred after the appearance of the Pucará aircrafts, and not having any news of the III Corps, freedom of action is given to his subordinates, despite the protest of some “pro-menendez” officers who argued that it was not necessary because despite due to the highly organized initial Chilean resistance, which threatened to disband the Argentinian troops in the sector, this defense finally collapsed the following day, but not before elements of the RIM16 fell under fire from Chilean artillery. After that, attacks were more sporadically than sustained. The promised reinforcements were received for Argentinian troops (including AMX-13 tanks and four of the TAM prototypes) accounting for a total of 32 units. Until then, there was favorable balance for Argentina, the Chileans lost five M-24 units against two AMX-13, the TAMs being intact. The same can’t be said about the infantry battles…the 50 argentinian dead in the attempted incursion into Panquehue depicted the situation.

At this time, the Argentinian Army was holding defensive positions, supported by the armor, but the rapid attacks of some Chilean M-41 tanks that crossed the river and returned, had forced to reinforce the defenses of the city more and more inside it. …” however, the Army Aviation had detected that there were only three M-41s in rotation, with which the destruction of said tanks will be a matter of less than 24 hours (…)”

This freedom of action would be notable during the development of the war for the Argentinian advance by non-commissioned officers and officers in the field, even at the cost of disobeying some unrealistic orders from high command far from the field, although sometimes hampered by the Chilean resistance and problems of supplies and logistics of the Argentinian forces.

General Luciano B. Menéndez would only be located the next day, Christmas day, alleging communication problems, when from the HQ of the III EA (Ejército Argentino) Corps, on the western bank of the course of the Desaguadero, halfway between Mendoza and San Luis, he orders mobilize the artillery group No. 7, towards undetermined points of the front line of central Chile with a significant number of Schneider of 155mm and the premiere in the area of the CITER, 155mm towed guns , with a variable maximum range between 21-30 km.


December 26,1978 - midday - Villarrica

A pair of Chilean A-37s is sent urgently from the south, to try to punish the Argentinian artillery positions that are crushing the defenders. Armed with rockets and bombs, the pilots watch as dense columns of smoke rise into the sky from the city. After a brief, tense moment, the pilot receives a choppy transmission. Explosions are heard in the background. With dexterity, the leader maneuvers, in such a way as to be perpendicular to the coastline. Away at 200 meters, his wing does the same. Thus, skimming the waves of the lake, they advance at top speed to the aid of their desperate compatriots.

But the leader's attention is a few miles to the left of those little figures moving on the beach. Are those Argentinian armored vehicles advancing behind a dense column of smoke? Yes, they are! The leader's plane turns, passing between the FAL bullets triggered by the Argentinian soldiers who see him desperately from the beach, climbing up against where they know their own tanks are approaching. Placing the weapon switch on the rockets, the A-37 approaches the plume of smoke. He knows that the tanks are not waiting for him, and that he will have little time to fire. Stepping out of the black smoke, the pilot quickly zeroes in on an AMX-13 moving in his opposite direction and fires 10 rockets that hit the vehicle head-on, turning it into a mass of molten metal.

With a strong break up and to the left, he escapes the fire of the tankers, who are trying to hit him with their turret machine guns. One less tank! At that moment, a ball of fire emerges from the column of smoke, and the officer watches in horror as the plane on his wing crashes completely on fire into the lake. Beyond, a terrible explosion heralds the destruction of the artillery piece and its servants.

In that, an IA-58 Pucará emerges behind the smoke screen. How is it possible that that cheeky aircraft has shot down his partner!?? Enraged, he throws himself at the tail of the Argentinian plane, which has seen him and has broken to the right, over the burning town. The Chilean pilot knows that he has the advantage over that Argentinian plane, whose only possible advantage is extreme agility, but then he is outclassed in all respects by the jet he pilots. He takes off the flaps, decelerates and places himself at the tail of the Pucará, places the weapons switch on cannons... this must be the closest thing to World War II, surely he thinks to himself.

The Argentinian driver is skilful, but two more seconds and it will be the end of him. What he doesn’t know is that the leader of the Argentinian flight is even more skilled than his wing, and that the latter, after having destroyed after a dive on some Chilean 105mm cannons while his partner wasted his rocket crew on the other Dragonfly, had ascended, allowing him at this moment, after a roll, a new dive, this time over the center of the Chilean aircraft.

Perhaps, if the Argentinian engineers had equipped their aircraft with 4 cannons of 20mm instead of 2 of them and 4 heavy machine guns, the Dragonfly would have broken apart in the air. It was not like that, but it was enough to fatally hit the aircraft on the port wing and the entire tail of the aircraft. The Chilean plane lurched in the air, causing its short burst to stray from the perfect center in the second Pucará. Even so, a trail of white smoke in its left engine indicated the combat output of this automatically.

In the cabin of the A-37, which was beginning to fill with smoke, a desperate pilot was moving away from the area, knowing that it was impossible for the Pucará to pursue him... like returning to Pucón.

The damaged plane makes a long, slow circle over Villarrica. If dying was a fact, he would take with him a few more AMX-13s or a few Repowered Shermans, or at least the remaining Pucará... In that, already facing from the town towards the lake, from the Chilean positions towards where the troops had been advancing Argentinians, he thought he saw four points that were approaching flying low from the south. But the dots were four A-4B Skyhawks coming low over the ridge, having spotted their smoking trail. The leader and his number moved away, centered him and practiced shooting on the ill-fated FACh attack plane. His pilot failed to report this incursion, while the other two fighters dropped their 4 bombs on the Chilean rear, leading to chaos. and ascending over the lake to strafe the defenders who were beginning to run in the face of the destruction and overwhelm of the Argentinian attack. The leader and his wing, now placed in the longitudinal axis of the tanks that were already being used against the redoubts that were still holding up the advance of the Argentinian infantry, also dropped their bombs on the positions furthest from the city, falling near from where the Chilean mortars desperately covered the progressive withdrawal of their comrades.

The pair shot up into the sky, dodging the already sporadic anti-aircraft fire mostly from small arms. The number of the second section warns of the remains of an AMX-13 and a fuel stain in the lake.

The A-4 section undertakes the trip, short in itself, to cross the mountain range again, towards the relative safety offered by the skies of Neuquén. The resistance has been completely broken. In a few more hours, the town will be under total Argentinian control. Thanks to the close support fighters.

(Extracted from the book "The Armed Delirium, 1978: the war that destroyed the end of the world" by Bruno Passarelli, 1998)

In the skies of Aysen, Chile, December 26, 1978

Chacabuco is calm, the last ships left for the canal route at 7:00 p.m. on the 26th, however, the “Mykonos I” remains moored to the dock. This ship should have left for Chiloé with a load of provisions at 9:00 p.m., but an engine problem has delayed the trip. The port captain, a 1st Lieutenant of the Chilean Navy, who was in Aysén during the early hours of the morning, has realized that the Mykonos I has not docked at the point assigned to it, nor has it deployed the camouflage nets; the ship captain is a civilian one, not accustomed to such things.

The port captain and the ship captain have met on the esplanade in front of the pier, there the first one rebukes the latter for his carelessness. A few meters further on, a couple of Marines look uneasily at the scene, along the Aysén River in 3 or 4 small boats, the stragglers of the night, go up the river towards Puerto Aysén; the captain with annoyance tells the naval officer that his ship has already warmed up its engines, and is ready to start the undocking maneuver, the naval officer roars at him to move away from the dock; and the annoyed captain yells the order to the pilot to start moving away.

It will never be known what happened at that moment, if the noise of the engine of the Mykonos prevented the men from hearing the sound of the planes, or if the appearance of the aircraft was perfect, the truth is that the men didn’t see them coming, even less do they understand when 2 large columns of water rise in what was the Mykonos, whose remains, mixed with the pieces of its crew, jump everywhere, and the air assault on Chacabuco has just begun.

The Mykonos I was easy prey for the Argentinian Skyhawks, and transport soon becomes a memory. One of the warehouses with food is blown up in an instant; the port captain remains stretched out covering the captain of the Mykonos I with his body, the two Marines no longer exist, and only then, erratically, from land, the fire on the Argentinian aircrafts begins. To Skyhawks no.2, which has one bomb left, decides to attack the dock, the warehouse that despite the camouflage he has identified; the bomb falls as if in slow motion, the men on the ground continue its trajectory without breathing, and suddenly the explosion shakes the pier to its foundations; the Skyhawks are speeding towards east.

Over Campos de Hielo, two Chilean Hawker Hunters come towards him, but with an impeccable movement of the rudder, a maneuver worthy of the aerial battles of yesteryear begins: he will try to shoot down a Hunter using his own device as a weapon, it seems. The Argentinian stings on the Chilean with whom he was dueling, the surprised Chilean pilot turns his control and the Argentinian plane misses his blow by very little, although this is providential for the pilot, a turning movement on his axis and he moves away full speed to the southeast, the Hawkers are ordered to stop the pursuit, something happens there in the north, and that’s where the machines are heading in an arrow formation. The pilot will return to Argentina along the canal route, near Futaleufú, with barely enough fuel to reach Comodoro Rivadavia.

December 28, 1978 – 0930hs a.m. over Entre Lagos

Under the air cover of two Mirage III and a Skyhawk, 3 sections of Pucaras are launched to attack the Chilean positions that delay the advance of the assault column. At the forward checkpoint, FAA (Argentinian Air Force) air traffic controllers work alongside observers from the EA Artillery School, whose field experience is vital for close-attack missions. Together they are in charge, in coordination with the A4-B fighters, to fire on the main enemy anti-aircraft artillery redoubts. The Chilean artillery posts, very well camouflaged, try to counteract the fire of the Argentinian artillery, and the flashes serve to indicate to the Pucará pilots that the position of the pieces is approaching.

The first pair of Argentinian aircraft are Pucará two-seaters, with an expert air traffic controller sitting in the back seat. Both aircraft are armed with white phosphorous rockets (to signal targets) and heavy machine gun pods, and immediately begin firing on Chilean machine gun and artillery positions. The other two sections carry 57mm rockets, gondola cannons and even napalm bombs, not counting the fixed weapons of the aircraft. The pilots are experts in ground attack, all of them had intense participation in the eradication of the guerrilla from the mountains of Tucumán.

From the battery he commands, the Colonel in charge orders companies A and B of the 21st Mountain to assault the Chilean positions. The Pucaras unload their machine guns and rockets against every point from which tracers emerge, the Argentinian infantrymen confidently advance. Sections two and three of attack aircraft reach the rear, and drop napalm bombs on the artillery batteries previously marked by the first section, then making a steep ascent to escape the intense anti-aircraft fire raining down on them from all kinds of weapons. Argentinian turboprops. The port engine of the second section numeral catches fire; the tail rudder of the leader of the third is severely punished by a position of .50 caliber machine guns

The Pucaras prepare to make a second pass. The Argentinian troops, taking advantage of air cover, have already taken control of the first enemy defensive line. Now, the Chilean soldiers are preparing to face the combined attack... The Chilean troops agree on one thing: Where is the FACh?

(From “The Beagle War, 1978-79” – Ed. Fernández Reguera, 1986)

10:30hs - Valdivia, IV Division HQ

For 10 minutes, desperate calls for support have been coming from Entre Lagos. With overwhelming air support, Argentinian troops advance on Chilean defenses

-... I repeat, 6 Pucará attack us with bombs, rockets and napalm... we lost 4 artillery batteries... - explosions and machine gun noises can be heard in the background, with different degrees of intensity. - The enemy has taken the first defense positions... the rear has also been bombarded... Without reinforcements we will fall! - An explosion is heard with great intensity.

- Sergeant, respond! -the communications manager of the IV Division, a young lieutenant, desperately called his interlocutor in the besieged Chilean position. - Answer!

Bursting noises are heard over the radio. The microphone has been left open... in the background, footsteps can be heard, like troops advancing... All clear, my lieutenant! Three Chilotes (a despective way to call the chileans in Argentina, although not always is despective) dead around here... All papers in this place... it seems that they were burning them... (another voice)... Don't be an asshole, and put out that fire now! They are code books!... In the communications room, in Valdivia, all those who heard the transmission remain silent.

(Artistic recreation – extracted from the TV series “Valientes” – Polka/Channel 13 – 1997)


An unexpected attack by a pair chilean Hawker Hunters over an argentinian convoy in
the Cuyo region, captured by a cameraman from "La Nacion" newspaper, on december 27, 1978


Argentinian infantry troops in Villarrica, Chile (dec. 27, 1978) - Picture appeared on "Rio Negro" newspaper, in its december 30, 1978 edition

(left) A Chilean M-41 victim of an AMX-13 in Temuco, Chile (Picture appeared in "Somos" Magazine, January 10, 1979 - (Right) An Argentinian Sherman repowered, victim of a chilean anti tank device in the Central Front, in Chile, during the same days.



Illustration of a Pucara after shut down a chilean helicopter near Punta Arenas. The IA-58 Pucara had a widespread use and a great performance supporting argentinian ground forces, and hunting helicopters and minor chilean planes. That's why its use, the Pucara rate of takedown was so high as well.
in chile.jpg

Argentnian soldiers in the Puyehue region


Chilean soldiers holding bravely
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The world …divided…? by two peripheric countries
Détente were coming to an end, and tensions between Washington and Moscow increased in the boreal winter of 1979, the so-called "winter of discontent" in England, even so, the summer of the most important war in South American history in the XX century.

Jimmy Carter and his ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, began to push for more sanctions on Argentina and its allies, while the Soviet ambassador used the old rhetoric of “American imperialism and its intervention in South America." Anyone who paid attention, during those days, would have noticed how Argentinian-Soviet relations had improved remarkably thanks to the war, the grains and the "Carter crusade for Human Rights", which led an anti-communist dictatorship to close trade agreements and buy weapons from the Marxist standard-bearer.

The South American mourning somehow spread to the rest of the planet, with the US and Great Britain denouncing Argentina, and the USSR denouncing Chile and the US. Meanwhile, China, at odds with Moscow, half-heartedly supported Washington's position; while France, Israel and West Germany had a somewhat ambiguous position…which was understandable, since France provided spare parts and Mirage aircraft and Type Frigates 69 to Argentina, in addition to being a good market for missiles for Peru, while Israel was one of the strongest sellers of sophisticated military equipment for Argentina, such as the Daggers, the Dabur launches and the Shaffrir missiles.

In the case of West Germany, it had the license for the TAM tanks, just out of the pre-series phase, in addition to having signed a fabulous contract with the Argentinian Navy to sell 4 MEKO 360 destroyers, 6 MEKO 140 frigates and four TR-1700 u-boats, the most modern in the world in conventional matter.

The chances of World War III because of that was ZERO, but this crisis was causing further damage to relations between Moscow and Washington; Carter threatened a blockade against Argentina, but what followed was a partial agricultural embargo against the USSR since, according to the US, Moscow was the "biggest sponsor of tyrannies in the world." One can rightly think that as three lost islands in the South Atlantic, they could have led to such an escalation of insults and economic retaliation between the US and the USSR, but a drop can overflow a glass, and that is what happened enough for Détente to end: an intrabloc conflict, transformed into a trickle.

FLASH FORWARD…January XX, 1979 - Midnight - Oval Office

After an hour on the phone with the Israeli premier, President Carter hangs up the secure line to Tel Aviv. Visibly dejected, he calls the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense and informs them that, due to the imminent entry of Peru and Bolivia into the war, in favor of Argentina, launching a massive attack on Chile, and that with Brazil beginning a preventive mobilization, so if Argentina was attacked, the war would be total in South America; the US can do no more than compensate.

This means, in practice, approving the boarding of the 20 A-4 Skyhawks fighters of the US Marines stationed in El Toro for their prompt transfer to the Israelis, erasing all corps insignia and all numbering...although not there is a consensus among officials, given that Israel has acquired a large number of F-16 fighters, and sending them A-4s would not be very well seen by the Egyptians... But the plans that Carter consents to are that the planes do not reach Israel

When they depart, the merchantmen will travel south with the ships of the VI Fleet, until further instructions. According to his optics, there was no other option. The next step would be to contact the USAF, to prepare 10 F-5 fighters operated by the ANG squadrons for a direct trip, only one stop, to Belem, Brazil, previous step to deliver them to Chile. Let a pair of Hercules pick up the pilots in Brazil and bring them home...after these deliveries, the VI Fleet would be located in the south, and the VII would cover the coasts of Chile and Peru. The idea was that they were the only deliveries. The next day, an aerial formation of ex-USAF F-5 fighters crossed the entire Caribbean. A total of 10 fighters without any type of demarcation arrived at the Belem Air Base, accompanied by 3 USAF C-130Es. Three days later, 10 fighters will carry FACh badges.

There remained, however, the Israeli issue of the 40 repowered Shermans to be shipped in the port of Haifa, for Argentina. Begin has been adamant. But Carter's idea was that by the time those ships arrived, the 6th Fleet encirclement would be solid. Washington DC half objected to the Argentinian-Israeli agreement, the uranium issue is always sensitive, but Carter couldn't do much either, he didn't want to either.

13:00 - NAS El Toro

A commission of IDF/AF technicians arrives to begin the inspection and supervise the boarding of the 36 A- 4C that the Israeli government has bought immediately. Base personnel are removing unit insignia, as well as aircraft serial numbers and all national markings. The Israelis pay special attention to the condition of the ships: 36 of a total of 50 in optimal conditions are chosen. The American technicians protest, their aircrafts are being dismantled.

The Israelis watch as the advanced Ferranti sights are removed from the fighter-bombers, and put into storage. However, the Israeli technical chief asks for a phone and hours later the order is given to pack the equipment for shipment separately to Israel. Thus, the aircraft remain fully operational, but lack the advanced sight, similar to the one already installed on the 25 A- 4C that the Argentina’s Air Force had acquired in its last purchase.

American technicians report that the aircraft will be ready to be shipped to the East Coast in 4 more days, to be disassembled and shipped. The Israelis smile. During the Yom Kippur "emergency," American aircraft took off from wherever they were and arrived in Israel as quickly as possible. The painting was done "in situ".

(Extracted from the weekly “El Periodista de Buenos Aires, November 1986, in relation to the “dark” Argentinian-Israeli relations during the Beagle War)
Without opposition in the air during the whole day yesterday, two Pucara sections have intensely attacked the Chilean infantry and artillery positions south of Osorno and in Loncoche. To supply the attack planes that have been redeployed to the coast, the GAE sent a couple of A-109 helicopter gunships and four UH-1Hs, which arrived in the area a few hours ago.

Since the breakdown of the iron-clad Chilean defense in Entre Lagos, Argentinian casualties have risen to 120 men, dead and wounded (only in this column), and 600 Chilean prisoners have been taken, who in almost half of the cases were unaccounted for ammunition or surrounded. The casualties of the IV Division reached 900 dead and wounded, due to the combined action of the Argentinian Air Force attack planes and the accurate artillery fire on the disbanded troops. Chilean morale is at a very low point.

At the same time, in Osorno, Argentinian artillery shells rain down on the city limits, from points to the south and east. The desperate chilean counterattack to recapture the airport came close to dislodging the troops of the 4th platoon of RIM 21's B company, but the timely action of two platoons of Kurassier SK-105 and 105mm artillery caused a massacre among the attackers. Twenty Argentinians and 120 Chileans were lying on the field. One Kurassier was heavily damaged by a LAW rocket launcher. This weapon worries Argentinian officers, and a dozen have been captured from the enemy among the remains of Entre Lagos and in this latest counterattack.

At approximately 11:30 a.m., the expected supplies begin to arrive by land. Camouflaged trucks carry boxes and boxes of ammunition for tanks, artillery and rifles, as well as a complete new battery of 155mm CITER cannons.

January 3, 1979 - 1600 - Outskirts of Osorno

With the strong response of the Chilean forces, the assault on the city is imminent, fully supplied from the safe lines established from the ruins of Entre Lagos. Between 20 and 50 scattered Carabineros and army troops have been captured by the Argentinian patrols that protect the vital shipments that are distributed to the different units on the front.

Now, the action focuses on the rescue of the survivors of a UH-1H shot down by intense Chilean anti-aircraft fire. an Augusta 109A Hirundo has barely landed at the newly secured airport. The artillery must demolish the artillery nests that defenders set up to hunt down the tanks. It will not be easy. The Argentinian 184th Mountain Engineer Battalion is now in the recently evicted Casa de Lata, where the 20 carabineros who defended it surrendered after spotting two SK-105s that covered the Argentinian engineers, who suffered 6 casualties between dead and wounded.

The downed Huey was carrying 8 members of RIM 21, and was shot down by an undetected position of Chilean artillery covered by heavy machine guns. The Argentinians manage to create a perimeter around the damaged helicopter, and due to the opportune action of the covering Argentinian artillery and an Augusta 109A Hirundo being hit by enemy bullets, Chilean infantry troops in the area must retreat. About 4 soldiers and the pilot are rescued alive, and 4 members of RIM 21 who had come to their aid have died. In the withdrawal, the Chileans lost two men.

In Villarrica, RIM 10 logistics personnel organized the supplies that arrive by land through the Mahuil Malal pass. Ammunition for tanks, tracks, food, FAL, MAG machine guns and ammunition, and the vital ammunition for the artillery. Someone in Buenos Aires thought in the advancing column that is still clinging to a desperate defence on the road that leads to Loncoche.

The electronic operators of the VI Brigade have captured signos of a shipment from Valdivia of a chilean armored company, and after leaving Gendarmeria personnel stationed with the artillerymen, the tanks and infantrymen of the Argentinian 21st Mountain march north , to occupy the bridge that unites San Pablo with Rio Bueno. The six SK-105 Kurassiers advance parallel to route 5. Some infantrymen move over each one of them, surveying the beautiful landscape of Araucanía, the rest advance in five Unimogs covered with nets and a couple of jeeps. Two Oto Mellara are taken away.

in the vicinity of San Pablo , the infantrymen get out of the vehicles and advance. A fraction advances covered by 3 of the tanks and surrounds the city to the west. The bulk of the infantry advances through the center covered by a lone SK-105, and the remaining tanks and the last platoon advance from the East. Shortly after the advance began, fire was received from the highest houses. On the columns advancing from the south and west. Two light machine guns open fire on the advancing soldiers. The Argentinians take cover behind the tanks, but the attack is well directed. A corporal and three soldiers are struck down in a few seconds. The Kurassiers return fire and machine-gun the front of the houses from which the shots have been fired.

In seconds, the scene turns into hell. Dozens of rifle muzzles open fire on the Argentinians who try to protect themselves behind the few tanks, which open fire with their cannons blowing up entire houses. Two, three more soldiers fall dead, while the tanks continue to fire on the houses, shattering windows and entire walls. The defenders stop firing, overwhelmed by the crossfire of the Argentinian tanks. The captain gets up from the ground and gives the order to assault. Protected by the armored vehicles that fire at every window they see, the soldiers run towards the town.

The captain slips through an opening into a smoking house, followed by a sergeant and two conscripts. Inside, the corpses of a couple of Chilean soldiers and a carabinero are silent witnesses to the firepower of the Kurassiers. The Argentinians advance and cross the first semi-destroyed houses. Only the occasional FAL shot sounds. With the area secure, a sergeant enables to one of the Kurassiers to advance in the direction of the square, where the Chilean flag waves. The Argentinians are located surrounding the mayor's office, the last bastion of the defenders of the Plaza. The Kurassier is located covering the entire front of the building with its cannons.

Inside the building, a few dozen residents who refused to leave their home look at each other. The 18 remaining soldiers and carabineros do not intend for them to suffer more than they should... two minutes after the Argentinian officer's threat, the doors of the municipal building open and 78 people emerge, all of them civilians. The silence is atrocious. Two Argentinian soldiers indicate to the long line of women, children and the elderly to go towards the exit of the town, where some soldiers remained next to the vehicles.

Around noon, 2 full battalions of RIM 10 reinforcements arrived in Villarrica from Neuquén, together with their mule supplies and 4 batteries of 105mm Oto Melara. Together with three CITER pieces of 155mm brought by Puma Helicopters from EA Aviation. The concern is given due to the interception of certain enemy communications by VI Brigade, which would be an attempted assault on Villarrica by Chilean units located in Temuco. The arrival of this contingent comes as a glove.

The town of San Pablo is a ruin at sunset; Since its conquest, the Argentinian units have been besieged by various groups of Chilean troops that have tried to break the defensive position that protects the invasion wing. The SK-105s have shown all their worth: their 105mm guns have made a dent in a reinforced Chilean armored company that tried to cross the bridge twice. Some 130 dead and 3 M-41s destroyed litter the landscape north of São Paulo. Even so, there were the loss of 17 of his men and two Kurassier, plus another immobilized by the shots from the 76mm guns of the Chilean armored vehicles. The action of the GA 16 batteries from Yutreco, together with the Oto Mellara located in the plaza at close range on the enemy tanks, at point-blank range over enemy tanks, have helped fend off increasingly desperate and uncoordinated Chilean attacks.

January 04, 1979 – Osorno, 11:00 a.m.

The forward barracks and the general command of the V Argentinian Army Corps are informed of the successful deployment of Gendarmería Nacional men in the eastern sector of the city. Likewise, there have been reports of the capture, by elements of the 21st Infantry, of some 50 Chilean soldiers from the Andalién Infantry Regiment and the Arauco Battalion, who were preparing for the counteroffensive from the western sector of the city, on the riverbank. opposite the Rahue river.

Almost at the same time, Argentinian troops suffer a severe setback in their attempt to take Loncoche. The armored support section is engaged against elements of the ECh No. 8 Tucapel regiment, in adverse terrain for the use of armor, mainly marshy. Only the Argentinian Army Aviation section has made it possible to hold the front. It seemed difficult for the two columns to meet on the way to the city of Valdivia, HQ of the Chilean Army 4th Division.

The capture of Osorno was planned, to be carried out within 24 hours, taking into account the rest of the majority of the troops during the day, and mobilizing special units to contain possible reinforcements towards the besieged city. Meanwhile, the artillery from the south of the Pichi Damas River began its final punishment on the Osorno airfield, sweeping away the resistance to allow the entry of mixed attack bodies into the central urban cordon. The greatest fear lay in the stagnation of the fighting on the banks of the Rahue River that crosses the city from south to north, for which excessive firepower would undermine the main component required for their final offensive on Osorno: mobility.

The command of the I Corps of EA, in pursuit of the offensive, had decided to send some additional supplies: about eighteen M-113 vehicles, in addition to some additional 155mm CITER and Oto Melara parts, and ammunition from FAL landed 12 hours ago in Puerto Madryn.

By midnight, only dogs barking in the empty streets. The silence is only broken by the pitiful howling of the city's stray dogs, whose mournful sounds bounce off the empty agro-industrial facilities. All the productive tasks of Osorno, especially the delicatessen and dairy have been transferred to the south, to the Llanquihue sector and, to a lesser extent, to Valdivia.

Despite the silence in Osorno's productivity, the thriving existing CALO and SOPROLE agro-industrial plants suffered few scrappings due to the rush of the evacuation. Although there are some stocks of production, especially milk and cheese, they are barely enough to feed the defenders and the few civilians who still remain in the city, so they could be used to supply the Argentinian troops in the area. The evacuation routes to Puerto Montt and Valdivia were saturated, although the largest flow of people, animals and goods fell on Puerto Montt...

Around midnight, in Valdivia, after a fleeting communication with the defenders in Osorno and conferring instructions to them and to the supreme command of the Sangra Regiment in Puerto Montt, the Chief of the 4th Army Division, contacted General Rubio Ramírez, commander general of the III Army Division. Rubio, instructed by Pinochet, rebroadcasts most of his dialogue to one from Entel's information collection centers, for forwarding to one of the basements in Santiago; aspects related to the imminent fall of the city of Osorno. It’s commented, underestimating, that the Argentinian successes in the sector of Los Lagos Norte and Araucanía Sur are due more to the lack of own material and the low mountain passes in the area, than to the timely reformulation of the initial offensive scheme towards one focused on the product of ground control and the decisive byproduct of fire and movement, a task accomplished by the Argentinian artillery.

The town of San Pablo is not entirely secure; Chilean irregulars, with the support of anti-tank weapons and one M-41 of the Armored Cavalry Hunters Regiment, disabled 3 Kurassiers of the RCLM 4 of the EA. The argentinian forces stationed there, are willing to maintain the position at all costs...they know that, if they abandon the town, the assault operation on Osorno would be in danger of failing, and the entire extent of the penetration into Chile by the Puyehue pass would be at the mercy of the Chilean corps in reorganization, which could sweep away the thin logistical lines of advance.

OSORNO ASSAULT – Friday, January 5, 1979, midnight

General long-range artillery fire is ordered with towed 155mm CITER cannons on the WESTERN BANK of the Rahue River north of the city, the EASTERN BANK of the Rahue River, and the NORTH BANK of the Rahue River, south of Osorno, from the South Pan-American Highway to the Río Negro confluence, and that the Oto Melara units of the VI Brigade open covering fire at virtual point-blank range in support of the advance of units of the RIM 21 and 22, on the Osorno aerodrome and the banks of the Pichi Damas River towards the central axis of the city, after the Pan-American Highway and the sector between the Pan-American Highway and the railway, west of Yutreco. In this last sector, the RIM 22 troops are received with intense fire from small arms, setting up a dangerous jamming of forces in the area.

A few minutes later, to the west of Yutreco, a complete section of RIM 22 is divided into 3 by the combined action of the Chilean containment infantry (Andalién battalion No. 13) and the medium-distance artillery of the Chilean Army, stationed parallel to the railway line, to the limit of the net scope of the CITER. Reinforcements are requested from logistics units of RI 10 that were on their way to São Paulo.

A 50 men from RIM 21 manages to reach the vicinity of the Damas bridge. They fight against forces 3 times higher in number while waiting for reinforcements from Mulpulmo to capture the bridge and the link to Avenida Soriano to the southeast of the city. Another advanced reconnaissance group has managed to locate itself at the junction of Avenida Bunschmann with the Panamericana.

Thirty minutes later, two Pairs of UH-1H Helicopters take to the air and seek to gain enough height to carry out reconnaissance missions, fixing artillery targets within the city and transporting the wounded. The support of the Argentinian Air Force will be in charge of four A 4 Skyhawks and four IA 58 Pucarás. Nothing is known of any Chilean unit sent to the area from Santiago or Puerto Montt.

Two hours later, the action of the SK-105 Kurassier, and the Repowered Shermans, and one of the newly formed mechanized assault companies in RIM 21, and thanks to the material reinforcements, the Argentinian flag flies victoriously over the airfield from the city of Osorno. The bodies of 100 Chileans, a similar number of Argentinian dead and 200 wounded, lie in the airfield. Also, 2 tanks and 2 Oto Melara pieces have been lost. However, the initiative is fully owned by Argentina.

In Yutreco, the last of the 4 helicopters arrived loaded with wounded from the other side of the road, at 02:30 am. After 2 hours of combat, the troops of RIM 22, supported by a Gerdarmeria Nacional squad and accurate artillery volleys, have managed to conquer northeast access to Osorno via the Pan-American highway, forcing the Chileans to quickly withdraw towards the west and into the city. The action of Chilean light tanks on Argentinian soldiers is devastating, even with rationed fuel. Eventually, these are stopped with 88mm Instalaza rocket launchers of the Argentinian infantrymen.

Near at dawn the long-range artillery fire (155mm CITER Towed) was redirected towards 4 points: the Osorno Banking Stadium, the Agricultural School, the SAGO Campus (Agricultural and Livestock Society of Osorno) and the Barracks General Battalion of Arauco Engineers. It’s also arranged that the mechanized forces of RI 10 advance in encircling formation on the SAGO Campus, once it has been bombed by IA 58 Pucara and the CITER of GAM 16.

Advanced units of RIM 22 and non-mechanized elements of RI 10 approach the Estero Pilauco sector, to the north of the city, are being greeted with rifle and mortar fire from the Olympic village and the German Institute of Osorno.

After heavy clashes, the mechanized forces of RI 10, the main sections of RIM 21, reinforced by about 10 Kurassier, broke through the fortresses installed in the banking stadium, the agricultural school and the SAGO compound in Osorno. House-to-house fighting takes place on Avenida Soriano and the Buschmann-Lynch Axis. The Chileans begin a slow retreat towards the base hospital and the center of the city, installing makeshift defenses on Avenida Mackenna and the city's Catholic and German cemeteries.

With the lights of dawn already breaking, at 06:30, the GAM 16 already has its artillery installed in the Villa Olímpica de Osorno, north of the Damas River, firing on the burning barracks of the Arauco Battalion and the defenses installed on both sides of the Rahue River and in the Plaza de Armas. The RIM 22 units suffer unspeakably to cross the Damas River. They have already accounted for about 71 deaths so far in the assault, so they must be helped again and again by the incessant barrage of the Pucarás. The hardships of this section end only when the joint action of the artillery and elements of the Argentinian aviation manages to clear the mouths of the bridges over the Damas River, allowing the slow crossing towards the centre.

Moreover, an argentinian UH-1H helicopter is shot down. A group of three M-113s is sent to the rescue, receiving heavy fire of rifles and rockets from the surroundings of the provincial base hospital. An Argentinian armored vehicle is destroyed by LAW rocket impacts, killing its occupants. The desperate situation south of the city leads Oto Melara batteries to enter the city, at the same time the 155mm CITER are ordered to fire on the city center, at the request of the advanced forces of RIM 21 and 22. Thus, Dozens of mules and cannon servers from GAM 16 enter, covered by advanced companies from RI10 and RCLM 4 along Buschmann Avenue, and take up a parabolic shooting position at the S.A.G.O. By 10:00 a.m., the Buschmann-Lynch-Mackenna Axis has been emptied of Chileans. Likewise, 3 survivors of the damaged helicopter have been rescued near the Osorno base hospital. The defenders to the south of the city have begun a slow retreat to the west, but not before littering the road to the provincial hospital with booby traps and mines.

By noon, most of the Chilean defenders have left Osorno. The barracks that housed the Arauco and Andalién battalions are nothing more than ashes, the base hospital is deserted and the only operational care center, the German Clinic in Osorno, has collapsed. Victory is at hand, the break in Chile's functional continuity is close, its total and irreversible fragmentation in the war...but TEN DAYS LATER THAN EXPECTED.

That’s a tangible fact for the Argentinian combatants, even more so when by noon there were already more than 300 Chilean prisoners gathered in the ruins of the Banking stadium. Only a few minor redoubts remain to be beaten.

The Chilean soldiers who are still fighting in the city have arranged themselves in irregular groups near the hospital and the river market, but they are insufficient to lower the Argentina’s Flag that waves proudly over the Provincial Government. The forces are already preparing to take the western bank of the Rahue, but the main actions have borne more than good results, as a result of perseverance and the opportune change of mentality to lead the offensive. Now it remains to establish the conquered point well to finish once and for all with the IV Chilean Division and ensure the definitive fragmentation of Chile in the war

6:00 p.m. – Neuquen, Argentina

About six A-4B Skyhawks, from the V Air Brigade, arrive at the airport escorting a C-130 Hercules that brings technicians and material. The train from Bahía Blanca brings, two hours later, bombs of 250 and 500 kilograms

Almost at midnight, in the Provincial Government of Osorno, the Advanced HQ of the VI Combined Motorized Mountain Brigade, the news arrives of the arrival in Neuquén of the air support elements to attack Puerto Montt and Valdivia. They wait for it to give them the green light to act.


The main victims of all wars, civilians. As of December 23, 1978, military patrols and Carabineros took control of the fuel delivery pumps, and by Decree Law 2973, the rationing throughout Chile of all fuel to the civilian population, in order to allocate it to defense tasks.


Left. An UH-1H Helicopter of Argentinian Army. (Right) Argentinian private, both pictures, during the offensive over Osorno, January 1979



Taken from Argentinian TV, january 1979


The brand new argentinian TAM tanks, being tested in field, december 1978
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Due to the nature of the Andes Mountains, a massive push on Santiago or Concepción was out of the question, which would turn the campaign into an unsustainable bloodbath, but “tough” Generals, as Luciano Benjamín Menéndez insisted, and he would be the protagonist of an insubordination that would cost many Argentinian lives. Although the occupation of a key city was also foreseen.

Before this, from December 22 onwards, the Argentinian Air Force raids began on the Chilean production system, its energy systems, and its weapons factories, especially in the center of the country, causing a lot of damage to such infrastructures, in any case it did not ensure a future military picnic.

This was reflected, for example, with the II Division of the Chilean Army, who proved to be tough rivals for the Argentinian troops who continued their offensive throughout December, despite the difficult terrain and the strong Chilean resistance, to finally stop due to lack of supplies on January 3, 1979, when casualties on both sides were already very high.

By January 4, the general picture far from the far from the one imagined by the Argentine Military Junta i; Argentina had been forced to stop a large part of its offensive (except in the Osorno, Valdivia, Puerto Montt sector) that needed to refuel ammunition and fuel. It was clear that the offensive against Chile had not achieved the objectives in the expected terms, and it was not only because of the resistance of the Chilean troops and militias, but also because of problems in the command and structure of the Argentinian Army. But there was no doubt that success would ultimately be achieved for the Argentinian forces, as competent officers and NCOs in the field, and some generals, began to take certain tactical and strategic liberties that would bear fruit.

These delays began to make Argentinian society impatient, while the press, television, radio, and graphic media, all under imposed censorship, repeated in chorus that "We are Winning," and that victory was being assured step by step and so on. fillers…the truth is that they were winning, but at a higher cost than expected, not so much in Argentinian lives but in time, materially and psychologically.

Total casualties, up to that time, on both sides exceeded 2,500 in the Andes area, and 1,200 on the Southern Front (not counting casualties from air-naval battles). In the Central zone, due to the excessive increase in casualties, due to acts of resistance and sabotage by the Chilean army, defending the road to Santiago, but also several Chilean squads, in Paso Puyehue, in the area of Coyhaique, an obligatory passage for Argentinian convoys and an ideal area for ambushes, the Argentinian forces halted, and in the southern zone, the Chileans managed to stop the Argentinian troops in Punta Arenas for a few kilometers.

The Chileans were in the worst possible position. More than half of its fleet was under the sea of the Strait of Magellan, its air force, modest compared to Argentina, was pulverized, and not even its F-5s were safe. To make matters worse, Argentinian forces were targeting even parts of Santiago, which was attacked almost with impunity by Argentinian Skyhawks, Mirage-Daggers and Canberras from time to time.

The Chileans could boast of putting up a fierce and unexpected resistance, at least for some of the Argentinian commanders, against their homeland in danger. Even the Andes became an imposing natural ally; The Argentinian Military Junta clearly had not read General Perón, when he was a professor of strategy, about the fact that “the crossing of the Andes by an invading force does not require a detailed analysis, it requires 10,000 detailed analyzes " and that “the worst The enemy is the Andes as a rearguard”.

Chile, through the black market, received some ammunition, and in South Africa someone willing to provide it with weapons. On January 3, 1979, arrived a Liberian flag freighter, coming from South Africa, at that time, almost as isolated as Chile, however the South African military industry, since the '60s, had been developing an important productive capacity, and now found a country desperate for weapons. Thus, some 24 G-2 cannons arrived in Chile; about 12 Oto Melara pieces, nobody can say the real origin of these last pieces, but the truth is that they were very welcome, and 12 Oerlikon 20mm pieces, which would be transferred, at least, half to the Fach.

The lobby of French mining companies with interests in Chile also made unsuccessful attempts to pressure Paris to allow the sale to Chile via South Africa of a consignment of AA Cactus or Crotale missiles. On January 12, it arrived in Valparaíso, a Philippine-flagged freighter ship: a long journey from South Africa to Chile along the Pacific route, avoiding the blockade and arriving with its cargo at its destination:

- 12 G-2 cannons 140mm

- 12 Oto Melara 105mm cannons

- 12 pieces of 106mm recoilless

- 20 mortars 120mm

Although it would not be the last shipment to arrive in Chile, these ships would have problems in the days to come, in reaching their destination, in some very serious cases.

sherman repot1.jpg

Argentinian Sherman "repotenciado", with its 105mm cannon, outside Osorno, January 1979




Chilean defenders, January 1979
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(there was one, but I can't find it, and it was really influential to start this one, so if someone have read it and in some tiny passage you think that it's similar, well, it's not, but I was agree with one or two things perhaps, it is not plagio at all)
Well sorry for breaking your chain of story post.

The other Beagle war story got deleted back in March 2011 and was lost forever when the creator of the story, a former Moderator abused his powers and broke the rules by deleting his own threads and others (but he mostly deleted his own ones) after getting frustrated with the board and attempting to wipe out his presence on it.

At least according to the wiki of this fourm that says what happened to the member that wrote the old Beagle war story.

Apparently the Beagle war story is completely lost to history as no one was able to recover anything from it after it deleted all those years ago so RIP, unless the wiki information is outdated since it was last modified in 2020.
Face-off - Sunday, January 07, 1979
Face-off - Sunday, January 07, 1979

The Argentinian artillery and its soldiers began a new offensive on Puerto Montt, which actually started from Osorno-Valdivia, to eventually capture Puerto Montt on January 11, 1979, beginning one of the bloodiest battles of the entire war. Meanwhile, the world was slowly waking up to the increasingly fierce nature of the conflict. From two of the most brutal dictatorships in America, facing each other, of course nothing good could come of this.

On January 7, the UN condemned the war, as well as the war crimes, especially those committed by some Argentinian forces. This was followed by the authorization of an arms embargo against both nations, especially against Argentina, which for many was the aggressor in this war. Not everyone agreed with the UN decisions; Peru, Bolivia and the USSR (with bad term relations with Chile, with more than good relations with Argentina), further strengthened their economic ties. The USSR began to depend on Argentinian agricultural exports, and Argentina would begin to acquire new Soviet military technologies, much to the displeasure of the US and the usual Argentinian supplier, France.

The USSR plays in combination with Argentinian diplomacy. Months before the war, the Chief of Staff of the Argentinian Army, General Roberto E. Viola, visits Moscow and receives from the Soviet government an offer of support for the possible conflict with Chile. Consequently, the Soviet representative in the Council vetoes any initiative that imposes an immediate ceasefire. The Argentinian government has asked its circumstantial Soviet ally to give it seven days of operations, in order to consolidate the occupation of important parts of Chilean territory. Accordingly, the USSR prevents any ceasefire before December 29. (1)

For its part, the Chinese government acts as a covert ally of Pinochet and, in agreement with him, in the Council it is trying to achieve a ceasefire resolution as soon as possible.

Apart from the condemnations, embargo, and diplomatic ruptures, the only act of force of the powers, in January, was the deployment of two nuclear submarines and the HMS Arrow to Port Stanley, capital of the Malvinas/Falklands Islands, which would be added to the HMS Endurance who was already in the area. The British Prime Minister James Callaghan and international analysts could not believe that Argentina was going to war over three sparsely inhabited islands in the South Atlantic, and did not believe that the British possessions in the southern cone were safe, hence the sending of a small force to the Falklands, to prevent any escalation.

Argentinian Infantry soldiers during their advance, after the capture of Osorno, in January 1979

0245 a.m. - 4th Parachute Brigade HQ, Córdoba

The assigned men would begin the deployment the next day to Toay, La Pampa. The brand new XIII Parachute Brigade was a partition of the IV Brigade, for which each one of the battalions of the new regiments was already part of the 2, 14 and 17 regiments. The officers give the mobilization order. With the country at war two weeks ago, the combat and jump teams are always ready. Two battalions of the brand-new RIP 13 (Regimiento de Infantería Paracaidista No.13) and a couple of companies from RIP 2 and 14, very well equipped, were enlisted. On the runways of the Military Aviation School, some eight C-130s wait while being refuelled.


Argentinian parachutists, 9th July parade, 1978


One hour the first C-130 takes off, heading southeast, towards Neuquén. Two Mirage IIIs cover the formation. The Andes Mountain range prevents Chilean radars from capturing the maneuver. At the same time, but at the northeast of Argentina, four other Mirages and 6 reconnaissance Learjets take off and begin to fly over Corrientes.

Back in Chile, flying over Puerto Montt, the Learjet activates the city's anti-aircraft defenses. Its photos capture fixes on the tarmac at the local air base, but the pair of F-5s being overhauled remain hidden from the cameras. An hour later, the Learjet of the II Air Brigade arrives in Neuquén Capital and the photographs are analyzed among the pilots of the Argentinian fighters based at the base. With all the information, a total of 3 waves of attack are planned. At the height of Neuquén, the Dagger escorts are diverted to the auxiliary airport of General Roca, ready to receive them.

The Daggers that landed in General Roca hours before are being refuelled and checked. The A-4s will have air cover from noon. A pair of Argentinian Skyhawks drop napalm bombs on Chilean forces in Lake Calafquén. The couple leaves after a brief evaluation; No survivors can be seen on the ground, among the enormous flames.

Amid gunfire and artillery duels, FAA forward controllers deployed among the forward troops direct another section of Skyhawks to attack. Equipped with two triplets of 250 kilo bombs, the attack is devastating. An entire artillery battery is annihilated, along with well-settled Chilean infantry and machine gun positions. The troops were one touch away from breaking the Chilean defense. Before returning, the planes unload the guns, not the 30mm DEFA ones made in Argentina, but the original 20mm ones, on a column of light vehicles that are approaching Loncoche from Valdivia, apparently. The attack leaves vehicles on fire, and the Skyhawks retreat unscathed

The first wave of attack is successful.

7:30 p.m. – Neuquén, Argentina

Some two sections of A-4 meet in flight with the 2 pairs of Dagger coming from General Roca. Only a couple of Daggers carry Shaffrir missiles, the other 2 carry 250kg bombs. At about 8:30 p.m., they arrive in Cunco, Chile, where guided from the ground by the staff FAA official, a pair of Skyhawk drops their bombs on strong points where Chilean units are concentrated. The question is recurrent in all the ranks of the ECh: "Where is the FACH?!!"

The other pair of A-4s drops their bombs at the request of the ground troops. There is zero anti-aircraft fire in the sector.

Two minutes later, in Valdivia, Dagger's partner makes a quick pass. The bombs fall near the IV Division Command, causing casualties among the staff security and several civilians. The message is clear for Chilean officials: Their skies are ours. Even so, the air defense of the city is the most coordinated of all, the flight commander gets a big scare when 30mm shells destroy the flight deck.

10:30 p.m. – Cordoba, Argentina

Two A-4Bs are forwarded to General Roca. Some 4 new machines arrive from Quilmes, and a damaged Dagger is re-engined at AMARC and two M-IIIs are put back into service

0715 a.m.- Bariloche, Argentina

The 707 of the I Air Brigade arrive at the local airport transporting 450 members of the Federal Police, who immediately board military vehicles and head to Osorno. Another 200 troops from Neuquén, are sent to Loncoche. The dispatch, from Buenos Aires, of hundreds of police officers will allow the majority of the cantoned troops to be launched into combat

08:30 a.m. - Osorno

An FAA Twin Otter touches down on the still pockmarked runway of the busy city airport. From it, a group of 8 men descend and is led to the Command of the VI Brigade in operations. The brand-new Commando Company 603 have arrived at the Theater of Operations.

Meanwhile, in Villarrica, Chile, RIM 26 rests and reorganizes before undertaking the advance of the gigantic pincer on the IV Division. For two days, supplies have been arriving in Villarrica almost without interruption.

0930 - Puerto Montt

Once the reconnaissance aircraft had been withdrawn, the order was given to the pair of F-5s to take off to intercept any Argentinian aircraft that crossed the mountain range again. Fuel is scarce, Magellan's reserves have been attacked with almost surgical precision. The lack of a radar, and the depth of the Argentinian territory, makes the mission difficult.

Two hours later, in Loncoche, the Argentinian flag waves. The last redoubts have been silenced. The Argentinians take 876 prisoners, most of them in the city's overcrowded hospital. Organized withdrawal is impossible after the air attack the day before, which allowed a strong Argentinian wedge to advance across the railway. The RIM 26 troops have fought exceptionally well. Meanwhile, company E of 22 de Montaña, with heavy casualties in Cunco, has partially withdrawn from the sector, although it has not been recovered by the Chileans either; but with the taking of Loncoche, an action will soon be launched with the aim of securing the northern flank.

At noon, in Valdivia, the news of Loncoche's fall falls like a bucket of cold water. During the previous night, the fall in Argentinian hands of San Pablo has also been reported.


Argentinian Infantry troops in Loncoche, Chile - January, 1979

2:00 p.m. – Neuquen, Argentina

An A-4B and an invaluable Dagger have been lost. The combat sorties have been suspended, and the Dagger that had been out on a cover mission have returned. In the heads of the pilots, they think directly about nipping the problem at the root. The El Tepual air base must be bombed, without a doubt. And in that sense, they are designing an action plan.

2:30 p.m. - Puerto Montt

Reports of Purranque's fall reach the city. The command of the 12 Infantry Regiment now knows for sure that the containment device has failed.

The most serious thing is that with the disbandment of the troops, the disbandment of the population has begun. The officer informs the command that on the route a convoy with ammunition and reinforcements was attacked by the FAA with bombs and cannons, and important supplies and reinforcements were destroyed. The captain recounts, with regret, having counted almost two entire companies burned by the napalm fire that the Argentinians are using, and suggests bringing journalists to photograph the massacre. Along with the transport, a column of civilians was circulating in the direction of Puerto Montt, which has also been a victim of the bombing. Those present know that it is impossible for pilots to spot civilians, especially when the route is also used by belligerent forces...

At the same time, the construction of trenches on the outskirts of the city and the airport begins. It is decided that all troop movement will be done at night, even with the cover partially offered by the base's F-5s.

Meanwhile, in Purranque, three companies from RIM 10 arrive in the city and begin to prepare the transfer of the prisoners to Osorno. The civil infrastructure has not received much damage, since the artillery fire was concentrated on the defenses established on the outskirts of the city. The prisoners, along with some newly arrived troops, are employed clearing the route after FAA bombing. The scene is not pleasant at all, not even for the most hardened soldier: dozens of charred bodies have been removed from the cars and are about to be buried in the city cemetery. The fallen Argentinians have already been sent to Osorno; Chileans are being identified and separated for burial apart from civilians, of whom there are sadly many, and it seems that they were traveling south, escaping the fighting,

The count leaves a balance of 77 dead civilians, 114 wounded, who were sent to Osorno as the transports were released; 354 enemy combatants killed, including 200 in the route, hit by Skyhawk fire, 427 wounded, and 231 taken prisoner. 578 rifles were seized in usable condition, a cannon of 105mm and two 81mm mortars, three almost out of fuel trucks and a couple of jeeps. Meanwhile, an artillery battery is moved into position to cover the advance.

From Neuquén Capital, four Skyhawks take off armed with two bomb triplets each, heading for Puerto Montt, and escorted by a pair of Mirage III. Further on, another pair of Daggers is already entering the mountain range.

January 9th, 1979 0525 - Puerto Montt

A loud and particular sound wakes up many people downstairs in the city. Recognizing him, pandemonium breaks out. The soldiers begin to shoot blindly into the sky, some officers order to cut the electricity supply to turn off the lights, the troops must put order in the streets. From the sky, both pilots see the tracers climbing into the dark sky, without any aim. Over the ocean, both aircrafts head toward Argentina again.

At 11:00 a.m., the transfer of the 12 "Sangra" Regiment to the VII Division, in Puerto Montt, makes the command of the unit breathe again, which all day yesterday has tried in vain to communicate with Valdivia.

The situation is very serious. The defensive line installed in Purranque has been surpassed, and heavy casualties in material and men were suffered. In the morning, the arrival of a pair of Hawker Hunters in the area seemed like a godsend, but the FAA showed up en masse and both planes were shot down and, worse still, the air base was closed "for almost the entire season", as a FACh major laconically expressed upon seeing the destruction on the runway and the air terminal. The F-5s that guarded the base are believed to have reached Valdivia...

Refugees continue to arrive in the city, which has food supply problems. Even so, the most dangerous enemy is the very disorganization and evident fractures that occur throughout the officers of the IV Division.

11:15 a.m. - Valdivia

Two F-5 fighters, one with the damaged wing of his fighter, have managed to arrive at the local airport, where the ships are thoroughly checked. The damaged plane has suffered severe punishment, and is not airworthy. Worse yet, there are no spare parts available at the station, and there are no missiles in the arsenal, just a few bombs. Communication with Puerto Montt is impossible, so there are two solutions, or wait for someone to notice in El Tepual that there are spare parts and not aircraft, and send them by dangerous airway, or ship them. In the General HQ of the IV Division, tense moments are experienced. The appearance from the north of troops fleeing in disarray from Loncoche, some unarmed, others wounded and shocked, has been a huge blow to the morale of the troops. Loncoche, symbol of the infernal wall, has been lost.

South of Purranque, tired of waiting, a young captain of the ECh commands 120 infantry from those who garrison Frutillar, in an assault on Purranque. Detected by EA patrols, they are expected to be up to 400 meters away and 5 fire hydrants open fire on the group. The artillery, perfectly regulated, wreaks havoc on the attackers; the captain, realizing the mistake, orders the dispersal and withdrawal; is late. Three M-113 flank the group and from their machine guns sweep the soldiers on the plain. An AMX-13 appears from the north, covering two sections of advancing infantrymen. The Vehicles' infantry descends and an intense firefight begins, which is briefly concluded. 46 ECh soldiers are taken prisoner. The rest lie dead, including the captain.

In Valdivia, during the afternoon, up from the port a shipment for the F-5 stationed at the airport, sadly, the teams are taken in horse-drawn carts, since fuel is scarce and is destined for military operations. The technicians who arrived from Puerto Montt believe they will put the Tigres into flight for the afternoon of the following day. The last 6 AIM-9Bs from the base have also been transported. In the city, the chaos tries to be contained. People no longer know where to go, and hundreds of refugees arriving from the north and south have overwhelmed the services and the order imposed by the IV Division Command. The news of the fall of Lanco, as well as the destruction of the "Arauco" regiment and the Argentinian attack on the Unión-Río Bueno defense line could not be hidden from the population, desperate minute by minute. Theft and looting have increased, forcing the command to always have troops in the city that would be valuable on the front lines.

The armor has been reduced to half operable with little fuel, the rest has been placed in strategic positions, half-buried as strong points, in order to hope to retain the enemy. In reality, the move doesn't help much, since the 105mm guns of the Kurassier or the repowered AMX-13 and Sherman can easily beat half-buried tanks from a longer range than their own guns. Without mobility, the M-41s become steel coffins. Trenches are dug suddenly. Some troops spread mines, but there have been several deaths and injuries with civilians who arrive in the city every day, who unknowingly cross the defense areas.

Some 400 men, ages 16 to 50, are receiving accelerated instruction with Mauser rifles. The idea is that, at least, they could serve as snipers...


Meanwhile, in La Unión, having rejected the offer of surrender, the Argentinian artillery hammered the Chilean positions in the town for two hours. The defenders, exhausted and almost out of ammunition, watch as the Argentinians mobilize around the perimeter, preparing to carry out an assault. The major in charge of the square is determined to defend it, but some officers see it as a futile effort. It’s even useless to defend Valdivia, they indicate, since they have seen another column of Argentinian advance along the clear route to the north. The discussion escalates. The major orders the arrest of the captain who argues with him, but the only substitute to take charge of the unit is an 18-year-old second lieutenant, the rest of the officers are pissed off, and angry protests arise. Meanwhile, the Argentinian infantry begin the assault from two directions. The AMX-13s eliminate the positions from which the Chilean machine guns open fire. A group of young people launches against one of the tanks, but in the stretch of 30 meters, the Argentinian infantrymen shoot them down.

The last Chilean counterattack in Cunco, carried out from the north, leaves a total of 10 casualties among the Argentinian troops. The corpses left behind by the retreating attackers number in the dozens. The Chilean troops sent, with great difficulty, to harass Temuco are being repulsed at all points of attack. The Argentinian infantry and armor of RCM 4 have achieved unrivaled synchronization throughout the EA. One by one, and with few casualties, they are reducing the defenders, who must retreat towards the destroyed municipality. All this with the Dantesque sound of artillery raining down on enemy positions. The race to Puerto Montt begins its countdown... That week Chile also began its countdown...

January 12, 1979 - 0555 – Neuquén, Argentina - The lone attacker

A chilean F-5 figher pilot, january 1979

The radar operator, asleep before the screen, suddenly wakes up to the beep that indicates the presence of an unknown aircraft. Without understanding what is happening, he loses vital seconds before raising the alarm. It’s late…with the runway before him, the captain of the lone F-5 pulls the trigger and the plane shakes as it drops bombs in rapid succession. Three of the bombs hit the runway in a row, creating deep craters. The last one falls outside, very close to a slope of land prepared to contain airplanes that fortunately is empty.

The F-5 sets course for Chile rapidly. The base's anti-aircraft batteries give chase, but miss the speeding device. Hundreds of Neuquen inhabitans wake up with the noise of the attack. The attack alarm is activated in the city, and chaos spreads among the population. It is clear that these are only attacks for psychological purposes…the course of the war seems inevitable.

At around 9:30 a.m. the seven A-4s of the V Air Brigade are taken out of the inoperable Neuquén base and taken to Route 22, where a straight section of 2000 meters has been closed. One by one, they take flight, under the gaze of thousands of onlookers. The aircrafts head towards Bariloche, but, once far from the populated centers, they turn around and return to the north, to the emergency runway established in front of General Roca, on the southern bank of the Rio Negro River. When the train allows it, the material of the Technical Group and the armament will be taken there.
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(1) According to historian Rosendo Fraga, this actually happened, Argentina asked to the soviet if they can to play this way in the UN for the inminent operations in the south.


Chilean defenders in Puerto Montt, january 1979


Cover of "Gente" magazine, portraying the fall of Puerto Montt in Argentinian hands, January 1979.


Argentinian Commando company 602 in Punta Arenas - January, 1979 (picture from "Gente" Magazine, 1979)


Citer 155mm cannon, in the Central Front, January 1979
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JANUARY 14, 1979 – Northern Chile

During the course of the war there were several moments that can be classified as "decisive", especially considering the willingness of the US and the UN to intervene, and the strong Chilean resistance, among other reasons, which can serve as an example of how the war could have ended differently, and indeed the famous "January 13" incident is one of the favorite sources of speculation among analysts and historians.

Tensions between Chile, Peru and Bolivia had been latent since the end of the Pacific War in 1883 (that is, almost 100 years before the Beagle War) in which Chile seized the rich saltpeter regions of Arica. and Atacama, from Peru and Bolivia, leaving the latter landlocked. These tensions were at their zenith, again, during the Beagle crisis. Both Peru and Bolivia had agreed to remain neutral in early 1978, but as summer approached, both nations found themselves increasing tensions with Chile and more eager to join Argentina in a conflict that would ensure the return of the “captive provinces”.

The moment when the powder keg finally fully exploded was that January 13, 1979, when a Boeing reconnaissance aircraft of the Peruvian Air Force was shot down by a FACH Hawker Hunter, in the airspace of Chile, at few km from the common border between the two countries. Incidents as skirmishes, had already occurred between the end of 1978 and the beginning of 1979, and even the best known was that of two Peruvian T-55 and a BMP-1 destroyed and captured by Chilean forces, in a non all clear until today incident, and a spy plane that penetrated Chilean airspace to finally escape to Bolivia.

Of course, when war was declared on the morning of January 13, tempers were running high, and Peru had been waiting for this for a long time. Peru was a very well-equipped country, which had made large arms purchases from the USSR and France, and had used the Mirage V since 1968. Not only that, in December 1978 the Peruvian Navy had carried out naval exercises called "Libertador General San Martín”, right on the maritime border between Peru and Chile. When Lima announced a state of war with Chile, so was the government in La Paz.

That January 13, there was a colossal concentration in repudiation of "Peruvian expansionism" in Quito, a situation that caused concern since in the town and in the Armed Forces. there is a volatile spirit against Peru, which has served as a catalyst for all the scattered energies, a newspaper published as headline the next day "war to the death against the “Southern Nazis"

In the jungle, on the southern border of the country, began the transport of large Peruvian contingents, and the Ecuadorian Army would carry out intense "sovereignty patrols" in the same area, and everyone knew that in the event of a clash in the area it could lead to war, which is why Ecuador began two days later a partial mobilization of its reserves and to activate a series of arms purchases to equip its Armed Forces, in case the tide brings war.

Despite the fact that relations between Santiago and London were not the best in those days, due to the human rights violations committed by the Pinochet regime, especially with some British subject citizen, and that before the war it had refused to sell spare parts for their planes; 1979 saw some change of heart by allowing South Africa to deal in some British-patent weapons such as G-2 cannons, and allowing New Zealand to sell a consignment of arms to Ecuador, half of which ended up in Chile's hands; However, England didn’t allow Kenya to sell 12 Hawker Hunters to Chile, and it is that the important British commercial interests in Argentina could be affected by the deployment of these British aircrafts, a potential danger for said interests.

One of the most important shipments arrived in Valparaiso, Chile, between January 15 and 20, 1979, from South Africa, at night to avoid any air raid. Among the large amount of supplies, perhaps the largest cargo received by Chile during the war, were some 12 AMX-30 tanks acquired from France, out of a total of 24 (half retained), 18 South African G-2 howitzers ( half directed to the Austral Military Region), about 24 cannons of 106mm s/r. Some 8,815 G-3 H&K rifles manufactured in Portugal, 294 marksman rifles, 176 machine guns, 18 120mm mortars, 42 81mm mortars, some 54 60mm mortars, some 650 pistols, some 350-night vision goggles, 9,000 uniforms, 12,000 mod. M51 manufactured in South Africa, 8,000 trimmings, 950 tents and 06 Crotale shooting units.

The New Triple Alliance

After the declaration of war, the Argentinian, Peruvian and Bolivian General Staff met to discuss the tactics to follow. Everyone knew that this had already happened since before December 1978. First of all, Peruvian Mirage V fighters, and Soviet-made Sukhoi fighters, also Peruvian, began to patrol northern Chile, together with Argentinian Skyhawks. The presence of Bolivia was almost nil, considering that for the Chileans to shoot them down was almost like killing flies, but not so with the fighters mentioned above.

a 4 derribado.jpg

An argentinian A4 B Skyhawk, shot down in northern Chile

This was the preview of the January 19 attack. Nobody escapes the fact that such a premature Peruvian attack required that it had already been planned for a long time. During the week of January 11 to 18, 1979, a series of displacements and direct harassment of Santiago began, as a result of insubordination by Menéndez and his acolytes (Menéndez would die in February 1979 under strange circumstances); Once it was launched, there was no choice but to follow it, and air raids to the north and center of the Chilean capital continued: the battles of attrition kilometers from Santiago, and that which had only been born as a series of limited attacks of attrition, turned into a bloody wedge.

Meanwhile, the Armies in the north went into action in the Atacama, opening the attack by well-armored Peruvian troops, using their Soviet-made T-55 tanks, in their offensive against Arica; but they were surprised by the firm Chilean defense, whose northern contingent was the best armed of the Chilean forces on all fronts, which repelled the Peruvian assaults of January 19 and 22, 1979, while the imaginative Chilean defense in the ports, using dismounted torpedoes and missiles from their strong and decimated fleet, they effectively defended their ports against the Peruvian squadron, which lost two ships, and limited themselves to a ranged blockade action.

Bolivia, due to its very poor socio-economic and military infrastructure, was the country that contributed the least to the war effort, but above all because they had to cross an enormous desert of saltpeter, very well defended with bunkers and command posts of the Chilean army.

Despite the fact that Chile, since 1974, had been developing its HV-3 (Neighborhood Hypothesis 3, a simultaneous war against its three neighbors), it could barely contain the attacking forces in the north; and despite their well-fortified lines and bunkers in Atacama and Arica, they knew well that they could not hold out forever. That’s why his last hope was not the resistance in the Andes, or the General Staff in Santiago, but in Washington, where the Carter administration was looking for a formula to stop hostilities.


A Chilean Hawker Hunter flying over the Northern Front, during the defense of Arica, in January 1979.
These aircraft played a good role against Soviet-made Peruvian aircraft.
su 22.jpg

The Peruvian Air Force tried to neutralize the Chacalluta airport, 18 kilometers from the city of Arica, with an intense bombardment with Russian-made Su-22 fitter planes, with moderate success. It was the first major Northern Front operation of the Beagle War.

MARTINICA, January 16th, 1979

President Jimmy Carter awaits his guests in one of the reception rooms of the complex, the meeting on the Island of Martinique, where it will be decided, for example, to let go of the hand of the Shah of Iran, he has a minor appetizer for his guests: The situation in South America.

A motorcade approaches the building, moments later the French ambassador and his British and West German counterparts walk to the anteroom, where Carter in golf shorts awaits them. After the usual greetings, the four of them sit around a table that has already been set up. At that moment, the Marine S-2 lands on the nearby helipad, and Begin, the Israeli premier, descends from it. The meeting, far from any formality, is almost a summit. It has as its object the war in South America; the least pessimistic calculations spoke of 15,000 casualties on all fronts. An irruption of Brazil, Paraguay and Ecuador…and South America would take decades to recover.

The French representative noted the permeability of the blockade imposed by Washington, which was true, since a few days ago they had landed in Chile, supplies of French origin. But it was also true that American ships turned a blind eye to transports bound for Argentina, with Israeli weapons. No one would have thought of playing target shooting with these ships just for the sake of being applauded by the UN... No part of this meeting was innocent, furthermore, Argentina had huge contracts with France: Mirage fighters, Ettan D'Ouvers corvettes ... and at the meeting there was talk of Argentinian interest in the Super Etendards, an interest that the French sought to minimize, to the anger of those present, especially because they were airing their miseries there.

In the case of Argentina, and despite the denials in those days, the French government had recently given a very discreet authorization to Aerospatiale for the sale of 20 AM-39 Exocet missiles. According to the company, its destination was the Maghreb, and since both Algeria, Tunisia and Libya have French weapons, the wave of distracting rumors was easier to amplify, even more so considering that the three North African governments are susceptible to "material incentives” to keep secrets.

It was not a minor issue, days before the meeting, two "tourists" were found dead, and with signs of violence, in Brest. Actually, they were spies who were keeping track of the real destination, already known by Israeli agents that the AM 39 Exocet was destined to equip the 14 Super Etendard fighter-bombers, and there was even talk of a batch of pilots and mechanics Argentinians, from the II Fighter and Attack Squadron, from Bahía Blanca, to train at the French Landivisiau naval air base.

In any case, the SUE-Exocet system was not ready for quite some time after the war ended, and its choice followed Washington's official refusal to sell Skyhawks II to the Argentinian Naval Aviation.

The British representative was exasperated by the Malvinas issue, and by the fact that one of the Israeli cargo ships posed as "English" to deliver weapons to Argentina, when Chile has been a traditional ally, despite their recent differences and the massive Argentinian military purchases from England in recent years. But the unwavering allies were at that table that day, and the meeting sought to put an end to differences and mistakes...

Neither more nor less, at that time the United States had supplied, since the beginning of hostilities, fighter jets to Argentina, at the expense of Israel, and fighters to Brazil and Chile, as if to even out these differences. Brazil had also been providing Chile with combat ammunition, armor, rifles and rockets. The United States also supplied spare parts for Sherman armor to Chile, and LAW rockets for its troops, despite the Humphrey-Kennedy amendment

Israel had been providing, in addition to the A-4 Skyhawks, the Shaffrir missile carrier, and the 80 armored vehicles on the way...some 120 M-113s still. It would not be the only thing, as will be seen later, since Israel had reciprocal obligations with Argentina. The Israeli prime minister treated Carter as a hypocrite because, despite everything, Argentina continued to assume its task with Somoza in Nicaragua and at the request of the Pentagon.

France had the issue of the AMX-30 that Chile had acquired before the war... but Begin assured that what was agreed was the only thing and the last one that would be sent to Argentina… of course it would not comply. The US would not deliver anything else either. England, for its part, had an agreement with Argentina for the maintenance of the two Types 42s, a turbine on the way and some missiles, "but it will be the last thing" ... and they also provided and will provide some spare parts for the Chilean Hunters, via triangulation with Jordan.

The reality was that Argentina could sustain its war effort a little longer. Chile, in a very dramatic situation, lacked its own fuel to sustain its operations.

The German, silent until then, and for some reason, Bonn would already respect their belligerent contracts, the most significant, those signed with the Argentinians, that is, 4 Meko 360 class destroyers, 6 Meko 140 type frigates, 2 TR-1400 type submarines and 3 type TR-1700 submarines, whose construction at the Kiel shipyards began slowly and type 209 submarines for Peru; he managed to say that if the UN intervened at this time, Argentina, Chile and Peru would pick up their dead and arm themselves to the teeth to shake it off again and Brazil would be happy to have its pantry open. There is a clue as to why the lock failed….

(From the Book: "1979, the year that changed everything" by Ian Kershaw)


Chilean defenders in the northern border, January 1979

Peruvian troops in northern Chile, January 1979. Peruvian weaponry was mostly of Soviet made.


A destroyed T-55 peruvian tank in the northern chilean desert, january 1979.
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Three black Ford Falcons without license plates stop in front of the HQ building of the Argentinian Navy.

The entrance of the Israeli Ambassador and his adviser from the Israeli Chel'Havir followed by their reception by Admiral Massera, who although retired, was the strong man of the Navy.

- Mr. Ambassador, I did not expect you so early... take a seat please.

- Good morning, Admiral. My early arrival is due to the fact that I want to discuss certain matters with you before my American counterpart's meeting with General Viola.

Massera is surprised, but tries very hard not to show it…the Israeli intelligence service does deserve its fearsome reputation.

- Well, then, I suppose you know why I have summoned you...

- I think so. The armored units of the Marine Infantry, like the armored units of the Argentinian Army, have made a great effort in the south, but at this rate they will be left defenseless to solve the continental hegemony, running out of tanks... and their Navy, although it prevailed in the south seas, is a shadow of what it was. In addition, the South American geopolitical and military balance was definitively broken, and this is not to the liking of Brasilia, as it will have realized from the mobilization and from the forthcoming military exercises in the south of Brazil.

- Starfleet is sailing south again now, for your information. - Dimensions Massera

- I know. And Chileans know it too. The only difference is that we know the exact position of it... the Americans owe us favors, and they provide us with that information (the ambassador's clarification now answers yes to the astonished face of the Argentinian admiral) - The point is that this military adventure interests us...

- And what is your interest, Mr. Ambassador?

- The point, Admiral, is that, although Argentina is winning the war, the State of Israel does not want the unnecessary prolongation of the conflict, but we understand that if it continues like this, the conflict will stagnate and lead to greater carnage. And with thousands of Jewish citizens in Argentina, we care about their safety.

The military assistant opens a briefcase and extracts 3 closed folders, which he hands over to the ambassador.

Everyone leaves the room, leaving alone, the two Israelis, one born in Argentina, and the Admiral, who convinced General Viola, who exercises provisional command of the Nation, to meet personally with the Israelis.

The ambassador opens the folder, and spreads a couple of photographs on the desk. The Argentinian admiral watches them. The first three concern a pair of Sherman tanks, an AMX-13 and an SK-105 Kurassier, all of which were destroyed in combat. The last photo corresponds to one of the TAM prototypes in action. This TAM photographed was the same prototype with a barrel of 105mm that in 1977 had carried out tests in San Antonio de los Cobres, in Salta and San Martín de los Andes, in Neuquén.

- My government (led by Menahet Begin) was impressed by the performance of the TAMs, and how their crews and maintenance personnel manage to run things with few elements. But in a situation that requires immediacy, this may not be enough...

- Well, what do they ask for… what do we get in return? Massera expressed some suspicion.

- We have in our reserve some upgraded Sherman tanks, which are being deactivated... the Syrians are acquiring first-rate Soviet material, and those venerable veterans can do little with them... perhaps they can re-equip their battered mechanized units. Its production of rifles, ammunition and cannons is self-sustaining.

- How many tanks are we talking about?

- 40 in principle, maybe another 40 if we manage to replace them quickly in our inventory... and if we go on to discuss another point...

- What else can we offer? The Argentinian was intrigued. What do these guys want?

- Mining concessions. When the conflict ends, of course... Argentina has some important deposits for us, mainly in the provinces of Catamarca, La Rioja and Chubut. We request the concession of one of them. As you can see, we want to extract uranium.

Massera is speechless.

- ...Ummm, well... we should talk about it with the Junta... also, those deposits are currently threatened by the conflict...

- If you give us the concession of one of those deposits and let us operate it, we will ensure that we obtain the means so that they remain in your hands... The ambassador takes the last folder, and from it enters a black and white photo and extends it before the Admiral.

In the photo you can see a long line of A-fighter bombers 4C with USMC insignia.

- They are in a base of the Marines, to be deactivated, in the Western United States. With your collaboration, these aircraft can reach Argentina, obviously in discreet shipments and under various subterfuges... Israel would acquire them for Argentina, if you assure me today of the exploitation of said mining complex.

Massera shuffles the options. Yes, those tanks and planes are definitely needed. But let the Israelis mine uranium? What will the American ambassador think?

- How long are we talking about, and how are we going to bring that material here?

- If the Americans impose the naval blockade, our ships with medical supplies will not be prevented from passing... we have already done this before, Admiral... these are technical aspects that do not mean a big problem. And if you're worried that we're going to use your uranium, the Americans will be happy. It's harder every day for them to deliver the one we use… On the other hand, you can have those armored cars here in 10, 15 days, no more. And the planes may start arriving, to be reassembled, within 1 month, or maybe less. It would do them good if Argentina want to end the war well before February 20. A shipment of Shaffrir missiles is sailing here, and will arrive in three days as a sign of our solidarity with Argentina... please, that your Customs does not review the packaging of agricultural machinery that we are exporting...

In the street, another procession approached the Casa Rosada. The United States ambassador entered the room. In Massera's office, the intercom alerted him to the arrival of the other guest prior to meeting with Viola.

- Admiral, the American ambassador does not need to know all this. Before I go, do I have an answer?

- More than an answer, you have a uranium mine. I'll draft the relevant orders.

- Don’t you forget to negotiate the papers of your State through Bunge & Born, Mr. Admiral. I will take care of coordinating shipments. Don't let the American ambassador wait, he is our greatest partner in the world!

(From the weekly "El Periodista de Buenos Aires", November 1986, in relation to the "dark" Argentinian-Israeli relations during the Beagle War)

DIRTY BUSINESS II, JANUARY 15, 1979 - Campo de Mayo

In order to avoid annoying looks and persecution, the Israeli ambassador finally meets with General Viola, General Bignone and Brigadier Dozo, who replaced Brigadier Graffigna who suffered a cardiac arrest days before. After thanking the ambassador for accessing said meeting, Viola begins the topic; amdist the war, it was essential for the Armed Forces. re-establish the scope of material acquisition.

The previous meeting with Massera had agreed to the delivery of USMC A-4 fighters and IDF armored vehicles in exchange for the non-enlistment of Jewish citizens in the ranks of the Armed Forces and the exploitation of strategic deposits in the Cordillera, although was not duly notified to the Argentinian Army and Air Force staff, men from the army had already warned about Israeli investigation teams in the mountains, with Navy escorts days before. Regardless of what has been said, the Israeli ambassador, with total naturalness, assumes, before those gathered, said commitment, nothing more and nothing less than the exploitation of uranium deposits for shipment to Israel. Despite being a reserved clause, the men of the Army and the FAA agree, but with reserves.

There was concern about the terms and delivery times for the A-4s. The Israeli took a series of folders out of his briefcase. One of them had black and white photos for the brigadier. The photos were of the planes, when they were carefully prepared for shipment. In total, the US government packed 36 aircraft, of which 20 will arrive in 4 days, with an option for the remaining 16. But Dozo noticed that in the photos it looked like the staff A USMC technician removes the advanced Ferranti Bombardment sights from the aircraft, causing him to snap in anger at not going as agreed.

However, the ambassador, neither slow nor improvised, clarified that his government protested and obtained the concession of 6 more aircraft...Israel could make another adjustment in the negotiation. In 1979, Israel had 40 of these bombing systems in its reserves, they could transfer them to Argentina, "a seal of seriousness in the use of mining deposits," the ambassador called it.

Always, in these kinds of businesses, everyone wants to keep a part of the cut...if the Argentinian government ceded the mining concession in three mountain range areas rich in uranium, "Yeso", they were called in the press in 1981, the Argentinian Army he could obtain 5% profits of the production.... But the Air Force also wanted more, those bombing devices and using the option for the remaining Dagger... The ambassador spread a smile that none of those present forgot.

Regarding the ground material, the Israeli extended another folder to General Viola, who shared it with Bignone. There were photos of the boarding of the Shermans and armored vehicles M-3 and M-9. All identifying marks have been removed. In total, Israel had a shipment of 60 M-51 armored vehicles for Argentina, equipped with the French CN 75-50 high-velocity cannon. It is the type of tank that could be converted to a Sherman Repowered. Along with them, 24 M-3 half-tracks will arrive. The second shipment consisted of 20 M-113s and 75 more M-3s. If there was a need to hasten the end of the war, and dissuade Brazil, this was ideal.

According to the ambassador, they would arrive in excellent condition, since Israel always kept them ready for service; with hostile Arabs, being caught off guard is not an option. Perhaps some Argentinian retouching is needed in certain armored vehicles. But Israel could provide some elements to be negotiated later, either in cash or in grains and meats: a last folder with photos of the Mirage IIICJ online, and a reserve fleet of M-51 Shermans, equipped with the CN gun. 105 F1, was delivered. Also, Galil rifles and ECM and radio equipment.

Once the meeting was over, and the required secret documents had been signed, the presidential helicopter took Viola and the Ambassador to the Edificio Libertador, from where each one left on his side.

The SS Kurago, now flying the Greek flag, arrives at Comodoro Rivadavia 24 hours later. The captain informs the person in charge of the ARA that the cargo is a shipment already arranged between Tel Aviv and Buenos Aires, and that, obviously, there should be no trace of the visit of the ship in the port. Hours later, the precious and vital shipment of 100 Shaffrir and three complete IAI Dagger engines is unloaded.


Argentinian A4-C Skyhawk armed with AA Shafrir missiles - December 1978


Argentina's Air Force with a formation of A4 Skyhawk in Neuquén Airport - January 1979 (source - Diario Clarin archives)


Sherman "repotenciado" 105mm in the Central front, Chile -January 1979

Argentinian TAM tank, with its 105mm turret, and a TAM Personnel Carrier Combat Vehicle (which says "prototype") getting ready for shipment to the central front, 1979


Argentina had half a dozen M-41 tanks, which had arrived due to the US Assistance program, but it had been cut off after the coup against dr. Illia, in 1966. By 1978, there was only a few in supply and they were sent to Chubut, in the border area, as a reserve.


An IAI Dagger during the last days of January 1979, in a mission over Chile

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DIRTY BUSINESS III - The Soviets want their part of the cake....
DIRTY BUSINESS III, JANUARY 17, 1979- 13:00 (Argentina UTC) - Kremlin

(…) For the meeting to be held, Andrei Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB; Marshal Ustinov, Minister of Defense; Mikhail Suslov, the eternal Secretary of the Central Committee for Ideology; Alexey Kosygin, Premier of the USSR. Along with them, Admiral Sergey Gorshkov and the head of the Soviet Army, Marshal Nicolai Ogarkov, have made room at this meeting. Thus, the Soviet Orbony, the Defense Council, was augmented by two of the heads of the armed forces, and ready for debate.

The matter to be discussed is not new, since the war in South America has been discussed on other occasions, most recently when it was decided to continue military aid to Peru. Even so, secret and patrol activity has not ceased, with Soviet submarine units being ordered to create records of shipments likely to be destined for the ports of belligerent countries, in order to increase the mass of information in the event of a diplomatic battle in the within the UN that helps further destroy the image of the lackluster Carter administration.

The Soviet contribution to Argentina within the UN is well known and, although 23 days have passed since the start of hostilities between Argentina and Chile, the KGB Department for South America has given the green light to a new phase of understanding between Moscow and Buenos Aires, arguing that Lieutenant General Viola is much more permeable to dialogue with the USSR than Videla, and even more so than Massera, considered an Anglophile nationalist despot by the KGB Psychology Department. Viola's government has a soft line policy more in line with that of Videla, of whom Viola was second in command.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs recalls that the Argentinian government ignored the United States and sold a large number of tons of grain to the USSR, alluding to the fact that Argentina was among the Non-Aligned Countries. So, the new Political intelligence work indicates that the Argentinian government is more permeable to the sale of Grains for this year, and the USSR may even provide certain military material in exchange for primary products. After the initial presentation by anonymous bureaucrats, the meeting begins.

In it, Gromyko was quite clear: he was in favour of sounding out Argentina in this regard to ensure that it had an important supply of food, and due to the events, it would be interesting to have a proposal to make to that government. A subordinate of Foreign Minister Gromyko presents a group of documents with copies to those present in front of Yuri Andropov, head of the KGB and virtual Secretary General.

A couple of soldiers place a huge map of South America on one of the walls. There, Colonel Gavrilov explains in detail the current situation in South America, the war that has Argentina, Bolivia and Peru on one side, and Chile on the other. Gavrilov explains that an expectant Brazil has not stopped “rearming itself and defending imperialist interests” in South America. If Brazil enters to the war, would be clearly in favor of Chile, and that has already been carrying out maneuvers in its favor, with the transfer of armored vehicles, rocket launchers and rifles.

Having started hostilities, Argentina suffered significant losses of armored material in southern Patagonia and in central Chile. In the center of the country, one of the Argentinian Army's specialized mountain combat brigades has achieved the definitive strategic partition of Chile. While its Peruvian and Bolivian allies are threating from the north, Argentina has declared its concern about a hypothetical invasion from the east by Brazil, although it is not yet in a position to unleash a sustained offensive yet. Thus, Argentina could fight on two fronts...

In the face of Marshal Ustinov's concerns about Argentina's real capacity to emerge victorious in the event of a conflict breaking out on two fronts, Gavrilov replied by emphasizing Argentina's advantages: its strategic depth, that the Argentinian military industry was one of the most advanced in the region, and has vast natural resources to sustain a prolonged war effort. He also worked hard on the social climate, "revitalized" (this was courtesy of reports sent to Moscow by the PCA -Argentinian Communist Party), highlighting the role of Brazil as a defender of the interests of the Empire, and arguing, in that case, the “weapons sales” to Chile. The key was, according to the official, for Argentina to defeat Chile, before Brazil attempts any destabilizing move.

Although relations between Moscow and Buenos Aires were more pragmatic than ideological, Suslov inquired about Argentina's character as an ally with the US and its adherence to the National Security Doctrine run by the State Department. One of the young officers, Gavrilov's assistant, present at that meeting confirmed to the author that Suslov had no intention of taking a bolder step in relations with Argentina, which, in the long run, would seek a new rapprochement with the United States.

Gavrilov dismissed this aspect, highlighting the almost severed ties between Washington and Buenos Aires, and that there are CIA personnel in Chile. In the days to come, Argentina would receive an important arms shipment from the US, but at the expense of Israel, a country with which Argentina had an agreement of specific strategic scope. It is known by STAVKA, and the Navy, that the US is supplying Chile and Brazil.

-"Although the Argentinian commitment to train American puppets in Central America is still standing" Andropov's words came leaving a halo of mystery in the air.

Andropov asked if an exchange of war material for food with Argentina was possible, and what political benefits it would bring to Moscow. Gavrilov, was interrupted by one of the main people interested in a rapprochement with Argentina, remnant (and perhaps deepening) those agreements with Ber Gelbard, Perón's economy minister, on his tour of the East, 1974.

Admiral Gorshkov focused on strategic revenues, but he went further and surprised those present by pointing to the Malvinas Islands, a control point over the Drake Strait; but he lowered his finger further and pointed towards the South Orkney Islands, where Argentina does exercise sovereignty. He saw the concession in terms of "scientific" bases and for Soviet ships and submarines to carry out repairs there. However, Marshal Ustinov warns him of the proximity of the Malvinas Islands, occupied by the English. This observation is also made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The British reaction was feared, although they agreed that Argentina would see Soviet respect for its sovereign claims. Speculation on Carter's weakness and his “non-intervention policy” could make Argentina agree. However, Suslov was still convinced that Argentina would not assent – as it finally happened – and although sometimes it does not follow any doctrine, he recalled that the JUNTA has crushed all the leftist guerrillas and followers in his country.

Andropov decided to take the risk. What are we in a position to provide or offer to the Argentinian government in exchange for a firm contract on agricultural products and the transfer, always under Argentinian sovereignty, of a base on those islands?

Gavrilov detailed everything that Argentina was doing with respect to its national industry focused on military power, the newest addition to its arsenal is the TAM family of armored vehicles, developed with the assistance of the German Tyssen-Hensche, and which includes a tank highly maneuverable and mobile medium, very well armed, that can stand up to anything the West deploys... even Soviet tanks and armor.

Argentina produces its own artillery, ammunition and infantry weapons, based on the FN FAL, it also produces the L7 cannons for the TAMs, called FNMk.4, and a copy of the French CN 105mm cannon that equips its AMX-13s and Sherman completely repowered by its industry, and that the Argentinian Air Force was equipped with aircraft from the Mirage and A-4 lines, still using some old American-made F-86s. The hardest hit branch is the Navy, which was reduced in its capabilities after the battle in the Drake Sea. Its fleet is headed by the aircraft carrier 25 de Mayo and the Type 42 Hercules destroyer.

Marshal Ogarkov's first intervention was to find out about the performance of the repowered Shermans, and although their performance was good against all Chilean armor, which they beat from greater distances, this was no more than a temporary solution until the now scarce TAM be produced in series. Marshal Ogarkov's question had its reason; with the hundreds of T-34-85s in depots in Poland and the Urals, Argentina could rearm them. That, as an immediate solution, to ensure their cooperation. He also looked favorably on Argentina serving as a shipping port for his Peruvian allies, for the T-55s, and RPG-7s.

Andropov was still concerned about the collaboration between Argentina and Israel, which was quite a lot, and he saw that Argentina could do the same thing that Israel did with the T-55 and T-62 tanks captured from Egypt and Syria, that is, modify them with the L7 cannon. 105mm and Western sighting systems. Perhaps the Argentinians are interested in doing the same, he reasoned, since he doubted they would otherwise introduce new logistics lines into their arsenals for the time being. The virtual secretary general agreed to send a first shipment of T-34s, plus a pair of T-62Bs for testing. "If we have good tact, we may be able to secure part of Argentinian exports for several years," he pointed out

This decision to allow Argentina to “Westernize” Soviet products would bring them a little headache when it does the same with a batch of MiG 23 and R-60 missiles in 1980, with Israeli help.

Admiral Gorshkov had not given up on the Southern Orkney idea, and suggested offering four Foxtrot-class submarines, since, if Argentina could not adequately defend its coasts, there was no way to secure the cargoes.

The idea had the support of General Ustinov. With that in mind, Andropov instructed Comrade Kosygin to give the proper orders, and coordinate the readiness of the naval convoys and the first batch of T- 34 to deliver. Gromyko, would give the pertinent orders to the personnel of the Embassy in Buenos Aires, would coordinate the delivery and the shipment of the proofs of Yuri Alexeievich to the same. Meanwhile, Colonel Gavrilov was sent to Argentina with a diplomatic bag.

After hearing the order, the colonel clicks his heels loudly.

- I serve the Soviet Union.

(Extracted from the book "The Gold of Moscow, the Argentinian-Soviet relations", by Isidoro Gilbert)


While awaiting the arrival of the Soviet agent, the military chiefs analysed the available options. While Lanusse sought to be cautious, because he thought that entering into negotiations with the Soviets could totally isolate the country and turn against the United States. Lanusse, a staunch but moderate anti-Marxist, was concerned, but distrusted the veracity of the photos, evidence and documents handed over to General Viola the day before by the person in charge of Trade at the Soviet Embassy. He saw as a moral contradiction that the Process has assumed power to eradicate the left that had Perón's widow in coma, and that now the doors to Moscow are opened wide for them.

For Lami Dozo, who knew from his peers that the Chileans were flying back F-5s and Hawker Hunters, the Soviet evidence was enough to know that Washington played against them, and in the middle of the war. How is that possible if the Kennedy Amendment rules over Chile? Argentina had Israeli aid, but it wasn't free, so listening to the USSR's offer wasn't going to hurt them.

Viola was wary of what Washington might think; accepting any offer from Moscow could make the US openly lean towards Chile and Brazil. But Lanusse thought for a moment, and going beyond regional interests, he didn’t see the risk as bad, but with reservations. In 1992 Lanusse himself confirmed to me (note: he confirmed to the author) that he decided to move in this way, but: “showing a firm conviction of how far we are willing to go. If we got it right, it could happen that the Americans see this as a challenge and freeze all aid to all parties, once the Soviets agree not to give us anything at all. The Soviets knew that they were exposing themselves to heating up the Cold War, and if they still decided to make us an offer, it is because they had made their own considerations”, General Viola agreed years later that Lanusse have said that.

The step was taken to listen to the offer, and see what benefits could be obtained in the short term; if it was in the medium term, the future consequences could be analyzed. But the idea was to cut off all aid to South America, that would completely collapse Chile, which will not be able to sustain the war effort, would give victory and dissuade Brazil from a potential last-minute play. The issue was to see how much Argentina was willing to give and concede

If the arrangement was merely commercial, the Argentinian government would say that it viewed it with satisfaction. Soviet equipment may come in abundance, but it had to be tailored to local needs. Lami Dozo was not interested in the short term in introducing new material of Soviet origin, according to him, the Soviet air doctrine, under which his planes are designed, were not applicable in the Air Force and there was no time to introduce new mechanical systems. Admiral Busser, representing the Navy, wasn’t agree: the Navy was not in a position to ensure control of the coasts in these conditions. It should be added that Lami Dozo would change his mind quickly.

(…) The meeting of Colonel Gavrilov - accompanied by the KGB agent, Vasilly Demyanenko - with Viola, Busser, and Dozo, replacing Graffigna, who suffered a cardiac arrest at the beginning of the war , and Lanusse, then brand new chancellor, (he had agreed to be appointed because the country was at war, and to stop the hard wing, with whom he had a terrible relationship that even cost him a few days of house arrest) was quite cordial but with a few prejudices, according to the Soviet colonel. Gavrilov, who barely spoke Spanish, began to speak in English. Those present listened to the translators, although some present tried to speak in English, which, in all cases, was quite rustic.

Gavrilov asked if they had had an opportunity to see the papers provided, and how willing they were to establish commercial relations with the USSR. It was in the Argentinian interest to establish a stable supply trade. Viola, as previously agreed, made clear the conditions of the Argentinian government, which were that the terms of sale of military equipment, or exchange, be following a model like that of the Soviet Union with India.

Demyanenko, who spoke more than Colonel Gavrilov, but did not stray one inch from what was agreed with Moscow, and aware of the Argentinian government's concerns, announced that it was not in the Soviet interest to send military advisers to Argentina, unless the government Argentinian is ready. Still, Viola tackled the issue squarely on the economic side.

Moscow's directives were clear: they expected Argentina to provide them with 60% of the country's exportable grains.

The deal sounded fair. Argentina produces a stock several times higher than it uses, even in war. However, meeting these obligations would cut off supply to other nations. In exchange, Argentina would receive Soviet submarines, of the "Foxtrot" and "Tango" class, both capable of launching torpedoes, for example, faster than that of a British sonar. Very powerful, and very modern. The Foxtrot class was more advanced than the guppies available to the Flomar. And the Tango class even more so. The Navy liked the idea, because it was just what was needed to defend the coasts. However, Argentina already had a contract with West Germany for the construction of more advanced type TR-1400 and TR-1700 submarines. This offer could serve as pressure on the Bonn government to speed up its construction.

The Kremlin envoys had full powers to immediately arrange the acquisition of 2 “Foxtrot” class submarines, capable of surviving any ASW measure that Brazil had, and more of the battered Chilean fleet. The "Foxtrots" and two "Tango" would be delivered in exchange for a few conditions, which filled the Argentinian military with suspicion, and moreover, the Soviet officer-maintained suspense, but if the exchange of grains was approved, there would be "Foxtrots”. But there was more, to the head of the Air Force and despite the fact that this branch was well equipped, he suggested discussing material that the Soviet Union could supply. Although Dozo hid behind the logistical problems of introducing new Soviet fighters, the envoy from Moscow was referring to air-to-air missiles and transport planes.

Meanwhile, Bignone and Viola analysed the contents of another folder; technical specifications and photographs of the RPG-7 used in the Northern Front (between Peru and Chile) and other missiles, together with various data and spreadsheets of tanks, armor and more rockets. Bignone was concerned about the T-34/85 tanks, this tank was one of the best tanks of the 2 not the best, far superior to the Sherman, and Bignone, Viola and Lanusse knew it. Colonel Gavrilov explained that they were "admired" by the transformation of the Sherman through a new gun and engine, and that they could do the same with the T-34/85. Argentina has the capacity to equip them with 105mm cannons, as with the Shermans. It wasn't a bad idea.

But the highlight to seduce the generals was the shipment of some 3,000 RPG-7s along with 50,000 rockets/grenades for joint use. In addition to 45 R-60 air-to-air missiles, more advanced than any other that the Argentinian Air Force had in stock, and some 300 SA-7 missile launchers, with their corresponding missiles, a total of 600. The most delighted was Bignone, according to Lanusse told me in 1992.

So, for the exchange of grains, annual or triennial, it would be seen later, Argentina would receive 100 T-34-85 tanks, 3,000 RPG-7s and their pertinent ammunition, 300 SA-7s, 45 air-to-air missiles R- 60; and two “Foxtrot" submarines. The offer was more than tempting. Bignone picked up the phone and contacted the "Domingo Viejobueno" Arsenals Battalion, the General requested that Lt. Col. Marquez, chief in charge of repowering the Shermans, present himself immediately with his workshop manager at the Casa Rosada.

Meanwhile, Viola offered refreshments to the Soviet guests, who gladly accepted. They had to wait for the workshop managers.

Excited about the "Foxtrot" submarines, since the Flomar would start to have teeth again, the Admiral asks how they would get to Argentina. These explain that the crews would be trained in Murmansk, to the same level as Soviet sailors. When they are ready, the submersibles would come sailing by themselves to Argentina. The rest of the armaments would come in the same ships that would bring the weapons, and in a gigantic Antonov transport plane. "Simple".

But the other submarines, two more "Foxtrot" and those of the "Tango" class, brand new, direct from the factory were another matter, and so Gavrilov and Demyanenko revealed. The colonel explained that one thing was the talk, and another was these two “Tango” submarines plus an extra two other “Foxtrot” class… and the Argentinian suspicions rose to the level of wheezing appetite; The exhibition already started badly because Gavrilov called the Malvinas, “Falklands", being corrected dryly by Lanusse. In any case, what the Soviets raised provided the necessary silence. Demyanenko noted that “My country is willing to support the claims for the sovereignty of the islands in the Security Council, as well as in the decolonization committee. In exchange for special permission.”

Everyone is silent. The support of a power was reason enough to say yes, more so in the Security Council, but in this case, it is equivalent to signing with the Devil, almost. Visibly scared, white, Viola asked what that condition would be.

Colonel Gavrilov, taking the post of his compatriot, indicates with his finger the group of Southern Orkney Islands and details Moscow's requirements on said island, the installation of a scientific base, with permission from the Argentinian government to allow resupply and the repairs of its Navy, with the commitment to inform Buenos Aires in detail about all the ships that park there. The Argentinians look at each other; what they are asking for is TOO MUCH. A dangerous escalation could be unleashed, and the whole world would see Argentina as the culprit. In that, the aide-de-camp enters accompanied by several women from the maintenance staff. Food and drinks are brought for those present, and another table is set up.

While Demyanenko, Gavrilov, and the three chiefs share some snacks, Viola and Lanusse argued in front of the window. As Lanusse told me, Viola told him that “if we agree, WE WILL BE KICKED OUR ASS OUT OF THE WEST!!!. It would be like giving them the key to the Beagle to Chile”, and beyond the predictability of the Russian request, Lanusse's fear was that the British would send more warships to the Malvinas, creating a permanent fleet and there they would never see the Malvinas again.

However, an intermediate point was reached, since the need to cover potholes, until the definitive exit of the TAM and other armaments of the national industry, was important, so progress was made towards a first deal, and the other option would be as a last letter. If the Americans hanged a little, or opted for Brazil, the offer is a weapon in itself, so that their game is reviewed. If Washington refused, there was the Southern Orkneys. It was playing with fire, but under pressure anything goes

About 25 minutes later, Army Lieutenant Colonel Márquez and Captain Juárez entered, the latter in overalls. They had been called to ask them about the feasibility of upgrading the T-34/85 tanks, in the style of those carried out with the Sherman, when the intentions were revealed, the faces of the lieutenant and the captain could not have been more surprising. The tower of the T-34-85 tank is larger than that of the Sherman to which the 105mm cannon was adapted, perhaps allowing it to store a greater amount of ammunition. And the weight is the same.

Bignone handed him the folder with the technical specifications, asking him to see if it could be done. The task was not easy, but the captain and the colonel immediately got down to it, doing accounts and calculations. Anyway, with the war over, Argentina sold a part to Bolivia in December 1979, and the other remained in reserve stock. With the departure of the TAM, they were practically not needed.

The last thing Moscow asked for was whether Argentina could be the means to resupply Peru with Soviet spare parts and ammunition. Since Peru was an ally, recently entered the war, they agreed. The Argentinian ports would receive a part of the Soviet material for Peru.

Lanusse, although still cautious, agreed to what was requested by Moscow in terms of grains for their equivalent in weapons, in this first stage, later the grain payments would be made in dollars; but he communicated that the "Orkney" matter would be left in abeyance, perhaps thinking that the envoys from Moscow would not agree or delay the whole matter. Colonel Gavrilov gave his approval (with the authorization of the Kremlin, which had already foreseen the matter).

In any case, finally, and to this day, no Soviet scientific base has been installed in Southern Orkney. But if there were grains for weapons, and as a "goodwill gesture", Moscow would send a couple of T-62 tanks for their "westernization" in Argentina, and subsequent evaluation.

Those in charge of “Domingo Viejobueno” show Bignone that adaptation is possible. Bignone reports it. They all nod. With the deal closed, Gavrilov announces that Moscow will be pleased. The first shipment will leave here in 3 days. Then everything was put in writing.

(Extracted from the book "The Gold of Moscow, the Argentinian-Soviet relations", by Isidoro Gilbert)
THE GREAT CHILEAN COUP - January 20, 1979 – 06:35 a.m. - Trevelin

When dawn broke recently, a flight of 2 A-37 B is about to reach its objective: in the Futaeleufú area, the ships are loaded to the maximum of their war capacity, seconds later, the formation separates to attack their whites.


Futaleufu complex


Chilean A-37

Unlike what happens on the Chilean side, Argentinian Patagonia is a highly productive area, in addition to the oil wells located south of Comodoro Rivadavia, El Hierro south of Puerto Madryn, the coal mines of Río Turbio, among others, are added. and the important aluminum production plant in Puerto Madryn. Aluminum is vital for the war industry, so Argentina has spared no means to increase its production levels. Chilean intelligence indicates that they have managed to reach a record average production level of 360 tons per day since January 10, with which it is expected to exceed the goal of 130,000 tons set for the year 1979.

In this imposing industry in Puerto Madryn, alloy ingots and T ingots are made, which meet existing international specifications, suitable for the production of automobile tires, and the auto parts industry; next to prismatic ingots, also the auto parts industry, etc. Manufactured with state-of-the-art technology (Wagstaff Air Slip), bars are produced for extrusion: whose final destination of this product is for the production of light civil consumer goods, from openings, bicycles, to bus and truck bodies, railway cars, parts for cars, parts for appliances, etc. In addition to zincalum pig iron: (alloy of 55% aluminum and 45% zinc), used to generate a coating bath for sheets for the construction industry in various sectors.

As an example of the importance of ALUAR, there is the production of hot rolled plates, suitable for the manufacture of machinery and for transport; sheets, smooth rolls and embossed rolls: the great versatility of aluminum allows this type of laminate to be used in the most varied applications. Aluminum foil, mainly used in the packaging of various products, especially those that need an adequate barrier to moisture and ultraviolet rays (food or medicine). In addition, in higher thicknesses it can be used for the consumer goods industry (semi-rigid packaging), construction (asphalt membranes) or transport (car radiators).

The RMA (Región Militar Austral) Command has then set its sights on this important war material, and after a long analysis they have come to amazing conclusions:

That as important as the raw material for aluminum is the electricity needed to produce it, so that the consumption to maintain production levels is equivalent to that occupied by a city of one and a half million people. The Puerto Madryn plant depends on the Transpatagonic electrical system, and above all on the production capacity of the Trevelín mega plant, near Futaleufú; therefore, the destruction of the plant would paralyze production for weeks.

The lack of Argentinian capacity to maintain a single integrated electricity system is an Achilles' heel, since its lack cannot be supplied, and even if it were done using the available energy potential, they would not be able to reach current production levels, in addition to affect other areas of sensitive production such as iron. Thus, the destruction of the power plant could have important strategic consequences, since it would mean a setback or slowdown in its strategic production processes.

Chilean planners have established that the total destruction of said power plant is probable at reasonable cost, provided that the following assumptions are counted:

1) Unthinkable early detection: the detection of aerial elements, since the flight is mostly carried out through mountainous areas, is difficult to proceed, despite the arrival of a new radar, replacing the one destroyed in Comodoro Rivadavia.

2) It has been established that most of the Argentinian anti-aircraft forces in the south have concentrated around Comodoro Rivadavia in a double attempt to protect the main Argentinian city in the south, its port and oil pipeline terminal.

3) The arrival of a new batch of 4 F-5 Tigre II, which are part of the 10 that are currently in Brazil, that are already operational, their supply of scarce fuel, but destined primarily to this operation.

Left - Chilean F5, January 1979 - Right.- Chilean Hawker Hunters, december 1978

But from words to deed…in any case, the “Austral Storm” is given the OK

Three Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (PRLR) from Commando Company No. 7 have been deployed to the Esquel area, in order to evaluate the defences; the terrain has allowed them a successful infiltration behind enemy lines, they provided the remaining data:

The defense of the sector was assigned to a force of 90 members of the Gendarmeria Nacional, the great majority of recent arrivals, since the veteran Gendarmes have been transferred to the different battle fronts. This is in addition to a low Anti-Air Defense, made up of six 20mm pieces, plus another six .50 pieces have been placed on the dam itself, and on the perimeter of the power plant another 6 .30 pieces on watchtowers, all served by about 50 men, so that the anti-aircraft defense of the Puerto Madryn-Comodoro area has been prioritized. In addition to identifying the schedules, shifts and routines of the personnel and the Guard, all reported to the RMA HQ.

To protect the bombers, the command has ordered the provisional transfer of 4 F-5s, these aircraft will operate low-power bombs and AIM 9B missiles; In this way, during the day, General Matthei bites his nails locked up in his General HQ.


Chilean Commando, 1979


The dam is the victim of four attacks by Chilean planes, which in consecutive flights, with intervals of just 30 seconds, hit the gigantic mass of the dam with nearly 10 tons of piercing bombs, which explode destroying it at various points, hear a great roar and the water begins to empty from the reservoir, a Chilean pilot then reviews the information in his notes:

The "Amutuy Quimey reservoir" (in Mapuche: "Lost Beauty") is an Argentinian hydroelectric exploitation, on the Futaleufú river, province of Chubut. is to 45 km de Esquel, was built between 1971 and 1976 with the aim of supplying electricity to the ALUAR aluminum plant in Puerto Madryn, with 85% of the electricity generated (2,600 GWh/year) and its surplus destined for public use. With a height of 120m , an installed power of 448 Mw there are no inhabitants on its margins or economic uses .

As they move away from the area, a Chilean technical pilot believes that from that moment on the Interpatagonian system will operate at 65% of its power, depending on the El Chocón plant, which should keep the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz enlighted: a large area, not overly populated.

After the destruction of the bombardments, the Chilean commandos of the 7th Commando Company go into action, who upstream begin to launch explosive charges prepared for the occasion, the idea is that these explode during the following days and cause damage and cause fear among reconstruction teams.

In the FACh bunker, Matthei waits impatiently, suddenly a telecommunications officer runs in: he has a message that arrived a few minutes ago, Matthei orders the man to read it, the officer opens the message. General Matthei breathes a sigh of relief, the bombers have accomplished their mission; now the aircraft are in flight along the Pacific route, an officer in the meantime points out that there are no Daggers in the air, so that it will not be possible to hunt down the Chilean bombers.

Comodoro Rivadavia

Minutes ago there was a big blackout in the city, just when General Vaquero and his liaisons with the other Armed Forces. they sat down to a birthday breakfast, because the liaison officer with the FAA was celebrating, between jokes, soon they are sitting alone with the light coming through the windows, 10 minutes later while the men honored the celebrated, an officer on duty enters the room, his countenance is not cheerful, he brings the message that informs that the FACh has just damaged the Interpatagonian Energy system, and that Amutuy Quimey has just left duty without being able to have a serious report from the damage but up to twelve hours. For the moment, the General says nothing to the men about him, he lets them relax for an hour, then he quietly leaves.

HQ of the V Army Corps

The bombing of the Amutuy Quimey hydroelectric plant has paralyzed aluminum production for more than 24 hours to date, and General Vaquero is informed of the technical results, a lieutenant points out that the bombing of the plant has been a severe blow to the Transpatagonian system, but in some cases absorbable; the three most important generators in the system have an installed capacity of 4,579 MW divided into: El Chocón 1,200 MW; Amutuy Quimey 2,900 MW; Cerros Colorados 479 MW With the blow to Amutuy Quimey, this capacity fell by 45% of its capacity. If they did not hit more, it was because of the weakening of their air power.

According to expert reports, the enemy has done a long-standing job: for months studying the possibility of attacking the Achilles' heel of the energy system, the destruction focused on three points; the Dam, thermal power plants 1 and 2 and the Anode factory, according to preliminary evaluations, the dam was the hardest hit by the enemy. Preliminary studies indicate that the eventual reconstruction of the complex will require 3 to 6 months and 1 year for the plant to restart operations; so, it is recommended:

1. Reinforcement of the capacity of El Chocón and Cerros Colorados; In a period of 3 months, the installed capacity can be increased by 35% of its capacity.

2. Reinforcement of the AA capacities of both complexes, moving at least one Artillery Group of 3 medium and 4 light batteries on each of the centrals, reinforcement of the garrisons of both complexes until reaching a battalion in each one.

3. Join the Transpatagonian system to the rest of the country, this solution can be done in 3 months from the end of the studies, that is, in 6 months.

As for ALUAR, with the energy levels available today, it is estimated that aluminum production will reach a daily average of around 200 tons per day until May, when a higher average energy can be made available, which would imply reaching an average production of the order of 250 to 270 tons daily.

Vaquero agrees that Viola be informed immediately, with the recommendation of this Corps commander so that the necessary means are sent to carry out the suggestions, a two-hour halt will be made and then the situation in the southern zone will be reviewed.

1:00 p.m. - San Martin Palace

The trade agent of the Soviet Embassy and Colonel Gavrilov are urgently required in the building of the Argentinian Foreign Ministry. There, Lanusse holds an interview with Nicanor Costa Méndez, who has been summoned to head a future negotiating commission. The government knows that the war cannot last indefinitely, and the chancellor finds himself informing the new man summoned of the options.

Lanusse is informed of the arrival of the two Soviets, after which he interrupts his meeting and goes to another adjoining room. From the way the general greets Gavrilov, he senses that something is wrong on the battlefront. Asking him what is happening, Lanusse informs him that something serious has happened; The FACh has attacked a dam in the south of the country, dealing a heavy blow, especially psychological. Lanusse had the green light to see if the USSR could provide air defense units more quickly. Always within the framework of the agreement.

Lanusse spoke of the SA-7, although the envoys from Moscow suggested something more…heavy, but the former de facto president stood firm. “The SA-7s for now, sir. We have the emergency now”

(Extracted from the book "The Gold of Moscow, the Argentinian-Soviet relations", by Isidoro Gilbert)


Argentinian Marine with a Strella SA-7 soviet made, in the Southern Front, Beagle War - January 1979

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Argentinian commandos, patrolling the zone after the incident, january 1979 - The response to the chliean blow was to reinforce the strategic areas.

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Members of Cia Commandos 603 getting ready for a raid mission in the Southern Front - Beagle war, 1979

6:00 p.m. (local) - Potsdam, East Germany

An Aeroflot Transport Antonov takes off and heads south. A long journey awaits him, making stops in friendly countries, until he reaches his destination. In its warehouses, 20 R-60 missiles for use in the Mirage-Dagger and 60 SA-7, along with 120 missiles, are traveling to Argentina. About 12 Luftkreite advisers travel to teach its use.

The cargo plane would land on Fisherton Airport, Rosario – Santa Fe, Argentina, of the cellar Packaged items are unloaded from a gigantic Antonov, and are quickly taken to other sectors of the city. Some boxes are loaded onto a Hercules, and some of the men who came with the load also get on.


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MATERIAL WAR & Brazil gets impatient & more pictures
Material War - the war continues

In those days, the differences between the branches began to emerge more strongly, which always existed, in fact. In a report by Corvette Captain Gustavo Alfonso Matarazzo, a liaison officer assigned to the III Corps, indicated the harsh disagreements between General Luciano Menéndez and the "arrogant and short-sighted" actions of General Galtieri, above all because of the extraction, from the HQ of the HQ of the III Corps, of the IV Parachute Brigade in opposition to a hypothetical Brazilian invasion of Misiones and Corrientes. These elements had been training to operate in the Central Front and were now being sent to quite a different theater. Menéndez contemplated his preparation and increase in numbers and technical means to carry out decisive offensive actions on the center of Chile,

At that time, the general Argentinian material situation destined for the war was at a maximum production peak. According to military engineers who worked in different plants during those months, and in three shifts, the DGFM (Dirección General de Fabricaciones Militares) could produce, among other supplies: 20,000 FAL rifles per year, eighteen 155mm guns per year, 10,000 complete shells for 155mm guns per year, 7 million of shots for 7.62mm FAL and 9mm cartridges per month. 500 FAP rifles per month. 800 MAG machine guns per month, with a possible 30% increase in production by March. In addition to 50 repowered Schneider 105mm units per year, 80 Otto Melara units, and the goal was to reach a total of ten 105mm CITER a month; guaranteed supply of artillery ammunition as well.

The production of combat harnesses, infant auxiliary elements and uniforms, 20,000 per month. TAMSE was carrying out the accelerated production of 8 TAM units between December and January, and the expansion and entry into operation of the TAM assembly line was estimated for May 1979, and in August already double the capacity. Once the tests were concluded, initially, the TAM received the go-ahead for its entry into production in 1979, with the company TAMSE (Tanque Argentino Mediano Sociedad del Estado), who would be in charge of producing the serial vehicles for 1980.

But the war disrupted these plans, rushing the opening of the company's facilities in Boulogne Sur Mer, province of Buenos Aires, which was planned to open in May. Due to the fact that the TAM project in its industrial phase had been working for a long time, all the equipment and tools necessary for the first 50 vehicles had been brought from West Germany, Fabricaciones Militares (FM) Río Tercero began the work on the towers, while FM General San Martín did the same with the chassis, in parallel they had been working on what was called "National Integration", a vital step that allowed the introduction of unprecedented technological concepts in the Southern Hemisphere, putting Argentina at the forefront of this type of heavy industries. This way they could be assembled in record time, and showing total professionalism, a good number of machines for combat. However, the VCTP Assembly Line was expected to go into production in April 1979.

It can be affirmed that, a separate note, the outbreak of the war saved the Rastrojero truck from closing the factory, who saw it in a second life. Among the projects under design was an armored troop carrier based on a Rastrojero chassis, with an open frame, wheeled. 4x6. Armed with MAG, capacity 6 soldiers equipped. Three ready prototypes ready saw action in the final days, in the Central Front. One of the prototypes, in 1982, was adapted for civil use, with a good commercial response.

In Patagonia, in addition to ALUAR, there was HIPASAM, the Patagonian Iron Mining Corporation, whose total reserves in the basin, including magnetite and hematite-bearing minerals, were estimated at 500 billion tons. The South deposit has reserves of the order of 100 thousand million tons. While the TECNAO SRL Shipyard, with a long history in the construction of steel vessels for wood transport in the Paraná Delta zone, with a probable capacity for the construction of fluvial units to be occupied in the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers.

But the most interesting element was when an Aermacchi MB-326, using an experimental missile AM "MARTIN PESCADOR" MP-1000, sank the Patrol Boat PP "Lientur" of the Chilean Navy, in a shot at 9 km. This fact, of live testing an Argentinian Air-Sea missile, which had been tested since the beginning of the '70s, was a gigantic accolade for CITEFA when the news was known. It was never known if it was an operation authorized by someone from the Navy, but once it was done, and with the news going around the media, the industrial and military impact was enormous: Argentina manufactures its own anti-ship missiles.


Argentina's Navy Aermacchi armed with the MP-1000 "Martin Pescador" missile, like the one which sank the chilean boat PP Lientur in late January 1979

Then more boats from the battered Chilean fleet were sunk, more pigeon shooting than anything really serious, if you can analyze it. In two-years time, the missile distance was increased to 17-20km as well the explosive load of the national missile, and at the beginning it was used by mainly in all Argentinian two-seaters, including the Argentinian Air Force two-seaters Mirage planes; by 1980 it started the modifications to A-4 Skyhawks, Mirage and Dagger as well to be able to use the MP-1000 which was slightly modified too in their delivering system for that case.

The Martín Pescador was an anti-ship missile developed by the CITEFA Institute of Scientific and Technical Research of the Armed Forces of Argentina since the early 1970s.

The first evaluations had been carried out in 1973 from T-28 Trojan aircraft, modified to be able to operate the missile. The first evaluations were carried out in 1975 with around 60 test missiles being fired over the span of two years. The Argentinian Air Force had withdrawn from the project, arguing that it was not there to "sink ships", and the Navy slowed it down. After these successes, the Air Force rejoined the project.

It is a remotely controlled air-to-surface projectile. After visually identifying his target, the pilot activates a control in his cockpit, with which he must radio control the missile during its flight. To assist you in visualizing the projectile, it has two colored flares on its back. The pilot must control the missile visually and compensate for any deviation that might be made until reaching its target. This guidance system has characteristics similar to the North American Martin AGM-7 Bullpup missile.

La Prensa Newspaper, January 23th, 1979 - What is Brazil looking for? Column by Jesus Iglesias Rouco

Although Brasilia is active in searching for peace on the continent, and the Itamaraty Palace has become the continent's virtual spokesperson in this regard, it’s no less true that Brazil has started to prepare for any eventuality. Within this scenario is the announce of exercises and war games in the south of the country, and the patrolling of its Navy; but the most relevant has been the reorganization of the Brazilian military industry. According to "The Sunday Times", the triumvirate of Brazilian war companies has begun a process of mobilizing their arms producers:

The ENGESA company employed 5,000 people through 12 subsidiaries before the Beagle War, and since January 16, it started an aggressive plan to expand the recruitment of personnel in various universities and technical training centers in the country. The idea is to double the number of workers and in a maximum period of two months double the production of its armored vehicles, the EE-3 Jararaca, EE-9 Cascavel, EE-11 Urutu

In the same way, the conceptual guidelines for the assembly of a new MBT have been given, mobilizing all its experts, including university staff; creating three working groups, the “Osorio” Group, whose goal is to design a tank; the “Vargas” group whose goal is to develop a vehicle by adapting a turret with a 105mm cannon to the chassis of a light tracked vehicle (based on the experience of the Argentinian TAM), and the “Tavares” group that seeks to develop a tank from of a model like the AMX-30.

The work period of these groups of experts is limited, since they must present their reports in only 60 days, just when the mobilization of ENGESA concludes, in order to start the construction of the prototypes in 4 months, and serial production in only 8 months later. The AVIBRAS company has plans to increase the production and large-scale construction of its ASTROS rocket systems, at a rate of 8/12 units per month, also of the Piranha air-to-air missile and bombs, such as the BAPI anti-runway, or the BF -FG-230, the BLG 120 (with submunitions), the BFA 460 and the BINC 200 incendiary bomb.

Meanwhile, the EMBRAER company has concentrated on increasing its assembly plants and reducing the production of civil aircraft, concentrating on the Tucano and Xavante models for military use. In the same way, the guidelines for the development of a tactical aircraft based on the Tucano have been delivered, which has been called Tucano X or Super Tucano for the time being. Also, "Pegaso" and the rest of the automotive industry, by hiring more personnel, will seek to increase the operating hours of their plants and have started the production of a series of light vehicles and trucks for military use.

As for the mobilization, there is not a massive one per se, and Brasilia has only reported the usual ones for a force that is nourished by recruits as a result of compulsory conscription.

Although more than once, Brazil has indicated its intention of peace, and its desire not to get involved in a war with unforeseen consequences, and in the face of its foreseeable end; It is evident that this rearmament clearly seeks to send a message to Argentina, which the war has helped to emerge as the continent's military power. (JIR)


Chilean garrisons - January 1979


Chilean special forces and parachutists - 1979


In late january-early february 1979, decimated Chilean forces increasingly used clever raids as a means of battering Argentine morale, attacking both into occupied Chilean territory, and sometimes even into parts of Argentina. In the sequences, you can see a recreation made by the History Channel in 2008, in a special 30 years after the Beagle War, where Chilean commandos attack an airfield used for the IA-58 Pucará, on the outskirts of Puerto Montt.


Some locals having basic training somewhere in Chile near the Andes, by the Chilean Army


Argentinian infantry soldiers in Central front, Chile - January 1979 (taken from spanish newspaper "La Vanguardia" , march 1979)


Group of Argentine soldiers in the Central Front of Chile, at the beginning of February 1979, with a Soviet-made AK-47. Apparently, this small war trophy was used by Chilean partisans and they were part of a party that had arrived in Chile during the years of Salvador Allende, although other sources cite large quantities of these rifles captured by the Chileans in the north to the Peruvians, and who were later distributed in different areas by the Pinochet regime, there, in his last days. The Argentinian soldier next to himhas an FMK-3 submachine gun made in Argentina, inspired by the Israeli UZI


An argentinian member of special forces trying a motorbike in southern Chile, February 1979 - This particular man of the picture would have a controversial step through Argentine political life many years later


Argentinian reinforcementes ready to be deployed - Beagle War - January 1979
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