Air Power in the Falklands Conflict
...an Operational Level Insight, from Air World/ Pen & Sword
Title: Air Power in the Falklands Conflict
Author: John Shields
Publisher: Air World/ Pen & Sword
I don't know about you, but I still find it hard to believe that this year marks 40 years since the Falklands War. This is a new study of the Air War that took place in the South Atlantic. It's a 369-page hardback book, though the main part of the book ends ar p.219, the rest is made up from Annexes A to K, along with a bibliography, extensive endnotes and an index.
The 9 chapters start with an Introduction to set the scene, along with a description of the Methodology the author uses, describing how he focuses on the various Operational Centres of Gravity. I did find that a bit much at one point but thankfully I kept going, and found a fascinating book ahead of me. In the case of the British side, there are 3, as it changed as the campaign progressed. Much of it naturally tackles the role of the Harriers, both the SHAR (Sea Harrier) as well as the GR3 variant flown by the RAF crews, and does consider the use of the Vulcan attacks against Stanley airport as well. Using official records from both the UK and Argentina, and many accounts written by participants and commentators since, there is a lot of detail taken into account. Various tables show records of aircraft used, their operational sorties and the weapons they deployed for both sides. There is also a section of archive images. The British Centres of Gravity moved from the Aircraft Carriers, to the land forces landings at San Carlos and then to the infantry advance across to relieve Stanley itself. The conclusions make for some more interesting reading, and offer some lessons to be taken away from the war for both the British and Argentine sides.
There is a lot of detail in the book, and the work effort the author has put into this is evident. Much use has been made of records made public now, long after the war, though as is mentioned, there are still some records that remain sealed, so maybe there are some things which may yet put a different slant on some of the conclusions that have been drawn. Overall though, this is certainly the most detailed look at the Falklands Air War I have read to date, and it is also well worth looking through the detailed endnotes as there is a good deal of additional information held in those.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.