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Falklands without RN aircraft carriers

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  • Falklands without RN aircraft carriers

    Let's assume invincible gets sold to Australia before the war started

    And some kind of trouble prevents Hermes from participating

    Can the British still take Falklands?

    I believe its still possible but with far more casualties

    Any options Britain has for air support?
    basing strike planes in chile ?

    Nighttime unescorted bombing raids ?

    use of more air defence units with the ground forces ?

  • #2
    No way. Most of the kills against the Argentinians were with Harriers. The Sea Dart/Sea Wolf AAM weren't all they were cracked up to be. The Skyhawks would've had easy pickings with the fleet. Chile would provide covert aid but if they allowed planes to be based there, that would be open warfare between the two countries. It took much of the RAF tanker fleet just to put one Vulcan over the Falklands. You had tankers refueling tankers refueling tankers to refuel a bomber.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by johns624 View Post
      No way. Most of the kills against the Argentinians were with Harriers. The Sea Dart/Sea Wolf AAM weren't all they were cracked up to be. The Skyhawks would've had easy pickings with the fleet. Chile would provide covert aid but if they allowed planes to be based there, that would be open warfare between the two countries. It took much of the RAF tanker fleet just to put one Vulcan over the Falklands. You had tankers refueling tankers refueling tankers to refuel a bomber.
      What about putting Harrier GR1/GR1A on transports and operating from there and shore based units when landing finally occurs

      How much damage can the Skyhawks/Daggers do without Sea Harriers and assuming the british army and fleet has more air defence weapons than in OTL ?

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      • #4
        Best that could be hoped for at that point would be for Reagan to 'loan' Thatcher an LHA or a carrier to operate Harriers from. Without a carrier, I don't see Britain having a successful operation to take the Falklands.
        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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        • #5
          Originally posted by nastle View Post

          What about putting Harrier GR1/GR1A on transports and operating from there and shore based units when landing finally occurs

          How much damage can the Skyhawks/Daggers do without Sea Harriers and assuming the british army and fleet has more air defence weapons than in OTL ?
          In OTL, the Harrier GR3 (used in OTL) were mainly ground attack. The pilots weren't trained in air to air combat. More air defense weapons wouldn't have really helped. Read some accounts about all the problems with Rapier, Sea Wolf and Sea Dart. Any troops landed would've soon been abandoned as the Argentinians would've sunk a lot more ships than they did. TC4 is right. Without a flat top of some type, the invasion is a non-starter.

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          • #6
            I've been seriously thinking about this today.

            Given the scenario of the OP, I don't see a fast campaign like was historical. If Thatcher could keep the British on task for a longer campaign, I see an ultimate victory, if a lot more of a PITA.

            The US and Britain would keep anything from getting through the UN, so there's realistically no international pressure that can be applied with any actual weight to force a 'cease fire'. Provided Britain can maintain its own will, which isn't guaranteed, they can regain the Falklands.

            The strategy I have come up with is thus:

            1) Possibly base the Vulcans out of Jamaica, which even with a cut down the Chilean coast and around the horn will still knock off around 3000 miles round trip. You're going to need multiple sorties. And overflight permission from Panama at the least. Plus obviously Jamaica's cooperation but I think that would be somewhat easier than getting Chile to let you base planes out of it. I'd prefer South Africa but I'm not sure they'd be cooperative either. The key is that you're going to have to take out that bloody runway. A corollary is to get permission from Chile to operate 'non combatant' aircraft from Chilean airfields so long as they do not fly towards or into Argentina.....then you can tank for V-bombers running 200 miles off the Chilean coast and Chile becomes a sort of barricade against Argentine intervention....and hopefully the Argies don't figure it out for a while.

            2) Declare a war zone and give commercial shipping time to get clear and lanes to operate in. Turn your submarines loose to prevent ANY ships from getting to the Falklands, from trawlers on up to container ships. You're going to have to blockade and starve the Argies of fuel, food, and supplies. Especially fuel and the ability to get supply dumps built up.

            3) If Thatcher is aware, which is likely, maybe backchannel Reagan for some TLAMs for 'field testing'. Use them from a submarine to strike the airfield, you have to kill that airfield, otherwise you're screwed.

            4) Once you've killed the airfield, you're going to have to dart in under cover of night, get your landing in, and then steam fast back out to sea to get your valuable ships out of range of Argie planes operating from the coast. Subs will operate as radar pickets. This is going to be a nasty mess, I'd call it operation Cluster F*ck. Ultimately you're going to lose ships, the best you can hope for is to dart in over several nights and put your troops ashore, and that the Argies ashore are running low on some supplies and are demoralized by your intermittent bombing and 'missile testing' raids.
            Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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            • #7
              Without the carriers, the RN's losses would have been prohibitive. As it was the RN took pretty heavy casualties in terms of ships lost or damaged sufficiently to take them out of the fight.

              Britain's problem was they forgot the adage "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war." The RN had given up much of its capacity to perform true sea control and power projection and had to fight the Falklands war on the very margins of victory. Without the carriers, the RN couldn't have secured the seas around the Falklands for the invasion to happen.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                Without the carriers, the RN's losses would have been prohibitive. As it was the RN took pretty heavy casualties in terms of ships lost or damaged sufficiently to take them out of the fight.

                Britain's problem was they forgot the adage "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war." The RN had given up much of its capacity to perform true sea control and power projection and had to fight the Falklands war on the very margins of victory. Without the carriers, the RN couldn't have secured the seas around the Falklands for the invasion to happen.
                In general I agree. I was trying to come up with a 'possible if unlikely and risky as hell' plan based on the OP.

                But in general, since the advent of aircraft, no one has committed to an amphibious landing if they couldn't gain at least temporary air superiority over the beaches and sealanes to them.
                Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                • #9
                  Bombing the Port Stanley airfield really wasn't that important, except for morale reasons.
                  Without the Sea Harriers disrupting and shooting down as many Argentinian planes before they reached the anchorage, the carnage would've been much, much worse.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by johns624 View Post
                    Bombing the Port Stanley airfield really wasn't that important, except for morale reasons.
                    Without the Sea Harriers disrupting and shooting down as many Argentinian planes before they reached the anchorage, the carnage would've been much, much worse.
                    They'd probably have to do some 'field testing' of the TLAM which isn't technically in service yet, and hit the Argies in Argentina in order to disrupt the planes in the absence of the Harriers.

                    Messy, and an escalation.
                    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                    • #11
                      I think what the Brits did in OTL was all the escalation that they could handle...

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                      • #12
                        how about this rather than risk a ground invasion first the RN mounts aggressive hunt and kill mission for all major argie warships.Sending 5 SSN should be enough to accomplish that and totally demoralize the Argentinian govt.Provoke a mutiny in the navy and hope they give up the islands ?

                        Did south georgia have an airstrip ? Can the british just launch an invasion of that island first , base aircraft there to attack Falklands ?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by nastle View Post
                          how about this rather than risk a ground invasion first the RN mounts aggressive hunt and kill mission for all major argie warships.Sending 5 SSN should be enough to accomplish that and totally demoralize the Argentinian govt.Provoke a mutiny in the navy and hope they give up the islands ?

                          Did south georgia have an airstrip ? Can the british just launch an invasion of that island first , base aircraft there to attack Falklands ?
                          The Argentines could keep their ships in port. They could have resupplied the islands by a combination of air and small ships like trawlers or other civilian craft that would be largely, or totally immune to being torpedoed due to shallow draft. It would also look bad for Britain when the Argentines start saying the RN is torpedoing fishing boats and other "civilian" small ships.

                          S. Georgia is a horrid location to try and launch an invasion. There is no airfield there. The anchorages are poor, and it is out of range for land based fighters to operate over the Falklands without major tanker support.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                            The Argentines could keep their ships in port. They could have resupplied the islands by a combination of air and small ships like trawlers or other civilian craft that would be largely, or totally immune to being torpedoed due to shallow draft. It would also look bad for Britain when the Argentines start saying the RN is torpedoing fishing boats and other "civilian" small ships.

                            S. Georgia is a horrid location to try and launch an invasion. There is no airfield there. The anchorages are poor, and it is out of range for land based fighters to operate over the Falklands without major tanker support.
                            if the RN subs carried Harpoons/other anti-ship missiles could they hit the ships in port ?

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                            • #15
                              I think there would be too much ground clutter to hit ships reliably in port. The UGM was just fielded by the USN in 1981 so I doubt the Brits had it yet.
                              Nastle, face it. Without the two carriers, it wasn't going to happen. I have half a bookshelf (about 15 books) on the Falklands War. If you want some suggestions, let me know.

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