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HMS Sheffield


A Type 42 Guided Missile Destroyer became the first British ship to be sunk during the Falklands War. She was guarding the outer perimeter of the Task Force which made her vulnerable to attack. On May 4, Sheffield was detected by Argentine Super Etendard which launched its Exocet missile, hitting the ship above the waterline and causing a fierce fire that killed 20 crewmen. Others were evacuated, while the ship was then towed out to the sea and scuttled to become a war grave. In 1986, the site of her sinking was declared a protected place by the Military Remains Act.

HMS Ardent


A Type 21 Frigate was tasked with protecting the ships deploying ground troops in the bay of San Carlos. On May 21, she was struck by nine bombs dropped by the Argentine Air Force. Three exploded and caused severe damage. Though the crew did their best to repair the damage, Ardent soon came under another aircraft attack. The ship managed to sail to shallow waters of Grantham Sound Bay where she sank the next day.

HMS Antelope

A Type 21 Frigate was protecting the entrance to San Carlos Bay when she was bombed by Argentine Skyhawks on May 23. A 1000 pound bomb crashed through Antelopes’ starboard side but didn’t explode. More Skyhawks attacked, another bomb penetrated the ship’s side, again, not exploding. Then one of the Skyhawks was hit by gunfire from Antelope and crashed into the ship’s mast. The ship then sailed to sheltered waters and while defusing the bombs, one of them exploded. The crew were ordered to abandon the ship and just minutes later, the missile magazines exploded. The next day the ship broke in two and sank.

HMS Coventry


A Type 42 Destroyer was assigned an anti-aircraft role. On May 25, she and HMS Broadsword took position north west of Falkland Sound to divert the attention of the Argentine Air Force away from San Carlos. On the same day, the two ships came under attack by Skyhawks. Coventry was hit by three bombs of which two exploded on her port side. The ship immediately headed to the port but severe flooding forced the crew to abandon the ship. In less than half an hour, she turned over and sank north of the Pebble Island.

SS Atlantic Conveyor


A roll-on/roll-off type container ship was tasked with carrying helicopters and other war supplies for the Task Force heading to the Falklands. On May 25, she was struck on her port quarter by two Exocet missiles launched by Super Etendard fighter. A major fire broke out, causing ammunition to explode and killing 12 crewmen. Of one Lynx, six Wessex and five Chinook helicopters on board, only one Chinook survived (it left the Conveyor a few days earlier). The ship sank on May 28 while being towed. The site of her sinking north of the Pebble Island has been protected by the Military Remains Act in 1986.

RFA Sir Galahad


On June 8, the Round Table class LSL ship was waiting to deploy soldiers in Port Pleasant near Fitzroy when it was attacked by Argentine Skyhawks. She was hit by several bombs and caught on fire, killing 48 crewmen and soldiers. Others were evacuated with life rafts and helicopters. After the end of the war on June 21, she was towed out to open sea and sunk by the Royal Navy. Just like the site of the Atlantic Conveyor’s sinking, the site of Sir Galahad’s sinking is an official war grave, protected by the Military Remains Act.
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HMS Sheffield and HMS Coventry steaming south in 1982, Neither ship returned home.

HMS Sheffield was hit on 4th May by one AM39 Exocet, Of the 281 crew members, 20 died as a result of the attack with another 26 of the crew injured, She sank on the 10th May.

HMS Coventry was struck by three 1000lb bombs, two of which exploded, tearing open the port side and starting a fierce blaze. Within 20 minutes Coventry had been abandoned and had completely capsized. Coventry sank shortly after. 19 of her crew were killed and a further 30 injured.

Note the black stripes painted through her funnel to her waterline, This served as identification that they were British ships as the Argentine Navy operated two T42 destroyers (ARA Hercules and ARA Santisima Trinidad)
May 21, 1982. The Type 21 Frigate HMS Ardent was attacked by at least three waves of Argentine aircraft. She suffered significant damage and sank the next day, with 22 sailors killed
HMS Antelope (F170) burns and sinks after an attack by four Argentine A-4B Skyhawks during the Falklands War. Two bombs penetrated but did not explode. An attempt to defuse one resulted in an explosion and fires that burned through the night and eventually reached her magazines.
why the bomb didn't detonate ? the fuse was faulty on design or just not well maintain ?
Because of the terrain and the attack profile that had to be flown to get over the task force, the bombs dropped by the aircraft in many cases never had enough time to fuse before impact. In many cases the bombs went through the hulls of the ships and into the sea below.

In HMS Antelope's case, 2 bombs struck and lodged in internal compartments, 1 was able to be removed but the other was firmly lodged and had to be defused in place.

The UXO was killed while trying to defuse the bomb when it exploded. Fires as a result of the explosion then got out of control and eventually reached the magazines
why the bomb didn't detonate ? the fuse was faulty on design or just not well maintain ?

Some further info from elsewhere
The fusing 'delays' were not excessive per se and the Argentinians were well-aware that they were dropping ordinance outside of the normal self-frag avoidance criteria. Indeed, from the outset they set the fusing at quite an aggressive arming profile. They were technically proficient, they knew the attack profiles being used and the pilots themselves displayed an incredible amount of skill and accuracy during weapon delivery. Hitting a stationary vessel with a good CCIP + height-sensor with a dumb bomb is not a given during academic range work. Doing it against a ship underway, under fire, from a dynamic profile with visual aiming only is just incredible.

Bomb fusing is not just timing either. My knowledge of their fuses used has faded with time but in essence there was either a mechanic or a combined electro-mechanical fuse arming wire / wires. At weapon release these are pulled from the fuse arming vane as the other end is attached / connected to the aircraft pylon. Airflow is then free to drive the arming vane and the constant-arming governor until the preselected arming delay elapses (I think they had 2 to 18 seconds available). Only then is the arming train in mechanical alignment and able to function. At impact (as they only had impact fusing) there is then an additional delay set for correct weapon effect (impact, relay, detonator, lead, booster then main explosive charge).

Even without the folklore of the 'BBC commentary' the Argentinians had wound the arming delay back to minimum (2 seconds?) and way below the safe level given in the tables and even shortened the arming wire routing, to bring the weapon arming process uncomfortably close to the aircraft. The failing to arm or failing to fuse was primarily due to 2 factors caused by the out-of-envelope delivery profile. First was a known phenomenon of weapon instability in pitch when ejected from the pylon, causing brief arming vane stalls, which is not usually a factor during normal deliveries. The second was from the nose fuse collar shearing due to either impact grazing angle or surface skip. The collar shear was another safety feature designed to reduce the chances of unintended detonation should the weapon be dropped during loading etc but it also worked against them.

It's best to think of the Argentinean efforts as a technically proficient operator pushing the weapons to the very edge or even beyond their capabilities. As an example of their skills and knowledge the mechanical re-gearing of fuses to allow for slow-speed arming when delivered from Hercules wing pylons will give you an idea of what they could do, even in a hurry.

I think the folklore is just too strong to be overtaken by reality though and it is simpler to state or imply that they didn't know what they were doing. But they did.
Crippled HMS Ardent after it suffered 3 different attacks by Argentine aircraft during the Falklands/Malvinas Conflict in 1982.

One of the two Type 21 or Amazon Class frigate sunk during the conflict was HMS Ardent, the ship had arrived at the islands by the 3rd of may, where she was tasked with protection of SS Canberra, by the 21st while the ship was bombarding the argentine airstrip at Goose Green it was attacked 3 times by different aircraft.

The first attack at 14:00 involved a single A-4B from Grupo 5 piloted by Cpt. Pablo Carballo, the other aircraft had to abort their mission due to having mechanical problems to refuel with the KC-130. He dropped a single 1000lb bomb on Ardent, the bomb failed to explode.
A second attack at 14:40 involving IAI Nesher/Daggers from Grupo 6 who dropped 3 bombs 2 managed to hit and explode, destroying a lynx helicopter that was in the back of the ship and throwing the Sea Cat missile launcher 24 meters up in the air. The ship now crippled and defenseless was ordered to move north in effort to avoid another attack.
The final hits were given at 15:00 by 6 A-4Q Skyhawks from the Argentine Naval Aviation attacked the ship, between 2-4 bombs hit and explode inside the ship while others where near misses.

Its worth noting that the A-4Q were carrying Mk.82 Snakeye bombs, that were specifically prepared for such attacks, while the Daggers and A-4Bs usually carried regular "dumb bombs", sometimes with parachutes. The Mk.82s provoked so much damage to Ardent that the Captain gave the order to abandon ship. In flames and with the other bombs lodged inside exploding Ardent sunk during the night.

The attackers were intercepted by Sea Harriers during their escape, where the Daggers managed to out-run them, while 3 A-4Qs were shot down, the other 3 escaped unharmed.
24 May 1982 Type 42 Destroyer HMS COVENTRY is lost during action with Argentine Aircraft in which several bombs hit. 19 sailors died, most of which were in the Operations Room and Ships Company Cafe areas where bombs hit

May 25th: The second Exocet flies towards the task force as the ships turn away, and locks onto the biggest target: Atlantic Conveyor. It slams into the ship, sending debris everywhere & causing "splashes in the water about a quarter of a mile away" said Prince Andrew who saw it.

Atlantic Conveyor, loaded with fuel and ammunition, erupts into flames and is soon abandoned. Six Wessex Helicopters, three Chinooks and a Lynx are lost along with tonnes of supplies, stores & spares, and twelve men are killed as the ship is rapidly engulfed in fire.
Five months after HMS Coventry sank Royal Naval divers visited the wreck to remove confidential material and secure any remaining weapons. The wreck laying on her port side was still flying her battle ensign which was recovered along with the Cross of Nails.

A Coventry Cross of Nails was on board the Type 42 destroyer HMS Coventry (D118) during the Falklands War, sunk with the ship and later salvaged by Royal Navy divers. It was returned to Coventry Cathedral, kept by the next HMS Coventry, a Type 22 frigate, from 1988 until she was decommissioned in 2002, and later presented to the Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond (D34), which is affiliated to Coventry.

A Coventry Cross of Nails is a Christian cross made from iron nails, employed as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. The original version was made from three large medieval nails salvaged from the Coventry Cathedral after the building was severely damaged by German bombs on 14 November 1940,
The Type 42 destroyers HMS Sheffield (D80) and HMS Coventry (D118) photographed while sailing towards the Falkland Islands, possibly in April 1982. Both ships have received a black line at the level of the funnel as an identification system to avoid being confused with the Type 42 operated by the ARA and which, at that time, operated to the W of the islands. The Sheffield is easy to identify by the “ear muffs” of its exhausts, installed only on this and the two Argentine ships. Both ships also mount the Type 965 long-range scanning radar with AKE-2 antenna, completely obsolete by 1982.

Neither of them would return from the conflict. The Sheffield was hit by an Exocet missile and sank while being towed back to the United Kingdom and the Coventry was hit by 3 1000lb bombs dropped by FAA aircraft and sunk in the area of operations.

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