The Falklands War

Selected as part of the Advanced Group of the Taskforce sent to retake the Falkland Islands after the Argentine invasion of 1st/2nd April 1982, Coventry sailed for Ascension Island on the 2nd. Any home going ships were paired up with South-bound ships to offload stores. Coventry paired up with HMS Aurora on the 3rd and 4th of April; 5 members of Coventry’s crew were released to return home on Aurora, and 5 members of Aurora’s crew replaced them – sadly including one young man who was to lose his life with us. Over the course of several hours, Aurora’s crew parted with just about anything of any conceivable use – including so much of their toilet roll stock that they arrived home in Plymouth with just one roll remaining.

Just before being ordered to Ascension Island, late March 1982

On 3rd April, South Georgia was also invaded by Argentine forces. As Coventry proceeded South, the ship began to prepare for war, and rectified the defects that had caused 2 of her 3 Sea Dart shots in the Springtrain exercise to fail. She arrived at Ascension Island on the 11th of April. Over the next four days, a large amount of stores and spares were taken onboard via helicopter. Training for the approaching conflict continued with weapons and damage control drills.

The Argentine Navy operated a pair of Type 42 destroyers themselves, so recognition markings were added to Coventry and the other RN type 42 destroyers to help UK forces identify them. A large black stripe was painted from the waterline to the funnel amidships (primarily so that submarines could identify the ship in a hurry), and her funnel regained the slim horizontal stripe also. A large union flag was painted on the bridge roof to help with identification from the air. The ship’s pennant number (D118) was painted over. Various bright areas of paintwork (mostly white areas) were covered with grey paint, as were the ship’s boats, and the satcom radomes were painted black. The 4.5″ gun received a coat of darker grey paint to tone down its appearance, and the black tops of the fore and main mast also went grey (the main mast would soon soot up again courtesy of the Olympus exhaust – the reason why it was painted black in peacetime!).

The civilian personnel that operated the NAAFI and laundry were given the opportunity to leave the ship before combat operations began. All refused and chose to stay with their shipmates.

On 15th April, with the bulk of the Task Force including the two aircraft carriers arriving at Ascension, Coventry was signalled to proceed South along with Brilliant, Sheffield, Glasgow, Arrow and RFA Appleleaf. This mini-Task Force was to take up a position some 1,000 miles North of the Falklands; the Argentines would hopefully continue to believe that the Royal Navy was far away at Ascension, but in reality this formidable group would be much closer to hand and ready to act if necessary.

Coventry rendezvoused with RFA Fort Austin on 16th April to swap our Lynx (XX700, ‘Lady Godiva’) for a Sea-Skua equipped example (XZ242 ‘Wee Geordie’, formerly of HMS Newcastle’s Ship’s Flight). Our Lynx helicopter crew familiarised themselves with the handling and firing of the new Sea Skua anti-ship missile, and cobbled together swivel mounts for machine guns to fire out of the cabin doors using office chair bases! When a proper mount was made available it was found to foul the Sea Skua hardware inside the cabin, so was instead attached to a bollard on the flight deck for local defence.

HMS Coventry transferring Sea Dart missile on lines from RFA Fort Austin
RAS with RFA Fort Austin, 17th April 1982; Peter George

We stayed with RFA Fort Austin throughout the 17th April, taking on stores in one replenishment rendezvous and then rejoining for another, during which 7 Sea Dart missiles were loaded. Fort Austin had a hugely busy day, also offloading stores and munitions to HMS Arrow, Brilliant, Glasgow and Sheffield.

As we proceeded further South, the balmy tropical weather was left behind and the sea became increasingly rough. Preparation for war changed the interior of the ship as well the exterior – survival gear, life jackets and identity discs were issued; soft furnishings, pictures, trophies and ornaments were put into storage where they would not be a fire or shrapnel hazard. Some less important items were heaved overboard. Consideration was given to removing the ship’s small boats, but in the end they stayed on board.

Training continued on the journey south, concentrating on NBCD drills, naval gunfire support and using the ship’s Lynx helicopter to simulate Exocet missile attacks on the ship – whilst not using the ship’s radars, and relying only upon on listening for threats rather than actively looking. Coventry also had issues with her starboard Olympus engine (which had suspected auxiliary gear drive damage and was only to be used at action stations or in an emergency) and her auxiliary steering gear pumps (which led to manual pumping at one point).

By 28th April, the carrier battle group was now nearing our position. Electronic signal silence was abandoned and Coventry was signalled to be ready for war on midnight of the 29th. Some of the stores we missed getting hold of at Ascenscion were now made available and as a result more Sea Skua missiles and machine guns were added to the ship’s arsenal. One particularly dramatic bit of training was HMS Brilliant landing a Royal Marine assault team on Coventry’s deck in the dead of night, to practice assaulting and taking over an Argentine Type 42, if the chance should arise!

On the 1st of May, the Task Force entered the Total Exclusion Zone. Coventry took up her radar picket position to the South West of the force. Over the next two weeks, Coventry would alternate between her picket duties and closing on the Falklands to bombard shore positions and the area around Stanley airport with her 4.5 inch gun, though the first two attempts at NGS were cut short by problems with the gun turret. Additional protection for these ventures into more dangerous waters was afforded by pairing up with the Type 22 Frigate, HMS Broadsword. This ‘Type 64’ combination enabled Broadsword to defend both ships with her close range Sea Wolf missile system, whilst Coventry handled more distant targets with her Sea Dart system.

The damaged Alferez Sobral, May 1982

On the 2nd of May, news of the sinking of the Belgrano reached Coventry. The feeling onboard was a mixture of jubilation and silent contemplation that the war had now really begun. That evening, Coventry’s Lynx was tasked with a surface search – looking for some Argentine corvettes – and discovered an unidentified contact. Running low on fuel with the light fading and weather worsening, no identification was possible in the limited time remaining and an 826 NAS Sea King was tasked to try and identify the contact. The Sea King was fired upon by what turned out to be the Argentine patrol vessel ARA Alférez Sobral, which was engaged in a search for the crew of an Argentine Canberra shot down by a Sea Harrier North of the Falklands. Coventry’s Lynx had returned to the ship and been refuelled, so was scrambled to attack the hostile contact. The Lynx fired two Sea Skua missiles (the first time this new missile had been used in combat), damaging the vessel (and claiming it as sunk at the time). HMS Glasgow’s Lynx was called in to check for potential survivors, but once again the patrol vessel fired at the incoming helo, so Glasgow’s Lynx fired two more Sea Skuas – assuming this was a second vessel. The bridge was destroyed, and the Alférez Sobral retreated with 8 crew killed, 8 wounded and heavy damage. The boat returned to port and did not venture out again during the war (her badly damaged bridge is now on display at the Naval Museum in Tigre Partido, Argentina, but the vessel itself was repaired and returned to service, retiring in 2018).

The 4th of May was a bad day. Coventry’s 965 radar had been troublesome and a vital component burned out, requiring replacement. The ship moved away from the forward south-west sector of the screen protecting the carriers, and took up a position closer to the carriers, albeit also closer to the Falklands, in order to repair the radar. HMS Sheffield took up the Coventry’s former position, with HMS Glasgow further to the west. Repairs to the radar began. The sea was largely calm and the sky was overcast at around 1000 ft. Around 13:57Z (10:57 local) Glasgow and Coventry picked up brief radar sweeps from ‘Condor’ radars on incoming aircraft – indications of an attack from Exocet-carrying Super Etendard aircraft. Sheffield did not, as her ESM gear was blanked by her satcom system being used for a transmission. A minute later, Glasgow picked up a couple of radar contacts and reported the potential raid to the anti-air controllers onboard HMS Invincible and a Sea Harrier combat air patrol (CAP) was tasked to search the area.

HMS Sheffield on fire after the Exocet hit, 4th May 1982

The indications of a raid were judged by the controllers on HMS Invincible to be spurious, and the Sea Harrier CAP (up at 7000 ft altitude) could see nothing visually because of the cloud cover – and picked up nothing on radar (their Blue Fox radar sets were really pretty ineffective at this ‘look down’ search mode).

The raid in question was indeed a pair of Argentine Super Etendards – flying below 100ft, carrying out precisely the attack profile you needed to attack a Type 42 destroyer – as practiced against their own pair of such ships. In previous days, two previous suspected raids like this had both been assessed as being Mirages, which had not continued towards the task force – and could not carry Exocets.

Coventry and Glasgow ignored Invincible’s declaration of a false alarm and believed the evidence of their own systems; both fired chaff rockets to create false radar targets and confuse any incoming missile. Belatedly, Invincible agreed and ordered Sheffield to cover Glasgow’s ‘bogies’. The aircraft were now 24 miles away. Sea Dart was never a particularly fast reacting system, but the process of trying to engage the raid began, and her 909 radars searched for the incoming jets.

At 14:04Z (11:04 local), the Super Etendards, judging themselves to now be within range of the formation of ships they had been directed towards by recce aircraft earlier in the day, split away from each other and popped up just below the cloude base, saw several targets on their radars – and a ship on the horizon – and released a missile each before turning and descending to escape. Onboard Sheffield, the two tracks of the aircraft were seen to split at around 12 miles distance, but still no lock could be made, and as with previous days, it looked like this was going to be a Mirage raid. No chaff was fired.

An officer on Sheffield’s bridge now sighted ‘aircraft trailing smoke’ – the incoming missile itself. Sheffield now finally picked up the radar emissions from an Exocet missile seeker head, but it was far too late to do anything about it. Sheffield was hit amidships on her starboard side 6 seconds later. The second missile appears to have missed, ditching in the sea off Sheffield’s port side. Fired at just 7 or 8 miles distance, the missile that hit the ship carried its explosive warhead and a load of unburnt rocket fuel deep into the centre of the ship. A fierce fire took hold within minutes and smoke spread throughout the ship.

After the hit, at 14:09Z (11:09 local), further contacts were detected by Invincible and Air Raid Warning Red was finally declared. Still, the Sea Harriers could find nothing. Sheffield’s crew fought the blaze for several hours, finally being ordered to abandon ship when it appeared that the flames would soon reach the Sea Dart missile magazine. 20 sailors were dead, and 24 injured. There was silence onboard Coventry for many hours – the Type 42 community was a small one, and many had friends onboard Sheffield. In the mean time, Coventry’s radar repair was completed – using cannibalised parts from the failed component, the less than satisfactory spare and a toaster from the galley!

Two days later on the 6th of May, Coventry was on patrol south of East Falkland, in contact with a pair of Sea Harriers when they detected a suspicious surface contact. Both aircraft descended to investigate and were not heard from again, with a collision in poor visibility feared. Postwar, the surface contact was judged to have been the still-floating hulk of HMS Sheffield (which continued burning for several days before being taken under tow by HMS Yarmouth on the morning of the 9th, finally sinking in heavy weather before dawn on 10th May).

HMS Broadsword, May 1982; Jan Cox

After spending the night of the 8th of May attempting to bombard shore positions, primarily Port Stanley airfield in an attempt to prevent transport aircraft arrivals, Coventry cut the task short due to multiple problems with her main 4.5″ gun. She formed up with HMS Broadsword and remained in the Port Stanley area during the next day to try and lure out Argentine aircraft in response, and act as controllers for a Sea Harrier combat air patrol (CAP). This certainly worked because the Argentines would lay on a raid specifically targeted at the two ships after sending Learjet recce missions their way first. First of all, though, the incoming pair of Sea Harriers settled down to orbit the area – and soon spotted a suspicious radar contact on the surface to the south east of Coventry and Broadsword. Radioing it in to the fighter controller on Coventry, the SHARs were ordered to descend below the cloud base and investigate.

Narwal being boarded by SBS troops, 9th May 1982

The SHARs identified the contact – it was the Argentine spy ship Narwal. This was a fishing trawler commandeered by Argentine naval intelligence, and the Argentines had disgracefully kept the fishermen on board to crew her – among them old men in their seventies. Coventry gave the order to attack the vessel, and the SHARs attacked with 1,000lb bombs and cannon fire. Dead in the water with a single crewman unfortunately killed after a second attack by SHARs, she was then boarded by the SBS who captured cipher equipment and code books as well as taking the crew prisoner. She sank under tow the next day.

Meanwhile, around the same time as the SHARs were busy attacking Narwal, four A-4 Skyhawks – callsign Trueno from Grupo 4 – had lifted off from San Julian in Argentina, enroute to attack Coventry and Broadsword, but two of them encountered problems during air-to-air refuelling from a C-130 Hercules tanker and returned to base. The remaining pair braved what had now become a very low cloud base, poor visibility and inconsistent radar reports from the Argentine operators at Stanley to try and approach the last reported position of the two ships and attack them.

A-4C C-313 refuelling prior to attempted raid on HMS Coventry, 9th May 1982

Coventry first picked up distant contacts at long range (nearly 120 miles away, approaching West Falkland), and assessed them as a C-130 Hercules transport on a supply run escorted by four Mirages or A-4 Skyhawks; two targets peeled away (presumably the pair that had difficulties refuelling), but the C-130 and a pair of what were now judged to be A-4s (based on their radio traffic) kept coming. As the targets approached to within 60 miles, Coventry prepared to fire. At the extreme edge of Sea Dart range – 38 miles – the computer indicated the engagement was feasible and the first missile was fired (the first operational use of Sea Dart), and passed through the ‘range gate’ of the 909 radar, indicating it had arrived at where the target was, but was assessed to have missed – later suspected to be a fuze malfunction. A second missile had followed in quick succession, as target range had reduced to 35 miles, but this was also assessed to be a miss, with the 909 tracker radar failing to track the missile, and Broadsword reporting that it didn’t seem to be travelling in entirely the right direction. A third missile was then launched, also apparently failing to track correctly. The major contact, the suspected C-130, had turned away after the first near miss – the two suspected A-4s split up and evaded violently, one descending to the South of Falkland Sound and the other turning further west before descending out of radar coverage.

So what actually happened? Certainly none of the “three” targets fired at were the C-130, as it did not come that close. As to the two A-4s of the original four that launched intent on sinking the two ships, they did not return home. The Argentines later reported the loss of the two A-4s on this day (C-303 and C-313 flown by Lt Jorge Farias and Lt Jorge Casco). After the war, the wreckage of C-313, the body of pilot Lt Jorge Casco and his 1,000lb bomb were all found on South Jason Island by HMS Hecate’s Wasp helicopter, the indications being that the A-4 had flown into a ridge line before impacting a cliff on the north west face of the island whilst travelling WSW, i.e. back towards Argentina. Just a few meters left or right and he’d have missed the island entirely.

It seems likely that the pair of A-4s were indeed fired on by Coventry, and turned away, aborting their mission, but it remains a mystery as to precisely what happened in this engagement. Of the two contacts that evaded, the one that descended to the west would match up with C-313’s eventual crash site location but it seems unlikely that the crash was a direct result of any damage from a Sea Dart hit (or near miss), as the distance between the engagement site and the crash site is around 100 miles. It is much more likely that Lt Casco simply ran out of luck flying home at low altitude in poor visibility, and flew into the island without ever realising it was there. As to his wingman, probably the contact that descended to the south of Falkland Sound, perhaps his aircraft was damaged by a Sea Dart, perhaps not – but Lt Farias and C-303 were never found and it is likely we will never know for sure.

Argentine sources record a pair of Learjets from their ‘Phoenix’ squadron on a recce mission as the targets for the Sea Dart launches on this day – the timing and location (above Teal Inlet) match for the first pair of missiles, but the third Learjet to report a near miss from a Sea Dart claimed it was well East of Port Stanley, which simply does not add up.

Within hours of the Sea Dart engagements and the SHAR attack on the Narwal, with Coventry now beginning more shore bombardment, Broadsword passed contact information on a target moving across East Falkland (Broadsword’s radar had far superior moving target indication against ground clutter); Coventry fired another Sea Dart as soon as the target was over water, and downed SA.330L Puma AE-505 of Combat Aviation Battalion 601 over Choiseul sound, 13 nautical miles away from the ship. The Puma had been tasked with finding the Narwal after the trawler had made a distress call during the SHAR attack. This was the first confirmed successful engagement by the Sea Dart system, as the impact and explosion were clearly visible, though no trace of the Puma’s wreckage or the three crew were ever found. Confidence in the Sea Dart system increased.

On the 11th of May, Coventry returned to picket duties with the carrier group, further East. Glasgow took our place on the Stanley gunline. The weather continued to worsen. Between picket duties, shore bombardment and constant calls to action stations, the crew was getting tired. At night the ship would often carry out short dashes further East to replenish fuel, ammunition and other stores from the RFA stores ships.

HMS Glasgow about to be hit by an A-4’s 1,000lb bomb, 12th May 1982

Coventry’s luck held once again as our replacement on the gunline, Glasgow, came under sustained attack. She was in company with HMS Brilliant – a Type 22 for another ‘Type 64’ combination, and had been making a nuisance of herself by shelling Argentine forces. Two raids were planned against the ships, and the first, consisting of four A-4 Skyhawks each carrying a 1,000lb bomb, was nearly wiped out. Whilst Glasgow’s Sea Dart had malfunctioned at a critical moment, Brilliant’s Sea Wolf worked flawlessly, with 3 missiles fired in quick succession, hitting the first pair of A-4s and causing the third to crash into the sea while trying to evade the missile. The fourth A-4 released his bomb at the wrong moment and it skipped off the sea and over Glasgow, missing her entirely. The second raid, another four A-4s, had more luck. Glasgow’s Sea Dart was still out of action, and this time Brilliant’s Sea Wolf joined in with a sulk that resulted in all four aircraft releasing their bombs – three at Glasgow and one at Brilliant. This latter bomb again hit the sea and bounced clean over Brilliant. Two of the bombs aimed at Glasgow missed. The third did not.

This last bomb entered the ship’s starboard side about 2ft above the water line just in front of the aft engine room, narrowly missed the starboard shaft, tore through the starboard Tyne intake and across the engine room, demolished the port Tyne intake and a ready use fuel tank and exited just above the water line on the port side. The engine room was soon flooded with a mixture of fuel and seawater spraying in from waves washing against both holes and only heroic efforts from her ships’ company succeeded in patching the holes and regaining manual control of the engines after many of the control cables had been severed. On the upper deck, some over enthusiastic small arms shooting by crew members had damaged Glasgow’s primary 965 radar, and this and the ongoing Sea Dart fault effectively took her out of action as an air defence asset. Happily, nobody was killed – so Glasgow’s crew have celebrated their ‘Lucky To Be Alive Day’ annually ever since. Glasgow would continue to play some part in activities, including gunfire support, but she could no longer provide any effective air defence. She would be sent home in a fortnight for in-depth repairs, losing her port Olympus engine on the way – possibly as a result of undetected shaft damage from the bomb hit.

With both Sheffield and Glasgow gone or badly degraded, Coventry had become the only Type 42 left able to defend the carrier group. The next week was to be a tense one. On 14th May, Coventry’s Lynx picked up the captain from HMS Broadsword to take him to HMS Hermes for a briefing. The result of that was that later that day Coventry was on picket duty protecting HMS Invincible whilst Broadsword escorted HMS Hermes on a dash westward to get closer to the Falklands and let loose an SAS raiding a party tasked with destroying the Argentine aircraft at the airstrip on Pebble Island. This mission was a success, with Hermes returning safely to her position east of the Islands and the airstrip having undergone a most effective transition to scrapyard courtesy of the SAS troops.

The days leading up to Operation Sutton – the amphibious landing to retake the Falklands – saw Coventry kept back from her previous gunline duties, as risking the only fully operational Sea Dart destroyer left would clearly be foolhardy. Happily, on 20th May, two more Type 42s arrived in the TEZ – Exeter and Cardiff. Meanwhile, the Amphibious Task Group and Landing Force had formed up and during the night of 20th/21st May they entered Falkland Sound and made their way to San Carlos Water (or ‘Bomb Alley’ as it was to become known) where the landings were to begin. The confined area of San Carlos was clearly no place to put any of the Type 42s, limited as their radars were by operating so close to land, so Broadsword led the group.

HMS Ardent burns, 21st May 1982

The Navy primarily relied upon Leander and Type 21 frigates to defend the immediate area of the San Carlos landings, though they were fitted with ancient and largely ineffective Sea Cat missiles. One of the Type 21s, HMS Ardent, was bombed repeatedly by A-4s through the day of the 21st, eventually having to be abandoned as a major fire took hold of the crippled ship. HMS Antrim took a bomb to her stern, tearing through her Sea Slug missile corridor and lodging within the ship, having failed to explode. HMS Argonaut was also hit, leaving her with two crew dead and her Sea Cat magazine flooded and boiler room damaged – with each compartment now playing host to a very unwanted guest in the form of an unexploded bomb. Broadsword also came under attack, sustaining some damage from cannon fire, and the decision was taken that she would be of more use rejoining Coventry as “goalkeeper” for more offensive missile trap duties further away from the San Carlos area.

On 22nd May, transiting west from the carrier group to join up with Broadsword for a patrol north-west of Sedge Island, Coventry locked on to an Argentine Boeing 707 reconnaissance aircraft. During the launcher loading sequence, the starboard flash door on the Sea Dart missile launcher failed to open due to damage from heavy seas and salt encrustation around a locking bolt and the starboard beam of the launcher could not be loaded. The software of the system could not complete the loading sequence as a result, and this stopped the launcher from being able to be fired. The locking bolt fault was a known issue – indeed HMS Glasgow was trialling an improved design on one side of her Sea Dart launcher (and would suffer an identical fault on the unmodified side).

Later in the day HMS Cardiff also attempted to down what may have been the same aircraft – they had more luck in that their missile fired successfully and was seen to explode near the target, but the aircraft’s crew had seen the missile launch and successfully manoeuvred to avoid it, diving at high speed away from the missile and returning to base safely – if somewhat more respectful of the Sea Dart’s maximum engagement envelope!

With the landings at San Carlos Water now well underway, and numerous warships having been hit, it was imperative to provide better defence against air attack, and placing Coventry and Broadsword way out to the north-west had been a means to give Coventry’s Sea Dart a clearer radar picture to operate in, and for both ships to provide longer range warning of incoming raids to the ships in San Carlos. Before the war, Coventry had been fitted with some extra listening equipment for an intended snooping mission near Soviet naval bases; this came in handy along with some Spanish-speaking interpreters, who passed on valuable intelligence overheard on the airways. This meant that the first indications of a raid were often the chatter of the aircraft shortly after they took off from their bases in Argentina.

HMS Antelope sinks, 24th May 1982

Bomb Alley once again came under heavy attack, with much of the incoming raids avoiding the missile trap set by Coventry and Broadsword, detouring to the south-west over West Falkland. This meant Argentine aircraft were therefore arriving in Falkland Sound with little warning, but also little idea of where they were themselves. With only seconds in which to identify a target before they were themselves under attack, this degraded their ability to make a real impact on the landings, but concentrated their attention on whatever ship first showed up in their sights. HMS Antelope, another Type 21, which had only just arrived on the scene, was hit by a pair of bombs which both failed to explode (but sadly killing one member of crew), and during a defusing effort that night the first bomb exploded, causing a fire and eventual abandonment and loss of the ship. One bomb disposal engineer was killed, but the remaining crew all escaped.

Coventry planned to move the patrol line even further west the next day, but instead we were called back to the carrier group, as part of defence against a suspected Exocet effort against the group for the next day; this did not materialise, and we were released that evening, after refuelling, to rejoin Broadsword in our missile trap position. Admiral Woodward, however, had forcefully requested a patrol line nearer to San Carlos, so the ship’s could provide a better ‘umbrella’ for the defenders there.

On 24th May, the chosen patrol line was therefore around 10-15 miles north of the entrance to Falkland Sound, from a point near Eddystone Rock to around halfway towards Pebble Island’s Cape Tamar. Coventry directed Sea Harriers against various Argentine aircraft; none attacked the Coventry or came close enough to be taken down by Sea Dart, but Coventry’s Fighter Controller was able to position the SHAR CAP such that it could attack anything trying to sneak past. The SHARs did well, taking down 3 Argentine Daggers in a matter of minutes, and adding to ‘the scores on the doors’ – the Ops Room door’s increasing tally of successes. The weather had cleared up entirely, with blue skies, calm seas and unlimited visibility – not good news for us. Coventry requested permission for a patrol line further to the west for the next day, conscious that hanging around in the same spot would be likely to draw adverse attention. In the meantime, as darkness drew in, Broadsword retired to the east to refuel while we carried out an anti-submarine patrol in the approaches to Falkland Sound.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, the Ministry of Defence had helpfully informed the BBC of the many ships that had been hit by Argentine bombs that had failed to explode. The BBC had duly reported it on the 23rd – which led to some busy hours for Argentine armourers, now suddenly aware that many of their bombs were failing to go off. This was because the arming wires, attached to a small propeller in the tail unit of the bomb, were too long for the very low heights at which the pilots were releasing the bombs. The prop would not turn enough times to arm the bomb before it hit, and with modern warships being unarmoured, the bombs would often punch straight through the thin metal of the hull and out of the other side before going off (as HMS Glasgow had found), or they would wedge within the ship, having not armed before they were stopped by something solid (as with HMS Antrim, Antelope and Argonaut) . The Argentines began work on fixing the problem, trying lighter weight bombs and shorter arming wires. Coventry’s good luck was just about to run out.

Continue to May 25th 1982.