May 2021 Part 2
HMS HERMES / INS VIRAAT
Sea Harriers -
As the Falklands Task Force proceeded south in April 1982, HERMES prepared her Sea
Harriers for war. Reinforced by aircraft and pilots from 899 Sqn from RNAS Yeovilton,
the aircraft were painted (by hand) all over in dark sea grey. White parts of the
roundels were overpainted in blue (giving them distinctive non-
Later that day, HERMES first air to air victory took place to the north of the islands, with an Argentine IAI Dagger splashed by an 800 Sqn Sidewinder.
Building the Hasegawa Sea Harrier Kit:
Hasegawa’s Sea Harrier was also released in 1983. This is an older build from my collection, with a scratch built forward canopy section (missing canopies are an occupational hazard when buying cheap second hand kits!).
With an interchangeable nose section rather like ESCI’s, the mould also formed the
basis for a GR.3 kit. However, unlike ESCI, Fujimi and Sword, its wings are separate
sections, to be attached to the fuselage. This is difficult to achieve without filling
and losing some engraved detail. Decals as supplied cover an 801 and 899 Sqn aircraft
This particular aircraft (XZ457) belonged originally to 899 Sqn but was transferred
to HERMES 800 Sqn on 2 Apr 1982. It shot down two Argentine Navy A-
The 28 Sea Harriers (from 800, 801, 899 and 809 Sqns) of HERMES and the second British Carrier, HMS INVINCIBLE, put in a superb performance. Twenty one Argentine aircraft were destroyed by Sea Harriers, using a combination of gunfire and Sidewinder missiles, for the loss of NO aircraft in the air and 6 to ground fire or incidents. A small number of RAF GR.3 Harriers from 1 Sqn operated from HERMES deck as well, adding their specialist ground attack skills to those of the Sea Harrier.
It was not an easy victory; the Argentines fought skilfully and aggressively and there were high casualties on both sides, at sea, on the ground and in the air. This was a war that should never have happened, but victory was decisive and complete. HMS HERMES was key to that victory.
Left: © IWM FKD 677 -
From an outstandingly long career across many oceans, many roles and many conflicts, it is 1982 and the Falklands War that defines HMS HERMES finest hour.
7,800 miles from home, HERMES finally saw the action that she had been designed for. A war fought from the sea, against an invader who had taken British territory by force.
Against the odds and facing what looked like overwhelming enemy forces, the British Task Force led by HMS HERMES, retook the Falkland Islands in only 10 weeks.
Above: © IWM FKD 2343 -
Right: © IWM FKD680 -
© IWM FKD 679 -
© IWM FKD 2087 -
800/809 Sqn, HMS HERMES, South Atlantic 1982
ESCI 1/72 , with Hasegawa decals, refuelling probe and cockpit ladder
Another older build from my collection. Although this aircraft wears the immediate
Fortunately, the SHARS were all flown off the day before the ship was sunk. Once onboard HERMES, 809 was absorbed into 800 Sqn alongside the elements of 899. Whilst flying from HERMES, this aircraft shot down an IAI Dagger on 23rd May 1982.
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