Pucaras v Helicopters
>>at minimal they account for the loss of one Wessex<<
Don’t think so. No Wessex were lost in the campaign in ‘air combat’, the biggest loss being the 6 that went down with the Atlantic Conveyer. Two others crashed in bad weather on S Georgia.
On 28 May in atrocious weather conditions two Pucaras engaged two CASEVAC Scout helos. One ( A537?) flown by Teniente Miguel Gimenez hit XT269 with cannon fire killing Sgt Nunn the pilot and wounding his crewman Sgt Belcher. Both Scouts were making emergency landings as they were attacked and Teniente Cimbaro in the second Pucara believed he had destroyed his target although in fact it landed safely. Only Cimbaro returned to base and Gimenez and his aircraft were never found. Long after the war two Pucara wrecks were discovered, one on the coast of W Falkland and one in the mountainous interior of E Falkland. I suspect that the latter was Gimenez’ aircraft although I don’t know if either was positively identified.
That isn’t to take away anything from the effectiveness of the Pucara as a COIN/light ground attack aircraft. They operated from Stanley, Goose Green until the airfield was captured, and Pebble Island. There was also a temporary strip near to the current base at Mount Pleasant which may have been used. They proved capable of evading Sea Harriers at very low level and Teniente Cimaro mentioned above survived a hit from a Blowpipe missile. Several were lost to air strikes, naval gunfire, and artillery fire whilst on the ground, hence the use of the more remote Pebble Island strip which is where six were put out of action by the SAS (Special Air Service) raid. At least two suffered nose gear failures and subsequently became decoys and/or were repeatedly ‘destroyed’ by air attack or naval gunfire. A555 newly delivered from the mainland was the aircraft that carried out the napalm attack on 28May (the most active day of the campaign for the Pucaras) but caused no damage or casualties. Of the two dozen plus that deployed to the Islands, 7 in relatively serviceable condition were surrendered of which four were brought to flyable condition post war, although only A515 (ZD485) was actually flown of the five aircraft that came back to the UK. At least three were lost in unknown circumstances in very poor weather conditions having either hit high ground or the sea. One was shot down by cannon fire from a Sea Harrier, one by a Stinger SAM, one by ground fire, and one destroyed whilst taxying by BL755 cbu bomblets. Of the three shot down, all pilots successfully ejected. The Pucara force was regarded as a serious threat to the British forces on the islands, hence the Pebble Island raid, and they were the specific target of several Sea Harrier and Harrier bombing strikes.