Factual Specials

Falklands’ Most Daring Raid

On April 30th 1982, the RAF launched a secret mission; to bomb Port Stanley’s runway, putting it out of action for Argentine fighter jets. The safety of the British Task Force depended on its success. But the RAF could only get a single Vulcan 8,000 miles south to the Falklands as just one bomber needed an aerial fleet of 13 Victor tanker planes to refuel it throughout the 16 hour round-trip.

From start to finish, the seemingly impossible mission was a comedy of errors, held together by British pluck and ingenuity. On the brink of being scrapped, only three of the ageing nuclear bombers could be fitted out for war, one to fly the mission and two in reserve. Crucial spare parts were scavenged from museums and scrap yards – one vital piece found as an ashtray in the Officer’s Mess. In just three weeks, the Vulcan crews had to re-learn air-to-air refuelling, which they hadn’t done for 20 years and conventional bombing, which they hadn’t done for 10 years. The RAF scoured the country for old World War II iron bombs and complex refuelling calculations were done the night before on a £5 pocket calculator.

With a plan stretched to the limit and the RAF’s hopes riding on just one Vulcan, the mission was flown on a knife-edge; fraught with mechanical failures, unreliable navigation, electrical storms and, ultimately, not enough fuel. Of the Vulcan’s 21 bombs dropped, only one found its target. But that was enough to change the outcome of the war…

Broadcaster:Channel 4
Genre:Factual Specials
Format:1 x 60 min
Production year:2012
Executive Producer:Julian Ware
Written by:Christopher Spencer
Produced by:Charlotte Surtees
Directed by:Christopher Spencer