Black Buck and the Runways of the 1982 Falkland Islands Conflict

Air power was fundamental to success or failure in the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict and the Black Buck raids by RAF Vulcan’s were indicative of the importance of a functional runway.

Black Buck, however, was not the only story of importance.

Floating runways aside, this is the story of those runways of importance, before the conflict, during, and after.


The Series

Introduction and Acknowledgements

Part 1 – Pre-Conflict

First air operations, incursions, temporary airstrip at Hookers Point and the development of Stanley Airport

Part 2 – Conflict

Port San Carlos Forward Operating Base, Wideawake Airfield, Pebble Island, Stanley Airport and Black Buck

Part 3 – Post Conflict

RAF Stanley and RAF Mount Pleasant

Part 4 – Analysis

Was Black Buck worth it, claims and counterclaims


RAF Historical Society, Journal No 30

Air War in the Falklands, 1982

US Department of the Navy, Falkland Islands Lessons Learned

Falklands Aftermath: Picking up the Pieces, Edward Fursdon

Air Scene UK

Vulcan to the Sky

Argentina’s Tactical Aircraft Employment in the Falkland Islands War, Gabriel Green USAF

The Falklands War Understanding the Power of Context in Shaping Argentine Strategic Decisions

Radar Malvinas (a great site with lots of information)

Zona Militar (an Argentine military forum that is serious about historic analysis, not at all jingoistic and a fantastic resource, including many posts where veterans from both sides discuss the conflict. Where I have quoted from this site it is done so from a difficult position, I don’t speak Spanish, but would recommend readers go there and have a look, there are many excellent contributors and I would like to say thank you to a number of selected forum members whose comments helped me a great deal in researching some of the specific points in this series). I really cannot thank them enough.

PPRUNE, ARRSE, Fighter Control and Military Photos discussion forums, as with Zona Militar, an invaluable reference for anyone interested in the subject.

Images; many of the images in these posts seem to float around the internet on forums and image sharing sites so it is difficult to properly attribute. I am normally quite picky about image grabbing from sources where ownership is uncertain but because I think this is a pretty important subject I have lowered the normal threshold. Please accept my thanks in advance to the photographers and if you are the original owner please let me know if you want it removed or properly attributed.

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As a by-the-by, to add texture (for those willing to wade through it all) the Foreign Relations of the United States series just released their Falklands volume (“South Atlantic Conflict, 1981-84 including pre- and post-war diplomacy and moments of crisis as well as wartime.) I still pay close attention to their new releases and those of what I will always insist on calling the Public Record Office (bloody Bliar and his successors of both parties: “Public Record Office” says it’s as extraordinarily open, friendly, and democratic an insitutiton as I found it always to be going there both as a professional and a ‘civilian’ researcher. “National Archives” says it’s something like a bank, made for those more powerful than you and open on suffrance.) Given that tendency among the Yanks with their archives — which grew to maturity at the same time as the Cold War, sadly — FRUS is for the most part an honourable exception. And one of their former editors, now an Iran hand in the more active portions of DoS, was an American friend of mine in postgraduate days, and wrote an outstanding book on British policy in the Middle East in the 1950s-60s and its intensely close relationship to the Sterling Area and the refurbishment of the Square Mile with cash deposits from the sheikhdoms/emirates that weren’t tied to the domestic political leverage/ambitions of British industry. Good and sobering read. But I digress. Lots of stuff there in the new FRUS volume about the weasely Haig — a neo-fascist indeed as several British officials grumbled in the FCO records at Kew — and the period of negotiation, also about the immediate late-March runup to the opening of hostilities. FYI.

Roger Lorton

Thank you for the acknowledgment.


A wealth of information in one document – excellent.


The Arg forces were not really fit for purpose. One example from many years before 1982, a team from UK electronics coy doing final work on one of the ships UK had sold them. The senior member of the team said to the Arg LO ‘on HM ships were are granted the privileges of the ward room’, the shocked response was ‘Are you landowners?’


Thank you for a fantastic read. Top stuff.