Operation Black Buck – Claims and Counterclaims

Air power was fundamental to success or failure in the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict and the Black Buck raids by RAF Vulcan’s against Stanley Airport and the occupying Argentine force were indicative of the importance of denying occupying forces a functional runway.

The Black Buck Vulcan missions tend to evoke strong opinions, and discussion can often descend into childish and narrow argument.

There are numerous books and online resources that look at the actual missions, and that they demonstrated superb airmanship and improvisation is not in doubt, but not much that examines their actual effectiveness.

So I want to present what I think is a fair-minded and reasonable look at their effectiveness, and some of the claims and counter-claims made in numerous books, magazines, blogs and forums.

Acknowledgements and Sources



RAF Historical Society, Journal No 30

Air War in the Falklands, 1982

The Official History of the Falklands Campaign, Sir Lawrence Freedman

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 historical 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.

Change Status

Change Date Change Record
08/03/2017 initial issue
 02/03/2018 Additional RAF Stanley images


Table of Contents


Island Aviation Before Invasion

Invasion and Force Build Up

The Raids and their Aftermath

Post Conflict and RAF Stanley



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March 11, 2017 5:16 pm

The few dropped a few.

Ian Mason
Ian Mason
March 3, 2018 10:57 pm

After reading Sharkey Wards excellent if somewhat controversial book ” Sea Harrier over the Falklands” I reached the conclusion these raids were a massive waste of money. It is estimated over 400,000 gallons of fuel were consumed on the 3 raids . 63 bombs dropped, 21 of which were not armed ! one hit on the edge of the runway. Argentine C130’s flew into Stanley almost to the last day of the conflict.

Bruce S. Conklin
Bruce S. Conklin
March 5, 2018 2:33 am

Blowing a hole in the middle of the Port Stanley runway temporarily crippled the AAF and related forces; once this was done the small British aircraft carriers were able to move into range and destroy the Argentine airbase facilities on the island, dooming the garrison.

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