Sunday, October 4, 2020

Don't Cry for Me, Argentina

 The last post took its name from the Pat Benatar song, "Invincible."  It was the theme song for a 1985 movie titled "The Legend of Billy Jean" that I never saw.  Apparently, I didn't miss much.  According to Pat Benatar introduces the song at her concerts by saying, "This is from the worst movie ever made."  So why did I pick that song?  C'mon, the title of the song is "Invincible," and it's a post about the ship of the same name. ­čśĆ  You have to admit, it's a lot stronger association than some of the other song titles I've used here. . . . 

THIS post title is so famous that it's not even worth waiting for the next post to talk about it.  This post title is from "Evita," so clearly we're going to be looking at something Argentinian today.  I will say that this was not my first choice for a post title.  The other choice came from a very obscure (in the US, anyway) British song about the Falklands War that I heard once on the Doctor Demento show in 1982.  I thought that might be a little too obscure.  Also, I wasn't able to find a copy that would let me confirm my memory was correct.  Anyway, despite what the title might make you think, this post is not going to be about the General Belgrano.  Instead, we're going to look at HMS Invincible's hypothetical opponent, the ARA 25 de Mayo.

Like the General Belgrano, the 25 de Mayo had an interesting history.  She actually started out in the British Royal Navy as the Colossus class carrier HMS Venerable.  Launched in December 1943 and commissioned in November 1944, she saw service in the Pacific before the end of WWII.  Immediately after hostilities, she returned prisoners of war home to Canada and Australia before herself returning to the UK.  She was decommissioned in April of 1947.

In April of 1948 she was sold to the Dutch navy and renamed HNLMS Karel Doorman in honor of the Admiral killed during the Battle of the Java Sea.  She gave a solid 20 years of service to Holland, with a major rebuild from 1955-58.  This is where she got her angled flight deck, catapult, new elevators and island along with a new set of boilers.  



A major boiler fire in April 1968 signaled her retirement, and she was sold to Argentina in October of 1968.  Renamed ARA 25 de Mayo after the National Day of Argentina, she was commissioned into her third navy on March 12, 1969.

By 1982 her flight deck had been strengthened to operate the French-built Super ├ëtendard fighter-bombers that were coming into service with the Argentine Navy.  They weren't used on board 25 de Mayo during the war though, due to troubles launching them from the catapult.  So, she carried 8 A-4 Skyhawks, 6 Grumman S-2E Trackers (anti-submarine aircraft), 4 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King heavy helicopters, and  one Alouette III light helicopter for her air wing.

Where do you find a model of the 25 de Mayo?  Normally I would say on Shapeways, since that is where I got mine.  For some reason though, I can't find her there anymore.  Now, I will be the first to admit that their search engine is terrible, but it looks like the model may not be available any longer.  If someone can find it on Shapeways, please let me know and I will post a direct link to it.

Since the model seems to be currently unavailable, I'll skip most of the runup about how I painted it and what decals were used.  Instead, I'll just show some pictures of the finished model.  Like Invincible, this one also has a currently empty flight deck, but that should be rectified in the near future.

The stripes are from Microscale, the numbers are from Miscellaneous Minis, and the circles are from an old Dom's Decals sheet.  It is not a perfect reproduction of the flight deck and all her markings, but I think I've captured the spirit of the old girl.

I think this might be a post-Falklands model. The aft elevator was 
removed after the war for Super Étendard operations.

Even after all those years of service and facelifts, she's still a pretty ship.  She deserved a better fate than being scrapped, but most ships do.

On a closing note, I just finished reading One Hundred Days by Admiral Sandy Woodward, the commander of the British task force.  The scenario of an airstrike from 25 de Mayo against the British carriers is still a very good "what if" scenario.  In fact, Woodward mentions that they were standing by to receive a dawn strike on 2 May.  The idea of a counter-strike from Invincible and/or Hermes is a lot shakier, however.  Indeed, Woodward never even mentions the idea in his memoir.  Instead, he expected one of the two submarines in the area (Spartan and Superb) to find and deal with the Argentinians.  As it happened, neither of them contacted the Argentine task force, and the 25 de Mayo carrier group returned to base safely.  I still think a counter-strike by the British might be a fun scenario, but I also have to acknowledge it's pretty near the realm of fantasy.