Sunday 30 October 2016

2016 - AFB CONDOR An episode of creativity and courage

AFB Cóndor
An episode of creativity and courage

                                                                                                                                                                             EDUARDO C. GERDING

                                                              Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought
                                                                                                                                                                                                         (Albert Einstein)

In this article I´ll describe the great creativity (originality and effectiveness ) 41 displayed by members of the Argentine Air Force defending the AFB Cóndor against several British air raids on 1, 8, 12, 17, 21, 22, 25, 27 and 28th May, 1982. A prelude to the Battle of Goose Green which took place the 28th and 29th of May. 17,33


What is creativity? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines creativity as the ability to make new things or think of new ideas. Creativity is defined as well as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others. 18. It is not an easy issue to understand. 51

There’s however another definition from American professor Robert Jeffrey Sternberg, perhaps the world’s leading researcher in the field. For him, creativity is a decision we take. Wanting to be more creative is the main drive, the rest is up to hard work. 10,25

There are three primary elements in the cognitive process: imagination, creativity and innovative thinking. Imagination is about seeing the impossible.  Creativity is using imagination to unleash the potential of existing ideas in  order to create new and valuable ones. Innovation is taking existing, reliable systems and ideas and improving them. Typically, we often confuse these three for one or the other. Dreams at night are a type of imaginative thinking. Creativity very much deals with reality, but the solutions we generate as a result of creativity are difficult to measure.

Innovation is what takes place when we look at an existing system or process and find a way to improve it, often utilizing both imagination and creativity. The biggest difference between each of  these is the frame of focus we have when attempting to utilize each. With imagination, our focus can be on things that are impossible. Creativity requires our focus to be on things that might be possible, but we can’t be sure until we explore them further. While innovation entails being focused on what is right in front of us, something that can be measurably improved in the here and now. 43

Hughlings Jackson (1835-1911),a British nineteenth century physician theorized that the left hemisphere is especially involved in language, logical processes, calculation, mathematics, and rational thinking, while the right hemisphere is involved in musicality and synthesis, an aspect of creativity.16,19. However, the latest finding from neuroscience of creativity  suggests that the right brain/left brain distinction does not offer the full picture. Creativity does not involve a single brain region or single side of the brain. 27. It seems to be  dependent on the interaction between networks rather than specific brain areas. 36. Experts at Karolinska Institut of Sweden studied the dopamine system in healthy creative individuals with astonishing results regarding mental health.22

The AFB Cóndor

On April 15, 1982 in the Isthmus of Darwin, the Argentine Air force improvised a strategic airfield called AFB Cóndor (situated in Goose Green) where they operated the FMA IA-58 Pucarás, being one of the foundations of Theatre Operations Malvinas, thus forming the Airmobile Squadron Pucará Malvinas. This wind swept base was commanded by lieutenant colonel Wilson Pedroso.

As of April 26th there were 8 Pucará aircrafts in the base. The BAM Cٴóndor was first attacked on May 1st, 1982 at 8.31 AM. CO 800 NAS (Naval Air Squadron) of the HMS Hermes Lt. Cdr. Rodney Vincent `Fred`Frederiksen RN 29 led a bombing strike by three Harriers (Lt. Hale and Lt. McHars) on the airfield at Goose Green.  As a result of this attack with BL755 cluster bombs, First Lieutenant Daniel Antonio Jukic (26) was KIA inside his IA-58 A-527 Pucará and were also killed Principal Corporals Juan Antonio Rodríguez (29), Mario Duarte (27), and Corporals José Alberto Maldonado(27), Agustín Hugo Montaño (25), Andrés Luis Brashich (21), Miguel Angel Carrizo(23) and José Luis Peralta(21) also soldiers 1963 class: Guillermo Ubaldo García and Héctor Ramos Bordón. 9,21,47

The essence of the Argentine air defence was of course to detect hostile aircraft and destroy them. The critical issue here was to hit a target moving in three-dimensional space; an attack must not only match these three coordinates, but must do so at the time the target was at that position. This means that projectiles either had to be guided to hit the target, or aimed at the predicted position of the target at the time the projectile reaches it, taking into account speed and direction of both the target and the projectile.

LAU 61 (Digital Rocket Launcher) 3                                                                                                                                                                              19 rocket launcher tubes 70 mm


Tuesday 4 May, Hawker Siddeley Sea Harrier FRS 1 of No.800 NAS XZ450, HMS Hermes  armed with BL755 cluster bombs shot down over Goose Green by Second Lt Claudio Oscar Braghini´s radar-controlled (3rd Secion B Battery) , GADA 601
35mm Oerlikon fire (1.10 pm) second salvo. Lt  Nick Taylor RN was killed. The crash was caught on the gun camera film, of Flt Lt Ted Ball. His body was recovered by the Argentines troops  at Goose Green and given a full military funeral. 4,28,42

Thursday 27 May Harrier GR.3 of 1(F) Sqdn  XZ 988 RAF shot down over Goose Green probably by 35mm Oerlikon fire (1.35 pm). Sqdn Ldr Bob Iveson (RAF Wittering) ejected to the west and hid-up. He remained on the ground and on the loose for three days until he was eventually picked up by an Amphibious Force helicopter on the 30rd.  . 7,12,35,50

(Braybrook, Roy , Roffe, Michael, Hadler, Terry , Chappell, Michael
Battle for the Falklands(3) Air Forces-Men-at-arms 135.) 6

In 1982, 10 Harrier GR.3s of No. 1 Squadron operated from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. As the RAF Harrier GR.3 had not been designed for naval service, the 10 aircraft had to be rapidly modified prior to the departure of the task force. Special sealants against corrosion were applied and a new deck-based  inertial guidance aid was devised to allow the RAF Harrier to land on a carrier as easily as the Sea Harrier. 8, 23

Oerlikon 35mm del GADA 601

Pilots of No 1(F) Squadron pictured whilst transiting to the war zone on board the Atlantic Conveyor. L-R : Sqn Ldr Peter Harris, Flt Lt Jeff Glover, Flt Lt Mark Hare, Flt Lt John Rochfort, Sqn Ldr Bob Iveson, Wg Cdr Peter Squire (Officer Commanding), Flt Lt Tony Harper with Sqn Ldr Jerry Pook sitting.

50                                                                           37

According to Jonathan Glancey the RAF pilots had every reason to want to do their duty and get home safely:  unlike in the Battle of Britain most of the GR.3 pilots were married men with children , and some approaching forty. They were not flying for old lies Dulce et decorum est pro paria mori much less for hatred of the enemy , or certainly not the enemy   they encountered ;they too were grownups, too professionals and sometimes too cynical to believe in saber-rattling of any kind. 20
The kill-to-loss ratio does not reflect the skill and braveness of the Argentinean pilots who had to face a truly astonishing fighter, which had remarkable slow flight characteristics, even without the thrust vectoring, and a superior radar. (Richard Clements-Sea Harrier, the forgotten hero that won the war in the Falklands. To be replaced by the F-35B.-The Aviationist - May 22, 2012)


Dulce et decorum est pro paria mori  (It is sweet and right to die for your country ), used first by leading Roman lyric poet Horace, is a First World War poem by Wilfred Owen

The creative weapons

The Tractor Rocket Launcher and the portable LAU 61

90 HP Ford tractor with LAU 61
Apples wooden box

Corporals Juan Alberto Mansilla, (mechanical weapons ), Luis Toloza and Raúl Gonzalez (mechanical electrician) together with Lieutenant Héctor Eladio Santini (Cross to the Heroic Valor  in Combat ) placed a Pucará LAU 61 rocket launcher on a tractor which was driven with its own battery. At first they tried to place two or three LAU 61 on the roof of the tractor. As it was too much weight they put a pipe supporting the roof structure. A LAU 61 was placed on a wheelbarrow too which could reach difficult terrain sites. Other LAU 61 were placed on an apples wooden box .
The three rocket launchers were tied with the inner tube of a bicycle tyre. While the British were attacking, Mansilla fired the rockets and Vice-Commodore Saúl Edgardo Costa ran the shot adjustment. As the rockets were fired, Petty Officer Assistant Roque Nicolas Marquez carried more rockets from the reservoir to the LAU 61. About one hundred and seventy rockets were fired to the British ground forces on May 28th. (Chief Petty Officer Juan Alberto Mansilla personal communication). 1,15,32,40

Chief Petty Officer Juan Alberto Mansilla born in Cordoba. Retired on January 2015.
Chief Petty Officer  Luis Toloza
born in Catamarca. Settled in Reconquista
(Santa Fé) like Mansilla.

For the portable LAU 61 a trigger was devised with a key of the panel plane and few 1.5 Eveready batteries. The firing angle was achieved by placing a pipe under the gun carriage .

This last was nothing less but a metal table turned upside down with shortened front legs. The LAU 61 was gripped with a load tie ribbon. 32

The rocket launcher slide

Rocket launcher  on a children slide
Harrier Gr.3 (Harrier Force Association)

In the final days of the war a rocket launcher was placed on top of a children slide, and on a coop as well. The staircase served the gunsmiths to feed the LAU-61.

The infernal machine

Three LAU 61 were placed on a mobile bomb rack carriage. There were no problems with the azimuth and it was hydraulically operated. 32

Goose Green area
(Kindly submitted by Hugo Alberto Herrera)

A CH 47  Chinook may be observed on the right- The order to move the Chinooks in theater came on April 5 H-93 was quickly modified by adding three defensive 12.7mm machine guns, to go immediately to Comodoro Rivadavia. There it received a tactical camouflage consisting of brown and olive green. With the paint barely dry, the Chinook began its journey to Rio Gallegos where additional fuel tanks were installed to increase their autonomy. Finally it departed on the afternoon of April 7 to the Malvinas arriving at Puerto Argentino at 2015Hs.The second Chinook, the H-91, was transferred from Antarctica Base Marambio to Rio Grande on April 10  and apparently arrived to Puerto Argentino on 13rd. The new unit was called "Malvinas Squadron helicopters" and besides the two Chinooks included two other Bell 212 FAA. On April 14, four helicopters were transferred to the AFB Cóndor base in Goose and from there took part in support of the Army, and Navy FAA.  14

Special machineguns

Master Chief Petty Officer (62) Hugo Alberto Herrera (aka The Bear) is an Air Weapons Mechanical Technician. In 1982 together with First Lieutenant Horacio Giaigischia  had the idea of using truck cylinder heads as a recoil damper of two Browning 12.70 machine guns fully loaded with tracer shells which were situated in a winter garden at Goose Green.

(Kindly submitted by Hugo Alberto Herrera)
Hugo Alberto Herrera
Gunner of the Air Force Chinook  CH-47C-308
His Chinook evacuated British RAF Squadron Leader Flt Lt Jeffrey Glover
shot down on May 21st, 1982 by a Blowpipe missile fired by  the
Argentine 601 Commando Company.  26,30,31
(Photograph taken by the author)

Former Corporal Bernardo Dobrenic (56) ( electronics mechanic) and Corporals Mario Vera (Gunsmith) and Gabino Oscar Crispin ( electronics mechanic) took a M1919 belt fed Browning 7.62 machine gun from a Pucará. He disarmed the solenoid and used a Land Rover cross-piece for assembly.

This last and the machine gun were fixed with bolts. The Land Rover Defender gearshift was attached to a U pipe and used as a joy stick. As in the plane  it was an electric machine gun, Dobrenic made it work in a mechanic way. An Honda motorcycle brake was used as a trigger. About 200 rounds were fired with this gun.

With this U$S 3300 M1919 belt fed machine gun Dobrenic successfully faced three Harriers each unit cost estimated in U$S 18 million(in 1991). 2,23

Former Corporal Bernardo Juan Dobrenic
(Photograph taken by the author)

Dobrenic´s Browning 7.62 machine gun
The gearshift may be observed as well
(Kindly submitted by Hugo Alberto Herrera)
The motorcycle brake used as a trigger.

Pucará 7.62 machine gun (4× FM M2-20). Rate of fire: 400-600 rounds/min
Maximum Effective fire range: 1400 m

According to Commodore Francisco Pío Matassi (The Air Battle of our Malvinas Islands) and descriptions of Major Oscar Pose Ortiz de Rosas, 1st Lieutenant Manuel Fernandez and Lieutenant  Gustavo Brea in Volume VI of the History of the Argentine Air Force, on May 22, 1982 at 14.28hs Sea Harriers attacked the AFB Cóndor. The plane was most probably damaged by the action  of the Argentine helicopter pilots who were operating two 12.70 mm and two 7.62 mm machine guns. The first ones situated in a winter garden of the shelter house. The Harrier was surrounded by tracer shells, bowed to the right and disappeared while flying low but it was not found later. 24,34

British references mostly underline May 21st. On that day Fl Lt Jeffrey William Glover (24) of the RAF GR.3 XZ972 (1 Fighter Squadron) (RAF Wittering) flew over Falkland Sound at low level to bring his cameras to bear, the aircraft was hit by three well aimed rounds shot by Army First Lieutenant Sergio Fernandez and part of the wing was blown off. Flt Lt Glover ejected, suffered a shoulder dislocation in the process, and landed in the sea. His life was saved by an Argentine soldier who dived into the icy Sound to pull him to the shore. 50
Glover was well treated first by Army Captain Medicine Doctor Pablo Llanos and later in Port Howard by Major Medicine Doctor Luis Reale. Glover even volunteered to donate blood for an Argentine conscript who was wounded in his femoral artery. Glover was a POW until July 8th when he was transferred from the Air Base Chamical (La Rioja) to Buenos Aires and later to Montevideo. 39

Notwithstanding, on Saturday May 22nd British reconnaissance photographs of the airfield were available and heavy Anti Aircraft Artillery (AAA)was known to be in the area. According to Andrew Dennis of the RAF Museum, on the 22nd there was an attack on Goose Green made by the following GR.3s of 1 Squadron :  (Personal communication)         

XV 789 Jerry Pook
XZ 988 Bob Iveson
XZ 963 Peter Harris
John Rochfort

That day Sqn Ldr Jerry Pook (author of RAF Harrier Ground attack Falklands ) and Sqn Ldr Bob Iveson attacked a line of fox-holes on the Northern edge of the field. Both saw a considerable AAA aimed at them. Sqn Ldr Peter Harris continued the attack despite a considerable barrage of AAA but his cluster bombs hung-up. Flt Lt John Rochfort dropped his weapons on his briefed target. All four aircraft ran-out to the West at Ultra Low Level and returned to the Hermes. There was a late mission flown by Wg Cdr Peter Squire and Flt Lt Tony Harper which was to carry out armed recce of the airstrip at Weddell Island. While en-route they identified the ARA Monsunen.  44,46

Given the above testimonies it is the author´s opinion that our country owes a recognition and a war decoration for former Corporals Juan Alberto Mansilla, Luis Toloza, Raúl González and Bernardo Dobrenic.

The processes behind creativity 51

Five processes are involved: 1) Attention, 2) Forgetting, 3) Imagination, 4) Network organization of memory and 5) Analogy/Metaphorical thinking (for connecting knowledge bits that might
seem unrelated.

Myths of the creative personality
The idea that creativity is a gift bestowed upon a few select ones by the gods above is one of those myths that tend to stick around for a long time. Just like intelligence, creativity is not a fixed, unitary trait, and can be in fact developed. But creativity needs to be invited, welcome, embraced. There is a myth about the creative soul that if you don’t feel inspired, you don’t have it.25
The creative individuals: 13
  1. Creative individuals have a great deal of energy, but they are also often quiet and at rest.
  2. Creative individuals tend to be smart, yet also naive at the same time.
  3. Creative individuals have a combination of playfulness and discipline.
  4. Creative individuals alternate between imagination and fantasy ant one end, and rooted sense of reality at the other.
  5. Creative people seem to harbor opposite tendencies on the continuum between extroversion and introversion.
  6. Creative individuals are also remarkable humble and proud at the same time.
  7. Creative individuals to a certain extent escape rigid gender role stereotyping and have a tendency toward androgyny
  8. Generally, creative people are thought to be rebellious and independent
  9. Most creative persons are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
  10. The openness and sensitivity of creative individuals often exposes them to suffering pain yet also a great deal of enjoyment

Creativity in the military
We live in a culture that doesn’t encourage us to be creative unless there’s a chance we are going to strike it big with a commercial hit. Creativity, like so much else in our world, has been co-opted into consumerism and its worth calculated by how much money it generates. 25 Notwithstanding, all branches of the military consistently have managed to use technology in new and creative ways to gain an edge over the enemy. 5
A great small, simple innovation to a strong working system can conquer the world, and has many times. These relatively small changes are what take an existing standard method and push it over the tipping point into something great.45,49
The success in a military domain in both peacetime and in war is hardly possible without considerable creativity on the part of the military institutions as whole and the commanders and their staffs at all levels. War is largely an art, not a science. Hence, it is inherent that military commanders and their staffs must be highly creative in planning, preparing, and employing their forces for combat. While technological innovations should never be neglected, focus should be clearly on those aspects of creativity most directly related to leadership. That is where the outcomes of military actions were determined in the past and it is where they will be determined in the future. (Dr. Milan Vego is Professor of Operations in the Joint Military Operations Department at the Naval War College.) 48

To our creative military personnel we may quote JC Friedrich von Schiller (1795-1805) subtle statement: Live with your age, but be not its creation; labor for your contemporaries, but do for them what they need, and not what they praise. 11

  • Comodoro Mayor VGM Arnaldo Favre y A/C Jorge Román-War Veterans´Division-Air Force (Argentina).
  • Lou Armour (Former Royal Marine ) (UK)
  • SM VGM Alberto Rodriguez-7th Argentine Aerial Brigade. (Argentina)
  • SM(RE) VGM Hugo Alberto Herrera-Medal for the Malvinas Campaign 1982- Cross to the Heroic Valor in Combat. Cruz "La Nación Argentina al Heróico Valor en Combate".jpg
  • VGM (Former Corporal) Bernardo Dobrenic (Argentina)
  • Andrew Dennis, Assistant Curator, Archive & Library,Royal Air Force Museum (UK)
  • Val Hurlstone-Temporary Office Administrator-Royal Air Force Museum . (UK)
  • Alejandra Castillo and Jorge Pedraza-Librarian- JCS Library General Belgrano (Argentina)
  • Lic. Laura Dominguez and Veronica Flamenco Librarians-Army General Staff´s Library ¨General Dr. Benjamin Victorica¨ (Argentina)
  • Rebecca Starr-Enoch Pratt Free Library-Baltimore (USA)


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