F-5 in the Falklands WarEdit
Argentina received a large number of F-5s prior to the outbreak of the war and these were shared between the Air Force and the Navy who operated them from land bases. They were primarily F-5A/Cs along with a handful of two seat F-5B combat trainers.
Fighting over the IslandsEdit
Although a handful of aircraft initiailly operated from the islands, like most Argentine combat aircraft the F-5s primarily operated from the Argentine mainland which meant that they often had little fuel once they reached the islands. More often than not they flew with three drop tanks which they were forced to jettison once in combat. The F-5C version had an air to air refueling capability but the lack of tankers negated this advantage.
The Argentina/Chile BorderEdit
The aircraft fared better over the mainland where F-5s claimed at least two Chilean Hawker Hunters and an RAF Belfast C.1 transport. Nevertheless the F-5 fleet suffered against the more advanced Commonwealth Phantoms , Lightnings and Scimitars. In desperation the F-5Bs were hurtled against the Commonwealth forces and they suffered as badly as their single seat compatriots.
American VolunteersEditAlthough officially the United States was a neutral party in the Falklands Conflict a small number of Americans volunteered to serve in the Argentinean Air Force against the British-lead Commonwealth forces. One such pilot was Rafael Hernandez, a Lieutenant in the Wisconsin Air National Guard whose ancestors hailed from Argentina. Hernandez flew some of the earliest attack missions against the Commonwealth task force flying his F-5C Freedom Fighter christened "Hired Gun" from the airfield at Port Stanley. Like all aircraft belonging to the American Volunteer Group (AVG) Hernadez's F-5 carried a star on the tail with the American flag imprinted inside. When Port Stanley airfield became too unsafe to house combat aircraft the Argentinians withdrew their combat aircraft from there back to Argentina itself. Hernandez was part of a five ship group retreating west when it was attacked by Phantoms flown by British and South African pilots. Heavily outnumbered the American pilots nevertheless attacked aggressively damaging two Phantoms with gunfire before they were all lost to a combination of missiles and gunfire.
After the WarEdit
Argentina was left with less than a handful of F-5s after the war and they were formed into three squadrons operating a mix of aircraft including the more capable F-5E Tiger II version. A single F-5B was captured intact by British SAS forces while it was operating from a makeshift runway in southern Argentina. It was transported to South Africa for evaluation.
Irish Air CorpsEditNine F-5Bs served with the reborn Irish Air Corps following the fall of the People's Republic of Ireland and the increasing US support. They served as Lead-In Fighter Trainers for more capable combat aircraft but also served as light attack aircraft flown by instructors.
The '91 DisasterEdit
Like the rest of the pro-US Irish Defence Forces the F-5Bs were quickly wiped out by British air attacks upon the start of hostilities to prevent them from interfering in Britain's war effort.