Sharkey Ward - Sea Harrier over the Falklands

Amazon for 1p plus postage. NEver read it before but was tempted by wanting to know more about it and Sharkey's reputation for being a bit of a maverick.

The book:

As you'd expect it's a chronological record of Sharkey's war. His views on the preparation for air defence of the fleet, and in particular the differences between Hermes and Invincible are startling and in particular, the lack of understanding of the efficient use of the available Sea Harrier force for the Hermes operations staff. The actual fighting part of the book is probably less than 25% but describes in detail the type of tactics used by both the British and Argentinian forces. Life aboard Invincible and the interactions of the sailors and air wing are covered in detail and nonetheless interesting as are Sharkey's battles with authority and his attempts to cut through the idiocy of some of the orders.

Sharkey's views on the Black Buck sorties are somewhat contentious and I won't give any spoilers but suffice to say, differ somewhat from the publicity.

The book is a very good read and well written. Sharkey comes across as an extremely competent officer with a finely tuned bullshit detector and one who is intolerant of idiots. Needless to say some of the assertions are just his opinion and therefore open to challenge. I now intend to read Sandy Woodward's book to gain an alternative view.

This book is highly recommended.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Another one that is worth a read is Phoenix Squadron by Rolland White.

Story of a Buccaneer jockey onboard the old Ark Royal in the 70s.

Interesting dynamic between the Buccs and the Phantoms, with a definite pecking order between the two, in which the Buccaneers were not at the top.

It tells the story of the little known RN involvement in the 1972 Guatemala / Honduras not quite a war.

Basically Guatemala were sabre rattling and looking to invade Honduras imminently.

Ark diverted from NATO exercises to steam across the Atlantic at maxxy chat. The stokers even modified the boilers to get a few more knots out of her.

At maximum range, they deployed two Buccs on a very risky mission to do a one way trip, low buzz over Guatemala City as a **** you deterrent.

This involved illegally cutting across US airspace without permission and operating at the very maximum range of the aircraft.

Well worth a read.
 
Amazon for 1p plus postage. NEver read it before but was tempted by wanting to know more about it and Sharkey's reputation for being a bit of a maverick.

The book:

As you'd expect it's a chronological record of Sharkey's war. His views on the preparation for air defence of the fleet, and in particular the differences between Hermes and Invincible are startling and in particular, the lack of understanding of the efficient use of the available Sea Harrier force for the Hermes operations staff. The actual fighting part of the book is probably less than 25% but describes in detail the type of tactics used by both the British and Argentinian forces. Life aboard Invincible and the interactions of the sailors and air wing are covered in detail and nonetheless interesting as are Sharkey's battles with authority and his attempts to cut through the idiocy of some of the orders.

Sharkey's views on the Black Buck sorties are somewhat contentious and I won't give any spoilers but suffice to say, differ somewhat from the publicity.

The book is a very good read and well written. Sharkey comes across as an extremely competent officer with a finely tuned bullshit detector and one who is intolerant of idiots. Needless to say some of the assertions are just his opinion and therefore open to challenge. I now intend to read Sandy Woodward's book to gain an alternative view.

This book is highly recommended.
More concisely:
The deranged ranting of a pompous, opinionated and arrogant bullsh1tter who is generally thought of as somewhat of an embarrassment within the Fleet Air Arm and the wider RN.

Fraught with factual errors, assertions and downright lies.
 

Awol

LE
Amazon for 1p plus postage. NEver read it before but was tempted by wanting to know more about it and Sharkey's reputation for being a bit of a maverick.

The book:

As you'd expect it's a chronological record of Sharkey's war. His views on the preparation for air defence of the fleet, and in particular the differences between Hermes and Invincible are startling and in particular, the lack of understanding of the efficient use of the available Sea Harrier force for the Hermes operations staff. The actual fighting part of the book is probably less than 25% but describes in detail the type of tactics used by both the British and Argentinian forces. Life aboard Invincible and the interactions of the sailors and air wing are covered in detail and nonetheless interesting as are Sharkey's battles with authority and his attempts to cut through the idiocy of some of the orders.

Sharkey's views on the Black Buck sorties are somewhat contentious and I won't give any spoilers but suffice to say, differ somewhat from the publicity.

The book is a very good read and well written. Sharkey comes across as an extremely competent officer with a finely tuned bullshit detector and one who is intolerant of idiots. Needless to say some of the assertions are just his opinion and therefore open to challenge. I now intend to read Sandy Woodward's book to gain an alternative view.

This book is highly recommended.
Thanks Sharkey.
 
Another one that is worth a read is Phoenix Squadron by Rolland White.

Story of a Buccaneer jockey onboard the old Ark Royal in the 70s.

Interesting dynamic between the Buccs and the Phantoms, with a definite pecking order between the two, in which the Buccaneers were not at the top.

It tells the story of the little known RN involvement in the 1972 Guatemala / Honduras not quite a war.

Basically Guatemala were sabre rattling and looking to invade Honduras imminently.

Ark diverted from NATO exercises to steam across the Atlantic at maxxy chat. The stokers even modified the boilers to get a few more knots out of her.

At maximum range, they deployed two Buccs on a very risky mission to do a one way trip, low buzz over Guatemala City as a **** you deterrent.

This involved illegally cutting across US airspace without permission and operating at the very maximum range of the aircraft.

Well worth a read.
I read that a few years ago in the supermarket library section. A very good tale.
 
More concisely:
The deranged ranting of a pompous, opinionated and arrogant bullsh1tter who is generally thought of as somewhat of an embarrassment within the Fleet Air Arm and the wider RN.

Fraught with factual errors, assertions and downright lies.
No matter how much he goes up - tiddley - up - up, he's still a git.
 
Another one that is worth a read is Phoenix Squadron by Rolland White.

Story of a Buccaneer jockey onboard the old Ark Royal in the 70s.

Interesting dynamic between the Buccs and the Phantoms, with a definite pecking order between the two, in which the Buccaneers were not at the top.

It tells the story of the little known RN involvement in the 1972 Guatemala / Honduras not quite a war.

Basically Guatemala were sabre rattling and looking to invade Honduras imminently.

Ark diverted from NATO exercises to steam across the Atlantic at maxxy chat. The stokers even modified the boilers to get a few more knots out of her.

At maximum range, they deployed two Buccs on a very risky mission to do a one way trip, low buzz over Guatemala City as a **** you deterrent.

This involved illegally cutting across US airspace without permission and operating at the very maximum range of the aircraft.

Well worth a read.
I lost my copy - I loaned it someone who went sick and I moved before he returned

Worst still that left me holding his copy of Lewis Pages Lions Donkeys etc -
I have an aversion to burning books so for years it was hidden in the dodgy grot collection in the hope if I dropped dead the wife would not look to closely.
 
Sharkey is undoubtedly a member of the awkward squad, and an opinionated git to boot.

However, he reached commander in the FAA and therefore must have a certain amount of skill about him.
 
I'm no fanboi of the guy, but he did fly combat sorties in a full on shooting war over the icy South Atlantic sea.

If he had been downed, as others were, his chances of survival would have been very slim.

Unedifying to read the disparaging views of people who've never been in harms way.

He does sound a bit of a cock though.
 
Related:

The Missing Vulcan - Falklands 1982

The extraordinary story of the Vulcan that never returned from Operation Black Buck 6 during the Falklands conflict. Find out where this aircraft went and how the British got it back
 
I'm no fanboi of the guy, but he did fly combat sorties in a full on shooting war over the icy South Atlantic sea.

If he had been downed, as others were, his chances of survival would have been very slim.

Unedifying to read the disparaging views of people who've never been in harms way.

He does sound a bit of a cock though.
Never assume...
 
You were solo crew of an a/c on CAP over the SA in 1982?
No. But you wrote ‘who've never been in harms way’, not who flew ac on CAP over the SA in 82.

I’ve manned many CAPs and definitely been in harms way. Also spent far too bloody long in the SA. I'm quite content to disparage Ward’s writing but have never commented on his courage.
 

Yokel

LE
Sharkey is undoubtedly a member of the awkward squad, and an opinionated git to boot.

However, he reached commander in the FAA and therefore must have a certain amount of skill about him.
Cdr Ward certainly is controversial and his ego triumphs over his intellect at times. I am sure his book includes a comment about a more advanced form of V/STOL being the future for shipborne aviation which makes his opposition to F-35B (all versions of F-35 actually) seem a bit odd.

In fairness he does not say Sea Harrier could do everything, and gave a good description of layered defence in depth with fighters and ships with different missile systems. He gives a good description of layered ASW as well.

The book should be read after Admiral Sandy Woodward's One Hundred Days.
 
The best way to regard Sharkey is to break his career into two (and his word processor if possible).

Part 1: Excellent Sea Harrier pilot, leader of his squadron, brave bloke

Part 2: Utterly rubbish historian, prone to inventing stuff as his resentment towards the RAF increased, now a vexatious and incredibly bitter man whose efforts to promote the FAA have, in some respects done it great damage. His penchant for submitting pernicious nonsense to the Defence Select Committee and any journal willing to publish his material in his quest to destroy the RAF, or to at least remove it from anything to do with the maritime arena, is an awful shame. His questioning the courage and competence of Tornado GR1 crews killed in 1991 - despite poorly disguised denials - verges on the contemptible.


As I've said before, I yield to no-one in my admiration for Sharkey Ward, Sea Harrier pilot and leader of 801 NAS; it's his subsequent performance which is deplorable (a view shared by at least two former 1SL...)

The book needs to be read in conjunction with Jerry Pook's Harrier Ground Attack Falklands and Dave Morgan's In Hostile Skies. Pook's book is the product of his resentment at the manner in which Captain Lyn Middleton (mis)handled the Harrier GR3s on Hermes, while displaying an utter contempt for the RAF which, on occasion, could have got people killed. It needs to be read with that bias understood (and that it is - remarkably - toned down from the original manuscript at the behest of the AHB). Morgan's book is more balanced view, although you can see - as in Ward's - that the SHAR and GR3 pilots (and not just Ward, Pook and Moggy Morgan) had growing reservations about Middleton's handling of the air side of things. I would also observe that there is some evidence to suggest that Sharkey's contemporaneous recollections, to be found in the archives, and Sea Harrier Over the Falklands have some er... disparities.

Woodward's Hundred Days is also worth reading, although some of his contemplations about air power are a little off-beam; as he himself admitted, as a submariner, he spent most of his career hiding from aircraft rather than attempting to integrate them in a battle.
 
I asked a friend of mine who is a retired RAF Harrier pilot if he knew Ward. His immediate reaction was, "Ha! The bearded bullshitter!" . His deeper reaction was that,while his personal courage and skill at arms was not in doubt, he rubbed too many people up the wrong way, long before the much later stuff about Vstol and F-35s and all that. Harrier pilots of any flavour were not noted for being shy, retiring types but SW stuck out ahead of the pack by a mile. My friend believes that while SW may have been right in a lot of his criticism about Harrier techniques, he alienated far too many people, especially those senior to him.
 
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