Sharkey Ward - Sea Harrier over the Falklands

Yokel

LE
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.
With respect to your last paragraph, one of the problems was the way task group operations had not been practiced since the run down of the big deck carriers started. As such it is unlikely that any possible task group commander would have had experience of using fighters as a task group weapon.

Woodward was able to direct ASW activities, and understood the problems our own submarines would face, such as when shadowing the Argentines and understanding the issues with using an SSN to intercept. I am not sure if sixties/seventies technology allowed SSNs to integrate with task groups.

Woodward had also commanded a Type 42 destroyer (HMS Sheffield).
 
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 know numerous Commanders in the FAA; of them, two failed OASC in their attempts to join the Air Force, one would give Ward a run for his money in toxicity and another was quite simply utterly wretched when we were working together at Northwood.

So I’d offer that your last sentence isn’t 100% correct.
 
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As previously mentioned an infuriating character to some. But undoubtedly personally brave and competent. And has suffered tragedy in His personal life.
 
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I've heard fast jet pilots described as "individual characters". I suspect that in that environment, firm opinions and decisiveness are second nature. That might carry on out of the cockpit.
 
I've heard fast jet pilots described as "individual characters". I suspect that in that environment, firm opinions and decisiveness are second nature. That might carry on out of the cockpit.
A fellow 'Pablo Mason?, springs to mind.
 
I've heard fast jet pilots described as "individual characters". I suspect that in that environment, firm opinions and decisiveness are second nature. That might carry on out of the cockpit.
We have identifiable character traits and personality types that work well for the role. As with any group however, there’s a range within that and Sharkey is definitely at one end!

By the way, SHar can’t really be termed fast jet. More like medium jet.
 

philc

LE
A new Falklands Harrier book due out.


Harrier 809: Britain’s Legendary Jump Jet and the Untold Story of the Falklands War


When the Falkland Islands were invaded by Argentina in April 1982, Britain’s immediate response was to send a task force. But behind the pomp and bravado of its departure, a sober reality lurked. A mere 20 Sea Harriers operating from two aircraft carriers would take on the might of the Argentine air force, some 200 planes strong. The MOD estimated that within four days and against such formidable air power, half the harriers would likely be lost.

To reinforce that meagre force, and in just three weeks, the Navy formed, trained and equipped a brand new squadron from scratch. Not since the Second World War had so much been expected of such a small band of pilots. Their home would be a container ship converted into a makeshift carrier. 809 Naval Air Squadron was born.
 
Others from the Falklands War, I guess every pilot wrote a book:

RAF Harrier Ground Attack Falklands - Jerry Pook MBE DFC

Scathing about the lack of preparation that was being made before a sortie. He was RAF, flying from the Navy and not happy with them.

Hostile Skies - David Morgan

He was RAF - he shot down a few Skyhawks. I thought it was a better read.
 
Others from the Falklands War, I guess every pilot wrote a book:

RAF Harrier Ground Attack Falklands - Jerry Pook MBE DFC

Scathing about the lack of preparation that was being made before a sortie. He was RAF, flying from the Navy and not happy with them.

Hostile Skies - David Morgan

He was RAF - he shot down a few Skyhawks. I thought it was a better read.
See post #19 - both of these pilots are mentioned.
 
All the fault of an RAF Sgt who didn't swoon at his feet and order the waiting returning waves of lesser mortals parted so the conquering hero could ride straight home at the front of the queue in triumph.

alas, he’d started to believe his own publicity and started making enemies even before he left for home.

Shame really, he could have been the ‘Grand old Man’ of the FAA, not its perennial embarrassment.
 
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