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Montevideo, July 13th 2024 - 15:22 UTC



1982 South Atlantic War: Crippa launches fundraiser to bring back his plane

Sunday, December 31st 2023 - 23:20 UTC
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The aircraft “was sold to an American arms dealer” due to budgetary issues, Crippa lamented The aircraft “was sold to an American arms dealer” due to budgetary issues, Crippa lamented

Retired Argentine Navy pilot Owen Crippa launched this week a fundraiser to bring back from the United States the Italian-built Aermacchi MB-339 with which he attacked the HMS Argonaut on May 21, 1982, during a reconnaissance mission amid the South Atlantic war over the Falkland Islands. He reportedly needs US$ 50,000.

Crippa, who now lives in Sunchales in the province of Santa Fe, alerted his superiors of the British fleet's presence in the region. For that successful sortie, he was granted a “Cross of Heroic Valor in Combat,” the country's highest military award. British historian Martin Middlebrook wrote that Crippa's bravado was a foretaste of the determination that the Argentine pilots were going to show in subsequent engagements.

In 2005 the Argentine Navy sold to a private businessman in the United States three decommissioned MB-339s -including the 4-Alpha-115 one- to buy spare parts for the Sea King helicopters to be deployed in that year's Antarctic campaign. Crippa's unit is believed to be the only one of its kind to have engaged in naval air combat and returned safely. In addition to the 1982 Falklands War, the Aermacchi MB-339 also saw combat with the Eritrean Air Force during the Eritrean–Ethiopian War of 1998–2000.

The retired naval aviator made a video that went viral asking for financial support to retrieve the aircraft that “was sold to an American arms dealer” due to budgetary issues.

“After many years, I have managed with the support of some friends to be able to buy that aircraft. It is deposited in another friend's hangar in the United States. From now on it is necessary to raise funds to pay all the costs, transfer expenses, and acquisition of the plane. The estimated cost is 50,000 dollars and then we will continue with the project to define the space and assemble it,” Crippa said.

“The important thing is to bring this plane that has a symbolism for this homeland,” he added.

Argentine TV war correspondent Nicolás Kasanzew wrote in Buenos Aires' La Prensa on Sunday that “With my cameraman, Alfredo Lamela, we were in the Coast Guard boat in Puerto Argentino [Stanley] and, through the radio, we heard Crippa's voice shouting” he had hit a frigate “with eight rockets.”

The pilot then requested more ammunition for a second sortie but was not allowed to make it because he needed to stay and brief his superiors on what he had found, Kasanzew explained.

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