A truly surreal time.
Who would have thought it would lead to war?
The Argentines certainly thought that the US would prevent the UK from taking action, as happened in Suez in 1956.
The British goverment were indeed cupable, the previous year they published a defence review that sent all the wrong signals. Early retirement of the carrier HMS Hermes, the brand new carrier HMS Invicible sold to Australia, retirement of the two assault ships HMS Fearless and Intrepid.
The RN was to be turned from a mainly NATO anti-submarine force, but still with a power-protection capability, to a totally NATO force with only a bit more submarine capability, plus the hugely costly Trident nuclear weapons system.
Worse still, the South Atlantic patrol ship HMS Endurance was to be scrapped, it was only a converted merchant ship, doing mostly survey work, but again the wrong signal was sent.
If Argentina has waited just another year, the UK could not have responded.
These planned cutbacks were mostly reversed after the war.
Also the American Ambassador to the UN then was Jeanne Kirkpatrick, an Anglophobe always attacking the UK for Northern Ireland, but very friendly to some very brutal S.American military Junta's, including Argentina.
But US Defence Secretary Cap. Weinburger steered the Reagan administration into supporting the UK. Providing satellite recce and about 100 AIM-9L Sidewinder air to air missiles from US stocks. The Sea Harriers already had the older AIM-9G/H models, like the rest of the UK airforces, they were waiting on AIM-9L's from a European licensed production line.
The AIM-9L, like all Sidewinders was a heat-seeker, but it could still lock-on when in front of the target aircraft, as well as being more agile and reliable. It gave the Sea Harriers that vital extra edge.
Even so, the lack of airborne early warning for the fleet, a limited number of Sea and RAF Harriers on just two carriers made the operation a very risky affair.
The Navy's missile defences were designed to stop big Soviet long-range anti-ship missiles and their bombers, not get into a war of attrition with a nearby land based airforce.
The Sea Harriers and ship to air missiles took a heavy toll of Argentine aircraft, their pilots were very brave, and sometimes very effective.
But the failure to hit a carrier, or the big troopships during the British landings, sealed the Argentine garrison's fate.
The Belgrano sinking was controversial, but it was not a political descision. The Task Force Commander, Sandy Woodward was an submariner, if he had a major enemy ship being tracked by one of his subs, he wasn't going to let it go. He had to ask London twice for the order to fire.
Probably the most serious loss was the sinking of the merchant ship Atlantic Conveyor by an Exocet missile, it went down with three Chinook helicopters, a fourth was luckily airborne at the time.
This meant the British troops had to march 50 miles from the landing area, each with about 120 pounds of equipment, in rotten weather, then fight against a well dug in enemy, often being outnumbered.
When they managed that, maybe then the Argentine commanders on the Islands knew the game was up.
Much of the fighting was bloody and hand to hand.
20 years on, the Falklands have a bigger civillan population, a much better economy, young islanders leave to study, but unlike in the past, most come back.
The UK military presence is much scaled down now, some troops, air defence missiles, 4 Tornado F.3 fighters, an RN Frigate or Destroyer.
It can be reinforced quickly now, but few think that democratic Argentina would use force again.
For all of Thatcher's political gains, it's worth remembering that in 1977 Argentina made similar threats, but the goverment of the day, who Maggie often accused of neglecting defence, sent a couple of ships and most pointedly, a nuclear submarine down south. The Junta backed off that time.
I don't buy it that the 'Falkland's Factor' won the Tories the 1983 election, it helped them get a landslide sure, but then Labour was an increasingly anti-EU, anti-NATO, CND supporting, far left shambles, lead by the eccentric, ineffectual Michael Foot.
Maggie still would have won without the Falklands.