The Formative Years of the Indian Air Force (1932-47)

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by swag5, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. swag5

    swag5 Regular Member

    Jan 27, 2011
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    Bengaluru, India

    The Indian Air force now, is a formidable force with a sanctioned strength of 45 squadrons. It operates a string of the most advanced first line combat aircraft. It is the 4th largest Air Force in the World. Inception of The IAF had however humble beginnings and the credit for its formation must go the British who were the rulers of India. On 8 Oct 1932, the IAF was formed with one squadron. This was no 1 squadron and is the oldestsquadron in the Indian Air Force.
    The plane that made its entry was a twin sweater biplane- the Westland Wapiti. The Wapiti was a slow air craft, but it carried a Vickers machine gun as well as Lewis gun. In addition it could carry 580lb of bombs under its wings and fuselage. The aircraft was powered by a radial single Jupiter engine. Four of these planes joined no 1 squadron. Earlier a batch of six pilots had passed out from the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell and was commissioned as Pilot Officers. The Wapiti remained in service for 7 years and was phased out in 1939.

    At that time war clouds were on the horizon and a need was felt by the British masters to re-equip the IAF with better aircraft. Thus the Wapiti was replaced by the American built Vultee Vengeance and the British manufactured Hawker Hurricane and Westland Lysander. The Vultee – dive bomber was not much of a success and was phased out in 1943, but the IAF had to use this aircraft as the resources were scare and the RAF in the UK had the greater importance as it was facing the Luftwaffe. The Hurricane was a better aircraft and had taken part in the Battle of Britain. However the numbers allotted to the IAF were few. The Lysander was a special purpose aircraft and came in handy during the operations against the Japanese, The IAF in the Second World War now expanded and the Imperial Japanese army mounted an assault on the British Empire.

    Singapore was captured and soon the Imperial army was making significant headway in Burma. The IAF was now thrown into battle to support the British Indian army. It fought the Japanese air force with guts and gumption. The IAF tried to stem the advance of the Imperial army and attacked the Japanese military bases at Arakan and also the bases in Thailand at Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai. Both these cities were close to the Burmese border. The IAF also played a stellar role in the siege of Imphal and faced the Japanese Air force with expertise and courage, though the aircraft with the IAF were inferior to the Japanese. During 1944, the factor of Subhas Bose also emerged and he sent 45 Indian pilots for training to the Imperial Army Air Force Academy. But when they returned the war was over. After the war the Prefix Royal was added and the IAF became the RIAF. In 1946 the IAF went in for the DC-3 and the first transport squadron was raised.

    The present air force draws its inspiration from the days when the IAF flew with Wapitis and Lysenders and made a name for it. That was a glorious age.

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