History of Indian Air Force

Tamil

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Dassault Mystere IVa

The first "supersonic-in-a-dive" aircraft in the IAF. The Mystere was inducted in 1957 and served till 1973. It was at the mainstay of interdictory forces during the 1965 War. A total of 104 MystereIVas were supplied by Avions Marcel Dassault of France.

Five units operated the MystereIVa. No.1 Squadron was the first to equip with them in 1957. Nos 3 and 8 Squadrons followed soon after. Early in the 60s, No.31 Squadron was raised. No.32 Squadron was raised in 1965.
 

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IA1337 - Mystere IA1337 in flight - equipped with two drop tanks and T-10 rockets under the wings



IA1008 - Three Mysteres of No.1 Squadron lined up at the ramp at Kalaikunda. Two of the aircraft's identities can be made out as IA1008 and IA1007. The Mysteres were based at Kalaikunda for nearly three years before moving to airfields in the West.



IA1002 - A Pilot taxying IA1008 equipped with two underwing drop tanks. The Mystere was the only first generation fighter using a centrifugal flow engine to achieve top speeds. Its acceleration and handling during aircobmat suffered as a result.



IA1007 - A beautiful sideview photograph of a Mystere at Kalaikunda. This photograph was probably from the same sequence of photos showing this and IA1008



IA1334 - This photo dating from 1967 shows a MystereIVa IA1334 carrying two bombs and droptanks before a sortie. IA1334 is the last of the 104 MystereIVas in the IAF's service

 

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Monogram 1/48 Hawker Typhoon FR IB

Production of the Hawker Typhoon totaled 3,317 including two prototypes and 15 Hawker built examples (the rest being built by Gloster). A total of 23 Typhoon equipped sqns flew with the 2nd TAF from France and nine other sqns flew the type from the UK with Fighter Command. Of these, 60 ac were built as the FR Mk IB. This mark carried cameras for tactical recce. The two inboard cannon were removed and a forward facing camera was fitted in the starboard gun bay. An oblique camera could be fitted in the port wing and vertical cameras in the fuselage. The only Indian pilot to fly the type during WW II was Sqn Ldr Karun Krishna “Jumbo” Majumdar. Jumbo gave the fledgling Indian Air Force its first war hero in World War 2. He was the only pilot in the IAF to be decorated with a Bar to the DFC. On commissioning he joined No.1 Squadron (The Tigers) as Flying Officer in the Mid 1930s. Flying the Wapiti, then the Hart, he rapidly rose to the rank of Sqn Ldr and took over command of No.1 Squadron in June 1941, when it was based at Miranshah, NWFP. After its conversion to Westland Lysanders in August 1941, the sqn was moved to Drigh Road for training and then onto Toungoo (east of Prome on the Sittang river) on 1 Feb 1942. The Japanese Army Air Force attacked Toungoo the very next day, destroying allied airfield installations and aircraft, only 1 Squadron’s aircraft were unscathed. The next day, when Majumdar took off in a solitary Lysander armed with two 250 lbs. bombs for the Japanese airfield at Mae-Haungsan (just west of Chiangmai in todays Thailand), 67 RAF sqn New Zealanders, sharing Toungoo, sent an escort of two Buffalo fighters to the Lysander. Majumdar flew at low level, almost skimming tree tops to achieve complete surprise at the Japanese airfield. He dropped his bombs with unerring accuracy on an aircraft hanger at the airfield, destroying it as well as the aircraft in the hanger. The very next day, Majumdar was in the thick of the action again, this time he led the whole squadron on a bombing mission on the same airfield, destroying several buildings, wireless installations and aircraft on the ground. From then till the fall of Rangoon in April, the Lysanders provided close air support work for the Army. Finally withdrawing after handing over their Lysanders to the Burmese Air Force. Jumbo was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his leadership of the squadron during the Burma Campaign, thus becoming the first Indian Officer to be so decorated. After spending two years in India in various staff and flying assignments, Majumdar returned to the front in 1944. Now a Wing Commander, he volunteered for a posting to the European theater. He ultimately accepted a ‘demotion’ to the rank of Sqn Ldr so as to fly under the Wg Cdr CO of No.268 RAF Squadron flying Mustang IAs over the beachhead at Normandy during the allied invasion of Europe. The sqn converted to the Typhoon FR IB in Aug 44 and then to the Spitfire XIV (although Jumbo was recalled before converting to the Spitfire). During his stint on the Typhoon he was the sole volunteer for a recce mission in bad weather over the Falais gap, one of many missions that earned him a bar to the DFC.in Jan 45. On return to India he joined the Indian Air Force Display Flight, and toured the country conducting aerobatic shows and displays to attract and bring to the public notice, the Indian Air Force's exploits. On 17 February 1945, whilst practicing low level aerobatics at Lahore on a Hurricane, Jumbo lost control during a high speed dive when the starboard undercarriage extended un commanded, and crashed killing him instantaneously. Jumbo died as he wanted to live, carefree, daring and at the controls doing what he wanted to, fly to his heart's content. As part of a series of Indian aviation Greats I decided to build Jumbo’s Typhoon. Lacking any details on the aircraft I came across Colin Ford’s article on the history of 268 sqn on ARC. Colin was considerate enough to provide some information from his soon to be published history of the sqn. 268 sqn flew the three bladed FR IB and these ac sported a single letter ID usually forward of the fuselage roundel and painted their spinners initially night then sky and some red. The ac were in standard temperate RAF camo and by Aug had the Invasion stripes only on the undersurfaces. I have never seen a FR Mk IB done before and so fell upon Green and Swanborough’s RAF fighters part 2 for references. -I’d already done the Monogram Typhoon in the four bladed OOB version with blue/white checkered tail band. Mind you I had hand painted it and ‘feathered’ the paint edges with a forceps-held sponge. Miracle Easy off, surgery to make a four blade prop to three and lopping off the inner cannon muzzles provided for a fresh FR Mk IB for painting. Future, Testors, chalk pastels and Tally Ho products rounded off the conversion. Jumbo, at least on one occasion each flew EK 247-F and JP 371-A. I did EK 247-A simply because I had more ‘A’s left on my RAF grey sqn code letter decal sheet. So here it is. Makes me think; what times those were; and what men they were.
 

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Jumbo receives the DFC from Field Marshal Sir Claude “The Auk” Auchinlek



Jumbo in a Typhoon of 268 Sqn RAF



An FR Mk IB shows its camera installation in the starboard cannon fairing.

 

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De Havilland Vampire F3 and FB52 (Single Seaters) & T55, PR55 and NF54 (Twin Seaters)

The first jet fighters in Asia - whose career spanned nearly three decades. The single seater fighter served in almost all the fighter squadrons. The two seater version of the Vampire was the mainstay of Jet training till the very end.
The Two Seater Vampire was a completely different aircraft from the Single Seater fighter. The aircraft featured ejection seats, larger wings, larger fuselage and came in different variants. The IAF operated the Trainer Mk 55 Variant and the Night Fighter Mk 54 version. Some T55s were converted to Photo Recce configuration and designated PR55s.
 

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Vampire T.55 IY467 was the first Vampire Trainer into the IAF, delivered in May 1953. While latter day Vampire trainers had the clamshell canopy, the early Vampires as this one, featured the 'Bird Cage' type of canopy in which only the roof of the canopy swung open upwards. This photo was taken in the UK prior to delivery. The aircraft in the background is an RAF Trainer.



Vampire T.55s at Malta - enroute to India from England. BY1006 was one of the ten Vampires that were delivered in 1963 that came from UK, Indonesia and New Zealand.



A Vampire NF Mk.54 [ID-603] on a patrol over New Delhi. The Night Fighter version featured a 'Bird-Cage' Canopy for the two man crew and no Ejection Seats unlike the two seater T.55 Trainer variant.



This Vampire (IY470) T Mk.55 parked at Palam AFS, is from the first batch of four aircraft (IY467-470) , to arrive in India in early 1954.



A line up of Vampire NF Mk.54, night fighters from No.10 Winged Daggers Squadron, at Palam in 1958. In the background are a line of Hunters and Ouragans, known as Toofanis in the IAF. No.10 Squadron was one of two units, other being No.37 Squadron, equipped with the night fighters.

 

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This Kargil hero crossed all endurance limits with his sorties

Drass (PTI): Dodging enemy rockets and missiles, this pilot flew his Chetah helicopter for a record period to carry out multi-role sorties as a spy, a workhorse and a saviour for injured soldiers during the Kargil War.

Col Shantanu Kashyap went through the smoky skyline and over rocky battle fronts and inhospitable terrains rattled by mortars, rockets and stringers missiles on May 28, 1999 in Tololing sub-sector for 8 hours and 10 minutes.

"Flying in Kargil heights had all sorts of records and bitter memories. I flew for 8 hours and 10 minutes in a day which is a record in India's aviation history," Col Kashyap told PTI.

According to aviation guidelines, we can fly and undertake sorties for five hours a day at the maximum, he said.

"We had to carry a particular load of two injured soldiers. But taking risk, we used to carry three injured persons. It was most emotional and heartening situation for us," he said, adding most of whom they picked from the battleground were saved.

Recalling his experiences, he claimed he was the first pilot to fly to Tololing to "conduct reconnaissance and observation over the heights captured by Pakistani regulars".

Col Kashyap, currently a commanding officer of 663 Army Aviation Squadron at Srinagar, said, "Men and machines of Army Aviation Corps worked beyond their endurance limits and performed extraordinarily."

The Leh-based 666 AA Squadron, one of the most decorated aviation wings of the army, and the Srinagar-based 663 Squadron flew hundreds of sorties besides securing heights in Kargil, Batalik, Mushkoh and Drass sub-sectors during the war.

"When the first IAF chopper MI-7 was shot down by the stringer missile in Tololing, the IAF formation head asked me to undertake a sortie to the wrecked area. With Stringer missiles dotting along the Tololing ridge line, I flew to the area and carried out the recovery and rescue mission.

"Men and machines of AAC proved to be spies of Indian infantry, eyes of the artillery, workhorses of the troops who fought in high altitude peaks during the war," he said.

Popularly known as leopards of the AAC, their have multi-role tasks including gunning of enemy positions, directing artillery fired on enemy observation posts, airlifting troops and bringing the injured from inhospitable battle terrains, dropping of ammunition, food, water to the jawans on the battle ground.

"We could hardly change cloths and had to stay at places out of the view of Pakistani gunners," he recalled.

The Hindu News Update Service
 

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Revell Frog 1/72 Vultee Vengeance

Originating as the two seat Vultee V-72 and ordered for the RAF in 1940 the aircraft was designated as the A-31 in the US and the Vengeance in the RAF. However with the failure of the Stuka against defended targets, the dive bomber concept was soon dropped in the European theater and the Vengeance saw operational service only in the CBI Theater with RAF, RAAF and Indian Air Force squadrons. The first IAF sqns to receive the Vengeance Is were No 7 (Battleaxes) and 8 (Eighth Pursoot) in mid Dec 1942. While 7 sqn trained with the Chindits near Gwalior for Wingates second expedition, No 8 entered battle at the start of the second Arrakan campaign from Double Moorings (now in Bangladesh). 7 Sqn was thrown into the desperate holding battles in the Imphal campaign where it struck Japanese targets all along the Chindwin. Diving through 10/10 clouds IAF Vengeances destroyed the vital Manipur bridge along the Tiddim road. Vengeances continued to strike along the Chindwin river from Myohit to Thangdut in Burma and played key roles in the relief of Imphal and kalewa and Fort White areas. No 7 and 8 sqns handed in their Vengeances for Hurricane IIcs and Spitfire VIIIs respectively in Oct 44 thus ending a short but outstanding contribution of the Vengeance in the IAF. This Frog re-issue by Revell is a very bare bones no nonsense kit of the MkII/III providing decals for one RAAF sqn. A straight OOB build with thinning of the grotesque canopy and rear gun allowed reasonable representation. I finished the model in standard SEAC markings post 1943. The only variation was that the unique configuration of the Vengeance’s wings and its size did not require the white ID bands seen on other allied fighters in theater. The diorama depicts the very dry conditions in the Akyab during summer.
 

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Spitfire Parade -1/72 Airfix Mk V, MPM XVIII and Academy XVIs

The Indian Air Force received its first Spitfire, a LF Mk VIIIc on the eve of the third Arakan campaign when No 4 Sqn, operating from Cox’s Bazaar (now in Bangladesh) had a lone Mk VIII path finding for Allied P-47s and P-51s. The IAF was to eventually receive some 300 Spitfires of various marks, primarily LF VIIIc, F/FR XIVe, F/FR XVIIIe, one single PR XI, ten T IX and 14 PR XIX. Initially all aircraft were retained in RAF serials (Mk XIV allotted IAF serials but not painted on) as they were handed over by departing or stood down RAF sqns (81, 131, 61 and 34 sqns), on loan. The newly independent (14 Aug 47) ‘Royal’ Indian AF finally received 159 aircraft between 29 Dec 47 to mid 1953. Only the T IXs were directly received from Vickers. The Spitfire replaced the Hurricane MkIIc in RIAF service and by Jul 1945 all RIAF fighter units were equipped with Spitfires of various marks. Indian Spitfires also formed part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (with 11 and 17 sqns RAF) at Miho in Japan for nearly a year. During the Oct 1947 invasion of Kashmir by Pakistani regulars, Spitfires were the first combat aircraft to be flown in to Srinagar. Only the Mk VIIIs were used, as the XIV were considered too tricky to fly from the miniscule, rough and dusty strip. Almost all Spitfire units began to re equip with the Tempest II from mid 1947 and the last units became the advanced operational training school at Hakimpet and 14 Sqn that exchanged its Spitfire Mk XVIIIs for Hunters in mid 1957. I have tried to model each of the major types in the four distinct schemes of those times.
 

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Academy and Airfix 1/48 SEAC Spitfires

As part of my “All the Spitfires possible” collection I present the Airfix Mk VIII done up as a 2 sqn Indian Air Force Spit out of Miranshah in 1945 in the old earth and green with white ID bands scheme. However the machine has the later blue and sky reduced size roundels with a medium blue and white spinner and rare nude nose art. Indian Spits normally carried only a single letter ID in white. Next to it is the Academy Mk XIVe in the markings of Sqn Ldr G Kerr’s 152 sqn (East India) RAF based at Double Moorings also in 1945. The decals are exchanged with the Mk VIII, but the sharp amongst you will be able to catch the UM-C instead of the UM-G that he had on his Mk XIVe LF. Any way the idea was to experiment with both the grey/green and earth/green schemes. They are hand mixed colours with pastel shading and I hope you like them.
 

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