History of Indian Air Force

Tamil

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Canberra Farewell - Revell

The Indian Air Force received 65 English Electric Canberra B(I)58 aircraft, 8 PR.57 aircraft and 7 T.4 aircraft in Apr 57 (what was ultimately to become over 150 ac by 1975) helping to raise No 106 strategic recconnaissance sqn. On 11 May 07 the same sqn celebrates it golden jubilee and stands the Canberra down after exactly 50 years. From Straffing Katangan Magisters in Congo to interdicting Pakistani airfields, railway yards and armour concentrations during the indo-pak wars of 1965 and 71. From collecting high altitude air samples to measuring Chinese atomic activity, to standing-by to take on the US 7th fleet threatning India's east coast during the '71 war and finally surviving a Mujhahideen Stinger hit at 18,000ft, the IAF Canberra has seen the entire spectrum of world conflict and come out on top. On 11th May 07 the IAF will say goodbye to a trusted friend when 106 sqn, 'The Himalayan Lynxes' close the hatch on the last TT, PR and T4s. They will remember all the crews lost to enemy AAA and interceptors and rejoice the success of the most dangerous missions flown in the face of the strongest opposition- Sabres, Mig 19s, Mirage IIIs and Starfighters. This is the very old Revell 1/72 kit built as a B(I) 58 with Bright Spark decals in the markings of the 'Tuskers'. Needed a ton of lead in the nose. hope you like it.:dfi-1:
 

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A diamond formation of four Canberra B(I) Mk.58s. Only half of the third Canberra can be seen in the picture and the wing tip of the fourth Canberra can be barely seen at the right center of the image.

 

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A trio of Canberras , with a T4 leading. A B Mk66 F-1021 is the closest to the camera while a B(I)58 is on the farther side.

 

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F1024 is a Canberra B66. This aircraft with its three man crew was lost while returning from an operational sortie over Pakistan in Dec 71.

 

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Canberra B.66 [F1028] on a pre-delivery test flight over the English Country side. It was one of the ten B.66s acquired just before the 1971 War.

 

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This black and white photo shows two Canberra B(I)58s flying over the United Kingdom prior to delivery. The Canberras are IF910 and IF911.


 

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Aeroclub 1/72 Folland Gnat

Early on the morning of 14 Dec 71, just three days before Pakistan surrendered to Indian forces, six Sabres of 26 sqn PAF set out from Peshawar for the Indian airfield of Srinagar in the picturesque valley of Kashmir. Four aircraft carried two 500 lbs Mk 84 bombs each and two aircraft acted as escorts with only cannon ammunition. Whilst all carried 200 gal tanks. The formation was lead by the CO, Wg Cdr SA Changezi, and the escort pair consisted of Flt Lts Salim Baig and A. Rahim Yousefzai. At Srinagar two Folland Gnats of 18 sqn 'the Flying Bullets' sat at the Operational Readiness Platform (ORP). The peculiar location of the airfield in the Srinagar bowl prevented adequate radar warning and the only warning available was from observation posts situated on the mountain tops. Two pilots waited at the ORP, one was Sqn Ldr AS Ghuman and the other - young Fg Offr Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon. The Sabres flew south east of the airfield and pulled up to roll in to the dive along runway 31, while the escort pair set up a CAP pattern overhead. On the ground, with last minute warnings from the OPs the two Gnats scrambled from their pens (a Gnat could start up and be airborne in 45 secs) but were held up as the ATC could not see the runway traffic crossing point in the poor visibility. Peculiarly at Srinagar, take offs were not permitted until the vehicular traffic (if any) had crossed at the runway crossing and not the reverse. As the two Gnats came out into the open (Sekhon in E-257), one Sabre had already released its bombs overhead. Not being able to wait anymore, the Gnats took off through the debris and smoke into 800m visibility. The two Gnats were ordered to exit the area as it was too late to intercept the enemy overhead and to allow the ack-ack to engage the Sabres. Even as Ghuman ducked to low level and exited south, Sekhon turned behind a Sabre(No 2 of the Sabre formation) just pulling out from his dive. Closing in rapidly he started firing out of range. The Sabre leader saw this danger and ordered his No 2 to break left, whilst the No 3 (Flt Lt Amjad Endrabi) maneuvered behind Sekhon. Fortunately for Sekhon, The No 4 didn't make contact with the mêlée and was ordered to get away to the west. As the three aircraft turned behind each other at 200 ft, with Sekhon firing at Sabre No 2 and Sabre No 3 and 1 firing at him, the No 3 ran out of ammo. Sensing a reduction in the danger, Sekhon got a brief respite to roll out, jettison his tanks and build up some badly needed energy. With renewed effort he closed into the Sabre behind him and began to fire. At this moment the Sabre leader realized the great danger that he was in and desperately asked the escort overhead to intervene. Flt Lt Salim Baig already maneuvering to position above Sekhon, dived down unbeknownst to Sekhon and within secs had achieved hits on the Gnat. Sekhon called out that he was hit, and was called overhead by the CAP controller so as to at last allow the ack-ack to take on the Sabres. But Sekhon's time was up. Salim Baig remembers seeing the canopy of Sekhon's aircraft flying off and the aircraft rolling over and diving into the ground less than 100 ft below. For choosing to get airborne even as the airfield was under attack and refusing to exit the battle even when ordered to, and then taking on six Sabres (although he must have only known there were four) Sekhon was awarded the country's highest honour, the 'Param Vir Chakra' (bravest of the brave) equivalent to the American Medal of Honour. He thus became the only air force officer to be so honored. The Model No wonder then that I decided to build the now elusive Aeroclub 1/72 Folland Gnat in the markings of Sekhon's mount on that fateful day. The development history of the Gnat is quite well known. Springing from the same drawing board that drew the Canberra and the Lightning at the hands of Teddy Petter, the Gnat was rejected by the RAF and only flew with the Finns, Yugoslavs (very few) and the Indians. Over two hundred were built in India and a much modified version, the Ajeet (unconquerable) served till 1992. Direct supply British built Gnats were numbered E---, while Indian built ones were numbered IE----. The kit is also well known, and comes in two colours with five parts and well sculpted white metal undercarriage and seat with a vacu formed canopy that needs some pruning and dexterity to make it fit. Gnats were painted silver and not in the BMF scheme, so it was a simple finish to achieve. IAF decals from Bright Spark and serials from Tally Ho completed the finish. The black anti glare panel and antenna covering were hand painted acrylic while the silver was Testors chrome mixed with a drop of Humbrol matt white. The pitot and antennae were stretched sprue. White lines were painted on the wheel and hubs to assess wheel creep. All in all a simple straight forward build.
 

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Cam Shots of PAF craft being shot down by an IAF Gnat

 

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Param Vir Chakra winner Fg. Officer N.S.Shekhon and the Gnat

 

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Folland Gnat IE1202 was the first aircraft to undertake a succesful dead stick landing - under the control of Flt Lt A J S Sandhu. The aircraft was later lost in crash in 1970. The aircraft was one of the 48 folland built examples in the IAF Service.

 

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HAL Gnat on display along with other types manufactured by them. A MiG-21FL of No.8 Squadron on the background right. A HAL Kiran (U698) on the left. A HAL Basant in the rear and a Vampire (Not visible) between them. Note that the usage of flower pots as fillers was an age old tradition!

 

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A rare colour air-to-air photograph of an IAF Gnat. What is unusual about Gnat E1070 is its overall blue scheme. This same blue scheme was believed to have been worn by the first Gnat in IAF service illustrated above IE-1059. The photograph was taken over Farnborough in Sept 72 by Adrian Balch who was flying in a Handley Page Hastings.

 

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Gnat E1070 in formation with HAL Kiran U703 over the skies of Farnborough in Sept 72 . Adrian Balch who was flying in a Handley Page Hastings captured this beautiful photograph.

 

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