It appears that No.41 Repair and Salvage Unit from Ambala has been on a restoration Spree. The following News articles appeared in the papers about the wreckage of a DHC-3 Otter that has been restored by the Unit. Another report from the Tribune indicated that a New Hunter was installed at the Ambala Air Force Station.

Thumbnail sized images of the Otter as displayed at the Army location (left ) and after its restoration (right)

Shaping A History

Sainik Samachar - Wg Cdr Sanjeev Sharma

During the Indo-Pak war in 1965, Indian Air Force was called upon to undertake reconnaissance and rescue missions in the inhospitable terrains of Jammu and Kashmir. Otter was the natural choice for this task. This single engine transport aircraft was manufactured by De Haviland, Canada in 1954 and was inducted into IAF in 1956.

On receiving an SOS from Army on September 22, an Otter aircraft, named Hawk, was launched from Sarsawa airbase for a rescue mission. While undertaking the assigned mission, the aircraft came under heavy ground fire from Pakistani artillery and the pilot had no option but to ground the aircraft on a mountainous terrain peak near Poonch. The 93 Infantry Brigade, stationed at Poonch, reached the crash site and retrieved the badly damaged aircraft from the hilltop. The brigade was proudly displaying this bullet-ridden war machine as a war relic since then. The nose portion of the fuselage and one undercarriage of the aircraft were missing whilst wings and tail portions were practically non-existent due to heavy damage.

In November last year, 93 Infantry Brigade approached HQ, Western Air Command with a request to restore this aircraft to its original shape. On receiving the permission, Structural Engineering Specialist Unit, 41 R&SU, stationed at Ambala, carried out an on-site survey of the aircraft. Later, the aircraft was shifted to Ambala. The restoration team of the unit managed to collect photographs of the original Otter from IAF archive cell and other technical details from various aviation magazines to develop a graphical design. The structural designs with aerofoil shapes of all major and minor structures were calculated before commencement of restoration work.

Reconstruction of missing structures was a chase in time for the air warriors. The unmatched spirit of the team, however, succeeded in rebuilding the front fuselage, cockpit, wings, rudder undercarriage and propeller. After putting in hard work for nearly four months, history took shape and the Hawk was back on its wheels in its original shape and glory. The bullet holes, however, have been left untouched so as to retain this part of the history in its accurate dimensions. Air warriors led by Wg Cdr PK Shrivastava completed this daunting task. Air Cmde LK Malhotra, AOC, Air Force station, Ambala ceremoniously handed over the aircraft to the Army unit on May 9 last.

Vintage IAF Otter lives again after 40 years


CHANDIGARH/AMBALA: A vintage Otter aircraft of the Indian Air Force lost to Pakistani fire in Jammu and Kashmir during the 1965 war has been resurrected at the Ambala air force base after 40 years. The wreckage of the De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter, inducted in the IAF in 1956, was brought to Ambala from J&K in December 2004.

The technicians of the 41 Repair and Salvage unit at the air base worked overtime to rebuild the rugged light transport aircraft to its original configuration. The last of the 40-odd single engine Otters was phased out from the air force in 1991.

A senior IAF officer said reassembling the aircraft into a semblance of its original form was quite complex because it came to the base as a jangled and crushed mess of metal “which appeared non-salvageable.” The most striking element of the aircraft wreckage was bullet holes in the tail section.

After getting the aircraft back on its ‘legs,’ the technicians repainted it silver and smeared the bullet holes with red as a reminder of its war history. The first squadron to be raised on the Otters took on their name and was known as No.41 ‘Otters’ Squadron.

Otter aircraft configuration handed over to Army
Our Correspondent

Ambala , May 9
At a ceremony organised at the Air Force station in Ambala Cantonment this morning, the Air Officer Commanding , handed over the configuration of an Otter aircraft to Lieut-Col Sanjeev Kumar of an Army unit based in Poonch, which would be later placed there as a war memorial.

The Air Officer commanding while talking to mediapersons said that during the 1965 Indo- Pak war, the Otter aircraft was launched for a rescue operation in the J&K sector The aircraft came under heavy fire from Pakistan and crashlanded in an extremely difficult mountainous terrain near Poonch in September 1965. An army unit in close vicinity retrieved the broken pieces of the aircraft after the war and displayed it as a war memorial . The nose portion and undercarriage of aircraft were totally missing . The wings and tail portion was also damaged .

In November 2004, the Army unit of Poonch approached the IAF to restore this vintage aircraft to its formal shape. The pieces of the aircraft were brought to the Ambala Air Force station. The restoration team collected the photograph of the original Otter aircraft from various aviation magazines and archives. After a hard work of four months, the aircraft was back on its wheel in its original shape and glory. The bullet holes, however were left in “as is where is” condition so as to retain this part of history in its accurate dimensions.

This undaunting task was achieved by a team of 30 persons led by Wg Cdr P. K. Shrivastava. According to information, this aircraft was manufactured by De Havilland Aircraft Co Canada in August 1954 and was inducted into the IAF in 1956. Earlier too, the team of this Air Force station had reconstructed a Spitfire aircraft of the British period in its original shape which had been recovered from under the bed of a river in Mulana close to Ambala around two years ago.


Longewala battle ‘hero’ on display
Tribune News Service

Ambala, May 16
The Indian Air Force’s war horse ‘Hunter’ aircraft, synonymous with the battle of Longewala, has been put on static display outside the Ambala Air Force Station.The aircraft has been placed on the main road leading to the airbase. The aircraft has been displayed as a remembrance of Ambala being home to four Hunter squadrons in the past.

The Hunter aircraft, which has been put on display, was last flown in the IAF service as a tow aircraft in 2001. The aircraft static display was carried out under the guidance of Air Officer Commanding, Ambala Air Force Station, Air Cdr L.K. Malhotra.

For over three decades, Hunter aircraft had been the backbone of the IAF. It was a versatile ground attack aircraft. It had made significant contribution during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars. The aircraft played a major role in the battle of Longewala as well as the attack on the Karachi harbour/refinery alongwith other achievements.

Air Cdr L.K. Malhotra lauded the effort of 41 Repair & Salvage Unit, administrative and Military Engineering Services for installing the Hunter aircraft at the Air Force Station.

The task of installing the aircraft was a challenging one. It required accurate and sensitive calculations for the soil as well as the base-frame to take on the heavy aircraft. It also needed strengthening of the structure of the aircraft to remain the desired angle which was necessary for good display.

Additional information