F-104 Starfighters of the PAF
- Created on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:18
- Last Updated: Sunday, 04 January 2009 00:25
- Published on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:18
- Jagan Pillarisetti
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|F-104A 56-874 is an old PAF warhorse that had seen action in both the Indo-Pak Wars of 65 and 71. It has one confirmed Air to Air Combat kill and another Air to Ground kill. Its currently on display at Sargodha AFB . Photo Courtesy: Abbas Ali, HistoryOfPIA.com|
The F-104 Starfighter was undoubtedly one of the most charismatic fighters of the 50s and 60s. It was the first Mach-2 capable fighter in the Indian Subcontinent, when it was inducted into the PAF as part of the Military Asistance Program of the CENTO. It prompted the Indian Air Force to search for a similar aircraft that would balance it.
PZL TS-11 Iskra
- Created on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:12
- Last Updated: Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:12
- Published on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:12
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The background on Indian Iskras abroad can be read at this link. There are several other countries in Europe and elsewhere that odd single examples of IAF aircraft that are not the specific ones mentioned in our other pages.
One such place is the Luchtvaart Hobby Shop at Aalsmeerderbrug near Amsterdam's Schipol Airport in Netherlands. Visitors to this shop would be bowled over by the pole mounted PZL TS-11 Iskra which is maintained in pristine condition. The Iskra carries the Indian Air Force markings and the serial W-1748. The Iskra was actually one of the ten TTL-expired airframes that was returned to Poland in September 1999. This airframe with the construction number 3H-1423 was replaced with a refurbished 'new' Iskra with the number 3H-2015, which was flown back carrying the serial number 'W-1748'. Meanwhile the old W-1748 had found its way to Netherlands.
|PZL TS-11 Iskra W-1748 on display at the Luchtvaart Hobby Shop in Amsterdam. Photo Courtesy Hans van Herk|
|PZL TS-11 Iskra W-1757 on display at Museo dell' Aviazionein Italy. Photo Courtesy Hans van Herk|
Another Ex-IAF Iskra that has been put up on display outside Poland is W-1757 in Italy. The aircraft is displayed in the Museo dell' Aviazione (Museum of Aviation). Cerbaiola is located west of Rimini, which is on the east coast of Italy, on the road to San Marino. Hans van Herk of Scramble has sent us the following information on the Iskra.
"The TS-11 was painted in complete Indian AF markings, the cockpit instrumentation was fully labeled in English. No c/n was found. The owner had no further information, only that the aircraft was bought in Poland. If this information is correct and the original serial is applied then the Iskra's construction number would be 3H-1432 and it would have been rolled out of production on 24 Nov 75. It was returned to Poland, change-over for c/n 3H-1916 (d/d 23 Nov 99) which was sent to India as the "new" W1757."
The aircraft carries the crest of FTW Hakimpet on its nose and is painted in the color scheme carried by the IAF Iskras. However , It is missing its anti glare panel ahead of the windshield.
In addition to the above, several other Iskras are still reported lying in Poland. A couple of them were being scrapped when Greg Shepard of the South Florida Defence Antiquities Museum was touring the country. W-1758 and another unknown Indian Iskra were seen scrapped at the Babimost Airbase towards the end of September 2003.
|W-1758 and another unknown Indian Iskra were seen scrapped at the Babimost Airbase towards the end of September 2003. Photo Courtesy : Greg Shepard|
The following table shows the list of Iskras that have been sent out of the country and known last fates where available.
|W-1742||3H-1417||Stored at Bydgoszycz POL|
|W-1744||3H-1419||Stored at Bydgoszycz POL|
|W-1746||3H-1421||Dumped at Flying Club at Bydgoszycz|
|W-1748||3H-1423||On display at LHS near Schipol, NETH|
|W-1755||3H-1430||Stored in Villafranca Di Verona ITALY|
|W-1757||3H-1432||Museo dell' Aviazione ITALY|
|W-1759||3H-1434||Stored at Bydgoszycz POL|
|W-1760||3H-1435||Stored at Bydgoszycz POL|
|W-1764||3H-1504||Stored at Bydgoszycz POL|
DeHavilland DH100 Vampire
- Created on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:11
- Last Updated: Sunday, 31 July 2011 20:31
- Published on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:11
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Ex-Indian Air Force De Havilland Vampire FB52 IB-1686 at the 'SpruceGoose' Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon
Hawker Tempest HA457 [PR536]
- Created on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:04
- Last Updated: Friday, 12 February 2010 13:10
- Published on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:04
- K Sree Kumar
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|Hawker Tempest II PR-536 on display at RAF Hendon Museum was previously HA-457 with the Indian Air Force. the world. Pic Courtesy: Mikael Olrog - Axis Aircraft|
The Tempest currently on display at the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon, just outside London in the UK, is actually a composite, built up out of components of three different aircraft. Two of the three, however, are known to have served with the Indian Air Force; and the RAF registration which is used as its identity, PR-536, is that of one of the Indian Air Force veterans.
PR-536 was built by Hawker Aircraft at Langley, and was one of a batch whose production was curtailed, probably due to the end of World War Two. It was shipped to 5 Squadron of the RAF, based at Peshawar (now in Pakistan), late in 1945. It is believed to have carried the RAF side letters ‘OQ-G’ and ‘OQ-H’ at this time.
5 Squadron, RAF, served for a period as the Tempest conversion unit for Indian squadrons that were converting to the Tempest. However, in common with other RAF Tempest squadrons based in India at the time, it disbanded and passed all its aircraft to one of several RIAF squadrons converting to the Tempest, some time between the end of 1946 and Independence in August 1947.
|This view of Hawker Tempest II PR-536 shows the pristine condition and display environment at the RAF Museum. Pic Courtesy: Mikael Olrog - Axis Aircraft|
By September 1947, PR-536 had acquired the Indian serial HA-457. It probably saw action in the Kashmir operations of 1947-48. It may have worn ACSEA camouflage initially; but for most of its time in RIAF (and from 26 January 1950 onwards, IAF) service, it would probably have flown in an overall metal finish, with black wing-tips and rudder, and rear fuselage bands. It would have appeared in the ‘Chakra’ markings that the Indian Air Force adopted briefly at this time; and later reverted to the more familiar IAF roundel-style markings.
Although details of HA-457’s IAF service are not known, together with other IAF Tempests, it would have been withdrawn from front-line service in 1953, and from service altogether by 1956.
After the Tempest was withdrawn from use by the IAF, between 1968 and 1979 several batches of substantially complete airframes, as well as spares packages and major components such as fuselages, wings and engines, were either gifted or sold by the Government of India to museums and to private collectors overseas. They may have also been picked up by airports and cheap airfare companies for displays and public viewings. These disposals included, in particular, one pair of Tempest wings, known to be from Kanpur – although it is not known which aircraft they were originally from – which were presented to the RAF Museum in November 1971. They also include the fuselage and engine of HA-457, which were sold to Doug Arnold, a British private warbird collector, in 1977.
Between 1977 and 1987, the fuselage and engine combination of HA-457 changed hands twice more. Doug Arnold sold it on to Nick Grace, another UK-based private collector. Nick Grace in turn negotiated a deal to exchange it with the RAF Museum, in return for the fuselage and engine of a Tempest V variant.
In the period between 1987 and 1991, the front fuselage of HA-457 was mated with the pair of wings from Kanpur mentioned earlier, and with the rear fuselage of a ground instructional Tempest airframe acquired from the Royal Navy Engineering College at Manadon. The composite aircraft was then restored to static display condition. Most of the work on this restoration was carried out by The Fighter Collection, a British private warbird operating company, which did the work for the RAF Museum in exchange for ownership of one of the Tempest’s stablemates, a Hawker Sea Fury.
HA-457, now once again carrying its old RAF serial PR-536, has been on static display at the RAF Museum at Hendon since November 1991. It has been finished once again in the colours of 5 Squadron of the RAF, and once again wears the fuselage letters ‘OQ-H’, which it is believed represent its original identity. Apart from the example at the Indian Air Force’s own museum in Delhi, this is the only former Indian Tempest currently on public display. In its 5 Squadron RAF markings, it does not display an explicit token of its India connection (as some other Indian warbirds overseas do). But for those who know, 5 Squadron’s role as the conversion unit for Indian Tempest squadrons qualifies, as a strong token of connection with, and memory of, the Hawker Tempest’s intensive service in India.
Contents of this page are copyright © K Sree Kumar
- Created on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:02
- Last Updated: Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:02
- Published on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:02
- K Sree Kumar
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|Hawker Tempest II HA-623 is one of the eight surviving Tempests in the world. This example is preserved in the IAF Museum in Palam. Pic Courtesy: Simon Watson|
Okay, here’s this month’s Indian Warbird Trivia quiz question. It might appeal specially to those of you who lived or studied in the Deccan town of Warangal, in peninsular India; particularly the numerous alumni of the Regional Engineering College there. Here it is: Which World War 2 aircraft type, in its time, actually bombed Warangal? Could it have been a long-range Japanese bomber, perhaps operating concurrently with the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft that bombed Colombo and Trincomalee in 1942? Nope. Answer: The World War 2 era aircraft that bombed Warangal – to be accurate, only its airstrip – were IAF Tempests, during the Hyderabad police action.
The Hawker Tempest II is of special interest to Indian warbird historians. It was the first relatively high-performance aircraft to come into the pre-Independence Indian Air Force (then still the RIAF) reasonably early in its production history – RIAF squadrons received their first examples just two years after the RAF did. (Previous high-performance types, such as Hurricanes and Spitfires, did not reach the IAF until five or six years after the RAF.) This was partly because the atom bomb ended the war against Japan just as the Hawker production line was beginning to churn out Tempests in quantity. But whatever the reasons there was no doubting the satisfaction in IAF squadrons, a sense that they were coming-of-age at last, when they got their hands on this powerful Sydney Camm design so soon after it had first flown.
That said, the Tempest did first arrive in India with the RAF. Four RAF squadrons then based in India had begun receiving Tempests, from December 1945 onwards. The aircraft of these squadrons made up the first Indian acquisitions of the type, being passed from RAF to RIAF squadrons as the RAF wound down in India.
RIAF conversion was rapid. The first Indian squadron to convert to the Tempest was No 3 Squadron at Kolar in September 1946, followed by No 10 Squadron two months later. No 4 Squadron was next, re-equipping with Tempests on its return from Japan, and Nos 7 and 8 followed in mid-1947. Nos 1 and 9 also converted later in the year, but were almost immediately number-plated within the RIAF, as their aircraft and other assets were transferred to Pakistan on Partition. By Independence all but one of the RIAF’s fighter squadrons had converted to the Tempest.
On 15 August 1947 itself, twelve Tempests carried out a flypast over the ramparts of the Red Fort, as Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the national flag that historic day. This ceremonial formation was personally led by Arjan Singh, later CAS and now Marshal of the IAF.
RIAF Tempests were called on for grimmer purposes soon afterwards, during the Kashmir operations. They carried out offensive support sorties in support of the RIAF’s airlift operations during that period, and provided close air support to the Indian Army. During this period, and indeed throughout its service in India, the Tempest II was quite the combat mainstay of the IAF. It served with seven squadrons, almost the entire combat element of the IAF, at a time when the service was less than a quarter the size it is now.
|Hawker Tempest II HA-591 was previously MW-810 in its RAF Life. This aircraft is seen here in a picture taken in 1989. Currently the aircraft is in the USA. Pic Courtesy: Dan Pescoe Via Christer Landberg|
However, the Tempest’s service in the IAF was relatively brief. In its later years it suffered a somewhat nefarious reputation; its engine being prone to sudden catastrophic in-flight failures and sometimes bursting into flames. Several factors, including the limits to piston-engine technology which were being pushed by its Centaurus engine design, and perhaps the IAF’s own willingness and determination, to push its types harder than anyone else, probably contributed. Some very distinguished Indian pilots have had to abandon Tempests in a hurry – for an interesting story (with a happy ending!), see Air Vice-Marshal Cecil Parker’s account at http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/1950s/Parker.html. But then, as now, the IAF made do with what it had.
No 3 Squadron, the first Tempest operator, was also the last to use it in front-line service, retaining it until 1953. Tempests remained in service until around 1956 at Hakimpet and Jamnagar, at what were then operational and armament training units. Others continued to be used for ground instruction. Finally, in the Tempest’s last contribution to active IAF service, they were to serve as airfield decoys at operational airbases during wartime.
A total of around 1,400 Tempests were built, 233 of which served in the RIAF and the IAF. About a dozen, including two or three of the Tempest V variant, survive worldwide today. At least eight of these survivors are former Indian Air Force aircraft, or have significant IAF content. Indeed, during the 1960s and 1970s, India was a regular source of Tempest airframes and spares for the rest of the world. One batch of substantially complete airframes was sold to a colourful character who was later accused of having buried some of his stock to enhance the rarity value of the rest! (This site has no idea of the accuracy of this allegation.). There are more unconfirmed rumours on Tempest airframes lying derelict around IAF airbases like Pune and Kanpur. None of the current survivors are airworthy, but two groups are attempting restorations to airworthy condition.
One Tempest remains at the Indian Air Force Museum, just outside Delhi; and is in fact the subject of the fine Simon Watson photograph at the top. The only other Indian veteran currently on public display is the RAF Museum’s example, which is the subject of the following page. Other Indian veterans are in storage or under restoration, as set out in the table below.
The old Tempest operating squadrons of the Indian Air Force, Nos 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10 Squadrons, all remain active today; operating types including the Mirage 2000H and the MiG-27ML. Their squadron diaries, and the photo albums of virtually anyone who served in an IAF fighter unit in the early 1950s, still retain sepia-toned images of this Hawker design, against Indian backgrounds.
And that, boys and girls, is the Indian chapter of the story of this World War Two aircraft type that once had the temerity to bomb Warangal. Personally, I am willing to forgive it – its last act of service in the Indian Air Force, offering itself as a target to draw fire away from its younger comrades-in-arms, ought to redeem it – even in the eyes of the most unforgiving old resident of Warangal!
Serial numbers of former Indian Air Force Tempest fighters currently on static display in India and worldwide or under restoration.
|Serial No||RAF Serial No||Current Location|
|HA-623||MW-848||Indian Air Force Museum, Palam, India|
|HA-457||PR-538||Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, UK|
|HA-557||MW-404||Stored in UK|
|HA-564||MW-376||Stored in France|
|HA-580||MW-758||Stored in UK|
|HA-586||MW-763 (G-TEMT)||Under restoration with Tempest Two Ltd, UK|
|HA-591||MW-810||Stored Texas, USA|
|HA-604||MW-401 (G-PEST)||Tempest Two Ltd, UK|
Sources: The information on these pages was collated from the following sources:
1. Seth, Vijay: “The Flying Machines: Indian Air Force 1933 to 1999”. Seth Comm., New Delhi, 2000
2. Butler, Anthony L: “What a Beauty!”. FlyPast, August 1998
3. Chopra, Pushpindar Singh: “The Battle-Axes: No 7 Squadron, Indian Air Force, 1941-1992” Society for Aerospace Studies, New Delhi 1992
4. The Warbirds Resource Group, at http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.com
5. Landberg, Christer, “The Hawker Tempest Website” - The Best resource on the Internet.
6. Parker, Cecil Vivian, Air Vice-Marshal : “The Caterpillar Club”.
7. Recollections of former IAF Tempest aircrew and groundcrew.
Text Contents of this page are copyright © K Sree Kumar
- Created on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:59
- Last Updated: Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:59
- Published on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:59
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The HAL HUL-26 Pushpak was a light utility aircraft built by HAL Bangalore to meet ther requirements of Indian Flying Clubs. The aircraft was a licensed copy of the Aeronca Super Chief built in the US and first flew in 1958. Aeronca sold the Super Chief Model 11 type certificate to E. J. Trytek of Syracuse, NY. Though Mr Trytek did not manufacture any airplanes, but he did license Hindustan Aircraft of India to build the Chief as the HUL-26 'Pushpak'. 154 'Pushpaks' were built from 1958 to 1968.
An interesting story on how this partnership of HAL to start manufacturing the Pushpak is narrated by Phil Ward on the Aeronca Site's guestbook. Though we many not vouch if the facts are true, it is worth archiving the story for future study. View Page 2 in Table of Contents
|HAL HUL-26 Pushpak VT-DWL (Left) was donated to the government of Malaysia. Later it was sold to a British Businessman and was shipped to UK to fly as G-AVPO. Photos Courtesy Dr. K S Raman|
The Pushpaks were started being phased out by the flying clubs towards the begining of the 80s and a couple of them are now flying in the United Kingdom as restored "Indian Copies" of the Aeronca.
One of the first examples was Pushpak VT-DWL. The aircraft was originally donated to the Malaysian government in 1967 by the then Indian Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi. The aircraft was registered as 9M-AOZ and almost never flew from the start as it lacked a radio. The aircraft gathered dust in a hangar for nearly ten years till the time Mr. James Campbell acquired it and got it shipped to the UK.
Later, It was bought by Andy and Jeff Remington and restored painstakingly. They were helped in thier endeavour by Dr. K S Raman, who was with the National Aeronautical Laboratories in Bangalore at that time. Dr. Raman supplied hand copied drawings and photographs that helped in the restoration of the aircraft. The aircraft finally had its first flight in 1984 with the registration G-AVPO. The aircraft now flies in the UK, carrying a small Indian flag on the engine cowling in the front.
Hindustan HUL 26 Pushpak G-BXTO, operated by Pete Kelsey and partners, seen on the day of its first flight in November 1999 after full restoration. The aircraft was initially VT-DWM. Photo courtesy : Aeronca UK
Another Pushpak is operated by Mr. Pete Kelsey in UK. The aircraft in its previous avatar was VT-DWM and is now registered as G-BXTO in the United Kingdom. There are rumours of atleast one Pushpak making its way to the United States.
|Aircraft Type||Indian Id||Current Id||Current Location|
|HUL-26 Pushpak||VT-DWL||G-AVPO||Flying in UK|
|HUL-26 Pushpak||VT-DWM||G-BXTO||Flying in UK|
1. Aircraft Illustrated January 1986.
2. Aeronca UK Site at http://www.aeronca.flyer.co.uk
3. Dr. K S Raman, National Aerospace Laboratories.
Philip Ward narrated this story on the Aeronca Site's Guestbook.
Here's an interesting story by a friend of mine who spent time in India in 1957-63. The Indian government had agreed to license-manufacture the Folland Gnat jet fighter in place of the Venom. There was some sort of delay in delivery of the tooling and jigging for this new plane and this provoked a production crisis as the very large work force ended up with nothing to do. When Venom production discontinued, management panicked to find alternative work, hence the “PUSHPAK” project. This evolved in a very unusual way which requires further digression.
About three years before, the small Bangalore Flying Club had a Aeronca Super Chief single engine high-wing monoplane aircraft that they were using for training purposes. A young Indian student pilot was flying the thing and he overshot the grass field on landing and headed for a gate girded by two gate posts. The gate was open and he headed for it to go out on to the road.
Unfortunately he was wider than the gate opening so he hit the starboard wing tip and sheared off about two feet, starting the plane spinning so that it then hit the port wing tip and sheared off approximately the same amount. The aircraft continued spinning and hit the rudder on the post and badly distorted it in turn. The aircraft spun to a stop in the road outside and the student pilot nipped out smartly and disappeared down the road in a cloud of dust, never to be seen again. He was acting on the assumption that he would have to pay for all the damage!
The aircraft was taken back to a small hangar and the wings were removed and it was stored there awaiting repair. After a long period of time they ordered a set of new wooden main spars (principal beams which gave the wings their strength) for the mainplane. Eventually these did arrive but somewhere along the line, lifting hooks had been used which had damaged the wood and the spars couldn’t be used. So the thing sat there in its dormancy and another Aeronca was purchased to continue the flying training.
H.A.L. were aware that this plane was lying there and so, after a management meeting, they sent a truck out to bring it back to H.A.L. where it was quickly dismantled into its smallest constituent parts and spread out over the manufacturing area. They were told to reproduce all the parts. The fuselage was made out of Renolds steel tubing but, since this was not available, they used household conduit which looked like Renolds tubing but was not seam-welded and didn’t have the strength of Renolds.
The plywood panels were fitted in place and they had a fuselage. The original Aeronca engine was used from the damaged Aeronca and was fitted with a new propeller. That was no problem. But there were problems obtaining other original equipment for example, the flying control surfaces were operated by Morse sprockets and roller chain which were also not available. They therefore used ordinary bicycle sprockets and chain plus the usual cables. The control surfaces again were made from household conduit tubing.
The metal ribs were re-manufactured from copies and it was reassembled and fabric covered. The mainplanes (wings) were manufactured in the same way and the original wood spars that had been damaged by the hooks had some splice-work carried out on them and reinforcements and the damaged main spars were used. The ribs were copied, fabric covered of course. The original Aeronca had a very deep molded front wind screen. The original windscreen was removed, a light film of oil applied on the inside and then plaster of Paris and straw were dropped onto it to make a very quick mold and this was then sent to the perspex division where they produced an exact copy of the windscreen. Another good example of this procedure was the manufacture of the aluminium brake pedals. The original pedals had ribs which over the course of time had become worn down somewhat. These were sent into the pattern shop and when they came out, they had the same worn markings that were on the old pedals!
The aircraft was completely assembled and then did one flight only, a very shallow take-off, a very limited turn around the airfield, one landing, and it never flew again. This event was notified up the ladder to Air Force Headquarters in New Delhi. The Farnborough Air Show was due to start in a few weeks after this. At the Farnborough Show the Indian Government made an announcement that Hindustan Aircraft Ltd. had designed, built and test-flown the Pushpak aircraft in six weeks! Nevertheless, the Pushpak trainer was born and was produced thereafter for use in India. So there are a lot of facsimiles of Super Chiefs in India to this day!
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