April 14, 2024

Ambala Cantonment is a cantonment town in Ambala district in the state of Haryana, India. It is 200 km north of Delhi and 55 km southwest of Chandigarh. This cantonment was established in the year 1843 and is an important centre for the manufacturing of scientific and surgical instruments.

The Cantonment surrounds the Ambala Air Base – 7 Wing of the Indian Air Force. The airbase is one of the oldest in the Indian sub-continent with over a hundred years of history behind it, yet the surroundings have been devoid of any display of aircraft for decades.

All this changed in the 2000s and the 2010s. Today, there are three warbirds that can be seen around the cantonment area, without the need to step into the airbase.

The first warbird to be put on display outside of the Ambala air station was an unidentified Hawker Hunter, mounted on a pole just outside the main gate. This was sometime in the mid 2005 or so. The Hunter was painted in the grey-green camo scheme with no visible serial number.

Across from the St Pauls Cathedral, on the south western side at the intersection of Alexandra Road and Gunners Avenue is a MiG-23BN, SM-295 that is mounted on a pole on the corner. This aircraft is painted all silver with wings swept back. The aircraft was installed sometime prior to September 2015.

SM295 as photographed by Phil Camp at Halwara

It should be noted that SM-295 was one of the last airworthy MiG-23BNs in service at the time of the type’s phasing out in November 2008. It was also the last inducted MiG-23BN, a total of 95 of this type.

A rare MiG-21U U-3308 is displayed on a concrete pedestal on the south eastern corner of the St Paul’s Cathedral grounds – at the intersection of Tejas Road and Durand Road. The plaque on the pedestal gives a brief history of the aircraft. U-3308 was in service from 1974 till 2013. With its last unit it flew with being No.3 Squadron, which was based in Ambala in the early 00s. The aircraft was installed sometime before November 2016.

Photos Courtesy: Dipalay Dey

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