Once upon a time : Bangalore's most recognizable warbird
Certainly the most highly visible [and as a result – the most well known] warbird in Bangalore is the HAL Ajeet [E-1083] displayed on a pole/pylon at the war memorial park at Cubbon Road. One of the busiest traffic junctions in the city, E-1083’s location is significant as it is just besides the corporate Head Quarters of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
|The HAL Ajeet Prototype E-1083 during its roll out ceremony in the Seventies at HAL.|
|The HAL Ajeet Prototype E-1083 during one of the test flights. Note that the aircraft has only two hardpoints unlike the production Ajeets which had four.|
E-1083 is one of the most photographed Ajeet aircraft around. Its claim to fame is that it was the first Ajeet Prototype. The Mark 2 variant of the midget Gnat fighter as designed by HAL. Externally the Ajeet did not differ much from the Gnat, even though it had a higher fuel capacity by virtue of its ‘wet’ wings. The only distingushable feature was that the Ajeet had four hardpoints under its wings as compared to only two with the Gnat. However in E-1083’s case even that is not possible as the prototype was designed with just two hardpoints under its wings.
|The HAL Ajeet Prototype E-1083 was put up on display at the War Memorial Park at Cubbon Road at the HAL office. A Very busy traffic zone, the aircraft is propped up on a pole and is in quite good conditon.|
The aircraft was first installed at its present location in 1997 and unvieled by the then defence minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. Looked after by HAL the aircraft is well maintained and is a shining example on how Gate Gaurdians and retired aircraft needs to be looked after. The aircraft is displayed in a pole position, unusually with its undercarraige down. One noticeable feature is that there are no hardpoints under the wings.
|Another view of E-1083 at the park. Seen from directly behind the aircraft.|
|The lack of hardpoints under E-1083’s wings is quite clear in these photos.|
The aircraft also has an unusual paint scheme in which a tricolor stripe runs along the fuselage from the air intakes to the jet pipe. To the best of our knowledge, No Ajeet ever sported this color scheme, not even E-1083 during its test flying phase. One can be quite certain that this was the result of some babu trying to spruce up the aircraft’s appearance.
|The Tricolor paint stripes that extend along the length of the aircraft can also be seen clearly. The aircraft was installed here in 1997.|
Visitors are well cautioned to keep a watch on the nearby traffic if taking photographs. The traffic in this area is the heaviest. A point of interest is the adjoining ‘War Memorial Park’, where one can see a war memorial of World War One era.
In October 2009, HAL’s Official Newsletter Minsk Square Matters reported that the Ajeet had to be removed from the park and moved to the Overhaul Division of HAL. The removal was ordered due to the development of the Bangalore Metro. Bangalore’s loss – HAL’s gain!
All photographs on this page are courtesy of Rahul Devnath