|C-2098 as seen some years back at the entrance of the Lohegaon AFB. The color scheme is suspected to be derived from the standard Camoflage paints the IAF uses on its Hangars. Pic Courtesy : Simon Watson
Lohegaon Air Force Station at Pune was one of the oldest establishments of the Indian Air Force. Going all the way back to the fifties, the airfield was base to Vampires, Canberras, the gigantic Super Constellations, and later on the MIG-21s. Lohegaon operates the MiG-29 Squadrons and the Maritime operationsof the Jaguar IMs of No.6 Squadron. These had been joined in by the Sukhoi-30MK and MKIs of Nos 20 and 24 Squadrons. Lohegaon also houses No.9 Base Repair Depot, which concentrates on the maintenance of Electronic gadgetry of the Air Force.
|as displayed today outside Lohegaon. Mounted on a pylon and painted overall grey, this aircraft is one of the largest mounted on a pylon. Pic Courtesy : Sanjay Simha
Rumours are aplenty of atleast one Hawker Tempest airframe in the airfield supposedly noticed in the 70s. But many have confirmed that it is not there now. For some time in the late 60s and 70s, half a dozen B-24 Liberator bombers were dumped in and around the base, till the time they were despatched to overseas museums or scrapped.
Today Lohegaon sports a good number of warbirds. Starting with a MiG-21bis and a Canberra as gate gaurdians, the airfield is said to contain some Vampire airframes, the wreckage of a MiG-29 which had crashed in 1997, and two derelict Super Constellations. A visit to the airfield by the webmaster in October 2002, did not show any additional warbirds other than the MiG and the Canberra. There were another couple of operational types being used as Instructional airframes in the TETTRA school.
The MiG-21 on display outside the main gate was earlier painted in a weird scheme with colors that was only seen on the Indian Navy Hangars or on the Indian Oil Tanks. Incidentally the same scheme was seen on atleast another warbird in Pune, giving rise to the theory that both were painted at around the same time.
|MiG-21 Bis C-2098 as see from the front. Normally the serial on the starboard wing would be painted upside down. Just behind the MiG can be seen the War memorial . Pic Courtesy : Kapil Chandni
|Another view of C-2098, taken in October 2002.
The MiG-21 is one of the few ‘Bis’ versions on display in India. It was one of the first to make the gate guardian status. Today, the aircraft looks reasonably accurate in its more recent grey paint scheme. The undercarraige now neatly tucked in the fuselage. It has been installed on a pylon near the memorial outside the main 2 Wing gate.
While it is possible for the common public to travel on the road and see the aircraft, it is advised not to take the photographs as one Warbirds Of India correspondent would testify!