March 4, 2024
Folland Gnat IE1071 is an original imported Gnat from UK that was originally displayed at the Akash Mess in New Delhi. Subsequent to its replacement by a MiG-23BN, the aircraft was shipped hundreds of miles to Orissa - to be installed as a Monument at a Sainik School
Gnat IE1071 is a 65 war veteran, and an original Folland production aircraft. It can be seen pole mounted in a park opposite the Sainik School in Bhubaneswar. Picture Courtesy : Rishi Tandon

Sainik School Bhubaneswar was started by Late Shri Biju Patnaik the then Chief Minister of Orissa on 15 Jan 1962 in an adhoc government accommodation. The new building and infrastructure was brought up within two years at the present location under personal care of Shri Biju Patnaik and was inaugurated by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru on 08 Jan 1964.

Sainik School Bhubaneswar is located in the Capital City of Orissa in the close vicinity of Utkal University, Vani Vihar just 2 Kms away from National Highway. The distance of the school from Air Port is about 10 KMs and from Railway Station it is only 8 Kms.

Multiple views of the mounted aircraft. It still retains its original bluish paint scheme from its Aakash Mess’ days

Outside the school is a “Martyrs Memorial Park” comprising of a War Memorial for the students, and a pole mounted Folland Gnat [IE1071] on display.

The School had an the idea to construct a Martyrs Memorial in the school campus in 2002. The Old Boys Association of the School sprang into action immediately. The foundation stone of the memorial was laid on 05.01.2003 by Smt. Kanchanlata Sahoo, proud mother of 2 IAF officers. Prakash and Pradip Sahoo who laid down their lives for the nation. The Bhoomi Puja of the Memorial was performed by the Chief Minister of Orissa Shri Naveen Patnaik on 15/12/2002.The Martyrs’ Memorial was dedicated to the nation in a ceremony on 12/12/2004 by the Defence Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee

Close Up of the cockpit shows no ejection seat under the plexiglas. Picture Courtesy : Rishi Tandon Another view of the Gnat just after installation. – Photographer – Unknown

The OBA took initiative to construct a park and boundary wall around the Martyrs’ Memorial. Our goal was achieved because of generous donation from a large number of well wishers including the Orissa Mining Corporation and the Indian Air Force. Sahid Park was inaugurated by the then Chief of Air staff, Air Chief Marshal S. P. Tyagi on 25/12/2006. Later the IAF came forward once again and had a Gnat aircraft installed by them at the Park which was inaugurated by the then Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal F H Major on 11/01/2009.

The stone tablet at the base wrongly identifies the aircraft as an Ajeet, ignoring its earlier history as a Gnat. Possibly inducted around 1961 or so, it gets credit only from 1976!. Picture Courtesy : Rishi Tandon A close up of the mounting. Picture Courtesy : Rishi Tandon

Ofcourse, prior to the aircraft being installed here in 2009, this Gnat was a regular sight at the Delhi Aakash Officer’s Mess near the India Gate. A couple of years ago around 2008, the aircraft went ‘missing’ and was replaced by a MiG-23BN. Its fate remained a mystery till its photographs were taken by Rishi Tandon who happened to visit the place.

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