March 4, 2024
Halwara Air Force Station's War Memorial has two warbirds and a tribute to fallen aircrew.
Barely visible against the grey expanses of the taxiway are the Hawker Hunter and the Sukhoi-7 aircraft displayed at the Halwara Air Station War Memorial. Pic Courtesy : Indian Air Force

Halwara Air Force Station is the home for 9 Wing operating MiG-23BNs. 9 Wing was initially established in the 1950s and was in the center of action during the 1965 and 71 Wars, operating Hunters in the former and Sukhoi-7s in the latter.

  The main memorial pillar commemorates eight casualties of the 65 war and three casualties from the 71 war.

The Halwara War Memorial that commemorates both the war dead as well as peace time casualties. The memorial consists of three obelisks – connected by a pathway. The center main obelisk is devoted to war casualties and lists the names of eleven pilots killed in the 1965 and 71 Wars. During the 1971 Operations, Flt Lt S K Chibber of 108 Sqn was lost on a daylight strike into Pakistan. 108 Squadron’s parent base was Bareilly, which could be the reason that Chibbers name is not found on the memorial.

The main obelisk is flanked by two slightly smaller obelisks connected by a pathway. The one on the left has several names related to peacetime accidents. The obelisk on the right is still blank. The names on the left obelisk are not too clear. Since the names have been painted and not inscribed, the legibility has been affected by the elements. It is clear that the names are as under:

  The left side obelisk with the names of peace time aircrew who died in the course of duty. Hunter BA-233 in the background

As with other memorials, two aircraft are displayed at the memorial . Hawker Hunter [BA-233] and Sukhoi-7BMK [B-785] form the backdrop for this monument. It is apt that these two aircraft were chosen, after all the Hunter was the mainstay of Halwara in the 65 Operations and the Sukhoi was at the forefront during 1971.

Two views of Hunter BA-233 at the monument. The Hunter is silver scheme, having lost its original two tone camouflage in a repaint. BA-233 was an ex-RAF Hunter with serial XE537. No information is available on its career.
The right obelisk is still blank – and hopefully remains so. A Sukhoi-7 in the background.

Neither aircraft is in any camoflage scheme. Both are painted in Silver, but fortunately retain the painted tail numbers.

BA-233 was one of the direct supply RAF Hunters [RAF XE537]that was delivered on 6th February 1958. It would have seen action in both the wars. before ending its career as a preserved aircraft here.

Sukhoi-7 BMK B-785 on the right side of the monument.

Nothing much is known of B-785. There is a high likelyhood that it was one of the first Sukhois in the IAF and was probably inducted into No.26 Squadron. The Sukhoi is displayed with an underwing droptank on each side. The rear fuselage of the aircraft is supported with metal supports. The aircraft still retains its intake cover.

All Photographs © Anandeep Pannu.

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