April 15, 2024
This aircraft was the joint Warbird Discovery of the Year 2004
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The Kanpur-II BR-461 as seen today at the IIT Hangar at Kanpur. The aircraft is without its wings and doors and most of its metal skin has been stripped away to enable students to learn about its internal construction.

Joint Warbird Discovery of the Year 2004
Indian Air Force Kanpur-II[BR-461]

One of the many initiatives of AVM Harjinder Singh, AOC-in-C Maint Command, was the construction of an aircraft at IAF Station Kanpur in early 1958. It was probably flown on its maiden flight by Sqn Ldr BK Ghosh, test pilot, around March 1958. The aircraft was appropriately called Kanpur I. It was powered by a Lycoming 180 hp engine. This was the first aircraft ever manufactured by IAF. Later, AVM Harjinder Singh then made Kanpur II [BR-461] powered by a Lycoming 250 hp engine. It was the same class as HAL’s Krishak. The Kanpur II competed with the Krishak to become the Indian Army’s replacement for the Auster AOP aircraft, and was rejected by the evaluation commitee. The Kanpur II ended up at IIT Kanpur. And it can still be seen there.

The Interiors have been stripped as well – the only items to be seen are the control yokes.
The Lycoming 250HP engine can be seen here still, attached to the aircraft. Click to Enlarge

The aircraft today is displayed as an ‘X-Ray’ aircraft. i.e the metal panneling on the fuselage has been removed to show the aircraft’s internal structure. The engine cowlings have also been removed so that the engine installation is clearly visible to students. None of the aircraft instruments are visible in the cockpit, but it is hoped that the Dept of Aerospace Engineering has taken proper care in preserving them.

Click to Enlarge No instruments in the cockpit survive apart from the Control yokes, rudder pedals and other levers.
The aircraft cabin doors are believed to be in storage along with the wings. Click to Enlarge

To arrive at the current configuration, Not only the metal skin panels and cowlings, but also the Cabin Doors, both the main wings with Ailerons, the seating in the main cabin, the rudder fin , the elevators etc have all had to be removed. There is no confirmation on where they are now, but its highly likely that they are somewhere in the Hangar.

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The internal construction of the Kanpur can be seen in these two photographs of the rear fuselage. The Rudder and horizontal slabs with the elevators are also not present, possibly in storage with the IIT Kanpur II.

Though it is a notable fact that this historic aircraft has survived, it would be more gratifying if the Indian Air Force took charge of it and preserved it in its complete form. As Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava, who first wrote about the existence of this aircraft

“This aircraft is a suitable candidate for an Aerospace Museum. But HAL have set up their own Heritage Centre and Kanpur II obviously has no place in it. Perhaps the IAF Museum in Palam should acquire it as one of the aircraft manufactured by the Service.”

We could not agree more on this good advice.

Update on the Warbird Discovery of the Year 2004:

Considering the historical value of this airframe and the fact that this airframe is the only the second aircraft to be ‘built’ by the IAF, Warbirds of India has decided that this aircraft deserves the accolade “Warbird Discovery of 2004” along with the IAF Kanpur I. The credit for this aircraft goes to Aditya Gupta, Rishi Tandon and Ashish Nigam.

Copyright Notes and suggested reading:
All photographs on this page are the copyright of Ashish Nigam . Thanks are also due to Rishi Tandon.
Also read IAF as an Aircraft Manufacturer by Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava

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