April 21, 2024

A genuine 1965 veteran HAL Gnat has been installed at La Martiniere College at Lucknow, the alma-mater of many of the IAF's Heros.

La Martiniere College, Lucknow, established in 1845, was founded in accordance with the Will of Major General Claude Martin. La Martiniere College imparts instruction through the medium of English and admission to the College is eagerly sought. Over the span of one and a half centuries, the College has produced soldiers, sailors and airmen who have done the school and their country proud in the two World Wars and in the wars of Independent India. 

The college has the distinction of being the alma mater of the Keelor brothers and Flt Lt Alfred Cooke, all of whom have been credited with shooting down a Sabre Jet during the 1965 war. Another Vir Chakra awardee, though from a different war was Wing Commander Desmond Pushong, the famed transport pilot.  

Gnat IE1208 as it seen in its final display – with the display runway in front of it.
The aircraft has been re-painted to a more accurate scheme, and has the undercarraige in down position. Though we wish the angle of attack was shallower. IE1208 01

On September 3rd, 2015, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, the chief of air staff, inagurated a memorial park on the college campus. The tablet unveiled by by the CAS was dedicated to the brave alumni of La Martiniere College who have defended the country by being a part of the armed forces.  Installed in the memorial park was a Folland Gnat fighter jet.  A dummy runway – the world’s shortest runway forms the base of the platform on which the Gnat appears as it is landing (though in a rather steep attitude.). The aircraft, IE-1208 has been freshly painted and is displayed with its undercarraige down. This base runway is 25 meters long and 10 meters wide, and has runway markings painted on it that resemble the real world.

Gnat IE-1208 is believed to be the third Gnat airframe manufactured by HAL in Bangalore, and the 49th that was inducted into service. The first 46 were direct supplies from Folland in UK.  The serial number puts this Gnat to be of Pre – 1965 vintage and possibly having seen service during the 1965 war.

The aircraft arrived on a flat bed trailer truck early in July. It appears that the aircraft was taken down from another unknown display location and shipped to the La Martinierre College. Photos posted by the Principal, Carlyle McFarland are shown below.

The original aircraft seems to have an incorrect roundel on the nose and slanted fin flashes! – Thankfully this has been fixed in the final display. 

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Photos Courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/lamartinierecollegelucknow  , Mr. Carlyle McFarland (Principal)


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