April 23, 2024
A Unique display of two vertical standing Gnats - has since been re-organised into a more conventional display.

The ATC Tower at Kalaikunda has one of the most unique displays of multiple warbirds in a single display. Perhaps next in uniqueness only to the tri-Gnat display at Vayu Bhawan. Bang opposite the ATC, two Gnat airframes have been erected vertically resting on their tail pipes. The aircraft had been secured by outrigger cables and point nosewards vertically towards the sky.

The ATC Tower Gnats display at Kalaikunda. The aircraft on the left is a Gnat , while that on the right is an Ajeet. A Close up of the tower and the Gnats display shows the small obelisk in between the two Gnats which is the Kalaikunda memorial.

Kalaikunda had a surplus of Ajeets left over from the tenure of No.2 Squadron which operated from here in till the advent of the 90s. Aparently one of them finds its place here as the aircraft on the right side of the ATC Tower. Its identity is unknown, but a fake serial DJ-1992 is painted on it. Since this is also called the Diamond Jubilee memorial , it is believed that the aircraft were installed in 1992 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of the Indian Air Force.

Click to Enlarge DJ-1992’s original Serial number is not known. The aircraft is in good condition overall, and is tethered to the ground with steel cables.

The Gnat on the port side is E-232 . The aircraft is also tethered to the ground with Cables and can be identified by the hard points which are just visible in this picture.

Click to Enlarge

The Ajeet’s original identity is unknown. the only giveaway about it being the four hard points under the wings. The ejection seat and other cockpit paraphernalia have been removed. The aircraft is tethered by four steel cables to pegs on the ground. Since there have been Ajeets with serial numbers E-1990 to E-1997, one can take an stab in the dark and speculate that this aircraft might have been E-1992.

The other aircraft that makes up the display is E-232 , an HAL produced example of the Gnat. HAL’s second batch of Gnats donned the serial numbers from E-201 and went upto the 300s. This puts E-232 to have been produced around the end of the 1965 War. Not much is known about its squadron history. It is quite possible that it was one of the Mark 1 examples that have been upgraded to Ajeet Standard.

The Gnats were rearranged sometime before late 2005 in a more traditional manner. Both Gnats have been mounted in a banking attitude on poles on either side of the small memorial at the ATC. Photo by Sanjay Simha
A close up of DJ1992 from the display. Note the MiG-27s in the background. Photo by Sanjay Simha

The vertical Gnat arrangement was discarded some time later, and both aircraft were now pole mounted in more traditional ‘banking away’ attitude. First photographs of this arrangement surfaced during the Cope India 2006 exercises.

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