Saturday, August 4, 2007

Indian Air force - The Gnat (Mk I)

Another neat stamp that I recently got my hands on was this one from way back in 1967. The stamp depicts the Gnat. The Gnat was made by the Folland company in 1955, but it never came to much till the Indian Air force decided to pick it up and use it as its mainline fighter plane. The Indians bought 40 airframes in the various stages of construction and then built a modified version of the same at HAL called the Ajeet Gnat (Mk I). The IAF operated the Gnat from 1958 to 1978 & 175 of these beautiful aircraft were built at the HAL.Dad with Gnat 1969

The reason that I'm rather fond on these air planes is that dad flew these planes extensively in 22 Sqn and 21 sqn of the IAF, and also flew a lot of these babies as a test pilot in the HAL.

The Gnats achieved great success as a combat air plane against the more technically superior Sabres of the Pakistani air force. As per dad, during the 1971 war, the biggest advantage that they had during the 1971 war was that the Pakistani pilots simply couldn't spot these small airplanes.

I've put up more pictures of dad during that time over at "My daddy Strongest". Drop by there if you have some time. Dad still has the helmet worn in the picture down below. I'm sure there are a lot of great memories of the plane inside the head that wears that helmet as well. :)

1 comment:

velusr said...

I like what you have written . However some factual errors have crept in your text .

There never was an aircraft called "Ajeet Gnat (Mk I). It was Ajeet and Gnat Mk I. These were two different aircraft.

The Gnat went into IAF service in the spring of 1958 with fully built imported aircraft, with the first Gnat assembled by HAL from a kit flying in Bangalore on 18 November 1959. HAL then went on to build 195 Gnats themselves up to early 1974. The first completely HAL-built Gnat flew on 21 May 1962.

Gnat Mk I was a well loved aircraft by its pilots , still it had some problems with controls and hydraulics . In 1972,IAF asked HAL to design and build on to the gnat airframe to eliminate these problems , with additional requirement of "wet wings " and four hard points . Last two gnat aircraft from the assembly lines were used for redesigning a new aircraft to meet IAF requirements .The redesigned air craft type was named "AJEET" and it first flew on 06-03-1975 .

Gnat had acquitted itself well in both the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 AND 1971 . Shooting down enough Pak Sabres to earn nick name of "Sabre Slayers .