Formation of The Indian Air Force and the First Aircraft Used by It from 1932-47
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Formation of The Indian Air Force and the First Aircraft Used by It from 1932-47

The Indian Air Force was formed on 8 October 1932 on the recommendations of the Skeene Committee which gave its report in 1925. At that time it started with 1 squadron equipped with West Land Wapiti aircraft. Subsequently the IAF expanded with other aircraft like the Hawker Hurricane and The Vultee Vengeance and saw action in Burma against the Imperial army. In 1947 India became free and a new era began

The Indian Air Force was formed on 8 October 1932,  seven years after the recommendations of the Sandhurst Committee led by Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Skeene were accepted by the government in 1925. The official act was passed on 8 October 1932 vide Gazette of India No 41(No 565) and the IAF established with No 1 Squadron at   Drigh road near Karachi, now in Pakistan. The first batch of 6 pilots with 1 logistic Officer was sent for training to the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell in England.

At that time the Indian Air Force formed a part of the Indian Army. The first batch of pilots returned from training in England and one of them S Mukherjee later became Chief of the Air Staff in Independent India (1952-57). During the formative years of the IAF from 1932-47 the IAF operated aircraft which were seconded from the Royal Air Force. The following aircraft were part of the IAF

a)       West Land Wapiti. This was the first aircraft inducted into the IAF. 4 machines became part of no 1 squadron. The aircraft was a slow biplane with an open cockpit. It carried a machine gun manned by a gunner behind the cockpit. The West Land Wapiti was a general purpose aircraft and was used for duties in the North West frontier. A Wapiti is displayed at the Air Force Museum at Palam, Delhi.

b)      West land Lysander. The British government expanded the IAF to 4 squadrons and 3 of these were equipped with the West Land Lysander. This was a modern monoplane with an enclosed cockpit. The aircraft also gave the pilot an excellent field of view. One gunner manning a .303 Browning machine gun sat on a swivel seat and he could point and fire his machine gun in any direction. When World War II broke out in 1939 the Lysander’s were transferred to Burma to fight the Imperial army.

c)        Vultee Vengeance. The Lysander was inferior to the Japanese planes and this brought in the American Vultee Vengeance. This plane was not used by the Americans, but the Royal Air Force used it and passed these machines to the IAF. The Vultee was a dive bomber and was used by the IAF to bomb Abakan and Japanese bases in Thailand. It was phased out in 1945.

d)      The Hawker Hurricane. The need for a faster fighter interceptor to match the Japanese saw the induction of the Hawker Hurricane in the IAF. This aircraft which was the most modern aircraft with the IAF served excellently to pursue the retreating Japanese army in Burma. The Hurricane continued service with the IAF even after the war. A hurricane is preserved in the Air Force Museum at Palam.

e)       The Douglas C-47.  This was the first transport aircraft inducted by the IAF. 10 of these machines were obtained from the US air force and the first transport squadron took shape. The C-47 was the military version of the famous Dakota DC-3.  For the first time the IAF could transport troops and goods direct from Karachi to Delhi and Bombay to Delhi.

In 1947 India became free and a new chapter started as the Hurricanes and other piston engine aircraft were phased out and the first jet fighter bomber the De Havilland Vampire entered service

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Comments (2)

Interesting post about airforce. Thank you dear Madan. 

Ranked #11 in History

Thank you Paulose for your support