THE 1965 INDIA PAKISTAN AIR WAR

Epilogue : Where are they now?


Chapter Ten - Epilogue: Where are they now?.

The cease-fire bought with it the retrospective look at what has been achieved and what had not. Now as we leave the circum- stances and the account of the war, one wonders what happened to all the major players of the war?, Not just the commanders, but the pilots, airmen and ground crew who contributed their mite in what was their greatest contribution in defence of the country. Where are they now? What have they achieved subsequently? Were they recognized? Or just cast away in the by lanes of history? This chapter attempts to look into this aspect. Individually.

The peace that came to the sub-continent was an uneasy one. Six years later the same nations drew closer to another war, the force that had a blooding in 1965 now looked to another seemingly indecisive war. It is noteworthy that most of the officers who took part in the 1965 conflict contributed again in the 1971 conflict. Squadron Commanders became Air Base Commanders, Section Commanders became Squadron Commanders. And each of them bought with him to his post the experience of fighting a war. This time they would not repeat any mistakes that their predecessors had done.

Between 1965 and 1971, the IAF inducted considerable number of aircraft. Most of the earlier outdated aircraft like the Vampire, Ouragan and the Mysteres were now replaced with the new, snazzy Russian jets like the Su-7 and the MiG-21FL. Supplementing this influx of foreign aircraft was the induction of the ingenious HAL HF-24 Marut fighter bomber, a result of the design bureau led by the famous Focke-Wulf fighter designer, Dr. Kurt Tank. Add to this the manufacture of the Gnat in large numbers and by the beginning of 1971, India had over 700 combat aircraft ready for the frontline service. This, in spite of phasing out of the Ouragans in 1967, and withdrawing the Vampires from frontline squadrons in 1966.

In 1971 only two of the original six Mystere squadrons were operational, the remaining switched over to the Su-7s or the MiG-21s. Not that the Pakistanis were worse off, they beefed up their F-86 Sabres by inducting some 90 Sabres and about a 100 MiG-19s. The prize addition being some 28 of the French Mirage III delta wing fighters. These were more than a match for the MiG-21 and the existing fleet of the Starfighters were beefed up with a detachment of another 12 Starfighters of the Royal Jordanian Air Force No.9 Squadron which were sent after the conflict has commenced.

We will not go into the details of the 1971 ops here suffice to say that the scale of operations in 1965 pale in comparison with the scale of operations flown in the first two days of the Bangladesh conflict. Whereas the IAF flew some 3000 sorties throughout the 22 days of the 1965 conflict, the IAF in 71 flew 1000 sorties in the first two days.

Whereas the PAF of 1965 commemorates September 7th as PAF Day in view of the pitifully small number of Indian aircraft shot down over Sargodha (five), the IAF lost thrice that number in the first two days of the war, yet in the end its enemy was left devoid of any feeling of victory or otherwise. Mainly because of the losses Pakistan suffered on the ground and in the air, which are estimated to be even more. It was a sense of defeat from the word Go!. The credit goes to the Indian Air Force for its dogged pursued-ness of counter air sorties into West Pakistan.

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An Unidentified MiG-21 pilot with a newly inducted MiG-21U sometim around January 1966. Notice the Pressure Suit and full face helmet of those times.

 

Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh, DFC, on a visit to Jamnagar after the war. Accompanying him is the Station Commander, Group Captain PM Wilson, VrC. Air Commodore Wilson is now settled in the United Kingdom. (Courtesy: Air Commodore PM Wilson, via Gus Sheridan)

 

27 Squadron in 1966. Flying Officer VK 'Beaky' Neb is third from left and Flight Lieutenant SK Sharma is seated third from right in the front row. This photograph is from the personal collection of Flight Lieutenant Samar Bikram Shah, VrC, VM (third from left front row) who flew with 220 Squadron (Vampires) during the 1965 war. (Courtesy: Flght Lieutenant Samar Shah

 

 

Air Marshal (Retd.) KC Nanda Cariappa in Bangalore,1999. Cariappa was from No.20 Squadron attached to No.7 for the operations. He ejected near Lahore on the last day of the war. Pic Courtesy : The Week magazine

 

 

 

Sabre Slayer Air Marshal PS Pingale (Courtesy: Flight Safety, 1998 issue)

 

 

Flying Officer Mohammed Shaukat after repatriation from India. Shaukat joined the Bangladesh Air Force after the 1971 war and even visited India on an exchange program at the Defence Services Staff College.

 

 

As far back as in 1980, Group Capt Omi Taneja wrote a letter to the Indian Government recommending Squadron Leader Devayya for a Maha Vir Chakra. Taneja pointed out the admission in Fricker's book and the possibility that Devayya was the victor.

 

 

 

Mrs. Devayya and Squadron Leader AB 'Tubby' Devayya, before the war. Mrs. Devayya accepted the posthumous Maha Vir Chakra awarded to her husband in 1988, nearly 23 years after the war.

 

 

 

Wing Commander Krishna Dandapani, CO 230 Signals Unit in Amritsar during the 1965 war, proudly displays his souvenir from the war -- a Folding Fin Aerial Rocket jettisoned in the Unit compounds by an attacking Sabre. (Courtesy : Ashit Chakraborty)

 

 

Corporal GC Chakraborty, who was present during the Barrackpore raid, retired as a Honorary Flight Lieutenant after four decades of service in the IAF.

 

 

 


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