Combat Diary Of A Tusker


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Vivian Goodwin 4798 F(P), was  commissioned on 6th November,1954, at Begumpet in the 64th Pilots Course. After Jet Training Wing, Hakimpet, he was posted to No 8 Squadron, Ambala, equipped with the Toofani , India’s top fighter of the day. Sqn Ldr RL Suri commanding. In  Dec 1957, the entire Squadron moved to Kalaikunda to convert on the Mystere IVA , India’s first transonic fighter. Sqn Ldr “Reggie” Sayce / Sqn Ldr ‘Jim” Goodman, commanding. In Sept 1959, he was posted to JBCU, Agra for conversion on the Canberra.  Instructed by Flt Lt “Jaggi” Nath and then the CO, Sqn Ldr MR Agtey. Goodwin was initially disappointed transiting from fighters to bombers, but subsequently, he had no regrets whatsoever, as he found the Canberra so versatile, maneuverable and fully aerobatic.

In Dec 1959, He was posted to No 35 Bomber Squadron, Wg Cdr MB Naik / Wg Cdr NB Menon commanding. During this period, 35 Squadron won the INTER SQDN, VISUAL BOMBING (DAY) Team Trophy. Goodwin took part in the Goa Operations in December 1961 where he undertook 3 Missions. On18 Dec, while the main bomber force went in with fighter escort ( Hunters ) ,He was sent in unescorted,half hour later to photograph the bombing results.

In March, 1962, at the Inter Squadron Visual Bombing Meet - He won the Individual Trophy for Night Bombing along with Navigator Flt Lt Bhave.

Goodwin joined the "Tuskers", No.5 Squadron at Agra in July 1962. In September 1962, he was deputed along with the No.5 Squadron dettachment to Congo where he flew 10 operational missions. In December 1962, he was Officiating, OC No 5 Sqdn Detachment . One of the Last officers along with Flt Lt A Menezes ( Equip. Offr ) to wind up air operations in the Congo. During this period, He convinced the Pakistan ,Ordnance Officer i/c stores and ammo, etc, to swap the stock of 20,000 X 20mm ball ammo for 20mm HE ammo,while repatriating our stores and equipment. Most likely the same ammo was used by the Squadron in the 1965 war!

On return to India, Goodwin attended the PAI Course at ATW Jamnagar in March 1965.   He was back with 5 Squadron for the Kutch Operations. After the stand down, he resumed the PAI Course but it was interuppted for the second time when the 65 War broke out!  Goodwin rejoined 5 Squadron for the duration of the war.

PAI Course - August 65 - Flt Lt Goodwin (seated first from left), attending the PAI Course, just before the 65 War.  Sadly, two of the officers in this photograph - Sqn Ldr AK Bhagwagar (seated 2nd from left) and Flt lt Chaudhuri (Stdg 2nd from right) were killed in action during the war that followed. -


Mission 1  -  6th Sept 65

The very first mission by No 5 Squadron, was a dawn attack by 4 Canberra aircraft armed with 8 X 1000 lb bombs. The CO Wg Cdr PP Singh, led the formation, spaced one minute apart. Red 2, Sqn Ldr CR Mehta, Red 3, Sqn Ldr P Gautam and Red 4 ,Sqn Ldr VC Goodwin. The target was a Pakistani army Corp HQ near the town of Gujarat. The target was west of a road near the town.

At the briefing I asked what do we do if we don’t see any thing across the road, and the CO said "you will drop your bombs across the road!". My navigator was Flt Lt Mangat and we could see the bombs of Red I, 2, and 3 bursting across the road There was no Corp HQ or signs of any troops , except open fields, and as per orders we also dropped our bombs there. Next day in the papers, it said IAF Canberras strike Pakistani Army Corp HQ in Gujarat. Nothing but propaganda!!

Mission 2  -  7th Sept 65

Primary target, Mianwali Airfield, Secondary target, Sargodha. Low Level Night Attack, Armament 4 X 20 mm cannons,and 2 X 68 mm RP Pods My navigator was a young, junior Fg Offr recently posted to the Squadron. Fg Offr Ravi Kapoor.

On reaching Mianwali, and pulling up, the airfield looked deserted and I didn’t see any aircraft or any target worth striking, so we proceeded to the secondary target Sargodha. Incidentally there was no Ack Ack at Mianwali. Fg Offr R Kapoor, though young and inexperienced did an excellent job of navigating accurately to the Initial Point (IP), and we pulled up on ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) right over Sargodha. Only then the intense Ack Ack opened up.

It was a fascinating but a frightful sight ( being in the thick of actual firing and not watching it in a movie ), I aimed at whatever building were in my path, fired the rocket pods and, beat the hell out of there , with the tracers aimed in my direction !! Enroute to base I came across a convoy of vehicles with their lights on. I turned round and gave a few long bursts with my cannons.

Mission 3  -  10th Sept 65

Target Chakjumra airfield. Low Level Night Attack, 4 X 1000 lb bombs and Flares. My navigator, Flt Lt PR Dastidar.

This mission was uneventful; flares dropped and bombs dropped. No Ack Ack , no opposition. Just as we dispersed our aircraft not required for operations to satellite airfields, we presumed they would do the same. Apparently their strategy was different.Mission 4  -  10th Sept 65

Armed Patrol over Agra. Armament. 4 X20mm Cannons and 2 X68 mm RP Pods. Navigator Flt Lt  PR Dastidar. Time of Day, DUSK

We were orbiting the airfield at about 5000 ft when we were vectored NW by the Signal Unit (SU) and told there was a target for us at 18,000 ft. After a few minutes I sighted the bogey and asked for confirmation that it was an enemy aircraft. This was confirmed by the SU. Having double checked all the Armament switches in the ON position with my Nav, we were closing in on the target pretty fast. As we came closer, though it was dusk,the target appeared to be a transport a/c and looked like a Pak C-130.

..No way can this target escape! so this looks like a Vir Chakra (VrC) situation ??

As I came within firing range, of 600-500 yards, I felt this aircraft looks familiar, so held fire to take a closer look; sure enough it was one of our own An-12 s!! Damn- there goes my VrC !!! I noted his registration number and reported back to the SU,. The SU apologized profusely. Had I been trigger happy and less responsible, I would have been responsible for the death of perhaps 10 to 12 personnel on board. I am sure there was no inquiry and hence no accountability.

Mission 5  -  13th Sept 65

Armed patrol over Halwara. Armament 4X20 mm Cannons and 2 X 68mm RP Pods.. Nav, Flt Lt Uppal

Circled over Halwara at 500ft AGL , at night, to intercept PAF Canberras. No enemy aircraft came.

Mission 6  -  14th Sept 65

Target PESHAWAR.  Armament 8 X 1000 lb bombs. Nav. Flt Lt SR Deshpande  - Profile.. Night Low-Pop Up—High.

The target was to be marked with 2 X 1000 lb Target Indicator (TI)  bombs, followed by 8 Canberra’s led by the CO, Wg Cdr PP Singh, Red 1. Red 1 and Red 2 were each armed with 2 X 4000 lb bombs. Red 3 and 4 armed with 8 X 1000 lb bombs. Aircraft spacing one minute apart and target for Red 1,2,3 & 4 was the dispersal area and hangars. The target for Red 5, 6. 7, & 8 ,each armed with 8 X 1000 lb bombs was the Bulk Petroleum Installation (BPI) area.., again all aircraft at one minute intervals.

At the briefing I suggested we give a spacing of 100 yds between our bombs for enhanced collateral damage; this was turned down by the CO saying that Command fusing policy was for instantaneous detonation and was to be followed. However when I got to my aircraft I instructed the armourer to give a 100 yd spacing between each bomb.

I was Red 6. We took off from Chandigarh at one minute intervals and were to maintain a ground speed of 300 knots, at 500- 1000 ft Above Ground Level (AGL), till the Initial Point (IP), then pull up to 12000 ft and visually carry out the bombing run with the assistance of the TI bombs.

Immediately after getting airborne and setting course, our Green Satin ( main Nav aid ) became unserviceable. However I decided to press on.

With no Green Satin and Radio silence to be maintained, we were unwittingly gaining time, and by the time we reached the IP we had jumped the queue and were between Red 3 and 4.

I distinctly heard Sqn Ldr P Gautam, transmitting the TI bomb error as 800 yds 2 o’clock. In the meantime we could hear Red 1 bombs gone, Red 2 bombs gone etc.

As we turned from IP, I informed my navigator that I’m climbing to 16000 ft and to adjust his bombsight accordingly. We didn't want to ram anyone from the rear if at 12000 ft.

We dropped our bombs after Red 3, aiming for the BPI, but called "Red 6 Bombs Gone" on cue, after Red 5.

Protocol and procedure must be maintained!

After noting the error and that the bombs did space, we set course for Srinagar, climbing to 40,000 ft plus. Just short of Srinagar, a bright flash accompanied by red embers came over the cockpit. I immediately whipped the aircraft round and spiraled down to about 20,000 ft. With no further warning on the Orange Putter, we proceeded to Chandigarh without further incident except shortage of fuel. Fortunately for us the air to air missile was fired out of range and hence the proximity fuse or self distruction fuse exploded the missile below us. With 9 Canberras in the stream, and hence a choice of targets , he could have selected one within range and been successful in his attack!

The raid on Peshawar was very successful by all accounts. At the debrief everyones bombs were on target. Red 1, 2, 3.& 4 claimed their bombs hit the dispersal area Red 5 said his bombs hit the BPI. Before I could speak, my navigator nudged me and said I should also say our bombs hit the BPI.  However , I said I spaced my bombs 100 yds apart and the bombs fell 400 yds to starboard of target and spread 800 yds in line.  The CO gave me a bit of a rocket for spacing my bombs, but in the euphoria of a successful raid it was a minor transgression.

However vis-a-vis this raid a few months later, while posted to Air H Q as AD Weapons, it had been established through the USA and our Intelligence, that at Peshawar, during this raid, their Air HQ, Officers Mess, Crew Room and civil flying club were bombed, resulting in considerable loss of aircrew and collateral damage.. On studying an aerial photograph of Peshawar airfield, the above locations roughly coincide with the bombing error of the joker whose bombs were off target and spaced 100 yds apart.!!!!!

Sycophancy is prevalent in all walks of life. Relating to the pathfinder error given by Sqn Ldr P Gautam, as 800 yds , at various stages of debrief and reporting , the error was progressively reduced to "on target" by the time it reached the Chief of Air Staff (CAS). The then CAS, Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh on his farewell visit to 35 Squadron. Pune, 1968, where I was the Flt Cdr, asked me if I took part in the Peshawar raid.  I said yes and he immediately said that the TI Bombs were right on target. I was about to disagree , when my CO, from the background shook his head, indicating to keep quiet. There may be many such bits of misinformation, which however do not materially affect the outcome of the end result, except that the record is not accurate!

Mission 7  -  16th Sept 65

Armed Patrol, 4 X 20mm Cannons, 2X 68mm RP Pods.   Nav. Sqn Ldr SN Bansal. . Mission uneventful.

Mission 8  -  20th Sept 65

Target Sargodha.airfield. Pop – Up Attack , 12,000ft. Night.  Armament 8 X 1000 lb bombs. Nav. Flt Lt Deshpande.

Dropped the bombs over the airfield midst intense Ack Ack fire. On returning to Agra, a warning was received that PAF bombers . were likely to attack Agra as such all returning aircraft were to approach with Navigation Lights OFF.. There was so much confusion and panic on the R/T, that I did not hear the advisory to switch OFF the Nav lights. Because of the impending PAF raid my CO Wg Cdr PP Singh was doing the Armed Patrol. I came in to land with Nav Lights ON. When on downwind, I could monitor the R/ T that someone was being vectored towards me.When I turned base leg, the aircraft was being positioned accordingly; when I was on finals, the aircraft pursuing was on base leg ,i.e 90 degrees to me and I recognized my CO ‘s voice saying "Roger I’ve got him in my sights"

I quickly called out "Sir, its me Goody!" ( No time for formalities to use Call Signs ,etc)

At once the CO shouted "Switch Off your Nav. Lights", which I did and landed.

On ground the CO fired a rocket at me for keeping my lights on and said he had his gunsight right on me and would have shot me down if I hadn’t called out. I explained that I did not hear the Nav. Light warning, but had he fired , with his sight on me at 90 degrees angle off, he would have missed !!!!!!Being a potential Pilot Attack Instructor, I had to say so!

Mission 9  -  21st Sept 65

Target Sargodha Airfield. Night Attack, 8 aircraft led by the CO , Wg Cdr PP Singh. Armament. Red 1 and Red 2 carrying 2 X 4000lb bombs. Red 3 through to Red 8 with  8 X 1000 lb bombs each. Profile. Agra – Sargodha – Chandigarh.  Enter low level, pull up to 12,000 ft, Drop the bomb load, based on the error given by The Pathfinder aircraft, dive down and exit to Chandigarh at low level

From a given height, Blind Bombing having proved to be more accurate than visual bombing, Western Air Command (WAC) decided for the first time during this war to use Blue Study (The Blind Bombing Technique) to mark Sargodha, the most heavily defended PAF Base, with TI Bombs.

Since the Cat and Mouse beacons, related to the Blue Study system could only be installed as near the border as feasible, it necessitated that the Pathfinder aircraft fly at an altitude compatible with the distance between the Beacons and the Target. In this case it worked out to 20,000 ft !!!! Hence the profile for the Pathfinder was Agra - Sargodha 20,000 ft, capture the CAT and MOUSE Beacons, drop the TI Bombs, pass on the error and exit to Chandigarh at the same height of 20,000 ft.

This Mission , therefore entailed, flying a long distance in enemy territory, unarmed, unescorted and totally exposed to enemy interception for a very, very long duration. Furthermore there was no Radar assistance from our own SU’s.

At the Briefing, the CO outlined the task and profile, and asked for Volunteers for the pathfinder role. I , along with Sqn Ldr RDS Bhandari (Navigator) promptly
volunteered for the Pathfinder Role, inspite of its ominous potential. After the briefing the CO told me that had I not volunteered , he would have detailed me anyway! I would like to believe it was because I had considerable experience in Blind Bombing with pretty good results, and leave it at that!

My aircraft, Canberra B(I) 58, IF909, was armed with 2X 1000 lb TI Bombs, under the wings, and 12 X 4.5 “ Flares in the bomb bay.

We departed Agra for Sargodha, climbing to 20,000 ft .Agra – Sargodha is approximately, 360 to 400 NM and the border being approximately 250 NM from Agra. No flight should be planned to enter enemy airspace at such a vulnerable height of 20,000 ft, unless you have air superiority and deliberately wish to draw out enemy fighters and destroy them.

The Canberra is most vulnerable to enemy interception at this altitude and with no defensive weapons whatsoever in this configuration, and with no radar assistance, it is the Proverbial Sitting Duck. The chances of survival leave alone success are sero.

My Log Book shows a total time,  Agra – Sargodha – Chandigarh as 2.45 hours. Of this we must have been exposed to enemy detection and interception for over an hour,even by conservative estimates. Why didn’t they intercept us on the way in, when the profile demanded a very steady flight pattern at 20,000 ft for a long duration, is perplexing.

However they did intercept us on the way – those details will follow.Enroute to Sargodha, at 20,000 ft and nearer the border , there was a thick layer of cloud at around 18,000 ft.. We locked onto the Cat circle as per plan and continued,awaiting the capture of the Mouse beacons. Even after the time over target (TOT), the Mouse beacon failed. Hence we set a dead reckoning (DR) heading for Sargodha and descended to 12,000 ft to carry out a visual bombing run. After turning round and lining up we dropped the first set of 4 Flares. The flares were off target, as indicated by the heavy Ack Ack which opened up only once the flares lit up.

I whipped the aircraft round amidst the tracer bullets and the stars, a beautiful but scary and disorientating sight,  and lined up for the third run, dropping the second set of 4 Flares. This time the drop was over the airfield.

Another hard turn to the left, lined up on Bhandari’s instructions and held steady till he released the TI Bombs and remained steady waiting for the bomb burst to note the error.

Waiting, waiting waiting....... but both bombs failed to detonate!  In the meantime ,the CO, Red 1 called, asking for the error!!.

I reported both bombs were duds , but I had a last set of 4 flares which I would drop to enable the 8 aircraft stream to bomb. The flares were quite effective. Having done the fifth run over Sargodha, dropping the last set of 4 flares, wishing the formation good luck and also informing them that there was a thick layer of cloud at 18,000 ft in case anyone was short of fuel and had to climb, we set course for Chandigarh climbing to 18,000 ft.

On reaching 18,000 ft, I kept weaving port and starboard in addition to varying my height 2000 ft up and down; this way I was not going to present a steady target. I continued in the fashion till we were about 60 nm from our border; thinking no one would follow us ths far, I straightened out and leveled off. Barely had I settled down when the OP (Orange Putter ), tail warning indicated someone was on my tail. I pulled the aircraft round in the tightest turn possible, well beyond the 4G limit,and on looking back, saw a yellowish streak in the distance.

"Oh Sh*t…….. they’ve fired a missile" I shouted to Bhandari and continued a tight spiral to about 7000 ft. ---- at this point I started breathing again.!!!

In the process the Green Satin went for a bunt and we were unsure of our position. Bhandari gave a course to steer, which I did and we waited for a while. Having narrowly escaped one ordeal, we were shortly subjected to another, when suddenly we were in the midst of heavy Ack Ack by one of our forward bases, having inadvertently strayed over their domain. I tried calling on Alpha Guard our AF secret Emergency channel , but they preferred to live up to their name and remain secret!!!!

Throughout the Ops we could never contact them. However the Ack Ack gave Bhandari a clue as to our location and we set course for Chandigarh without further incident,except we were low on fuel.

The only Canberra lost to enemy action air action in the air, was during this mission.   When Flt Lt MM Lowe was hit by an air to air missile at around 18,000 ft, while climbing, due to shortage of fuel. Flt Lt Lowe ejected safely, while his Navigator F/O KK Kapur was not so fortunate and perished with the aircraft.

After volunteering for this "suicidal mission" and executing it inspite of equipment failure, being exposed, unarmed and extremely vulnerable for over an hour over the most heavily armed PAF air base, not even a word of praise or good show, from the CO!

In fact there is no mention of this epic mission in any website of the IAF or Canberra Operations of the 1965 Indo Pak War. I wonder why?? I would also like to know how many Gallantry Award winners of the 65 War (justifiably so) would like to swap missions with this one, executed by Sqn Ldr Bhandari and self???.  Navigators in the Canberra have a tough job and having no ejection must further increase their mental anxiety and tension, especially during operations. On this particular mission, Sqn Ldr Bhandari executed his duties with great courage, calm and diligence, inspite of the most dangerous and difficult conditions.

PAKISTAN OR BUST : Pilots and Navigators of No.5 Squadron who took part in the 65 Operations get together in this group photograph after the war. Sqn Ldr Goodwin is seated 2nd from the Left.


We were often called upon to do Armed Patrols in the hope of intercepting enemy aircraft ,mainly PAF Canberras. With no overtaking speed ( both aircraft have similar performance) how we were expected to intercept and destroy the enemy is anybody’s guess! Unless against a transport aircraft as narrated in my Mission No 4, Sept 10th.

Having done 3 Armed Patrols, one over Halwara, orbiting at 500 ft AGL and scanning the sky at night in the hope of spotting enemy Canberras, intercepting them and destroying them, how, is anybody’s guess.

I thought why not use the Orange Putter to search forward instead of rearwards, If it could be mounted on one wingtip in lieu of a Tip Tank ( rarely used) facing forward and inverted so it scans 60 degrees above and 15 degrees below ( which could be blanked off to avoid ground echoes),and a second scope in the cockpit, we could have some form of airborne radar which would be more effective than relying on ones eyesight . Having discussed this project with the concerned technical personnel, and found it feasible, while on my trips to Kanpur when dispersing the aircraft not required on missions, I discussed the project with the CTO, BRD and he fabricated a bracket with which we mounted the Orange Putter on the wingtip. I also discussed the possible Aerodynamic effects with Test Pilot Wg Cdr  J Tapsall and he assured me it would pose no aerodynamic problem.

On a subsequent trip I was set for the air test, but was recalled to the Squadron, since a cease fire was declared. I later requested for the Project to continue but could not follow it up as I returned to the Armament Training Wing (ATW) to complete the PAI course.

I completed the PAI course on 4 Dec 65 and reposted to 5 Squadron for a month, after which I was posted to Air HQ as A D Weapons, till April 1968.

On May 1968, I was posted to No 35 Sqdn as Flt Cdr, the CO was Wg Cdr SN Kawlra

Award of Vayu Sena MedalOn 29 Nov 68, after carrying out M-6 Para Flare drops at Suryalanka on the Eastern coast, for Air to Air firing by our Mig 21s, I landed back at Begumpet for refueling and return to Poona. I had 2 remaining Flares in the bomb bay. After getting airborne from Begumpet at around sunset, my  "nose gear" would not retract. After several attempts I flew past the Flying Control for a visual check and they said it appears to be up. However the indicator was showing Red . I decided I would climb to 20,000 ft at   "Gear Down" restricted speed of 170 knots and go to Poona.

My Navigator was Flt Lt Dhawan. At around 18,000 ft, I suddenly lost complete aileron control. I asked Dhawan to standby to bale out ,telling him I lost aileron control and immediately gave a May Day call to Begumpet which was just 30 nm behind, and informed them of my predicament. In addition to the loss of aileron control, the speed brakes on the port side only, deployed on its own. I informed my Navigator and Begumpet that if I could’t control the aircrafdt and  we both would abandon the Canberra. However , I managed to maneuver the aircraft with the help of the rudder and asymmetric power.

The problem area was when the gear would be lowered and flaps were out of the question as they come down very unevenly under normal circumstances. I turned towards Begumpet and gradually descended to 10,000 ft over Begumpet, pointed in a direction least populated, asked Dhawan to position himself near the entrance hatch- ready to bale out , informed ATC, and lowered the gear.

The aircraft wobbled considerably, but I managed to keep it under control.   Subsequently, while doing a long wide approach, I could get a burning smell, but could not see any sign of a fire. The engines were operating normally.

On final approach the burning smell became stronger, but there was nothing else to do but land straight ahead. Just before coming to a stop on the runway, I told Dhawan to go out and have a look around as to what caused the loss of the aileron controls. As the aircraft stopped and Dhawan got out, I saw him running, the 100 metre dash in front. I looked to the starboard and saw flames 30 ft high, from the starboard wing!

I informed the ATC, switched off everything and joined Dhawan in the 100 metre dash!

Apparently, there was a fuel leak from the starboard Integral tank and with the airflow it passed near the exhaust and caught fire. It burned a gaping hole about 3 feet in diameter and burnt the aileron control rods and the speed brake rod/cable. The main spar was burnt to the extent that , as per the HAL team’s observation, it would have buckled had the aircraft been in the air 3 to 4 minutes more. The Squadron recommended me for the Vayu Sena medal, which was awarded in April 1970.

Subsequent Postings

In Jan 1970, I was posted to  Defence Services Staff College. Wellington, Ooty. This was followed in December 70 by a stint as the OC, PAI Flight at the ATW in Jamnagar. In March 1971, I took retirement from the Air Force to join Air India.

The Canberra force did a magnificent job during the 1965 War, and all those who had the privilege to fly this very versatile reliable Bomber / Interdictor / PR aircraft, had the pleasure of flying the "Rolls Royce" of its era!

1. Among the Navigators mentioned in this account, Mangat, Dastidar, Deshpande and Bansal were awarded the Vir Chakra. Ravi Kapoor and RDS Bhandari were Mentioned in Despatches. 
2. No. 5 Squadron was one of the highest decorated Squadrons of the war with 1 MVC, 5 VrCs and 15 Mentions in Despatches.
3. After his retirement from Air India, Capt (Sqn Ldr) VC Goodwin currently resides in Bandra West in Mumbai.

Acknowledgements: Air Marshal Bharat Kumar, Kapil Chandni (Photographs)

Copyright © Capt  V C Goodwin. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Capt   V C Goodwin is prohibited.