Four Sorties over Goa

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Sqn Ldr Ian Steele “Locky” Loughran was the commanding officer of No.37 “Black Panthers” Squadron during the liberation of Goa in December 1961. The squadron was initially raised on the Vampire NF54 (ex RAF NF10) night fighters at Palam in December 1957 under Sqn Ldr AL Bajaj. The Squadron moved to Poona in Feb 1960, where Sqn Ldr Loughran took over comand. The Black Panthers were still flying the Vampire NF.54 Night Fighters at that time and were called in to take part in the operations. Sqn Ldr Loughran has very kindly sent us two scans from his logbook pertaining to the Goa Operations.

What follows are the scans of two pages from my log book for your “Ops Vijay” records. The red ink entries are night flying.

Log book shows the five sorties undertaken during the Goa Ops, including one movement to Jamnagar. The third sortie was undertaken to intercept the civilian Constellation that took off from Dabolim. The night interception proved futile. Click on the image to see the whole page

17th Dec.1961 Vampire NF-X No. ID608. Flt Lt V S Iyer was my Nav/Rad crew. We had been detailed to carry out a tactical reccee over Dabolim airfield at around midnight. We were at 300 ft AGL over the airfield, it was all lit up with a Super Connie on the apron. Then AA opened up at us, about five rounds, for a moment we were both taken aback, and then recognised it was Ack Ack from the bright flashes and loud bangs. (Being a devout coward) I dived for the apron, and at deck level flew near the Connie and out to sea, to get clear of the AA gun. We had been instructed not to fire at anything. The debriefing was with the help of a Mr Handoo (Director of Intelligence) from the Ministry.

17th/18th Dec. Vamp NF X, No. ID1605. Again the same night, about two o’clock, with Flt Lt V S Iyer, we went to Daman on a Tac/R, there was AA fire, but only four rounds. Then the “very” pistol flare was sent up by the Indian Army entering from the east, so we got out from there.

17th/18th Dec. Vamp NF X, No. ID608. After landing at Poona, we were ordered off again at about three thirty, (A/C No. ID 608, same crew) to intercept a target aircraft heading in a NNW direction off the coast, we never made contact. This target turned out to be the Super Connie that took off from Dabolim and hugging the deck went to Karachi[1]. Many years later (1985/86) the Captain of that TAIP Super Connie was flying B 737’s with Air Malta.

18th Dec, 1961 at night, Vamp. NF X No. ID608 with Fg Off Minocha as Nav/Rad, we positioned at Jamnagar, refuelled, did an Offensive Reccee over Diu, and returned to Poona. A few days later W/C Senapati, OC Flying, Poona went to Daman in a Harvard, a company of Portuguese solders were being held as prisoners in their own barracks. We also found the AA gun near the ATC building with a round jammed in the breach.

29th Dec, 1961 Devon, HW518 with F/O Srinivasan in the right hand seat we flew Mrs Vasalo D’Silva, wife of the Portuguese Governor General of Goa, from Dabolim to Santa Cruz, later that night she was repatriated back to Portugal, while her husband remained a prisoner in Goa.

The next page is a line up of the Squadron Commanders of No.2 Wing, with AVM Pinto, AOC WAC, and Gp Capt Dastur, the Stn. Cdr.

- AFTER THE OPS: Squadron Commanders of No.2 Wing with the AOC at Poona.

From L to R : Sqn Ldr Jayvant Singh (CO, 17 Sqn Hunters), Sqn Ldr Ian S Loughran (CO, 37 Sqn Vampires), Wg Cdr Hank Datta (CO, 6 Sqn Liberators), Gg Capt SJ Dastur (OC, 2 Wing Poona), AVM EW Pinto (AOC-in-C, Ops Command), Sqn Ldr Behl (16 Sqn Canberras) and Wg Cdr NB Menon (CO, 35 Sqn Canberras)


All images and text are the copyright of Sqn Ldr I.S. Loughran (Retd).

[1]. This aircraft, belonging to the Transportes Aeros da India Portuguesa [TAIP] airline was flown by Major Solano de Almeida. He evacuated the wives and children of some of the Portugese families, flying at very low altitude all the way to Karachi . Source :

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