By Gp Capt AG Bewoor (Retd)
I am most certainly not a Gnat fellow, but I have staged Gnat units from here to there, with scooters, cycles, and other non military goods in the AN-12. Met some very fine persons in those ferries. Some good friends are hard core Gnat pilots, unfortunately a few went ahead of me, I miss them dearly.
A most amusing incident of me and Gnat pilots happened during the 1971 war. I was flying C-46s and AN-12s with ARC, and was a regular transient thru Guwhati. By about 10 Dec 71, USS Enterprise had come into the Bay of Bengal, and there was much debate on how the IAF would engage those fighters if a direct confrontation resulted. The Gnat unit at Guwhati was on top of the world, the PAF was crippled in Bangladesh, and we ruled the skies.
The watering hole was the canteen at the ATC, and one normally lived on egg bhujia for two if not all three meals. That is where I was, wolfing down food before getting out for another task. Suddenly there appeared a young Gnat pilot in g-suit, with a revolver strapped on his waist, and started berating me and the crew, and challenging the Americans to take on the Gnats. I suppose he believed that because ARC may have had some kind of link with USA, we desi transport pilots were an extension of Enterprise, and some of the goomph had to be blown off. Quite puzzled we did not retort, he was armed, and we “civilians” were unarmed. It was a strange encounter, I cannot recollect his name, maybe the person will read this and reveal it now. It was of course wonderful to see the josh and supreme confidence in so young a man.
Gnats were a class by themselves. I was coming into Kumbigram in a C-46, this is before the war, and so were four Gnats. As No 1 reported Downwind, he asked for ATF refuelling. Next transmission was, ” Me 2″, then “Me 3″ and finally ” Me 4″. That foxed the civilian controller, and he promptly asked, ” Confirm helicopter?” Recollect MI-4s took Octane fuel, not ATF.
On 22 Nov 71, Massey, Gana, Lazarus and Suares, intercepted and brought down three Sabres under Jafarpur S U control. I think Jain was the controller. I was coming into Cal by AN-12, and was made to orbit about 10 miles east, and then continued orbiting for a good 20 mins. I was to get briefed, and do a “sweep”, and do it as fast as possible followed by another one later at night. All queries to ATC got ” maintain orbit” reply till finally we landed, and who should tell us about the encounter, but the Indian Oil refuelling crew. We stole his jeep to meet up with the Gnat heroes. They had been beating up Cal before we could come in.