Aviation Historian 8
D.Gordon - Exercise Shiksha: sharpening India's cold war claws
Australian personnel disembark from a Douglas Dakota at Palam for a local sightseeing tour during a day off from flying attack profiles for Exercise Shiksha.
With Indian Air Force Hunters in the background, aircrew at Kalaikunda study the basic principles under which Shiksha (meaning to study or educate) would be undertaken.
Индийские "Хантеры" сыграли заметную роль в воздушных боях
India received its first batch of Hawker Hunter Mk 56s (an export variant of the RAF’s F.6) in November 1957, and although the type was outclassed as an air superiority fighter by the early 1960s, it went on to prove itself as an adaptable ground-attack aircraft and remained on the Indian Air Force’s inventory until the mid-1990s.
Pilots of No 7 Sqn IAF pose with Col Joseph Kruzel (third from left), the Commanding Officer of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, of which the 356th TFS was part, and a senior RAAF officer (second from right) at Palam. Shiksha was the first - and only - joint exercise conducted between the IAF and USAF during the Cold War.
The 356th TFS was part of Tactical Air Command, the badge of which is seen here on the tail of F-100D serial 56-3051. The unit was reactivated as a Super Sabre unit in late 1956, having seen a great deal of combat as the 356th Fighter Squadron flying P-51s from the UK during World War Two, after which it was disbanded in 1946.
Four North American F-100Ds of the 356th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) await a mission on the ramp at Palam in November 1963. The USAF deployment of a dedicated interceptor like the Convair F-102 for Shiksha may have been a more logical choice, and caused some controversy when it came to analysing the results of the exercise.
RAAF Canberra A84-241 is prepared for departure to India at Butterworth. The aircraft had to return with a warning light indication and was replaced by A84-237, which left Butterworth at 1300hr for Kalaikunda, where it refuelled before flying on to Agra.
Ian Westmore taxies in at Agra in Canberra B.20 A84-237 after a Shiksha sortie. Two RAAF Canberras were deployed for the exercise, the other being A84-247. Although the Canberra had first flown in 1949, its high-altitude capabilities kept it on the front line throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Javelin FAW.9 XH885/R of No 64 Sqn at Tengah, Singapore, in 1966, carrying de Havilland Firestreak infrared homing air-to-air missiles on the outer pylons. The unit had received its first Javelins in September 1958 and operated the type until its disbandment in June 1967.
Javelin FAW.Mk 9. Выпущено 76 самолетов варианта Javelin FAW.Mk 9, модернизированных из планеров Mk 7. Отличительные особенности - новые форсированные двигатели, внешние части крыла измененной формы, штанга топливоприемника и ряд других отличий.
Gloster Javelin FAW.9R (R for Range, fitted with the distinctive flight refuelling probe) XH887/Q of No 64 Sqn stands off as two of its squadron-mates refuel from a Vickers Valiant. On November 8, 1965, this Javelin’s undercarriage jammed up during a night sortie from Changi, Singapore, and the aircraft had to be abandoned.
A last-minute briefing beside Javelin XH893 before a Shiksha sortie. From left to right: Wg Cdr M.S. Khanna (CO, 14 Sqn IAF); Master Navigator A. Parker and Fg Off Roberts of 64 Sqn RAF and Sqn Ldr N.S. Malik of 14 Sqn IAF.
Javelin XH765/A after its night accident at Kalaikunda. RAF Senior Aircraftman Trevor Taylor recalls: “Before the detachment we had modified the pitot-static system; the drain taps in the system were not large enough for any moisture that got into the pipes, so we fitted lengths of Maricon [rubber] tubing in place of the metal drains. These were held in place with locking wire. One of these in the nav’s pitot system came off, giving him a false low-speed reading on take-off. The discrepancy led the pilot to abort the take-off, but a bit too late”.
The small size of the Gnat is accentuated alongside the type it replaced in IAF service, the Dassault Ouragan - named Toofani (Hindi for Hurricane) in Indian service. The French-built Toofani was used in the reconnaissance role during the Sino-Indian conflict of late 1962.
An Indian Air Force pilot in the cockpit of a Folland Gnat. The diminutive fighter entered front-line service with the IAF in 1960 and proved popular with its pilots.
A pair of Indian Air Force Canberra B(I).58s on a high-altitude sortie. The type formed the backbone of the lAF’s bomber and photo-reconnaissance force, seeing regular combat from its introduction into service in the summer of 1957 through to the type’s final retirement in May 2007 - a remarkable career spanning some 50 years.