Indian Air Force  Trivia Page - 6

Air Combat Special


Interesting Stories and Facts you did not knew, or you knew only Vaguely....Read on. If you have any interesting trivia of your own, then tell me and i will put em up here .(with your reference)


Second Time Unluckier - (Twice Unlucky - 2)


Earlier you have read about Flt Lt Amjad Hussain Khan who was shot down in the 65 War and once again in the 71 War. Another Pilot who suffered the same fate was S M Ahmad of Pakistan. Ahmad was a Flt Lt in the 65 War when he was involved in an aircombat with Gnats that damaged his aircraft badly. Ahmad undershot the runway while trying to land and crashed. but survived the Crash. His aircraft was destroyed.

Later on as a Wing Commander, Ahmad was in Dacca in 71. On the first day of Indian Air Strikes on Dec 4, Ahmad was shot down by an IAF Hunter. He ejected- never to be found again.


One for One in Pakistan.

A Good number of Pilots on both sides of the subcontinent had the privilage of shooting down an aircraft in Air Combat and the misfortune of getting shot down themselves. A small sampling of the "One for One" Pilots.
  • Sqn Ldr S A Rafiqui (PAF) shot down Two Vampires and One Hunter and was shot down and killed by a Hunter in the 65 War.
  • Flt Amjad Hussain Khan of the PAF- Shot down a Mystere on 7 Sep 65 and was shot down himself by a Mystere in the same combat. Amjad was downed for a second time in 71 War.
  • Flt Lt A H Malik shot down a Mystere on 7 Sep 65 and was shot down by a Gnat on 20 Sept 65.Malik was earlier shot up on ground when on ORP.
  • Flt Lt Cecil Choudary shot down a Hunter on 6 Sep 65 and was shot down by AA in the 1971 War.
  • Fg Off Shahid Raza shot down a Hunter in his F-6 on 5 Dec 71 and was shot down and killed by AA fire on 17 Dec 71.
  • Two Other Pilots claimed kills and were again lost. Sqn Ldr Muniruddin Ahmed and Wg Cdr M H Middlecoat, both are credited with kills were lost to AA fire and a MiG-21 respectively.
One for One in India.
On the Indian Side we find,
  • Sqn Ldr Denzil Keelor, credited with a Sabre while flying a Gnat in 65, was shot down by AA Fire while flying a MiG-21 in 71.
  • Sqn Ldr A B Devayya shot down a Starfighter in his Mystere in 65 was killed in the same battle due to damage inflicted by the Starfighter.
  • Fg Off P S Pingale Hunter was shot down by a Sabre on 6 Sep 65, Ten days later, Pingale shot down a Sabre in his Hunter.
  • Fg Off A R Gandhi in his Hunter shot down Sarfaraz Rafiqui's Sabre, and was almost immediately shot down by Rafiqui's wingman. Gandhi had to eject.
  • Fg Off Sudhir Tyagi is credited with a Sabre over Murid in the 71 War. and was killed in the same battle shot down by another Sabre while flying a Hunter.
The War was over, but Peace got to them next.
Two famous "Sabre Slayers", having endured the dangers of war and aircombat however fell victim to the rigours and pressures of peace.
  • Wg Cdr A J S Sandhu VrC, who Credited with  a Sabre in the 65 War, died when his Gnat dived into Ground just after Take off prior to the commencement of the 71 War.
  • Wg Cdr Roy Andrew Massey VrC, who was one of the Boyra Heroes who damaged a Sabre, died when his MiG-23 suffered a Bird Hit at low level at Tilpat firing range.
Mach 1 Vs Mach 2
Two Pilots had the distinction of shooting down mach-2 fighters in thier subsonic, less than Mach-1 fighters that were at least a generation obsolete.
  • Sqn Ldr Devayya in his Mystere shot down a Starfighter flown by Flt Lt A Hussain during the 65 War.
  • Flt Lt Maqsood Amir flying a Sabre shot down a MiG-21 FL flown by Flt Lt Tejwant Singh in the 71 War.

One Pakistani Pilot has the distinction against a foreign airforce.

  • Flt Lt Saiful Azam also scored while flying a Hunter, He shot down a Mirage III of the Israeli airforce.
Which Aircraft was a better Dogfighter?
This has been the subject of lot of discussion in every war. In the context of India-Pakistan, No doubt, the Gnat was the best dogfighter on the Indian Side, in terms of kills. or is it? The Gnat was the best in terms of the least losses it suffered. but that was also attributable to the Mission Profile it had. Mostly airdefence sorties. On the basis of kills the following stats are interesting.

Air to Air combat kills : figures in parenthesis are admitted by the the PAF.

  1965 1971 TOTAL
Gnat 7 (3) 3 (2) 9 (5)
Hunter 6 (4) 9 (5) 15(9)
MiG-21 - 6 (3) 6 (3)

The Hunter claimed more number of Kills, than the Gnat and had a greater number of losses admitted by the enemy to the hunter than the Gnat. but it was the Gnat that caught the publics imagination. The Hunter inspite of the greater number of kills, suffered the highest number of losses too, a total of  28 Hunters (17 in aircombat)  were lost in both the wars compared to 5 Gnats (all to air combat + 2 more on the ground) lost.

Comparision of Supersonic Fighters.
Five types of supersonic fighters saw action in the Indo-Pak Conflicts. Mainly the F-104, the MiG-19, the Mirage III, the MiG-21 and the Su-7. an analysis of their performance. Going by the table, the MiG-19 came out as the most effective fighter. The Mirage III was the most effective during night operations.

Air to Air combat kills : figures in parenthesis are admitted by the the PAF.

  1965 1971 Other Ops Total
F-104 2     3
MiG-19 -   5
Mirage III - 3   3
MiG-21 Nil 6(3) 1 (1) 7(4)
Sukhoi 7 - 1(1)   1(1)

Combat Losses: figures in parenthesis are for Air combat, Figures in Red are for the Opposite side claims.

  1965 1971 Other Ops Total
F-104 2 (1)  1 3 (2)  8   5 (3)9
MiG-19 - 3 (1)  6   3 (1)6
Mirage III - 0 (0) 1   0 (0)1
MiG-21 2 (0) 9 9 (1) 8 1 (0) 1 11(1)18
Sukhoi 7 - 15(6)45   15(6)45

As Can be seen, the Sukhoi took the severest beating from the Indian Side, while the Starfighter is said to have suffered the most losses.

The Atlantique Incident
  • The Shooting down of the Pakistani Navy Atlantique is the first peace time incident ever that an Aircraft violating Indian Air Space was shot down.
  • It involved the most serious loss of life ever in a single incident for the Pakistani Navy for the first time since the 1971 War.
  • It is till date, the only occassion when a aircraft that belonged to a Heavy transport/Survelliance category has been shot down. All the previous IAF Air Combat kills were against Fighter aircraft.
Sqn Ldr P K Bundela  & Sqn Ldr A Ahuja
Sqn Ldr P K Bundela who fired the Matra Missile against the Atlantique is the first pilot in Twenty  Eight Years to claim an Air Combat Kill. The Previous  kill came in a dog-fight over the Thar desert on 17 December 71, when Flt Lt Niraj Kukreja of No.29 MiG-21 FL Squadron shot down a Jordanian Air Force F-104 Starfighter being flown by a Pakistani Pilot.

Incidentally Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja who was shot down by a SAM during the Kargil Operations was the first IAF Fighter Combat loss in Twenty Eight Years.

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