IAF to add six vintage aircraft to its collection

Dakota DC-3, Hurricane, and Spitfire, which have served the force in the past, are set to be restored

The Indian Air Force’s vintage collection, which currently includes Tiger Moth and Harvard, is set to get six more aircraft over the next three to five years. Dakota DC-3, Hurricane, and Spitfire — all of which have served the force in the past — are set to be restored for flying displays.

The lone de Havilland Tiger Moth — a fighter plane from the 1930s — has already flown close to 200 hours in over four years after restoration from its static status at the Air Force Museum in Palam. It is the only vintage craft in Aero India 2017. The restored Harvard — the American designed-combat trainer which served during WWII — has flown close to 50 hours and narrowly missed its date with this Aero India edition owing to technical issues.

Both aircraft are part of the IAF’s Hindon-based Vintage Air Craft Flight, which will also be expanded from the current two pilots to four pilots, with additional technical staff.

Among the additions waiting to be restored is the Hawker Hurricane, a British-designed single-seater of the 1930s and 1940s, and Supermarine Spitfire, also a single-seater aircraft used by the Royal Air Force in WWII. The American-made two-seater transport plane Douglas DC-3 Dakota has been restored. “The Dakota DC-3is in the U.K. now. We expect it to be ready for flying displays by mid-year. The work on Hurricane and Spitfire will be taken up shortly,” said Wing Commander Prashanth Nair, who is among the two IAF pilots flying the vintage aircraft. “The effort is to showcase vintage flights and the aviation heritage of the IAF. It is also a tribute to men who maintain these machines,” he added.

However, the IAF is yet to take a decision on the rare plane, Westland Wapiti of the 1920s, which was part of the air force when it was founded in 1932. “Since the Wapiti air frame, currently displayed at Palam museum, is the only one-of-its-kind in the world, the decision on its restoration is yet to be taken,” Wing Commander Nair said.

For highly-trained pilots, these vintages pose numerous challenges. These have limited navigation systems and many of them are tail-wheel airframes, with two wheels in the front and one wheel at the tail (instead of modern aircraft with a single wheel at the nose and two wheels at the wings). “Because of tail wheels, pilots require special training and skills to manoeuvre the aircraft,” he said.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 5:26:10 PM |

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