South Asia

1971 wartime Dakota handed over to Bangladesh

The Dakota-3 aircraft used during the Bangladesh Liberation War.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A four-decade-old aircraft, Dakota-3, used during the Bangladesh Liberation War was handed over to Bangladesh on Monday.

The first aircraft of the Bangladesh Air Force took part in the crucial para-drop operations in Tangail, 60 miles from Dhaka, on December 11, 1971, four days ahead of Pakistan military’s historic surrender to the India-Bangladesh Joint Command on December 16.

The war machine was installed at the Bangladesh Air Force Museum in Tejgaon in Dhaka at an impressive ceremony. It was formally handed over to the BAF by Air Marshal S.B. Deo, Eastern Air Command of the Indian Air Force.

Although the official date of the formation of the BAF is September 28, 1971, the force was launched formally by the wartime Mujibnagar government that led the Liberation War on October 8. It was formed with Bengali officers and airmen of the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), who took part in the war.

The IAF trained these officers, from July 1971 through November 1971, as fighter pilots, who on December 3, 1971 launched an attack on a large oil tank depot in Chittagong destroying it.

The second attack was on December 6, 1971 at the northeastern Moulovi Bazar Pakitani Army barracks.

Documents say the Bengali rank and file fixed up the World War II vintage runway at Dimapur and then rigged the Dakota-3 aircraft for combat duty. The Dakota was modified to carry 500-pound bombs, but for technical reasons, it was only used to transport Bangladesh government personnel.

The historic Dakota-3 was a gift to the Bangladesh Liberation Fighters by the Jodhpur Maharaja.

The IAF also donated 1 Twin Otter plane and 1 Alouette III helicopter for the newborn Bangladesh Air Force. With these three machines, the BAF launched hit-and-run attacks on sensitive targets inside Bangladesh, causing extensive damage.

The aircraft was brought from New Delhi in a dismantled state and then reassembled by IAF’s technical team led by Wing Commander R. Deshpande with assistance from the BAF.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 12:08:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/1971-wartime-dakota-handed-over-to-bangladesh/article6902879.ece

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