Friday, September 17, 2010

AIR WAR OF 1965 REVISITED - 1st - 5th September 1965

Starting from 1st September 1965 till the end of the war our pilots wrote history by getting complete air superiority and crushing the might of the Indian Airforce. Here is a compilation of the most authentic and best articles available, which covers the 1965 air war in detail.

The First Combat

In the fierce ground battle taking place, the Indians had faced a beating from the Pakistan Army and had no option but to flee. To save their grace, Indian Army called for "A BOTTLE OF WHISKEY". Intercepted by Pakistan, two F-86F aircraft equipped with AIM-9B Sidewinders were diverted and vectored to the war zone.

Four Indian Vampire jet fighters had in the meanwhile started their attack. But to the horror of the Indian Army, the Indian jet fighters had attacked their own men. The Sabres piloted by Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Raffiqui [Leader] and Flight Lieutanent Imtiaz Bhatti [Wingman] , braced through the cool September sky and sighted the enemy. Within moments the leader of the Sabre formation took position behind the enemy Vampire and blasted it in mid air, and took position behind the other Vampire. Meanwhile two IAF Vampires pulled up and turned tightly to take on Raffiqui's Sabre. Bhatti saw this and took position behind them, as well as warned Raffiqui. As the Vampire closed in Raffiqui for a kill, Bhatti called for a break. At the same time Raffiqui fired his guns and blasted the Vampire, and broke off immediately.

Raffiqui took position behind Bhatti and told him that his tail is clear. Bhatti then concentrated on that Vampire which was still in his gunsight. He closed in and fired at the Indian. The stricken Vampire plunged into the ground, burning. The last Vampire then tried to escape but Bhatti closed in on him and fired. The damaged Vampire tried his best to escape the Sabres but while performing evasive manoeuvres crashed.

Raffiqui opens September account

The PAF Sabres had opened their account on four Indian Airforce Vampires. All four IAF pilots never survived to tell what happened

Sqn. Ldr. Sarfaraz Ahmad Raffiqui

Against Heavy Odds

On 3rd September 1965, a CAP of two F-86Fs armed with AIM-9B Sidewinders were bounced by four IAF Gnat aircraft. As the leader of the Sabre formation, Flt. Lt. Yousaf Ali Khan jettisoned his drop tanks, his No.2 was unable to jettison his and called his leader that he is disengaging.

IAF Gnats being scrambled

Meanwhile two Gnats crossed over the Sabre, exposing their heat to the Sabre's sidewinder missiles. Yousaf banked right to get a closer shot and when he was about to fire he heard a thud. Instinctively he broke hard right, firing the sidewinder but the sidewinder missed the Indian Gnat. When Yousaf saw in the mirror he saw two IAF Gnats with the leader's guns blazing at him. He again broke hard into his right and the Gnat overshot. Meanwhile Khalique, Yousaf's No.2 rejoined and told him to break. Yousaf dived in a spiral consisting of tight turns. The Indian again missed him. Yousaf during the spiral saw that a Gnat is closing in Khalique's Sabre. He ordered a break, which Khalique did, frustrating the enemy attack. Yousaf was loosing height as he was moving down the spiral with Gnats after his tail.

F-104 Starfighter air arrests an IAF Gnat
Suddenly, an F-104A Starfighter appeared on the scene and made a high speed pass in the turning dogfight. The Indians were jolted. The Starfighter made another high speed pass and the Indians withdrew from the battle. The Indian formation fled for Pathankot with the Starfighter in hot pursuit. Another Starfighter joined the scene, and went after a straggler. Moments later the Indian Gnat landed at Pasrur, Pakistan. The Starfighter continue to orbit till the news of the Indian pilot's capture was confirmed by the MOUs. The second Starfighter was also recovered. Sqn. Ldr. Brj Pal Singh Sikand, the OC of the detachment of Gnats at Pathankot had surrendered his aircraft.

Damaged PAF Sabre of Flt. Lt. Yousaf made it back to the base

Meanwhile Flt. Lt. Yousaf Ali Khan, also landed his damaged Sabre safely. His Sabre's left elevator was totally destroyed but yet he managed to land the aircraft safely. Those who inspected his aircraft were amazed, as according to the laws of aerodynamics the aircraft would have crashed the moment its elevator was destroyed.

However, Yousaf was amused when he heard on the All India Radio, that the Indian Government has awarded some Sqn. Ldr. Keelor for downing his aircraft. The fact was that F-86F 53-870 participated in the rest of the war and even downed a Gnat in the later stages of the war.

Captured IAF Gnat at Pasrur

Indian Scores Their First Kill

On 4th September IAF aircraft flew in large numbers that day. Indian MiG-21FL fighters attacked a section of PAF Sabres, but due to the lack of an internal gun just flew extremely close to the Sabres, nearly ramming in them to shake of the PAF fighter pilots.

A section of IAF Gnats also attacked the second aircraft of a four ship Sabre formation. Flg. Off. M. N. Butt was attacked and sustained a brust from the Indian Gnat. He ejected near Marala Headworks, and was recovered but in terms of aircraft lost the score was 5/1 in PAF's favour. PAF F-104s flew many interception mission but no aerial engagements took place that day.

Flt. Lt. M. N. Butt's Sabre destroyed by Pathania's Gnat

On 5th September, overjoiced by their first confirmed kill, IAF flew large formations of Hunters, MiG-21Fs, Gnats, Mystere IV-As and Canberras close to the border cities of Lahore, Gujranwala and Gujrat region. This was their show of power that they can attack anywhere in large numbers. The war was still to come.

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