Gp Capt Jacob Chakko, a memeber of the Marut project team, was generous with his time to pen a very enlightening and interesting mail, which I would like to share with the Marut family. The dedication, professionalism and commitment of our veterans are truly awe inspiring. Their contribution, as can be seen from Groupie Chakko’s achievements, deserves our gratitude and has been instrumental in making the Service an unmatched way of life for us all.
A Stalwart and Veteran Reminesces
I thank you very much for your message. I do think it is a very good idea for the ‘Marutians’ to get together. I was just one of the many early guys who had some ‘passing !’ associations with the Marut.
I was the Technical member on AM PC Lal’s Aircraft Selection Team in 1954 when he ‘privately’ contacted Dr Messershmidt trying to get him to India. I was certainly in no way instrumental in what followed. But being personally close to AM Lal, I was just privy to some of his great forward thinking. That later led to an invitation to Dr Tank to head that HAL Design Team to in Bangalore.
I then went on to a few other assignments till I was posted to the AFTC in 1959 to teach a course in Aircraft design there to some Senior Engineers and Pilots. That was on my return from being the first Indian to attend the Cranfield type course at the Ecole Nationale Superieure de l’ Aeronautique in Paris, 1956-1958.
When the debacle of Roshan Suri’s failed initial take off of the prototype HF24 occurred, I was instructed by Air HQ to be part of the Air Force Team investigating the episode from the Air Force. That is now history. Of course at that time there were quite a few other IAF Officers who were associated with the HF24 at the HAL, like Groupie Bhargava, AM Naik, AVM Albuquerque, Groupie Keshu, and others who were closely associated with that Aircraft and its further development.
In the interim I got to start the Aeronautical Development Establishment along with Dr Mediratta in Bangalore under the Ministry of Defense. From there I was posted to the newly formed “HF24 Project Team” at the HAL under AM Zaheer. So I was quite close to the HF24 Project and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed my work, and my association with the German Design Team and with the many IAF Officers close to the Project. During that time I was also associated with the development of the Orpheus Jet Pack installation for the Packet C119G aircraft and was thrilled to see it a very successful addition to the IAF Operational Capability in our Forward Areas.
I was with this HF24 Project Team for a while, also following up on the Orpheus 1R Reheat modification by the GTRE, before I went on to command the No 3 BRD in Chandigarh in 1967, and returning to HAL later to be their Officer i/c Technical Manuals and Publications, till 1969. I then retired from the IAF in 1969 and emigrated to the USA. My career in the IAF extended over a period of nearly 22 years and I will unabashedly and gratefully acknowledge that the best years of my life was spent in the IAF. And I say, thank you, Indian Air Force.
At my age, now 85 going on 86, I am really only able to move around ‘minimally’. And I must confess that my memory is not what it used to be in those days. So I dont know what I can really contribute at this time to the group of Marutians that you have in mind. But if I am able to think up some of the anecdotes of that time, I will surely put pen to paper, and send you some facts and fables of those days. But I will always be convinced of the great capabilities and potential of that breed of aircraft. And if we had done the right things then, I have absolutely no doubt that that beast would still be flying today with modern construction, new electronics and weapon systems and a modern engine that would have put India right near the top in the history of Indian Aeronautics. Pardon my rambling thoughts.
I dont know, Dara, if you and I have met. But I am surely looking forward to making your valued acquaintance.
Do keep me informed of the goings on……..
With my kind regards,