Mr Pushpinder Singh has sent a copy of an old Vayu, which ran a history of the Daggers from the Hurricane days onwards.
“The Last Indian Air Force unit formed during World War II, No 10 Squadron has gone full circle: it began life as a fighter-bomber unit, became the IAF’s first night fighter squadron with its first jet aircraft, and returned to ground attack with India’s first locally designed and built combat aircraft, the Marut. Blooded in two wars, including the 1971 skirmish with its neighbour Pakistan, No 10 has lived up to its motto ‘Determined to Destroy’. Today it operates locally built Mig 27s.”
Formed on 20 Feb 1944 and equipped with Hurricanes. The first CO was Sqn Ldr RFT Doe, DSO, DFC and Bar.
The squadron became an all Indian unit on 5 Jan 46 when Sqn Ldr H Raza took over.
The Daggers also had the distinction of mounting the first formation flypast of free India. Sqn Ldr Moolgavkar led a formation of six Tempests Mk II over the National Stadium, New Delhi, at a combined Armed Forces parade in August 1947, where Pandit Nehru took the salute.
A few months later, in October 1947, the Squadron again saw action in Kashmir, Sqn Ldr H Moolgavkar was awarded the MVC .
In December 1953 the Squadron moved into the jet age and was equipped with Vampire fighter bombers. This was however a short stint and in August 1954 the Daggers became the country’s first night fighter squadron equipped with the Vampire NF Mk 54, under the Command of Sqn Ldr David Bouche. It continued in this role for the next 10 years.
It was the only fighter squadron to have as many navigators as pilots and was also the only fighter squadron ever to have a Dakota on its inventory. The aircraft was modified with a radar in the nose radome and was nicknamed appropriately as “Nosey”, “Cleopatra” or the “Parsi Nak” (“Nak’ = nose in Guj. As a seasoned Parsi, I am unable to fathom why this nickname was chosen!!)
The Daggers can rightly boast of an immaculate pilot pedigree right from the early days on. We have already come across ACM Moolgavkar, there was also ACM Dilbagh Singh and a host of others – some famous and well known test pilots were from its stable: Babi Dey, Chandu Gole, Chuchu Tilak and Granny Dhiman.
In April 1964 Air HQ decided to numberplate the Squadron till it was re-equipped with a new aircraft.
On 01 Apr 67, the Squadron was reformed at Jamnagar and equipped with the HAL HF 24, Marut under Wg Cdr VK Murthy. Subsequently the Squadron moved to Poona in 1969 and was then commanded by the feisty Gabboo Sen. Some very familiar names from that period – Brian DeMagry, Brother Bhargava, Pete Gaynor, Joe Bakshi, CKK menon, Jit Dhawan, Mickey Jatar, Sis Sisodia, Jug Jug Kapoor, Bobby Kasbekar, Batman Batra and Punchi Sidhu, to name a few.
In May 1970 Piloo Kacker, an outpoken and outstanding character, took over the Squadron. We shall hear more about him later. Tragedy struck when he met with a fatal accident on 01 Sep 70 at Uttarlai. His place was taken by Aggy Agarwal. Remembering those days, here’s Brian DeMagry “However, we eventually learnt to love the Marut, which was an excellent and steady weapons platform. Both squadrons moved detachments to Chandigarh in Nov 1970 for the Inter Command Weapons Meet. It was a matter of great pride that Chauhan from No 10 and I from No. 220 topped in rocket and gun firing respectively.”
The Squadron operated with great distinction, from Uttarlai, in 1971. It’s essential role being close support, tactical reconnaissance, interdiction and counter air missions.
After an unbroken 13 year stint, the Marut finally made way for the Mig 23 BN
A Trio of No 10 Sqn Mig 23s