My successful Ejection from Marut Aircraft: Air Cmde VK Murthy


It  was  HF-24 Marut BD 840 (18th prototype) from  which  I  ejected on 16th July 1967 at  Jamnagar while  commanding  No  10  squadron   when  HF-24  was inducted  in  IAF. The same  aircraft HF-24 BD 840  was  ferried by  me  from  Bangalore to Jamnagar via  Pune  on 17th  June 1967

This  is  the  Story

At  Jamnagar on  a  simulated Low Level  strike mission, I took  off (sunday morning ) and  while  returning to  base  got  lost due  to bad weather and adopted  Local Lost  Procedure  which  was  very  simple at  Jamnagar (Just steer 270  degrees,  hit the coast, recognise Dwarka and then steer course to base).

This  is  what  I  did  and  I  could  see Jamnagar  Runway  right  ahead   and  was quite  pleased to  reach  home.  Just  at  that  moment   one  engine  flamed out. I  quickly  checked  my Fuel  gauge . It was  reading 100 gallons  just  enough  to  reach the airfield  ahead and  do a  direct  landing and perhaps,  flame out  during  taxiing. Lo  Behold –a minute  after  that, the  second  engine also   flamed  out  when  the fuel  gauge was  still  reading 60 gallons.!!

I  realised  that  I  cannot  make  the  Runway from  that  height , and  trimmed  the  aircraft for a straight & level flight and  ejected at  about  1000 feet .

While  descending   I  could  see  the  aircraft  make  a  perfect  Belly  Landing in  a  field  below  and there was NO FIRE  or  explosion  on touchdown.

Later  it  was  found , the cockpit  was  intact  and fuel  gauge  still  reading  60  gallons, but  not  a  drop of  fuel  in the  tank

Revealing the  TRUTH  at  that  time   would  have  put  many  in  trouble  and  given a bad  name  for  HF-24 a/c. This  incident  would  definitely  hamper  further production. I  stated  that there  was  ‘nothing  wrong  with  the  aircraft’  but emphasised  that  Matra Fuel was  not  there to  reach  home  though  Fuel Gauge  was reading  60 gallons.

I  was  responsible for  the  accident  and  no  one else  was  blamed.

Why  there  was  no  fuel  in  the  matra  tank, though  the Fuel gauge  was showing  60  gallons ?

THIS IS  THE  REAL  STORY .

AFTER  THE  SUCCESSFUL EJECTION  ON 16th  JULY 1967 , now  at  my  age  of  80+

LET  ME   TELL  THE  FACTS .

I ferried HF-24 BD 840  ( 18th  prototype) on 17th June 1967 from  Bangalore  to  Jamnagar via Pune. At  Pune  airfield , the  refuelling  was  delayed  as  the  a/c  was kept waiting for AOC (West)who was coming to see  HF-24 . He sat  in  the  cockpit and  familiarised for  sometime  and got  out  saying ‘Bye’. The  refuellers  rushed  in  to  fill  up the  tanks. I told  them  to  leave  the Matra Tank alone as it  requires  time to  open  the  canopy  first  and then  fill up ( Later Types are Modified ).

I  hurried  this  action, due to  the  Weather Warning  by  Met Dept  for  a  huge  build  up at  Ahmedabad , my radio compass  reporting  point  en route  Jamnagar.

I  decided to Take off quickly  to  avoid  Ahmedabad and  make  a  BEE  Line straight  to  Jamnagar , cutting  across  Arabian  Sea which I did successfully. The violations  are many:

a)  not  sticking  to  Flight  Plan   and   avoiding  Ahmedabad reporting  point..

b)  cutting   across the  sea  and  not  having Dinghy pack

c)  not   contacting  Homer except  D channel, just to  contact  Jamnagar airfield  before  landing

d)  At  the  height  of  30,000 feet the  visibility  was  clear and  I could see the  destination. The  build  up was only at North  over Ahmedabad and  the  West  was very clear. So  I  took  the  decision in  mid Air.

The F 700 was  recorded  Matra Tank  Full all along in  F 700. The  same  aircraft BD 840  was  flown  by  me on 16th July 1967 , when I  EJECTED  with NO  FUEL in Matra Tank.

I  kept  my  mouth  SHUT  at  that  time  as the  Fault  was  entirely  mine .

Any  other  statement  of  mine  would  have  retarded  the    production of  HF-24 a/c, and have put  many in trouble. The  then   HAL Managing Director,  P.C Lal,  was happy  and  pleased  that I did  not  blame  the HF-24 a/c  but  myself  and  the production  continued.

When  he came back as  CAS , I  was posted as O.C Flying Jodhpur  where two  Marut  Sqns ( No 10 & 220 ) were  based. Later I  was  the  Base  Commander  at Uttarlai ( 1971 War)  when  these two  Maruts  Sqns  flew  many  successful  missions  and  brought  FAME & GLORY to Marut Aircraft.  My  seniority  was  Fully Restored  to  my original  substantive  Rank of Wg.Cdr.

I still feel  Marut  is  a  wonderfully designed aircraft  but  lacked  a  suitable & powerful  engine . Why search for  new  type  when  Maruts  have  proved  its  worth  at Low  Level  during  1971  War.  When I ejected from  Marut   BD 840 on 17 July 67, the  aircraft  made  a  perfect  Belly  Landing with  least  damage , with  cockpit & all  instruments  intact  is  by itself  a  real  proof  for  the  perfect  design . All  Marut  pilots who  flew at 300 feet and  below during 1971 War , purely  depending  on their  two  eyes and  Guts  ( No Radar Pick up ) will  swear  by  the  ease  and  manoeuvrability  of  this  beautiful aircraft.

Give  a  chance  to  HAL to  revive  this Type. We  have   expertise  and  Talents to  produce  better  if  not  the  Best.  Leave  politics  alone.

VK MURTHY


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8 Responses to My successful Ejection from Marut Aircraft: Air Cmde VK Murthy

  1. Prodyut says:

    It is wrong to say that the Marut has no potential. In fact a revampd Marut airframe with twin AI 55Fs and the Bison’s avionics and instruments suite could actually outperform the LCA or provide an insurance if that programme is further delayed.There are many hidden bonuses. The Maruts carried134 kilos as ballast in the nose-the Kopyo class radars wqeigh around 128 kilos. Replacing the Adens by twin GsH 301s will save another 70kilos per set of two.Like wise the engnes.It is a proven reliable airframe with good performance just where it is required.There is life in the old girl yet!Get a private sector team to do astudy for about 20 crores and you would be surprised.

  2. Dara says:

    Comment sent by Groupie Minnie Menon:

    “Dear Sir:

    I have followed your blogs and revived many memories. Congratulations on your 80th birthday.

    I have mostly been a spectator on the blogs since I have poor eyesight due to retinal bleeding for the past over a year. However after reading your ejection narrative, I felt that you have been more than kind to the powers that were then, by taking all the blame.

    If my memory serves me right, all of us at 10 Sqn at that time felt that you had been made a scapegoat and your piloting abilities had been unfairly questioned. The full blame for that sorry event should have gone to the then AOC 1 Opl. Gp. for ordering that strike mission early in the morning, for the following reasons:

    The first Marut squadron had been formed only a few months earlier.
    Serviceability had been very poor in spite of HAL tech support due to teething trouble, and inherent technical problems of the Marut.
    As a result the pilots including you had hardly any currency, let alone flying hours, on the aircraft.
    The AOC ordered you at short notice to undertake the mission.
    He did not take into account the fact that it was monsoon season and Jamnagar had low clouds of 500 feet and less, with poor visibility, specially in the mornings.
    It was a Sunday, and the MF beacon was down for servicing
    Homer was also under maintenance.

    Sending a single aircraft on a strike mission under such adverse conditions was a serious lapse, and poor judgement on the part of the Gp. commander…….

    In the process, your reputation was ruined, and so was a brilliant career. It is a measure of your professionalism and resilience that you bounced back in due course. But the damage had been done, and could only be rectified to a limited extent.

    Sir, I wanted to post my views on the blog, but I feel that you should be the one to decide on whether or not it would be appropriate for me to do so, and to what extent.

    I look forward to meeting you at Bangalore in June.
    My regards to you and Ma’am.

    Gp. Capt. C. Krishna K. Menon”

  3. gvb narang says:

    WOW , back then we just did not hear of this confession , wonderful and a very powerful statement, by murthy sir , i loved the machine too ,

  4. Dara says:

    Received from Suresh Shrotriya on email:

    “I was at Jamnagar when this incident took place. I had given familiarization lectures on the HF – 24 armaments and the ejection seat to the newly formed HF -24 squadron just few days before this incident took place.

    It was a great relief to me when (then) Wg Cdr Murthy, on seeing me next day, gave me thumb up saying that the ejection seat had worked just the way I had described it would. Yes I do agree , HF 24 was a great flying machine.”

  5. VK Murthy says:

    Please attach my logbook entry with dates and aircraft Number HF-24 BD 841

    VK Murthy

    • Dara says:

      Sir,

      The dates are as mentioned- ferry 17th June, ejection 16th July.

      I have not added the log book entry as there is really no one who has any doubts about what you say. Your word is final.

      Dara

  6. VK Murthy says:

    Correction dates as per LogBook Entry
    17th June 67 HF-24 HD 841 Bangalore to Pune- Refuel – Pune to Jamnagar

    16th July 67 HF-24 HD 841. Self. Solo. Low Level Strike ……EJECTED Alive

    VK Murthy

    • Tony says:

      Sir,

      Mmuch as I share your sentiments vis-a-vis the good old Marut, we can not but accept the fact that both the times and technology has moved on.

      Revival of the project would not really be practical.

      But let that not deter us from fondly admiring the Marut and the pioneers, like yourself, who converted the ill fated project into a mean war machine.

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