It is a day in December 1971 and somewhere on an airfield in the western sector the time is 0632 Hours and from blast pen number 23 Kamelot does a sprint taxy and heads for the western dumbbell.He is loaded with 55 Sneb Rockets and 600 30 MM rounds.He has two drop tanks.He moves on to the Parallel Taxy Way and smoothly opens up both engines and is soon airborne.
At the same time A TO Z Rao with a similar load does a sprint taxy from blast pen number 14.He commences a roll 10 seconds after Camelot and in very very very very quick time he catches up with his leader and they are on their way to spew death and destruction on the enemy army who have gained a slight advantage on our DOGRAS on the battle field.He feels his aircraft has two powerful engines/more than the other B D series being flown by Kamelot.
The ground liaison officer by the name of Col Sanadi had briefed them about the ground situation where two companies of the Dogras were encircled the previous night and in the fire fight the Dogras were running low on ammunition.Through out the night ammo boxes were being dragged and carried to the battle area by men of the unit and by the Forward Air Controller designated to them for the day.He was carrying two ammo boxes on each trip and was currently pinned down by the enemy.He had requested for the close air support and his name was/is Flying Officer Winston Rabinder Sanjeeva Rao.He has indicated the targets were ground troops/recoiless guns on jeeps/two tanks in close proximity hiding in the open sand dunes.He further concluded that they would be out of ammo by 1200 Hours.The contact point is “whiskymalt” and the F A C call sign is RABS control.He happened to be from the DAGGERS.The adrenaline is pumping very high in the veins of Kamelot and A TO Z RAO and they move to their aircraft as Mission 523 ALPHA AND 523 BRAVO.
Kamelot is a cool cat and he was like any other Marut Pilot.
He liked his whisky.
He liked his smokes,WILLS FILTER.
He loved playing practical jokes.
A TO Z RAO was a guy from Andhra Pradesh and he was born in a village and as per the local custom he was named after the family tree,the family house,the family stream and a few uncles.He was thus called D N G P Rao.The english Marut pilots tried pronouncing his full name and Pete ( GAYNOR ) suffered a lock jaw and Sylvester ( DeMAGRY ) twisted his tongue.To make life simple he was named A TO Z RAO.
Mission 523 is on its way to the contact point and Bravo finds he is constantly over shooting his leader.He is forever compensating by reducing throttles.He keeps checking his speed and it is at 420 knots and increasing.
Mission 523 Alpha is about two minutes from the Contact Point and he calls up RABS control and gives his Mission load.Rabs in his deep baritone acknowledges them and gives him the low down.He states the battle area is out in the open between sand dunes.Rabs tells them there are two recoilless guns ( JEEP MOUNTED ) and two tanks.They have been pounding them since midnight and constantly changing positions. Rabs tells them they have been able to hold off the attacking troops ( RAZAKARS ) as they are in dug in bunkers. The enemy troops are about 300 in number. Rabs tells Mission 523 Alpha that as soon as he pulls up he will be able to spot the targets and the dunes are littered with the RAZAKARS in their traditional Black Pathan outfits of long shirts and bellowing pants.He tells they they will appear like crabs in the sand at the top of the dive.There are no navigational land marks as it is all desert and dunes.
Rabs control asks Kamelot to set course from Whiskeymalt on course 350 degrees at speed 480 knots, synchronize compass for pull up at 1 minute and 28 seconds.The battle area will move from his 1130 position to nine o’ clock position.Mission 523 sets course and informs RABS and Mission 523 Bravo is on the right. 37 seconds into the run RABS switches on his SATPAL LIGHT ( MIG 21 landing light mounted on a stout DANDA ) Camelot makes instant contact and so does A TO Z RAO.In the excitement Bravo opens both throttles and starts moving up.RABS calls visual contact and asks Bravo to pull up first and points out the targets.The jeeps are moving and so are the tanks and become sitting ducks. Bravo rolls in on to the further tank and gets his BABUD gun sight pip(p)er on the center of the tank.At 1000 yards the tank is bigger than the dot and SHAZAM he fires a burst and 11 armour piercing SNEB rockets.The hit makes the tank stop dead in its tracks and is set on fire.ALPHA kills the other tank.The next dive blows up both jeeps.They can clearly see the RAZAKARS on the sands and spray them with the remaining rockets.This is followed by strafing and all HELL has BROKEN LOOSE.The DOGRAS wait for the last pass and commence a counter attack.The death toll is heavy on the enemy side.RABS give them a flash report and thanks them.
Mission 523 sets course to home and after five minutes sees his compass is not synchronized and so he does so.He has to turn left by double digits for the course home.
The MARUT BIRD had a main compass called E2B and a DIRECTIONAL GYRO FROM A FAIRCHILD PACKET AIRCRAFT CALLED C4F. REMEMBER THE PACKET AIRCRAFT HAD A PILOT COPILOT,NAVIGATOR,SIGNALLER AND LOADMASTER. One bright sunny day a Packet aircraft got lost in the South Of India and hit the east coast said hello to the Bay Of Bengal and hit the west coast and said hello to the Arabian sea.When the left engine died due to loss of fuel they spotted an old WORLD WAR 2 landing strip and put the PACKET down.The name of the NAVIGATOR was Hidatullah/Compasswalah.
On the other hand we the Marut Jocks had THE MOVING THUMB DISPLAY AND THE SEAT OF THE PANTS. NO MARUT JOCK GOT LOST LOW LEVEL.
BRAVO is on his left and is moving forward of ALPHA at a good clip.He momentarily looses sight of ALPHA and he starts looking from 3 O Clock to 4 O Clock to 5 O Clock and at 530 O Clock he sees a huge ball of fire and he drops his tanks and goes BUSTER. BD 844 the aircraft with the dull gray blue high speed finish crosse 600 Knots in a flash and is still accelerating.
Back at the base the early warning guys inform the G L O that a very big missile is heading to BASE SIDE like a GOLI. CAP MISSION 202 Alpha and Bravo scramble with two AIR TO AIR MISSILES EACH and a ventral tank. The Ack Ack guns are tight and the cap aircraft head westward.
A TO Z RAO is hugging the deck and suddenly he sees the eastern dumbbell and throttles back and goes in to 8 G turn and does the tightest curved approach in HISTORY. 690 Knots to touch down in 14 seconds.
The CAP aircraft hear the cap controller ( Auric Mouri ) say “ THE BASTARD IS DOING A HIGH G TURN “
CAP ALPHA BINDI asks can you see the BASTARD ?
CAP BRAVO BUZZ says I believe the BASTARD is turning.
CAP ALPHA AND BRAVO FIRE THEIR MISSILES AND ENGAGE BURNER TO BEAT IT OUT OF THERE.
There is a lot of R/T chatter about getting the BASTARD from the CAP aircraft.
Sreeboo picks up A TO Z RAO from blast pen number 14 and all he hears is a constant
“ KAMY BALL OF FIRE
KAMY BALL OF FIRE
IN A WHISPER. “
This is repeated all the way to AGGYS ( BOSSMAN AGGARWAL ) DESK. Aggy sits him down and tries to make some sense of this cryptic message. All he gets is the same Kamy Ball Of Fire.
In the back ground Brian and Sree wait for the Ball of fire and both say CHA CHA CHA and do the THREE STEP.
Aggy cannot control his laughter and so hides his smile behind his HANDLEBAR MOUSTACHE.
Much later they learn that at last spotting CAMELOT AIRCRAFT WAS A BALL OF FIRE AND ADDRESS OF KAMY U/K.
A TO Z RAO is sent to home base on a ferry to do some airiest and get back serviceable aircraft.
MEANWHILE BACK TO THE AIR SOMEWHERE IN THE BATTLE SECTOR.
ALPHA realizes that the five minutes on the unsynchronized compass has put him about 14 miles right of track.There is a water way/canal running from Mainwali to Dera Ghazi Khan to Sukkur to Hyderabad ( Pakistan ) to Tatta. At one point on this canal there is a road and rail bridge and they are the only ones for 50/70 miles either way.Kamy spots these bridges a few miles ahead on his track.The whole sky lights up with Ack Ack fire and as he crosses the Bridges his AIRCRAFT TURNS IN TO AN EXPLOSIVE BALL OF FIRE.
Kamy pulls the seat pan handle in half a second and barely exits the aircraft as it is disintegrating and becoming an inferno.Sir Martin Baker’s S4C performs in a flawless perfect fashion and as the main parachute opens Camelot’s feet hit the ground.Kamy feels excruciating pain in both ankles and suspects breakage/hairline cracks/severe sprains and nearly passes out.He is soon picked up and is transported by road and air to join the rest of the parachute club.In due course he is given medical treatment and his ankles take a while to recover.Camelot being the go getter does not let his spirits dampen even one iota.He is his jovial self and soon puts his noggin to work in making some clothes for the three Jocks who decide to go sight seeing.I believe he did make other necessary items for them and was a great leader of the parachute gang.The only two guests in The Pakistan Hilton who were badly wounded were Kamy and H N D M F. They were both Marut Jocks and maintained their dignity and honour while demanding their medical treatments be done as per the rules of war and the Geneva Convention in the treatment of Prisoners Of War. They held their heads high.
The leader of the pack was a Bunny Co-Hello who did not have the qualities and traits to be the Head Honcho. Rumor has it that the conduct of Bunny Co-Hello was unbecoming of an officer and gentleman.He cow-towed to non coms and lowered his dignity.
Put your self in a situation where you are badly wounded and on a bare minimal medical treatment and housed in a mud/brick tenancy with gruel for your daily food intake and you do not know when you might be shot in the head in execution style and this is a living nightmare every living second. In these circumstances you have a Head Honcho who is an A H.
Kamy is the same rank as Bunny Co-Hello.In due course of time Bunny Co-Hello in his wisdom hand writes a written warning on yellow letter paper with roses on it explaining to Kamy that he is a Bad Boy.
H N D M F is also given one. Kamy and H N D M F keep the written warnings carefully and every day parade past the A H and wipe their BOT-TOMS with the WW’S.
Just imagine giving a Squadron Leader and a Fling Officer written warnings in a P O W CAMP by your own HEAD HONCHO.
The following is pure speculation.
“One fine day repatriation takes place and all the Pakistan Hilton guests are locked in a hush hush building and under clinical analysis the truth is revealed.The Smersh were in a quandary because what was revealed the H Q had no option but to put Bunny Co-Hello in front of a 24 rifle firing squad and execute him immediately.
There were many negotiations and SMERSH convinced all the Pakistan Hilton Guests
“WHAT HAPPENED IN PAKISTAN HILTON BEST
STAYS IN PAKISTAN HILTON.”
The count on that day.
BD 844 crossed 700 knots. The fastest Marut in the WEST.
Dogras got 8 gallantry awards.
Winston Rabinder Sanjeeva Rao got a VIR CHAKRA
Bindra got a Vir Chakra
Buzz got a Vir Chakra
Auric Mauri got a boot.
The Air Force Squadrons did not have a fallen officers memorial book/ledger and so those that maintained a squadron diary made a mention in brief on the Supreme Sacrifice Of these folks.I guess these diaries must be lost in the inevitable space of time.I want to remind folks of our MARUT GREAT GUYS WHO MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE.
R P SHARMA
JUG JUG KAPOOR
“DASHU” DAS GUPTA
My memory fails me of the TEST PILOTS names.Will someone please include these GREAT GUYS NAMES.