The year is 1972 and Pokran range was not yet been thought about as a nuke range. Tiger and Dagger squadrons would proceed for range work every two months for around three weeks to various airfields.
This time the TIGERS landed in Jamnagar and the machinery of armament work started in earnest. The drop tanks were removed and three aircraft each were slotted for GUNS/T-10 ROCKETS and BOMBS. This way you did a safety height run, one dummy and unto 4 live passes and came back to BASE with ample gas to divert to BHUJ.
There were other social obligations and activities too.
The first day Brian Sylvester DeMagry returns from his T-10 sortie and on switch off sees a bunch of airmen looking very minutely at the right leading edge of his aircraft. He gets down and realizes that there is a small nick.The squadron SPANNER tells him that all is under control and he will have it airworthy in an hours time..
An Aircrew van that is passing by the tarmac halts and out jump half a dozen plus G-O-S-H Pilots and Sherlock like examine the aircraft. The TIGER aircrew are watching the drama from the verandah of the crew room and wondering who these guys are.
Salwade informs them that he has heard it through the tea club grape vine that those pilots are in town to open a new eatery called TAKHE-DE-DHABA.
Soon the six plus pilots come over to the briefing room and ask the TIGERS to gather around.
They introduce themselves as
THE ( G-O-S-H PILOTS) GANG OF SHIT HOT PILOTS.
OUR MOTTO “ OUR SHIT DOES NOT STINK “
I am Bawa
Non-flying Captain Philip-Rose.
Keech without seeking due permission from senior most Flying Officer Kallathil Payyan Sreekanth, launches in to the theory of T-10 trajectory of debris.
A) T-10 debris flies ahead of the impact area in a 30 degree cone upwards.
This was news to the TIGERS (when they were new born cubs).
B) On firing commence a very, very, very, very hard left so as to not fly through the debris zone. The aircraft has to turn inside the target pin.
SHUKS, the next senior most Flying Officer, tells Keech that the aircraft will be subject to G Forces close/outside the envelope.
KEECH reminds him that he is a G-O-S-H PILOT and he has done the calculations using THETA/GAMMA/BETA and the ANGLE OF THE DANGLE.
Bobcat asks if there is any written proof and is told that the BOOK OF THAKE-DA has it all and the GOSH lot leave.
The name is CHANDRA NARAIN SHUKLA and I do not suffer FOOLS.
If you are a FOOL stay clear of my path or I will smite you with my wrath and dismember you from limb to limb. In addition I have a short fuse and it does not take too much to set me off.
SHUKS is a good gentleman and a Good Pilot with a good sense of humor. HE WEARS GLASSES.
I digress a bit here. The gas was 60 paise a liter and four tigers, the pioneers of conservation, elected to car pool to save the environment of excess gas guzzling.
Shuks/ P K Tyal / R P Sharma / Bro Barg.
First Day.Shuks is ready at the appointed time out side the house and PKT is 10 minutes late.
Second Day.Shuks is ready at the appointed time outside the house and Bro Barg is 15 minutes late.
Third Day.Shuks is ready at the appointed time outside the house and R P Sharma is 20 minutes late.
Fourth Day.Shuks turn to use his car and each car pooler makes him wait for 10/15 minutes before they come out.
The fuse was lit and there was a nuclear explosion and the car pooling came to an abrupt end. The shortest car pooling in history.
Back to Jamnagar.
Sambo is the RSO and Sree and Keru carry out their last T-10 live and Shuks who is joining the Range hears both the dives as:
Dive angle 20 degrees/firing range 1000 yards/Direct Hit/Cleared the debris zone.
RSO. Hey Keru how much pulling to clear the debris zone.
Keru. Sambo 6 plus “G”.
RSO. Cant be that low.
Keru. May be a bit more. HA HA HA
Shuks does a safety height run and dummy.
His first live Sam calls 20 degrees/1000 yards/D H/ Shukla Jee you flew over the cone of debris.
Khundak ( TEMPER ) is rising in the cockpit.
Second live RSO calls 20 degrees/ 1000 yards/ D H / Shukla OLD CHAP you flew over the debris cone.
Come on OLD MAN pull some more “ G “
The fuse is lit and the mercury in the cockpit has risen to the Max.
Shuks mumbles how dare this “MADRASI” call me OLD MAN.
Shuks tightens his straps,checks his G Suit hose is connected and enters his third live.
Shuks fires and opens full throttles and snaps the stick into his stomach and screams in to the oxygen mask
“ JAI BAJ RANG BALI KALI MATA MUJHE SHAKTHI DE “
The aircraft goes in to the MOTHER OF ALL HARD TURNS and SAMBO is witness to the theory of flight live, as the aircraft spews wing tip vortices in 3D and living color.
He also sees some objects departing from under the right wing.
RSO calls 20 degrees/1000 yards/D H/ well clear of debris zone.
Hey Shuks your aircraft parted some metal from your right wing so check all okay.
Shukla. All intact.
Sam. Shukla Jee check again please.
Shukla. Mercury rising. Mr.RSO all intact and I said so before.
RSO Clear live.
Shuks fires the last rocket and making switches safe heads for base.
Shuks turns in to dispersal and switches off.The whole ground crew and available pilots are gathered around his right wing and all faces have a look of amazement.
Shuks steps out and surveys the underside.
The lower portion of the outer pylon has been ripped clean along with the T-10 launcher.The best way to describe it – it was torn like you tear a paper in half.
The inner pylon was ripped the same way.
Shuks had re-set the G-Meter on landing. Legend has it that it was at MAX.
Once again THE MARUT proved to be a TOUGH and MIGHTY AIRCRAFT.
Shuks requested nay demanded the GOSH guys explain – pronto, pronto, PRONTO!
Keech said he was only talking theory and did not advocate any one to try it. The Marut pilots gave him the LOOK.
The BOSSMAN/FLIGHT COMMANDERS/SPANNER put it down as metal fatigue and poor quality control.
True to the theory of no two aircraft are similar in H A L the pylons could not be replaced as none would fit.
All four pylons were removed and the underside of the wings were fitted with fairings. All pilots were very keen to fly this aircraft as it was a thing of beauty and joy for pulling “G”.
Shuks took a lot of ribbing about seeing the imaginary pylon prior to his last live.
THAKE-DA ( T A C D E )
The denizens of THAKE-DA were like the VEDA masters and revived the ancient art of fighter formation flying.
Spitfire pilots were in this formation in WW2
Number 2 flies 20 degrees 250/300 yards from the line astern.
Number 2 was mostly a junior/learning pilot. Cannon Fodder.
Number 2 is informed that he is about to be shot down and asked to perform a death ritual called a DEFENSIVE OR OFFENSIVE SPLIT.
In both cases it was to get the Number 2 in an abreast position to save the skin of Number 1.
There were many pilots who met the ground doing these splits.
Sreeboo asked the THAKE-DA Chefs why not start the Number 2 at 2500/3000 yards abreast.
They asked him what experience he had to question them.
SREEBOO SAYS I ONLY FLEW 37 LIVE MISSIONS IN OPS CACTUS LILLY.
All Marut Missions were 2 aircraft and flew 2500/3000 yards abreast low low low level.
Not a single Marut was shot down by enemy aircraft.
Sreeboo adds that on one occasion he had to depress his gun sight to 100 degrees to take a shot at a Sabre who was too far away. My film does have the Sabre at the very bottom. Sreeboo concludes by saying my only fault was I forgot to say the MAGIC WORDS
“GOT THE BASTARD “
THE ANGLE OF THE DANGLE.
The angle of the dangle
Is directly proportionate
To the heat of the meet
Provided the mass of the ass
Is kept constant.
01 NOVEMBER 1968
A MEETING TO REMEMBER
There were two officers in the Air Force who were destined to meet and we at Hasimara had the good fortune to witness this historic event.
On this day due to bad weather one Dakota,one Caribou and a Twin Helio landed and stayed put for the night in Hasimara.
The officer’s mess bar was 40 feet by 40 feet and it opened up into the main lounge. It was packed as usual.
Chick Paralkar escorts one officer and Keru escorts the other officer for a face off.
Chick says have you guys met and they both say no.
The first officer puts out his hand and says “LELE”
The second officer grabs the hand and says “LEGA”
Thus Flt.Lt.LELE met Flt Lt LEGA.
There was guffahs-hooting-yelling-screaming-rolling on the floor
So says Sambo!