Monday, 11 July 2011

Indian Air Force No. 7 Squadron Battle-Axes


It was in the autumn of 1960 that the " Battle-axe " logo was approved by airforce heraldic committee. Although No 7 Sqn had been (unofficially) using this for years and wore it proudly on their flying suits. Mythology has it that the Battle-Axe (or "Farsha" as it is known in Sanskrit) was the choice weapon of Parshuram. Parshuram was one of the few Brahmin 'Guru' who were also masters of hand to hand combat. He was considered at par with Dronacharya, The Guru who instructed the Pandavas in the epic of the Mahabharat. Karan, half brother of Pandavas took instruction in weaponry from Parshuram, a disciple of lord Shiva and was known to have trible temper, having lost his father to the evil "Asuras". Prashuram in his anger got rid off from "Kshatriya", the martial races of the earth, seven times over.The farsha or " Battle-Axes" was known to have super natural powers. It had four cutting edges, one on each end of the blade head and one on each end of the shaft. The farsha was also known as the most lethal close combat weapon of the epics. No. 7 Squadron 'Battle -Axes' emblem had two unfolded wings adorning the weapon and the symbolic number seven attached to the shaft. Below this crest, on a scroll were the letters "Shatrunjay" or simply " Vanquish the enemy". This logo was officially approved by President on 26th Septeber 1960, and has adorned aircraft that No. 7 Squadron has flown since and proudly is worn by all officers and men of the Squadron.

Squadron History

No. 7 Squadron (BATTLE-AXES) was formed on Dec 1942 at Vizagapatnam equipped with Vultee Vengeance dive bomber. Sqn Ldr HN Chaudhary was the first Commanding Officer and the personnel were drawn from No. 104 General Reconnaissance and 353 Squadron of RAF plus No. 3 Calcutta) and No. 6 (Vizagapatnam) Cost Defence Flight, under Air Headquarters formation, order 268 of 19 Nov 1942.

More than a half a century of existence of No. 7 squadron has been characterised by pioneering off new aircraft and weapons systems into the service and being the cutting edge of the air arm in various theatres of battle. BATTLE-AXES have always displayed skill and elan in the skies above the Indian subcontinent from the time they flew gull winged dive bombers bursting the jungle tree tops, to the contemporary classic delta inceptor flighter which they fly today at the edges of space. Most of the pioneers of no. 7 squadron are now gone, but theinheritors of the banner maintain the tradition with professionalism and pride.

Special Achievements

Waziristan Operation

To quell the uprising of tribesman of NWFP(North Western Frontier Province), the Sqn was first assigned operational task of bombing. On 03 Dec 1943, reconnaissance flights were carried out this was followed with bombing by two aircraft element of Vengeance. Squadron carried out bombing and strafing with exceptional accuracy although it was newly equipped with Vengeance dive bomber.

Burma Operation 1944

The squadron was placed on operational readiness on 04 March 1944. On 28 March 1944, a six aircraft formation led by CO, Sqn Ldr HN Chaudhary, carried out their first bombing strike. In a period of first three days, thirty four bombing sorties were carried out with devasting accuracy. During the next month, tactical and strategic targets were engaged with precise bombing and strafing.

Squadron continued operating from the Kutcha airstrips in rain and slush under adverse condition and still flew 1400 hrs operational flying. This tremendous flying efforts maximum in its group commended by AOC 221 group.

After successful complition of operation on Chindwin front the squadron moved to Imphal front. Operating from Sin, the Air Strip near Imphal, the Squadron flew 1200 hrs of operational flying in span of two months. This consisted of bombing, strafing, fighter reconnaissance and message dropping. Once again Sqn flew maximum in its group.

Kashmir Operations 1948-49

Equipped with spitfire, the Sqn flew 600 operation hours inspite of the adverse weather in the valley, poor servicing facilities and poor living conditions. During these operation the squadron kept enemy on its toes by continuously bombing, strafing, firing rockets at a relentless rate.

Indo-Pak Operations 1965

In these operations the squadron destroyed two sabres in aireal combat. In air to ground missions the squadron destroyed/damaged numerous bridges, tanks and gun positions. equipped with thunders.The squadron flew 437 operational missions maintaining a record serviceability of over 90% throught the period. This serviceability was maintained despite heavy rectifications required due to battle damage.

For its impressive record in the air as well as on ground, the squadron received commendations from the Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, the Defence Minister Shri YB Chavan and Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh.

Indo-Pak Operation 1971

At the outbreak of this war the squadron was at Bagdogra and flew 40 missions of offensive air support and counter air support in three days on Hunter aircraft. Subsequently the squadron moved to Western front where it remained till cease-fire. Gaining the unique distinction of operating on both eastern as well as western fronts. The squadron largely flew close support air missions of Army, in addition strike sorties over PAF bases and important installations, were carried out with good results.

Sri Lanka Operations 1987

The squadron was once again entrusted with the unique task of escorting transport aircraft in ex Poomalai in Jun 87. Five AN-32s carrying food and relief supplies for the besieged tamil people at Jaffna were escorted all the way upto Jaffna. The ground and air opposition was encountered and all the air craft returned safely.

Maldives Operations 1988

In Nov 1988 the Maldives state Government was under threat from Tamil Guerillas. Overnight the Sqn flew to a base in Southern part of the country to standby for support to Maldives Government. On 04 Nov 1988, two ac formation made a pass over Hulule Airport in Maldives as a show of force and moral booster for the besieged government. However, Battle-Axes were disappointed as the need for the actual operation did not arise.

AirCraft flown by the Sqn

Before arrival of Vengeance bomber aircraft the Wapitis of No. 6 Coastal Defence flight (CDF) had the honour of being No. 7 Squadrons, first air craft. This aircraft was powered by 4450 hp Bristol Jupiter VII engine and armed with one fixed 0.303 Vickens machine gun forward and one 0.303 Lewis machine gun in the rear cockpit. Wapiti could carry upto 500 lbs bomb on under wing racks. Pilots found Wapiti, tough and stable, responding easily to controls.

Inspired by Stuka dive bomber of Luffwaffle the Vultee Vengeance dive bomber was ordered by British Purchasing Commision in 1940 to meet the urgent demands of Royal Air Force, then battling a Nazi occupied Europe.

Equipped to full standards, the Vengeance was redesigne of the A-35A, with four 50 inch machine guns in the wings and two .30 caliber brewing guns in the cockpit. Bomb load was two 500 pounds internally and another 500 pounder under each wing. Powered by 1700 hp wright R 2600-B piston radial engine, 562 Vengeance were assigned to Britain for eventual equipment of RAF and Royal Australian Air Force.

Hawker Hurricane
It was the world's first eight gun fighter and the best of all, an overall total of 14,533 examples being built. TheHurricane was already legendary,, having flown over France and bearing he onslaught in the Battle of Britain, where it claimed 80% of their kills. Powered by 1200 hp rolls Royce Merlin XX engine with stage supercharger and could carry upto 1000 lbs of bombs, or rockets. Contrary to popular belief, the Hurricane was superbly manoeuverable, even better so than the spitfire, despite slightly heavy controls. The only designs drawback was that it, lacked speed.

It has been probably the best known fighter of all time, the paragon of elegance in aircraft design, first flown in March 1963. Spitfire almost single-handedly won the Battle of Britain which was turning point against Hitler's Third Reich. With as much as 52 variants a total of 22759 spitfires were built.

The Sqn moved on 17 April 1947 to Risalpur for conversion on the Tempest MK II. Performance of Tempest was superior in terms of speed below 20,000 ft than the other allied fighters including the Mustang III, Spitfire XIV. Messerchmitt Mc 109 G And Focke Wulf FW 190A but so in manoeuverability.

Vampire, a single seater fighter aircraft had many variants including a trainer and night fighter. It was powered by a de Havilland Gobin (MK-II) turbo jet. It could achieve the max speed of 882 Kmph and had a combat range of 1963 Kms. It could carry four Hispano 20 mm Canons, eight rockets or two 1000 lbs bombs. This aircraft was in service form 1948 to 1972.

The first prototype Hunter, powered by the Rolls Royce Avon, flew on July 20th 1951. Continued modification led to hunter MK6 which had four hard points for carrying a varient of stores, 1000 lb bombs, 24x3m. rockets 100 gallon napalm cannister drop tanks. The Hunters is a transonic aircraft and has a maximum speed ( at sea level) of 715 mph or Mach .938, service ceiling of 99,000 feet and a combat range of 1840 miles.

Mig-21, a single seater fighter aircraft having many varients including a twin seater trainer, was manufactured by Mikyan Gureywich (Erstwhile USSR). It is powered by a single R-11 F-2 S-300 engine. It has a max speed of 2.1 Mach and a max range of 1800 kms. It can carry one 23 mm machine gun and two Air to Air missile and various other loads. This aircraft came in service in 1983 and is still in use.

It is an Air Superiority fighter used for various roles like interception, ground attack, AD and EW escorts. It is powered by a Snecma M-53 P-2 turbofan engine rated at 9700 kgs. It has a max speed of 2.2M at 11,000m and a combat radius of 7000 kms. It carries two 30mm Defa 554 cannons and 6500 kgs of external load. This aircraft came in service in 1985 and till date is amongst the best aircraft on IAF inventory.

(source Official Indian Air Force Site)
(images wikipedia)

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