Indian Air Force Combat Squadrons in the 1965 War
v.1.0 April 7, 2002

Ravi Rikhye

With thanks to Mr. Jagan Pillarisetti for the official 1965 history which has not been published to this day, but which was leaked to the Times of India in 2000, and for comments, clarifications, and corrections. He maintains the definitive site on the Indian Air Force, and his page on the IAF in the 1965 War is at http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/1965War/index.html

According to IAF records as sent to the official historian, on September 1, 1965, just before the official outbreak of the 1965 War, the Indian Air Force had a total of 572 combat aircraft, including squadron UE, war wastage reserves, and aircraft undergoing major servicing with at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Aircraft with squadrons was estimated at 466, but the IAF derived this figure from a theoretical count, multiplying UE by the number of squadrons.  The IAF feels that the number with squadrons was probably closer to 460.

Western Theatre

Eastern Theatre

Squadron

Aircraft

Squadron

Equipment

No. 1

Mystere

No. 4

Toofani (Ouragan)

No. 2

Gnat

No. 14

Hunter

No. 3

Mystere

No. 15

Gnat

No. 5

Canberra

No. 17

Hunter

No. 7

Hunter

No. 24

Vampire

No. 8

Mystere

No. 29

Toofani (Ouragan)

No. 9

Gnat

No. 37

Hunter

No. 16

Canberra

No. 47

Toofani (Ouragan)

No. 18

Gnat

No. 101 PR

Vampire [4]

No. 20

Hunter

No. 108 PR

Vampire [4]

No. 23

Gnat

No. 220

Vampire [5]

No. 27

Hunter

No. 221

Vampire

No. 28

MiG-21   [1]

 

 

No. 31

Mystere

 

 

No. 32

Mystere

 

 

No. 35

Canberra

 

 

No. 45

Vampire  

 

 

No. 106 SR

Canberra  [2]

 

 

JBCU

Canberra   [3]

 

 

Notes

[1] The MiG-21 squadron was working up, it is not identified in the official squadron tally.

[2] Eight aircraft, as opposed to the standard UE of 16.

[3] Jet Bomber Conversion Unit was a half-squadron worth on Canberras. In the 1965 operations it was commanded by Sqn Ldr Padmanabha Gautam and flew combat-capable trainer versions of the Canebrra.  Normally, wing commanders command IAF squadrons.

[4] Eight aircraft each, converted two-set trainers.

[5] The official historian gives No. 221 Squadron on the orbat, but it was actually number-plated and its pilots flew under No. 45 Squadron.

 

That India kept half its potent Hunter force in the East shows how seriously the China threat was taken. The Vampire squadron in the west had to be withdrawn at the outset of war when in its first air action it lost four aircraft over Chaamb to PAF Sabres. Thus, nine of India’s squadrons could not have been deployed to the west and the margin of superiority over the PAF was not as great as the numbers might indicate. Also, a large number of IAF pilots were inexperienced: the expansion had been put underway just 2 ½ years previously.

Back to Main


All content © 2003 Ravi Rikhye. Reproduction in any form prohibited without express permission.