From L to R: Shivadas, P Singh , Velankar(dad) ,Dhillon & Shankar.This is a great picture. Not only does it capture a part of their daily work life, but also pictures like these actually show that the usual snaps that we see of the planes making a loop in the sky are a result of (hopefully) hours of planing and dedication.
Cir:1967 , 101 Squadron
Cir:1967 , 101 Squadron
Dad was in the 101 fighter squadron from the 24th Dec 1966 to 31st May 1968. So this picture has probably been taken in 1967 in the briefing room. The nickname of 101 Sqn was "Falcon" and the Motto was "Anwishyawedhi" which means "Search and destroy".The Sqn was raised on 1st May 1949 and had spitfires in it. But by the time dad made his way out there, they were operating Vampires. Today 101 has Mig 21's as their mounts.
During the early years of the IAF, Photo-recce (PR) was an urgent need and the originl spitfires of the 101 sqn were used for this purpose, but later on the the Vampires in 101 were used for the the same purpose. This article on the Bharatrakshak website gives an excellent recounting of the history of PR in the IAF, but it concentrates more on the Canberras. As per the article,
" ... There were some attempts to give PR capability a boost beyond the piston engine Spitfires, and HAL converted at least 5 Vampire T.55s with cameras in the nose, dubbing them Vampire PR 55s. These Vampires operated with 101 Sqn (which was raised from 1 PR Flight) and 108 Sqn. The Vampires did give a limited PR capability but obviously something better was required..."
There is a great deal of material available on the net about the Vampires. The vampire was an astonishingly popular plane and the first choice of replacement for spitfires all over the world. As a result about fifty airforces around the world used these planes to great effect. Of all these airforces, the story of the Vampires in the Rodhesian Airforce is very interesting and worth a read. You can find it here.
That apart, the picture itself does provide us some interesting information. On the right background, you see the VINTEN F95 poster. These were the make of the camera that were fitted in the Vampires. I could not find a website for these camera, but there is mention of Vinten Camera's being fitted on the the planes like Hawk as recently as the mid 1980's.
On the Blackboard, you can spot the two formation color for that day: The Ivory, and the two planes that would be flying, Nos 416, & 315, sadly the bit of glare is spoiling the name of the pilots that would be lflying that day, but those guys surely seem to be in the spirit of that days mission. : PHOTO