Production of the Hawker Typhoon totaled 3,317 including two prototypes and 15 Hawker built examples (the rest being built by Gloster). A total of 23 Typhoon equipped sqns flew with the 2nd TAF from France and nine other sqns flew the type from the UK with Fighter Command. Of these, 60 ac were built as the FR Mk IB. This mark carried cameras for tactical recce. The two inboard cannon were removed and a forward facing camera was fitted in the starboard gun bay. An oblique camera could be fitted in the port wing and vertical cameras in the fuselage.
The only Indian pilot to fly the type during WW II was Sqn Ldr Karun Krishna “Jumbo” Majumdar.
Jumbo gave the fledgling Indian Air Force its first war hero in World War 2. He was the only pilot in the IAF to be decorated with a Bar to the DFC. On commissioning he joined No.1 Squadron (The Tigers) as Flying Officer in the Mid 1930s. Flying the Wapiti, then the Hart, he rapidly rose to the rank of Sqn Ldr and took over command of No.1 Squadron in June 1941, when it was based at Miranshah, NWFP.
After its conversion to Westland Lysanders in August 1941, the sqn was moved to Drigh Road for training and then onto Toungoo (east of Prome on the Sittang river) on 1 Feb 1942. The Japanese Army Air Force attacked Toungoo the very next day, destroying allied airfield installations and aircraft, only 1 Squadron’s aircraft were unscathed. The next day, when Majumdar took off in a solitary Lysander armed with two 250 lbs. bombs for the Japanese airfield at Mae-Haungsan (just west of Chiangmai in todays Thailand), 67 RAF sqn New Zealanders, sharing Toungoo, sent an escort of two Buffalo fighters to the Lysander.
Majumdar flew at low level, almost skimming tree tops to achieve complete surprise at the Japanese airfield. He dropped his bombs with unerring accuracy on an aircraft hanger at the airfield, destroying it as well as the aircraft in the hanger.
The very next day, Majumdar was in the thick of the action again, this time he led the whole squadron on a bombing mission on the same airfield, destroying several buildings, wireless installations and aircraft on the ground. From then till the fall of Rangoon in April, the Lysanders provided close air support work for the Army. Finally withdrawing after handing over their Lysanders to the Burmese Air Force.
Jumbo was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his leadership of the squadron during the Burma Campaign, thus becoming the first Indian Officer to be so decorated.
After spending two years in India in various staff and flying assignments, Majumdar returned to the front in 1944. Now a Wing Commander, he volunteered for a posting to the European theater. He ultimately accepted a ‘demotion’ to the rank of Sqn Ldr so as to fly under the Wg Cdr CO of No.268 RAF Squadron flying Mustang IAs over the beachhead at Normandy during the allied invasion of Europe.
The sqn converted to the Typhoon FR IB in Aug 44 and then to the Spitfire XIV (although Jumbo was recalled before converting to the Spitfire). During his stint on the Typhoon he was the sole volunteer for a recce mission in bad weather over the Falais gap, one of many missions that earned him a bar to the DFC.in Jan 45.
On return to India he joined the Indian Air Force Display Flight, and toured the country conducting aerobatic shows and displays to attract and bring to the public notice, the Indian Air Force's exploits. On 17 February 1945, whilst practicing low level aerobatics at Lahore on a Hurricane, Jumbo lost control during a high speed dive when the starboard undercarriage extended un commanded, and crashed killing him instantaneously. Jumbo died as he wanted to live, carefree, daring and at the controls doing what he wanted to, fly to his heart's content.
As part of a series of Indian aviation Greats I decided to build Jumbo’s Typhoon. Lacking any details on the aircraft I came across Colin Ford’s article on the history of 268 sqn on ARC. Colin was considerate enough to provide some information from his soon to be published history of the sqn.
268 sqn flew the three bladed FR IB and these ac sported a single letter ID usually forward of the fuselage roundel and painted their spinners initially night then sky and some red. The ac were in standard temperate RAF camo and by Aug had the Invasion stripes only on the undersurfaces.
I have never seen a FR Mk IB done before and so fell upon Green and Swanborough’s RAF fighters part 2 for references.
-I’d already done the Monogram Typhoon in the four bladed OOB version with blue/white checkered tail band. Mind you I had hand painted it and ‘feathered’ the paint edges with a forceps-held sponge. Miracle Easy off, surgery to make a four blade prop to three and lopping off the inner cannon muzzles provided for a fresh FR Mk IB for painting. Future, Testors, chalk pastels and Tally Ho products rounded off the conversion. Jumbo, at least on one occasion each flew EK 247-F and JP 371-A. I did EK 247-A simply because I had more ‘A’s left on my RAF grey sqn code letter decal sheet.
So here it is. Makes me think; what times those were; and what men they were.
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