The Westland Lysander - The IAF's first monoplane bomber
- Category: Retired Aircraft Histories
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- Written by Jagan Pillarisetti
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No.2 Squadron (Nov 41 - Sept 42) 10 Months
The second squadron to equip with the Lysander was No.2 Squadron at Kohat, then under Sqn Ldr Aspy Engineer. Just after a month and half after No.1 Squadron got the Lysanders, No.2 Squadron received its first Lysander II, which was ferried from Aircraft Depot, Drigh Road. The aircraft arrived at Kohat on 30th November 1941.
Several of the squadron's pilots underwent practice flights on the lone Lysander. On 3rd December, Flt Lt M K Janjua and S S Majithia ferried two Lysanders, followed by two more on the 13th by Janjua and Plt Offr Ratnagar. A couple more were ferried in the subsequent days by Fg Offr Arjan Singh and Plt Offr P Reporter. In mid December, a few of the pilots were sent to No.1 Squadron as it was preparing to move to Burma.
After two months of training sorties in army cooperation, the Squadron moved to Secunderabad with the aircrew flying their aircraft hopping airfield to airfield. On the way, Plt Offr F P Amber had an accident at Bhopal on 8th February, when his aircraft L4740 overturned on landing. The undercarriage had got caught in a concealed drain that collapsed under the weight. Both the pilot and the gunner, AC Ramzan Ali survived with minor injuries. The rest of the Squadron arrived at Secunderabad by rail on 23rd February.
Some of the aircraft were still at Kohat, and participating in Coastal patrols at Drigh Road. On 3rd March, Plt Offr K H Motishaw returned from a patrol at Drigh Road, when one of the bombs on the aircraft (L4748) exploded on landing - killing the air gunner Sgt A Algar (RAF). This was followed by another accident on the 16th, when Plt Offr C M Cariappa taxied Lysander N1209 into a parked Wapiti at Drigh Road. The aircraft was badly damaged but it was repaired by the squadron personnel and was put back into service.
After less than a month at Secunderabad, the squadron moved to Poona on 18th March. A few days later, on 28th March, Flt Lt SS Majithia undershot the runway while landing. Plt Offr D R Reddy, who was occupying the observer position was seriously injured in the crash. The aircraft P9194 was wrecked.
After about two months in Poona, the squadron got orders to move to Arakonam by rail. The move was carried out in the middle of May. The pilots engaged in regular army cooperation training during their stay at Arakonam.
On 15th June, Flt Lt S N Goyal led a detachment to Trichy to pick up four Lysanders left behind by No.1 Squadron on their move to Risalpur for Hurricane conversion. The aircraft that they picked up were P9176, P9180, N1255 and L4767. The first three were veterans of the Burma campaign.
During their stay at Trichy, the pilots had various incidents and misadventures. On 7th July, Plt Offr F P Amber taxied his Lysander L4767 into another aircraft P9176. Both aircraft were damaged but were soon repaired. The next day, Plt Offr Kartar Singh Saund landed at Madras in his Lysander to check up on a few details and was immediately detained on suspicion of being an enemy!.
On 9th July, the detachment took part in exercise "CLIVE" at Arakonam. About this time Flt Lt Goyal, the flight commander was approached with an unusual request, as he narrates:
"My stint with No.2 Squadron was an uneventful tenure except for one incident. I remember, there was a camp at Arakonam. We were flying around in Lysanders for photography and so on. There were incidents, when local freedom fighters in an agitation were lying in front of a military train to stop it from going. it was happening quite often and the British commander one day came with a startling request - 'Would you fly low over those b...' - he used a terrible word starting with b - '... and frighten them to hell so that they can get out of the way and the train can move on? If necessary you can fire on the side of the tracks but dont go about hurting anybody' . I was shocked - I thought about it - How can I do it against my own people - I am an Indian, a patriot as they are. How can I try and frighten my own people. So I told the commander - "Would you do it in England if it happened there?". He put his head down, and said "no no, its okay" - That was the end of it!"
In September, orders came for the pilots to move to Risalpur for Hurricane Conversion. No.1 Squadron had finished their conversion and it was now the turn of No.2 Squadron. As the B Flight Commander, Goyal left to Risalpur along with the first party on 7th Sept. The remaining pilots took part in Exercise JOVE which started on 9th September. The Squadron still had nine aircraft on its strength. On 14th September, four aircraft were ferried by the Squadron pilots to 321 Maintenance Unit at Mauripur.
Of the remaining aircraft with the Squadron, L4770 was written off when it crashed at Trichinopoly. The crew P/O Salahuddin and Cpl R N Sahai both injured . On 26th Sept 1942, the two last remaining Lysanders, N1299 and L4815 were handed over to No. 28 Squadron RAF.
Lysanders Operated by No.2 Squadron
|L4740||Overturned Bhopal P/O FP Amber - to 20RAF|
|L4748||w/o 3.3.42 Drigh road, bomb fell off on landing P/O KH Motishaw , Sgt A Algar|
|L4767||From 1 Sqn|
|L4770||w/o 29.4.42 Cr near Arakonam P/O Salahuddin|
|N1209||From 1 AACF - Coll with Wapiti 16.2.42 SOC 31.7.44|
|N1255||From 1 Sqn, To 1 ATU W/O 14.5.43|
|N1299||To 28 RAF , 20 RAF SOC 31.7.44|
|N1318||To 1 ATU W/O 21.10.42 at Bairagarh|
|P9176||From 1 Sqn, to ATU, SOC 31.7.44|
|P9180||From 1 Sqn, to 1 ATU , SOC 31.12.43|
|P9194||W/O 28.3.42 Cr on Ldg at Poona F/L SS Majithia|
|R2007||From 1 Sqn, To 151 OTU W/O 16.3.43|