On this day 41 years ago, fighter aircraft took off from the INS Vikrant to pound Chittagong Port in what was then East Pakistan after hostilities broke out between India and Pakistan. But did you know that one of those fighters has been leading a retired life in Thiruvananthapuram for years, rarely remembered at anniversaries of the 1971 War?
A Hawker Sea Hawk of the Indian Navy, on display at the Jawahar Balbhavan at Vellayambalam, was one of the fighters that raced off the Vikrant’s runway on December 4, 1971, to attack Chittagong in modern-day Bangladesh.
But as the nation observes the 41st anniversary of the ‘71 War, this veteran receives barely a second glance even though thousands pass by it every day.
The small blue and white plane is coated with a thick patina of dust, and a small sign board in front of it reads; ‘In 1971 Indo-Pak War the A/C was launched from INS Vikrant for attack on Chittagong Port.’ Chittagong was where the naval power of Pakistan was concentrated in the Eastern theatre of the war, the reason why India’s lone aircraft carrier targeted it with her fighter fleet. The air strikes kept up till December 10.
The Sea Hawk was rigged with four 40 mm guns, and its ‘consignment’ consisted of two 1,000-pound and four 500- pound bombs and 24 rockets. It was a sub-sonic aircraft, flying below the speed of sound, but could reach a maximum height of 40,000 feet.
The Navy donated the plane to the Jawahar Balbhavan some years ago, and the latter has been maintaining it since then.