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Old 4th December 2014, 21:29   #31
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

A really nice write-up.

A not so distant memory - I did my final year thesis on EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems) and my first study was the Steam assisted systems that are / were used in aircraft carriers.
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Old 7th December 2014, 21:02   #32
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by vivekgk View Post
There is an airframe of a Seahawk displayed at Kanakakkunnu, near the Museum at Thiruvananthapuram.
Dear vivekgk, the airframe at Kanakakkunnu is airframe number IN174. Just out of interest it was bought by us second hand (pre-worshipped!!) from the Royal Navy in 1961 and modernized up to the definitive Mark VI. It served in 1971 and survived in operational flying till 1978 when the Seahawks were retired off INS Vikrant. I am glad you enjoyed the article. The next one in January will be on the Marut HF-24. - Narayan

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A not so distant memory - I did my final year thesis on EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems) and my first study was the Steam assisted systems that are / were used in aircraft carriers.
Dear Mad Max, it would be most interesting to read a brief on your findings of launching aircraft using EMALS. I have often wondered by no Air Force in the world uses catapults or arrested recovery to operate from easily camouflaged mini-airstrips and thus save themselves from 8000 feet long runways that are so vulnerable to enemy attack.
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Old 8th December 2014, 11:36   #33
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
Dear Mad Max, it would be most interesting to read a brief on your findings of launching aircraft using EMALS. I have often wondered why no Air Force in the world uses catapults or arrested recovery to operate from easily camouflaged mini-airstrips and thus save themselves from 8000 feet long runways that are so vulnerable to enemy attack.
A question that I've always had too. The answers that I gave to myself are -

1. A smaller runway is still easily visible from the air and thus more or less equally vulnerable to aerial attacks. In fact a normal runway destroyed by runway busters can be quickly repaired with filling and resurfacing. Whereas the catapult system will be more complicated to get back into action.

2. The catapult system is mainly usable only for a limited size and payload carrying fighters / multirole aircraft. Certainly it cannot serve larger cargo planes, tankers etc. Since the forward airfields are always multi purpose and not dedicated for fighter operations, it won't be feasible to have CATOBAR.

3. Money...
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Old 9th December 2014, 19:07   #34
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by Reinhard View Post
A question that I've always had too. The answers that I gave to myself are -

1. A smaller runway is still easily visible from the air and thus more or less equally vulnerable to aerial attacks. In fact a normal runway destroyed by runway busters can be quickly repaired with filling and resurfacing. Whereas the catapult system will be more complicated to get back into action.

2. The catapult system is mainly usable only for a limited size and payload carrying fighters / multirole aircraft. Certainly it cannot serve larger cargo planes, tankers etc. Since the forward airfields are always multi purpose and not dedicated for fighter operations, it won't be feasible to have CATOBAR.

3. Money...
To add to that, the air frame of a Cat launched - wire arrested A/c has to undergo substantial modification.
It needs a stronger undercarriage (an arrested landing is effectively a controlled crash), which will add a weight penalty to the aircraft.

A CAT launch does not make the aircraft take off - if you observe videos of aircraft launching off carriers, you will see that they continue to fly almost parallel to the deck for a few feet at which they are actually flying almost 100 feet of the 'sea', meaning that there is enough lift created on the aircraft to fly. So if you are CAT launching an aircraft on ground, you will need to create that Gap (maybe launch of the lip of a cliff?).

The carrier will always turn 'into the wind' to generate more lift and increase speed. The Windspeed at that time will determine how much the aircraft can be loaded. Most aircraft which are keep ready to fly will be loaded with the minimal loads to launch immediately in case a threat is detected. However for planned ops, if an aircraft is flying 'heavy' the airspeed is important. I don't think this can be replicated on ground, unless you are using a turntable, in which case you will also have to turn the 'cliff'.
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Old 9th December 2014, 20:51   #35
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

Here are my thoughts on this land based catapult, something I've thought for a long time-

What if we had such catapult systems in the Himalayas, for instance and we store jets there. In case of war breaking out, the jets are in the air in seconds.

They can land in any airport once the mission is done. Thus they need not be carrier type jets which have special landing gear.

The Israelis have tanks which are specially stored with fuel and packing that keeps them in perfect condition for years and years. What of we could keep some Mig21 s this way?

Pakistan and China would not know what hit them :-)
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Old 9th December 2014, 22:19   #36
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by john doe View Post

What if we had such catapult systems in the Himalayas, for instance and we store jets there. In case of war breaking out, the jets are in the air in seconds.
The Swiss actually do something like this. They store fighters in large man made caves complete with overhead cranes to bodily move the aircraft around. The caves with armoured doors are next to the runways (which are conventional).
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Old 9th December 2014, 23:27   #37
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by john doe View Post
Here are my thoughts on this land based catapult, something I've thought for a long time-

What if we had such catapult systems in the Himalayas, for instance and we store jets there. In case of war breaking out, the jets are in the air in seconds.

They can land in any airport once the mission is done. Thus they need not be carrier type jets which have special landing gear.

The Israelis have tanks which are specially stored with fuel and packing that keeps them in perfect condition for years and years. What of we could keep some Mig21 s this way?

Pakistan and China would not know what hit them :-)
Not sure if the Mig21 will be able to take that stress on the airframe (launching is also stressful, accelarating from 0-250+ kmph in 2-3 seconds.) In addition to that the air will be rare at that level - needing more thrust initially to even take off. Tanks have diesels (Merkava/T-series) which can be kept in limbo for months as long as you have a battery for starting it. An aircraft engine needs constant upkeep in additing to the multiple LRU's.
Cheaper and more effective options is to base something like Nirbhay CM's or Brahmos in the mountains. Aircraft also have high RCS, which make them vulnerable to attack by SAM's in the mountains where their performance - is degraded to an extent.
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Old 10th December 2014, 23:09   #38
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

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Originally Posted by zteg View Post
Great read. Thanks for sharing....

Those of you interested can google operation trident or the sinking of PNS Ghazi. It is a great read which gives you a proud feeling
007, INS Vikrant & PNS Ghazi

The story of the Seahawks is inter-twined with the saga of INS Vikrant. And INS Vikrant's destiny was tied up with PNS Ghazi. For those on Team BHP who are in their 50s and more and those who are keen on military history this story may be familiar. For the other brothers and sisters on Team BHP this could be a chapter worth reading. In the months preceding the war in December 1971 the enemy (ie Pakistan) were obsessed with the whereabouts of INS Vikrant and were determined to sink her as soon as hostilities broke out. An aircraft carrier by definition is a weapon of sea dominance and the Pakistani's were right in wanting to knock her out. The Indian Navy sailed their capital ship to Chennai and made her presence very visible there. The US embassy in India flew their ambassador's business jet from Delhi to Chennai ostensibly on routine diplomatic visit. It was piloted by a US naval officer whose one job was to overfly the docks while landing and confirm Vikrant was alongside. The American business jet then surprisingly sprang a maintenance fault and had to be grounded at Chennai for a few weeks while repairs and 'test flights' were conducted all confirming that the old girl with a flat top was resting in Chennai. The Indians conscious of what was afoot played along. You get only half a guess to know whom the Yankees were helping.


The Pakistanis deployed out their long range submarine PNS Ghazi to Chennai to lie there in wait for INS Vikrant. Ghazi arrived on November 23rd, 1971 and settled down 10 nautical miles outside Chennai harbour - close enough to torpedo a warship and far enough to be in waters deeper than 30 fathoms (180 feet) needed for safe submarine operations. In the meantime Vice Admiral Krishnan the Flag Officer of the Eastern Naval Command deployed INS Rajput [a soon to be scrapped WW2 destroyer] with the unenviable job of sailing from Chennai to Vizag sending deceptive signals pretending she was Vikrant. The idea being that the enemy's radio interception and direction finding stations will track the sailing. Radio operators from INS Vikrant were parked on INS Rajput and at Vizag -- because we knew that the enemy recognized the individual radio tapping style of each radio operator of Vikrant -- better to say we made sure they knew. Once in Vizag INS Rajput started signaling for aircraft ammo, aviation fuel, tons of meat and similar logistics that could mean only one ship in Asian Navies. The ruse worked and PNS Ghazi which had reached Chennai days before the war was ordered by Pakistan Naval HQ to sail on to Vizag and lie in wait there.


By 2nd December PNS Ghazi sat in wait outside Vizag. Lying quiet by day and laying mines by night astride Vizag's narrow harbour entrance. INS Rajput which had by then completed her task of 'ruse de guerre' was sent off on 3rd December night to patrol off the East Pakistan coast. Her Captain noticed a large patch of disturbed water as he exited Vizag - the kind of disturbance in calm waters when a large object like a submarine dives. He dropped two rounds of depth charges, swept the area by sonar, waited to hear a sonar contact, received none and sailed on. A few hours later the same night there was a terrific muffled explosion under the sea and that was it. First light next morning the navy investigated with divers and found PNS Ghazi sunk. Fishermen recovered a life vest of Ghazi. She sank on the night of 3rd-4th December, 1971. The Indian Navy's investigation revealed that one of the mines she was trying to lay exploded while still inside the torpedo tube while being ejected or hydrogen from her batteries had built up inside the vessel leading to the explosion. PNS Ghazi's log book, navigation records and signal records were recovered largely intact. One signal read "Reliable intelligence indicates carrier in port. Proceed to Vishakhapatnam with all despatch". Clearly the ruse had worked. INS Vikrant meanwhile had quietly sailed to the Andaman Islands a week before the war and steamed up to East Pakistan by the time Pakistan commenced hostilities on 3rd December.


The Ghazi's crew of 92 men are on what submariners call the eternal patrol. They died 55 metres under the sea. Across the fog and hatred of war we could call them brave young men who died doing their duty as they saw it. INS Vikrant as you know, from this article, went on to dominate the waters off East Pakistan.


There are many versions of this episode on the internet with bombastic claims by arm chair warriors from both side. The above is the way it is described in the Indian Navy's official history of that period. The Indian Navy does not accept claims by some that PNS Ghazi was sunk by us but instead that she hung from her own petard. Our ruse led her to her grave. The shattered hull of PNS Ghazi has now slid into the mud of the seabed and is completely buried.

Photo of PNS Ghazi
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Last edited by V.Narayan : 10th December 2014 at 23:18.
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Old 25th December 2014, 13:40   #39
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

Sir, thank you very much for sharing a piece of Indian Naval history. The pictures you shared brought a big smile to my face.

The INS Vikrant is close to my heart as my Dad served on it in the 1970s as the XO. As a young boy I still remember being in awe of the size and expanse of the deck. In those days the Vikrant did not have the incline/ramp which IIRC was added in the 1980s.

In addition to the fond memories of the ship many of the officers you mention were my father's colleagues and friends. In turn their children were school friends with my younger brother and me. Some of us grew up together in various postings across the country and abroad. We remain in touch even today.
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Old 6th February 2015, 22:06   #40
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Default Re: Indian Aviation - Hawker Seahawk with the Indian Navy

The Rolls-Royce Nene that powered the Seahawk is a 1940s British centrifugal compressor turbojet engine. With a thrust of 5000 lbs force (or lbf) ~ 2268 kgf it was the most powerful engine of its era. Designed by the legendary Sir Stanley Hooker the Nene was designed and built in an astonishingly short five-month period in 1944, first running on 27 October 1944. Interestingly it went on to power British, French , American and Russian jet fighters of the 1940s and 1950s - the only jet engine to have served on both sides in the cold war era. Other than the British Seahawk (the subject of this article) it powered the French Dassault Ouragan, the widely used American Grumman Panther F9 and interestingly (in a modified form) the Soviet Mig-15. The Indian Navy was the last major user of the Rolls Royce Nene though the modified Russian version flew on in Mig-15 derived trainers till the mid-1990s.

Sir Stanley Hooker was a brilliant engine designer who designed in simplicity and longevity into his designs. His last engine design the Olympus powered the Concorde and is still in service today in warships (as a marine gas turbine) 55 years after he first tested it!!

The Nene is a centrifugal type turbojet ie its compressor is of the centrifugal type as depicted in the diagramme below.

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The centrifugal compressor sucks in air and compresses it. As the air is directed outwards at high speeds it is redirected through chambers to stay in line with the axis of thrust. Fuel is fired, through the combustion chambers, into this high speed, hot and compressed air. The resultant hot high speed mass of air flowing (literally exploding) backwards forms the thrust to propel the aircraft forwards. Some of this kinetic energy is absorbed back through a turbine fitted in the exhaust to run the centrifugal compressor (similar in principle to a turbo-charger in the internal combustion car engine)


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Left to right: Nene cutaway shows - (a) Centrifugal compressor, (b) single shaft on which were mounted both the compressor and turbine that drove the compressor, (c) combustion chambers, (d) turbine



The video link below explains in simple and lucid way how the Nene worked.




Technical Specifications of the Nene:

Length: 8' 1"

Diameter: 4' 2"

Dry weight: 1,600 lb (726 kg)

Compressor: 1-stage double-sided centrifugal compressor

Combustors: 9 combustion chambers

Maximum thrust: 5,000 lbf (2268 kgf) at 12,300 rpm at sea level for take-off

Specific fuel consumption: 1.06 lb/lbf/hr = 40kgs/hour at full power and 29 kgs/hour at cruise

Thrust-to-weight ratio: 3.226 kg force/kg of weight


Interestingly a decade later in the mid-1950s Hooker designed the Orpheus turbojet generating exactly the same thrust but weighing half as much at 379 kgs ie almost doubling the power to weight ratio in 10 years.



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Sir Stanley Hooker (1907 - 1984)
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Old 29th June 2015, 18:44   #41
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I keep coming back to this thread expecting for some more information about our Defense Forces. The post about PNS Ghazi is so interesting. One wrong move, and the countrys existence can be threatened. I can only imagine the sheer brilliance and bravery of the Men who took bold decisions, and also the men who carried out these decisions with perfection.

I Thank you for sharing this information. As a civilian with no connections with the Forces, I always found it to be an impossible task to get a glimpse of the Men and the Machines that protect our country. I never miss the Navy Day Celebrations in Mumbai because one gets to see the action standing with the crowd near The Taj Mahal Hotel. I wish to see a Submarine once, I know there is a museum at Vishakhapatnam and I so wish to visit it ASAP. I am a huge Submarine Enthusiast, i think it has more technology per sq meter than probably a satellite, and the Men and Women who operate them are worth admiration. I have watched most of the movies on Submarines and my favorites are "K - 19" and "U - 571".

Please do share more information about Submarines if you can, I will be very grateful.

Jai Hind
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Old 30th June 2015, 17:43   #42
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Originally Posted by Dieselritzer View Post
I keep coming back to this thread expecting for some more information about our Defense Forces. The post about PNS Ghazi is so interesting. One wrong move, and the countrys existence can be threatened. I can only imagine the sheer brilliance and bravery of the Men who took bold decisions, and also the men who carried out these decisions with perfection.

Please do share more information about Submarines if you can, I will be very grateful.
Dear Dieselritzer, Thank you for reading the article.


The man responsible for the strategy and deception of the Eastern Seaboard partially described in post #38 was Vice Admiral Nilakantan Krishnan (1919-1982). He was of course very intelligent and he was a risk taker. He served in World War II and was awarded the DSC (Distinguished Service Cross). He wrote a book 'A Sailor Remembers'. I met him once as a teenager and got completely tongue tied and overawed.
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Vice Admiral N.Krishnan, Chief of the Eastern naval Command in 1971

The person who commanded INS Vikrant in 1971 was Captain Swaraj Prakash. He was a man with nerves of steel, no bombast, no bragging. My father served under him in war and was always praise for Captain Prakash's cool headedness and soft words in a crises.
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Captain Swaraj Prakash, Commding Officer of INS Vikrant in December 1971. He later rose to be a Vice Admiral.

Whenever we look on dismay at the politicians and bureaucrats that abound in our country we can remind ourselves that another breed also lives amongst us.

Last edited by V.Narayan : 30th June 2015 at 17:45. Reason: punctuation
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Old 2nd July 2015, 19:46   #43
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Originally Posted by vivekgk View Post
There is an airframe of a Seahawk displayed at Kanakakkunnu, near the Museum at Thiruvananthapuram. I used to stare at it whenever I went near it. And about fifteen years ago, the compound was opened to the public, and I was able to get up to the old lady and touch her. It was a fantastic experience.
Have sweet memories of the Seahawk described above. When we were kids and attending vacation classes at Jawahar Balabhavan, my friend and I used to climb on the aircraft from the tail section near which the ground was elevated and crawl our way to the front to take a peak at the cockpit. How we loved that aircraft. Sadly the authorities are not maintaining it properly.

@ V.Narayanan : A big salute from an ex- Army NCC Cadet.

regards adrian

Last edited by adrian : 2nd July 2015 at 19:48.
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Old 2nd July 2015, 22:15   #44
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Have sweet memories of the Seahawk described above. When we were kids and attending vacation classes at Jawahar Balabhavan, my friend and I used to climb on the aircraft from the tail section near which the ground was elevated and crawl our way to the front to take a peak at the cockpit. How we loved that aircraft. Sadly the authorities are not maintaining it properly.

... A big salute from an ex- Army NCC Cadet.
Adrian, that particular machine in Thiruvananthapuram is tail number IN 174. this aircraft was manufactured originally for the Royal Navy in around (my guess) 1955-56 as a Mk 3 which was the first fighter-bomber mark. It was bought second hand by the Indian Navy and refurbished up to FB.Mk 6 by the British and served with us till it was retired in 1978. This machine is a survivor. Of the 32 aircraft purchased initially with the acquisition of the old INS Vikrant only 6 survived till 1978 when Sea Hawk operations ceased. Poor maintenance sadly is a symbol of our municipal services.
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Old 23rd September 2015, 10:34   #45
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HI, i read in todays news paper that a movie will be made on the PNS Ghazi incident. I dont think there is any Indian origin Submarine movie till date, so it should be interesting. There are so many untold stories, movies can be a great medium for the world to know about it.
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