|This picture of the Canberra B(I)58 [IF-908] at the Shri ShivajiPreparatory Military school (SSPMS) was taken in 1994. It shows the dilapidated condition of the aircraft quite in detail. Pic Courtesy : Ralph Lunt|
This Canberra was first reported by Aditya Vaze of IIT. He mentioned that it was at the Shivaji Preparatory Military school in Pune. The SSPMS was located on Kennedy Road, also known as the Bund Road on the backside of the Pune Railway Station.
The WoI Team went and found that the Canberra was there, and in a unique paint scheme. However the serial number info was not there, but it was in a noticeably better condition. This was in 2000 or so. Later Lloyd Robinson of UK too visited the Canberra later and found that the last part of the serial to be '08', leading us to conclude that this aircraft was actually IF-908.
(late) Les Bywaters, who maintained a website on the Canberra has commented that IF-908 was one of the Canberras that formed the IAF detachment with the UN Contingent in Congo, the ONUC as it was known. That makes this warbird a combat veteran in the IAF's first Jet operations after Independence.
|The Canberra after receiving its new paint scheme. Note that its the same color and scheme as the MiG-21Bis at Lohegaon Airbase. The Glass Canopy and Bombaimer's window seemed to have been treated for weathering. Pic Courtesy : Kapil Chandni|
More information on the aircraft came when Ralph Lunt of UK sent us the picture of the Canberra taken in 1994. The aircraft seemed to be in a dilapidated condition with the paint faded and the bombaimer's glass nose broken. These seemed to have been covered and painted over in the latest photo.
Ralph says "I can confirm that the Canberra in the School in Pune is indeed IF908. However, the wings were marked F1188 when I saw the aircraft in 1994 . This serial does not fit any of the known batches of IAF Canberras".
Though earlier we have agreed with Ralph that there was no aircraft with the number F1188, a check at our records (in 2006) reveals that this could be a B(I)12 bought second hand from the New Zealand Air Force in November 1980. The aircraft in that series were numbered F1183 - F1190 . Moreover the B(I)12 is nothing but a B(I)58 with an auto pilot and a modified navigation kit added by BAe before delivery to New Zealand.
Inspite of its dilapidated condition and the rather weird paint scheme, it seems there was good news in store for the aircraft. In December 2003, an Air Force Team from Lohegaon worked on the aircraft, giving it a fresh coat of blue-grey paint and building a chain link fence around the aircraft. The aircraft now looks definitely better and is now a visual treat to anyone passing by the Bund Road.