Folland / HAL Gnat

India was the only bulk user of the Folland / HAL Gnat fighter in its single seat variant. Inducted in the late 50s, the Gnat saw more than thirty years of service before being phased out in the early 90s. In the course of their phasing out a few number of them found their way into collections abroad. None of the Gnats that are outside India are flyers. All of them without exception are displayed as static exhibits.

Noted Warbird Collector Dave Talichet had acquired atleast five Gnat airframes through his warbird company Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation (MARC). One of the aircraft was E-1076 which was donated to the March Field Museum for display at the March Air Force Base in California. Initially displayed in IAF plain aluminium finish, this aircraft was repainted in the Red Arrows Scheme, but still carries the IAF Serial number on its fuselage.

Paul Nann had also contributed this photograph of Folland Gnat E 1076 at the March Field Air Museum in the California, USA. Photo Courtesy: Paul Nann

Click to Enlarge (Photo Courtesy : Paul Nann)
Click to Enlarge The Aircraft has since been repainted in the red colors of Britain's Red Arrows aerobatic team. An inaccurate depiction as the Red Arrows never flew the F.1, as this model is known. But the two seater T.1 Variant. Photo Courtesy: World Militair Site[John Hamilton]

The other Gnat [E-1222] was given to the Mid America Air Museum at Liberal in Kansas State in the United States. The Museum's Restoration Chief Frank Young had to build a replacement tail for the Gnat from drawings and photographs supplied by the original manufacturer HAL from Bangalore. E-1222 is now preserved in IAF colors at the Museum. Though it is not known for sure, it is believed E-1222 were originally IE-1222 at one point of time.

Some airframes are lying in the aircraft boneyard at the airfield in Chino, California. A Picture was published in the 1992 Book California High: Warbirds of the West Coast that showed five Gnats in a dismantled and stored condition at David Tallichet's compound. Two of the aircraft can be identified as E-296 and IE-1214.

HAL Gnat E 1222 as displayed in IAF colors at the Mid America Air Museum in Kansas. Photo Courtesy MAAM

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Click to Enlarge HAL Gnats E-296, IE-1214 are found in David Tallichet's compound at Chino Airfield in California. Photo Courtesy : Windrow and Greene Ltd

During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, A Folland Gnat (IE 1083) of No.23 Squadron strayed into Pakistan and landed at Pasrur airbase. This Gnat was recovered intact and in flying condition by the Pakistani Air Force and was thoroughly tested. The same aircraft is now on display at the PAF Museum in Karachi. This Gnat was one of the original 23 sent by Folland to India.

Folland Gnat IE 1083 is on display at the PAF Museum Karachi. This aircraft was retained as a war trophy after the Indian pilot forcelanded at a Pakistani Airfield by mistake during the 1965 India Pakistan War. Photo Courtesy PAF Museum Click to Enlarge

In 2000, When the Indian Air Force Chief visited Bangladesh, he presented three aircraft to the BAF. One of the aircraft was a Gnat that had taken part in the Bangladesh Conflict. The Current Location of the Gnat is not known but its either at the Bashar AFB or with the Liberation War Museum in Dacca.

List of Folland/HAL Gnats and Ajeets overseas

Serial No Owner / Operated By Location Remarks on Current Markings and Status
E296 David Tallichet, Chino, CA USA Stored
E1214 David Tallichet, Chino, CA USA Stored
E1222 Mid America Air Museum, KS USA Displayed in IAF Colors
E1076 March Air Field Air Museum, CA USA Red Arrows Scheme, still has IAF Serial Number
IE1083 Pakistan Air Force Museum , Karachi Pakistan displayed in IAF colors
E???? Bangladesh Air Force Bangladesh BAF Museum, Tezgaon

 

Additional information