|This unidentifed Sea Hawk is at INS Garuda , for technical training purposes. Believed to be either IN-154,IN-195 or IN-231 Pic Courtesy: Sainik Samachar|
The region of Kerala was the birthplace of Naval Aviation, with the establishment of the Indian Navy’s first Air Units at Cochin. Cochin was an RAF Airbase during World War Two, and several RAF and Royal Navy’s FAA Squadrons operated till the end of the war. Before its decommissioning in 1946, Several Royal Navy aircraft like the Hellcats and Avengers, were dumped in the sea off Cochin under the American Lend-Lease Plan.
Cochin was taken over by the Indian Navy again in 1953, with the formation of the INAS Garuda, and the Fleet Requirement Unit (Later INAS 550)flying the Short Sealand aircraft for the Navy. From then till the shifting of the Naval Aviation centre to Dabolim in Goa, several aircraft like the Firefly, HT-2 , Vampires, Kirans, Islanders etc were used from this airfield.
Cochin throws up a surprise once in a while. There is atleast one Seahawk on display within Cochin town. As discovered by our correspondent Kapil. Recently for the Vikrant exhibition during Navy Week 2001, technicians from Cochin contributed an Alize aircraft restored by them in conjunction with HAL. It is believed that other aircraft like the Fairey Firefly are also available but information has not been made public.
Another pleasant discovery in 2001 was the fishing out of a World War 2 Chancevought F-4U Corsair wreckage by fishermen. Officials from INAS Garuda inspected and identified the wreck.
A Photo appeared in the Armed Forces Journal, Sainik Samachar. The present status of the wreck is not known, but is believed to be in INAS Garuda.