Hawker Hunter BA-237 on display near the Vijay Stambh on Jaisalmer Air Field. Pic Courtesy : Jagan Pillarisetti and Kaleido India
Jaisalmer is located nearly 250km from Jodhpur in a North Westerly direction. It rose to fame in the 1971 War, when it was the staging airbase for the Hunters that decimated a Pakistani Tank thrust at Longewala. At that time the airfield was less than an year old, and had a fleet of four Hunter F56s and two Hunter T66s operating. Today, its a major Air Base, home to 41st Wing, with a huge runway and a network of shelters. ers operating from the Jaisalmer base blunted the offensive of the Pakistani army. From its humble beginings, this airfield was developed into a fullfledged Airforce Station.
Compared to other airbases, Jaisalmer does not look busy. In the middle of the airfield is a small area marked as ‘Vijay Stambh’ (Victory Pillar). Flanking the Pillar on one side is a Hawker Hunter F56 serialled BA-237. The Hunter is displayed on metal trestles fabricated to keep the wheels off the ground and overall looks quite well maintained.
There was a Pakistani Sherman Tank that was captured in this sector on display near the Vijay Stambh. However sometime in the early 2001 or so, a visiting Top Brass saw the memorial and reportedly blew his top. Enemy trophies are not to be displayed with war memorials he thundered ,and they bloody well move the tank out of the Memorial area to elsewhere. Now for an Army unit with a number of EME Assets to move ‘A’ Cat Vehicles, its would be childs play. But when you are an airforce unit with tractors to move aircraft around, moving a rusted tank that has not moved for three decades is easier said than done. However much to thier credit, and after much huffing and puffing, the tank was moved away from the memorial to another area facing the runway.
Jaisalmer town is situated right in the shadow of Jaisalmer fort. One of the important streets in the town is Sam Road. A HF-24 Marut [D 1237]is displayed on Sam Road. This aircraft is not in a good condition. as can be seen from the photographs of Marcel de Jong who was on an aircraft spotting trip to India.
However it is believed that over an year back, the aircraft was shifted to the modest town museum. Recently Hans van Herk had visited Jaisalmer and reported that the aircraft was now painted in Silver dope. The serial however is still visible thru the silver paint.
|HAL HF-24 Marut
|Jaisalmer Town Museum
|Jaisalmer Air Base