September 29, 2022

Warbird Discovery of the Year 2001
This aircraft was no ordinary HPT-32 , but a very rare vintage Percival Prentice. Our doubts about the aircraft were cleared as we saw the pictures of the tail section. ...

Warbird Discovery of the Year 2001
Percival Prentice

“There’s a wrecked HPT-32 at Chennai” was the message that Vijay Reddy once sent me. He went on to write that the HPT-32, probably got wrecked sometime back and was bought here and dumped. We would not have given a second glance if the pictures of the wrecked HPT-32 were sent, but when Vijay sent in the actual pictures, we stood up and listened!

This aircraft was no ordinary HPT-32 , but a very rare vintage Percival Prentice. Our doubts about the aircraft were cleared as we saw the pictures of the tail section. Vijay also sent in a picture of an identification plate that sealed any doubts we had. This was one of the rare original Prentices manufactured by HAL in the late 40s. The date on the Identification plate mentions August ’51 as a probable date of manufacture for this aircraft.

Dumped among the shrubs and creepers the classic lines of the Percival Prentice can only be just made out. The aircraft has severe damage to the control surfaces including the Ailerons and Elevators. Pic Courtesy : Vijay Simha Reddy
Surprisingly the cockpit frame and structure is intact and the metal skin too is in good conditions with little sign of corrossion for an aircraft exposed to the elements for years. The front two piece windscreen is very much evident in this picture. Pic Courtesy : Vijay Simha Reddy Click to Enlarge

Vijay made enquiries as to how this derelict ended up here, but came out with no information at all. The basic fuselage looks quite intact. The engine of the aircraft is missing. The Cockpit canopy frame is pretty intact. obviously the fixed undercarraige was missing. some of the control surfaces seemed to have been damaged badly.

Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge
The tail surfaces leading edge is a give away as far as the identity of the aircraft is concerned. There is no Serial Number or markings to help us trace its lineage. The picture on the right shows the amount of shrubbery and vegetation that almost obscures the Prentice from public view. Note also the damaged eleveator surfaces. Pic Courtesy : Vijay Simha Reddy

HAL had manufactured only about 66 of these trainers which were supplied to the IAF as the basic trainer in the fifties. Most of them equipped the Air Force Flying College at Jodhpur.

Click to Enlarge And Identification plate atlast! The ID plate confirms that the Prentice was one of those manufactured by HAL in the 50s. The date given as 22 August 51. About 66 Prentices were manufactured by HAL in its Bangalore plant. Pic Courtesy : Vijay Simha Reddy

Since only one other example is surviving in India (in the IAF Museum), This aircraft would make a pretty good candidate for restoration. Its a tough task, but a static restoration should cost anywhere between 1000 to 1500 USD, provided its current owners are willing to let the aircraft undergo restoration instead of getting rusted away!

The rarity of this aircraft has lead us Warbirds of India team to give Vijay Simha Reddy the “Warbird Discovery of the Year 2001” Award – which is a non-existant award right now, but which we hope to make it real some day and send to him! So bear (Or have beer) with us Vijay

Updated 2007: We came good on our promise and treated Vijay to his beer a few years later

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