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
“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.
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.
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.
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