September 30, 2022

The AFA has a rare example of one of the prototype models of the HJT-16 Kiran. The Kiran [U-328] was the second prototype flown by HAL while designing a Jet trainer for the IAF in the Sixites. This particular aircraft differed significantly in terms of external appearance in the forward and mid fuselage sections. The major noticeable difference was the provision of a sliding canopy to the early prototypes which was later changed to one that hinged upwards.

Click to Enlarge HAL HJT-16 Kiran [U-328] displayed on a pylon near the ATC Tower.
This view of the HAL HJT-16 Kiran [U-328] clearly shows the different shape of the cockpit canopy and the fuselage aft of the cockpit. Once the Sliding Canopy was changed to the Hinged version, the fuselage curved down immediately aft of the canopy hinge. There are not ejection seats in the aircraft as can be seen thru the cockpit canopy. Pic Courtesy AVM S Bhojwani.
Click to Enlarge The front three quarter view shows the mounting pylong for the aircraft. Significantly larger than the Gnat, This is the only known aircraft other than the Mystere to be so displayed in India.

U-328 was initially displayed in front of the ATC building near the main runway. When first observed in 1989 (Note the aircraft may have been in the academy much before that) it was displayed on a platform. Later it was mounted on a pylon near the War Memorial. The Last time we visited the AFA, it was moved away from the ramp to an area near the ATC Building. It was displayed in the flying position on a pole.

Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge
U-328 as seen from the rear. The aircraft is not level but has one wing dip towards the road. Notice the wing fences and Yellow wingtips to represent the current painting scheme of Kirans in the AFA.

Not much has been required or had been done in terms of restoration or maintainance apart from painting the aircraft in current scheme of other Kirans in the AFA. No history of the aircraft is known, apart from the fact that the initial prototype was numbered U-327. This aircraft could have been the second prototype of the Kiran to have been flown by the HAL.

Interestingly a photograph of the same aircraft had cropped up on the internet at this link : http://www.highgallery.com/IndiaAircraft.html The link was sent in by Aditya Gupta of Delhi and it shows U-328 in plain metal finish and on display at some sort of a museum. No information as to the circumstances behind the above picture are known.

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