February 22, 2024
The DHC-3 Otter is a rarity - and only one exists in its entirity.. here

The De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter was a rugged and tested light transport aircraft that was inducted into the IAF in 1962. The aircraft, a single engined tail dragger was the last piston engined transport to be operated by the Indian Air Force. When in service, it was flown by two squadrons in the Indian Air Force. The first squadron to be raised on them took on their name and were known as No.41 ‘Otters’ Squadron. About forty or so aircraft had been procured by the IAF and had been used extensively in the North Eastern states for supply duties.

The De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter IM-1057 seen outside the Diamond Jubilee Museum in Kalaikunda Air Force Station.

The aircraft were phased out in the early 90s, with both the squadrons reequipping with the Dornier 228 Light transport aircraft. Since the DHC-3 Otter was a very much sought aircraft in Canada and other parts of the world, most of the phased out aircraft were sold by auction.

The only survivor that has come to notice till date was the example preserved in Kaliakunda Air Force Station. Similar to the Devon, the Indian Air Force Museum does not have an example of this aircraft, but luckily for it, somehow IM-1057 had survived here. The aircraft is part of the collection displayed at the Diamond Jubilee Museum in Kalaikunda.

Click to Enlarge The aircraft is in a bad state. This view shows the missing cowling panel on the nose as well as the starboard aileron which is broken and hanging. The tail wheel of the aircraft is actually pivoted forward.
A close up of the front fuselage shows the unimaginative painting that was carried out on the aircraft. The front cockpit door window pane is missing and the fuselage door is ajar. Click to Enlarge

The aircraft’s appearance in the photographs is not much to write about. the entire aircraft has been painted the standard Air Force Issue Grey paint from head to toe, leaving apart the tires. The propeller which is painted black with yellow tips has also been painted gray, as is the hub. The windows of the aircraft appear to be broken. and its flying control surfaces seem broken and hanging.

Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge
The aircraft is still quite intact and it is believed that it can be restored with minimal effort. Apparently even the windshield panes have been painted without proper masking, as can be seen in these two pictures.

The aircraft was first noticed in the early 2000s by Photographers Phil Camp and Simon Watson. At that time the aircraft had the number ‘DJ-32’ painted on its fuselage. Phil checked up the construction number of the Otter and it matched the serial number of IM-1057. Since then after the aircraft had been repainted , no distinguishing marks have been left on the aircraft.

Click to Enlarge Simon Watson took this photograph of the Otter during his visit to KKD. The aircraft at that time retained its original two-tone white-grey paint scheme. Its unfortunate that the powers to be decided to dab the aircraft in “Tipnis Grey”. Note the derelict An-32 in the background which was part of the museum collection. The An-32 was later removed from the location and its fate is not known.

The Otter at Kalaikunda is unique, one cant but hope that its maintenance and upkeep will be improved, providing a longer life for the sole remaining example of a complete Otter.

2015 Update:  The Otter was last noted in this location in January 2011. It went missing from its location after that date. Sometime after November 2013, An Otter was noted at the Shillong Landing Ground, in front of the EAC HQ. It appears that IM-1057 was moved to Shillong and re-painted and restored for display.

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