No. 1 Squadron IAF

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No. 1 Squadron
No. 1 Squadron badge
Crest of No. 1 Squadron
Active 1 April 1933 – present
Role Air superiority
Precision Strike
Interdiction
Base AFS Gwalior
Nickname(s) Tigers
Motto Ekta Mein Shakti
(Hindi: "Strength in Unity")
Engagements Hur's Operations NWFP
Burma Campaign
Operation Polo
Western Air War, 1965
Liberation War, 1971
Commanders
Current
commander
Wing Commander H. A. Rather
Notable
commanders
Subroto Mukerjee
Dilbagh Singh
Insignia
Identification
symbol
A Royal Bengal Tiger
Aircraft flown
Attack Mirage 2000

No. 1 Squadron (The Tigers) is the oldest squadron of the Indian Air Force. It operates as an multirole (air superiority, precision strike, and electronic warfare) unit. Based at Gwalior AFB, No. 1 Squadron falls under the Central Air Command, and along with No. 7 Squadron (Battle Axes), No. 9 Squadron (Wolf Pack), and "TACDE", forms a part of 40 Wing of the Indian Air Force.

Formation of No.1 Squadron[edit]

No. 1 Squadron was raised on 1 April 1933 at Drigh Road, Karachi and equipped with four Westland Wapiti aircraft. The Indian element consisted of six officers and nine technicians, then known as Hawai Sepoys.

The squadron was formed on the day the Indian Air Force received its first batch of trained pilots from RAF Cranwell. The first batch of Indians at Cranwell were H. C. Sircar, Subroto Mukherjee (later Air Marshal and the first Indian Chief of the Air Staff), A. B. Awan, Bhupendra Singh, Amarjit Singh and J. N. Tandon. They had started training in 1930 and were commissioned in late 1932. Pilot Officer Tandon was too short to qualify for flying training and joined as the Equipment Officer. Flight Lieutenant C. A. Bouchier, DFC, from the RAF was the first Commanding Officer of the squadron.

The first batch were later joined by A. M. Engineer, DFC, (later Air Marshal and the Chief of the Air Staff), K. K. Majumdar, DFC & Bar, Narendra, R. H. D. Singh, Prithipal Singh, "Baba" Mehar Singh, S. N. Goyal and Arjan Singh (later Marshal of the Air Force).

The years 1933 to 1937 were basically the formative years for the squadron when it trained in its primary role of Army Co-operation from Drigh Road, Peshawar, Chaklala and Sialkot. In September 1937 the squadron was inducted into operations against hostile tribesmen in North West Frontier province. Flying Officer A. M. Engineer was "Mentioned-in-Despatches" for gallantry during this operation. Soon after Flying Officer Subroto Mukherjee was appointed flight commander of "A" Flight. By the time "B" Flight was formed and the three flights came together for the first time in Ambala, all three flight commanders were Indians. These were Flying Officers Subroto Mukherjee, A. M. Engineer and K. K. Majumdar.

On 16 March 1939 Flight Lieutenant Subroto Mukherjee took over the command of the squadron from Squadron Leader C. H. Smith, thus becoming the first Indian to command a flight, a squadron, later a station and finally, of course, the Indian Air Force itself.

On various occasions, the Indian pilots were required to carry out operations against the tribesman in the NWFP. Several times the pilots had to face the brunt of hostile fire. In 1937, Flying Officer Mehar Singh was attacking a tribal post at Shaider, when his fuel tank was hit by rifle fire. He had to crash land the Wapiti in rocky terrain and had to evade the hostile tribesman searching for them to make it back to the Army lines. On another occasion, Flying Officer Arjan Singh had to force land his Audax in tribal territory. Even he was able to evade the tribesman and make it back to safety. Squadron Leader Mukherjee on one sortie on learning that a besieged Army post was running out of ammunition, instructed his gunner to stuff their socks with the ammunition from the Lewis guns. He then flew low over, dropping the ammunition in the post and thus giving them just enough ammunition to hold out long enough to be relieved.

Second World War and the First Burma Campaign[edit]

In June 1939, the squadron was re-equipped with Hawker Hart aircraft with a few Hawker Audax aircraft on its inventory. In August 1941, the squadron was re-equipped with 12 Westland Lysander aircraft financed as a gift from the citizens of Bombay. Since then the squadron was considered to have been adopted by Bombay and became known as the Bombay Squadron. In November 1941, the squadron moved en masse for an air display to Calcutta. When they returned they picked up a wrecked Lysander of No. 28 Squadron RAF and repaired it as their 13th aircraft.

December 1941 saw the outbreak of the war in the Far East. That month, the squadron lost Pilot Officer Namgyal Paljor who undershot the runway at Peshawar and was killed. Towards the end of December, it was known that the squadron would soon move to Burma to provide support in operations against the Japanese. The ground party left for Burma in the middle of January by train. The squadron flew its Lysanders across the country towards the end of January.

On 1 February 1942 No.1 Squadron, under the command of Squadron Leader K. K. Majumdar, was moved to Toungoo in Burma to stem the Japanese offensive. The Lysanders were assigned to fly tactical reconnaissance missions. On the day of the induction, the area came under heavy air raids by the Japanese forces. But due to effective dispersal, none of the squadron's aircraft were lost.

The squadron personnel acted immediately and hung pairs of 250 lb bombs on the bomb racks slung on the modified Lysanders. On 3 February, Squadron Leader Majumdar went up in a solitary aircraft escorted by two Buffaloes of No. 67 Squadron RAF and attacked Mae-Haungsuan airfield. He dropped his bombs on a hangar containing an aircraft and came back safely. The next day, the whole squadron repeated the strike on Mae-Haungsan. On 5 February, the Tigers moved to Mingaladon airfield near Rangoon. More retaliatory strikes were launched against the principal Japanese air bases at Mae-Haungsuan, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in Thailand. The missions were flown unescorted at low-level and the results were evident from the reduced air activity the following day. The Lysander was basically an army co-operation aircraft without a bomb sight. However, the squadron pilots perfected the techniques of dive bombing and carried out pin-point attacks. On one occasion, Squadron Leader Majumdar carried out a 'Touch and Go' over an enemy airfield to prove a point to his passenger, an intelligence officer, who was refusing to believe it was an enemy airfield.

The original Burma pilots
  • S/L K. K. Majumdar (Commanding Officer)
  • F/L Prithipal Singh (Flight Commander)
  • F/L Niranjan Prasad (Flight Commander)
  • F/L Lala Rupchand (Adjutant)
  • F/L Syed Haider Raza
  • F/O Henry Runganadhan
  • F/O Rajinder Singh
  • P/O Y. V. Malse
  • P/O H. S. Ratnagar
  • P/O H. S. Moolgavkar
  • P/O Satyanarayana
  • P/O Ananthanaryana
  • P/O J. K. Deuskar (KIA February 42)
  • P/O P. S. Gill
  • P/O Nanda
  • P/O S. K. Ibrahim

After a few days in Mingaladon, Majumdar led one flight with Flight Lieutenant Prithipal Singh to Lashio to support the Chinese army operations. Flight Lieutenant Niranjan Prasad stayed back with his flight in Mingaladon. One solitary aircraft under Flight Lieutenant H. Raza went to Toungoo. Throughout the operations, the reconnaissance sorties brought important intelligence reports of troop concentrations and movements which were crucial to ground operation. Due to how well they performed, they were presented a "Gold Wing" by the Chinese.

During the entire campaign Squadron Leader K. K. Majumdar personally led his pilots on reconnaissance missions in adverse weather and over inhospitable terrain. For this exhibition of exceptional courage, leadership and fighting spirit in the face of the enemy he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the first such award to an Indian officer in World War II. Warrant Officer Harjinder Singh had improvised a wooden tail wheel that was used on the Lysanders when the spares ran out. He was awarded an MBE for his improvisation and for maintaining very high aircraft serviceability in spite of poor logistic backing.

Throughout its span of operations, the squadron lost only one Lysander during operations, piloted by Flying Officer J. K. Deuskar, when the aircraft flipped over during a landing. The gunner Sergeant Dhora was also killed. At least one Lysander was lost in Japanese bombing and another lost during a ferry flight. One of the last missions was flown on 7 March by Flying Officers Rajinder Singh and Raza. They flew two RAF pilots to Rangoon airfield to help evacuate two Hurricane fighters left behind at the airfield. The squadron handed over all but three of its Lysanders to the Burma Air Force that was newly raised.

The squadron had come back to Secunderabad in March 1942. On return from the fighting, command was taken over by Squadron Leader Subroto Mukherjee once again. In June 1942 fourteen pilots under Squadron Leader Mukerjee went to Risalpur for conversion to Hurricanes. After conversion the squadron moved south to Trichinopoly for some time.

Flight Lieutenant Henry Runganadhan was to succeed Squadron Leader Mukerjee in October 1942. However just before taking over command, he was killed in a crash. The Lockheed Hudson in which he was travelling was hit in the tail by a Hurricane which was escorting it.

Squadron Leader S. N. Goyal, another Cranwell trained officer took over command. However, there was some conflict with the British Station Commander who was ill-treating the Indian officers. There was a controversy and Goyal was posted out in August 1943 on promotion to Wing Commander rank at Air HQ. In September 1943, Squadron Leader Arjan Singh took over command.

Burma campaign[edit]

On 3 February 1944, after converting onto the Hurricane Mk IIc and mothering the raising of an additional Indian Air Force squadron, it went back to Imphal for operations against the Japanese under the command of Squadron Leader Arjan Singh. Equipped with Hurricane IIc aircraft the squadron was tasked to carry out reconnaissance missions to gauge Japanese intentions. They carried out 60 sorties in February 1944 reconnoitring the upper Chindwin area right up to the Mytkyina–Mandalay railroad. These aerial reconnaissances discovered enemy army concentrations and river crossing equipment thus giving away Japanese ground offensive plans. The information provided by these missions was later to change the whole course of the war.

During the battle for Imphal, The Tigers were tasked to provide close air support to the 17th Indian Division. The squadron provided the close air support and helped the Allied forces to break through on 14 March 1944. In the meanwhile No. 1 Squadron continued to launch counter air missions to thwart the Japanese advance. The first operational casualty occurred on 8 March, when Flying Officer Kasrani crashed after his engine caught fire due to a glycol leak.

As the squadron pilots flew dawn to dusk and at times during the night, the technicians worked to minimise the time any aircraft spent on the ground. As a result the squadron flew a record 360 sorties/530 hours during the campaign. The month of April was critical to Japanese forces as they were within the artillery fire range of Imphal. The Tigers flew 450 hours during this month to attack the Japanese. This effort sapped the enemy's strength.

The battle continued through the difficult monsoon month of May and June 1944 in spite of which the squadron flew 950 hours providing offensive support for the hard pressed 17th Indian Division and also for the 2nd Division fighting its way from Kohima to open the road to Imphal. On 22 June 1944 the Japanese siege of Imphal was finally lifted.

The Japanese defeat was turned into a rout with the squadron aircraft pursuing them through the jungles of Burma in July 1944. Advancing Allied armies subsequently found ample evidence of the destruction caused by No. 1 Squadron in its raids. Destroyed tanks, bombed transport columns, smashed guns and charred vehicles littered the road to Chindwin. The defeat at Imphal has been chronicled as the worst suffered on land in Japanese history. The air effort by No. 1 Squadron for the defence of Imphal totalled 1,034 sorties averaging 1 hour 30 minutes per sortie. By March 1945 the squadron had been in Burma continuously for 14 months, the longest for any squadron, during which it had flown 4,813 sorties totalling 7,219 hours.

For his tireless bravery, dedication, valour and unflagging enthusiasm Squadron Leader Arjan Singh was decorated with the DFC on the field personally by Lord Mountbatten. Five more officers were awarded the DFC. They were Flight Lieutenant R. Rajaram, Flying Officers A. R. Pandit, P. S. Gupta, B. R. Rao and Khemendra Nath Kak. However, at least fourteen officers lost their lives in operational losses or accidents, including Flying Officers P. S. Gupta and Khem Nath Kak, both DFCs.

The Tigers after their return from Burma continued to fly Hurricanes till November 1945 before converting to Spitfires. In a farewell message, Air Commodore Stanley Vincent, CB, DFC, Air Officer Commanding 221 Group, complimented the pilots and airmen of the squadron about their reliability as 'second to none in this world'.

The squadron was commanded by Squadron Leader Rajaram when they returned from Burma. The Tigers moved to Peshawar and remained there for the next two years. Towards the beginning of 1947, under the command of Squadron Leader Ranjan Dutt, the Tigers converted to the Hawker Tempest II fighter bomber.

Post independence[edit]

In 1947, during partition, the news that the squadron was to go as the share for the newly partitioned Pakistani Air Force was received. Accordingly the squadron assets were transferred to the Pakistan Air Force. However, there was no No. 1 Squadron in the Pakistani Air Force. The assets received by the PAF was used for a No. 5 Squadron. Though on paper, No 1 RIAF Squadron was allocated to Pakistan, it ceased to exist on 14 August 1947, as the newly born nation never continued the lineage. Thus the Tigers heritage remained exclusive to India throughout its life.

On 26 January 1953, No. 15 Squadron was renumbered as No. 1 Squadron IAF at Halwara, with Spitfires on its inventory under the command of Squadron Leader E. J. Dhatigara. Dhatighara had earlier raised No.15 Squadron in 1951 on Spitfires. He became the first post independence Commanding Officer of the Tigers.

In February, 1953 the Tigers entered the jet age when re-equipped with the de Havilland Vampire. By August 1953, No. 1 Squadron had reached its full unit establishment of 16 Vampire FB.52's.

In September 1953 Tigers moved from Halwara to Palam. With the move came a change in command, with Squadron Leader T. S. 'Timky' Brar taking over the reins of the squadron. On 3 April 1956, Squadron Leader G. D. 'Nobby' Clarke took over the command of the Tigers. The squadron continued to operate from Palam with the Vampires until it was designated to be re-equipped with the French Dassault Mystère IVA.

On 15 February, the aircraft, personnel and CO of No. 1 Squadron were redesignated No. 27 Squadron, and No.1 metamorphosed itself away at Kalaikunda as a unit to be equipped with Mystère IVA fighter bombers. Squadron Leader Dilbagh Singh took over the command of the squadron on 14 February 1957 and converted the squadron to Mystère IVA aircraft when they arrived by sea in May 1957. Squadron Leader Dilbagh Singh carried out the first supersonic dive over India on 17 May 1957 in Mystère IVA (IA-950). Kalaikunda was also the base for the newly raised No. 3 and No. 8 Squadrons equipped with the Mystère. It was in this aircraft that the Tigers were to participate in the next two operations.

Goa Liberation-Op Vijay[edit]

The squadron took part in the 1961 operation for liberation of Goa. Commanded by Squadron Leader S. Bhattacharya and equipped with Mystère IVA aircraft, the squadron operated from Santa Cruz airport. Also known as "Operation Vijay", this was the first battle for the Tigers after independence. The squadron carried out fighter sweeps and strike missions over Goa, Daman and Diu. In the face of relentless offensive air strikes, the Portuguese capitulated. Liberation of Goa was a swift operation. The squadron not only provided air superiority but also became a deterrent to force the Portuguese for an early surrender. A four aircraft mission against the Daman fort on 10 December 1961 found the traditional surrender signal fluttering on top. In spite of the short operation, Tigers had fired 586 rockets and released 176 bombs during Operation Vijay. Squadron Leader S. Bhattacharya was awarded the VM.

Operations in 1965[edit]

In 1963, the squadron had moved to Adampur, an airbase that was to remain its home for the next 17 years. When hostilities broke out in 1965 the unit was under the command of Wing Commander O. P. Taneja.

The first mission was flown on the morning of 6 September, when a strike of four Mystères attacked a railway train at Ghakker. The formation was intercepted by an F-104 Starfighter, but the aircraft came back unscathed flying at low level.

A pre-emptive air strike by Pakistan Air Force against forward air bases was carried out on the evening of 6 September. Adampur happened to be one of them. The next day the squadron was tasked to hit the PAF's main airbase of Sargodha, which housed nearly half of Pakistan's aircraft. Thus No. 1 Squadron were the first unit to fly against a PAF airfield in the war.

The first wave was to consist of twelve aircraft. However due to confusion and technical snags, Six aircraft dropped out and the remaining six were joined by a seventh Mystère which was on standby. The Mystères led by Wing Commander Taneja attacked Sargodha at 0550 hours. The Boss destroyed a large four engined aircraft with the rest of the formation strafing fighters on ORP. A Starfighter was observed burning as they exited. A patrolling Starfighter tried to intercept the Mystères and got into a dogfight with Squadron Leader Ajjamada B. Devaiah. He managed to shoot down the Starfighter, but died in the sortie. His gallantry was recognised by the IAF with a posthumous award of the Maha Vir Chakra two decades later.

The second wave against Sargodha was sent in broad daylight. Squadron Leader Sudarshan Handa led the strike which was quite successful. One F-86 was destroyed by Handa on the ground and several targets attacked by his formation members. The Mystères returned back to base successfully. Squadron Leader Handa and his Sub Section leader, Flight Lieutenant D. M. S. Kahai, were both awarded the Vir Chakra for this mission. A third strike against Sargodha in the evening was intercepted by Sabres. Flying Officer Babul Guha was killed by a missile fired by a patrolling Sabre.

Thereafter the Tigers were tasked with the airfield defence, offensive strike missions against heavily defended Pakistani airfields and interdiction of major lines of communication. Several strikes were flown against ground targets and aircraft recovered damaged due to ground fire. Only one other aircraft was lost on these missions. Squadron Leader R. K. Uppal was shot down over the Lahore front on 11 September. Targets attacked included the BRB Canal, Sialkot sector, Pasrur airfield and numerous targets of opportunity. When the paratrooper menace was at its height and the tall sarkanda grass in the airfield was providing good hiding places for the enemy snipers, Squadron Leader Handa took off in a Mystère and strafed the grass in the outlying areas with his cannon, thus becoming the only pilot to strafe his own airbase. Flight Lieutenant J. P. Singh once came back from a low level strike with telephone wires wrapped around his rocket pods.

In the course of the war, the squadron flew a total of 128 strike missions and 46 Combat Air Patrol sorties. In recognition of their outstanding contribution to the war effort the Tigers were awarded one MVC (posthumous), three VrCs, two VMs and two VSMs. The Maha Vir Chakra came over two decades later, based on reports and eyewitness accounts it was established that Squadron Leader Devaiah had in fact shot down the enemy Starfighter in aerial combat before going down himself. The MVC was awarded to the officer posthumously on 26 January 1988. The Vir Chakra awards went to the CO, Wing Commander Taneja, Squadron Leader Sudarshan Handa and Flight Lieutenant D. M. S. Kahai. Squadron Leader P. R. Earle and Flight Lieutenant V. K. Verma received the VMs.

1965–1971 Period[edit]

In July 1966, still under the command of Wing Commander O. P. Taneja, the Tigers were re-equipped with the supersonic Mach-2 class, all weather interceptor - the MiG-21FL. Even though the squadron had only two qualified instructors, the conversion to the FL proceeded with gusto and ahead of even the neighbouring No. 28 Squadron, the pioneers of the MiG-21. Wing Commander Taneja handed over command to Wing Commander S. K. Dahar, a pilot who flew the first sortie of the 1965 War. Dahar, however died in a MiG-21 crash immediately after the Republic Day flypast of 1968. The command of the squadron was passed onto Wing Commander Mishra.

18 October 1968 was a red letter day for the squadron. It was singularly honoured on that day, when the President, Dr Zakir Hussain, presented the Tigers, the President's Colours at an impressive ceremony held at Air Force Station, Adampur. The Tigers had clocked another first.

Operations in 1971[edit]

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the squadron was under the command of Wing Commander Upkar Singh and based at Adampur. The squadron was tasked with the Air Defence of Punjab sector and providing air cover to attacking formations deep inside enemy territory.

Operating from Adampur, the Tigers defended the air space assigned to them so well that but for one unsuccessful pre-emptive strike on 3 December, not a single enemy aircraft could penetrate their territory. On that day two MiG-21s were scrambled to intercept PAF Mirages attacking Amritsar's Rajasansi Airport, but the enemy aircraft retreated without giving a fight.

All strike missions escorted by the Tigers achieved their objectives and returned safely. Wing Commander Upkar Singh led a strike against Chander and Rahwali which went unopposed. On 6 December, the MiG-21s escorted Su-7s on a strike in Sialkot. The PAF was not encountered in any of these missions. The first encounter happened on 8 December. Two MiG-21s escorting Su-7s were bounced by Mirage IIIs. The MiGs broke into the attackers and were getting onto the tails of the attackers when a confused call resulted in the Mirages going into escape maneuvers and going out of the fight.

The next day on 9 December, four Mirage IIIs attacked Pathankot and as they were exiting the area were bounced by the Tigers. Two K-13s were launched and one proximity hit was recorded. The enemy aircraft disappearing over the horizon and off the radar scope. The squadron was given a 'probable' kill.

Several night sorties were flown. The only casualty occurred on one of these sorties on 11 December 1971, when Flight Lieutenant Ashok Balwant Dhavle died in friendly fire in a case of mistaken identity. The squadron also operated a detachment of two aircraft that were sent regularly to Pathankot.

The Tigers put out 513 sorties. Wing Commander Upkar Singh was awarded the AVSM. The VrC was awarded to Squadron Leader S. Subburamu. Three VMs and nine Mentions-in-Despatches were awarded to the squadron.

Post 1971-1985: a period of consolidation[edit]

No. 1 Squadron continued to be based at Adampur for the next ten years with Wing Commander Upkar Singh as commanding officer until 24 September 1973 when he handed over the Tigers to Wing Commander Brijesh Jayal. After Wing Commander Brijesh Jayal's tenure, charge of No. 1 was assumed by Wing Commander Keith Lewis on 17 February 1976 for over two years, and then by Wing Commander P. R. Jaindass from January 1981 to May 1983. It was in this tenure that the Tiger's celebrated their Golden Jubilee, the squadron meanwhile having been relocated at Gorakhpur in February 1982, after a record period of stay at Adampur. The Commodore Commandant on 1 April 1983 was Air Marshal T. S. 'Timky' Brar, who had commanded No. 1 Squadron in 1953.

Shortly thereafter, Wing Commander T. J. Master took over and commanded the squadron until 24 August 1984, when he handed over to Wing Commander G. M. Viswanathan, who was in charge when the Tigers moved further east, to Hashimara, in the eastern Dooars, in 1985.

Tigers and the Mirage 2000[edit]

Due to the personal intervention of the CAS, Air Chief Marshal Katre, No. 1 was designated as one of the two units to re-equip with the state of the art Mirage 2000 in 1985, its older MiG-21s being operated "transferred" to the newly raised No. 52 Squadron.

The first seven Mirage 2000s arrived on 21 June 1985. After six months of operations in India, on 1 January 1986, No. 1 Squadron formally came into being at Gwalior with Wing Commander P. S. Ahluwalia taking over as the first CO of the Mirage 2000 equipped Tigers. Normal flying operations were commenced the next day. The squadron flew a total of 220 hours in the first month of operations with this new class of fighters. Under the guidance of Wing Commander Ahluwalia the squadron played an active role and was instrumental in development of tactics for the new weapon platform, most of which are in vogue even to this day. He also took up the task of formulating the syllabus and SOPs for this new induction.

Wing Commander Ahluwalia handed over charge of the Tigers to Wing Commander S. U. Apte in May 1988. Wing Commander Apte commanded the squadron until April 1990 after which Wing Commander N. A. Moitra led the Tigers for another two years before handing over to Wing Commander Anil Chopra in April 1992.

Diamond Jubilee year[edit]

The Tigers celebrated their Diamond Jubilee in 1993. Incidentally, the Air Force too celebrated its Diamond Jubilee this year and the squadron celebrations saw many notable figures in the Air Force under one roof. Wing Commander S. S. Dhanda took over the command of Tigers in May 1994 and he was succeeded by Wing Commander Daljit Singh in November 1995 who commanded the squadron till December 1997, after which charge of the squadron was handed over to Wing Commander Neelakanthan.

Kargil Operations in May 1999 - Op Safed Sagar[edit]

In May 1999, the Tigers, now with Mirage 2000's ASF's, were deployed at Ambala for "Operation Safed Sagar". From Ambala the Tigers were tasked for Elint and AD Escorts missions to PR/ARC and strike missions. A total of 234 operational sorties were flown from Ambala which included several missions at night.

As a contingency, several aircraft moved to Jodhpur, where the squadron flew 153 sorties consisting of AD Escorts missions and trials. Air Commodore Ahluwalia, then the Air Officer Commanding of Air Force Station Gwalior under took several trials which went on to lead to one of the greatest successes for any Air Force operating in mountainous terrain. Throughout the operations, the Tigers maintained a high serviceability of aircraft and only one mission was aborted during Operation Safed Sagar, which lasted for more than two months. Wing Commander S. Neelakantan, was awarded the YSM for Op Safed Sagar. In addition seven Mention-in-Despatches were awarded to the squadron.

Present day[edit]

The Tigers tirelessly continue to train for higher operational standards. Presently under the command of Wing Commander Neeraj Yadav the squadron personnel work to attain higher standards of professional excellence. The Tigers performed exceptionally well in Exercise Vayuspradha and were declared the "Best Fighter Squadron" for the year 1999–2000.

Commodore Commandants[edit]

Rank Name Dates
Air Marshal H. N. Chatterjee, PVSM DFC 1 January 1975 7 October 1979
Air Marshal T. S. Brar, PVSM AVSM ADC 8 October 1979 November 1985
Air Commodore B. D. Jayal, VM & Bar 1 November 1985 14 July 1987
Air Vice Marshal B. D. Jayal, AVSM VM & Bar 15 July 1987 15 January 1990
Air Marshal B. D. Jayal, PVSM AVSM VM & Bar ADC 15 January 1990 30 September 1993
Air Vice Marshal T. Sen, VM 1 October 1993 30 March 1999
Air Marshal T. J. Master, AVSM 31 March 1999

Commanding officers[edit]

Arjan Singh as the Flight Lieutenant with Indian pilots of No. 1 Squadron by a Hawker Hurricane IIc. L to R : Ibrahim, Homi Ratnagar, Arjan Singh, Henry and Murcot. World War II.
Rank Name S.No Dates
Flight Lieutenant C. A. Bouchier, DFC 1 April 1933 1 August 1935
Squadron Leader C. A. Bouchier, DFC 1 August 1935 2 May 1936
Squadron Leader K. C. Hanscock 2 May 1936 21 April 1938
Wing Commander C. P. Horsley 21 April 1938 1 October 1938
Squadron Leader C. H. Smith 1 October 1938 16 March 1939
Flight Lieutenant S. Mukherjee 1551 GD(P) 16 March 1939 25 August 1939
Squadron Leader S. Mukherjee 1551 GD(P) 25 August 1939 27 June 1941
Squadron Leader K. K. Majumdar 1555 GD(P) 27 June 1941 13 March 1942
Squadron Leader S. Mukherjee 1551 GD(P) 13 March 1942 3 September 1942
Squadron Leader Henry Runganathan 3 September 1942 4 October 1942
Squadron Leader S. N. Goyal 1560 GD(P) 4 October 1942 3 September 1943
Squadron Leader Arjan Singh, DFC 1577 GD(P) 3 September 1943 15 December 1944
Squadron Leader R. Rajaram, DFC 1573 GD(P) 15 December 1944 1 August 1945
Squadron Leader E. Nazirullah 1 August 1945 9 March 1946
Squadron Leader Ranjan Dutt VrC 1594 GD(P) 10 March 1946 14 May 1947
Squadron Leader E. J. Dhatigara 1899 GD(P) 1 February 1953 25 September 1953
Squadron Leader T. S. Brar 2884 GD(P) 25 September 1953 3 April 1956
Squadron Leader G. D. Clarke VrC 3295 GD(P) 3 April 1956 14 February 1957
Squadron Leader Dilbagh Singh 2998 GD(P) 14 February 1957 26 March 1959
Squadron Leader P. C. Roby 3479 GD(P) 26 March 1959 29 May 1961
Squadron Leader S. Bhattacharya VM 3974 GD(P) 29 May 1961 21 November 1962
Wing Commander R. D. Law 3069 GD(P) 21 November 1962 14 September 1964
Wing Commander O. P. Taneja, VrC 3843 GD(P) 14 September 1964 26 September 1967
Wing Commander S. K. Dahar VrC 4425 GD(P) 26 September 1967 29 January 1968
Wing Commander B. N. Mishra, VM 4079 F(P) 29 January 1968 28 September 1970
Wing Commander Upkar Singh, AVSM 4648 F(P) 28 September 1970 24 September 1973
Wing Commander B. D. Jayal, VM & Bar 24 September 1973 17 February 1976
Wing Commander K. D. K. Lewis, VM 17 February 1976 16 April 1978
Wing Commander T. Sen, VM 3 May 1978 4 January 1981
Wing Commander P. R. Jaindass 5 January 1981 22 May 1983
Wing Commander T. J. Master 7224 F(P) 23 May 1983 24 August 1984
Wing Commander G. M. Viswanathan, VM 25 August 1984 31 December 1985
Wing Commander P. S. Ahluwalia, VM VSM 1 January 1986 21 May 1988
Wing Commander S. U. Apte 21 May 1988 23 April 1990
Wing Commander N. A. Moitra, VM 23 April 1990 27 April 1992
Wing Commander A. Chopra, VM 17125 F(P) 27 April 1992 16 May 1994
Wing Commander S. S. Dhanda 13926 F(P) 16 May 1994 26 November 1995
Wing Commander Daljit Singh 14553 F(P) 26 November 1995 15 December 1997
Wing Commander S. Neelakantan, YSM VM 15184 F(P) 15 December 1997 6 March 2000
Wing Commander Neeraj Yadav 6 March 2000 22 April 2002
Wing Commander Raghunath Nambiar VM & Bar 22 April 2002 23 June 2003
Wing Commander Shane G. Eaton VM, YSM 24 June 2003 20 July 2011

Gallantry and Service Awards[edit]

Name Award Date/Year
Squadron Leader K. K. Majumdar DFC 1942
Flying Officer A. M. Engineer DFC 1942
Squadron Leader Arjan Singh DFC 1944
Flight Lieutenant Ram Singh MBE 1945
Flying Officer A. R. Pandit DFC 1945
Flying Officer B. R. Rao DFC 1945
Squadron Leader Rajaram DFC 1945
Flying Officer K. N. Kak DFC 1945
Flying Officer P. S. Gupta DFC 1945
Flying Officer M. N. Balsara DFC 1945
Flight Lieutenant H. N. Chatterjee DFC 1945
Flying Officer N. K. Shitoley DFC 1945
Warrant Officer O H. Singh MBE 1945
Squadron Leader S. Bhattacharya VM 1961
Wing Commander O. P. Taneja Vr C 1965
Squadron Leader S. Handa Vr C 1965
Flight Lieutenant D. S. Kahai Vr C 1965
Squadron Leader P. R. Earle VM 1965
Flight Lieutenant V. K. Verma VM 1965
Warrant Officer G. B. Nair VSM III 1965
Flight Sergeant P. S. Majhail VSM III 1965
Wing Commander B. N. Mishra VM 1970
Wing Commander Upkar Singh AVSM 1971
Squadron Leader S. Subbaramu Vr C 1971
Squadron Leader A. K. Brahmawar VM 1971
Squadron Leader Sanjeev Sahay VM 1971
Flight Lieutenant P. S. Parihar VM 1971
Squadron Leader S. C. Khuller VM 1977
Flying Officer P. K. Jain SC 1981
Wing Commander P. S. Ahluwalia VM 1987
Squadron Leader A. B. Devayya MVC (Posthumous) 1988
Squadron Leader A. Chopra VM 1989
Squadron Leader S. Neelakantan VM 1990
Wing Commander N. A. Moitra VM 1992
Wing Commander S. Neelakantan VM YSM 1999
Squadron Leader K. Ravi VSM 1999
Flight Lieutenant Kiran S. Dinesh VM YSM 1999

Aircraft[edit]

Aircraft Type From To
Westland Wapiti April 1933
Hawker Hart June 1941 December 1941
Westland Lysander December 1941 December 1942
Hawker Hurricane IIc December 1942 September 1947
Supermarine Spitfire XVIII July 1951 October 1953
De Havilland Vampire FB 52 October 1953 May 1956
Dassault Mystère IVA May 1956 April 1962
MiG-21FL April 1962 February 1983
Mirage 2000H November 1983
  • Other types operated by the squadron as trainer and hack aircraft: Harvard IIb, Vampire T.55, MiG-21U, Mirage 2000TH

Locations[edit]

Location From To
Karachi April 1933 August 1937
Miranshah August 1937 June 1940
Fort Sandeman June 1940 October 1941
Ambala October 1941 Disbanded 1947
Halwara February 1953 September 1953
Palam September 1953 February 1957
Kalaikunda February 1957 October 1962
Halwara October 1962 September 1963
Adampur September 1963 February 1985
Gorakhpur February 1985 June 1985
Hashimara June 1985 January 1986
Gwalior January 1986

References[edit]