No. 4 Squadron IAF
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|No. 4 Squadron|
|Active||1 February 1942 – present|
|Base||AFS Uttarlai, Barmer district, Rajasthan|
|Motto||Man Pr Jan|
|Oorial head with the Ashoka on top|
The squadron adopted 'The oorial head' as its emblem in December 1944 just before the Supreme Commander of the allied forces Lord Lewis Mountbatten visit to Squadron. The squadron crest consists of an Oorial head with the Ashoka on top and the squadron Motto 'Honour unto death' written below. When the squadron was formed at Peshawar the Afghan tribals used to conduct regular fights amongst a local mountain sheep known as the Oorial or urial. The Oorial is a wild sheep, with a very lengthened sense of smell and sight. They have the ability to climb the steepest hillsides with remarkable ease, and are even wary and alert with significant strength and endurance. This animal has the ability of being a ferocious fighter that continues the fight to death rather than lose face and honour by turning away.
No. 4 Squadron of the IAF was born in the war at Peshawar on 1 Feb 1942. The squadron was first equipped with Lysander aircraft. The Second World War was in its third year, and Japanese forces were advancing towards India's eastern frontiers. Within a few days, the squadron moved to Kohat in NWEP.
In 1942 the squadron moved on a detachment to Hyderabad (Sind) to operate in support of the Army during operations against the Hurs. The Indian Army was then dealing with the insurrection instigated by the Fakir of Ippi.
During 1942 the squadron also operated Lysander detachments from Miranshah, a forward base in the NWEP, for action against insurgent Pathan tribals. During this period the squadron operated its aircraft as bombers, besides carrying out its Army air co-operations role, tactical recce and mail dropping missions.
In June 1942, the squadron moved to the RAF station at Risalpur, near Rawalpindi, for converting onto Hurricane fighter bombers. The conversion training was completed by August 1942 and No. 4 Squadron moved to Phaphamau to collect its branch new Hurricane IIC aircraft.
In September 1943 the squadron moved from Phaphamau to Bhopal for air-to air armament training. it was a disastrous move, as out of the 12 Hurricanes that took off, 3 crashed due to bad weather.
On completion of armament training, the squadron moved to Sulur in November 1943 to practice for eventual operations in Burma. In Feb 1944, the squadron moved to Ranchi to carry out special low flying and ground attack training before moving to the front for its operational tour to Burma.
In March 1944, the squadron moved to Feni for operations against the Japanese. The role of the squadron was to provide close Air support to the XIV Army. it was from Feni that the squadron carried out its first operational sorties by providing fighter escort to Dakota, engaged in supply dropping missions in the northern Burma.
From August 1944 to January 1945, the squadron was based at COX's Bazar and carried out CAS, interdiction and tactical recce operations.
As the XIV Army pushed the Japanese forces southwards and moved towards Rangoon, No. 4 Squadron was constantly on the move and kept moving from one advanced landing ground to another.
In December 1944, the Arakan offensive began. The objective being to capture the Maya peninsula Akyab, Ramree island and to contain the Japanese in the Arkan and prevent them from crossing the Arakan Yoma and interfering with the advance of the XIV Army. No. 4 Squadron operated in direct support of the land forces and bombed Japanese strongpoints at Haparabyin and Ratheduang. During the Landing of the Indian troops at Kangow, the squadron laid a smoke screen on the beach to enable safe landing of the troops. In recognition of the serv ices rendered, the squadron's personnel were awarded one DSO, four DFCs and one MBE. it is at this time that the squadron adopted the Oorial head as it emblem.
In April 1945, No. 4 Squadron was transferred back to India, ferrying back 9 Hurricanes for conversion to Spitfire. By end of May 14 Spitfire Mk VIIIs were received and conversion training commenced in June. The squadron took part in the Victory over Japan Parade at Madras by carrying out a flypast.
In August 1945, the squadron was intimated of the possibility of the Oorials moving to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces. This was a singular honour for the Royal Indian Air Force and for No. 4 Squadron in particular. Short take off and landing procedures were practiced in preparation for the move to Japan as it was envisaged that the aircraft would be flown of the carrier onto shore airfields. The Spitfire had pneumatically operated flaps which could be lowered fully for landing or raised fully up. The squadron devised a method of getting 15 degrees of flaps by inserting wooden wedges.
On 08 Apr 1946, HMS Vengeance sailed with 22 aircraft of No. 4 Squadron, berthed at Singapore for refueling and set course for Iwakuni, a port of Kyushu island. The ac carrier finally arrived at Iwakuni and was anchored midstream. The decision taken earlier to fly the ac off the carrier was changed since excellent facilities were provided for off-loading and transporting the ac.
The squadron was given a temporary base at Iwakuni till the rest of the personnel arrived. Shortly thereafter, the squadron moved to its permanent location at Miho on Sloustin Island. From here the squadron undertook various flying tasks which were mainly maritime patrol over the sea to ensure there was no subversive activity or smuggling. The stay at Miho was an interesting one and a lot of extracurricular functions were undertaken.
The Flt Cdrs Flt Lt Nur Khan and Flt Lt Shirpurkar evolved a pattern of formation flying depicting the letters "IAF". This being the first time such letters were seen in the sky. There were occasional exercises carried out to display the air strength to the local populations while large formations were flown over the big cities.
The squadron returned to India in February 1947 and was located at Kanpur. They were here when the country achieved independence. In October 1947, the squadron was re-equipped with Tempest IIs and became the training squadron for the Air Force.