Bombing of Sui Gas Plant by An-12s

36 × 24 inches

This painting attempts to recreate a historic mission of three AN-12s of 44 Sqn carrying out low level bombing of Sui Gas Plant on 15 Dec 1971. 

Sui Gas Plant in Pakistan produces natural gas and supplies it to many industries. It was a strategic target to be attacked by Three AN-12s of 44 Sqn. The formation was led by Wg Cdr Vashisht, No.2 was Sqn Ldr Purushe and No. 3 was Sqn Ldr Ahluwalia. The TOT was 1745 hrs on 15 Dec 1971, just after Sunset at Sui Plant which is about 28 North.

The three AN-12s were at Jodhpur by mid-day; they refuelled and after Take Off maintained loose formation at 500 feet AGL. Sui plant was not strongly defended against aircraft. Each AN-12 carried 9000 Kgs of 500 pounder bombs and attacked it from the West. Sui Plant was severely damaged with widespread fires and interruption of gas supply for a prolonged time. This incredible mission like many other missions in the war was carried out by AN-12s deep inside the enemy territory without any fighter escort or protection. The post attack recce photos proved the complete success of the bombing raid by AN-12s.

Gp Capt Ahluwalia, now in his 90s, vividly recalls seeing the bombs of No. 1 and No. 2 exploding: -

Three AN12s took part with forty 500 pounds bombs in each a/c. Wg.Cdr VB Vasisht was in the lead, Fl.Lt. Purushe was 2nd and I was in the last ac. We took off from Bareilly in the afternoon on 13 Dec 71 and landed at Jodhpur for refueling.  The flight plan was to be on the target 1/2 an hour after the sunset. Being the winter season and hills around the target, I guess it could be around 5 or 5:30 pm as by then the visibility remains good to identify the target. Three AN 12s flew at 300 ft agl about 500 yds behind each other, from Jodhpur and got down to tree tops, 100 ft agl,  before entering Pak Border.  

Sui Gas Plant is located in the hilly area of Balochistan Province. Taking guidance from the model, it was planned to pull up to 300 feet AGL on the downwind keeping the plant and the domestic area  on our left  and turn in to bomb the plant and fly straight to Jodhpur. As the plant was sighted, every AN12 pulled up to 300ft agl, turned in from the hilly area, dropped the load and flew straight towards home. 

It was something like a bad weather circuit at 300ft AGL. When Vasisht dropped the bombs and I saw fire and smoke in the plant, I congratulated him.  Purushe was in the finals when VB dropped and I was turning the final base leg. I saw the drop of Purushe and he added more TNT. Lastly, I dropped my load and headed straight for Jodhpur since I needed refueling. From Jodhpur to Sui Gas Plant and back, the flying time was approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was a straight flight from Jodhpur and back. The other two went to Bareilly.

This painting of mine reconstructs the attack by three AN-12s as narrated above by Gp Capt Ahluwalia. Both attacks by AN-12s, one on Skardu and the other on Sui Gas Plant, was carried out by the crew of 44 Sqn, lead and Commanded by Wg Cdr VB Vashist. 


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