Vampires over Chhamb - 1965 Indo - Pak War

36 × 24 inches

This is one of series of paintings that I have done in an attempt to recreate some of the major encounters of Indian Air Force in Indo-Pak War of 195.

This painting is about the very first day IAF was called into action to blunt a massive armoured thrust across the IB by the Pakistani Army on 01 September 1965 code named “Operation Grandslam”. Main objective of the Pakistani thrust was to cut off Kashmir supply line from the rest of the country by taking the bridge at Akhnur.

As Pakistan offensive with nearly 70 tanks and two infantry brigades crossed the IB towards Indian Army forward positions at dawn of 01 September 1965, Indian Army was completely outnumbered and asked for air support at 1100 hrs. So far both countries had not declared war and hence use of Air Force had to be cleared only by the Cabinet. Defence Minister gave the approval at close to 1800 hrs and first formation of Vampires of four aircraft lead by Sqn Ldr SK Dahar took off from Pathankot at 1719 hours. Two more formations armed with rockets and guns took to air at interval of 10 minutes each with last formation attacking the enemy positions at fading light.

Vampires pounced on Pakistani armour with rockets and guns doing repeated attacks unmindful of intense ground fire and possible air threat from Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Second Vampire formation was bounced by a pair of PAF F 86 Sabres. Faced with threat from a superior aircraft the right action for the obsolete Vampires should have been to hit the deck and get out of the area at the fastest. However, from account now available from a PAF Sabre pilot including of a gun camera photo taken from his aircraft, it has been confirmed that far from running away, Vampires tried to give a fight to the Sabres. In the completely uneven duel, three gallant Indian pilots lost their lives.

Vampires were followed by Mysteres into the battle area. In this very first action by IAF in 1965 war it claimed 13 tanks, 2 guns and 62 soft-skinned vehicles destroyed and most importantly IAF was able to prevent a major Pakistani breakthrough.


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