Sunday, August 25, 2013

The best Westland Wapiti Indian scale model ever! PERIOD!..... BUT....

A couple of years ago, my friend Phil Camp posted photographs of a scratch built 1/48 scale Westland Wapiti IIa in 1930s Indian Air Force Colors. The model was built (by an unknown modeller) and displayed at the IPMS UK's Scale Model World event in 2011.  Its no wonder that this model won the Best Aircraft Award for that year.

The aircraft is an excellent example of attention to detail and ingenuity. The modeller displayed the aircraft with panels removed and with internal components visible.

The aircraft was displayed in the colors of No.1 Squadron, Indian Air Force. The Wapiti bore the serial K1263 and the Dark Blue/Light Blue chequer board markings on the fuselage and on the top of the wings. It featured the painted fin flash and the serial number. Two photographs exist of this Wapiti K1263 showing it being prepared for an operational sortie.  The accompanying plaque purports it to be of a Wapiti that served with the squadron at Drigh Road in the year 1934.

The model had photographs showing the various stage of scratch build process as well as the approach .

While there is no doubt that this is the best ever representaton of a Wapiti , and of one in Indian Air Force colours, and at that time I was totally in awe of the effort, I do in the interest of 'History' point out to a few inconsistencies. In the two years since this model appeared, I had attempted to write a history of the Westland Wapiti in Indian Air Force Service. After studying the records and archives available, and poring over more than a hundred photographs of Indian Air Force Wapitis, tracking the career of each individual aircraft over a decade, I found myself with a better understanding on the aircraft and the markings of the Indian units of that era. Without much ado, the inconsistencies are:

  1. Wapiti K1263 did not serve at Drigh Road in 1934, but rather at Peshawar starting late 1936 and into 1937. At that time No.1 Squadron had 'A' Flight detached to No.20 Squadron RAF for operations in the NorthWest Frontier.  K1263 infact has the distinction of flying the first operational sortie when Flt Lt Awan flew a Pamphlet dropping mission in early 1937.
  2. Though the aircraft features a 3 x 3 Checkerboard Square, Wapitis of that time had a 'wraparound' checker board marking that looks like a square from a distance but actually isn't. The following photograph shows the obvious difference where a small segment of a top row is visible.
    Photograph of K1263, of 'A' Flight, No.1 Squadron  (The Eagle Strikes)
  3. As is visible in the photograph - the aircraft also featured a small "AC" superscript to the serial . This superscript is not on all the aircraft - and K1263 happened to be one such rare example.
As a fellow historian pointed out, the modeller may have been misled by the fact the aircraft had a fin flash painted.  RAF aircraft markings changed sometime in 1934 when the finflash was not painted on the aircraft - they featured plain tails. However many aircraft appeared to have continued in service with the fin flash painted on and K1263 retained its scheme well into 1937.

Ofcourse all this doesnt take away from the model - this post is only to highlight that new information surfaces all the time. What was not available in 2011 will now be on the record in 2013.  Future modellers will have this information to get the next ultimate variant of the Wapiti right!.

All photos of the model are courtesy of Phil Camp

Thursday, August 15, 2013

An evaluation of the Indian National Army by the C.I.A


The above are an evaluation of Subash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army (INA) by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the percussor to the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) . I am not an expert but there isnt much new in this - other than standard fare as given out by British Intelligence.

This document is in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Makhan Lal Chakraborty - REDUX

Years ago I had written about the medals of M L Chakraborty that I had procured. 

I knew little about him. 

Enrolled: 14 Jan 1942
Made a JCO on : 24 Dec. 1944 in JCOs EME, Workshop Branch, Cadre of Craftsmen. 

Now thanks to the Gazette of India website I can add a bit more.

Gazette of India  May 18, 1963

No. 1128, dated 3rd May 1963.-The President is pleased •lo make the following promotions :

To be Subs. Subedar {Arml Art ir Artz eligible categories)
PA Subdr Makhan Lal CHAKRABORTY (52968-JC),

Gazette of India , JUNE 1, 1963, Page 183
He was a Subedar in 1961 and made it into the Special List as a Lt in 1963

The undermentioned J.C.Os. are; granted permt, regular Commission in the Special List as an Electrical and Mechanical Assistant Engineers w.e.f. 15Lh Mar, 1963 in the rank of Lt«. under AJ. 24/59.
Sub. Makhan Lal CHAKRABORTY (JC-52968 now SL-791).  E.M.E. with seniority irotn 15th Mar. 1961 for purposes of pay only under A.I. 222/48.

And ofcourse he was on strength in 1965 - due to the presence of the 1965 Raksha Medal.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Bangladesh Gallantry Medals - Numbers Awarded

Researching the India Pakistan Air War over Bangladesh in 1971 comes up with all kinds of information - part of it has to deal with the gallantry awards set up by Bangladesh.  The Bangla forces set up a four tier award system.. the fourth being something equivalent to a M-in-D.. 

Numbers awarded for the 1971 War 

Bir Sreshto - 7 (4 Army, 1 AF, 1 Navy, 1 Ex-EPR)
Bir Uttom - 68 
Bir Bikrom - 175
Bir Protik - 426

Besides the Army, AF and Navy, awards were also given to "Gono Bahini" (People's Force)

Apparently the list was published in the Bangladesh Gazette Extraordinary Dated December 15, 1973

I extracted this out of the Newspapers of that time.