PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

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Abbas Ali
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PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by Abbas Ali » Sat Dec 05, 2009 2:19 pm

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) lost three aircraft during December 1971 Indo-Pak war.

The three PIA aircraft lost during the war were:

1) DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (AP-AWH)
2) Fokker F-27 Friendship Mk 200 (AP-ALX)
3) Boeing 707-340C (AP-AVZ)

Following are details, gathered from various sources, related to loss of these three PIA aircraft.

Day: December 4 or 5, 1971
Location: Dacca Airport/Tejgaon Air Base, Dacca, East Pakistan
Aircraft: de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300
Registration: AP-AWH

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PIA DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (AP-AWH) which was destroyed on ground during December 1971 war.

According to an article by Air Marshal Inam-ul-Haque Khan (Retd), HJ, Former Air Officer Commanding East Pakistan, there were two PIA Twin Otters at Dacca airfield at the start of hostilities in December 1971.

The two Twin Otters were hidden under trees due to absence of pen not large enough to properly secure these two aircraft. On December 4 afternoon, AP-AWH was destroyed on ground by Indian Air Force (IAF) MiG-21FL flown by Wing Commander Bhupinder Kumar Bishnoi (photo here) during air raid according to info posted >>here<<. The second Twin Otter (registration ?) was lucky to survive the air raid.

On December 8, the surviving Twin Otter of PIA took-off from Dacca airfield taxiway on flight to Burma (presently known as Myanamar). The Twin Otter on its flight to Burma carried Pakistan Air Force (PAF) No. 14 Squadron F-86E Sabre fighter pilots because runway at Dacca cratered by IAF bombings had become unusable for combat aircraft operations. The F-86E pilots were flown to Burma to shift them to West Pakistan and enable them to take part in air war from West Pakistan.

Pilots of PIA Twin Otter that flew the aircraft to Burma deserve appreciation for showing courage by flying unarmed Twin Otter to Burma in the middle of war in the absence of aerial escort/protection.

A small number of remaining PAF fighter pilots were flown to Burma from East Pakistan by Pakistan Government's Department of Plant Protection DHC-2 Beaver aircraft, according to some sources.

Here’s related painting by Syed Masood Akhtar Hussaini.

Image
The Last Encounter
1612 Hours, 4 December, 1971

Squadron Leader Dilawar destroys a Hunter over Dacca in the last air battle in East Pakistan.

Next day, the Tejgaon airfield seen in the background would be destroyed completely by enemy bombers thus ending a desperate but heroic stand taken against overhelming odds by 14 Squadron.

Today the Squadron flies the F-16s and proudly displays the battle honours of ‘Kalai Kunda 1965’ and ‘Dacca 1971’ inscribed on its Squadron Colour. Far greater honours, may lie in the future for No. 14 Squadron, but the unforgettable epic of its handful audacious warriors rising repeatedly from Tejgaon runway to challenge an enemy who outnumbered them 10 to 1, shall remain enshrined in its history for all times to come.


Painting scan & caption source: Air Warriors of Pakistan

Btw, was PAF Squadron No. 14 in Dacca during 1971 war equipped with F-86F Sabres in bare metal colour scheme (as shown in this painting) as well as F-86E Sabres (Canadair Sabre Mk 6) in green camouflage colour scheme? Or No. 14 had F86E Sabres in both green camouflage and bare metal colour scheme during 1971 war at Dacca's Tejgaon Air Base? I think during 1965 war, all F-86F Sabres of No. 14 Squadron in Dacca had bare metal colour scheme.

The article by Air Marshal Inam-ul-Haque Khan can be found on following link:

Link: Saga of PAF in East Pakistan – 1971

Day: December 10, 12 or 13, 1971
Location: Crash site in Balochistan, Pakistan, near border with Iran or Arabian Sea.
Aircraft: Fokker F-27 Friendship Mk 200
Registration: AP-ALX

Image
PIA’s ill-fated Fokker F-27 Friendship Mk 200 (AP-ALX) at Karachi Airport.

AP-ALX was the second PIA aircraft lost during 1971 war. The exact date of incident and crash location is not clear. According to info on www.bharat-rakshak.com page 'AIRCRAFT LOSSES IN PAKISTAN -1971 WAR', AP-ALX was lost on December 10, 1971, over Arabian Sea.

The report on aviation-safety.net says AP-ALX was flying from Karachi to Zahedan (Iran) on December 12, 1971 when it crashed in Pakistan near border with Iran. Early hours of December 13, 1971 is mentioned as AP-ALX accident date/time by one brief news report.

Iran provided shelter to a number of PIA airliners during 1971 war and probably that’s why AP-ALX was flying to Zahedan from Karachi ? The cause of accident remains unknown. It’s unclear whether AP-ALX suffered some technical fault or crashed due to enemy or friendly fire by mistake. But Indian military does not claim shooting down AP-ALX.

Here’s it’s also important to mention that during 1971 war, PIA Fokker F-27 aircraft also assisted Pakistan armed forces in locating and monitoring movements of Indian Navy boats. The unarmed PIA F-27 operated risky sea patrol flights most probably from Karachi Airport.

PIA F-27 sea patrol missions during 1971 war are mentioned on a number of Pakistani and Indian websites.

Following is an extract from Brig. Z.A. Khan's "The Way It was" posted >>here<<.
"When the Indian missile boats approached Karachi and were spotted by a PIA Fokker, the Navy asked for an air attack"

Following info can be found in article titled 'The Fighter Gap' on www.defencejournal.com.
"On the opening day of the '71 war, I had just returned from Jaisalmir, on entering the crew-room, I saw Gp.Capt. Rashid Rehman and Captain Bhombul the Director Naval Operations. They said that they had sighted an Indian convoy at about 1800 hours from a PIA Fokker, consisting of two merchant men escorted by six warships. Their position was 150 nautical miles south of Karachi, steaming south-east at about 15 knots."

Following is copied from article 'Analysis of the Pakistan Navy's Accounts of the 1971 War'
"On December 3, the PIA Fokker flying along the Kathiawar coast reported the sighting of India's Western fleet. The Pakistani submarines deployed in the area were not able to attack it, as they got their orders to commence their operations late that evening."
Info under heading ‘Civvies caught in the crossfire’ posted >>here<< says:
"Another PIA Fokker was sent to hunt the Indian Navy task force after the attack on Karachi, it crashed due to unknown reasons and killed four."
Quoted below is excerpt from article titled "Pakistan's Crisis in Leadership" which claims PIA Fokker lost during 1971 war was on sea patrol mission.
"The PAF was not equipped to support naval operations. Maritime reconnaissance was only provided by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and civil aviation aircraft which had been pressed into service after the emergency (i.e. on 23 November 1971). In all, 59 sorties by PIA aircraft and 68 sorties by civil aviation aircraft were provided during the war. In spite of all their limitations and their pilots' lack of training for this particular task, these aircraft still performed very well. One Fokker aircraft was lost during these operations."


The info on www.bharat-rakshak.com page AIRCRAFT LOSSES IN PAKISTAN -1971 WAR PIA Fokker lost on December 10, 1971, over Arabian Sea, was on mission to locate Indian Navy missile boats.

But in all these reports, details of why and how AP-ALX crashed are not given. The ill-fated F-27 could have crashed due to technical fault, enemy fire or friendly fire. Here’s it’s also important to add that according to info on Indian military webites, Indian armed forces do not claim shooting down PIA F-27.

If AP-ALX indeed was on sea patrol mission when it crashed then it will be good to know whether ill-fated aircraft's crew members who lost their lives got some posthumous award for bravery from Pakistan Government or not. But, as far as know, I don't think PIA Fokker crew got any bravery award as I never heard or read about it.

I hope Pakistan Air Line Pilots Association (PALPA) consider doing a research on AP-ALX accident and find out whether AP-ALX was sea patrol mission or not and whether crew got bravery award or not if it was a sea patrol flight.

In my opinion PIA Fokker F-27 crew's sacrifice deserves full recognition if AP-ALX was on sea patrol mission that day.

Day: December 15, 1971
Location: Urumqi, China
Aircraft: Boeing 707-340C
Registration: AP-AVZ

The third PIA aircraft lost during 1971 war was a Boeing 707. According to info on www.aviation-safety.net , it was a cargo flight operated with PIA Boeing 707-340C (AP-AVZ) and the aircraft crashed during landing. Fortunately all five people aboard the aircraft survived the accident.

I also remember reading or hearing somewhere, that AP-AVZ was in China to pick arms & ammunition for Pakistan’s armed forces taking part in 1971 war. The cause of accident is not mentioned on www.aviation-safety.net but somewhere I read that AP-AVZ accident happened due to bad weather.

Here’s it’s also important to mention that before the start of 1971 war PIA Boeing jets operated flights to transport troops from West Pakistan to East Pakistan via Colombo, Sri Lanka.

PIA aircraft had to take longer route via Colombo because India had banned all Pakistani civilian and military aircraft from overflying Indian territory after the January 30, 1971 hijacking incident of Indian Airlines Fokker F-27 Friendship Mk 100 (registration VT-DMA) named "Ganga".

On January 30, 1971, VT-DMA with 32 people onboard - 28 passengers and 4 crew members - was operating flight from Srinagar to Jammu when after take-off from Srinagar it was hijacked by two men and diverted to Lahore Airport where the aircraft remained parked for three days. On February 2, the Fokker was set on fire/destroyed by hijackers after freeing all passengers and crew members. After this incident, on February 4, 1971, India banned all Pakistani civilian and military aircraft from overflying Indian territory. This decision forced PIA aircraft to take longer route via Colombo, Sri Lanka, for flights between West and East Pakistan. PIA flights between West Pakistan and Far East were also rerouted via Colombo.

Following photo shows wreckage of Indian Airlines Fokker F-27 (VT-DMA) destroyed by hijackers at Lahore Airport, Pakistan, in February 1971.

Image

A number of Pakistani investigative articles claim that hijacking of Indian Airlines Fokker F-27 was planned by Indian intelligence to use the incident as an excuse to stop Pakistani civilian and military aircraft from flying over India and disrupt air link between West and East Pakistan mainly to affect supply to Pakistan Armed Forces stationed in East Pakistan.

Abbas
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Amaad Lone
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Re: PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by Amaad Lone » Sat Dec 05, 2009 2:59 pm

A number of Pakistani investigative articles claim that hijacking of Indian Airlines Fokker F-27 was planned by Indian intelligence to use the incident as an excuse to stop Pakistani civilian and military aircraft from flying over India and disrupt air link between West and East Pakistan mainly to affect supply to Pakistan Armed Forces stationed in East Pakistan.
Abbas the hijacking of the Indian Airlines F.27 is close to my heart, as my own family suffered due to it.

Two friends and members of JKLF (Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front) carried out the hijacking. Their names were Hashim Quershi and Ashraf Quershi, both were teen agers at the time.

The hijacking was done to free Maqbool Butt a well known Kashmiri fighter who jailed by India, and was hanged later.

My father and his elder brother both active in Kashmiri politics at the time were jailed for this hijacking, and my taya spent 4 years in jail over a crime he did not commit or plan.

Our family suffered heavy financial and emotion losses during the four years of the trial.

Ashraf was also innocent as Hashim when boarding the fokker in Srinagur never told him that he was planning to hijack the aircraft.

Hashim spent 8 years in jail for the hijacking while Ashraf was released as the courts decided that he had nothing to do wth the hijacking, he and has spent the rest of his life living in lahore and away from his family.

Around 10 years back Ashraf lost two brothers to Indian bullets.

The aircraft was burnt on the direct orders of Zulfiqar Ali Bhuttu.

Hashim Quershi and Ashraf were not Indian agents.
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Abbas Ali
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Re: PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by Abbas Ali » Sat Dec 05, 2009 3:13 pm

^ Thank you Amaad for sharing interesting details but if I'm not wrong Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was not in government at that time.

Pakistani sources claim Indian F-27 was set on fire and destroyed by hijackers while some of Indian sources claim Pakistani authorities assisted hijackers in destroying the aircraft. Anyway, in both cases it was PIA and Pakistan's military aircraft flights between West Pakistan and East Pakistan that got affected due to overflight ban imposed by India on February 4, 1971, after the hijacking incident.

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Re: PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by ConnieMan » Sat Dec 05, 2009 4:59 pm

Very interesting information Abbas, thanks for sharing it with us.
I was told some years ago that 2nd PIA's Twin Otter DHC-6 was damaged severely and then W/O in some very strong monsoon storm at Jinnah airport many many years ago!, i didn't knew it was actually destroyed by IAF in Dhaka in 71 war.....
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Abbas Ali
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Re: PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by Abbas Ali » Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:26 pm

ConnieMan wrote: I was told some years ago that 2nd PIA's Twin Otter DHC-6 was damaged severely and then W/O in some very strong monsoon storm at Jinnah airport many many years ago!, i didn't knew it was actually destroyed by IAF in Dhaka in 71 war.....
PIA had a total of six Twin Otters in its fleet in 1971 and these six aircraft were purchased in brand new condition between 1970 and 1971. Out of these six aircraft, AP-AWH was destroyed on ground at Dacca Airport during IAF air raid as mentioned in this topic. The surviving five Twin Otters were sold to Air Alpes of France in 1972.

The six Twin Otters in PIA fleet in 1971 were:

AP-AWF - sold to Air Alpes, France, in 1972
AP-AWG - sold to Air Alpes, France, in 1972
AP-AWH - destroyed on ground in East Pakistan during air raid by IAF in 1971 war
AP-AWJ - sold to Air Alpes, France, in 1972
AP-AWK - sold to Air Alpes, France, in 1972
AP-AWL - sold to Air Alpes, France, in 1972

PIA became Twin Otter operator again in 1985 when it purchased a pair of Twin Otter aircraft in used condition. These two Twin Otter aircraft were registered in Pakistan as AP-BCG and AP-BCH.

On September 15, 1985, AP-BCG and AP-BCH parked at Islamabad Airport collided with each other due to bad weather/strong winds. AP-BCH suffered serious damage but it was repaired and both these Twin Otters (AP-BCG & AP-BCH) continued to serve PIA for many more years. In 2006, AP-BCG and AP-BCH were sold to a US-based company.

There are some Twin Otter production lists that wrongly show AP-BCH as damaged beyond repair in ground collision at Islamabad Airport in 1985.

For example, on following link, there's February 1985 photo of AP-BCH in basic livery of Austin Airways prepared for delivery flight to Pakistan from Canada and in photo description we can see wrong information claiming that both AP-BCG and AP-BCH were destroyed in ground collision in 1985.

Link: Pre-delivery photo of AP-BCH purchased in used condition

The former AP-BCH (c/n 768) of PIA was seen as seaplane flying for Harbour Air Malta in May 2009. Here's the photo:
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Click here to see large photo

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Re: PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by Waqar747 » Sun Dec 06, 2009 3:30 am

Abbas Ali wrote:Day: December 15, 1971
Location: Urumqi, China
Aircraft: Boeing 707-340C
Registration: AP-AVZ

The third PIA aircraft lost during 1971 war was a Boeing 707. According to info on www.aviation-safety.net , it was a cargo flight operated with PIA Boeing 707-340C (AP-AVZ) and the aircraft crashed during landing. Fortunately all five people aboard the aircraft survived the accident.

I also remember reading or hearing somewhere, that AP-AVZ was in China to pick arms & ammunition for Pakistan’s armed forces taking part in 1971 war. The cause of accident is not mentioned on www.aviation-safety.net but somewhere I read that AP-AVZ accident happened due to bad weather.
One of the pilots on AP-AVZ was Capt. Islam if I'm not mistaken. He said they were lucky to survive. We've only met once or twice but I really enjoyed his PIA stories. :)

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Re: PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by Moin » Sun Dec 06, 2009 4:06 am

Wow you can hardly recognize BCH from what it once was.
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Re: PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by EDGEE » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:15 am

AP-ALX was lost on DEC 11 1971 over Balochistan ..
The crew contained my fathers younger brother Co-pilot Syed Khalid Javed.
AP-ALX was on Recon over the arabian Sea for the Pak Armed Forces
It was shot down .. the crash site was discovered ...
it made it over Pakistan border and crashed on one of the hil faces on the sharp slopes of the rugged balochistan terrain..
The CREW NEVER RECIEVED ANY ACKNOWLEDGMENET NO MEDALS NOT EVEN A MILITARY BURIAL
as the PAK ARMY is too embarassed to admit they used civilian aircraft and civilian pilots to fly 100 ft above sea level to locate enemy boats they were not equiped or trained to do ..

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Re: PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by aslihan » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:08 pm

Abbas Ali wrote: There are some Twin Otter production lists that wrongly show AP-BCH as damaged beyond repair in ground collision at Islamabad Airport in 1985.
Did these two twin otters collide due to strong winds while parked at airport or not?

These were salvaged by the insurance company and subsequently repurchased by PIA from the insurance company. This much is in black & white in Pakistani newspapers of that time. I remember Twin Otter service (for example, Bhangtanwala - Mianwali/Sargodha) remained suspended during the time the aircraft were changing hands and repaired.

Now, Salvaging means Damage is more than the aircraft's worth - which in loose terms would mean "damaged beyond repair" from insurance company perspective. Insurance companies just buy out the damaged asset instead of bearing repair costs. Salvaged assets are auctioned off later on. Its a norm in the insurance industry.

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Re: PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by Abbas Ali » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:44 pm

aslihan wrote:
Abbas Ali wrote: There are some Twin Otter production lists that wrongly show AP-BCH as damaged beyond repair in ground collision at Islamabad Airport in 1985.
Did these two twin otters collide due to strong winds while parked at airport or not?
Ground collision between PIA DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 aircraft (AP-BCG and AP-BCH) parked at Islamabad Airport. The collision happened due to bad weather/rain storm in September 1985. Both aircraft were repaired and returned to service.

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Re: PIA Aircraft Losses During 1971 War

Post by Abbas Ali » Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:11 am

Cockpit crew of PIA Fokker F-27 (AP-ALX) lost during 1971 war included Capt. Mubashir, First Officer S. Khalid Javaid and Navigator Cheema.

Here's excerpt from March 6, 2010 article 'Air Support at Sea - 1971 War' on Air Commodore (Retd.) Kaiser Tufail's blog kaiser-aeronaut.blogspot.com with information about loss of PIA Fokker F-27 (AP-ALX) in 1971 war.
With Pak Navy officers on-board Fokker aircraft having no prior experience in this role and their PIA pilots literally finding themselves at sea, the outcome could not have been any better. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the PIA Fokker F-27 (AP-ALX) crashed on the night of 12/13 December off the Makran Coast while on a recce mission, killing its crew of four. In all probability, the fatigued pilots were disoriented in a pitch dark night, as the aircraft descended uncontrollably into the coastal Ras Malan Hills.
The complete article can be read on following link:

Link: kaiser-aeronaut.blogspot.com

I hope PIA and Pakistan Air Line Pilots Association (PALPA) consider re-opening this incident in order to get supreme sacrifice for the country given by PIA pilots of Fokker F-27 (AP-ALX) recognized and honoured by the government of Pakistan in the shape of posthumous gallantry awards. It's never too late to recognize and honour people who gave their lives for the country.

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