Indian Air Force and Navy Super Constellations

Baji J. Ram Rao
10:45 Fri. 05-May-2013

No.6 “Dragons” (Motto, सदा सतर्क (Always Alert)) was not a naval squadron; it was an Air-Force squadron.

After flying Hurricanes and Spitfires under the British, No.6 “Dragons” flew C-47 Dakotas until Independence Day.
In Jan '51, this squadron re-formed at Poona, charged with Maritime Reconnaissance and Air-Sea Rescue roles.
The No.6 “Dragons” are still based at Pune. Today they fly SEPECAT Jaguars.

Starting Jan '51 No.6 “Dragons” used reconditioned and restored RAF second-world-war Consolidated B-24J Liberators.

Consolidated B-24J Liberator

In October 1961 No.6 “Dragons” added, nine retired Air India Super Connies, to the Liberators.

Seven were modified for Maritime Reconnaisance.

  1. c/n:4614 VT-DHM “Rani of Ellora” became BG-575.
  2. c/n:4666 VT-DIM “Rani of Ayodhya” became BG-576.
  3. Undercarriage retracted during taxi at Bombay 12th Jan 1983. Damaged beyond repair.
  4. c/n:4615 VT-DHN “Rani of Chittor” became BG-577.
  5. c/n:4646 VT-DIL “Rani of Golconda” became BG-578.
  6. c/n:4613 VT-DHL “Rani of Nilgiris” became BG-580.
  7. c/n:4547 VT-DGL “Rani of Jhansi” became BG-581.
  8. c/n:4548 VT-DGM “Rani of Ajanta” became BG-582.

Two served as freighters or troop-carriers.

  1. c/n:4687 VT-DJX “Rani of Madurai” became BG-579.

  2. Lockheed L.1049G Super Connie

  3. c/n:4686 VT-DJW “Rani of Bijapur” became BG-583.

Some modified for Maritime Reconnaisance and some as freighters or troop-carriers.

The Super Connies participated in Operation VIJAY-- Liberation of Goa in December 1961 against the Portuguese.
They transported troops in the 1962 China war.

The ASV 15A radar-equipped Liberators were retired before after a mercy mission in Christmas 1969.

In the 1971 war, when the Indian Navy destroyed Karachi, the Pakistanis sunk the INS Khukhri. IAF Super Connies scoured the sea for INS Khukhri survivors.

Later in the mid-1970s, in the aftermath of the 1971 war, the Indian Naval Air Arm commissioned the No.312 “Albatross“ squadron on 18th November 1976.

I was in 3rd semester BE (Electronics & Communications Engg.).
To set the time in historical perspective, two months earlier, the west received its first look at the  MiG-25 Foxbat high-altitude fighter-bomber. USSR Air Force pilot Lt. Viktor Belenko defected with his MiG-25 to  Hakodate on Hokkaido island, Japan, requesting political asylum in USA.

In November 1976, Indian Naval Air Squadron No.312 “Albatross” was formed, to take over No.6 “Dragons“ MR role, using five MR-configured Super Constellations: IN-315 to IN-319.

IAF No.6 “Dragons” retained two Super-Connie freighters.
Later the No.6 “Dragons” got English-Electric Canberra twin-jets.

The Indian Navy flew, in the maritime patrol role, based at INS Hansa at Dabolim, Goa.

Back then, Air India would maintain the Super Connies for the Navy.
In 1977, the Navy commissioned the No. 315 “Winged Stallions” squadron with Ilyushin Il-38 Maritime Reconnaisance aircraft.

Ilyushin Il-38SD-ATES

By 1983, the Navy retired the Super Connies from active service.
Today, INAS No.312 “Albatross” squadron operates Tupolev Tu-142 Bear aircraft.

Tupolev Tu-142 Bear