Service No: 6751 GD(P)
Service: Air Force
Last Rank : Flying Officer
Last Unit : 7 Squadron AF
Operation: Op Riddle
Date of Martyrdom : Sep 16, 1965
Flying officer Farokh Dara Bunsha was commissioned into the Indian Air Force on 10 Nov 1962. Belonging to 82nd course of NDA, Fg Offr Bunsha was inducted into the fighter stream of IAF and was trained to fly Hunter Aircraft.
After completing his flying training Fg Offr Bunsha was posted to 20 Squadron but was then deputed to 7 Sqn during the 1965 war. Fg Offr Bunsha very soon gained proficiency in flying Hunter Aircraft and became an expert in doing various operational manoeuvres .
Indo-Pak War : Sep 1965
During 1965, Fg Offr Bunsha was serving with 20 Sqn and was of the one of the junior most pilots of the unit having less than two years of service and about 250 hours on the Hunter. However as the war escalated Fg Offr was deputed to 7 Sqn based at Air Force Halwara in Punjab.
On September 16th, No.7 Squadron went into action against the Pakistani Sabres on the Amritsar front. The Hunters from Halwara had not seen air combat since the evening of September 6th but that was soon to change. Late in the afternoon at Halwara, Fg Offr Prakash Sadhashivrao ‘Pingo’ Pingale of 7 Squadron was on ORP duty along with Fg Offr Farokh Dara ‘Bunny’ Bunsha.
Suddenly the scramble order was given and both pilots took off in their Hunters. Once airborne, the fighter controller Fg Offr RC Mahadik gave Pingale an initial vector in a northwesterly direction towards Jallundhur. They were flying at 20,000 feet altitude at high speed – nearly 0.9 Mach – with eyes preened to spot intruding aircraft.
The intruders were two Sabres led by Sqn Ldr MM Alam with Fg Offr MI Shaukat. The Indian pilots Fg Offr Bunsha and Fg Offr Pingale were flying the fighting formation, ‘loose deuce’, which was a well-established battle formation for air combat.
Fg Offr Pingale spotted a single aircraft going in the opposite direction at a lower altitude. As it flew on almost directly beneath to them, Fg Offr Pingale recognized the green and white PAF roundels and it was Alam’s Sabre was on the aircraft. Fg Offr Pingale called Fg Offr Bunsha on the R/T to announce an attack and both the hunters peeled off and turned around in a dive. With the Hunters in a turn. The Sabre deliberately put in a turn from its southeastern direction to south.As both the Hunter pilots approached the Sabre from the rear, the Sabre was still flying straight, maintaining constant altitude and speed and not doing any evasive maneuvering.
Fg Offr Pingale was rapidly closed in with his Hunter. As he did so, he instinctively looked to his right and saw at approximately 4 o’clock another Sabre flown by Shaukat Ali at 800 yards and rapidly closing in and ready to fire. Fg Offr Pingale decided to take on the Sabre coming in behind, as it would be easier for him to engage rather than Fg Offr Bunsha who was much closer to it. Fg Offr Bunsha was in a better position to continue the attack on the Sabre ahead. Fg Offr Pingale called out Bunsha , to go after the bogey ahead to tackle this coming from the rear”. Fg Offr Bunsha replied ‘Roger’ and went after Alam’s Sabre.
Fg Offr Pingale saw the Sabre coming out of the sun from the right and immediately increased power. He could see the Sabre’s leading edge slats open and knew the aircraft was going to turn tightly. Fg Offr Pingale’s first burst at the Sabre had been a wildly aimed the shot and there was no damage to the aircraft. But he had closed in to around 250-300 yards and shot it again . The Sabre exploded in a massive ball of flame.
In the meantime, Fg Offr Bunsha was chasing Alam who started jockeying his Sabre in . Fg Offr Pingale who was chasing Ali,had kept an eye on Fg Offr Bunsha and targeted at him. Seeing the Sabre start to maneuver, he called out a warning to Fg Offr Bunsha, which was acknowledged. The chase transformed into a horizontal scissors fight with both the Sabre and Hunter cutting speed and turning inside into each other in an effort to get behind each other. This was a particularly dangerous maneuver with which to fight a Sabre whilst one was flying a Hunter.
But during the fight that followed Pakistani Sabre cut inside Fg Offr Bunsha’s turn and was able to take a shot at the Hunter. Fg Offr Bunsha’s Hunter got damaged by gunfire, and crashed. Fg Offr Bunsha probably did not get enough time to eject and was martyred. Fg Offr Bunsha fought bravely and dared to take on Pakistani Sabres, displaying raw courage and daredevilry.
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