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Squadron 5

The crest of No 5 Squadron Air Force is a fully grown asian wild elephant within a roundal placed directly below the state emblem which is an adaptation from Sarnath Lion Capital of Emperor Ashoka. The mighty tusker with a twisted tail is showing blowing its trumpet before the charge. This majestic tusker symbolises the enormous strength that could be harnessed in order to impart crushing blows to the enemy.

The squadron motto is inscribed in the scroll by Sanskrit words "SHAKTI VIJAYETE" which translates into "Strength is Victory".

Era of Liberator

The need for a long range heavy bomber capability in the Indian Air Force began to be keenly felt in the later stages of 1947. Against such a requirement, the Royal Air Force offered to supply Avro Lancasters, a large number of which were then under disposal at the end of World War II. Instead, with a keen sence of responsibility and an energy borne out of pride and necessity, the IAF came out with a bold, and in retrospect, wise decision, to reclaim B-24 Liberator aircraft that had served during the war in the East. Between the pioneers of the IAF and HAL, over 40 Liberators were finally refurnised and overhauled and the first of these donned IAF colour on 2 November 48 when the IAF formed its first bomber Squadron. No 5 Squadron crest, the "Tusker" was to be as appropriate to its role and strength as any emblem can envisage.

Although, optimised for the heavy bomber role, the Liberators were soon to assume maritime reconnaissance functions along the Indian coast line. Although the IAF Liberator was not ever required to go to war, its different aspect certainly played a part during the crises of 1950 and 1951.

Induction of Canberra

On 1 September 1957 the "Tuskers" became the first IAF Squadron to re-equip on the modern Canberra jet bomber aircraft. The Tuskers pioneered the development and operational expansion of the Canberra fleet in the IAF.

Congo Operation: In 1961 Tuskers were selected to provide a six aircraft detachment for service with the United Nation forces (Alongwith Swedish, Ethiopian, Italian, Argentinean & Brazilian Forces) in Congo. Twelve aircrew and ninety support personnel landed in Leopoldville, Congo in September and October 1961 and soon moved to Kamina. While operating from this base with primitive facilities and against heavy odds, (projected by Katanga Rebel Forces) the IAF element carried out photo-reccee and offensive air support missions, mainly in the Elisabeth ville sector inspite of heavy ground fire. Flt Ly (late Wg Cdr) P Gautam destroyed two enemy aircraft in air action. The Squadron earned two Vr Cs, one VM & five VSMs in this operation.

After 14 months the Tuskers' detachment returned to India, having won numerous gallantry awards and unstinted praise, respect and affection of UN forces forces from Sweden and Ethiopia. The Unit excelled itself in the Congo operation. The squadron was a major contributer towards the UN aim of establishing peace in Congo.

Indo-Pak War 1965: In August 1965, hordes of regulars and irregulars infiltrated from Pakistan into Kashmir. On 1 September 1965, Pakistani armor attacked in the Chhamb sector and the IAF went into action. The Tuskers railed to the defence of the country. Chaklala, Mianwali, Sargodha, Chak-jhumra and many others enemy airfields experienced the thunderous fury of enraged bands of Tuskers and were laid low as proved by the progressively decreasing enemy air activity.

Offensive air support missions against enemy troops and armour concentration in Chhamb, Khemkaran, Pasrur and other sector resulted in the rout of the enemy. Interdiction missions against railway yards caused the collapse of enemy lines of communication. The squadron also undertook reconaissance and armed patrols of many airfields but the enemy had no desire to face the Tuskers.

The "Tuskers" finest hour was undoubtedly during the three week conflict with Pakistan in September 1965. In the 22 days war, over 300 attack sorties were flown, two third by night. The "Tuskers" earned one MVC, four Vr Cs, three VSMs, and 14 mention-in-despatches.

Indo-Pak War 1971: The events leading to the Indo-Pak War 1971 are too recent to need elaboration. When Pakistan launched her pre-emptive air strike at dusk on 3 December 1971, the orders to retaliate were received and No 5 Squadron got airborne at 2150 hours the same night displaying a remarkable short reaction time. Thus, the credit for being the first to strike back goes to this squadron.

The Tuskers raided Shorkot, Sargodha, Lyallpur and Mianwali airfields during the first three nights repeatedly and devastatingly. Dhaka the airfield in earstwhile East Pakistan was also bombed. Interdiction missions against Raiwind, Jassar and other railway yards were carried out. Enemy installations at Sulemanki and Zaffarwal were neutralised. Air support mission in Chhamb sector and against enemy armour concetrations bore fruit. The Army confirmed the enemy's complete loss of morale and will to fight caused by the destruction rained upon them by the Canberras.

With the unconditional surrender in the East and the unilateral Indian declaration of cease-fire in the West, the 14 days war ended. No 5 Squadron had flown over 300 hrs, nearly all by night and delivered hundreds of thousand of pounds of high explosive bombs. The "Tuskers" earned one MVC and three Vr Cs.

President's Colour Presentation: The "Tuskers" became the first bomber unit to be awarded the President's Standard. 5 Squadron was awarded the Presidential colours on 09 April 1975 by the Rastrapati late Shri Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed.

Induction of Jaguar

In the ten years after 1971, the Canberra maintained their sterling reputation and the 'Tuskers' their elan, but in the face of growing electronic wizardry and proliferation of sophisticated air defences, it was necessary to induct an aircraft that had the ability of flying very low and fast, penetrate layers of air defences, deliver a lethal punch as accurately as possible and return safely to base. Thus on 1 August 1981 the "Tuskers" re-equipped on the modern and lethal Jaguar Strike aircraft.

Op-Pawan: In July 1988, the Tuskers undertook the most sacred task in defence of human rights across the Indian Borders by participation in Op-pawan in support of IPKF in Sri Lanka. They flew highest number of reconnaissance missions.

The Tuskers continue to fly the Jaguars.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:44:04 ZULU