Indian Air Force (IAF) Outdoor Gallery
The IAF Outdoor Gallery located just beside the Hanger takes you through a section of wrecked aircrafts shot down by IAF Hunters in Halwara and vehicles that were captured during the Indo-Pak Conflict. You can view two T-59 Tanks that were bombed in Longewala by the IAF, a Toyota made Jeep, Tractor, Truck, fragmented pieces of two F-86 Sabres like their tails, the wings of a B-57 Bomber, Unexploded section of the aircrafts, twisted 0.5 Calibre Machine Guns, Canopies, a Jet Engine completely burnt and ejection seats, all belonging to PAF (Pakistan Air Force). Equipments are on limited display which includes only the DIVINA Radar Units and Systems along with the SA-2 SAM Missiles.
The World War-II Hanger section has a very interesting collection of obsolete aircrafts like the Audax, Hart, Lysander and Wapiti and modern World War-II aircrafts like the Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and few others piloted by 10 Squadrons Units.
The Westland Wapiti K-813 displayed under this Museum Hanger was in fact the first aircraft that was piloted by IAF and served them from 1933 to 1942. The Westland Lysander (RCAF1589) seen on display here with its original serial number still intact was referred to as 'Lizzie' by the squadrons. It was one exceptional aircraft that could fly as slow as 55 miles per hour and piloted only No.1 and No. 2 IAF squadrons. This aircraft was acquired in 1969 by exchanging the B-24 Liberator from the National War Museum of Ontario in Canada.
The Hawker Hurricane was one of those few aircrafts frequently used during combats and could accommodate a maximum of 8 squadrons at one time. The Aircraft on display has the under carriage covers missing since 1992. The Hawker Tempest II (HA 623) aircrafts were acquired only towards the end of World War-II and hence were not piloted for any war. What you see on display is one of the 12 surviving Tempest and 7 were auctioned to war-bird collectors during the late 1970s.
The Super-marine Spitfire seen here is equipped with Rolls Royce engines as opposed to the old ones made with Merlin engines. These aircrafts were used only twice by No. 4 and No. 8 squadrons. The Percival Prentice IV (3381) seen on display was extensively used only for training purposes between late 1940s and early 1950s and finally the Yokosuka MXY 7 - 'Okha' which means 'Cherry Blossom' and code named as 'Baka' is in fact the only undetectable Japanese Suicide Rocket Aircraft that was dropped from another aircraft named Mitsubishi Betty Bomber. A Kamikaze Pilot specially trained would pilot the Mitsubishi and drop this rocket airplane in a suicide dive on targeted allied warships. The Pilots of No. 4 Squadrons in Japan who belonged to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force brought this idea to India after the Japanese surrendered.
Inside the '1950 to 1960' Hanger section, a range of aircrafts piloted by IAF between the 1950s and 1960s are seen on display. They include, the first GNAT IE 1059 that was piloted by IAF is seen on display at the entrance of the Museum near the IAF War Memorial. The De Havilland Vampire (ID 606) which is known as a variant of a Night Fighter was piloted by No. 10 squadrons based in Palam (New Delhi) itself. One of the 104 'Avions Marcel Dassault Ouragan MD450 (IC 554)' Hurricane aircrafts also known as 'Toofani' equipped with Wingtip Tanks is seen on display and they were hardly used during combats by the Indian Pilots while the Avions Marcel Dassault Mystere MD452 (IV-a) is known as the first supersonic aircraft that assisted the pilots to break the second barrier during dives. The HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) HT-2 (IX 737) where 'HT' stands for 'Hindustan Trainer' served the IAF for a long period. It was reengineered with Lycoming engines in 1980s and flew extensively for the FIS School up till 1988. It makes a stunning contrast with the Prentice painted in yellow colour standing beside it in the Museum Hanger. The IAF Kanpur II (VT-XAL) was built in the late 1950s by Air Vice-Marshal Harjinder Singh and discovered at IIT Kanpur after 3½ years. It was later acquired by the IAF Museum and grandly sits under the Hanger on display today. This aircraft is seen exactly in the same way after it was shifted from Kanpur to Delhi as the curator wanted the visitors to visually experience the journey it underwent. The MIL MI-4 (BZ 900) imitates the design of the Whirlwind but has better lifts and can fly to higher altitudes opposed to the Sikorsky S-55 whirlwind (IZ1590) which was the first Helicopter that served the IAF. The MI-4 was extensively used in Northeast India during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. Along with both these Helicopters that are seen on display just outside the Hanger, the fragmented tail of a Sukhoi-7 fighter plane is also seen in a crippled condition which was piloted back to India in 1971 by the brave Wg. Cdr. Mangat.
The Modern Aircraft section showcases all modern and new aircrafts invented and used by IAF squadrons and the Units they served for ranging from Jet fighters and a few of Russian origin. MIG-21, Sukhoi-7, HAL Marut Hunter and the latest additions like the unique MIG-25 R and MIG-23 MF fighter Jet planes also known as 'ISKARs' are all seen on display along with their load of ordnance while other new variants like the MIG-21 BIS version and MIG-23 BN version are not on display.
The Giants Aircraft Section is seen on display outside the Hanger as they are too massive to be kept indoors. They constitute of Transport and Bomber Aircrafts used to transport IAF Officers or dropping bombs during battles. The Canberra and the Liberator are two distinguished Bombers seen on display and can be viewed by the public while a few notable Transport aircrafts like the Fairchild Packet, Antonov-12, Tupolev-124, Meghdoot-II, Illyushin-12 and the famous C-47 Dakota are kept within the Flight Hanger of Palam Air Force Base not for public viewing.
The Vintage Aircraft Section which is also not within the public viewing section showcases all the Vintage aircrafts that have served the IAF and renovated to airworthy condition. This idea was floated during the late 1950s when the IAF decided to display flyable vintage aircrafts to commemorate their 25th Anniversary. A MKVIII Spitfire was rescued from a junkyard located at 1, BRD, Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh and restored to its original condition and made airworthy under the expert hands of Air Vice-Marshal Harjinder Singh. After this idea was executed successfully, it took on further as new additions of retired aircrafts were added like the Spitfire, Tigermoth and Harvard who were retained for training purposes and flew up till the 1970s only. 'Ajeet' of No. 2 Squadron Unit is the last addition flown by a CO from Kalaikunda into the Palam Air Force Base and Museum on 31st March 1991.
The Giants and Vintage Aircraft Flight Sections are displayed for visitors only during the 'Air Force Day'.
As you exit from the Hanger section of the outdoor gallery, you will notice the Indian Air Force Memorial towards your left hand side and next to the entrance gate which was established in memory of the IAF Officers and Staff who sacrificed their lives for the country. There is a Plaque with an inscription that reads 'Their Selves they gave in the most noble cause but etched deep in our hearts their names live on forever'.
The IAF Museum also homes a small souvenir shop located just after the IAF War Memorial site where tourists can purchase Air Force Cutleries, T-Shirts, Postcards, Chinaware and many more.