Folland Gnat : The Figvhter of Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon

The Folland Gnat is a British-made fighter aircraft. It is a subsonic aircraft and has a swept-wing configuration. Subsonic Aircraft are those aircraft whose speed is less than 1 Mach. 1 Mach is also equal to the speed of sound i.e. 343 m/s. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

In Swept Wing configuration, the wings of the aircraft are at some angle rather than straight. Swept Wing configuration has a very old history. Aircraft with the swept-wing configuration were also used in the second world war.

The Folland Gnat
The Folland Gnat (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The main advantages of the Falling Gnat are that it has a small size, light weight and the cost of operation and maintenance is also very low. These reasons make it best suited for training pilots and aircrews.

The Intellect Behind The Folland Gnat

The Folland Gnat was designed by William Edward Willoughby Petter.

William Edward Willoughby Petter

W.E.W Petter was a Britisher by birth and he worked on various aircraft including Westland Lysander and Westland Whirlwind. The Folland Gnat was his last aircraft.

Henry Folland, the founder of Folland Aircraft Limited appointed Petter as the Chief Engineer and Deputy Managing Director of his company.

Petter led a reclusive life throughout his education at Cambridge University. One of Petter’s friends John McCowan revealed that Petter has an interest in motor cars.

In Picture on the left is W.E.W. Petter.

The Fascinating Indian Story

There is a very interesting story behind the induction of Folland Gnat in the Indian Air Force. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Air Chief Marshal Prakash Chandra Lal once noticed a fighter in England that was 1/3rd the size and 1/2 the weight of its contemporary fighters and that too with improved capabilities and better acceleration. He was quite impressed and wanted to make a deal for these fighters.

The inventor was however not excited about the deal but later agreed when he came to know that Indians also play cricket.

After this, the Folland Gnat was used by Indian Air Force in combat roles in wars including the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, and proved to be quite useful. India has also developed two separate variants of its own derived from Gnat F.1 namely HAL Ajeet and HAL Ajeet Trainer which are later discussed in this article. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The Only Fighter to Receive PVC

The Folland Gnat was used in Indo-Pak war of 1965 and Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. It is credited for shooting down seven Pakistani Canadair Sabres in the 1965 war. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

In 1971, something astonishing happened in a dogfight, a single Indian Gnat pilot held out against six Pakistani Canadair Sabres and damaged two of the Sabres before getting shot down. The brave pilot was Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon who posthumously received Param Vir Chakra and is still (2021) the only recipient of Param Vir Chakra from Indian Air Force.

Param Vir Chakra awarded to Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon
Param Vir Chakra

Param Vir Chakra is India’s highest military decoration and is given for distinguished acts of valor and sacrifice during wartime. There has been 21 awardees so far out of which 20 are from Indian Army and only one from Indian Air Force (IAF). (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Variants of the Folland Gnat

There are more than 10 variants of the Folland Gnat. We will briefly discuss few of them.

  1. Gnat F.1 was a single seater fighter which was a export version and was exported to Finland, India and Yugoslavia.
  2. Gnat F.2 was an upgraded version of Gnat F.1
  3. HAL Ajeet was lightweight fighter developed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It was derived from Gnat F.1. Indian Air Force operated it between 1977 and 1991.
  4. HAL Ajeet Trainer is a double seater trainer version designed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for Indian Air Force (IAF). This version is derived from HAL Ajeet. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Operating Countries

  1. Finland (Finnish Air Force)
  2. India (Indian Air Force)
  3. United Kingdom (Royal Air Force)
  4. Yugoslavia (Yugoslav Air Force)

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