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Nagpur

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Maharashtra
Nagpur
 
Aircraft
Aircraft at MC HQ
MiG-29 KB-3298
Hunter T66 S-576
Gnat IE-1205
 
Click to Enlarge The latest addition to Nagpur is this MiG-29 mounted on a pole at the Maintenance Command HQ in  Vayu Sena Nagar. Pic Courtesy: Rahul Devnath

Nagpur is home to the Indian Air Force' Maintenance Command, which is based in Vayu sena nagar. Though Maintenance Command was originally formed in Kanpur, it moved to Nagpur in February 1964, when the then Defence Minister YB Chavan laid the foundation for the present HQ Building. The presence of Maintenance Command HQ in Nagpur ensures that there are several "Warbirds" in the city, not to mention within the Head Quarters itself.  The city can ideally be called a heaven of warbirds, not only in terms of numbers but also in types. No one can expect to  find a Mig-29 Fulcrum, mounted on a pole, anywhere in the world, but here.

In December 2001, a Hawker Hunter T.66 [S-576] was unveiled at the Nagpur Municipal Corporation park by the then Air Chief, ACM Tipnis. The Hunter was presented to the Corporation more than an year back. It was one of the aircraft struck off charge at Kalaikunda.  Prior to that, a Gnat had made its way to be displayed in the famous "Gandhi Bagh" park in Nagpur.

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Two of the oldest known warbirds in Nagpur are HAL Gnats. LEFT: Gnat IE-1205 perched precariously on three concrete pillars in the middle of a Water fountain! The faded  emblem of No.2 Squadron is clearly visible on the nose.  Pic Courtesy : Rahul Devnath RIGHT: HAL Gnat [E 261] on display at the Vayu Sena Nagar in Nagpur. Displayed on a Pylon, this Gnat  is the same one which was displayed in front of the Maintanance command Head Quarters.  Pic Courtesy: Ashit Chakraborty

Nagpur is also served by the Sonegaon airport which has an airforce enclosure in the form of 44 Wing. Sonegaon is the permanent airfield for No.44 "Mighty Jets" Squadron operating the Illyushin 76 heavy transport aircraft. The Illyushins moved here from their former base in Agra in 2003.

Click to Enlarge Boeing 720 [VT-ERS] lies derelict at Sonegaon airport in Nagpur.  Pic Courtesy: Rahul Devnath

Sonegaon airport's history dates back to World War Two, when it was a major staging base. Over the years its major traffic was civilian aircraft till the recent formation of 44 Wing and the transfer of the Il-76s. The airport has its fair share of derelict aircraft in the form of a rusting hulk of a Boeing 707 airliner.

The aircraft is originally a 720 version. Its registration is VT-ERS and is in the name of Continental Aviation since 1991. Though rumoured to have been scrapped over the years, Rahul Devnath's recent photo (Feb 2006) confirms that the airframe is still extant.

Aircraft Type Serial No Remarks
HAL Gnat E-261 Maintenance Command Building
Hawker Hunter T.66 S-576 Ambazari Park
HAL Gnat IE-1205 Gandhi Baug Park
MiG-23BN SM-262 Maintenance Command Building
MiG-29 KB-3298 Maintenance Command Building
Boeing 720 VT-ERS Sonegaon Airport

Acknowledgements: Ashit Chakraborty, Kapil Chandni and Rahul Devnath for most of the information and photographs in this section.

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