As noted earlier, RIAF squadrons had commenced equipping with Tempests in September 1946 – nearly a year

before the country achieved independence. When ‘Partition’ was formally enacted on 15 August 1947, all the

RAF’s Tempests (and other various types) in India were

transferred to the two newly independent countries,

the bulk (124) going to the RIAF and the remainder (35)

to the RPAF. The RIAF Tempests included those already

serving in RIAF units, namely Nos 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, and 10

Squadrons. Nos 1 and 9 Squadrons, recently converted to

Tempests from Spitfires, were among the assets selected

for transfer to the RPAF although Indian personnel in those units were evacuated to their homeland.

No 2 Squadron, also recently converted from Spitfires,

was short-lived as a Tempest unit, disbanding at the end

of 1947, leaving the RIAF with five operational Tempest


No 3 Squadron eventually converted to Vampires in December 1952

No 4 Squadron had taken over No 30 Squadron RAF’s

Tempests in July 1947 and would be the last Squadron to

fly Tempests operationally, not trading them for Vampires

until April 1954.

No 7 Squadron left its original Tempests at Risalpur for

the RPAF but, re-equipped with replacement aircraft,

continued to operate until the end of 1949.

No 8 Squadron, the second to fly Tempests, continued

to operate them until Nov 1951 when they were replaced

by Vampires.

No 10 Squadron received its first Tempests in May 1947

and were the second to last to operate the type, beginning conversion to Vampires in December 1953.

In October 1947 an invasion into disputed Indian territory (in Jammu and Kashmir) by tribal insurgents from

Pakistan, took place, inevitably developing into war

between to two new nations. The RIAF Tempests were

heavily employed supporting ground troops in the fighting which continued throughout 1948. Bombs, RP and

cannon were used to great effect. No air combat took

place other than the interception of a RPAF Dakota which

was damaged as it was driven away. The war reached

a stalemate situation towards the end of 1948 and the

United Nations brokered a ceasefire that was imposed

on 31 January 1949.

Meanwhile, attrition had forced the RIAF to look for reinforcements for its Tempest force and surplus RAF Tempests were purchased. These aircraft had mostly been in

store since their delivery but in May 1948 113 were sold

back to their manufacturer, Hawker Aircraft at Langley,

where they were completely refurbished and brought up

to the latest standard. India acquired 89 of these Tempests, allocating serial numbers HA547 to HA635; they

Title photo: The first RIAF unit to equip with the Tempest was No 3 Squadron which began conversion at Kolar

in September 1946. PR836 Q was reported with that squadron the following month and served with them until it was

badly damaged in an accident at Risalpur on 14 May 1947, when the undercarriage collapsed and Sqn Ldr M.L. Mishra

was injured. In common with the other RIAF Tempest squadrons, no unit codes were carried, just individual letters.


September 2022

INFO Eduard