Introduction Bhupinder Kumar Bishnoi
Excerpted from The India Pakistan Air War of 1965, PVS
Jagan Mohan and Samir Chopra, Manohar Books
Reviewed by Air Cmde Jasjit Singh AVSM VrC
The Indian Air Force played a key role in the 1965
conflict. As part of our special series to mark the 40th year
since that war, we bring you two excerpts from a seminal book on
the subject, The India-Pakistan Air War of 1965, by PVS Jagan
Mohan and Samir Chopra.
By the morning of September 9th, the battle at Khem
Karan had started. A mixed formation of 7 and 27 Squadron
Hunters led by Squadron Leader Bishnoi was detailed for close
support and interdiction.
Bishnoi's No. 2 was Flight Lieutenant Gurbux Singh
Ahuja. The second section consisted of Flight Lieutenant SK
Sharma of 7 Squadron and Flying Officer DK Parulkar.
The four Hunters arrived at Kasur at low level. Noticing
dust raised by the movement of a heavy armoured column, Bishnoi
alerted the formation and the Hunters switched on their
electricals to arm their rockets. As they reached their target,
the anti-aircraft fire from the heavy 40-mm machineguns on the
tanks greeted them. Bishnoi led the first attack.
He pulled up to 300 feet and rolled into a dive onto a
cluster of three tanks. His salvo of eight rockets had immediate
effect: as he pulled away from the target, three tanks could be
seen burning. Ahuja and Sharma followed with rocket attacks on
tank targets. They accounted for several tanks and armoured
personnel carriers as well as soft skinned vehicles. The Hunters
made repeated passes flying through the wall of flak till they
had expended all their rockets and front gun ammunition.
The last to dive into the attack was the No.4, Parulkar.
His Hunter faced the concentrated fire of the AA machine guns of
the tanks, which had by then found time to correct and
coordinate their fire.
Just into the dive, Parulkar's Hunter was hit. The first
thing Parulkar noticed was the explosive decompression as a
bullet pierced the pressurized cockpit. The bullet pierced the
floor of the cockpit, traveled up and through Parulkar's right
arm, through the seat's headrest and finally made a hole in the
Parulkar was lucky. He was crouching to the front to
peer thru the gunsight when the bullet went through his
headrest, otherwise his head would have been in the path of the
bullet. The resultant depressurization misted the cockpit
obscuring visibility. Since there was a hole in the canopy the
airstream cleared the condensation on the windscreen. Parulkar
continued the attack and fired off his rocket salvo at the
As he pulled out of the attack, Parulkar felt sharp pain
in his arm and felt his flying suit being soaked with blood. He
decided not to report it to Bishnoi, sensing the attack might be
aborted if he told Bishnoi that he was wounded. Bishnoi by then
had expended his second salvo of rockets on other tanks and
commenced gun attacks on soft skinned vehicles.
At the end of his fourth pass, Bishnoi called for the
formation to assemble for the flight back.
On exiting the target area, Parulkar radioed Bishnoi and
informed him that he had been hit in his right arm by ground
fire and was bleeding profusely. The rest of the formation was
concerned: though Parulkar could fly back with one arm, he would
need both to land. Bishnoi suggested that Parulkar eject over
Indian territory. Parulkar refused, assuring Bishnoi that he
would be able to land safely. The formation decided that
Parulkar would land last so as to not block the runway if his
Moments later Parulkar made his approach. Dizzy due to
the loss of blood he carried out an overshoot and came around.
He was able to land successfully during the second attempt.
Ambulances and crash tenders approached his aircraft, but
ignoring them, Parulkar taxied his Hunter to dispersal.
Parulkar's overalls were drenched in blood. Still in extreme
pain, he was rushed to the base hospital.
An inspection of Parulkar's Hunter revealed how lucky he
had been. The bullet -- after striking Parulkar in the arm --
had gone through his headrest and through the top of the
ejection seat, severely fraying the static line that connects
the drogue parachute with the main parachute of the seat.
Had Parulkar fired the seat the main chute would not
have deployed, as the static line would have severed with the
force of the opening impact of the drogue chute. The seat would
have dropped to the ground without the main chute deploying.
Parulkar was ignorant of this damage, making his decision to
attempt the landing even more commendable.