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Hf-24 ( Marut) First Jet Fighter Manufactured Outside the Developed World.

An air warrior, MG has a checkered and owns a string of cars including Mustang and BMW

Dr. Kurt Tank

Dr. Kurt Tank


In August 1947, the British rule lapsed over India. I have to use the word "lapsed" because freedom came to India not by a revolution or war but by an act of the British parliament. This is the government of India act of 1946.

The Britsh had set up the Royal Indian Air Force in 1932 on the advice of the Skeen committee constituted by the Viceroy. No 1 Squadron was formed and the first IAF commander was Cecil Bouchier who was seconded from the RAF. He retired as an Air Vice Marshal.

The RIAF saw action in the NW Frontier against Muslim tribesmen and later was in action against the imperial army during WW II(1939-45). The initial equipment of the iAF was aircraft of English pedigree.

In the early fifties, a proposal was floated for an indigenous fighter plane as the cold war was in full swing. Nehru must be credited with the idea of making India a self-reliant power but as usual, he went only half the way.

Earnest work began at the Hindustan Aeronautics factory at Bangalore for a fighter -bomber jet.


IAF Requirement

The Indian Air force was asked as to what they desired. The Air Staff projected a
requirement for a multi-role aircraft, which could operate at high altitude as an interceptor as well as carry out a low-level ground attack. They desired that the aircraft be able to achieve speeds of Mach 2.0 and have a ceiling of 60,000 feet (18,290 m) with a combat radius of 500 miles (805 km). In short, they required a multi-role combat aircraft that could also operate for the navy.
The Indian technical expertise to manufacture or even design such an aircraft was just not there; hence the Government of India invited Dr. Kurt Tank to head the design team at HAL

Creation of Dr. Tank. FW -190

Creation of Dr. Tank. FW -190

Dr. Kurt Tank

Dr.Kurt Waldemar Tank (February 24, 1898 - June 5, 1983) was contacted by the Indian government. He had escaped to Argentina after the surrender of Germany.

During the Second World War, he was heading the design department at Focke-Wulf from 1931-45. Dr. Tank made a fair amount of contribution to Hitler’s war machine and designed several important aircraft including the Focke-Wulf Few 190 fighter aircraft.

Dr. Tank led a checkered life and joined the Rohrbach aircraft factory as a test pilot. There he established the design and testing department. He left the company in 1930 and joined the famous Messerschmitt Aircraft factory. He did not stay there long and became become the design director and head of flight testing for Focke-Wulf in Bremen.As the war progressed, Tank began plans for a new fighter jet, known as the Ta 183. At the end of the war with Germany in ruins, he escaped to Argentina. He was contacted and asked to come to India. He was accompanied by his able deputy Engineer Mittelhuber.

Dr.Kurt Tank was appointed as head of the design bureau and set about designing the Hindustan Marut fighter-bomber, the first military aircraft constructed in India. The importance of the plane lies in the fact it was the first indigenous fighter jet plane built outside teh developed world. This surprised the western aircraft manufacturers.


The Marut-HF-24

Dr. Tank set about his task in earnest and launched the first prototype, which flew in 1961. After extensive trials, the Marut entered squadron service in 1965 and was operated by the IAF till 1985. Dr. Tank left Hindustan Aeronautics in 1967 after the induction of the plane into the IAF. He retired to Munich where he died in 1983. He was instrumental in the aircraft being displayed at the Oberschleissheim museum near Munich.

The Marut, however, did not live up to its promise, basically because the engine was underpowered. It barely touched Mach 1.1 in a dive. But it was a versatile plane and did well in the wars against Pakistan. Not a single aircraft was lost due to air combat and only 4 aircraft were lost due to ground fire. In all about 145 Maruts were built.

The airframe developed by Dr. Tank was flawless but he could not develop an engine of requisite power. There was an attempt to fit an Egyptian manufactured engine but this was abandoned in 1969. Somehow the various development
programs to enhance the operational performance of the HF-24 Marut by HAL were
abandoned for one reason or the other. In addition after the Pokharan blast in 1975, the western powers clamped down on technology transfer and the Marut suffered.

A word about the Chief test pilot of the Marut is required. Wing Commander (later Group Captain) Suranjan Das was India's foremost test pilot. He flew the HF-001 for the first time on 17th June 1961. Tragically, he was killed in 1970 when testing a more advanced version of the Marut.

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The Marut Retires

Due to the delay in finding a suitable power plant for the engine, the GOI concluded an agreement with the Soviet Union for the MiG-23 variable-sweep fighter to meet the Tactical Air Strike Aircraft (TASA) requirement. Four squadrons, then flying the HF-24 and Sukhoi Su-7 was re-equipped with the MiG-23BN.
The Marut will, however, live in the annals of the aviation history of the IAF, as the first indigenous built fighter bomber.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 09, 2020:

Tom thank you very much for commenting. It's always a pleasure to read your comments.

tom on October 09, 2020:

sir tank airframe designer only,engines were developed aerospace companies

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 08, 2020:

Probably you are correct.

tom on October 08, 2020:

kurt tank was only a designer not engnieer,he designed fw190 and fw200 condor,served in ww1 as cavarly captain

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 08, 2020:

The problem is the Indian leadership is not strategically inclined. If the political leadership has vision the Defence Secretary has no meaning. Right down from Nehru to Modi the guiding principle is as written by Alistair Maclean in his Novel fear is the key. This is this harsh fact right from the time of the invasion of Ghazni

tom on October 08, 2020:

book restoration of spilt milk by air vice marshal sn roy chaudhary has all details

tom on October 08, 2020:

defence secretary refused to,sanction five million pounds to develop engine,aircraft was displayed in faranborough airshow and it was praised,e 300 and soviet engines ,should have modified orpheus engine ,iaf import lobby killed it, shame

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 07, 2020:

Tom thanks for the info.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 07, 2020:

Tom, I think the final approval for appointing Dr. Kurt Tank was Pandit Nehru. Tank spent many years with Fock Wulf. I am not sure he designed the 4 engines Condor. The problem with the HF 24 was that it had a superb airframe but the engine was not up to the mark and that was because the western world didn't want to give the best engines to India. Unless a country can manufacture engines that have required thrust it cannot be called self-reliant. That is the reason even the new plane that Indians has manufactured Tejas, I believe has got an imported power plant. My friends still in service are not too happy with the performance of the Tejas. I wonder if Messerchmitt had come to India whether he would have been able to produce an engine. In that respect, China is a decade ahead of India as far as manufacturing engines is concerned.

tom on October 06, 2020:

suranjan das son of former chief justice of india sr das,mrs suranjan is a birtish lady veronica who was awarded obe for cheshire foundation work ,four prototypes crashed killing four test pilots

tom on October 05, 2020:

it was first asian supersonic aircraft,if five million pounds were invested it could have been fiited with good engine,help from west germany and england ,data of hf24 used for mirage f1 and tornado,gunther rall flew hf 24,marut fans blog about this plane,kurt tank designed hf 24 and fw190,he designed pulqui jet fighter for argentina,it failed,dr messerchmitt in mid 50s offered his srvice to india,but kurt was chosen,

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 05, 2020:

Tom, HF 24 was underpowered because it used imported engines that did not match the airframe and India could not develop an indigenous engine. This is one of the drawbacks of India aviation and it is sad that China has been able to overcome this problem by reverse engineering of Soviet planes they bought or were gifted. .

tom on October 01, 2020:

hf 24 was under powered ,transonic,four prototypes crashed killing four test pilots .good design ,kurt tank designed helwan ha 300 for egypt ,soviet pressure cancelled it ,gp capt kapil bhargava tested it,now egypt is selling mirages to pakistan

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 27, 2020:

Thank you, Tom, you seem to be knowledgeable about this aspect.

tom on September 26, 2020:

hf 24 was transonic,first twin engined jet fighterof iaf ,four prototypes crashed killing four test pilots ,proposed hf 73 upgrade was cancelled,it was big blunder, hf 73 data used for panavia tornado and mirage f1

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 16, 2020:

Thanks sir

manatita44 from london on January 16, 2020:

Wow! you are blessed!

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 16, 2020:

Dear brother Manatita, thank you for commenting. Personally I found the MIG 21 BIS a delight.

manatita44 from london on January 16, 2020:

Great knowledge about aircraft and I know that's your field. What's the best you've flied?

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 15, 2020:


Thank you for commenting

Squadron Leader Ravi Baveja on January 14, 2020:

Thank you for the article on a long-forgotten plane of the IAF. I have flown this plane and even now into the winter of my life remember it. I found it a safe plane and it had great aerodynamics. I loved the machine and I am glad you have brought my memory alive.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 12, 2020:

Thanks for commenting. HF 24 lost out because Dr. Tank was not so well versed with engines but his frame was flawless.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 12, 2020:

This is a well-researched and interesting article. It's a shame that a more powerful engine was lacking.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 12, 2020:

Thank you, Pamela, for your comment

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 12, 2020:

Thank you Pamela. Sweet of you to have commented

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 12, 2020:

I do not always understand the differences in the fighter jets, but I do enjoy reading your historical articles about India.

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