Hawker Hunter Mark 56

The Hawker Hunter Mark 56 was the designation given to an export version of the Hunter F.Mark 6 that was sold to India, where it saw action during the invasion of Goa, the border clash with China in 1952 and the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965.

A delegation from India visited Hawkers early in 1956 and examined both the Hunter and the Sea Hawk. Eventually the Indian government decided to buy the Hunter F.Mark 6, and in September 1957 placed an order for 160 aircraft.

These aircraft came from three sources. The first thirty-two were taken from an existing RAF order. The next sixteen were ex-RAF aircraft from Maintenance Units. The remaining aircraft were purpose built for India, and had new gun blast deflectors and tail parachutes.

The first of the Mk.56s made its maiden flight on 11 October 1957. Deliveries began in November 1957 and continued until mid-1960. They were used to equip Nos.5 and 17 Squadrons at Peena and Nos.7, 20 and 27 at Ambala.

More aircraft were ordered in three batches in 1965, 1967 and 1968. A total of 53 aircraft were delivered under these orders, taken from refurbished ex-RAF and Dutch aircraft.

The Indian Hunters were used in combat on several occasions. In 1961 they took part in the invasion of Goa. In the following year they fought Chinese MiG-17s during a conflict on the Chinese-Indian border. They also saw combat during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, where they were faced with Pakistani F-86 Sabres and F-104 Starfighters. The only clash between the Hunter and the F-104 ended inconclusively, with all of the aircraft involved escaping. By the end of the war the Indian Hunters had claimed six F-86 Sabres, but at a cost of nine aircraft lost.

By 1971 the Hunter was increasingly outclassed by Pakistani Shenyang F-6s (MiG-19s) and Mirages. This time India lost 13 Hunters in air-to-air combat but could only claim three victories.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 April 2010), Hawker Hunter Mark 56 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_hawker_hunter_56.html

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