View Full Version : Connies at RAF Northolt. Anybody know ?

16th Aug 2008, 15:15
Posted this on the spotter's forum, but alas no answers forthcoming, so perhaps this is the better place to ask :8 Cut and paste of post....

Whilst reading the thread on the use of runway 23 at LHR, there was mention of a very near airprox between an Olympic 727 and an Indian Air Force Constellation.

This got the grey matter moving and I seem to remember seeing a few IAF connies in the 1970's (and possibly some Pakistan AirForce examples as well) at RAF Northolt. Now this is perhaps a question for the aviation history forum, but perhaps not. I was wondering why the connies were regular visitors into London when Air India was flying daily (as today) with enough capacity to cover diplomatic movements and so on.

Was it a staging post to re-supply their UN mission in New York or some such ? A shame that at the time we never appreciated how rich and varied the aircraft were in comparison to today.....

Coincidentally, i was floating by Sion (LSGS) airport a few days ago and was happily suprised to see the Breitling Connie sitting in the sun looking magnificent. Ahhhh.....



17th Aug 2008, 14:22
93 views and no one who can offer any information ? Come on chaps, you're usually such a wonderful mine of information. Some of the 'old lags' must've even been there and/or had something to do with these aircraft.



More descriptive thread names work wonders ;)

18th Aug 2008, 06:57
L-1049G VT-DHL 6/62 became BG-580 Indian AF MR, then 11/76 IN-317
Indian Navy, operated to 1983. DHM/BG-575/IN-315. DHN/BG-577. DIM/BG-576/IN-316. DJW/BG-583. DJX/BG-579. L-1049C VT-DGL/BG-581/IN-318. DGM/BG-582/IN-319. Occasional NLT visitors.

gatwick ghost
18th Aug 2008, 10:53
The Indian Air Force Connies were regular NHT visitors (at least monthly) in 60's and early 70's. My understanding was that they were for the Indian High Commision in London, but I am not sure why they did the trip rather than the passengers taking Air India.

18th Aug 2008, 11:21
Short history of IAF Connies HERE. (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/Aircraft/Constellation.html)

18th Aug 2008, 14:44
Thanks for the replies, the information supplied would seem to answer my question. Was I mistaken in thinking that I had seen Pakistan Air Force connies also ?



Geezers of Nazareth
18th Aug 2008, 17:54
I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Indian AF only used two Connies on this route, ie BG579 and BG583. On one occasion in the early/mid 60's they used another (possibly something with '777', but I can't be sure) but that was just a one-off.

I was wondering a few months back why they visited, and thought that it might be for spares collection for their Hunter and Canberra fleets, but it seems not from one of the posts above.

I have very good memories of them visiting Northolt, I lived just to the south of the airfield, maybe 1 mile as the crow flies. I can remember hearing the wonderful 'roar' of the engines as the aircraft landed, and then hearing the squealing from the nose-wheel as it taxied around. Ahhh, bliss!

I will try to dig out the references to them and maybe post it here. I think the article mentioned when they started (early 60s), and I should be able to work out when the last one visited.

Anybody got any photo's of them?

I have a photo of the Indian navy one (IN315) in the museum at Goa/Dabolim. Should I post?

18th Aug 2008, 19:35
Thanks for the additional info Geezers

I have a photo of the Indian navy one (IN315) in the museum at Goa/Dabolim. Should I post?

Of course! No objections here.



18th Aug 2008, 20:39
Some nice pictures of Indian Navy Connies around mid 80's in Osprey's "Sky Trucks 2" by the late Stephen Piercey. Also try back issues of "Propliner " magazine,they have a web site just Google.

19th Aug 2008, 00:08
I was based at Northolt when the Indians started to run the 1049's in there. The first few trips had Air India Captains and Flight Engineers to train the Air Force crews.

They normally came from Orly and went back that way. They carried spares, for refurbishing in the UK, from Hunters and Canberras etc. And I am sure supplies for the embassy and their friends in Southall!!

One arrived one day covered with more oil than usual and the RAF ground crew put 29galls!!! in one engine!! It was insisted that the cowlings were opened, and when they were all the rocker covers were off and held in place on one stud following the last inspection in Bombay!! The calls and letters regarding oiled laundry in Harrow etc. followed!!

They also came in with Fairchild C119's that carried Avon engines for refurbishing. Their departures were always interesting!!!!!!!!!!! As was the Christmas Eve' arrival that ended in the mud close to the A40!!

Speedbird 48.

19th Aug 2008, 08:19
Thank you, forget, for the link. I really did see a Liberator flying around Bombay in 1962.

19th Aug 2008, 10:38
Ah yes, the IAF Super Connies. I remember one on the ground at Northolt in summer 1968 or 1969. Hearing the Connie check in on London Approach on my VHF radio, I duly drove down there in our 1961 Mini (I had just learned to drive, so the drive in itself was quite a big deal for me). Even in the late 60's, Connies were getting quite rare. Arriving at Northolt, I simply parked the Mini next to the fence, walked through a gate and spent around 15 minutes on the tarmac photographing the Connie. No-one about and no questions asked! In fact, I was able to walk right up to the aircraft and get some close-up shots of the Wright R3350's. I've got the colour sides somewhere, so I'll try and find them and add them to the thread.

Some of the ex-Air India Super G's were flying up to January 1984. The remaining machines flew on VIP missions for the Indian Navy and were based at Pune, east of Bombay. Heavy maintenance was still carried out by Air India to the end; they even had a "L1049G Maintenance" department at their engineering base at Bombay airport until early 1984, and the aircraft regularly flew in and out of Bombay up to then. Continuous Connie maintenance from 1948 to 1984!! I think the last remaining machine was BG579, but I'm not absolutely sure of that.

My first recollection of an Air-India Super G was at Cairo airport on 30/09/58. We disembarked from our KLM DC6B at around midnight and the Connie was parked next to us. It looked magnificent, the biggest aircraft I had ever seen to my 7-year old eyes. The Super Connie and Starliner are still my favourite aircraft of all time.

Geezers of Nazareth
19th Aug 2008, 15:26
Okay, found the notes concerning the Indian AF visits ...

they started (at Northolt) in 1962, replacing Indian AF C-119Gs. They only ever used the two a/c listed above for the trip, except on one occasion (May '67) BG577 coded 'C' made a single visit. Their last visit appears to have been in late 1973 (I might be able to dig out exact dates?).

I was meaning to ask where the operated to/from en-route to Northolt, as I can't imagine they would be able to operate India-London non-stop. From the above messages they seem to have come via Paris/Orly and Cairo.

Further to the original post. I am 95% certain that Indian Navy Connies never made it to the UK, or London, or Northolt; but if anyone can provide a date when the saw one then I'm happy to be corrected.

(still trying to work out how to post a picture into this thread)

19th Aug 2008, 15:37
Thanks for the replies, the information supplied would seem to answer my question. Was I mistaken in thinking that I had seen Pakistan Air Force connies also ?


SHJSHJ your memory matches mine.

The PAF used to send Connies (somewhat rarer than the Indian ones which were, more or less, scheduled visitors). I recall their visits were sometimes notable for the chaos they could cause Heathrow and Northolt due to the apparent inability of some of their crews to cope with navigation and communication requirements in the crowded airspace. I was in the jump seat of a Viscount out of LHR in 1972 (Kestrel G-AVJB for the record) that had to hold whilst ATC extracted a wayward PAF aircraft (pretty sure it was a Connie but not 100%) from our SID route. The co-pilot of the Viscount was a Pakistani national who was suitably unimpressed with the skills of his countrymen!

The other Connies at Northolt were, of course, occasional US Military C-121s to supplement the regular parade of ("boring"!!!) C-47, C-54, C-117, C-131, C-118, T-29 and T-39 types.

19th Aug 2008, 16:44
ISTR that an Indian Connie, not sure whether it was civil or military, had a very near miss with a high gasometer (at Brentford?) whilst on the approach to Northolt or LHR. It was in the news at the time (early 1960's?).

Sorry if it's a bit vague but it's one of the facts that stick in my memory.

Anyone able to confirm this?


Is this the one I'm thinking of, mentioned in post no 1 by SHJ, but in detail on the AAIB web site here. However, it doesn't mention a near miss with a gasometer.


Roy Bouchier
19th Aug 2008, 17:01
There was a near miss with an Indian Air Force Connie over Heathrow about that time.
But the only Northolt gasholder incident I can recall was when Pan Am mistook it for the LHR one.
Ron Gosse was the supervisor at LHR the next morning to hear his desk man question Pan Am's first flight of the day; "Good Morning Clipper. And where would the world's most experienced airline like to land this morning?"

19th Aug 2008, 19:06
I believe large arrows were painted on the gas holder left for LAP and right for Northolt. A Pan Am 707 landed at Northolt by mistake . It was ferried out after removing all of the seats and surplus weight.

Tootles the Taxi
19th Aug 2008, 20:27
I believe large arrows were painted on the gas holder left for LAP and right for Northolt.

Thought there was an 'L' & 'N' painted either side of it on the easterly approaches?

Liffy 1M
19th Aug 2008, 20:52
Here is the famous Pan Am 707 on the ground at and then taking off from Northolt:

Boeing 707-321, N725PA, Pan American World Airways (PA / PAA) (http://www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1001608/)
Boeing 707-321, N725PA, Pan American World Airways (PA / PAA) (http://www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1001607)

And an Indian AF Super Connie landing there:

Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation, BG579, Indian Air Force (http://www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1003785/)

19th Aug 2008, 22:47
had a very near miss with a high gasometer (at Brentford?) whilst on the approach to Northolt or LHR. It was in the news at the time (early 1960's?).

Having read the AAIB Report mentioned in my post above it is clear my memory is at fault and mistook the near-miss of to the church steeple at Harrow-on-the-Hill church for a near-miss to a Gasometer. And it took place in January 1970.

The AAIB report remarks on how close the IAF Connie was to the ground - 77ft above the church steeple!

In the event the GCA controller noticed, as the aircraft came into the coverage of his precision display, that it was apparently low on the approach whereupon he took the correct immediate action in instructing the pilot to climb as soon as he had confirmed by R/T that the aircraft was indeed very low. This action may well have prevented a serious accident occurring in a heavily populated area. There was no acknowledgement from the aircraft of the first instruction to climb to 1,350 feet. Some 23 seconds later, during which time the aircraft would have travelled nearly a mile towards the high ground, the GCA controller repeated his urgent instruction to “climb immediately” adding the instruction to make a left hand orbit and continue the climb to 1,500 feet.

With the aircraft 500 feet above Northolt a detailed analysis of the area showed that the aircraft would have been 77 feet above the Harrow-on-the-Hill church spire and 200 feet above the general terrain. Nevertheless, for this stage of the approach the aircraft was far too low.

Roy Bouchier
20th Aug 2008, 07:40
Flew in to Northolt a number of time in the '60's and recall often seeing the Indian Connie there. I see that the one pictured in Liffy's post is the one involved in the Heathrow near miss.
Been a long time but I seem to remember that the gasholders were eventually identified with letters. NH and LHR?

20th Aug 2008, 09:02
I seem to recall a Air India connie landed at Northolt in error whilst aiming for Heathrow

20th Aug 2008, 17:34
This Northolt thread was started by SpringHeeledJack as a follow on to a thread in the Spectators Balcony Forum about runway 23 at Heathrow.

There is a lot of cross over information between the two threads - if you haven't read the other one it may be worth a visit - http://www.pprune.org/spectators-balcony-spotters-corner/339076-rw23-lhr.html

20th Aug 2008, 19:40
My first-ever trip on an aircraft was in VT-DJX, Rani of Madurai, which later became BG-579.

The trip was behind a tug, from the Air India hangar on the south side, to the then 'Passnger Terminal' on the north side at LHR, courtesy of the AI Station Engineer. Must have been late '59 or early '60.

A small step for mankind, but as much of a thrill to an eleven-year-old as a flight round the world!

21st Aug 2008, 19:09
Just to say thankyou to the many contributors for recounting their memories of these old ladies back in the day, especially those that included the sound of the landing aircraft. Now that I think of it they were equipped with freight doors so it would only be logical that the main purpose would have been to deliver/collect spares for the British built aircraft in the IAF at that time, rather than 'people' diplomatic flights that I had imagined.

Just out of interest, how did the Indian govt re-supply their embassies and UN mission in New York ? Did the old connies go across the pond from Northolt or would that have been better covered by Air India ? Also why were there so many 'errors' by the IAF connie pilots coming into/out of London ? I would've thought then as now that the quality of the training within the IAF would have been of a decent standard.



22nd Aug 2008, 02:45
The IAF Super Connies definatly could not get to NY from Northolt. Runway length being one good reason, and the take off roll of a heavy 1049 the other.

They only came and went to the East while I was there. Usually oly.

Speedbird 48.

22nd Aug 2008, 02:50
The IAF Super Connies definatly could not get to NY from Northolt. Runway length being one good reason, and the take off roll of a heavy 1049 the other.

They only came and went to the East while I was there. Usually Orly.

They were not the greatest IFR airmen hence the problems in the London FIR from time to time. (and probably other FIR's as well) Good stick and rudder guys as was witnessed when one of their C-119's lost and engine on rotate, eastbound and landed on the runway that starts at the Polish war memorial. I was sunning myself on the grass outside the crewroom when they did that one. Great bit of flying with a very unforgiving airplane when heavy and on one engine.

Speedbird 48.

22nd Aug 2008, 07:32
There is a substantial article about the Indian AF Connies in Propliner magazine No 21 (early 1984), the last issue edited by Stephen Piercey before his untimely death. He went to India and rode the aircraft in literally their last hours of service.

22nd Aug 2008, 07:37
The IAF Super Connies definatly could not get to NY from Northolt. Runway length being one good reason, and the take off roll of a heavy 1049 the other.

But what if they were staging through Keflavik ? Thanks for the recollection of the C-119 episode, they must have indeed been good stick and rudder men :ok:



24th Aug 2008, 15:30
The fickle gasholder is not there now. It was at South Harrow and as I remember it had a large NO painted on it.
The incident with the Connie happened shortly after I moved to harrow and I remember the local paper reporting that it had disappeared off the radar in the shadow of Harrow Hill. After Northholt turned the plane they told Heathrow what they had done using a field telephone. I believe the enquiry suggested that communication between the airfields could be improved :)

Amos Keeto
27th Aug 2008, 22:31
Sorry SHJ and Panop, but you are both incorrect regarding your sighting of Pakistan Air Force Connies at Northolt as the PAF never operated them! It was PIA that had them and flew into LHR during the '60s and may possibly have taken one into NHT.

The last visit by an Indian Air Force Super Connie was made by BG583 on 3 August 1973 not to Northolt, but to RAF Lyneham where I photographed her making her final UK departure. After that, all IAF flights were made to Lyneham with An-12s, which had greater capacity to collect spares for Indian Hunters and Sea Kings.

Geezers of Nazareth
28th Aug 2008, 20:12
Amos K ... absolutely OUTSTANDING photo!!

BG583 was also in Northolt the same day (3rd August '73), but whether it was 'before' Lyneham or 'after' I cannot say.

However ...
Northolt, Sept '73
7th - BG583/G
11th - BG583/G
and in between it went to ATL at Stansted for checks.

Northolt, Nov '73
9th - BG579/D
21st - BG579/D

and as far as I know these were the last Indian AF Connie's in Northolt. In fact, they were almost the last Connies in Northolt ... one more, a USN EC-121M visited in January 1974. I can't recollect any more since then.

28th Aug 2008, 20:42
Amos Keeto, Supurb photo (second time I have said that tonight) ! I would hazard a guess that the brakes were squealing like mad as that photo was taken ? Just one of my, very old, memories of constallation operations at Stansted in the 60's. Thank you. Keith.

30th Aug 2008, 00:58
Sorry for not replying earlier. Super Connies (they were never called only Connies in the Indian AF) are kind of my speciality. The page pointed to earlier (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/Aircraft/Constellation.html) was written by me over 10 years ago, when I wasn't that much of a aviation writer! (I am only a little bit better now)

My father was the last IAF flight commander of a complete Super Connie flight of 9 aircraft. The aircraft were handed over to the Indian Navy just as he got his Wing Commander rank in 1976. Otherwise he would have commanded 6 Squadron as his next assignment (he went on to become OC Flying of Pune AFB, which had MiG-21s and Canberras besides the Super Connies). He was also one of the last QFIs and examiners on the Super Connie, often having to travel to Pune to train and examine pilots for the last two freighter Super Connies, even as a Gp Capt.

The two freighter Super Connies were converted by Seaboard Airlines for Air India before they were handed over to the IAF. The transfer of the Super Connies was gradual, taking over a year to complete before all the Air India aircraft were handed over. This happened over 1960-1961 period. Air India was responsible for all maintenance except line maintenance till the end (1984 for both the Navy and AF) and held all its spares. Pune is only a 100 miles from Santa Cruz airport where the Air India maintenance facility for Super Connies was.

At first they were all passenger and freight aircraft and during this period they all did what were called "UK couriers" to pick up priority cargo. They flew from Bombay-Djibouti-Cairo-Rome-Orly-Northolt mostly though I think Aden was used before the troubles there got out of hand. At the peak, there was a monthly courier run. (Later only the freighters did UK couriers)

The Super Connies were earlier painted in a standard IAF transport scheme with white top half of fuselage and silver bottom half without the blue stripe running the length of the fuselage. The pictures of them here (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Images/Vintage/Transports/Connie/) have mostly been acquired by me from various sources.

Then HAL transformed 7 of them into MR aircraft with retractable dustbin ASV-21 radome fitted into the forward baggage bay (and thus not affecting pressurization). The trials were done by Air Marshal Prithi Singh (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/1960s/Prithi01.html), an ETPS trained test pilot who had also flight tested the Vulcan when in the UK.

My father had completed his EO (Engr Offr) training in an experimental program where pilots were cross trained in that capacity, and was coming back to flying after a couple of years hiatus. He went to see his friend and colleague on a social visit at Air HQ and that gentleman told him he was being posted to An-12s. My dad asked him for a Super Connie appointment instead. His friend was surprised and said to him "Surely you know that the An-12s are replacing the Connie on the Courier route?" (It was a big deal to be travelling abroad in India in those times). My father said he had seen the tri-tailed aircraft as a young Pilot Officer and thought they were the most beautiful aircraft - and didn't care if he had to remain in the circuit flying them! Also it would be infinitely more exciting to fly them in a Maritime Recce role (which he termed as more "operational") than day to day cargo hauling. Probably not a great career move but he has no regrets about that.

When he arrived at the station (as Engr Offr on Migs!) he checked into training them with 6 Sqn. He encountered a great deal of hostility from the crews there. This was because all the pilots wanted to fly the 2 freighters on UK couriers (the few that remained before the An-12s took over completely) and ignored the MR conversions, and didn't want competition from a senior Mastergreen QFI on those routes! This emphasis on route flying was confirmed by no less an entity than Air Mshl PC Lal, the IAF chief responsible for the great 71 war performance of the IAF. He said that number 6 Sqn was an MR and Transport squadron with all it's emphasis on the transport role! (Since he wrote about this in 1971 and the period I am talking about is 1972, the quote is very relevant).

He had support from an amazing CO Wg Cdr Sadatullah who let him convert while working days at the MiG-21 servicing organization. The matter reached then Air Cdre Dilbagh Singh the Station Master (later Chief of Staff) who roared "I can't stop a keen flyer from flying - if he can do both jobs, bloody well let him!". Wg Cdr Sadatullah was a highly experienced pilot on Packets (C-119s) and had done so many UK couriers he had lost count.

The Northolt incident had happened in the tenure of the previous CO. The pilot in command of that flight was a well regarded acquaintance of my father and had hosted my mother for close to a month at his residence when my dad was hospitalized due to a road accident. So he was a perfect gentleman. (I always knew when my father was being nice - there was more to the story!)

He was a very smooth flyer and was very experienced on Liberators (6 Sqn). In fact he converted the ex-USAF and ex-RCAF crews that came to collect Liberators when they were taken out of service. But his instrument flying under actual conditions was "limited", shall we say.

That Northolt incident nothwithstanding, this gentleman became the CO of the squadron. My father shortly after became the OC of A Flight. The CO was also distracted by "other" matters and the best thing about him was that he let my father run the squadron as he pleased!

That Northolt incident still rankles my father because it makes IAF pilots seem incompetent. He feels that IAF transport pilots have to be trained to far higher standards than most, because they were then flying old aircraft with almost no nav aids in very difficult conditions and then also had to deal with being in sophisticated radar environments around the bigger cities. He himself cut his teeth flying C-47s in the same region as the Hump pilots, supplying Indian troops facing China. Flying instruments was second nature due to the violent weather in that part of the world. Which other Air Force in the world flew routinely where the average peak height was 20000 ft, in un-supercharged Dakotas?

Anyway, to cut a long story short my father started emphasizing the MR role a lot more, and took part in many exercises. He thought the Super Connie was the best aircraft he flew - whether at 50 ft searching for ships or on long X-countries.

However, constant vigilance is the price of competence. I showed him Stephen Piercey's article in Propliner and he remarked that most of the pilots shown there were converted to the Super Connie by him. And one of them had to be examined by him for upgrading to Captain. He was shocked to find that this person could not find out what radial he was on, let alone track one. Suffice it to say this person did not get upgraded.

BTW, I seem to remember that the last UK courier by a Super Connie was sometime in 1974. Can someone confirm that? (My father was supposed to be the third pilot on it, but a directive came down that a supernumery pilot was not required).
Thanks for the trip down memory lane - I can still remember these huge aircraft flying over the residential quarters. Amazing sight and sounds!

30th Aug 2008, 12:31
Thanks to all the posters, especially Mr Mosquito for the great photo and Worf for his inside knowledge.

Perhaps Worf your father could answer my curiosity about how the Indian embassy and UN mission in New York and others in the USA/Australasia were re-supplied ? I could imagine Air India carrying passengers and small diplomatic cargo, but what about larger items or even for that matter parts for said Super Connies and C-119s ? I can't imagine that shipping would have been fast enough then for realistic use when perhaps time sensitive cargos were needing transportation.



30th Aug 2008, 15:16
India's relationship with the USA was "frosty" during the 60s thru the 80s and only started thawing in the 90s. Air India had a huge spares holding of Super Connie spares and thats what was used by the IAF and IN.

Even the C-119 shared an engine with the Super Connie (Wright 3350s).
Since these were also not combat aircraft (India has not had a US made combat aircraft since the Vultee Vengeance in WWII), their spares availability was not as critical.

Since the major combat aircraft were all either British (Hunter/Canberra/Sea King/Sea Hawk) or French (Mystere/Alize) a courier to the UK would satisfy those needs. An-12s always did the couriers to Russia (Mig-21/Su-7/Mi-8 spares).

As far as I know, there have never been any couriers run by the IAF to the US. Commercial air (Air India) was probably used, Air India had a number of 707 and DC-8 freighters.

30th Aug 2008, 18:03
Thanks for the explanation Worf, I hadn't considered that geo-political concerns would play a role, but of course they would in reality. I imagine that it was India's development of atomic weapons and flirtation with the then USSR that had Uncle Sam giving them the cold shoulder and of course there weren't too many immigrants of Indian heritage back then to be served by the Indian government.

The French aircraft in the IAF would explain the stop in Paris (ORY).... that did have me wondering when one of the earlier posters revealed the routing from Pune to London. Was every stop on the courier flight for a purpose (outside of refueling and oil for those thirsty Wright engines!) ?



30th Aug 2008, 19:33
Sorry SHJ and Panop, but you are both incorrect regarding your sighting of Pakistan Air Force Connies at Northolt as the PAF never operated them! It was PIA that had them and flew into LHR during the '60s and may possibly have taken one into NHT.

Fair enough - on reflection I'm not sure what the Pakistan AF aircraft that visited Northolt in the early 70s were. Can anyone remember?

I do recall a PIA Super Connie at LHR around 1967 or so - it was parked up for a while at BOAC Maintenance if my grey matter recalls correctly.

31st Aug 2008, 13:38
PIA bought 5 Super Connies in 1954-58. By their 1962 timetable they had been supplanted on International services by Boeing 720s, and just two aircraft were scheduled for services between East and West Pakistan, having to fly the long way round south of India. Further Boeing deliveries shortly afterwards ended their scheduled operation, yet they were still in fleet use in 1967, and it was not until 1969 that they were disposed of, to the Indonesian Air Force, apparently "donated". Presumably Connies could only be given away by then !

So all through the 1960s PIA had a spare fleet of Connies, which were presumably doing something. I would guess Hadj charters would be a bit of it, and hired to the Air Force could well be another source of utilisation.

The AvgasDinosaur
1st Sep 2008, 21:35
The Indian Air Force took 9 L1049G s from Air India between Oct 61 and
June 62
c/n 4614 BG575
c/n 4666 BG576
c/n 4615 BG577
c/n 4687 BG579
c/n 4547 BG581
c/n 4548 BG582
c/n 4686 BG583
c/n 4613 BG580
c/n 4646 BG578
BG579 lasted until Mar 84 in Air Force Service and with BG583 until
Dec 83 These were the only two to regularly visit UK as they had
freight doors.
Five were transferred to the Indian Navy in Nov 76
c/n 4614 BG575 became IN315
c/n 4666 BG576 became IN316
c/n 4613 BG580 became IN317
c/n 4547 BG581 became IN318
c/n 4548 BG582 became IN319
Last one retired IN317 in December 1983.
As far as I can work out none of the Navy aircraft visited UK whilst
in Navy service.
Hope it helps
Be lucky

Geezers of Nazareth
1st Sep 2008, 21:51
Based upon Worf's comments/recollections I have done some more research.

Worf is correct, and my comments about 'last visits' were in error. I said that the last Indian AF L.1049s to visit the UK were in September and November 1973 ... but I was wrong.

BG583/G visited 0n 4th June '74 and again on 7th June 74, and then the final visits (by BG583/G again) were on 26th Sept '74 and 28th Sept '74.

There was also an earlier comment about visits by Pakistan AF aircraft. There were Pakistan AF C-130s at Northolt in May and June 74, and the comment (at the time) was that these were the first visitors from Pakistan since 1965.

4th Sep 2008, 18:24
OK - here's a question for anyone with ancient spotting records or a superb memory (better than mine, anyway).

What WAS the Northolt traffic about 5.30pm on 15 Sep 1972 that got woefully lost to the northwest of LHR for a while and delayed us from departing. I have always thought it was Pakistani but, on reflection, maybe it was one of the Indian Super Connies or Packets. Pretty sure it was from the sub-continent anyway because of comments from the crew I was with which (as I mentioned before) included a very unimpressed Pakistani F/O.

The depth of detailed knowledge just waiting to be found on these forums absolutely amazes me - what DID we do without the Internet? It may seem trivial at times but one comment leads to another and whole new vistas of understanding can open up. Worf's comments have explained events that I had casually wondered about for many years and about which I never imagined I would find any 'inside knowledge'!

Geezers of Nazareth
5th Sep 2008, 09:45

I don't know about any specific timings for that day, and almost all the visitors on that date were 'regulars' so should have known their way round (as it were!). Visiting on that day were a pair of German Transalls and a US Navy DC-6.
There was a USMC C-130 - they were not that common, so may have been a bit unfamiliar with where they were and the correct procedures.
Also, there was a RAF Belfast that day, and they were quite rare at Northolt. Maybe that was the cause?

7th Sep 2008, 20:14
Couldn't agree more about the Internet, it's an amazing fount of information. I am even more amazed by the UK "spotter" community - they know movements of any aircraft coming to the UK and can usually produce a picture of any type on demand!

Amos Keeto/Geezer - could you answer this question for me. Below is a photograph of a "camouflaged" IAF Super Connie BG583 visiting the UK. This had to be during the 1971 war period or right after, because this hurried splash paint job was typical of the period (including the famous tiger striped Mig-21).

When and where was this picture taken? Any color shots of this airplane available that you could share?

Geezers of Nazareth
9th Sep 2008, 09:35

that was taken at RAF Northolt, a place that I know 'rather well'!

In those enlightened days it was quite possible to ride up (on push-bike!) to the Main Gate and ask to take some photo's or the aeroplanes. The answer was almost always 'Yes'.

I will try to find a date for its visit. I seem to remember that it only pain one visit in this drab wishy-washy grey colour scheme, and by its next visit it had all been washed off.

Geezers of Nazareth
11th Sep 2008, 22:28

I have found the info ... that particular L.1049 (in the grey-ish colours)visited just once ... 13th January 1974.

By the time of its next visit it had all washed off, and the a/c was back to its blue/grey colours.

3rd Oct 2020, 16:30
A really interesting thread. I remember the fantastic sight of the IAF Connies flying over when I was in my teens.
Can anyone tell me which aircraft visited Northolt on 31 July 1973, my records seem to be incorrect?

5th Oct 2020, 13:22
A really interesting thread. I remember the fantastic sight of the IAF Connies flying over when I was in my teens.
Can anyone tell me which aircraft visited Northolt on 31 July 1973, my records seem to be incorrect?
I was a newly minted ATCO at Northolt around that timeframe; the only IAF Super Constellation that I saw in my 2.5 yr tour there was VUQLG, a registration burned into my memory! Every arrival and departure included a drama of some sort. Whereas most Captains add 5 kts 'for the wife and kids' these guys added 15 or so; allied to the 3.5° glidepath on 26 ( as it was then) meant that much 'excess energy' had to be dissipated by the end of the 5,540' runway, resulting in overheated engines and smoking brakes. That's if you could get him to fly 1350ft for the PAR glidepath intercept.....

5th Oct 2020, 18:37
Sadly I never saw on on the ground at Northolt, it was a big aircraft for the runway length and probably pretty heavy for departure. It must have been pretty scary to watch. I remember seeing my last one flying over my school in High Wycombe. It was such a great looking aircraft, you certainly could not mistake it for anything else.

5th Oct 2020, 21:42
I grew up close to the Aladdin factory on the A40 through the 60's and into the 80's, and if it was windy, you could certainly here the IAF Connie's when visiting Northolt.
Later in the 80's I worked with an older chap that was living in South Harrow at the time of the Connie almost taking the top off of the Harrow-on-the-Hill spire, and never forgot the noise of that Connie at low level over his house......a story he would often tell over lunch at work.
My late father as a local copper watched the Pan-Am 707 take-off from Northolt, from his Police car parked up on the A40.

5th Oct 2020, 23:45
I grew up in Northolt in 50s and 60s and I have vague recollections of Radome equipped Connies visiting Northolt too.
I have wonderful memories of various types visiting Northolt during those years and spent many evenings down by the A40

6th Oct 2020, 12:06
I grew up in Northolt in 50s and 60s and I have vague recollections of Radome equipped Connies visiting Northolt too.
I have wonderful memories of various types visiting Northolt during those years and spent many evenings down by the A40
US Navy Connies with radomes were regular visitors to the FASRON 200 base at Blackbushe until 31 May 1960 when the government of the day abruptly closed the airfield as a 'ministry' airfield thus stopping all this traffic even though it wasn't public transport so the ones you saw may have been the ones displaced by this action. The US Dept of Defence had only 3 years before built a hangar capable of housing these Connies and had proposed funding the building of a longer runway, but the government wanted to force operators to use a then under-utilised Gatwick along with its poor weather record compared to Blackbushe.

6th Oct 2020, 21:53

That's really interesting and nice to get confirmation of my recollections. Thanks

7th Oct 2020, 10:58
During my time 'holding' at HQCC Northwood in 68-69, I had to visit Northolt on a number of occasions. On one visit I remember being taken out on to dispersal (no yellow jackets or people shouting at you if you didn't have one) to see some of the visitors. one of which was an Indian Connie which had arrived earlier that day. My guide (a fellow 'holdee') took great delight in pointing out a large birds nest happily and obviously securely built into one of the rudder hinges. Apparently it had been pointed out to the crew on their previous visit some weeks before, but they had replied that it was 'unlucky' to remove it!