In 2014, a family event took us to India for the first time, where we spent a couple of weeks in Bangalore, - the country's hub of the high-tech computer industry, and one of the key manufacturing and development locations for Hindustan Aeronautics
Ltd (HAL) – India's indigenous aerospace corporation.
HAL have been around for quite some time, - originating in 1940 as a company set up to licence-produce Curtiss Hawk fighters and Vultee bombers, but quickly becoming the prime centre for refurbishment
and repair of Allied aircraft of South East Asia Command. Since then, HAL has grown into a major player in the aeronautics market, evolving through licence-building of British and Russian aircraft; to developing indigenous fighters and helicopters; supplying
components and engines to global customers, and most recently, entering space with Indian satellite launches.
In Bangalore, the HAL Heritage centre is part of the enormous main HAL complex which spreads across Airport Road from the old city airport
just 3 Km from the city centre. (there's a state-of-the art modern airport 20 Km north of the city). It's not an aerospace museum per se, but is a reflection of HAL's evolution; strangely though, the physical and information exhibits appear
frozen at some point in the 1970's and the place has a slightly forlorn, dusty atmosphere. On the (weekday) I was there, a party of school kids, two other tourists and I were the only visitors to be seen.
While in Bangalore, we stayed out to the
east of the city, under the flightpath for the old airport. On any given day, one could see MiG 21, MiG 29, Sukhoi, Jaguar, Hercules, HAL light combat aircraft, MiL HiP and once, 2 Globemasters !
Not one of the world's must-see aircraft museums,
but if you're near Bangalore, worth a trip.
The HAL Heritage Centre is located on Airport Road (sic) 3km from downtown Bangalore (but be prepared for at least a 30 minute taxi ride !)
Most of the Centre's exhibits are housed in sun-shade hangars, with 2 halls of more detailed exhibits
A HAL Marut, the first indigenous Indian jet fighter (This is an HF-24 two-seat trainer version) designed and built with assistance from Kurt Tank, - yes THE Kurt Tank. First flown 1961.
MiG 21 “Bison” Trainer licence built with assistance from the USSR. Russian aircraft formed the mainstay of the Indian Airforce after initial support from Britain.
Prototype mockup of the HAL Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) which is a sophisticated, double-delta plan tailless aircraft relying on quadruplex fly-by-wire technology and (initially) powered by a GE F-404 engine
Some ingenious improvisation on the museum's HAL mock-up
Lakshya target drone. Capable of manoeuvres up to 3.5 g it has an endurance of 50 minutes at 0.53 Mach, and is re-usable up to 10 times. Capable of floating for 30 minutes to aid sea recovery !
Sea King Mk 42
HAL Ajeet, derivative of the Folland Gnat
Described as a MiG 21M, this exhibit looks to have a number of parts cannibalised from other aircraft
The Lycoming-engined HPT-32 designed and built by HAL as a primary trainer. First flown in 1977
A Canberra B(1) Mk58. Indian Canberras took a leading role in the United Nations effort in the Congo during the early 1960's
HAL currently manufacture engines for their own use and for a number of third-party users, including Adour Mk 811 for the Jaguar fleet.
Among the exhibition of the history of HAL is this early picture of the fatigue testing of the prototype Marut, complete with tyres.