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The Hindustan Aeronautics HF-24 Marut (Sanskrit: "Spirit of the Tempest") was an Indian fighter-bomber aircraft of the 1960s. It was India's first jet aircraft, first flying on 17 June 1961. Unusually, the wooden mock-up of the aircraft was actually flyable as an air-launched glider.
The Marut was designed by the famed German designer Kurt Tank, but never realised its full potential due to insufficient power. Although originally conceived to operate in the vicinity of Mach 2, the aircraft in fact turned out to be sub-sonic, due to the inability of the Indian government to underwrite a suitably powered engine for the airframe. After the Indian Government conducted its first Nuclear tests at Pokhran, international pressure prevented the import of better engines, or at times, even spares for the Orpheus engines. This would be one of the main reasons for this aircraft's early demise. The lack of power hindered the speed of the aircraft, but with pleasant handling characteristics and good aerobatic capabilities it was well liked by its pilots. It was used in combat in the ground attack role, where its safety features such as manual controls whenever the hydraulic systems failed and twin engines were looked upon favorably and increased survivability.
The first of two prototypes was ﬂown on 17 June 1961, with the first of 18 pre-production Marut Mk 1 single-seat ground attack fighters following in April 1963. One hundred and twelve production Marut Mk 1s were built, of which the first was ﬂown on 15 Novernber 1967, production terminating with 12 two-seat Marut Mk 1T trainers (preceded by a pair of two-seat prototypes). The production Marut was powered by two 4,850 lb st (2 200 kgp) HAL-built Orpheus 703 turbojets and built-in armament comprised four 30-rnrn Aden Mk 2 cannon plus a retractable Matra Type 103 pack containing 50 68-mm rockets. Four 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs or other ordnance could be carried externally. The Marut equipped three squadrons and was finally phased out of service in 1985.
Given the limited number of Marut units, most Marut squadrons were considerably over-strength for the duration of their lives. According to Brian de Magray, at peak strength No.10 Squadron had on charge 32 Maruts, although the squadron probably did not hold a unit-establishment of more than 16. All in all, the Marut squadrons acquitted themselves very well in the 1971 war. The Marut, as an aircraft, was shown to be tough and capable. No aircraft were ever lost in air-to-air combat. However, 4 were lost to ground fire and two were lost on the ground.The Maruts were in the thick of it, right through the fighting on the western front, and the Squadrons ended the war with a total of three Vir Chakras.
In the 1971 war, some HF-24 Maruts and Hawker Hunter aircraft were used to assist the post at Battle of Longewala in the morning by the Indian Air Force and was finally able to direct with the strike aircraft being guided to the targets. They were not outfitted with night vision equipment, and so were delayed from conducting combat missions until dawn.. On December 7, 1971, SL Kishan Kumar of No. 220 Squadron, shot down a F-86 Sabre over Nayachor in Sindh, Pakistan. This was the only claim made during the war.
One Murut became the Mk 1BX testbed flown with the Egyptian El-300 turbojet, another was converted as the Mk 1E and two became Mk 1Rs with an experimental reheat system.
A mock up of the Hf 24 Marut can be seen in Kamla Nehru Park in the city of Pune, India
- Max speed: 705 mph (1,134 km/h) at sea level, 673 mph (1,083 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,200 m).
- Initial climb: 8,500 ft/min (43 m/sec).
- Normal range: 480 mls (772 km).
- Empty weight (equipped): 13,658 lb (6,195 kg).
- Max loaded weight: 24,048 lb (10,908 kg).
- Span: 29 ft 6 1/3 in (9.00 m).
- Length: 52 ft 0 3/4 in (15.87 m).
- Height: 11 ft 9 3/4 in (3.60 m).
- Wing area: 306. 8 sq ft (28,50m2).