PAF Base Kohat has had a long and active history which can
be divided into two periods according to the role of the
base i.e. pre and post independence periods.
The RAF commissioned this base for operational purposes in
1922 to meet the threat posed by tribesmen of the northern
and western areas of the Frontier Province. Kohat was one of
the three stations in the region, the other two being
Peshawar and Risalpur. In the 1920s, Kohat was The
administrative wing, maintenance wing fighter-bomber base
with two squadrons of Westland Wapitis - Nos. 27 and 60 RAF
Squadrons. The Wapiti was a single-engine general purpose
aircraft, powered by a Bristol Jupiter engine. It was rather
small and carried a pilot and an air gunner. No. 60 Squadron
had a fine record in WW 1 Albert Ball, VC, was among its
distinguished first combined graduation parade of members.
According to records available at the base, the headquarters
building, aircraft and supply hangars, Ml room, armory,
swimming pool and many other buildings were erected in 1925.
Double storey barracks Nos. 90 and 95, and living out JCOs'
accommodation were built in 1940.
In 1938 there were two different squadrons at the station,
Nos. 16 and 17 with three flights each and with each flight
comprising 8 aircraft. The aircraft were mainly Wapitis and
Audaxes, with a few Blenheims. All pilots and airmen were
British. The runway was a rectangular grass field divided
into four equal parts, each of which was irrigated in turn.
The present ATC building was called 'watch office' and lamps
like the ones carried by railway guards used to be placed
along the runway for night flying. The electric power supply
was DC and used to be drawn from the MES power house
situated behind the CMH. No 16 Gorkha Regiment used to guard
the base at night.
The runway was extended in 1939 for which the main hangar
(No 28) had to be dismantled and rebuilt at the present SEM
classes site. In the early-1970s, the same hangar was moved
to PAF Base Mianwali. The present supply squadron hangar was
used as an aircraft workshop. The present catering flight
used to be the airmen's mess while the small room in front
of the present MI room was the catering flight. The station
commander, Wing Commander Bray, lived in a bungalow on the
premises of the officers' mess, now occupied by the SMO, and
used to go to office in a horse drawn coach. Several
officers had their own horses and played polo at the army
brigade ground. Stables for the horses were built in the
officers' mess compound. The officers used to wear trousers
while the men wore shorts with stockings. The food was
cooked separately for personnel of different religions but
most of the cooks were Christians. During WW 11, several RAF
and IAF squadrons staged through Kohat as part of their
cycle of rest periods between deployments on the Burma
front. Among those who commanded the station between 1939
and 1947 were IAF Wing Commanders Mukerjee, Mehr Singh, A M
Engineer and Arjun Singh. On 19 December 1943, General Sir C
J E Auchinleck visited the station and inspected a guard of
honour formed by IAF airmen. The General arrived from Thal
in a Lodestar aircraft and was received at the aerodrome by
the Commander Kohat District Major General C A Osborn, AOC
No. 223 RAF Group Air Commodore H J F Hunter and the Station
Commander Wing Commander S Mukerjee.
In the post-independence period, Kohat was commanded only by
Pakistani officers. The primary role of the station as a
flying base was extended with the addition of a training
function and this dual function lasted till the end of 1963.
The last flying unit to operate regularly from Kohat, No. 9
(Fury) Squadron ceased operations from this airfield in
1961. Thereafter, Kohat has remained primarily a training