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Battle Lines of the PAF

PAF Base Peshawar History: 1948-1988

From 1922 to 1940 Royal Air Force Station Peshawar housed 4 RAF squadrons: Nos. 5, 20, 28 and 31. The station provided close support to army units which included the Nowshera Brigade and other field regiments in the North West Frontier. In March 1937, A Flight of No. 1 IAF Squadron also moved to Peshawar, for active duties in the frontier area. No. 27 IAF Squadron moved to Peshawar for conversion on to Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers. In October 1947 RPAF Station Peshawar, with Wing Commander E Nazirullah as its first station commander, had under its command Nos. 5 and 9 RPAF Squadrons, and No. 1 AOP Flight. Besides conversion training, the squadrons conducted extensive armament training, including rocket firing and air to ground gunnery. Major Morris was in command of 1 AOP Flight which was being used for intercommunication and reccee duties in connection with the movement of refugees and also in its basic Air OP role. The station meteorological section provided forecasting service for the operations staff at Chaklala and Risalpur as well.

In December 1948, a fighter-bomber wing was formed at Peshawar and a year later Fury aircraft replaced the Tempests in the squadrons. In February 1958, Nos. 11 and 15 Squadrons, equipped with F-86F aircraft, moved to Peshawar from Masroor and were joined soon by No. 20 Squadron flying RT-33As. On 10 April 1959, an Indian Air Force Canberra entered Pakistani air space, and 2 F-86s of 15 Squadron were scrambled from Peshawar; their successful 'first' is described in the chapter 'Eid Mubarak'.

A very important step towards safety was taken at Peshawar on 15 May 1958 when an arrester barrier was installed on runway 35. A massive air display was held on 27 October 1964, in which 44 F-86s, 16 B-57s and 10 F-104s from Mauripur and Sargodha took part. It was a demonstration of the air force's new aircraft inventory and attracted large crowds at the Jamrud range. Wing Commander Amanullah Khan and Group Captain Mian Sadruddin were the officers commanding Peshawar during the 1965 and 1971 wars respectively. The base performed commendably through both operations. It was from Peshawar that 19 Squadron mounted their spectacular strike on Pathankot. No. 26 Squadron, one of the units earlier based at Peshawar, was reequipped with A-5 III aircraft on 20 June 1984. Air Chief Marshal M Anwar Shamim, Chief of the Air Staff, presided over the re-equipment ceremony.

PAF Base Peshawar's significance as a strategically vital airfield has not diminished. It continues to undertake important border air defence operations necessitated since the 1979 Soviet of Afghanistan. The officers' mess has lost none of its nostalgic charm for PAF veterans and its tennis courts continue to host the premier national class championships each year. The Peshawar Golf Course, PAF's prized possession and boasting some of the country's best fairways, is proudly managed by the Peshawer base.

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