Text by Usman Shabbir, Pictures by Ali Mazhar
June 2005, Google launched a new service. Called “Google Earth”, this service allowed
internet users to have a close-up aerial view of various cities and terrain. In
the start, only limited amount of cities world-wide could be seen in
high-resolution, including Karachi. This new service created
quite a stir in various online Defence Forums and PAF enthusiasts wasted no time
in zooming in on Masroor Air Base. One could see parked Mirages, F-7s and large
amount of HAS (Hardened Aircraft Shelter), but most interesting was the
discovery of what seemed like parts and wrecks of T-33, B-57 and Sabres,
scattered in the old and now unused part of the Air Base. This discovery created
good amount of excitement in PAF Enthusiasts & Warbirds community on PakDef
Forums and it was decided that, if given a chance, one should get a closer look
at these wrecks and photograph and document them.
PakDef member Ali
Mazhar recently got an opportunity to photograph these old warriors, who thanks
to Mother Nature, truly are fading away. Over the years PAF has preserved and
placed more than 140 warbirds in various towns and cities of Pakistan. We hope
that by publishing these pictures, private Warbird enthusiasts and collectors
will come forward, either to restore these airframes to original shape or
utilize parts from these for other warbird restoration related projects.
T-33 Trainer Aircraft
During the period
1955-56 PAF received 15 T-33As and 6 RT-33As under the US military assistance
programme, and equipped No. 2 Fighter Conversion Unit and a tactical
reconnaissance flight, the later becoming No 20 Squadron in 1959. The No. 20
Photo Reconnaissance Squadron was number-plated in 1972 and all its RT-33s and
other photographic equipment was then transferred back to No. 2 Squadron to form
a recce flight. During the wars of 1965 and 1971 with India, PAF also pressed
T-33s and RT-33s in to service in the ground attack and photo recce roles
against forward Indian targets.
The T-33 was
retired from PAF service in 1993. After retirement, six T-33s were preserved at
various places by PAF and, it seems, remaining eight T-33s were dumped at
Masroor Air Base. One T-33 was lost in 1971 when its pilot
Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas laid down his life in
an attempt to stop his East Pakistani instructor from hijacking the aircraft to
Out of 6 RT-33As, three are known to be preserved at various places in Pakistan.
The fate of remaining three RT-33 variants is not known.
B-57 Bomber was
inducted in PAF service in November 1959. Twenty-four B-57Bs and two B-57Cs
were supplied to PAF and these formed No. 7 and No. 8 Bomber Squadrons
part of No. 31 Bomber Wing, based at Masroor (back then known as Mauripur). The
US also supplied two RB-57Fs and two RB-57Bs and these were inducted in No. 24
The PAF B-57 force also took
active part in
1971 Wars. The B-57 was retired from PAF
service in 1988 and four of them are known to be preserved at various places in
Pakistan. Wrecks of six B-57s can be counted at Masroor.
Other than wrecks of retired aircraft types, some Mirage wrecks can also be seen
at Masroor. There are 3 Mirage wrecks in total at Masroor and also a
wooden mock-up in maroon color.
Sabres and Farmers
Two Sabres and a single F-6 wreck can also be seen at
Masroor. The F-86E Sabres support insignias of No. 18 Squadron on tails.