HAL HF-24 Marut (Spirit of the Tempest) Supersonic Fighter-Bomber Aircraft
The HAL HF-24 Marut became the first indigenous jet fighter of India and the first supersonic type to be developed by the company.
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The modern Indian Air Force (IAF) has a relatively young history when compared to world heavyweights but strides have been made at supporting a local military industrial effort to make the nation a self-sustained world military power. The journey has included endeavors such as the HAL HF-24 "Marut" ("Spirit of the Tempest"), India's first jet-powered fighter. Design of the aircraft was headed by famous German aviation engineer Kurt Tank (creator of the classic World War 2-era Focke-Wulf Fw 190 piston-powered fighter) and involved Indian engineering from Hindustan Aircraft Limited (HAL).
Despite its promising nature, only 147 Maruts were ever completed and the aircraft appeared in service for only a short time, being retired from frontline service in 1985 after a career that began in the 1960s. It only ever served the IAF and was not exported in any form while its legacy showcased an aircraft that proved expensive to develop that produced only marginal results in service.
Years removed since the close of World War 2 (1939-1945) - and ultimately gaining independence from the British crown - the Indian Air Staff set to work on a jet fighter project that would allow the nation a new form of independence, this from military reliance from abroad. With little or no turbojet development experience on hand, the ministry hired Kurt Tank to help begin a new chapter for the Indian Air Force. Tank set about to create an aircraft from the experience gained during and after the war related to swept-wing, jet-powered designs. Along with his expertise, about a dozen more German engineers joined the fray, relocating to India to assist with the challenging project.
Prior to Tank's arrival, he worked in Argentina with his team to provide a new swept-wing, jet-powered combat aircraft for the Argentine military. One design concept became the FMA IA-43 "Pulqui" ("Arrow") which featured the classic 1950s fighter form - nose-mounted intake, forward-set cockpit, "T-style" tail unit, and swept-back wing mainplanes. Its qualities were noticeably from the such aircraft developments as the late-war Focke-Wulf Ta 183 "Huckebein" jet-powered fighter. Despite a first flight of the Argentine aircraft on June 27th, 1950, only five were ever completed and the design came to nothing by the end.
Design work on the all-weather, Mach 2- capable Indian fighter began in 1957. The "X-241" was developed as a full-scale research glider to prove the concept sound at low cost. First flight (by towing) was on April 3rd, 1959 and over 85 flights followed until a failed nosewheel leg led to a crash landing. A full-working prototype reached the skies on June 17th, 1961 and featured twin turbojet engines developing nearly 5,000 lb of thrust each, a single-seat design, and low-mounted swept-wings along a basic cylindrical fuselage. The tail unit featured a single vertical fin with low-mounted elevators along the fuselage sides.