Inaugurated in 1998, this museum is one of only two military museums in India. In fact, it is the only Naval aviation museum in all of Asia. The museum displays a number of aircraft that were used by the indian navy throughout its history. These are displayed outside in the museum’s open air gallery.
The interior of the museum is designed to look like the interior of a naval aircraft carrier the INS Viraat and has a number of interesting galleries displaying naval equipment, prominent battles, a simulation room and an extensive granite plaque paying tribute to those brave souls who gave their lives in service of their country.
Where to Go
The museum of Naval Aviation in Goa is located near Bogmala, on the Vasco-Bogmalo road about 6km from the port town of Vasco da Gama, more commonly known as Vasco. The museum is built on a plateau which overlooks the popular Bogmalo beach and gives one an unimpeded look at the splendid ocean vistas.
When to Go
The museum is open to public from Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30am to 5.30pm. The museum does, however, remain closed on National Holidays. A day at the museum is a pleasant outing at any time of the year.
What to See
Upon entering the museums premises, the first sentinel is the bulking form of the Super Constellation, a craft originally used as a passenger plane by the Indian Airlines. It was later handed over to the Air Force as a transport vehicle, who then gave it over to the Indian Navy. It was eventually decommissioned but has remained within the Naval purview.
The outdoor gallery has an impressive display of 13 aircrafts, both planes and helicopters as well as a display of aircraft engines and parts. The thirteen crafts on display are
- Short Sealand Mk 2 (IN 106) – It is the only surviving aircraft of its kind in India and one of three known to be in existence in the world. The Sealand was the first aircraft type to be inducted after the establishment of the Directorate of Naval Aviation in 1953. They were phased out in the year 1965.
- Fairey Firefly TT Mk1 (IN 112) – It is the sole craft of its type in India, it is also one of 12 still in existence in the World. It was one of the British WW2-era carrier-borne fighter and anti-submarine aircraft. These crafts were acquired in May 1955 for target towing purposes.
- HAL HT-2 (BX 748) – The Navy used the HT-2 as primary trainers from 1956 to 1964. The aircraft which is currently on display has IAF markings.
- de Havilland Vampire T-55 (IN 149) – The T55, two-seater variant of the Vampire was procured in September 1957 by the Indian Navy to train Naval airmen on Jet fighter aircrafts before the Navy inducted its Sea Hawks.
- Hawker Sea Hawk FGA Mk 100 (IN 234) – The Sea Hawks entered into the naval service along with INS Vikrant, India's first Aircraft carrier and served the country for two decades before eventually being replaced by the Sea Harriers.
- Breguet Alizé (IN 202) – The Alize was the Navy's first aircraft carrier based Anti- Submarine and Maritime Surveillance (ASM) aircraft and was inducted into the service in 1961.
- de Havilland Dove (IN 124) – The Dove was procured by the Indian Navy from the Indian Air Force in 1965 to replace the Short Sealands that were being phased out at the time.
- HAL Chetak (IN 475) – The Chetak entered the naval service along with the INS Vikrant (aircraft carrier) in 1961 primarily for use in training, transport, CASEVAC (Casualty Evacuation), communications and liaison roles. It was phased out of use by the Navy in 1986.
- Hughes Hu-300 (IN 083) – The Hughes were two-seater helicopters that were inducted into Naval service 1971 for ab-initio training of helicopter pilots and were phased out in the mid 1980’s.
- Westland Sea King Mk 42 (IN 505) – The Sea King was procured in 1970 to engage in Anti-Submarine Warfare in the Navy, should such a condition arise. A variant of this helicopter known as the Commando was also adapted by Westland for the transportation of troops in wartime.
- Lockheed L1049G Super Constellation (IN 315) – The guardian at the gates as it were, this Lockheed L-1049G was originally delivered to Air India (commercial airline) in 1955 and named "Rani of Ellora". It was transferred to the Indian Air Force in 1961; from there it went on to be lent to the Naval Aviation arm in 1976 and was finally retired in 1983.
- Kamov Ka-25 (IN 573) – The Kamov helicopters were commissioned in 1980 and were essentially for use in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). Their secondary role was that of surveillance and Search and Rescue (SAR) duties.
- Sea Harrier FRS.51 (IN 621) – The single-seater Sea Harriers and were based both on the INS Vikrant as well as the INS Viraat. These fighter jets were part of the Indian Naval Air Arm and provide reconnaissance, carrier-based strike capability, fleet air defence and anti-submarine warfare.
The interior galleries of the museum are accessed through a ship’s hatch and are designed to look like the interior of the INS Viraat, a naval aircraft carrier. The two main galleries are the Viraat gallery and the Vikrant gallery. Both galleries boast wooden models of the ships that they are named for.
One of the first rooms displays a collection of arms and armaments including bombs, torpedoes, rockets, warheads, depth charges, etc. The Sonobouy Room has a collection of sonobouys which are sensors that are used by Aircraft for detection of underwater enemy targets.
The Suraksha room has various gear and gadgets used for protection while at sea and in the air, including the floating dinghy, parachute, ejector seat, pilot’s overalls etc. Perhaps the most interesting room is the Multimedia room which also houses the Jet cockpit simulator; a programme that allows visitors to simulate the experience of being in the cockpit of a fighter jet.
One of the museum walls is adorned with a granite slab known as ‘Shradhanjali’ which has inscribed on it the names of all those who have given their lives in the service of their country. These are the Naval Pilots from the year 1958 to 1997. Adjacent to this plaque is the Meditation room which is the heart of the museum. Decorated with cool granite and graceful art, the room exudes peace and serenity.
The museum also houses a photo gallery that commemorates all the major naval battles that have taken place since the formation of the Indian Navy. The freedom struggle of Goa, notably the ‘Operation Vijay’ is depicted by a stunning series of black and white photographs.
The museum also boasts a gift shop that sells a number of souvenirs fashioned along the lines of the exhibits in the museum.
The museum is a great place to visit, not only for its uniqueness in subject matter, but also for an in-depth look at the glorious military history of the country. The museum is also meant to inspire people to look to the seas and the skies and their protectors.