Friday, May 2, 2014

The Friday Flyby - 02 May

Two F-15I Thunders (רַעַם Ra'amof the Israeli Air Force
One Air Force for which I have a great deal of respect is the Israeli Air Force, or זְרוֹעַ הַאֲוִויר וְהַחָלָל(Zroa HaAvir VeHahalal, "Air and Space Arm") more commonly known as חֵיל הַאֲוִויר, (Kheil HaAvir, "Air Corps"). This force was founded on 28 May 1948, shortly after Israel's Declaration of Independence.

These men and women have been fighting (and winning!) ever since, nearly constantly. I thought it would be interesting to have a look at this highly effective and professional force today. (Primarily because of this post over at Bayou Renaissance Man. Thanks Peter!)

Sit back and enjoy while we meet the warriors and aircraft of the IAF!

Avia S-199, essentially a Czech version of the venerable Me-109.
The engine and propeller are the same as used on the He-111 bomber.

Spitfire LF MkIXE as flown by the IAF
(Also obtained from Czechoslovakia)

The forerunners of the Israeli Air Force were the Palestine Flying Service established by the Irgun in 1937, and Sherut Avir, the air wing of the Haganah. The Israeli Air Force formed on May 28, 1948, shortly after Israel declared statehood and found itself under attack. It consisted of a hodge-podge of commandeered or donated civilian aircraft converted to military use. A variety of obsolete and surplus ex-World War II combat-aircraft were quickly sourced by various means to supplement this fleet. The backbone of the IAF consisted of 25 Avia S-199s (purchased from Czechoslovakia, essentially Czechoslovak-built Messerschmitt Bf 109s) and 62 Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXEs (also purchased from Czechoslovakia). Creativity and resourcefulness were the early foundations of Israeli military success in the air, rather than technology (which, at the inception of the IAF, was generally inferior to that used by Israel's adversaries). Many of the first IAF's pilots in 1948 were foreign volunteers (both Jewish and non-Jewish) and World War II veterans, who wanted to collaborate with Israel's struggle for independence. - Wikipedia
Spitfire MkIX painted as the aircraft of Ezer Weizman.
(Seventh President of Israel.)

IAF Gloster Meteor

The Israeli Air Force played an important part in Operation Kadesh, Israel's part in the 1956 Suez Crisis. At the launch of the operation, on October 29, Israeli P-51D Mustangs severed telephone lines in the Sinai, some using their propellor blades, while 16 IAF DC-3s escorted by fighters dropped Israeli paratroopers behind Egyptian lines at the Mitla Pass and Et-Tur. The Israeli Air Force also conducted attacks on Egyptian ground units and assisted the Israeli Navy in capturing an Egyptian warship that bombarded the Israeli city of Haifa – an airstrike damaged the Egyptian ship's engines, enabling Israeli ships to reach it and capture it. - Wikipedia
IAF P-51D. These aircraft were obtained from Sweden.

IAF Kfir
IAF  A-4 Skyhawk
IAF F-4E Phantom
(You knew I'd throw in a Phantom, didn't you?)
IAF F-16
Note the 7.5 "Kill" Markings forward of the wing!

IAF F-15 Eagles, Note the kill markings again.
(These guys have been fighting for freedom for years!)

Tzukits of the IAF Aerobatic Team
(A variant of the French Fouga Magister.)

Israeli Pilot and his Ra'am
Israeli Pilots and an F-16
IAF F-16s ready to go!
IAF F-16 Netz (Hawk)

Female Israeli Pilot
As I know Tuna loves "his" drones, thought I'd let you see that the IAF operates those too!
I would not trifle with Israel!
Colonel Giora "Hawkeye" Epstein and his Mirage IIIC

Colonel Giora "Hawkeye" Epstein (גיורא אפשטיין‎, born 1938), today Giora Even (גיורא אבן‎), is a retired colonel in the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and a fighter ace credited with 17 kills. His 17 kills, accomplished during three conflicts, make him the jet era ace-of-aces. 

At seventeen, Epstein joined the Israeli Defense Force in 1956 but because of a heart condition he was not approved for a flying program and was assigned to the paratroopers. He separated from the IDF in 1959 but returned two years later and, through shear determination, was finally accepted for flight training. Early on, Giora earned the nickname “Hawkeye” because of his ability to pick up incoming adversary aircraft long before the other members in his formation.
During the 1967 Six Day War Epstein got his first kill against an Egyptian Su-7. In the War of Attrition in 1969-1970 he got four more kills to become an ace. Then, during the Yom Kippur War in October 1973 Epstein shot down 12 more aircraft. In one three day period that month he shot down eight jets and one Mi-8 helicopter.
 Eight of his victories were accomplished flying the Mirage III and the rest in the IAI Nesher, an Israeli built derivative of the Mirage. All his kills were against Egyptian flown, Soviet built aircraft.
After an amazing 35 year career of flying operational fighters, Colonel Giora Epstein retired in 1998 just shy of his 60th birthday. Fighter Pilot University


  1. I thought I knew most of Israel's military history but you taught me a lot today I never knew. Quick question, in the picture of the F-16 with the laser bombs, are those conformal fuel packs along the fuselage?

  2. Another Fine Flyby! Thanks.

  3. You have the most beautiful blog on the web!

  4. I would have been greatly honored to collaborate with that lot and fly along with any of them. Good post.

    1. Same here Cap'n. Good folks to have on your side.

  5. Yep, you DO NOT want to piss them off... :-) Worked with them back in 87, that was an interesting time... Just sayin...


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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