Israeli Air Force
The Israeli Air Force operates as the aerial warfare branch of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded on May 28,1948, shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence, as of May 2012 Aluf Amir Eshel serves as the Air Force Commander. The Israeli Air Force formed on May 28,1948, using commandeered or donated civilian aircraft and obsolete, more aircraft were procured, including Boeing B-17s, Bristol Beaufighters, de Havilland Mosquitoes and P-51D Mustangs. The Israeli Air Force played an important part in Operation Kadesh, on June 5,1967, the first day of the Six-Day War, the Israeli Air Force executed Operation Focus, crippling the opposing Arab air forces and attaining air supremacy for the remainder of the war. Shortly after the end of the Six-Day War, Egypt initiated the War of Attrition, on October 7,1973, the IAF conducted Operation Tagar against Egyptian air bases of the Egyptian Air Defence Force. Although initially successful, with 10 bases hit, the urgency of the fighting on the Golan heights forced the operations suspension, since that war most of Israels military aircraft have been obtained from the United States.
Among these are the F-4 Phantom II, A-4 Skyhawk, F-15 Eagle, the Israeli Air Force has operated a number of domestically produced types such as the IAI Nesher, and later, the more advanced IAI Kfir. On June 7,1981, eight IAF F-16A fighters covered by six F-15A jets carried out Operation Opera to destroy the Iraqi nuclear facilities at Osiraq, on June 9,1982, the Israeli Air Force carried out Operation Mole Cricket 19, crippling the Syrian air defence array. The IAF continued to mount attacks on Hezbollah and PLO positions in south Lebanon, on October 1,1985, In response to a PLO terrorist attack which murdered three Israeli civilians in Cyprus, the Israeli air force carried out Operation Wooden Leg. The strike involved the bombing of PLO Headquarters in Tunis, by F-15 Eagles, in 1991, the IAF carried out Operation Solomon which brought Ethiopian Jews to Israel. In 1993 and 1996, the IAF participated in Operation Accountability and Operation Grapes of Wrath and it took part in many missions since, including during the 2006 Lebanon War, Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Cloud and Operation Protective Edge.
On September 6,2007, the Israeli Air Force successfully bombed an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor in Operation Orchard, squadron markings usually go on the tail fin. Forerunners of the Israeli Air Force were the Palestine Flying Service established by the Irgun in 1937, and Sherut Avir, the Israeli Air Force formed on May 28,1948, shortly after Israel declared statehood and found itself under attack. The force 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. Creativity and resourcefulness were the foundations of early Israeli military success in the air, Israels new fighter-arm first went into action on May 29,1948, assisting efforts to halt the Egyptian advance from Gaza northwards. Four newly arrived Avia S-199s, flown by Lou Lenart, Modi Alon, Ezer Weizman and Eddie Cohen, although damage to the enemy was minimal, two aircraft were lost and Cohen killed, nevertheless the attack achieved its goal and stopped the Egyptians.
After un-assembled planes were strafed on the ground on May 30th at Ekron airfield the fighters were moved to makeshift strip located around the current Herzliya Airport. The Israeli Air Force scored its first aerial victories on June 3 when Modi Alon, flying Avia D.112, the first dogfight against enemy fighters took place a few days later, on June 8, when Gideon Lichtaman shot down an Egyptian Spitfire
The Avia S-199 is a propeller-driven fighter aircraft built after World War II, notable as the first fighter obtained by the Israeli Air Force, and used during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Constructed in Czechoslovakia, with parts and plans left over from Luftwaffe aircraft production, Czechoslovak pilots nicknamed it Mezek, while in Israel it was officially known as the Sakeen. The S-199 continued to use the Bf 109G airframe but, with none of the engines available. It was decided that as a replacement for the original engine, the resulting combination of parts was an aircraft with extremely poor handling qualities. The substitute engine with the propeller lacked the responsiveness of the Daimler-Benz unit and this, in combination with the 109s narrow-track undercarriage, made landings and take-offs extremely hazardous. The Daimler-Benz DB605 engine allowed for a central cannon mount that fired through the propeller spinner and this further impinged on the aircrafts performance. A final hidden danger lay in the gun synchronizer for the cowl-mounted MG131 machine guns, around 550 S-199s were built, including a number of conversion trainers designated CS-199 and C-210.
The first flight took place in March 1947, and production ended in 1949, the last examples were withdrawn from Czechoslovak service in 1957. Israeli agents negotiated the purchase of Avia S-199s from the Czechoslovak government in defiance of an embargo that Israel faced at the time. Twenty five aircraft were obtained and all but two were eventually delivered, the price for a fully equipped plane was $190,000. The first examples arrived on May 20,1948, six days after Israels declaration of independence and five days after the commencement of hostilities by Egypt. Forming Israels first fighter squadron, they were assembled and sent into combat for the first time on May 29, the type proved unreliable and performed poorly in combat. One Avia pilot remarked she tried to kill us on every take off, maintenance problems meant that no more than five were typically airworthy at any one time. The type, scored victories over its opponents, including the Spitfire, the Avias were mostly withheld from service by the end of October, at which time only six remained operational.
The S-199 continued making sporadic sorties through mid-December, American pilot Wayne Peake flipped one on its back on December 15, Avia S-99 Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 variant assembled postwar in Czechoslovakia. Avia factory designation was C.10,21 aircraft completed, Avia CS-99 Training variant of Avia S-99 based on the Messerschmitt Bf 109G-12 variant. Avia factory designation was C.10,23 aircraft completed, Avia S-199 Avia S-99 powered by Junkers Jumo 211F engine, main production variant. Avia factory designation was C.210,559 aircraft completed, Avia CS-199 Two-seat training variant rebuilt from Avia S-199
It is widely believed that Rubenfeld, the other four volunteer pilots, and the other machalniks changed the course of the War of Independence. He was injured and returned to the United States, and settled in New York state, later, he moved his family to Sarasota, where he and his wife owned another successful business until he retired. He was the father of actor/comedian Paul Reubens, who is known for co-creating and portraying his character, Rubenfeld was born in Peekskill, the fourth of six children of Jewish parents and Louis Rubenfeld. Rubenfeld was an Eagle Scout, a student in New York University and the University of New Mexico, when World War II broke out in Europe, he wanted to fly combat missions, the United States was not yet in the war. Rubenfeld decided to fly with the Royal Air Force in England, when the United States declared war on Germany, Rubenfeld signed on as a pilot with the U. S. Army. These five pilots finished the course in Czechoslovakia and, on May 20,1948, as of Israels independence day—May 14, 1948—these five pilots constituted the entire Israeli Air Force.
The existence of the air force had been kept secret from the Arab forces that had entered Israel after its Independence Day. Israels leaders knew that the first time they launched the four airplanes, the plan initially was to attack a squadron of Egyption Spitfires and Dakotas at El Arish, a base on the northern coast of the Sinai. That order was changed at the last minute due to the danger of a direct ground attack on Tel Aviv. The four fighters were ordered to bomb and strafe the Egyptian armored column that was advancing towards Tel Aviv, since there were five pilots and only four airplanes, one pilot had to remain behind for that first mission on May 29,1948, that was Milt Rubenfeld. However, his turn would come the following day and they lost one pilot on that first mission, South African Eddie Cohen. It wasnt known whether he was shot down or had technical difficulties, on that mission and Weizmans cannons had both jammed. The S-199 had a tendency to ground loop, which Modi Alons airplane did upon landing, rendering it unflyable for a time, Weizman commented that the main problem with the S-199 was the stress on the pilot.
So much went wrong with the aircraft, it was nerve-wracking just climbing into one, Rubenfelds opinion of the Avia S-199, expressed in an interview nearly fifty years later, It wasnt a very nice airplane. However, the first mission on 5/29/1948 was not a failure and it was as close as the Egyptians would ever come to Tel Aviv. With one raid, the air force had potentially altered the course of the war, to keep up the pressure on the Arab forces, the second sortie launched approximately 12 hours after the first mission returned. At 0530 on May 30,1948, Milt Rubenfeld and Ezer Weizman launched in the two remaining airworthy airplanes. Their mission was to attack positions around Tulkarm, on the eastern front, Rubenfeld was debriefed on his return
Operation Pleshet, named after the geographical region where it took place, was an Israeli military operation during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. It was carried out from May 29 to June 3,1948, in the Isdud/Ad Halom area of the southern front, the aim of the operation was to capture Isdud and stop the Egyptian advance northwards. While only the June 2–3 engagements are officially named Operation Pleshet, the preceding events consisted of an aerial bombardment, followed by small-scale Israeli harassment of the Egyptian lines, and a ground assault. The original plan was to attack on June 1–2, but this was canceled due to an impending ceasefire, the Israelis, under the Givati Brigades umbrella command, attacked in two main forces, one from the north and one from the south. The Israelis had little intelligence on their enemy and were forced to retreat and they failed to capture territory, and suffered heavy casualties. However, following the operation, Egypt changed its strategy from offensive to defensive, traditional Israeli historiography, supported by early Arab accounts, maintains that it was a turning point, while Arab sources, and New Historians, dispute this.
Prior to the founding of the State of Israel, the Yishuv leadership anticipated an attack by regular Arab armies, of which Egypts was the strongest in terms of manpower and equipment. As such, Plan Dalet took stopping a potential Egyptian attack into account, in the eyes of the Givati command, this part of the operation was of marginal importance. A platoon from the 54th Battalion, two mules and 300 kilograms of explosives were allocated for it, the mules fled the scene, and the explosives were divided among the soldiers, who delivered them to the bridge. It took two attempts to destroy it, as some of the explosives did not work the first time, the original bridge was built over the Lakhish River during the Roman period, and re-built by the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 19th century. A parallel railway bridge was added when the railway was laid. After numerous armed raids in the area during the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, Egypt invaded the newly declared State of Israel on May 15,1948.
Their strength was one division, commanded by Major General Ahmed Ali al-Mwawi. On May 21, Cairo sent an urgent message to its units in Palestine, doing so would divide the Israeli forces into two—the Negev, and the rest of Israel. The Egyptian commander al-Mwawi, was opposed to such a move, but the leadership in Cairo dismissed his worries, following-up his victory in the Battle of Yad Mordechai on May 23–24, al-Mwawi pushed north along the coast, bypassing the relatively well-defended Israeli village of Nitzanim. Reduced to about 2,500 men, al-Mwawi resumed his march northwards, Brigadier General Muhammad Naguib was put in charge of the column by al-Mwawi, because the original commander was on vacation in Egypt. On the afternoon of May 29,1948, the observation post in Nitzanim spotted an Egyptian column, including tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, estimates from the General Staff stood at 200 vehicles and 2, 000–3,000 soldiers. At the time, the Israeli decision makers did not know where the Egyptians were headed