Kheil HaAvir

Bonanza Bomber

The Beechcraft model 35 Bonanza was one of the first all metal civilian aircraft to appear after WWII. Designed by Ralph Harmon, the model 35 Bonanza was a fast,  low wing monoplane at a time when most light aircraft were still made of wood and fabric. It featured retractable landing gear and its signature V-tail that was equipped with a combination elevator-rudder called a ruddervator which made it very efficient and the most distinctive private aircraft in the sky. First flying on December 22, 1945 the Bonanza entered production in 1947. The Bonanza became one of the most popular light aircraft of all time with about 17,000 of all versions being produced. In 1982 the V-tail Bonanza was dropped from production but there are still over 6,000 flying today. The conventional tail version was dropped in 1995 and the model 36 is still in production today.

During the Israeli War of Independence in 1947 the Haganah formed its own air arm with a small number of light aircraft. It was quickly realized that more aircraft of virtually any type were desperately needed. In February 1948 Boris Senior, a former South Africa Air Force pilot recruited by the Haganah, returned to South Africa. He was funded by the Jewish population of South Africa and was able to purchase a number of aircraft including 2 Beechcraft Bonanzas. On April 3rd the two aircraft left South Africa for Palestine flown by Senior and Cyril Katz, another former SAAF pilot. Bad weather over Rhodesia caused the pilots to loose contact with each other and both landed at separate airfields. Katz's Bonanza was damaged upon landing and when Senior arrived the following day with a mechanic his Bonanza was damaged as well. After a few days in Rhodesia, one Bonanza was fixed and flown back to South Africa where Senior replaced it with a different airplane. By that time the South African police had become suspicious of Senior and the aircraft was smuggled out of the country by another pilot. Senior received the aircraft in Khartoum and took it from there to Egypt. Hiding his eventual destination, Senior took off for Beirut but headed for the Negev desert instead, where he refueled his aircraft before finally arriving at Sde-Dov on May 5th 1948. The second Bonanza arrived the following day after another harrowing, malfunction-ridden flight. The two Bonanzas were quickly pressed into service and were fitted with 2 hard points for bombs. Both planes saw combat on several fronts during the war. In early May 1948 the pair participated in operation Macabbi along the road to Jerusalem and flew bombing missions against Palestinians besieging Gush Ezion. There were reports that the aircraft was also used for strafing by having someone lay on the floor and shoot out the baggage compartment door. The aircraft were reportedly well liked due to their fast speed and their ability to conduct accurate dive bombing attacks. After the regular force of the Arab countries entered the war one of the Bonanzas was destroyed on the ground. Later in the same day an Arab Spitfire was shot down and the surviving Bonanza was sent to rescue the pilot and also captured the aircraft. As Israel acquired regular military planes the Bonanza returned to its regular role as a liaison plane. The Bonanza served until 1952. This model shows the first Bonanza in early May 1948 after it was painted in emergency camouflage (somewhat reminiscent of WWII Japanese camouflage). Also see the Beechcraft Bonanza civil plane.

Beechcraft Bonanza Bomber

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Dassault Super Mystère Fighter Bomber

The Dassault Super Mystère was the first European supersonic aircraft to enter production. The first prototype flew on March 2, 1955 and the aircraft broke the sound barrier in level flight the following day. The aircraft entered production in 1957 and served with French Air Force until 1977. 36 aircraft were sold to the Israeli Air Force in 1958. The aircraft saw action in Six Day War in 1967 and Yom Kippur War in 1973. In 1975, Israel sold 12 aircraft to Honduras. The aircraft were involved in border skirmishes with Nicaragua and were finally withdrawn from service in 1996. The Super Mystère was armed with 2 30 mm DEFA 552 cannons and could carry 5,000 lbs of ordinance on 4 hard points.

Dassault Super Mysterie Fighter Bomber

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Avia S-199 Fighter

The Avia S-199 was a fighter plane built in Czechoslovakia after WWII using parts and plans left over from Luftwaffe aircraft production that had taken place in the country during the war. While a very problematic aircraft and unpopular with its pilots, the Avia S-199 achieved fame as the first fighter obtained by the Israeli Air Force for use during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. After the end of WWII Avia continued to make Messerschmitt ME-109 Gs. However they soon ran out of the correct engines. They decided to substitute the Junkers Jumo 211 engine and propeller from the Heinkel HE-111 bomber. This also necessitated a change in the armament. About 550 S-199s were built, including trainers. The first flight took place in March 1947 and production ended in 1949. The last examples were withdrawn from Czechoslovakian service 1957. In 1948 Israeli agents negotiated the purchase of Avia S-199s from the Czechoslovakian government in defiance of an arms embargo that Israel faced at the time. Twenty five aircraft were obtained and the first planes arrived on May 20, 1948. They were assembled and sent into combat for the first time on May 29, attacking the Egyptian army south of Tel Aviv. In combat, the type proved unreliable and performed poorly. Maintenance problems meant that no more than five were typically airworthy at any one time. The S-199s 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.  The Avia S-199 was armed with 2 13 mm MG 131 machineguns and 2 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons. Also see the ME-109 D, the ME-109 F-4 Trop, the ME-109 G-6/AS and the ME-109 E-4 and the ME-109 group.

Avia S-199 Fighter

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A-4 N Skyhawk Attack Plane

Initially dubbed 'Heinemann's Hot Rod' after chief design engineer Ed Heinemann, the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier capable ground attack aircraft designed for the US Navy and Marine Corps. Designed as a replacement for the A-1 Skyraider, the A-4 first flew on June 22, 1954 and deliveries began in late 1956. The Skyhawk was continually improved and remained in production for 25 years until 1979, with a total of 2,960 aircraft built. The A-4 continues to fly with several countries around the world today. The last U.S. Skyhawk, a TA-4J, was officially retired on May 3, 2003. The A-4s small size allowed it to be operated from the older WWII era Essex class carriers still common in the USN through the 1960s as well as other smaller carriers around the world. By the time of the Vietnam War, all carrier wings had at least two Skyhawk squadrons. The A-4s were soon performing most of the Navy and Marine Corps light air attack missions over Vietnam. The A-4 Skyhawk carried out some of the first air strikes by the US during the war and is believed to have dropped the last American bombs at the end. 362 Skyhawks of all types were lost during the war. Skyhawks also fought in the Yom Kippur War and the Falklands War. Trainer versions were also produced. The A-4 A (A4D-1) was the first operational model of the Skyhawk and had 3 hard points capable of carrying 5,000 lbs of ordinance and was armed with two 20 mm Colt Mk. 12 cannons. Beginning with the A-4 F model one additional hard point was added to each wing and the total load was increased to 9,900 lbs. Additional avionics were added and this necessitated the addition of a hump on the fuselage spine giving this and subsequent models a distinctive look. The engine was also upgraded. The A-4 M was a dedicated USMC version of the Skyhawk with a more powerful engine and improved electronics. This model served as the basis for the Israeli A-4 N. Israel was the largest export customer for the A-4 and it was the first U.S. plane offered to the Israeli Air Force. The A-4 N entered service in early 1973 They carried out bombing missions in the Yom Kippur War and Operation Peace for the Galilee. One A-4 N shot down a Syrian MiG-17. In the A-4 N the 20 mm Colt Cannons were replaced with DEFA 30 mm Cannons, the cockpit was redesigned, the electronics were upgraded, an engine exhaust extension was fitted to reduce the infrared signature and a chaff / flare launcher was added in rear tailpipe area. This model shows an A-4 N Skyhawk flying with the IAF in 1973.  Also see the A-4 A Skyhawk and the OA-4 M Skyhawk.

A-4 N Skyhawk Attack Plane

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Mirage III Fighter

The delta winged supersonic Dassault Mirage III jet fighter has been the largest success of the postwar French aviation industry. The first Mirage III A flew in May 1958 and eventually was clocked at Mach 2.2, making it the first European aircraft to exceed Mach 2 in level flight. The Mirage III was designed in the mid 1950s and first flew on November 17, 1956. As originally designed the Mirage III was able to be fitted with an auxiliary SEPR rocket engine. Although provision for the rocket engine was retained the engine was rarely fitted in practice since it required removal of the aircraft's cannon and had a reputation for setting the aircraft on fire. The space for the rocket engine was usually used for additional fuel. The Mirage IIIC, which was the first major production version, first flew in October 1960. Early Mirage IIIC aircraft had three weapons hard points, one under the fuselage and one under each wing, but another outboard pylon was quickly added to each wing. The outboard pylon was intended to carry an AIM-9 Sidewinder AAM. The Mirage III was continually upgraded and numerous versions were produced including fighter, ground attack and reconnaissance types. One of the most famous users of the Mirage III was Israel. During the 6 Day War the Mirage III accounted for 48 out of the 58 enemy aircraft shot down. The Mirage III was flown by Abu Dhabi, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, France, Gabon, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Venezuela and Zaire. The Mirage formed the basis for several other aircraft including the Atlas Cheetah, Mirage IV, Mirage 5, Mirage IIIV, Mirage 2000, IAI Kfir, IAI Nammer, Atlas Carver and IAI Nesher. The Dassault Mirage III was armed with 2 30 mm DEFA revolver cannons and could carry 8,800 lbs. of stores including the Matra R530 AAM, AIM-9 Sidewinder, Matra Magic R550 AAM, general purpose bombs, Matra JL-100 drop tank / rocket pack, AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missiles and the 6-25 kiloton French AN-52 nuclear weapon. This model shows an Israeli Air Force Mirage III C interceptor with 5 kills flying with the 101st Tayaset during the Six Day War in 1967. Also see the Mirage III C, Mirage III O and the F-21 Kfir and the Mirage III group.

Mirage III Fighter

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