Suez War: Israel Air Force--IAF (1956)

Figure 1.-- The America-built F-84 Thunderstreak was the first jet that Israeli pilots got their hands on, but they didn't get thm from the Inited States. The United States at the time maintained an arms embargo on the region. When the Soviets began equipping the Egyptian Air Force with jets, it put Israel which only had illegally obtained P-51 propeller fighters in real danger. Israel allowed the French to base two F-84 squadrons at Lod in preparation for the Suez War. We believe that after the War that the IAF obtained some of the French F-84s like the one here, but we do not know how many. Here after the IAF got French Mirages, Israeli school children view one of the old F-84s in a park.

Israel somehow managed to get their hands on a few rikity surplus World war II planes that got them through the Independence War (1948-49). This was the beginning of the Israeli Air Force (IAF). The Czech ME-109s they got were death traps, but they intimidated the better equipped Egyptian Air Force. Two American P-51s made it through the Amerivan arms embardo in crates marke as agricultural equipment. When the Soviets began to equip and train the Egyptian Air Force with modern jets, Israel faced a mortal danger. Its top fighter was a handful of illegally obtained World War II propeller P-51 Mustang. The United States was maintaining an arms embargo and at the time Israel did not have the ability to build jets. And the United States was demanding its allies (Britain, Canada, and France) also not sell military equipment to Israel. At the time the United States was the primary manufacturer of jt aircraft in the West. Both Britain and France adopted the F-84. The Suez War bought some time for Israel. At the time the F-84 Thunderjet was the basis of most NATO fighter-bomber forces It was a armed with the usual U.S. Air Force six 0.5" machineguns, preferred for a faster rate-of-fire and greater load of ammunition than cannon. The F-84F could also carry a considerable load of bombs. The British and French secretly negotiated with Israel over seizing the Suez Canal that Nassar had seized. Israel agreed to cooperate only if France would provide aircraft and pilots to protect Israeli airspace and aid the IAF. Four French squadrons were equipped with the F-84, two based on Cyprus and two at Lydda/Lod in Israel. One of these, EC1, equipped with 18 F-84 Thunderstreaks. Based at Lod, this squadron was assigned an Israeli number, 200, and it's aircraft carried Israeli markings. The Thunderstreaks pursued bombing missions inside Egyptian territory, most of the time flying defensive missions. One spectaculat involved 20 aircraft from the 1st Squadron that operated from Lod. They attacked the Egyptian airbase at Luxor, deep in Egypt, destroying 18 turbojet bombers Ilyushin Il-28 (November 3). The Egyptians had moved these prized modern bombers from other airfields in the north which were being attacked by by British and French fighter-bombers. As a result the new Soviet supplied Egyptian air force was largely destoyed, giving the Israelis time to get jets of their own. The Israelis seem to have obtained some of the French F-84s in the aftermath of the war. It was the first jet Israeli pilots got their hands on. WE are not sure how many. Israel almost got the far superior F-86 Sabres from Canada, but the United States shut down the deal. As the Soviets began to resupply the Egyptians after the War, the French recoving from World War II began to build advanced jet aircraft and agreed to supply Israel. Unlike the Soviets, the French insisted on payment.


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Created: 4:23 AM 11/4/2006
Last updated: 4:25 AM 12/4/2013