Τρίτη, 26 Απριλίου 2016

1948: Nazi aircraft with the star of David and the irony of History

An artist's representation of a dogfight between an Israeli Bf109 (Avia S199) and an Egyptian Spitfire in 1948

Just try to imagine the scene and grasp the irony of History: 

Israel’s first fighter plane was the famed German fighter Messerschmitt Bf109. 

The Czechs sold 25 of their own version of the fighter to Israel, named Avia S-199.

A Bf109 with the star of David

Constructed in Czechoslovakia, with parts and plans left over from Luftwaffe aircraft production, the aircraft had numerous problems and was generally unpopular with its pilots. 

It had a bomber motor, making it very unwieldy to fly and land. Many of the planes crashed shortly before or after arriving in Israel. 

Czechoslovak pilots nicknamed it Mezek ("Mule"), while in Israel it was officially known as the Sakeen ("knife" in Hebrew). 
A downed Egyptian Spitfire on the beach of Tel-Aviv

In practice, the aircraft was more often called Messerschmitt or Messer (which also means "knife", in German and Yiddish).

On May 15, 1948, immediately after the Israeli Declaration of Independence on the previous day, a full-blown Arab-Israeli war broke out, the first in a series of clashes between the two parties in the following decades, a deep hatred that continues to fuel clashes to this day, with no foreseeable resolution.

One of the three B-17 bombers sold to the Israelis for $15,000 a piece

A combined invasion by Egypt, Jordan and Syria, together with expeditionary forces from Iraq, entered Palestine.

An artist's representation of a dogfight between an Israeli Bf109 (Avia S199) and an Egyptian Spitfire in 1948
The invading forces took control of the Arab areas and immediately attacked Israeli forces and several Jewish settlements.

The 10 months of fighting, interrupted by several truce periods, took place mostly on the former territory of the British Mandate and for a short time also in the Sinai Peninsula and southern Lebanon.

Arab Air Forces: Spitfires, T-6 Texans, C-47 Dakotas, Hawker Hurricanes, Avro Ansons
Israeli Air Forces: Spitfires, Avia S-199s, B-17 Flying Fortresses, P-51 Mustangs, C-47 Dakotas

SOURCES: 1 2 3 4

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