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Air Force Forum Israeli Air force topics, missions and history + air forces from other nations.

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  #1  
Old 08-25-2009, 02:07 AM
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Default Israel Air Force Reading List

The following thread is intended to be a resource list of books, and book reviews, written about the Israel Defense Force Air Force (IDFAF): the Heyl haAvir. It is not an exhaustive list, and I invite others to add their own book reviews as time permits. Hopefully we can add similar reading lists under the Israeli Army and Navy forums, dealing with the Israeli Armored Corps (Heyl haShirion), Navy (Heyl haYam), and infantry units.


For this opening thread I will be providing only a brief overview, together with a simple rating (from one to five stars) for each book. More detailed book reviews will follow - but for now, I will be providing nothing more than a high-level survey for each category.


Biography and Autobiography


There are a number of autobiographies that, for various reasons, I have listed under other headings as appropriate. Some, like Eliezer Cohen's book, because they incorporated a far wider scope of material than any one man's story, and others, like Boris Senior's book, because they were focused on a very narrow scope in time.
Amos Amir, Fire In the Sky (South Yorkshire, UK, Pen & Sword Books, 2005), 292 pages.
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Ezer Weizman, On Eagles' Wings (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1976), 302 pages.
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Penned by one of the most influential generals ever to lead the Heyl haAvir, Weizman oversaw the transition of Israel's air force into the Mirage era - marking his autobiography as an historic episode in IDF history.


Iftach Spector, Loud and Clear (Minneapolis, MN, Zenith Press, 2009), 426 pages.
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Pilot Interviews


There are a couple of works on the market that attempt to collect the first-hand experiences of Israeli pilots, with a minimum of additional text - allowing Israel's pilots to tell their own story in their own words.
Peter B Mersky, Israeli Fighter Aces (North Branch, MN, Specialty Press Publishers, 1997), 128 pages.
Star5.jpg


Merav Halperin and Aharon Lapidot, G-Suit Combat Reports from Israel's Air War (London, UK, Sphere Books, 1990), 203 pages.
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Comprehensive Histories


These are books that attempt to tackle the entire scope of Israel's air force history. Some, of course, will be more complete or up to date than others.
Ehud Yonai, No Margin for Error (New York, Pantheon Books, 1993), 426 pages.
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Easily the best written history on the Heyl haAvir.


Bill Norton, Air War on the Edge (Hinckley, UK, Midland Publishing, 2004), 432 pages.
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Bill Norton's book is a comprehensive encyclopedia of Israel's air force hardware, and operational units. An excellent reference book with many little-known facts.


Eliezer Cohen, Israel's Best Defense (New York, Orion Books, 1993), 504 pages.
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Written by a former Israeli fighter and helicopter pilot, Israel's Best Defense offers an inside look at the history of Israel's air force.


Lon Nordeen, Fighters Over Israel (New York, Orion Books, 1990), 226 pages.
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An overall history, with good reference tables in the appendices.


Shlomo Aloni, Arab-Israeli Air Wars, 1947-1982 (Oxford, UK, Osprey Publishers, 2001), 96 pages.
Star3.jpg


Samuel M Katz, Israel's Air Force (Osceola, WI, Motorbooks International, 1991), 128 pages.
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Murray Rubenstein and Richard Goldman, Shield of David (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 1978), 223 pages.
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The Early Years - 1947-1960
Boris Senior, New Heavens (Dulles, VA, Potomac Books, 2005), 256 pages.
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A first-hand account of the birth of the Israeli air force.


Salvador Mafe Huertas, The Israeli Air Force 1947-1960 (Atglen, PA, Schiffer Publishing, 1998), 174 pages.
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Brian Cull, David Nicolle, and Shlomo Aloni, Wings Over Suez (London, UK, Grubb Streeet, 1996), 385 pages.
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A detailed account of the 1956 air war.


Harold Livingston, No Trophy No Sword (Chicago, IL, Edition Q, 1994), 262 pages.
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Shlomo Aloni, Israel Air Force deHavilland Mosquito (Erlangen, Germany, AirDOC, 2006), 64 pages.
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The 1960s and 1970s
Salvador Mafe Huertas, Dassault Mirage: The Combat Log (Atglen, PA, Schiffer Publishing, 1996), 208 pages.
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Although in theory, this book is devoted to more than just Israel's experience with flying the Mirage, Israeli combat experience takes over a third of this volume.


Shlomo Aloni, Israeli F-4 Phantom II Aces (Oxford, UK, Osprey Publishers, 2004), 96 pages.
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Shlomo Aloni, Israeli Mirage and Nesher Aces (Oxford, UK, Osprey Publishers, 2004), 96 pages.
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The 1980s and 1990s
Shlomo Aloni, Israeli F-15 Eagle Units In Combat (Oxford, UK, Osprey Publishers, 2006), 96 pages.
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The Osirak Reactor Raid
Dan McKinnon, Bullseye One Reactor (San Diego, CA, House of Hits Publishing, 1987), 198 pages.
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Reprinted in paperback in 1990 under the title Bullseye Iraq.


Rodger W Claire, Raid on the Sun (New York, Broadway Books, 2004), 259 pages.
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Amos Perlmutter, Michael I Handel and Uri Bar-Joseph, Two Minutes Over Baghdad (London, UK, Frank Cass Publishers, 2003), 183 pages.
Star4.jpg
Expanded reprint of the original, 1982 publication.


Shlomo Nakdimon, First Strike (New York, Summit Books, 1987), 353 pages
Star3.jpg

Photo Albums


Not my favorite material, but I suppose the photo-collections do have their place.
Moshe Hadar and Yehuda Ofer, Heyl haAvir: The Israel Air Force (Tel Aviv, Israel, Ministry of Defense, 1971), 240 pages.
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Samuel M Katz, The Shield of David (Hong Kong, Concord Publications, 1994), 86 pages
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Other Sources


There are a number of works which, while they are not wholely devoted to the Heyl HaAvir, contain important details or testimonials nonetheless.
Steve Davies, Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle (Wiltshire, UK, Airlife Publishing, 2003), 208 pages.
Star5.jpg
Besides being an excellent reference work on the Strike Eagle, Steve Davies' work also includes some excellent material and interviews from Israel's air force (and surrounding the Royal Saudi Air Force as well).


Steve Davies and Doug Dildy, F-15 Eagle Engaged (Oxford, UK, Osprey Publishing, 2007), 287 pages.
Star5.jpg
Another reference work from Steve Davies that includes interviews with Israeli pilots.


Case Studies in the Achievement of Air Superiority, ed by Benjamin Franklin Cooling (Washington, DC, Air Force History and Museums Program, 1994), 678 pages.
Star5.jpg
A collection of case studies by USAF historians, it includes an excellent overview of Israeli air combat experience.
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Old 08-26-2009, 02:39 PM
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This is a great thread!

How about these books? They're kinda like technical manuals though:

1) F-16I SUFA in IAF Service

2) F-15I Raam in IAF Service

3) F-4E Kurnass in IAF Service

...all from IsraDecal Publications.

I couldn't copy and paste the hyperlinks because I was still within the 15 post cap.

I would also like to suggest this book:

1) Strike Eagle: Flying the F-15E in the Gulf War by William L. Smallwood
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Old 09-29-2009, 11:53 AM
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Attached is the first in the promised series of follow-on, detailed book reviews, focused on the Heyl haAvir.

air war on the edge.jpg
Bill Norton, Air War on the Edge (Hinckley, UK, Midland Publishing, 2004).
Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.7 x 1.2 inches.
Weight: 4.3 pounds.
62 color and 461 black/white photos.
432 pages. Hardbound.
Star5.jpg

What makes Bill Norton's book so unique, is the shear depth and comprehensive nature of his work. Air War on the Edge is a complete encyclopedia of every airplane the Heyl haAvir has ever flown, describing its service history, major missions, upgrade programs, and the squadrons which flew it. There is no other resource out there quite like it.

Norton details every confirmed kill, and which airplane is credited with each victory. Not only which squadrons flew which airplane, but also what the tail numbers were for the airplanes in that squadron. From fighters helicopters, and from 1947 to 2004 this book chronicles the hardware of the IDFAF as no other resource available. It even covers experimental types and captured or leased assets - such as the three MiG-29s that Israel leased from an undisclosed East European country (Poland?) in 1997, to perform flight trials and assess the airplane's dogfighting capabilities. Yes, they even have photos of the MiG-29s in Israeli colors.

At 432 pages, this book is packed. The typeset features a fine print, with two columns per page. It feels like they were trying to cram a whole library into one volume.

The price on the book is pretty steep. The last time I checked, it was retailing for $63.71 on the internet (and for a little more from some sources). For anyone who truly wants a top-notch library on the Heyl haAvir, however, this book is a must-have resource.
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:58 AM
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Default No Margin for Error

no margin for error.jpg
Ehud Yonai, No Margin for Error (New York, Pantheon Books, 1993).
Dimensions: 10 x 6.8 x 1.5 inches
Weight: 1.8 pounds.
29 black/white photos.
426 pages. Hardbound.
Star5.jpg

What sets Ehud Yonai's book apart is the quality of the writing. Israeli born, Yonai is a journalist by trade - one whose magazine article on US Navy fighter pilots, "Top Guns" became the inspiration for the hit 1986 movie. Combining his writing skills with rare access to Israel's fighter pilot elite, Yonai was able to paint a far more nuanced picture of the history of the Heyl haAvir than any historian has accomplished, either before or since.

Tracing the history of the IDFAF from its genesis in 1947, to the early-1980s, Yonai taps into numerous interviews with Israeli pilots to bring to life both the men of the Heyl haAvir, and the battles in which they fought. Nowhere else have the distinctive personalities of Yak Nevo, Ezer Weizman, Moti Hod, and Beni Peled each been painted in such such vivid terms. Nowhere else are the accounts of so many individual pilots (over 60 interviews in all) combined together with a comprehensive picture of Israel's tactical position, and the evolution of Israel's air force tactics to respond to evolving realities. The result is a chronicle that provides a personal perspective within which to frame the larger strategic issues that Israel's air force had to face.

To quote from Ezer Weizman's own memoir, "The Israeli air force was created by men and weapons in that order; men are the most important." More than a mere history, or simple retelling of events, Yonai's book provides that human context which made that history, and continues to make it today.
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Old 10-01-2009, 11:00 AM
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Default Israeli Fighter Aces

israeli fighter aces.jpg
Peter B Mersky, Israeli Fighter Aces (North Branch, MN, Specialty Press Publishers, 1997).
Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.7 x 0.5 inches
Weight: 1.6 pounds
34 color and 84 black/white photos
128 pages. Hardbound.
Star5.jpg

Although Mersky's book is relatively lightweight compared to many of the others out there, it includes a particularly broad assortment of pilot interviews - which makes it a truly noteworthy resource. The author does provide an outline at the beginning of each chapter, chronicling how the Heyl haAvir evolved over time, and providing the context for each engagement. The real stars of this book, however, are the pilots themselves: describing in their own words what they saw, experienced, and felt.

Few things can replace that sense of "being there" that comes from first-hand accounts from those who have been on the field of battle. It is this sense of immediacy that makes this particular book worth owning.

Last edited by haamimhagolan; 10-02-2009 at 11:31 AM..
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Old 10-02-2009, 11:32 AM
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g-suit.jpg
Merav Halperin and Aharon Lapidot, G-Suit - Combat Reports from Israel's Air War (London, UK, Sphere Books, 1990).
Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.0 x 0.6 inches
16 black/white photos
203 pages. Softcover.
Star5.jpg

This small, unassuming volume represents a rare find. Each of its 37 chapters is devoted to the personal testimony of Israeli pilots - from the helicopter pilots who flew the daring commando raids, to the fighter pilots who tangled with MiGs over Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. From strike missions flown against Egyptian missile batteries, to the pilots who flew the C-130s that were made famous by the Entebbe rescue mission. This is an unparalled collection, with many stories and details that can be found nowhere else.

The authors who compiled the stories provide only the barest of introduction for each chapter, allowing the pilots themselves to become the storytellers of their most famous missions. Although long out of print, this book can still be found on the second-hand book market. I would rate this book as a must-have for anyone who truly wants to understand the view from the cockpit, in the most accomplished air force of the jet age.
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Old 10-04-2009, 01:57 PM
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Default On Eagles' Wings

on eagles wings.jpg
Ezer Weizman, On Eagles' Wings (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1976).
Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
16 black/white photos
302 pages.
Star5.jpg

On Eagles' Wings is one of those biographies that earns its significance due to the central role that the author played at a particular turning point in history. Ezer Weizman was the commander of the Heyl haAvir at a pivotal point in the evolution of Israeli air power. From 1958 to 1966, Ezer Weizman oversaw the transition of the Heyl haAvir into the Mirage era - leaving an imprint on the organization that would last for decades.

It is easy to forget now, but when Ezer Weizman first stepped into the role of Air Force Chief, the Israeli armed forces generally discounted the value of air power as secondary to in role to the ground forces. It was Weizman - more than any other general - who possessed both the vision, and the political connections, necessary to campaign for an "air force first" doctrine among Israel's political leadership. Under his tutelage, the air force was allowed to recruit the best and brightest into the pilot corps. Under his leadership, the budget devoted to Israel's air force was multiplied manifold - allowing the Heyl haAvir to build itself up into the fighting force that would strike with devastating effect in the opening hours of the Six Day War.

Which is why being able to observe Weizman's achievements, through his own eyes and own words, is so invaluable. Weizman was never an ace - his importance in developing Israel's dogfight doctrines paling beside such figures as Yak Nevo. Nor was he without flaw - his own self assured arrogance often coming to the fore throughout the book. But as a leader who radiated vision, and moulded the Israeli air force into what it is today, there are few in Israel's modern history who left an imprint quite so large.
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Old 10-14-2009, 03:46 PM
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hey all

a little off topic, but I just finished reading Robert Gandt's Bogeys and Bandits The making of a Fighter Pilot.

it's really one of the best books I ever read. Author's got a way with words.

There have been countless books about trainees going through Air Force School, Naval Aviator school, etc, but do you think we would ever see a book/video/dvd/documentary on IAF trainees going through Air Force School?

I would buy that in a heartbeat.
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GEN Aaron View Post
There have been countless books about trainees going through Air Force School, Naval Aviator school, etc, but do you think we would ever see a book/video/dvd/documentary on IAF trainees going through Air Force School?

I would buy that in a heartbeat.
If you're looking for a first-hand account detailing IDFAF training, you are going to be waiting for a long time. I seem to recall back in the 1980s, that 60 Minutes did do a story on Israel's air force - but the amount of interviews that they were allowed to perform was minimal. They did provide statistics on the wash-out rate for Israel's flight school, but that was about it.

For now, I believe you are going to have to settle for the autobiographies of a few ex-generals - who will provide only a limited amount of detail regarding what the training really entails.
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Old 12-13-2009, 01:57 PM
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I've just finished reading Ezer Weizman's autobiography, ON EAGLE'S WINGS.

It was really quite an invigorating read and I absolutedly enjoyed it.

I'm reading Moshe Dayan's STORY OF MY LIFE now, only gone through 50 pages thus far, but it's really turning out to be another engaging read.

I wonder if Chiam Bar Lev, David Elazar, David Kimche, Mike Harari, Uzi Narkiss, Modercai Gur wrote their memoirs??
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