These Hercules planes can boast having visited Sudan during the operations that airlifted the Ethiopian Jews The blessing in Hebrew “May we be at the head and not the tail”, which is said on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, symbolizes leadership and development. In the IAF, the tail and head of planes in the force have special marks that indicate extraordinary events in the past, and in honor of the holiday, the IAF Site brings you three stories
On Rosh Hashana, we usually greet one another with the blessing “May we be at the head and not the tail” so that we will lead and succeed in our actions. Every plane in the IAF has its own story, and the marks on the tail and head of the planes are a testament to this idea: a squadron symbol, a direct-hit symbol or maybe even a flag of a faraway land. In honor of the holiday, IAF site brings you the stories of a number of planes.
Lucky Number: Thirteen
French Mirage planes served the IAF for two significant decades, in which they took part in a considerable numbers of attacks and aerial battles that are remembered to this day. In the IAF Museum in Hatzor, special Mirage planes with tail numbers 158 and 159 can be found: These planes are considered world champions destroyers of the jet planes, because they are responsible for having downed 13 aircrafts-more than any other combat plane in the world.
On the back of Hercules
It is not just combat planes that are honored with special marks on their body: In the transport line of the Hercules planes in Netivim, there are three Hercules planes, with the tail numbers 420, 435, and 102, on the nose which a small Ugandan flag is marked. These planes took part in “Operation Entebbe” over three decades ago, in which the kidnapped passengers and flight crew of the Air France flight were rescued. Alongside the trio, there are other Hercules planes that have the flag of neighboring Sudan marked on their heads: These Hercules planes can boast having visited Sudan during the operations that airlifted the Ethiopian Jews. “I felt the need to connect the soldiers of the new technical division to the legacy of the squadron, and by doing that, they will see how far each plane they prepare for flight can go”, explains then Colonel Yehel, former Commander of the “Knights of the Yellow Bird” squadron.
Between the Euphrates and the Tigris
In the “Defenders of the South” combat squadron in Nevitim, an F-16a/b with a turbulent past resides. On the head of plane number 243, next to the mark of downed enemy plane, there is also a symbol with a green background with a blackened building, which symbolizes the participation of the plane in the incident that took place on June 7th, 1981, Operation Opera, in which Israel combat planes attacked the Iraqi nuclear reactor.