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Phantoms Phorever, Part 3: Israel
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Nov 16, 2003, 16:26

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Well-known shot showing three F-4Es of the "Bat Squadron" (supposedly the 119th Sqn IDF/AF) in flight over Jerusalem. Interesting is the mix of the sub-versions: the 114, in the foreground, is an older Block, still with the old gun-blast difuser, and "straigth" wing. The F-4E leading the pair in the background (probably "181" and "111") have the new gun-blast difusers, and were obviously supplied after 1971. (Tom Cooper collection)


The Israel Defence Force/Air Force (IDF/AF) started receiving Phantoms in September 1969, after its first crews converted to the type at USAF's George AFB in the preceding six months.

Eventually, Israel purchased at least 204 F-4Es (including three examples there were re-built into the F-4E(S), probably one of the most "exotic" versions of the Phantom II ever) and 12 RF-4Es, and formed a total of six units with these.

The flow of F-4 deliveries to Israel was as follows:

Operation Peace Echo I
44 new build F-4Es diverted from USAF orders (delivered from 05/09/1969 at an estimate rate of four aircraft a month), plus six-RF 4E (delivered from 07/01/1971). They equipped 201 Sqn and 69 Sqn.
69-0396 to 69-0399 (4)
69-0414 to 69-0417 (4)
69-0430 to 69-0433 (4)
69-0454 to 69-0457 (4)
69-0469 to 69-0472 (4)
69-0484 to 69-0487 (4)
69-0499 to 69-0502 (4)
69-0519 to 69-0525 (7)
69-0539 to 69-0547 (9)
69-7590 to 69-7595 (6) RF-4E

Operation Peace Echo II
Six ex-USAF F-4Es delivered during 1970 to cover Attrition War losses.
69-0294 to 69-0296 (3)
69-0299 to 69-0301 (3)

Operation Peace Echo III
18 ex USAF F-4Es delivered during 1970 to equip 119 Sqn.
69-7224 to 69-7227 (4)
69-7237 to 69-7250 (14)

Operation Peace Patch
12 ex-USAF F-4Es delivered between early 1971 and 03/1971 for replenishment of the units.
69-7547 (1) First with extended gun port
69-7549 (1)
69-7553 and 69 7554 (2)
69-7567 to 69 7570 (4)
69-7575 to 69 7578 (4)
Note: 69-7567, 69-7570 and 69-7576 were later converted to F-4E(S) configuration.

Operation Peace Echo IV
24 ex-USAF exampleas (for 107 Sqn) and 18 new-build (71-1779 to 71-1796) F-4Es delivered between 04/1972 and 10/1973, bringing cumulative total to 122 F 4Es an six RF 4Es.
71-0224 to 71-0236 (13)
71-1071(1) First slatted F-4E
71-1080 (1)
71-1082 (1)
71-1090 (1)
71-1093 (1)
71-1393 (1)
71-1396 (1)
71-1399 to 71-1402 (4)
71-1779 to 71-1796 (18)

Operation Nickel Grass
Transfer of USAF F-4Es to IDF/AF as attrition replacements during Yom Kippur War. Between 36 and 40 aircraft were transferred, and 34 of these are listed below. Dates given are dates of transfer to FMS, not to IDF/AF. Many of these Phantoms were combat veterans from Vietnam.
66-0313 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
66-0327 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73 (later "Super-Phantom" prototype)
66-0352 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
67-0326 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73 (shot down on 20/10/1973)
67-0340 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
67-0346 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73 (shot down on 20/10/1973)
67-0362 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
67-0368 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
67-0383 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
68-0331 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
68-0333 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
68-0380 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
69-7229 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
69-7255 ex 33TFW 19 Oct 73
71-0246 ex 4TFW 16 Oct 73 (shot down 20/10/1973)
71-1074 ex 57FWW 13 Oct 73
71-1078 ex 57FWW 13 Oct 73
71-1394 ex 4TFW 16 Oct 73
71-1395 ex 4TFW 14 Oct 73
71-1398 ex 4TFW 14 Oct 73
72-0121 ex 4TFW 16 Oct 73
72-0123 ex 4TFW 15 Oct 73
72-0127 ex 4TFW 14 Oct 73
72-0129 ex 4TFW 14 Oct 73
72-0130 ex 4TFW 16 Oct 73
72-0131 ex 4TFW 14 Oct 73
72-0132 ex 4TFW 14 Oct 73
72-0133 ex 4TFW 16 Oct 73
72-0137 ex 4TFW 15 Oct 73
72-0138 ex 4TFW 14 Oct 73
72-0157 ex 4TFW 14 Oct 73
72-0158 ex 4TFW 15 Oct 73
72-0163 ex 4TFW 15 Oct 73
72-0164 ex 4TFW 16 Oct 73

Operation Peace Echo V
24 ex-USAF (for 105 Sqn) and 24 new-build (74-1014 to 74-1037) F-4Es, plus two batches of six RF-4Es (second not confirmed), delivered between 1974 and 11/1976.
72-1480 to 72-1481 (2)
72-1487 to 72-1488 (2)
72-1491 to 72-1492 (2)
72-1495 to 72-1496 (2)
72-1497 to 72-1498 (2)
72-1499 (1)
73-1157 to 73-1159 (3)
73-1161 to 73-1162 (2)
73-1169 to 73-1170 (2)
73-1178 to 73-1179 (2)
73-1190 to 73-1191 (2)
73-1201 to 73-1202 (2)
74-1014 to 74-1037 (24) First TlSEO equipped Israeli F-4Es - also compatible with Standard-ARM.
75-0418 to 75 0423 (6) RF-4E
75-0656 to 75 0661 (6) RF-4E

Known IDF/AF F 4E serials:
101, 106, 109, 110, 113, 114, 115, 119, 123, 129 (ex 69-7248 w/o 10/73), 141, 142, 144, 147, 151, 152, 153, 154, 156, 158, 160, 163, 164, 167, 170, 171, 172, 173, 175, 177, 181, 183, 184, 187, 189, 198, 201, 202, 206, 209, 210, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220, 222, 226, 227, 228, 229, 230, 236, 237, 251, 253, 256, 260, 264, 270, 274, 280, 284, 288, 304, 307, 311, 315, 317, 327, 330, 334 (ex-66-0327), 584, 606 (shot down, date unknown), 607, 608, 609, 610, 618, 620, 634, 640, 643 (ex-69-7578), 658, 668, 678, 680, 683, 684, 693.
Total 91.

First RF-4E batch: 69-7590 to 7595, delivered in 1971 and serialled in Israel as 194 to 199. With the delivery of the F-4E(S) in 1976, all the surviving RF-4Es were reserialled with “4” being applied instead of “1”, #98 and #99 thus taking new serials in order to not to be mixed with F-4E(S) serials. #94 was lost to Egyptian SAM on 09/11/1973.

Second RF-4E batch: 75-0418 to 0423. One of them was 493 (75-0419).

First RF-4E batch serials: 194 (ex-75-0418, shot down on 09/11/1973), 195, 196, 197 (497), 198, 199.

Other RF-4E serials: 485, 488 (probably was 198 before), 489, 490, 493 (75-0419).

F-4E(S) serials: 492, 498, 499.




Short Chronology of IDF/AF Phantom II Units


201st/The "One" Squadron
- 17/08/1969 201 Sqn created at Hatzor AB with Maj. Shmuel Hetz as CO.
- 05/09/1969 First four F-4E arrived at Hatzor AB. Until the re-formation of 69 Sqn, all aircrew flew with 201 Sqn.
- 18/07/1970 Lt.Col. Shmuel Hetz KIA; replaced by Lt.Col. Ran Ronen as CO.
- 09/1970 201 Sqn receives from 69 Sqn the two F-4E locally converted for recce.
- 1971 Lt.Col. Ran Ronen was replaced as CO.
- 1971 201 Sqn lost its Reconnaissance Flight.
- 05/10/1973 Lt.Col. Iftach Zemer became the CO 201 Sqn on this date.
- 13/10/1973 Lt.Col. Iftach Zemer had to eject from his Phantom due to a technical failure and was injured; he was replaced by Maj. Eitan Ben-Eliyahu as CO.
- 25/10/1973 During the Yom Kippur War, the squadron claimed 37 air-to-air kills, at a cost of 14 aircraft, 7 crew-members KIA or MIA, and 14 becoming PoWs.
- 01/1976 Lt.Col. Eitan Ben-Eliyahu replaced by Lt.Col. Aviem Sela as CO.
- 04/1989 The first production batch of Kurnass 2000 is delivered to 201 Sqn.
- 1990s 201 Sqn 201 Sqn receives few RF-4Es, re-obtaining operational capability on the type after almost 20 years.
As of present time this squadron remains equipped with Kurnass 2000.

109 was - as far as known - the most successful Israeli F-4E ever. No less but seven kills markings were applied on this aircraft when it was seen in this configuration and wearing the markings of the 201st or "Ahat" Squadron, shortly after the Yom Kippour War.


584 is said to have been used by Iftach Spector to score at least one of his three kills during the Yom Kippour War, in 1973. When photographed for the last time, sometimes in the 1980s, the aircraft wore three kill markings, and carried drop tanks obviously repainted in Israel at some point.


69th/The "Hammers" Squadron
- 23/10/1969 69 Sqn re-formed at Ramat David AB with Maj. Avihu Ben-Nun as CO.
- 03/1970 69 Sqn receives two F-4E locally converted for recce.
- 24/03/1970 First operational sortie for the F-4E converted for recce, with Egypt as a target.
- 09/1970 69 Sqn transfers to 201 Sqn the two F-4E locally converted for recce.
- 1971 69 Sqn receives brand-new RF-4Es, achieving operational capability on the type.
- 09/1973 Lt.Col. Avihu Ben-Nun was replaced at least one year before this date by Lt.Col. Amnon Arad as CO.
- 05/10/1973 Lt.Col. Amnon Arad was replaced before this date by Lt.Col. Yoram Agmon as CO.
- 25/10/1973 During the Yom Kippur War, the squadron claimed 20 air-to-air victories.
- 1976 69 Sqn receives some RF-4E from 119 Sqn when the later has got three F-4E(S).
- 02/1994 Unit was disbanded as a Phantom squadron, and later re-established on F-15Is.

183 should have been in service with the 69th or "Patishim" Squadron in 1973. Supposedly, it was the first - and at the time of the Yom Kippour War, the only - Israeli F-4E to be equipped with LES at the time. The plane was badly damaged early during the war, however, and spent the rest of it in the hangar, waiting for repairs. it is shown here in a configuration from 1970, when Israeli Phantoms were exceptionally active during the War of Attrition, against Egypt, carrying five M-117 bombs on MER under the centreline, Sidewinders under inner underwing pylons, and an ALQ-101 ECM-pod in the right front Sparrow bay.


Almost ten years after the Yom Kippour War, in 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon, the 69th Squadron was still equipped with F-4Es. While mainly used for air-to-ground missions - and especially SEAD - in 1982 the Israeli Phantoms were also tasked with combat air patrol duties, and 220, depicted here armed with AIM-7F Sparrows and AIM-9L Sidewinders - was seen on such a duty over Beirut. In fact, IDF/AF F-4Es participated in several air-to-air combats with Syrian fighters, the Israelis claiming one SyAAF MiG-21 shot down by their Phantoms, while Syrians claiming at least three Phantoms shot down by their MiG-23s. Beside F-4Es, the 69th Squadron flew also few RF-4Es in 1982. Aside from AIM-9Ls, Israeli Phantoms were also armed with Rafael Python Mk.III air-to-air missiles in 1982, and Ben-Ami Peri, the pilot that scored the last air-to-air victory for F-4s in Israeli service, should have achieved this success using one such missile.


119th/The "Bat" Squadron
- 29/10/1970 119 Sqn re-formed at Tel Nof AB equipped with F-4E and with Lt.Col. Amos Amir as CO.
- 07/01/1971 119 Sqn receives the first two genuine RF-4Es.
- 09/03/1971 First operational sortie for the RF-4Es, with Jordan as a target.
- 05/10/1973 Lt.Col. Eliezer Prigat became CO 119 Sqn on this date.
- 25/10/1973 During the Yom Kippur War, the squadron claimed an estimated 18 kills at least, probably more.
- 1976 119 Sqn equipped with three F-4E(S), and transfers its surviving RF-4Es to 69 Sqn.
- 03/01/1982 By this date, Lt.Col. Gideon Shefer was 119 Sqn CO.
As of present time this unit remains equipped with Kurnas 2000.

114, seen also on the photo above, was operated by the IDF/AF unit known as 119 or Atalev ("Bat") Squadron during the Yom Kippour War, in October 1973. The plane is depicted here carrying one of "special" Israeli war-loads, consisting of five M-117 bombs mounted on a MER under the centreline, two Mk.82s and a single AIM-9 Sidewinder under each inner underwing pylon, two Sparrows in rear bays, and an ALQ-119 ECM-pod in the forward left Sparrow bay. Eyewitnes reports indicate that already at this time the IDF/AF also used specially-developed Sidewinder-launch rails mounted in the forward right Sparrow bay! (all artworks by Tom Cooper)


498 belongs to the famous F-4E(S) version, of which only three examples were built for Israel only. The F-4E(S) became operational with the IDF/AF in 1977 and soon afterwards became famous for several of their long-range reconnaissance missions, far outside the Israeli borders. During one such missions, on 3 January 1981, two F-4E(S) penetrated over Jordan into the Iraqi airspace. When intercepted by an Iraqi MiG-21, the Phantoms turned around, their crews dragging the MiG away from its airbase until it run out of fuel. Since this time 498 wears a kill marking for that MiG.


499 is the second F-4E(S) in IDF/AF service, and - reportedly - currently together with the F-4E(S) the sole survivor of the original trio. The third example should have been shot down over Lebanon, in 1982. Contrary to the other two example, 499 has got its nose painted white. Exact reasons for this remain unknown. Like 498, the 499 was also seen in markings of the "Atalev" Squadron.


107th/The "Knights of the Orange Tail" Squadron
- 07/1971 107 Sqn re-formed at Hatzerim AB equipped with borrowed F-4E and with Maj. Iftach Spector as CO.
- 02/1972 The unit receives its own complement of 24 F-4E, returning the six borrowed Phantom to their owners.
- 05/10/1973 Lt.Col. Iftach Spector was still the CO on this date.
- 25/10/1973 During the Yom Kippur War, the squadron claimed 32 kills (18 MiG-21, 7 MiG-17 and 7 Mi-8).
- 1990s 107 Sqn receives some RF-4Es, attaining operational capability on the type.
- 1998 107 Sqn disbanded as a Phantom squadron.

105th/The "Scorpion" Squadron
- 31/03/1975 105 Sqn re-formed at Hatzor AB equipped with F-4E and with Maj. Shamuel Gordon as CO.
- 28/12/1987 Disbanded as a Phantom squadron.





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