WATCH: Rare Footage Found, First Air Battle of the Yom Kippur War (VIDEO BELOW)
First Air Battle of the Yom Kippur War
A miracle together with resourcefulness and determination… On Yom Kippur 1973 at 13:56, 28 MiG fighter airplanes moved over the Red Sea. Their targets in Israel were the Air Force and Navy bases in Sharem, Eilat, the Dimona nuclear reactor, and the city of Beer Sheba. At Ofir Air Force Base, there were two Phantoms on alert for the protection of El Al flights to South Africa.
The surface-to-surface missile system was not locked on the planes, the MiGs bombed the runway and hit a Hawk missile battery, one soldier was killed. Despite his lack of authority, the air controller took a decision and launched the pair of Phantoms.
Within six minutes they dropped seven enemy planes. The concept in the Israeli Air Force was to shoot down the enemy’s leading planes. The success was great, all the other MiG planes dispersed because they lost their direction without the leading planes and fled to their base in Egypt.
The young Israeli pilots were inexperienced and were courageously forced to land on the last drops of fuel and on a bombed landing strip.
Rare Video Found: Old 8mm Video Camera during Picnic
“We went out for a picnic in Sharem. At 2 pm we saw over the bay dozens of MiGs in the sky moving North. We did not understand what was happening, we did not know that a war had broken out.”
The story is by Moshe Shargal, who was there with his old 8mm video camera.
I did not know that I was the only one who recorded the first moment of that terrible war
“I went up to the hill with my Super 8 camera, suddenly I saw a phantom plane chasing a squadron of airplanes, I picked up the camera and video recorded … Fire caught the MiG plane, rolled over and plunged into the waters of the bay, the rest of the MIGs dispersed and fled. Only in the evening did we realize that the war broke out, the Yom Kippur War. I did not know that I was the only one who recorded the first moment of that terrible war.”
WATCH: Video of First Air Battle
Background: First Air Battle of the Yom Kippur War
The first air battle in the Yom Kippur War took place on October 6, 1973, between Israel and Egypt, shortly after the outbreak of the war, at the Sde Ophir Air Force base in Sharm el-Sheikh in southern Sinai.
Earlier that year, on February 21, 1973, Israeli Air Force fighter jets dropped a Libyan passenger plane that accidentally entered Sinai after failing to respond to their warnings. Following the fear of a retaliatory attack on El Al planes flying over Sharm el-Sheikh on their way to Africa, it was decided to place a phantom aircraft on alert at the Ophir air base at Sharm el-Sheikh.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, Colonel Ya’akov Nevo arrived at the base and announced that he had received the appointment as commander of the base, warning the pilots that a war could erupt the next day, and that two Phantoms were advanced to provide an immediate response to an unexpected threat from the south. The crew at the base were young air crews with no significant combat experience.
Shortly before 2 pm, the base commander called the four crew members for a briefing, interrupted by an alarm, after identifying at 13:56 some 16 Migs approaching the area at a distance of 55 miles. A young officer decided to make their own decision, and with no authorization from command, instructed the pilots in the to take off and engage with the Migs.
The battle took place at very low altitude, under difficult conditions.
The battle lasted about six minutes (a relatively long time), and ended before a quartet of Mirage planes arrived at the area for help. All in all, two Israeli Phantom F-4s participated in the battle, against 28 MiG-17s and MiG-21s of the Egyptian Air Force, attacking targets in the southern part of the Sinai peninsula. At the end of the six-minute battle, seven MiGs were shot down.
Credit: Photo Linof
The photographer Moshe Sharbal gave credit to Photo Linof who tranferred the old video footage to modern digital video. The full video is available in YouTube here: