Thursday, August 6, 2015

Book Review: June 1967 Six Day War: Volume A - Operation Focus

Shlomo Aloni
June 1967 Six Day War: Volume A - Operation Focus
Bat-Hefer, Israel: IsraDecal Publications, 2008
Category: Israel Air Force - History

Rating: 5-Stars

Nowhere else has Israel's opening air strike from the Six Day War been chronicled to this same degree of detail and rigor.  Combining interviews with newly released, official records, Shlomo Aloni has succeeded in documenting the details behind Operation Focus in unparalleled detail.  Every air strike, every call sign, every pilot assigned to each mission, even first hand accounts from many of the strike formations are included in this comprehensive assessment.  It is a treasure trove of information regarding who, what, when and where, followed up by appendices which list the individual squadrons and the pilots assigned to each of them.

Timetables for take-off, time over the target, aircraft flown, squadrons and pilot assignments.  The level of detail provided is shocking.  The text and tables are further supplemented by maps of the individual airfields attacked.  Even runway aim points are identified.

Want to know which aircraft were scheduled to target the massive Egyptian air base at Cairo West?  Six waves were scheduled for this key facility: four aircraft from Squadron 101 at H-hour plus 5-minutes (aim points 1 and 2), four from Squadron 119 at H+15 (aim points 1 and 3), another four from Squadron 101 at H+25 (aim points 1 and 3), four from 101 at H+40 (aim points 1 and 2), four from 117 at H+55 (aim points 1 and 2), four from 119 at H+70 (aim points 1 and 2).

Want to know where the legendary Yak Nevo was flying?  He was an emergency placement pilot assigned to Squadron 105 (the Scorpions), flying the Super Mystere.  His first mission of the day was as number two in an ill-fated formation assigned to attack the Kabrit airfield at 0745 (the second formation assigned to strike this airfield), flying in Super Mystere tail-number 44 - with callsign Topaz.  Low on fuel, two of the aircraft in his formation would crash in the Sinai while trying to evade Egyptian fighters on their return from Kabrit.  You can read the account from Manor Amiram who was flying in the number 4 position, as well as excerpts from Yak Nevo's own account in the official flight log.

The level of detail that Aloni has compiled is truly breathtaking.  My only regret is that I have yet to see the accompanying "Volume B" from the Six Day War (covering operations after the initial "Focus" air raids) enter publication.

A stunning and unparalleled collection of operational details and pilot accounts.

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