The First Full Story of the Israeli Air Force
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 A ragtag collection of used aircraft flown by a handful of brave volunteers helped assure Israel's survival in its War of Independence; today, the Israeli Air Force is ranked among the world's best. Here, from former IAF senior officer and helicopter commander Cohen (now an El Al pilot), is a history of the evolution of the IAF, enlivened by numerous pilots' reports of combat engagements. If numbers alone determined the outcome of battle, the IAF would have been swept from the skies during Israel's wars with its Arab antagonists. But superior strategies, tactics, flying skills, and improvisation, enhanced by daring born of necessity, enabled the greatly outnumbered IAF to prevail time and again: In the Six- Day War of 1967, for instance, Israeli pilots shot down 60 Egyptian planes while losing only three of their own in air-to-air combat. Cohen covers all of the IAF's major air missions, including the raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor and the rescue of hostages at Entebbe--and some costly mistakes and miscalculations as well. Throughout, his chronicle somewhat overlaps Ehud Yonay's No Margin for Error (p. 53), though Yonay does a more through job of delineating the personalities involved in the infighting, over the proper role of air power, within and between the IAF, the defense establishment, and government leaders--and he also describes in much greater detail the ingenious schemes used by Israel to acquire aircraft from an often hostile world. Still, ``Cheetah'' Cohen includes scores of thrilling accounts of dogfights and other dangerous missions--not least of which are the author's own tales of his helicopter forays to rescue downed Israeli flyers. First-rate military-aviation history. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1993
ISBN: 0-517-58790-4
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993