Meteor

Sights in night position

The Meteor was Britain's first combat jet plane. The first pair of planes reached Israel in March of 1955. David Ben Gurion gave them the names 'Sufa' and 'Sa'ar'.

Tensions were on the rise at the time in the skies between Egypt and Israel. On August 29th 1955 a pair of Meteors encountered two Egyptian Vampires that had entered Israeli airspace. In the ensuing dogfight, one of the Egyptian planes was hit, and was seen losing altitude and trailing a plume of smoke. Israel's pilots refrained from crossing the border in pursuit of the Egyptians, and this kill was never confirmed.

In September 1955, Cpt. Aharon Yoeli scored the Meteor's first jet kill (it was also the squadron's, and Yoeli's, first). His victims were a pair of Egyptian Vampires that had penetrated Israeli airspace.

Col. (Res.) Yoeli recalls: "We were on alert in Hatzor when we were informed that the planes had penetrated. The truth be told, neither I nor Yehoash ('Chato') Tzidon were supposed to be scrambled, but we were quicker to take off than the pair that was supposed to go up. It was 07:00 when we took off, and the sky was dotted with clouds. The controller directed us to where the planes had last been sighted. Chato spotted the invaders first. The two Vampires were flying towards Egypt at 2,000 meters. I got in behind one of them, with my sights in night position. I opened fire at a range of 150 meters. The four 20 mm. cannon did their job: the plane was hit in the left wing root, and exploded.

"I tore left and pulled upward hard, in pursuit of the second Vampire, which had turned south in the meantime in the hope of getting away. I chased him with the engine at full throttle and we approached the border. I was a member of Kibbutz Erez at the time. The kibbutz was right under us, and I wanted to drop him over the kibbutz. The Vampire executed a few rolls at low altitude, and I waited for him to finish his aerobatics... I opened fire from 200 meters and hit the cockpit straight off. The plane crashed into the ground, west of the kibbutz.

"The only thing which I was unhappy about was the fact that the pilots had failed to bail out. I was sorry about this, from the depth of my heart. Twenty minutes later we were home again. It's hard to describe what went on back at the base - it was a real celebration!"

Yoeli received the Decration of Valor for the double victory. He insists, to this day, that he does not deserve it.