Mustang

Putting on a show over the airbase

The American Mustang was considered to be one of the best fighters of WW2, if not the best. The plane, which served for interception and ground attack, became the IAF's last piston engined fighter. The first four Mustangs arrived in Israel in July 1948 and were assembled for use.

In early 1949, a mysterious plane began carrying out photo-reconnaissance sorties over central Israel, and especially over IAF bases. Ezer Weizmann - who went on to command the IAF - later told the story of how the plane was brought down: "The 'First Combat' Squadron was made up of Spitfires, three Mustangs and the remaining Messerschmitts in our possession. The Mustangs had only four machine guns, instead of six. "At first we thought the mystery plane was Iraqi. One day, we were informed that the plane had been spotted entering Israel from the north. Wayne Peake, the American, took to meet him in Mustang number 40. I sat there in the control tower at Hatzor and looked at the reconnaissance plane's condensation streaks. I thought it looked like a twin engined plane. "Wayne climbed to 28,000 feet, closed in on the plane from the direction of the sun, and sat on his tail. He opened fire directly over the base. One burst... a second burst... and smoke began pouring out of the plane's left engine. Wayne was living out every combat pilot's dream: he hit a plane as all his friends watched from the ground. The plane went into its death throes, and crashed into the sea opposite Ashdod. "I rushed out in a Sea Bee to the site of the crash, along with several other pilots. We saw the plane-s remains, and recognized it for what it was: an RAF photo-recon Mosquito".

Wayne Peake, who passed away in the early 1980's, asked in his will that he be buried in Israel. He was brought to rest in the IDF's Christian cemetery in Haifa.