The War of Attrition, 25.3.70

Location: north of Ismailia, Downed Plane: two Egyptian MiG-21s


Time: 25.3.1970.
Formation: Epstein - Tzuk with Marom - Baharav. Plane: Shahak (Mirage) No. 77.
Location: north of Ismailia.
Result: two MiG-21s shot down with cannon.


On March 16th, ten days before the dogfight, there was a decision about initiating a combined Kurnas [Phantom] - Shahak aerial battle and shooting down MiGs. A quartet was named: Hetz - Ben Eliyahu from 'The One' Squadron and Sharon - Epstein. Following a joint briefing, we went out on the mission.
We approached the Canal at very low altitude, then pulled upward - and were immediately directed to face a MiG patrol. I was the first to establish eye contact and reported this to Hetz. They also established eye contact and pulled to a high altitude; me and Sharon went in [to confront] the MiGs.
There was a quartet [of MiGs] which split up into two pairs, and each of us took on a pair. Sharon gave chase but did not close in, and I went straight to missile range, shot an excellent missile from 800 [meters] behind [the MiG]. It detonated very close to the MiG, which lost an afterburner. I was certain that he was hit - and would eventually fall. I let go of him, closed in on another [plane] and shot cannon fire at him from 400 [meters]. I missed.
I cut westward, saw that I was clean and that the others were still in the dogfight, and went right back. I saw a pair of MiGs, went in after them, closed in to a range of 200 meters and shot off all of the ammunition, well-aimed, but without hitting the target. I announced 'finishing ammunition' and let go of him. Hetz moved in on him but lost him.
Meantime, a MiG that Sharon was chasing (probably the one that had been hit by my missile) went into the ground. The controller instructed us to end the confrontation and come home. I went back, frustrated and upset. It turned out that, besides me, no one had done anything. Eitan [Ben Eliyahu] shot at someone but missed, Hetz and Sharon had not fired missiles and had not shot their cannon. Credit for the MiG that rammed into the ground was given to Sharon.
Luckily for me, nine days later we again went out on a patrol in the Canal, Tzuk and me. We were joined to Agmon, who had come back from an attack. He finished his fuel and went home. That's when Marom and Baharav arrived, and we were teamed up with them to form a quartet.
We patrolled a while, and then received instructions to intercept a MiG quartet which was patrolling to the west of us. I discovered them [and informed] Marom. We passed [them] and I went after a MiG. I closed in slowly. Tzuk requested and received my permission to cut in and go after them. He came in and a chase began, with me covering Tzuk. Meanwhile, Marom went after another MiG and after hitting him with his cannon, knocked him out with a direct hit as an encore. The pilot bailed out, and the rest of the battle raged on around him, with us sometimes passing very close to him, and him waving his arms and legs in an apparent attempt to ask us not to shoot him.
Baharav, who was without a target, was in our vicinity. The controller announced that another MiG quartet was joining the battle from the west, and I saw them coming down on us and going for Tzuk. They launched, I shouted to him to turn hard, he turned hard, and the missile passed him. They kept going at him with cannon, he turned hard and threw them forward. I had been off to the side, and I now went right in and came in right behind them. They were a pair, ranged in combat attack formation. I closed in on the rear [plane] in an upward pull, and gave a medium-length burst at a range of 400 meters. [The plane] exploded and lit up immediately. I immediately went after his number one, who had gone into a sharp split. I ran after him. I closed down range, and at 200 meters, exiting the dive, I shot a burst that hit his left wing. The wing fell off, he went into an uncontrollable spin and rammed into the ground. This whole time, Tzuk was escorting me.
Meanwhile, Baharav had gone after the pair we had let go of, and with a typical burst - firing without using his sights - managed to shoot one of them down. We went back for landing at Refidim.
The IDF Chief of General Staff was in Refidim with his entire staff, and he asked to talk to us. The paratroopers on the staff exuded joy and pride - you'd think I was still one of them.