Operation "Masmer" (Nail)

September 1964

In Sep. 1964 the IAF commenced operation “Nail”. The operation sought to transfer six disassembled Fuga jet planes and all accompanying equipment. Delivered on a single Boeing 377 Stratocruiser aircraft, the jets were accompanied by Lt. Col. Dani Shapira, a test pilot. In addition, two Dakota aircrafts were brought in, intended for the use of the yet to be established Ugandan paratrooper units. The operation concluded in the middle of the following year.

The first task assigned to the IAF crew in Uganda was to prepare for an aerial demonstration in honour of Uganda’s second Independence Day. The event, scheduled for Oct. 9th 1964, was to be attended by Uganda’s Prime Minister Milton Obote and the Minister of the interior and Defence, Felix Onoma. The crew had less than two months to prepare.

The success in this mission was of great importance to the IAF crew, as they wished to demonstrate their ability right from the start of the aid program, in light of the pressing British competition. It was decided that six aircrafts will take part in the aerial demonstration: four Piper aircrafts flown by Israeli-trained Ugandan pilots, and two Fuga jets, flown by Israeli instructors.

The IAF crew was hoping to gain local support, by helping Uganda to create its own air force, and equip it with jet aircraft. Ugandan pilots underwent rigorous training and learned how to fly in a formation, while the Israeli pilots practiced aeronautic stunts. Finally, regardless of the very short time frame, and the absence of the most basic infrastructure the aerial demonstration went through with great success. Following the impressive demonstration, local press publicised the creation of the Ugandan Air Force, and the Israeli involvement in its creation. The IAF crew became very popular with the public, the government, and members of the parliament.

Following the success of the first air demonstration, the Israeli Air Force continued organizing the annual event, each year making it more elaborate and sophisticated than before.