‎The Knights of the North

Ramat David Airbase


A-4 Skyhawk (known in Hebrew as the “Ayit”, meaning “Eagle”)
F-16 A/B (known in Hebrew as the “Netz”, meaning “Hawk”)
F-16 C/D (known in Hebrew as the “Barak”, meaning “Lightning”)

On 2nd August 1953 the “Knights of the North" was established as a Mosquito squadron on Hatzor Airbase. It was initially intended to fly nighttime combat flights and to provide operational training. Its first commander was Captain Hugo Wiesel, from Rome. In practice because of the technical limitations of the aircraft and in particular their lack of appropriate radar system it functioned as an operational training squadron.

In an emergency the squadron was supposed to function as a fighter-bomber squadron. On 5th October 1955 the squadron was dissolved. Its training function was transferred to the "Valley" Squadron, and its aircraft were placed in storage.

In the light of the deteriorating security situation at the start of 1956 the Air Force began training exercises. These exercised focused on raising the readiness of the combat squadrons and their pilots. Similarly, they took aircraft out of storage and put in place emergency procedures which included reopening recently closed squadrons. In June 1956 the "Knights of the North" were reestablished as a Mosquito squadron on Sirkin airbase. Its main missions were to take part in attacks on Egyptian convoys in northern and central Sinai and on facilities in Sharm El-Sheikh.

The squadron's first operational flight after it was re-established took place on the night of 30th October. Its mission was to locate and attack Egyptian forces. This strike and the ones which followed it early the next morning prevented Egypt's main armored force from joining the battle. The squadron's structure remained the same until April 1957, when the old planes were taken out of service to prepare to receive the Vautor.

On 15th September 1957 the squadron was re-established, this time on Ramat David Airbase flying Vautors on air-to-air combat, bombing and photography missions. It was placed under the command of Major Yehezkel Somech. On 1st April 1958 the squadron began regular flights. From here on the squadron became the Air Force's main body developing air-to-ground combat doctrine.

On 17th March 1962 the squadron took part in its first operational sortie since the Sinai Campaign. This strike took place at night and was intended to help the Golani soldiers raid Nukeib, east of the Kinneret. The mission demonstrated how limited the Air Force's ability to attack at night had become.

During August 1963 Type-N Vautors that had been received by the "Bat" Squadron were transferred to the "Knights of the North". All the Vautors were gathered in one place as a result of the acquisition of the Mirage, which the "Bat" squadron had begun to receive in March 1964.

On moonlit nights Israeli Vautors would secretly take off and fly to airfields in enemy territory. The flights were carried out stealthily, without lights and at low altitude. On reaching the airfields they would climb to 2000 feet and circle them once whilst looking down and memorizing the territory before returning to Israel airspace. The night exercises, known by the name "Battle Cry", were not a routine matter and were carried out for many years. On 1st August 1964 the squadron received two-seater Meteor aircraft from the "Knights of the Orange Tail" squadron, which was being shut down. The Meteors were used for training pilots on two-engine aircraft and for reconnaissance missions.

The squadron played an important role during the Six Day War. The squadron's aircraft carried out sorties in which they attacked airports, radar stations and missile batteries and supported ground troops on the Syrian front. The squadron carried out the longest flights of the war to attack Ras Banas Airfield, Luxor and H-3 in Iraq. During the strike in Iraq on 6th June the squadron downed their first enemy aircraft when Captain Ben-Zion Zohar (Simkin) hit one of the Iraqi Hunter aircraft that had been scrambled to defend the H-3 Airbase. The squadron commander was Major Levy Tzur.

During the War of Attrition the squadron participated in the destruction of artillery batteries and strikes on Egyptian and Syrian military facilities and terrorist targets in Jordan and Lebanon. The squadron also gathered imagery intelligence from the front lines. In February 1970 the Meteor ended its service in the Air Force. In July of the same year the Vautor also ended its operational service. Almost all of them were flown to various Air Force in Sinai to serve as decoy aircraft.

On 2nd April 1971 the Squadron received its first type-A Skyhawks, an interim measure before it received the type-E Skyhawk in August 1971. Around two years after the squadron converted to the Skyhawk the Yom Kippur War broke out. Most of the squadron's sorties were carried out on the Syrian front and hit artillery, armor, anti-aircraft, infantry positions and ground-to-air missile batteries. Six pilots were killed, one by a Syrian ground to ground which hit Ramat David airbase.
During Operation Litani, in March 1978, the IDF invaded Southern Lebanon. IAF aircraft took part, carrying out airstrikes and assisting the troops. The squadron carried out more than 45 sorties, primarily airstrikes and illumination missions. On 28th September 1980 the squadron switched to flying the F-16 A/B as an interception and assault squad. In April 1981 a quartet from the squadron carried out the world's first operational F-16 A/B strike. On 7th June 1981 a quartet from the squadron, along with a quartet from the "First Jet" Squadron took part in the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear core at Osirak, as part of Operation "Opera".

On 14th July 1981, Lieutenant Colonel Amir Nahum brought down a Syrian MiG 21. This was the world's first downing of a fixed wing aircraft by an F-16 A/B. During the First Lebanon War most of the squadron's sorties were intercept flights, and included the downing of 19 enemy aircraft. The Squadron Commander was Lieutenant Colonel Amir Nahum.

Today the squadron flies the F-16C

‎The Knights of the North
‎The Knights of the North