• Issue: May 1967
  • Designer: M. & G. Shamir
  • Plate no.: 196 -198
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

The stamp series dedicated to 1967's Independence Day depicts three types of military aircraft: the Auster, the Mystere 4 and the Mirage 3, representing three stages in the development of the Israel Air Force.

The Auster

On November 14, 1947, while the Assembly of the United Nations was deliberating the proposal to establish a Jewish State, the High Command of the Haganah decided to set up an Air Service. A budget of LP 110.000 was made available for acquiring and operating suitable airplanes.

At that time the British authorities were offering 21 Auster AOP 3 light observation planes for sale as scrap. The Air Service purchased them, overhauled them and put most of them back into action.

The Auster was a light British-made plane with two seats and a piston engine of 250 HP. Its dimensions were: length 9.20 meters; wing-span 13.30 meters; its speed was less than 200 kilometers per hour. It could reach a height of 4,800 meters and had a flying range of 970 kilometers.

The first pilots of the Air Service (which had meanwhile become the Israel Air Force) operated the Auster in communication flight, in reconnaissance and supply to besieged settlements. The civilians called them "Primuses" because their droning noise was not unlike that of the Primus stove, then very much in use in the country. The Primuses protected convoys, directing the cars and warning them of threatening ambushes on the way. At a later stage they attacked many concentrations with primitive bombs weighing 20 kg. each.

After the establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, the Air Force began to operate with real fighter-planes. These were Avia C. 210s (Czech-built Messerschmitt Bf. 109 Gs) and British Spitfires. But no substitute was found for the Primuses, which remained operational until the end of the War of Liberation.

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The Mystere in the Sinai campaign

During the eight years between the close of the War of Liberation and the Sinai Campaign the Israel Air Force developed into a powerful military instrument. The "Jet Age" began. The first jets were British Meteors followed by French Ouragans.

A short time before the Sinai Campaign the first Mysteres were brought to Israel. Although their pilots were not given much time for training, the Mystere won the title of "The Plane of Sinai" on account of the remarkable achievements of its pilots over the Peninsula.

The Mystere is a one-seater jet fighter, manufactured by the Marcel Dassault factory in France. Its engine is manufactured by Hispano Suiza and develops a static thrust of 3,500 kg. Its dimensions are: wing-span 11.10 meters, length 12.90 meters, height 4.40 meters. Its standard equipment consists of two 30 mm. cannon, and underneath its wings it can carry bombs, rockets and napalm containers. Its operational speed at sea-level is 1,120 kilometers per hour. In all air battles fought between Mysteres and Egyptian MiG's during the Sinai Campaign, all Israel pilots gained the upper hand.

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The Mirage and the age of Mach 2

The Air Force continued to expand after the Sinai Campaign. It added new types of planes such as the Super-Mysteres and the Vautour fighter bombers. Potez-Air Fouga C.M. 170 Magister training jets were manufactured by the Israel Aircraft Industry.

However, the crowning achievement of our air acquisitions has been the Mirage IIIc. This jet fighter plane is one of the world's best Mach 2 planes. (The speed of fast airplanes is expressed in terms of Mach units, Mach 1 being equal to the speed of sound which is 1,192 kilometer-per-hour at sea-level).

The Mirage planes were first seen by the general public in the air-display at Haifa on Independence Day, 1963. The Mirages have taken the air on a number of occasions to defend the skies of Israel, and have always been entirely successful. They showed their worth in particular during the second half of 1966, when they brought down five enemy planes. On July 13, following the operations against Syrian steps for the diversion of the Jordan River, a Syrian MiG-21 was brought down. A month later, on August 15, while defending patrol boats on Lake Kinneret, another Syrian MiG-21 was destroyed. On November 13, during the Israel Defense Force operations at Samua, a Jordanian Hunter plane was brought down, while at the end of that month, on November 29, a Mirage pilot downed two Egyptian MIG-19's in the course of a single flight; one with an air-to-air rocket and the second by cannon fire.

The armament of the Mirage includes not only the regular 30 mm. cannon but also air-to-air missiles and bombs. It is also manufactured by the Dassault works in France and its dimensions are: wing-span 8.20 meters, length 13.40 meters, height 4.50 meters. It has an Atar engine and develops a static thrust of 6,400 kg, its maximum speed at a height of 11,000 meters being Mach 2.15. It climbs to 40,000 ft. in 3 minutes, and has an operational range of 1,500 km.

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19th Independence Day