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Dassault Mirage IIICJ serial 159.

Unit History

101 Squadron

(101 Tayeset "Hakrav Ha'Rishona" - First Fighter Squadron)
Role: Interceptor Fighter, later Fighter-Bomber/SAM Suppression

Undoubtedly the oldest and most famous IDF/AF combat unit, 101 sqn was initially formed as an offshoot of the Tel Aviv sqn described previously. Its initial equipment, Avia S-199 fighters, arrived from Czechoslovakia in crates from 20 May 1948 onwards. The aircraft were rapidly assembled at Ekron and the first flew on 29 May, going into combat the same day. This date is also the official formation date of the unit.

With all the aircraft assembled, the squadron moved to Herzliya in early June. Despite poor serviceability, and the appalling flying qualities of the S-199, 101 sqn pilots managed to score at least four kills in air combat. The unit moved bases several times in its early life, moving to Natanya at the end of July, and back to Herzliya late September 1948.

The Hatzerim museum Avia S 199 now appears in a strange
'biscuit' colour, rather than it's original light grey.

The unit acquired two Spitfires, a Mk IX rebuilt from scrap, and a repaired Egyptian AF Mk V which had been previously shot down by 101 sqn Avias. Spitfire D-130 was rebuilt as a photo-recce machine. In September 1948 the unit began to re-equip with Spitfire LFIX's and Packard Merlin engined LF16's from Czechoslovakia, delivered via Ekron. A number of these were converted for photo-recce duties. At about the same time, a pair of P-51D Mustangs acquired in the USA were introduced into service and the surviving Avias gradually retired.

The unit was based at Hatzor from 9 November 1948 but moved to Ramat David in May 1949 - leaving the remaining S-199s behind. In 1950, a further influx of Spitfires, this time form Italy, brought increased strength; followed by a batch of ex-Swedish P-51D Mustangs in July 1951. In 1953 the Spitfires were withdrawn to form 107 sqn, leaving 101 sqn as a single type unit for the first time, with the P-51D. On 15th February 1956 101 sqn was back at Hatzor again, where it temporarily disbanded.

The squadron officially reformed on the Mystere IVA in June 1956, quickly becoming operational, and flying from Ramat David during the Suez Campaign the following October/November. The Mysteres were principally used for flying top cover, destroying eight arab fighters without loss in air combat - although one aircraft was lost to ground fire.

In April 1962 the squadron began to re-equip with the Mach 2 capable Mirage IIICJ after receiving pilot training in France. 101 squadron Mirages originally featured two-digit serials, before falling into line with the other two Mirage squadrons which always carried three digit serials. During the build up in tensions prior to the start of the Six Day War, the squadrons Mirages scored 7 kills in air combat without loss. At the start of the Six Day War, 101 sqn led strikes on airfields at Bir Gafgafa, Cairo West and Bir Tmade in the first wave and Cairo West, Cairo International, Helwan, Bilbeis and El Minaya in the second wave. From the second day of the war, the Mirages were mainly used for air superiority missions, 101 sqn claiming some 17 kills for the loss of three aircraft. The War of Attrition, 1967 to 1973, also saw regular clashes between Mirages and Syrian and Egyptian jets. 101 sqn aircraft were temporarily deployed to bases in the Sinai in order to improve reaction times, and steadily increased their score of MiGs.

P-51D Mustang serial 53. Red prop spinner and rudder stripes are typical 101sqn markings.

With the supply of Mirage 5J's from France embargoed, IAI-built Nesher copies began to supplement the Mirage III's in the early 1970's. Both types saw action in the Yom Kippur war of 1973, where the far greater intensity of air combat resulted in 101 sqn claiming about 48 kills for four losses.

Conversion to the locally built Kfir C-1 commenced in 1975, although 101 sqn pilots were reported to be unhappy with the performance of their new mount. The increased emphasis on air-ground operations rather than air- air performance was also considered unwelcome. Fortunately, these early aircraft were replaced by the improved Kfir C-2 model, with canard foreplanes and revised avionics, two years later. From 1983 the Kfir C-2's were remanufactured to Kfir C-7 standard with a new avionics suite, upgraded engine and additional fuselage stores stations. Some new build C-7's were also acquired to make good attrition losses. 101 squadron is credited with the one and only IDF/AF air-to-air kill for the Kfir.

The unit disbanded in 1987, but reformed within a year on the F-16D. These two seater aircraft feature a prominent dorsal spine fairing, fitted with special Israeli manufactured weapons delivery avionics, and are used in the dedicated EW/Defence Suppression role. In 1991 the unit recieved a few single seat F-16C Block 40s. Contrary to some reports, this unit has never used the Ouragan, Super Mystere or F-16A/B.

Close-up of marking on Avia S 199 engine cowlingRed rudder stripes again
Republic Seabee serial T-61The original was used as a sqn 'hack' aircraft
13 kill markings on the nose of Mirage IIICJ '159'Close-up of fin and rudder markings
Kfir C-2 serial 874. A single kill marking is just visible on the nose forward of the cockpit Close-up of fin and rudder markings
F-16C serial 519 takes off. (photo, Israeli Air Force)F-16D serial 612. (photo, Israeli Air Force)

Air Bases:
Base Duration
Ekron 29 May 1948-early June 1948
Herzliya early June 1948-end July 1948
Natanya end July 1948-late Sept 1948
Herzliya late Sept 1948-1980
Hatzor 9 November 1948-May 1949
Ramat David May 1949-?
Hatzor ?-15 Feb 1956
Ramat David June 1956-November 1956
Hatzor November 1956-Present

Aircraft Used:
Type Qty Service Badge Example Serials
RC-3 Seabee1May 48 - 19532T-61
Avia S-1992529 May 48 - May 19491,2,3D-106,D-110, D-118,D-123
Spitfire V/IX1/1early July 48 - Dec 1948+ 1,2,3D-130,D-131
Spitfire LF.9/162027 Sept 48 - early 19531,2,3D-132,D-134 2008,2015,2017,2019
P-51D2early Oct 1948 - Feb 19561,2,3D-141,D-190
P-51D25Jul 1951 - Feb 19561,2,303,12,41
Mystere IVA3011 Apr 56 - 19614,332,33,34,35, 36,301,630
Mirage IIICJ247 Apr 62 - Apr 754,306,52,56,159, 341,406,458,498,542,551,741,854,942
Mirage IIIBJ21966 - Apr 754,3 
Mirage IIICJ(R)2 (+2?)late 1970 - Apr 752 
Nesher6May 1981 - April 19754,3 
Kfir C-12014 Apr 75 - 19774,3727,743
Kfir C-220May 1977 - 19874,3879,874
Kfir TC-241981 - 19874,3310
F-16D231987 - Present4,3046,050,069,606,612,682
F-16C Block 403+22 Aug 1991 - Present4,3 502,503,508

Unit Insignia:
Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4
Figure 4 courtesy of Amos Dor

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First Created: 9 January 1998 - Last Revised: 24 October 1999
Copyright © 1998 John Hayles.     e-mail: