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Six-Day War 1967

Six-Day War 1967 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review July 2019 Title Six-Day War 1967
Author Shlomo Aloni Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2019 ISBN 9781472835277
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $24.00


Israel’s stunning triumph in 1967’s “Six Day War” remains among the most remarkable in the annals of history.

Ringed by vastly larger Arab adversaries and faced with almost certain annihilation, the tiny nation struck first, successively smashing Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian militaries. And Israel’s air force (IAF) – the vaunted Heyl HaAvir – spearheaded success.

Now noted author and historian Shlomo Aloni reveals the astonishing story behind Israel’s amazing aerial victory in Six-Day War 1967: Operation Focus and the 12 hours that changed the Middle East – tenth in Osprey’s growing “Air Campaign” range.

After a useful introduction with chronology, contents recap combatants’ capabilities – both attackers and defenders. These included operational perspectives, aircraft, weapons, and basing.

The IAF perfected an air-superiority “concept of small formations combining suppression and distraction, with fast turnaround to continue the offensive and accomplish objectives”.

Israel’s principal adversary Egypt, by contrast, tasked its air force “to operate in large formations” – with relatively long “timeframes for dispatch of offensive operations”.

After brief remarks on Operation Focus (Hebrew: “Mivtsa Moqed” [my transliteration]) objectives and regional air orders of battle, coverage decisively turns to the campaign itself, chronicling actions, almost minute-by-minute, in a stunning succession of “time over target” sections.

By June 5, Israel achieved a remarkable “97 percent serviceability to field 197 combat aircraft … to generate 985 sorties per 24 hours”. And this proved pivotal in maintaining mission momentum – and success.

Still, anyone familiar with air combat after-action reports will appreciate Aloni’s care to take them “with a pinch of salt”. And the author, dutifully and competently, reviews claims against reality – and records.

Nevertheless, he concludes, “even allowing for over-optimistic reports, it was clear that within just 30 minutes of H-Hour, the Focus objectives had already been achieved”. No other air campaign, Aloni avers, “achieved air superiority as rapidly and unambiguously as Focus” had.

Photos, maps, tactical diagrams, and action paintings illustrate the account. Extended captions, sidebars, and tables further supplement the study. Analyses, references, and an index wrap things up. And don’t forget to check “Abbreviations” notes opposite the “Contents” page.

“From the first takeoff at 0714hrs to the last landing at 1900hrs, Focus was finished almost within 12 hours,” the author concludes. It proved, indeed, “12 hours that changed the Middle East”.

Repercussions of 1967’s “Six Day War” continue dominating Middle-East politics and policies. And for a superb summary of Israeli air actions that fateful June 5, snag this brilliant little book.

Aloni’s effort earns my strongest recommendation.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!