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Israeli Mirage and Nesher Aces

Israeli Mirage and Nesher Aces Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2004 Title Israeli Mirage and Nesher Aces
Author Shlomo Aloni Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2004 ISBN 1-84176-653-4
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $19.95


Here is a title that is certain to get your Mirage kits onto the workbench. This is the story of the Shahak (the Israeli nickname for the Dassault Mirage IIICJ) in service with the Israeli Air Force and in combat operations. Introduced into 101 Sqn in April 1962, the Shahak became the backbone of Israeli air defense and made many of its pilots into aces until its transition into the reserves around 1974.

To overcome the problems of reliance on foreign aircraft suppliers, the Israelis reverse engineered the Mirage V to create their own production aircraft - the Nesher. These had more fuel and better range than their Shahak counterparts, but lacked the radar and were less maneuverable. Despite these attributes, the Nesher also made many of its pilots into aces as well.

The narrative follows the history of these aircraft from introduction to retirement, with excellent coverage of combat operations in the 1967 and 1973 air wars. In the appendices, there are listings of the pilots and their scores, with one pilot achieving 17 kills! The next table goes into the specifics of each Shahak/Nesher kill and at first glance, while there are a number of aircraft types that have fallen victim to these two fighters, the vast majority of their victims were the MiG-21.

The title is well-illustrated with black & white photography showing pilots, aircraft and prey throughout the life of these two aircraft. Sixteen pages of color plates are included with many color profiles of the aces' mounts and a few color photographs of the men and their aircraft.

With over 397 kills between the Shahak and Nesher, the Israeli Mirage family has scored more kills than any other jet aircraft in history, and while I haven't done the math, I'd bet this total exceeds the combined kills of all jet aircraft. This is why the Israeli Air Force is well-known as the largest distributor of MiG parts in the world.

My sincere thanks to Motorbooks International for this review sample!