Information on Israeli aircraft is not easy to find, but occasionally you find a decent book. Such is the case with this one. The Israelis purchased the F-16 early on in the F-16 program, and actually ended up with their planes earlier than planned by receiving planes originally tagged for Iran. Israel quickly put these planes into service and it wasn't long before they saw action. With the dual mission of the F-16 it wasn't surprising to see it in action both against air targets and against ground targets. On April 28, 1981 an Israeli F-16 flown by a young lieutenant shot down a Syrian Mi-8 helicopter. While this was the first blood drawn by Israeli F-16s, it was their next combat mission that threw them into the headlines.
Sunday, June 7, 1981 saw two F-16 squadrons put four planes each into the air, armed for an air-to-ground mission. Escorted by six F-15s, the eight F-16s flew at low level over Jordan and Saudi Arabia, arriving at the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq. Seven of the eight F-16s scored perfect hits, effectively removing Iraq from the nuclear weapons world. None of the Israeli planes were lost in the raid.
After this rather illustrious beginning, the F-16 went on to perform flawlessly in many missions, both air-to-air and air-to-ground, and continues to press on today in Israeli service. As modelers, while an interest in the history is often appreciated, what we really want to know is how were these planes painted up, and what kind of markings did they carry. In this respect Israeli subjects are often very difficult as the DoD censors tend to obliterate squadron markings and such. You won't find that in this book, however. Nothing is censored here, nothing is covered up. In addition to this rather rare occurrence, roughly half of the photos in this book are in color, another very nice touch.
The book is broken down into a short history section, followed by the individual squadrons. Examples of each squadron are provided in black & white and color photos, as well as color side view illustrations. With some squadrons there is a progression of marking changes, while other squadrons remained the same throughout their lifespan. At the very end is a short walkaround of the Israeli F-16, with particular attention being paid to the chaff and flare housings on the tail and rear fuselage undersides.
This is by far the best book I've ever seen on Israeli F-16s, and on Israeli aircraft in general. In case you're wondering, the first title in this series was on the Kfir, and if it's anything like this one, it too should quickly find its way onto your shelves. Here's hoping that Isradecal continues the series and ends up doing a book on every plane flown by the Israelis. I, for one, would love to have this kind of coverage on Israeli Mirages....