An historical IAF P-51D - 101st "The first squadron" and 116th "Southern Lions" Squadron liveries
- Fixed tail art for 116th sqdrn dynamic bort number version
- Added dynamic bort numbers in a separate folder
- Added weathering
The story of Mustang number 19
The armed conflict that occurred during the Suez Crisis in October 1956 is known in Europe as "Operation Musketeer" but in Israel it is known as the Sinai War or "Operation Kadesh".
The ground war of the conflict was an invasion and capture of the Sinai Peninsula by Israel, followed by paratroopers landing in Egypt in key places of the Suez Canal by the United Kingdom and France. The objectives of the operation for Britain and France were to regain control of the Suez Canal and to remove Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had just nationalized the prestigious and lucrative Suez canal. Britain and France in those days still reeling fr om the economic strife following the end of World War II were adamant to hold on to their colonial assets and conquests. After the fighting had started, political pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Nations led to a withdrawal by the three invaders.
On October 31st 1956, during "Operation Musketeer" which was the coordinated invasion of the Sinai peninsula by Israel, and seizure of key places of the Suez canal by British and French paratroops, a four ship of Israeli P-51D Mustangs from the 105th Squadron took off to attack Egyptian armor at Jabel Livni in Sinai. The quartet included Captain Eldad Paz in Mustang number 19, and three others. The planes were all armed with 5 inch rockets and napalm bombs.
One of the planes had a technical malfunction, turned around and returned to base while the remaining three Mustangs pushed on with their task. When they reached the AO, they found some Egyptian convoys damaged and burned, probably as a result of previous attacks, so they continued to their secondary target, to attack any Egyptian armor they could find on the road between Bir Hama and Bir Gafgafa.
Shortly afterwards they found a large armored convoy which they identified as Egyptian and began their attacks. Captain Paz sighted a tank and dived in to drop a napalm bomb on it. During the attack, the Egyptians fired intense anti-aircraft fire. At about 2 PM, when Paz attacked made another pass to drop his second napalm bomb, what was discovered later to be a 40mm caliber anti-aircraft cannon shell hit his underside. He didn't know exactly what it was when it hit, all he felt was a strong "jolt" in the airplane immediately after releasing his bomb. Captain Paz could tell that his plane took the hit directly to the radiator because he could smell glycol and the engine coolant and engine temperature indications quickly increased.
Captain Paz egressed as far as he could from the column and when his engine quit he was at a height of 1,000 feet and immediately began looking for a safe place for a belly landing. The landing was relatively smooth and the rockets which were still attached to the wings broke off during the belly landing and were scattered throughout the area.
Captain Paz opened the canopy, got out of the plane and walked away from it because he saw that the wing tanks were punctured and there was a smell of gasoline in the air. He feared that the plane would catch fire. He had a 1:250,000 km map and a notebook with the "Hadassah Code" in which there were places in Sinai wh ere the IDF stashed food and equipment in hidden places to assist the escape of downed pilots.
He began a long march. He reached the foot of Jabel Yaelek and climbed it. From there he could see Bir Hassana. He planned to reach the Bir Hassana - Bir Tamda road, so he went through one of the valleys and arrived at Bir Hassana at 9 PM. Paz slept at night in a hiding place outside Bir Hassana and in the morning marched to the East. At one point he saw two command cars but decided they were likely an Egyptian patrol so he avoided them. He flanked from the north and was discovered by one of the locals Bedouins, that luckily did not try to capture him. He continued walking as far as Jabel Livni and reached Israeli forces by 3 PM.