Israeli Air Force

A Bad Day at the Office | MiGMan’s Combat Diary 1998

The day began well enough.
I took the F-4 Phantom II out for a spin and got in a little ground attack while I was at it.
Cluster Bombs were usually quite effective. Nice sparkly explosions and secondaries. On one occasion I blew up a radar... and I swear the debris went up a couple of thousand feet!
Lookin' good.
Gotta love these twin engined beasts!
The Phantom carries a truckload of ordnance. It can fight it's way into the target area, suppress enemy air defenses, drop bombs, and fight it's way home.
There were escort missions to fly as well. All in a day's work!

A sporting chance

Israeli Air Force must be the only sim which encourages the blowing up of football stadiums! Great fun for the non-sports lovers! Apparently this mission was based on actual events... a disgruntled fan I presume.
Speaking of football,I'll be lucky to survive this "pass".
There's an angry gaggle of MiG's back there. Luckily the F-4's twin engines allow you to "extend" when the going gets too rough!.
That's a comforting sight... an F-15C to chaperone me home.
Here are a few things NOT to do in a fully - laden F-4 Phantom II.
After loading the bird with the maximum possible bomb load...
2 - Take off, Gear up.
Then pull back hard on the stick.
The nose shoots up, demonstrating excellent response in the pitch axis.
And a glance at the altitude tape sends a cold shiver down your spine just before you crunch 50,000 lbs of aircraft, fuel and high explosive into the ground...
Consequences. I like it!
After this incident I put together a simple takeoff checklist.

A GOOD day at the office

A happy mission will run something like this:
STEP 1: Gear up
STEP 2: Target detected
STEP 3: Target destroyed.
Of course, just like in real life, the best laid plans sometimes go awfully astray.

A bad day at the office.

In a close turning fight with a MiG-29. That's bad enough in itself but he has a buddy too!
That's the tail of a MiG-23 Flogger disappearing to the left... as I spiral to earth.
All out of missiles and still under attack.
Yes, the engine is not supposed to pump out that much black smoke.
OK. Engine trouble and a MiG-29 Fulcrum coming in at 6'o'clock. I'm trying to remain optimistic.
Maybe that's enough trouble for one day. And we are running low on airframes.
Maybe I should partake of some TRAINING?
Training missions in Israeli Air Force are among the best I've seen.
The innovative thinking starts in the briefing, where key concepts are hyperlinked. Click on them and a resizable window pops up. For example:
Closure rates.
Let's have a look at just one of the Air Combat training missions.
After practising staying "in the saddle" with your wing leader, he returns to base and sends you off... with suitable encouragement... to hunt some MiGs.
The first encounter was with a MiG-29 Fulcrum... which was a bit of a worry as I'd elected to fly this mission in a Mirage III. The MiG-29 has enough excess thrust to accelerate vertically and outstanding low-speed, high AOA nose authority... I only hoped the computer pilot didn't know that!
Well..... suffice to say that the missiles work as advertised!
This is bad.
This is good.
This is better!
Having neatly despatched the MiG-29 (the 4 Python missiles helped( it was off to the next target area. I checked the stores display.
What if I was flying into a nest of Fulcrums? Should I abort?

Mmm... aaahm... errr.

OK, a compromise plan suggested itself, fly to 10 miles range, get a radar lock and use the cheat... I mean the Reverse Tactical View (F8) to ID the targets.
If they were indeed Fulcrums I was outta there, no questions asked.
They turned out to be 2 MiG-23 Floggers.

Mmm, thinks...

Anyway by this time in my luimbering thought process we had merged.
What was that point I mentioned in the briefing? Ah yes, closure rate. Let's see, 2 aircraft approaching head on at 500 knots equals a 1,000 knot closure rate. To cover 10 miles at 1,000 knots takes about 30 seconds.
Flogger down
With those variable geometry wings the Floggers could probably bury me in a turning battle (the Mirage 3 is delta winged), so I elected for a high energy, slashing attack. It worked on Flogger #1. At least I think it did.
Things happen pretty quickly in IAF dogfights.
Anyway he was going down and I was down to 76 cannon rounds!
Calling on what little skill at low level canyon flying I had developed in the previous IAF training missions (thank you IAF guys!), I headed for home with one eye on the fuel gauge and the other over my shoulder...
That pesky MiG followed me all the way to home base where it turned out the local AAA and SAM operators were at a Bar Mitzvah or something!
Anyway I flew up the runway, executed a hard break turn, and .... unbelievably.... the MiG pilot went vertical and slow .... right in front of me!
Here's the HUD shot to prove it:
What you don't really need to see is me entering a stall immediately after this.
I guess I had hit the pilot - because by the time I recovered the aircraft the bogey had flown some distance away (my plane is the dot at upper right) and then serenely pirouetted into the ground!
Formation landings are a lot of fun.
The training is excellent, as I mentioned, but I couldn't for the life of me pass the landing session!
Jan-Albert van Ree provided this hint to passing the mission: " The trick is patience ; ). Let the instructor do his job first (which I never did, just like in real life) and then make a nice approach and take the last taxiway left."


Enemy aircraft in Israeli Air Force come mainly from the MiG family.
MiG-15 Fagot
I didn't see any MiG-21's, but I', sure they are in the mix. Edit: I did see them in the first mission of the Yom Kippur War.
MiG-23 Flogger
MiG-29 Fulcrum
Su-22 Fitter
And Mi-24 Hind Gunships thrown in for good measure.

Yom Kippur War 1973

The first mission in the Yom Kippur campaign gives you a chance to (try and) recreate the exploits of 2 IAF pilots who scrambled without clearance and shot down about 9 MiGs between them!
Luckily for me the taxiways are clearly marked.
The 1.1 patch enables rudders for Nose Wheel Steering under 50 knots. Keep the rpm up and tap the brakes to control the speed. The bombs are already falling so don't delay! Forget about the MiG-15's who have already dropped and concentrate on the next pair.
An exciting moment for my wingman.
The MiG-15's usually drop the bombs with MiG-21 Fishbeds giving TARCAP. And those MiG-15 drivers are gutsy! They will ignore all provocation, dropping their bombs at all cost. Needless to say this doesn't make your job any easier.
That MiG is smokin!

6 Day War

The first mission in the 6 Day War campaign kept me entertained for days! It contains all the elements of a fun fun time! A few SAM sites.
SA-2 Guideline Surface to Air Missiles.
A couple of big fat Cargo planes to shoot up.
Nice neat rows of MiG's lined up ready for the strafing. I found that the Zunni rockets added a bit of punch to the salad.
And of course a few MiG-21's to dogfight.
At this stage in the mission I really began to appreciate the option of being able to switch between aircraft during a flight. That way you can try and ambush the MiG that's ambushing you.
Eventually I developed this "winning strategy":

Cockpits: Mirage III. The on-screen text is mirroring what the instructor pilot is saying. The cockpit is controllable with the mouse.

Mud-moving, or dust-moving was a lot of fun in Israeli Air Force. In this shot from Mission 1 in the 6 day war I'm approaching the target runway. A few moments after this I was shot down by the SA-2 site in the lower part of the picture.

The airports in Israeli Air Force were very detailed with varied layouts of taxiways, runways, hangars, control towers, other buildngs and radio masts!

Considering the sim only ran ot 640 x 400 pixels resolution, the programmers packed in a lot of detail. Object such as aircraft and airports are crisp with the landscape looking a little blocky at low altitudes but very convincing at medium to high altitude.

More detail around the airport.

Weapons availability was limited in accordance with the historical period. Arming was a simple drag and drop affair.


IAF is an utter blast with just the right balance of accessibility and challenge. The ability to change aircraft during a mission turned out to be a real fun factor accelerator. Highly recommended.