During the Six Day War the Mach 2 Mirage III and MiG 21 were the fastest and most advanced fighter aircraft available to each side, with the Israelis using the Mirage and the Egyptians, Iraqis and Syrians the MiG 21.
The clashes between these two fighters during the Six Day War were significant on two levels - for their impact on the fighting itself, and as a rare example of a clash between aircraft from the first generation of Mach 2 fighters armed with some of the earliest controlled air-to-air missiles. The second of these is of the most interest, the Israeli air force having effectively won the air war with their pre-emptive strikes on Egyptian airfields at the start of the conflict.
One recurring theme in the history of military aviation pops up once again in this book. Time after time the pilots of newer faster aircraft had to find a way to take advantage of their speed when fighting slower but more manoeuvrable aircraft. This happened over the Trenches of the First World War, in the skies over Poland in 1939 and repeated during the Second World War, and yet on each occasion the solution appears to have to be rediscovered! Once again here the Israeli Mirage III pilots found themselves struggling to target much slower aircraft, and once again the same solution was evolved - attacking from above and from a distance, taking advantage of the extra speed to win the fight before your opponent knows you are there.
The overwhelming feeling on both sides here is of disappointment with the weapons systems installed on these high speed fighters. A limited number of unreliable homing missiles that rarely hit were combined with cannon with limited amounts of ammunition to produce fighters that could spend very limited time in combat. The Israeli missiles were perhaps the most disappointing, and all but one of their victories over MiGs were won using the cannon.
This is an unusual entry in this series in that the small number of head-to-head fights between the two aircraft allows the author to look at all twenty five of them, allowing for a detailed examination of the most interesting dog fights.
Design and Development
The Strategic Situation
Analysis and Statistics
Author: Shlomo Aloni