Operation Tarnegol

Operation Tarnegol (Hebrew: תרנגול‎, Rooster) was an Israeli Air Force operation carried out on the eve of the 1956 Suez Crisis. It witnessed an Israeli Gloster Meteor NF.13 intercept and destroy an Egyptian Ilyushin Il-14 carrying high-ranking members of the Egyptian General Staff en route from Syria to Egypt.

Operation Tarnegol
Part of the Suez Crisis
Gloster Meteor NF13 Hatzerim 260404

Israeli Air Force Gloster Meteor NF. 13
Date28 October 1956
Result Partial Israeli success
 Israel Egypt Egypt
Commanders and leaders
Dan Tolkovsky
1 Gloster Meteor NF. 13 1 Ilyushin Il-14
Casualties and losses
none 1 Illyushin II-14 shot down, 18 dead


On 24 October 1956, as Israel, France and Britain were preparing for the launch of operations Kadesh and Musketeer, Abdel Hakim Amer, Egypt's defence minister and commander-in-chief, departed Egypt for a visit to Jordan and Syria. Early on Sunday, October 28, a day before operations were to commence, Israeli intelligence learned that Amer and the entire Egyptian General Staff were soon to depart Damascus for Cairo on board an Ilyushin Il-14. This presented an opportunity to incapacitate Egypt's high command on the eve of operations and the Israeli Air Force was tasked with shooting the aircraft down.[1][2]

The IAF had only received its first three Meteor NF.13s, the night-fighting variant of the British jet, shortly before the outbreak of the Suez Crisis. Newly formed 119 Squadron, operating out of Ramat David and led by Major Yoash Tsiddon, was therefore shut down for the upcoming campaign and Tsiddon detailed to 117 Squadron as a regular Meteor pilot. Although neither Tsiddon nor his navigator Elyashiv Brosh had practised night intercepts since training, they were dispatched to take 119's lone serviceable aircraft and intercept the Ilyushin.[1][3][4]


Ilyushin.Avia Av-14T OK-LCA LBG 29.05.57 edited-2
Czech Ilyushin Il-14

Late on 28 October, half an hour after the Ilyushin had reportedly left Damascus, Tsiddon and Brosh departed Ramat-David in Meteor 52. They had taken off with a maximum fuel load and external fuel tanks, but soon discovered that fuel would not flow from the external tanks and jettisoned both. Heading west over the Mediterranean, Tsiddon was 200 kilometres (120 mi) south of Cyprus when the aircraft's radar picked up a target three miles away at 10,500 feet. Tsiddon closed in on the aircraft, slowed down and circled it, counting the windows and attempting to trace the shape of its tail in the pitch-dark night. Clearly identifying it as an Ilyushin Il-14, Tsiddon pulled alongside the aircraft to peer inside. Spotting men clad in military uniform, he was certain he had located the correct target.[1][3][4]

With the aircraft positively identified, IAF commander Dan Tolkovsky authorized Tsiddon over the radio to shoot it down. With a top speed of about 414 kilometres per hour (257 mph), however, the Ilyushin was flying barely faster than the Meteor's stall speed. Tsiddon slipped behind the Ilyushin and opened fire, but his cannons had been loaded with tracer rounds, whose glow temporarily blinded him from seeing the target. One of his guns jammed, and with two cannons firing on the left versus only one on the right, the slow flying aircraft entered a left-handed spin.[1][3]

Tsiddon recovered control of the Meteor and closed in on his target again. His initial burst had damaged the aircraft's left engine and had apparently caused an electrical shortage, as no lights were apparent, but the Ilyushin was still flying. Coming in for a second pass, he dropped his flaps and aimed at the tip of the right wing, hitting the body as the Meteor once again yawed to the left. The Ilyushin "mushroomed to a huge fireball" and both aircraft entered an uncontrollable spin. Tsiddon regained control of the Meteor at 1,000 feet, only to see the burning Ilyushin disintegrate as it hit the water.[1][3]

Ascending to 15,000 feet, Tsiddon discovered he was dangerously low on fuel. Directed to the closest IAF air base, he landed at Hatzor, his engines flaming out during taxi-in.[3][4]


Sixteen Egyptian officers and journalists and two crewmen were killed on board the Ilyushin. Intelligence soon reported, however, that Marshal Amer had not been present on the ill-fated flight. He had changed his plans and remained in Damascus, departing the Syrian capital on another aircraft. The IAF had considered intercepting and shooting down the second aircraft as well, but was dissuaded by fears of jeopardizing intelligence sources.[1][5]

The Ilyushin Il-14 had been downed without reporting the attack. Egypt soon made a request to Britain on a humanitarian basis asking for help in searching for the missing plane, and both the British and Egyptians launched search operations, with aircraft scouring the Mediterranean for the plane for several days. The British passed on a request for assistance to Israel, and the Israeli Navy, which had not been informed of the operation, joined the search. The search flotilla was spotted by the IAF. As only the participants and a few high-ranking officers in the IAF were aware of the mission, the flotilla was assumed to be hostile, and a request was sent to the high command to call in the navy to engage the ships, which was denied.[1][6]

Operation Tarnegol remained classified for 32 years and was only made public in January 1989.[3] It was 119 Squadron's first aerial victory and the last for a Gloster Meteor flying for the IAF.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Yonay 1993, pp. 161–163.
  2. ^ Cohen 1995, pp. 106–108.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tsiddon-Chatto 1995, pp. 221–229.
  4. ^ a b c d Norton 2004, p. 153.
  5. ^ Nordeen & Nicolle 1996, p. 158.
  6. ^ Bar-On, Mordechai: Never-Ending Conflict: Israeli Military History, p. 104


  • Cohen, Eliezer (1995). Israel's Best Defence. Random House Value Publishing. ISBN 978-0-517-13789-5.
  • Nordeen, Lon; Nicolle, David (1996). Phoenix Over The Nile. Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 978-1-56098-626-3.
  • Norton, Bill (2004). Air War on the Edge – A History of the Israel Air Force and its Aircraft since 1947. Midland Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-088-5.
  • Tsiddon-Chatto, Yoash (1995). By Day, By Night, Through Haze and Fog (in Hebrew). Ma'ariv Book Guild.
  • Yonay, Ehud (1993). No Margin for Error: the Making of the Israeli Air Force. Pantheon Books. ISBN 978-0-679-41563-3.
119 Squadron (Israel)

The 119 Squadron of the Israeli Air Force, also known as the Bat Squadron, is an F-16I fighter squadron based at Ramon Airbase.119 formerly operated the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, and prior to that the Vautour II, from Tel Nof Airbase.On 21 March 2018 the IAF officially confirm that 119 Squadron, together with Squadrons 69 and 253, took part in Operation Orchard. During a briefing prior to the mission, the commander of 119 Squadron wrote in his notes that the operation “will change the face of the Middle East.”

Gloster Meteor

The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' only jet aircraft to achieve combat operations during the Second World War. The Meteor's development was heavily reliant on its ground-breaking turbojet engines, pioneered by Sir Frank Whittle and his company, Power Jets Ltd. Development of the aircraft began in 1940, although work on the engines had been under way since 1936. The Meteor first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with No. 616 Squadron RAF. The Meteor was not a sophisticated aircraft in its aerodynamics, but proved to be a successful combat fighter. Gloster's 1946 civil Meteor F.4 demonstrator G-AIDC was the first civilian-registered jet aircraft in the world.Several major variants of the Meteor incorporated technological advances during the 1940s and 1950s. Thousands of Meteors were built to fly with the RAF and other air forces and remained in use for several decades. The Meteor saw limited action in the Second World War. Meteors of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fought in the Korean War. Several other operators such as Argentina, Egypt and Israel flew Meteors in later regional conflicts. Specialised variants of the Meteor were developed for use in photographic aerial reconnaissance and as night fighters.

The Meteor was also used for research and development purposes and to break several aviation records. On 7 November 1945, the first official airspeed record by a jet aircraft was set by a Meteor F.3 at 606 miles per hour (975 km/h). In 1946, this record was broken when a Meteor F.4 reached a speed of 616 miles per hour (991 km/h). Other performance-related records were broken in categories including flight time endurance, rate of climb, and speed. On 20 September 1945, a heavily modified Meteor I, powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent turbine engines driving propellers, became the first turboprop aircraft to fly. On 10 February 1954, a specially adapted Meteor F.8, the "Meteor Prone Pilot", which placed the pilot into a prone position to counteract inertial forces, took its first flight.In the 1950s, the Meteor became increasingly obsolete as more nations introduced jet fighters, many of these newcomers having adopted a swept wing instead of the Meteor's conventional straight wing; in RAF service, the Meteor was replaced by newer types such as the Hawker Hunter and Gloster Javelin. As of 2018, two Meteors, G-JSMA and G-JWMA, remain in active service with the Martin-Baker company as ejection seat testbeds. One further aircraft in the UK remains airworthy, as does another in Australia.

List of accidents and incidents involving the Ilyushin Il-14

Ilyushin Il-14s and Avia 14s had 117 incidents and accidents during their operational history.

Suez Crisis

The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli War, also named the Tripartite Aggression in the Arab world and Operation Kadesh or Sinai War in Israel, was an invasion of Egypt in late 1956 by Israel, followed by the United Kingdom and France. The aims were to regain Western control of the Suez Canal and to remove Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had just nationalized the canal. 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. The episode humiliated the United Kingdom and France and strengthened Nasser.On 29 October, Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai. Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to cease fire, which was ignored. On 5 November, Britain and France landed paratroopers along the Suez Canal. The Egyptian forces were defeated, but they did block the canal to all shipping. It later became clear that the Israeli invasion and the subsequent Anglo-French attack had been planned beforehand by the three countries.

The three allies had attained a number of their military objectives, but the canal was useless. Heavy political pressure from the United States and the USSR led to a withdrawal. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had strongly warned Britain not to invade; he threatened serious damage to the British financial system by selling the US government's pound sterling bonds. Historians conclude the crisis "signified the end of Great Britain's role as one of the world's major powers". The Suez Canal was closed from October 1956 until March 1957. Israel fulfilled some of its objectives, such as attaining freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran, which Egypt had blocked to Israeli shipping since 1950.As a result of the conflict, the United Nations created the UNEF Peacekeepers to police the Egyptian–Israeli border, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden resigned, Canadian Minister of External Affairs Lester Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the USSR may have been emboldened to invade Hungary.

Yoash Tzidon

Yoash "Matti" Tzidon (Hebrew: יואש צידון‎, 28 November 1926 – 8 July 2015) was an Israeli former Air Force commander and politician.

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