This Museum opened to the public in June 1991. It is adjacent to the Hatzerim Air Force Base, just outside Beer Sheva. It is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm and on Friday and holiday eves until 1 p.m. We got there about 10 a.m. on Friday and saw a lot in the two + hours we were there. Admission was 28 shekels (about $7) for adults and 21 shekels for seniors. Haim had not been there for several years and saw new additions that had not been on view for his previous visit.
Planes on exhibit range from a single-engine plane used in the 40s to go between settlements and some wooden-canvass planes to other airplanes bought chronologically from the Czech, Great Britain, France, Italy, planes they built on their own based on French design, and finally the US (in the 70s and later). (The US would not sell to them until the later date.) There are scores of different planes on exhibit including Spitfire, Mustang, Mezek (Czech version of Messerschmidt Bf 109), Avenger, Gloster Meteor, Ouragan, Mystere, Super Mystere B-2, Mirage, Kfir, Nesher, Vautour, Phantom, Skyhawk, Lavi and many others. The helicopter collection includes Huey Cobra, Gazelle, Defender, Super Frelon, etc. Captured enemy planes include the MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-21, MiG-23, Vampire, Hunter. Aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons, missiles and radar systems are also exhibited in the museum. I know nothing about these planes but both Haim and Howard are military history buffs, so they shared a common language. Anything there was supposed to be out of commission. Enjoy the pictures below and our short commentary!
One of the earlier planes that Israel bought was the Mustang. It was made in the US and was World War II surplus. Israel did not buy them directly from the US. The one we saw was supposed to be able to cut phone wires, but the hook on the back didn't work very well, so often the pilots had to use their propellers to cut them. That had to have been super-risky!
The IAF bought the Ouragan from France in 1955 and continued to by French jets for many years. This single seat jet bomber had a range of about 550 miles and could go about 560 mph, and was used until early 1973.
The next French jet purchased after the Ouragan was the Mystere. The Mystere was called Sambad in Israel and was in service from 1958 to 1975. It was the first to break the sound barrier. These planes took over more of a support role after the Mirages were introduced in 1963. From 1968 on the Super Mysteres were given American engines and then called Sa'ar and sank 2 ships in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
The next jet purchased was the Mirage. This plane was in use from 1962 to 1982 and was the first Israeli plane to go twice the speed of sound.
After taken out of service, all of the Mirages were sold to Argentina. The Mirage above was quite special since it shot down a total of 13 enemy aircraft during its service in the IAF. Some Israelis felt that this plane should be brought back to Israel, and a private individual raised the funds to bring it back and put it on display.
After de Gaulle came to power, he wanted better relations with the Arab countries, so he did not allow Israel to purchase any more planes from France. An engineer in Switzerland managed to steal the plans of the Mirage, and the Israelis then built the Kfir, which was a modified version of the Mirage with a more powerful American engine. The engine had to take in more air since it was bigger, so in front of the tail on top, the Kfir has an extra air scoop. The designers also put Cannard wings (little wings above the main wings) on it that made the Kfir much more maneuverable.
Now the IAF planes are the F-15 and F-16; the F-15 is a big fighter bomber like the Kfir and the F-16 is a smaller fighter.
If you are not tired of seeing pictures now, here are some other planes and other objects of interest that we saw that the museum: