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Air Force (Israel)

Heyl Ha'avir

Last modified: 2024-07-06 by martin karner
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[Air Force (Israel)] 2:3 image by Željko Heimer

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Light blue flag with thin stripes, near top and bottom (closer to the edges than on the national flag), white with dark blue borders. In the center, the air force roundel but with points touching disc edges and a dark blue border.
Nathan Lamm, 10 February 2002

Source for my image: Album des Pavillons 1998, which shows a 1:2 ratio. The Air Force flag was dropped in Album des Pavillons 2000 since it falls out of the scope of the book (it is not an ensign which may be spotted at sea).
Željko Heimer, 11 February 2002

The Air Force flag should have a ratio 2:3.
Dov Gutterman, 11 February 2002

Heyl Ha'Avir (= The Air Force) was formed on 17 May 1948 and use the same roundel since then. It never had tail insignia and all tail insignia in photos are squadron markings.
I don't think that there are other countries that had air force before their independence, but IAF history start years before independence and it is the successor of Sherut ha'Avir (Air Service) of the "Ha'Hagana" (The defense) underground.
Sherut Ha'Avir converted light aircraft to "bombers" and used them in military use. Those planes flew under the civil registration. Once "Ha'Hagana" bought disqualified air frames and built planes out of them. Since it wasn't possible to register them, the gave them same civil registration as "legitimate" planes. In this way 3–4 planes flew with the same registration, and, of course, they were put in separate in different air fields.
By the way, the Israeli first Spitfire was built from pieces from 6 planes and nicknamed "the junk Spit".
Some will maybe remember a scene from a film of the 60' with Kirk Douglas ("Cast a Giant Shadow") in which Frank Sinatra is playing an IAF pilot bombing the Egyptian with empty soda bottles from his Piper Cub ...
Well, it wasn't Frankie ... it wasn't a Piper Cub (but an Auster) ... and it happened due to lack of real bombs (those soda bottles made a hell of a noise falling down ...).
The First IAF real combat plane was an Avia S.199 which was really a Czech modification of the German bf-109G which arrived in parts before the Independence, which was very hard to fly (it was called by the Czecks "Mezek" (mule)) and was out of service right after the Independence War.
One day after the declaration of independence (and day before the forming of the IAF), one of the Avia's shot down 2 Egyptian planes over Tel-Aviv. A bit of irony that 3 years after the end of WWII, a German plane is helping Israel to defend against British and American planes used by Arab countries ...
IAF site (in English) at IAF museum site with many photos of planes at
Dov Gutterman, 17 June 2004

[Air Force (Israel)] image located by William Garrison


Caption: Meeting between NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment, Camille Grand (left) and Director of Policy & Political-Military Bureau at the Ministry of Defence of Israel, Zohar Palti. (Credit: Ministry of Defence of Israel) c. Sept. 2019.

This photograph shows a flag where the light blue is very pale and the deeper blue is very dark. The central logo is the aircraft roundel.

William Garrison, 18 May 2022

GHQ Air Branch Flag

The flag is light blue, with the Israeli national flag in canton, with the difference that two stripes and Magen David that are dark blue (or just blue?) on the national flag, are here of the same light blue as the field.
Željko Heimer, 27 March 1996

Air Force Markings – Introduction

[early roundels] image by Nozomi Kariyasu, 31 May 2024

The nationality of the air force aircraft is identified by a circle, square, cross, star, or other shape painted on the fuselage. France was the first country to create a nationality marking (roundel) painted on the wings and fuselage of military aircraft, which could be called a "national flag in the sky" in 1912. The roundel was a concentric circle with blue in the center, white and red on the outside, and the same design is still used today. It is said to have originated from the circular cap badge cocarde, a circular ribbon of the same colors as the tricolor flag that was attached to hats during the French Revolution.
The following year, in 1913, Serbia and Romania adopted the roundels, using the colors of their national flags and following the French roundel. In the same year, in Asia, the Republic of China adopted a star-shaped roundel instead of a circle based on the five-color flag, which was the national flag at that time. The year 1914 saw the spread of the practice of placing roundel on military aircraft in the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Around the same time, the directional rudders were also painted with vertical fin flashes in the national flag design. Later, the fin flash was repositioned from the rudder to the vertical tail.
During wartime, the color and design of the roundel of the home country were sometimes changed to make them easier to distinguish from those of the enemy. During World War II, the change in British roundel was particularly noticeable. In Europe, where it fought against Germany, the white circle was removed from the wing roundel, and in Asia, where it fought against Japan, the red circle was removed. The United States also frequently changed it roundels during the war, removing the red circles to make them easier to distinguish from the Japanese and to prevent misfiring by friendly forces.
After World War II, many new countries were born and new roundels were created. The Vietnam War prompted the U.S. Air Force to introduce a smaller, less visible, less colorful nationality mark, and many countries followed suit. As with flag designs, military aircraft markings have often been changed after political upheavals, such as the overthrow of a government.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 19 May 2024

See also:   From Flag to Roundel

Air Force Roundel

[Air Force Roundel, Magen David touching edges (Israel)] image by Željko Heimer

Cochrane and Elliot 1998 shows the star within, but not reaching the edges of, the white disk. Album des Pavillons 2000 and Album des Pavillons 2001 show a white roundel with blue six-pointed star within a blue border, like it appears on the Air Force flag. However, I think that it is not correct: Album des Pavillons 1995 shows it without blue border.
Željko Heimer, 11 February 2002

The Air Force roundel has no blue border and the Magen David does not reach the edges of the disk.
Dov Gutterman, 11 February 2002

Looking at recent photos of Israeli air force planes, I checked that half of them have a blue ring round the white disk, the other half have only white disk; moreover, it does not depend of the colour of background!
Armand Noel du Payrat, 12 February 2002

Maybe in old planes. Check this Israeli air force webpage and you will see that all current planes use the no-border roundel except those with white body using thin line around the roundel (see this example). As a rule, the roundel has no border.
Dov Gutterman, 12 February 2002

I am currently browsing through some Israel military magazines (Born in Battle), and almost all the roundels show the star within, but not reaching the edges of, the white disk (the distance of the star from the edges of the disk varying somewhat, though). This includes early planes from the 1948/49 war of independence (like Spitfire, B-17 Flying Fortress, Czech-built Bf-109), and more modern planes from the 1970ies and 1980ies (Mirage IIIC, A-4 Skyhawk, F-4 Phantom II, Kfir, F-16
Fighting Falcon, F-15 Eagle).
The only aircraft showing a roundel with a thin blue ring around are Mosquitos and Meteors from the 1950ies, both of them having a white or metallic colour finish [1] [2]. There is a distinct space between the
ring and the star, though.
[1] Born in Battle 1. Eshel-Dramit (Hod Hasharon), 1978. p. 32-33.
[2] Im Kampf geboren 5: Die israelische Luftwaffe im Kampf. Eshel-Dramit (Hod Hasharon), 1979. p.27.
M. Schmöger, 25 November 2006

Mistaken variants

In Album des Pavillons 1995 In Album des Pavillons 2000
[Air Force Roundel, mistaken variant with Magen David touching edges (Israel)]      [Air Force Roundel, mistaken variant with blue border (Israel)] images by Željko Heimer      

Air Force Roundels since 1948

1948 – 1951

[1948–1951] image by Nozomi Kariyasu, 17 June 2024

image located by Nozomi Kariyasu, 17 June 2024

1951 –

[1951–] image by Nozomi Kariyasu, 17 June 2024

image located by Nozomi Kariyasu, 17 June 2024

Low Visibility Roundel

[1951–] image by Nozomi Kariyasu, 17 June 2024

image located by Nozomi Kariyasu, 17 June 2024

Anti-Aircraft Corps (Kohot Ha'Nun-Mem)

[Artillery Branch of Service Flag (Armed Forces, Israel)] (3:4) 90×120 cm
image by Dov Gutterman

The AA corps are part of the Israeli Air Force and not a separate force as costumery in some other military organizations.
The flags are rectangular, 90 cm × 120 cm and divided diagonally by a line going from the upper hoist to the bottom fly. Bottom hoist is black, upper fly is blue.
When the colors are used as unit flag, the emblem of the unit is placed in the lower fly.
Source: author observation
Dov Gutterman
, 15 December 2003 and 23 April 2005

Aggressor Squadron

[Aggressor Squadron] image by Marc Pasquin

In Israel, the Aggressor Squadron, a squadron of the Air Force who plays "The Bad Guy" during training exercise is the 115th Squadron nicknamed the Red Squadron/ Flying Dragons.

Just like many such units around the world, they wear distinctive uniforms and patches to get them in the right frame of mind. In the case of the 115th squadron, one of the most noteworthy thing is that they replace their national flag patch with a red/black version of it.

Marc Pasquin, 7 February 2020