3. The Wiping Out of the Egyptian Air Force in 1967
The Six Day War began on June 5th, 1967, when the Egyptians were surprised by the sudden appearance of Israeli warplanes over 11 airfields at 7:45AM that morning. A first wave of attackers targeted the runways with special munitions: prototype penetration bombs that used accelerator rockets to drive warheads through the pavement before detonation. The result was a sinkhole that required the complete removal of the damaged pavement in order to get at and fill in the cavity beneath – a laborious and time consuming process. With the runways destroyed, Egyptian airplanes on the ground were stranded, sitting ducks for subsequent airstrikes.
197 Egyptian airplanes were destroyed in that first wave, with only 8 planes managing to take to the air. After striking an initial 11 airbases, the Israeli planes returned home, refueled and rearmed in under 8 minutes, then headed back to wreck an additional 14 Egyptian airbases. They returned to Israel for yet another speedy refueling and rearming, and flew out in a third wave, divided between attacking what was left of the Egyptian air force, and striking the Syrian and Jordanian air forces. By noon on June 5th, the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian air forces were effectively wiped out. Israel’s enemies lost about 450 airplanes, and about 20 enemy airbases were wrecked.