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The “Kurnass” in IDF/AF Service Vols. 1 & 2 1969 - 1988 & 1989 until today

by Andreas Klein & Shlomo Aloni



 S u m m a r y

Title and Publication Details:

ISRAELI PHANTOMS – The ‘Kurnass’ in IDF/AF Service Vol 1 & 2

Double Ugly! Books – in cooperation with AIRDOC Aircraft Documentries


160 pages ea , B&W and Colour Illustrations plus plans and Colour Plates


978-0-935687-81-2 and 978-0-935687-82-9


Each Euro 39.95 available online from AirDOC

Review Type:

First Read


A thorough and exhaustive guide to the Israeli Phantoms from 1969 to present


None noted


These would have to be the best compiled books on the Phantom I have yet seen and set a great benchmark for Aircraft titles.

Reviewed by Al Bowie

HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron

F i r s t   L o o k


The Phantom is a legendary Aircraft and a veteran Cold War warrior that was built in massive numbers (5000+) and is well documented as an aircraft. These two volumes, I believe the first in a series on the Phantom II, examine in exhaustive detail the F 4E Phantoms serving with the IDF Air Force II. Early in my teens I was given an Airfix Catalogue which had a stunning boxtop illustration of an F4E Phantom in Israeli Colours out manoeuvring a SAM 2 Missile. I was captivated by this illustration having followed the recent Yom Kippur Conflict on TV just the year before. Thus began a lifelong love of Phantoms that continues to this day. For a mainly armour modeller there is a great collection of Phantom reference in my library which is hard to explain to my treadhead mates and its all the fault of Airfix and that wonderful illustration. That Airfix Kit which I scraped and saved for back in the mid Seventies started me down the slippery slope of modelling Phantoms and the first one I made was the Israeli one on the box top. I went on to make over 60 small scale Phantoms and a few of the 48th ones with more than a few Israeli ones in the mix.


  • Israeli Phantoms Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Israeli Phantoms Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Israeli Phantoms Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Israeli Phantoms Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
  • Israeli Phantoms Book Review by Al Bowie: Image
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When Brett asked if I would like to review these books I jumped at the chance and I have to say they have exceeded the high expectations I set for them in my mind. The cover with that brute ugly F4E in the attractive three tones Israeli Camouflage leaps out at you and when I opened the cover on Volume one it was many hours later that I put it down. The quality of this publication is first class and it is presented in a way that just makes you want to read a few pages more before putting it down.

The Israelis first got their first Phantoms in late 1969 and they immediately set about getting them up to an operational standard baptizing them the name “Kurnass” (Sledge Hammer) over the following years and many conflicts that they participated in. The Phantom excelled in the skilled hands of the Israeli Pilots and became a potent fighter and strike aircraft often tackling the difficult SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defences) role. The Phantoms led the way in the War of Attrition between delivery and the 73 War scoring many Air to Air Victories in a short time. During the 73 war the Phantoms suffered a fair attrition to the Arab Sam umbrella but quickly worked out tactics to overcome this and were soon sweeping the skies or the battlefields clean of the Arab aggressors. The Phantom has played key roles in all the campaigns and conflicts since and continues in service to this day.

The Books are divided into Volume 1 and two and each covers a period in the use of the Phantom by the IDF. Vol 1 covers the 69-88 periods which includes the War of Attrition, the 73 War and the Invasion of Lebanon in the early 80’s. Vol two covers the period from 1989 to the present day. The Authors have managed to piece together an amazing amount of data about the Kurnass in service and they have jammed every page with Pictures, Tables and highly informative text. Colour plates are of an excellent quality as are the line drawings which are found within the titles pages.

Volume 1 covers the following in its 160 pages:

• Foreword – General (ret) Amir Nachumi
• Chapter 1 – Introduction
• Chapter 2 – The War of Attrition & ‘The Kammers’ Shark Mouthed Kurnass #187
• Chapter 3 – The Yom Kippur War – US Airlift to Israel – Op Nickel Grass
• Chapter 4 – Peace for Galilee & Movie Star (Iron Eagle II)
• Chapter 5 - F-4 Yom Kippur War Cockpit & Armament
• Appendix 1 – Scale Drawings
• Appendix 2 – Camouflage Schemes
• Appendix 3 – Cockpit layout – Early Production Block F4E
• Appendix 4
• Kurnass Serial Lists,
• Kurnass Aces
• Kurnass Mig Kills
• IAF Kurnass Attrition List
• Appendix 5
• Abbreviations
• Acknowledgements

The Second Volume contains the following:

• Chapter 1 – F-4E KURNASS 2000
• Chapter 2 – The RF-4E KURNASS TSILUM - Reconnaissance
• Chapter 3 – F-4E(S) Shabul – Operation Peace Jack
• Chapter 4 – SQN 69 “The Hammers”
• Chapter 5 – SQN 105 “Scorpions”
• Chapter 6 – SQN 107 “The Knights of the Orange Tail”
• Chapter 7 – SQN 119 “The Bats”
• Chapter 8 – SQN 201 “The One”
• Chapter 9 – Manat – Test and Evaluation Squadron
• Chapter 10 – KURNASS 2000 Walkaround
• Chapter 11 – RF-4E Walkaround
• Chapter 12 –F-4E(S) Walkaround
• Appendix 1 – HIAC-1 Description
• Appendix 2 – Kurnass 2000
• Appendix 3 – RF-4E Phantom II
• Appendix 4 – F-4E(S) Shabul
• Appendix 5 – Camouflage Schemes
• Appendix 6 – Cockpit layout – Late production Block F- 4E
• Appendix 7
• Kurnass Serial Lists,
• Kurnass 2000
• IAF Reconnaissance Phantoms
• Operation “Peace Jack” Phantoms
• Operation “Nickle Grass” Phantoms
• More Known Kurnass IAF Code/ US Serial Tie ups
• Abbreviations

The books detail everything you wanted to know about Israeli Phantoms and unearths an amazing amount of new information on their service and the background of the initial purchase and subsequent supply. I was amazed to find out that the Phantom was a people’s subscription aircraft with the Israeli public raising funds for its purchase.

Almost every single Israeli Phantom is listed and or shown in a photo and I am pleased that the Squadron and aircraft markings are clearly shown and not with a censors embellishment as per previous titles on the Phantom. Operational History, missions and roles are within the pages and make for a thoroughly good read.

Usually extensive books set out to be a bit of everything and end up being heavily focused on one area. I am pleased to say this book is well structured and balanced and covers each area exceptionally well. For the modeller the book has everything you could ask with plans, clear and detailed photos walk rounds and colour and marking guides. I can’t fault these volumes in any way and if the rest of the series continues like these Double Ugly ( a reference to one of the Phantoms nicknames) Books will have a winner on their hands

The appeal in these titles is equal whether you are a fan of the IDF/AF, Phantoms, a modeller, historian or just an aviation enthusiast. These would have to be the best compiled books on the Phantom I have yet seen and set a great benchmark for Aircraft titles. Know if they would just do one on UK Phantoms to this level I’ll be opening my wallet wide.

Thanks to AirDOC Publications for the sample.

AirDOC Publications may be viewed and purchased online from their website

Review Copyright © 2009 by Al Bowie
This Page Created on 15 December, 2009
Last updated 15 December, 2009

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