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January 16, 1991.
Captain Yoel Levy crawled into his bunk inside the dispersal trailer. He did not
know if sleep would come, for he and his ground crew had spent the evening
drinking coffee and play cards, trying to make light of their situation. After
three days in the cramped trailer on the edge of the Negev Desert, sleep was
Outside in the dark, Captain Levy’s AV-8B Cherev II (Sword) sat ready for war.
His squadron, the Scorpion Squadron had deployed into the field three days
ago. Now their 12 aircraft sat ready to strike Saddam Hussein’s Iraq if and
when an Iraqi attack was launched on Israel. Soon, Yoel knew, the forces of the
United States and her allies would strike Saddam, driving him from Kuwait.
How would Saddam respond, Yoel wondered? Would he quit Kuwait quickly and
retreat to fight another day, or would he go out in a blaze of glory as
threatened, cementing himself in Arab minds as the martyr who struck the heart
Would he send SCUDs at Tel Aviv, where Yoel’s family had prepared a shelter?
Would his SCUDs carry bombs or Sarin? Did Saddam have a nuclear bomb? Soon he,
and the world would know. At least Israel could respond if Saddam targeted IDF
airfields, thanks to the four Cherev squadrons now spread throughout eastern
If Saddam did strike, Yoel would go to war, sure that even the diplomatic pleas
of the USA couldn't keep Israel on the sidelines. His own Cherev was armed with
four AGM-65 Maverick missiles, two AGM-45 Shrike missiles, and two AIM-9L
Sidewinders. He could fight his way into Iraqi airspace, kill their radars, then
take out their SCUD launchers.
He thought for a moment of his best friend Ari, sitting in his own dispersal
trailer somewhere out there in the desert, his Cherev armed not with 8 missiles,
but with a single bomb. He thought of that bomb and said a prayer before laying
his head down for sleep.
images below to see larger images
Israel entered the V/STOL
business in 1973, seeing a need to have an air force able to survive an enemy
first strike. For political reasons the Israeli order for 48 Harriers was placed
with the US, not directly with Hawker Siddley. In IDF service the Harrier was
given the name ‘Cherev”, Hebrew for ‘Sword”.
The 48 AV-8A and TAV-8A Cherevs served until the late 1980s, when they were
replaced by 52 AV-8B and TAV-8B Cherev II aircraft. The Cherev II is similar to
the USMC AV-8B, with the addition of a FLIR seeker above the nose, IDF specific
avionics, and the ability to carry the Shrike missile. It is also rumored that
IDF Cherevs can carry nuclear weapons, with persistent, but unconfirmed reports
that two nuclear-armed Cherevs deployed to dispersal sites in the Negev on the
eve of the 1991 Gulf War.
This model was a USMC AV-8B that
I built years ago, and was my first attempt at airbrushing. Over the past
15 years it's been through several moves and was looking a bit worse for wear.
I decided to do a restoration on it, and since most of my building is the
"What If?" variety, I thought an IDF version might look good.
All the original parts were
around, so the restoration was fairly easy. I had some preprinted 1/48
paper Remove Before Flight flags, but they looked a bit out of scale, and were
in English, so I made plain red flags by painting clear decal film and cutting
it into strips. The resulting flags are very delicate. but look right for
1/48 scale. The helmet is from a Monogram pilot figure with the head
hollowed out with a Dremel (yuck!). The O2 mask is sculpted from Milliput
and the hose is fine solder wrapped with stretched sprue. The FOD guards
are just cut from Evergreen sheet, with fine solder handles.
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