Aircraft acquisition for Israel in its darkest hours of need
On 29 May 1948, two weeks after five Arab states had declared war and invaded Israel, a UN embargo on arms shipments to the Middle East was imposed. Despite the fact that the US had recognised Israel, US government officials, apparently without reference to the president, enforced this embargo zealously, with FBI raids within the US. US officials accepted without challenge that the UK claim that it was continuing to exports arms and military equipment to the Middle East, including bombers to Egypt, on the basis of long-term contractural arrngements. In addition the UK supplied arms and training to the army of Eastern Palestine aka Jordan. (In 1946 that part of the mandate territory of Palestine east of the Jordan River was redesignated as Jordan by the UK, and without any authority from the UN removed from the Mandate.) Through the War of Independence the UK supplied officer and top leadership to the Jordan Legion; British officers lead the Arab forces that captured the Old City of Jerusalem, expelled all the Jews residing there, and commenced the destruction of the seventeen synagogues within the Old City. The Hurva Synagogue, located close to the Western Wall, dating from the early 18th century, was dynamited by troops under the command of Glubb Pasha (Lieut. General John Bagot Glub) on June 5, 1948, and not rebuilt until 2017.
Despite this embargo, a limited number of aircraft were acquired by Israel in its earliest days. Amazingly, this included a small -- but highly valuable, number of planes from Australia.

Aircraft from Australia to Israel 1948+.:
Chanan Reich reported in his classic book that during the first crucial two years, 1948-9, 6 aircraft arrived in Israel from Australia. All sixare listed at the bottom of this web page. Suzanne Rutland has provided in an article in the Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal some further background.
DC-5 YankeeBagel-PashaLancet in Israel
DC-5 Yankee Pasha - The Bagel Lancer

The DC-5 as VH-CXC during the Pacific War.


The one DC-5 in the Israeli AirFoce was one of only 12 DC-5 aircraft ever manufactured. After a chequered history, it flew as a US military aircraft in the Pacific War, before being acquired by civilian operators in support of the US military in the South Pacific. The DC-5 flown to Israel on May 26, 1948 had the markings of New Holland airlines, a precursor to Ansett Airways. and registration number VH-CXC (correct was VH-ARD). These markings were painted over and it was crudely labelled Yankee Pasha - The Bagel Lancer about a Star of David. Used by Israel during the 1948 War ferrying troops and supplies into the Negev, it was also reputedly also used as a clumsy bomber lacking bombracks.
The Lockheed Lodestar 18 with US markings.
Lockheed Hudson aircraft US markings in flight
The Lockheed Hudson with US markings.

Another 80 war-surplus planes from the Pacific Theatre were collected in Australia but blocked from export to Israel even in 1950.
It is worthy of note that the six planes from Australia acquired by Israel were in fact all purchased in Australia during a period that the UK government expressed support in principle for an embargo on arms shipment to the middle east, and blocked any such exports to Israel, but felt 'they had [to] "honour contractual obligations" to the Arab states', obliging the UK to expeditiously ship arms to the Arab countries seeking to destroy Israel.
  • Adelman, Howard, Australia and the Birth of Israel: Midwife or Abortionist?, Australian Journal of Politics and Hstory, vol 38, no 3, pp 354-374.
  • Suzanne D. Rutland, Seeking "Treasure Island": Manpower and Arms from Australia and the South Pacific to Israel, 1948-1950, Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal, Vol 20, (2011) Part 2, pp307-321. Shorter version is online.
  • Suzanne D. Rutland, 1948 and the Creation of the State of Israel: a watershed period for Australian Zionism, Australian Journal of Jewish Studies, Vol. XIX, 2004
  • Chanan Reich, Australia and Israel: An Ambiguous Relationship, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2002.
    One of the very few published stories of the acquisition of planes in 1948-9 can be found in a dubious newspaper story in the Daily Express (London) Monday September 20 1948 recounting how UK manufactured "Beaufighters, Mosquitos and Halifaxes" acquired in the UK were spirited to Israel.
  • Israel finally achieved air superiority in the two months before the final cease-fire of January, 1949, following the purchase in October 1948 of 50 WW2 Spitfires from Czechoslavakia, most of which reached Israel intact before the January 1949 cease-fire. See this report.
    more on the Israel - Australia diplomatic relationship

    timeline of Australian involvement in the re-establishment of Israel

Australian Registered Aircraft Clandestinely Sold to Israel
Australian reg Type IDFAF serial Delivery Date Fate
VH-ARD DC-5 1501 Arrival May 26 1948
To IDF 5 June 1948
To IDFAF Ground School, Ramat David, then Haifa Air Base,  
later to Technical School, Tel Aviv. Fuselage to kibbutz playground
VH-BFZ Lodestar 2501 8 October 1948
(Purchase date)
Crash landing Herzliya 31 October 1948.
Struck-off IDFAF charge 9.50.
To IDFAF Ground School, Haifa Air Base
VH-BIH Hudson 2601 7 November 1948 Crashed 5 March 1949
VH-BFQ Hudson 2602 28 February 1949
VH-BIA Hudson 2603 12 March 1949
VH-BLB Hudson 2604 May 1949