Operation "Tarnegol" (rooster)

1 - Introduction
Operation Tarnegol was an Israeli Air Force operation carried out on the eve of the 1956 Suez Crisis. It witnessed an Israeli Gloster Meteor NF.13 intercept and destroy an Egyptian Ilyushin Il-14 carrying high-ranking members of the Egyptian General Staff en route from Syria to Egypt.

Meteor NF.13 #52 (Credit A.Dor)

2 - Story
On October 28, 1956, at 14:00, Tsiddon was ordered to urgently prepare one NF-13 for a secret mission. Actually, by that time, Meteor NF-13 #52 was ready for flight, equipped with four 20mm cannons, with 160 rounds each and carrying two 330 liter external fuel tanks.
It was revealed that Egypt has just signed a military treaty with Syria and Jordan and all the senior Egyptian staff, including Marshal Amer (Nasser's vice president), was in Damascus for coordination meeting with the Syrian. The Israeli Intelligence found out that delegation is due to return that night in an Egyptian IL-14 cargo aircraft. The secret mission was, understandably, to intercept and shoot sown the aircraft, thus damaging immensely the Egyptian Army high command.
Marshal Amer (Credit : Public domain)
Tsiddon with Elyashiv brosh as Navigator, took off, that evening, for a test flight when the target was a Harvard trainer, in order to get some on how to intercept a slow speed aircraft and for "zero in" with a speed of 150-160 knots. The NF-13 landing velocity was 140 knots.On the spot, Tsiddon prepared a plan and tactics to handle the encounter.


Tsiddon and Elyashiv preparing their mission (Credit A.Dor)
Tsiddon and Elyashiv took off to their mission in a very dark night, without moonlight. Elyashiv had to receive guidance from the ground controller and instructed Tsiddon on their course.
Suddenly Elyashiv reported contact with the target, at a range of approximately 3 miles (the encounter took place over the Mediterranean, north-west to Israeli coast, quite close to Cyprus).

IL-14 (Credit FAS)
 After a careful close-in and a positive identification (Tsiddon recalls he actualy saw Egyptian officers through the IL-14 Windows), Tsiddon positioned the fighter behind the target and fired.

One of the guns malfunctioned and the aircraft went into a spin (the cannon of the Meteor NF-13 were installed in the wings, so the firing of only 3 caused asymmetry, enough to drasticaly affect the flight at that speed). The Ilyushin was hit and went into flames, but it continued to fly. Tsiddon, evincing his high skills, controled the aircraft, and by lifting its nose and reducing speed (flaps down and power almost to max.) almost to the staling speed, firing again, actually in an upward angle.
This time the Ilyushin exploded with a large fireball and crashed. Because of the blast the Meteor stalled but Tsiddon succeeded to recover only at low altitude. The he gatered height to return home, ful consumption proved to be higher than planned but he managed to land at Hatzor AFB, its engines silenced just at the end of the runway.

Meteor #52 landing at Hatzor AFB after its mission (Credit A.Dor)
3 - Aftermath
The secret mission was complete, although it was later discovered that Marshal Amer didn't return with this flight. The operation , code name "Tarnegol", remained secret for several décades.
The operation proved the courage the decisiveness and the high skills of the crew to their important mission, and both crewmen deserve all the crédits.