RAF Mosquito (in P-51D)
Wayne Peake flew with the USAAF in World War II but never got the chance to fly in combat.
Peake earned the nickname "the friendly fighter pilot" one day after a skirmish. After seeing that his opponent's gun had jammed, he waved to the helpless pilot and let him run home.
On Nov. 9, 101 Squadron moved south to Chatzor to take a position closer to the southern front, where it flew most missions. One advantage of the more southerly location was that it was further along the route that the daily shuftikite flew and so gave more time for an intercept. The "shuftikite", a weekly reconnaissance aircraft, had since since May 24 always flown the same route: it entered Israeli territory from the eastern Galilee, overflew Ramat David, then continued south through the Negev. Its noon-time flights also earned it the nickname "Noon Charlie". Flying in mid-day at 30,000, it left clear vapor trails in the sky. Israeli officials were convinced it was an Iraqi Mosquito.
Late in the morning of Nov. 20, Chatzor received a phone call from Ramat David that the shuftikite had been spotted. While CO Syd Cohen headed for the control tower with binoculars, Wayne Peake scrambled in a Mustang. Cohen tracked the shuftikite while guiding Peake on the radio to a position behind it. The unidentified airplane probably sighted Peake's Mustang because for the first time, it headed west over the Mediterranean rather than continuing south.
Reaching the intruder's altitude, Peake was suffering blurred vision and almost passed out - his oxygen system was malfunctioning to some degree.
As the shuftykite's contrails came into view, Cohen guided Peake right to it, but Peake missed the intercept as he was too high. Cohen told him to dive, and Peake rolled over and found the target, which with his blurred vision he thought was a four-engine bomber. He let loose a stream of .50 caliber and hosed the shuftykite until his guns jammed. Syd Cohen recalled:
"It was going away and Peake cursing like hell on the radio and almost crying because he couldn't fire another shot, but suddenly I noticed that the vapor trails were getting thicker and thicker, and then I saw fire, and the next thing I knew that thing just disintegrated in the air." (Yonay 1993)
Upon observing the explosion, Ezer Weizman took the squadron's Seabee runabout to investigate the crash site off the coast of moshav Dor, south of Haifa, but he only found wreckage floating on the surface.
On landing, Peake was convinced he had shot down a four-engined Halifax bomber, but it was later proven that it actually was a two-engined Mosquito PR.34 (numbered VL625) from 13 Sqn RAF, based at RAF Kabrit near the Suez Canal. Peake's condition had probably given him double-vision, thus making the victim seem to have twice as many engines.
This was the last RAF flight over Israel proper.
Peake joined Flying Tigers Airline in 1951 and rose to become the company's chief pilot. His last wish before he died of cancer in January 1979 was to be buried in Israel. Peake is interred in Haifa Military Cemetary, right next to the grave of George Beurling.