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Avia S-199 in Israeli Air Force Service

58 years ago today


May 29, 1948, 101 Squadron flew its first mission with four Avia S-199s. These four pages from “101″ describe that action. Do they work for you?

EXT. AQIR AIRFIELD – EVENING

Four gray-green S-199s taxi. Each carries a pair of small 70-kg bombs. The low sun glistens on their new Israeli insignia.

SUPER: “May 29; Aqir Airfield”

I/E. S-199 COCKPIT/AQIR AIRFIELD – EVENING

Lou sits in S-199 #102 on the runway. The aircraft on the taxiway are numbered 104 (Modi), 101 (Eddie), and 103 (Ezer).

Lou looks at the fighters with stars of David, at each pilot. He looks at the countryside, the country they represent. He recites the Sh’mah, the affirmation prayer of Judaism.

LOU

Sh’mah yisra’el, adonai eluheynu, adonai echad.

He carefully throttles up. 102 begins to swing left, but Lou controls it, adds more power. 102 thunders down the runway and climbs slowly into the sky.

Behind, 104 advances onto the runway.

I/E. S-199 COCKPIT/OVER COAST – LATER

The S-199s fly low in echelon. 102 leads 104, 101 leads 103.

Lou peers at the terrain. He looks back at Modi and raises his hands in a gesture of “I have no idea where we are.”

Modi gives a thumb-up. 104 noses forward to take the lead.

I/E. S-199 COCKPIT/OVER COAST – LATER

Over the sea, Modi spots the inland target: Isdud. He points it out to Lou.

102 reclaims flight lead.

EXT. ISDUD AND ISDUD HIGHWAY – EVENING

EGYPTIAN SOLDIERS and a dozen vehicles occupy this Arab village’s town square. The EGYPTIAN COMMANDER and AIDE consult a map on the hood of their armored car.

A stork flies from Isdud over the road northeast. Below the bird, more Egyptian soldiers and vehicles line the road, concentrated at a bend in the road a mile out of town. The stork flies over a steep-walled wadi and a destroyed bridge whose ancient stone pillars still stand defiantly.

Across the wadi, ISRAELI SOLDIERS hunker down in trenches and foxholes. Some fidget in jeeps and half-tracks.

At the growl of piston engines, the stork veers off. The sound grows louder.

EXT. ISRAELI POSITION – CONTINUOUS

Israeli machine-gunners swivel north, prepare to fire.

Out of the north, two S-199s fly in on the deck. The ISRAELI COMMANDER discerns the stars of David under their wings.

ISRAELI COMMANDER

Hold your fire!

102 and 104 pass over low. 104 banks away to the left.

After a moment of disbelief, the Israeli infantry cheer.

I/E. S-199 COCKPIT/OVER ISDUD HIGHWAY – CONTINUOUS

Lou spots the mass of Egyptians at the bend in the highway.

LOU

Jesus.

He stays to the right of the road, heads for central Isdud.

EXT. ISDUD – CONTINUOUS

The Egyptian soldiers ignore the sound of distant aircraft. The commander scans the sky, sights an inbound fighter to the north, points it out to his aide.

The aircraft flies directly at him. Two small bombs fall from its belly.

The commander yells a warning in Arabic, scrambles under his armored car.

I/E. S-199 COCKPIT/OVER ISDUD – CONTINUOUS

Lou passes low over Isdud. His two bombs explode in the square behind him.

Two more bombs hit the road farther north. Secondary explosions tear through the Egyptian column.

EXT. ISDUD HIGHWAY – CONTINUOUS

Egyptians run to man AA guns. Their trucks burn and explode.

104 flies south along the highway, then turns east.

I/E. S-199 COCKPIT/OVER ISDUD HIGHWAY – CONTINUOUS

A sweaty Modi pulls 104 to the left. He looks back at the burning column.

He enters a gradual climbing turn until he points into the setting sun. In front of him, greasy smoke rises from burning trucks. The air is thick with disorganized AA tracers.

Modi pitches forward to strafe the Egyptian vehicles. Recoil shakes his S-199 as his wing cannons boom.

Eddie’s 101 also strafes the highway, south to north. Light AA fire peppers it.

Modi pulls up to avoid a collision with 101.

I/E. S-199 COCKPIT/OVER ISDUD HIGHWAY – LATER

Ezer zips in low from the coast. He aims for the mass of vehicles at the bend in the road. His wing cannons boom once, then stop. His cowl machine guns tick on anemically.

He pounds the dashboard.

EZER

God fucking damn it bastard fucking Nazi fucking aeroplane!

He mashes the cannon trigger. He’s unsteady on the stick. His machine-gun fire stitches the ground haphazardly.

Streams of AA tracer reach out for him. He gives up on the trigger. He weaves through the AA storm, escapes unscathed.

EXT. AQIR AIRFIELD – LATER

Modi and ground crew surround 104. Its left tire is blown, its prop blades and left wingtip bend at odd angles. Skid marks and ruts in the dirt mark its path off the runway.

I/E. S-199 COCKPIT/AQIR AIRFIELD – LATER

Ezer cranks down the flaps, aggravates a blister. He lowers the landing gear. He sees the men and the wrecked 104 ahead.

He lands a shallow approach, rolls past the wreck.

INT. AQIR TOWER – LATER

The control tower is equipped with a few radios and little else. Milt works a radio, chews an unlit cigar. Modi and Ezer, still in flight gear, and Milt watch Lou’s 102 taxi.

EDDIE (V.O. RADIO)

Red Leader to Oklahoma tower.

MILT

Oklahoma tower to Red Leader. Go ahead.

EDDIE (V.O. RADIO)

I have a spot of damage here, chaps, but I have Oklahoma in sight. Request clearance.

The three pilots in the tower scan the sky but see nothing.

MILT

Oklahoma tower to Red Leader. You’re cleared to land, but we don’t see you.

EDDIE (V.O. RADIO)

Roger, Oklahoma. Red Leader on final.

MILT

Red Leader, we don’t see you.

EDDIE (V.O. RADIO)

Red Leader to Oklahoma. I’m landing runway sixteen. Look south.

The pilots look south. There’s nothing there.

MILT

Red Leader? Cohen? Eddie?

An ugly plume of black smoke sprouts on the southwestern horizon, two miles away.

MILT

Well, shit.

One Response to “58 years ago today”

  • HA! Comment!

    #1. Love the ending. Just kinda sums it all up :P

    #2 Super action packed, and you can see it developing (in your head), and the action and pressure really rising, until it reaches the climax of the battle, and you’re like, oh crap!

    And then, of course, super twist at the end…

    But as I mentioned, apart from being a reader/moviegoer/etc… what do I know?!

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