Rudy Augarten


Combat Record

Oct. 21: two REAF Spitfire Mk IX (in Spitfire LF 9e)

Nov. 11: REAF Dakota (shared with Boris Senior; in Spitfire LF9e)

Nov. 17: REAF Spitfire Mk IX (in Spitfire LF 9e)

Dec. 22: REAF Macchi MC.205Vs damaged (in Spitfire LF 9e)


Rudy Augarten showed up during the first truce and almost immediately was made the squadron's operations officer.

On the S-199s:

"Our commander was moaning about Messerschmitts with no manuals. The Me 109 (sic) had two 20mm cannons, one on each wing, and two 13.2mm machine guns in the fuselage cowling that had to be synchronized. Many times people shot props off. We never could get the cannons to work at the same time, which caused the plane to slip and skid. No one understood the hydraulic or electrical systems fully. These planes were inertia-started with a hand crank. You wound it up (and) pulled an engaging mechanism that gave the power to the propeller.

"During (my) first ten days, 50 percent of the take-offs or landings ended in accidents. There was always something major going wrong. We had a code for the Messerchmitts - TMFRTS (pronounced temfritz): Trim tab adjustment, Mixture, Flaps down 20 degrees, Release brakes, Throttle, Set tail wheel lock. You had to lock the tail wheel, set your flaps down, set your mixture rich, set your trim tabs and such. I remember that vividly."


At 17:30, July 18, the last day of the summer offensive, Modi Alon led Syd Antin and Augarten from Herzliya in three S-199s to attack an Egyptian armored column at Bir Asluj, west of Beersheva. It was Augarten's first combat mission in Israel. He comments:

The Israelis dropped their bombs and made three strafing passes. On the return to Herzliya, Alon flew lead at 6,000 feet, with Augarten off to his left and Antin to his right.

Antin spotted two or three REAF Spitfires cruising on a parallel course to the left and called the others on the radio.

Modi was closest, he went after the first one. Rudy was next, 'cause they were on his side, and he went after the second one, but he was out of ammunition. He spent all his ammunition that we were returning from.... So he slid over, I told him, "Move over," and I slid behind the one that he had latched on to, and I still had some ammunition. So I started firing at him and it was a very brief dogfight. I saw some pieces come off him but I didn't knock him down. He kept on going. He got back.

Modi knocked down his, so we got at least one of them for sure.

After Augarten peeled off to come up behind his targeted Spitfire unseen, he had depressed his trigger, but nothing happened. He dove out of the way. Alon had hit a Spitfire Mk Vc, REAF serial number 610, flown by W/C Said Afifi al Janzuri, the fighter leader at Al Arish. The Egyptian tried to crash-land his plane in the hills below, but died in the attempt. Some sources claim Antin nosed over on landing, but he is adamant that he did not.

All three S-199s escaped without damage - until they tried to land at Herzliya. Alon landed first and spun off the runway to the right, nearly flipping over. Augarten, blinded by the setting sun, nearly hit the other two as he attempted to touch down, but pulled away in time. By the time he came around again, he'd run out of fuel.

The mid-October offensive called Operation Yoav tasked four of 101 Squadron's five Spitfires with escort of Beaufighters to Al Arish. One of the Spitfires went unserviceable, but the other three left Herzliya in the Oct. 15 first strike to hook up with two Beaufighters from Ramat David. The aircraft hit the Al Arish airbase at 17:40, with the Beaufighters bombing and both Beaufighters and Spitfires, piloted by Augarten, Syd Cohen, and a third man, strafing. They destroyed four REAF Spitfires on the ground, demolished a hangar, and cratered the runway so badly it prevented any take-offs, before AA forced the Israelis to retreat.

Rudy Augarten recalled the effects of Alon's death:

"Everybody in the squadron was crying that night. In all the wars I've been in, I had never seen anything like that. " (Yonay 1993)

After Alon, the squadron's commanding officer, died on Oct. 16, the question of who would succeed him arose. The choice eventually boiled down to one of the squadron's flight commanders, ironically the two who had the best view of Alon's crash: Syd Cohen and Maury Mann. Mann, the 101's XO, desired to take command but Air HQ felt he was too aggressive (Red Finkel, pers.comm.) - and, in fact, he had crashed a S-199 earlier that day. Either through injury or temperament, Mann was disqualified from consideration, and in fact lost his flight leader status. Air HQ chose the experienced and greatly respected Syd Cohen to take over Alon's mantle, and he would lead the squadron throughout the rest of the war. Augarten and Weizman were promoted to flight leader.

On Oct. 21, Augarten and Jack Doyle flew in Spitfires to CAP the region between Beersheva and Al Arish. They intercepted four REAF Spitfires and Augarten shot two down. A third REAF aircraft was damaged.

On November 11, Augarten and Senior took Spitfires on patrol and intercepted an REAF Dakota, which they shot down. On Nov. 17, a Spitfire patrol with Augarten intercepted three REAF Spitfires 7,500 feet above the encircled Egyptians at Faluja. Augarten shot one down.

Augarten was out on Spitfire patrol again on Dec. 22, the day the REAF started to operate its new Macchi MC.205Vs. Augarten and his one wingman met a formation of Macchis and damaged one.

Augarten again was leading a Spitfire CAP on Dec. 28 when, at 10:45, two REAF Macchis bombed and strafed an Israeli column near Nitzana. Augarten and his wingman intercepted and damaged both. One left in a slight dive while the other trailed black smoke.




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