The Birth of the Israeli Air Force

How a group of American fighter pilots risked their lives for the fledgling State of Israel.

Comments (49)

(43) Motti Thaler, February 3, 2021 2:58 AM

I stand up and salute those heroes and I pick up my hat to them. I myself am a retired captain flying for UPS and have all my respect for those pilots. Motti T.

(42) Anonymous, November 16, 2014 6:59 AM

Let's remember to also thank G-d

These brave men are worthy of reward and notation for their courageous, selfless acts on behalf of the Jewish people, but lets not forget to give credit where it's REALLY due for winning the war, or for the existence of the country of Israel or the Jewish people for that matter.

(41) sree prasad shetty, April 12, 2014 3:34 PM

Machal pilots

dedication and love towards their country is truly inspirational..salute their work!

(40) Ellen, December 27, 2013 5:50 AM

Israel is a nation of miracles

The most seemingly impossible things occur in Israel. It is a testament to the existence of God and all that is possible. Maybe that is why the nations so hate Israel.

(39) Lloyd Herman, August 8, 2013 2:58 PM

A Free and Strong Israel

I was just a kid enlisting in the USAF in 1947, totally oblivious to this history being made. Now as an old retired military flyboy I can only say; God bless Israel and keep her strong and free. America could have no better friend and ally.

(38) Anonymous, April 17, 2013 8:48 AM

Not Only from USA

South African pilots and others played a huge part in flying for the Israeli Airforce in 1947/48 war of Independence . Dissappointing that only US jews given recognition in this video

Anon Y Mouse, March 3, 2016 8:13 PM

South Africans second largest contingent after US

Figures I have seen on the World Machal website indicate that the largest group of non-Israelis after the Americans were the South Africans.

There has long been a proportionally large Jewish community (in relation to total population at the time) in SA of course but still a remarkable fact I think.

jeff hoffman, April 15, 2018 7:36 PM

EIN BREIRA: No Alternative

“4 Million Bullets: The Untold Fight for Survival” tells the little-known, first-hand courageous stories of young men and women—Jews and non-Jews—whose heroism, intrigue, and ingenuity enabled the fledgling Israeli nation to survive.

Central American “banana boats” evaded
an international embargo to transport
European refugees to Palestine;

Elite fighters trained to act like Arabs went
underground to infiltrate enemy areas;

A covert group of North American Jewish
business leaders secretly raised the
equivalent of $2.5 billion for the cause;

From ragtag Czech war-surplus aircrafts,
crew members dropped bombs by hand on
their targets.

An underground bullet factory operated for
two years, hidden beneath a fake laundry

(37) bernardo rojtenbarg, April 16, 2013 3:19 PM

only proud & courage

proudly i saw yhis movie

(36) Anonymous, April 15, 2013 11:44 AM

P 51 Mustang fighter

In !946, my father ( Morris May) disassembled two p-51 mustang fighter planes in Oklahoma. He packed and shipped them to what we called Palestine then.

Do you have any information about this , or any ideas of sources of information ?

Ellen, June 16, 2013 7:00 PM

If you find out who hired him, you can find out more about it.

You could start by contacting the Israeli consulate office in your city and asking them for background. Was your father Jewish? If not, that would be amazing.

(35) Aubrey Miller, April 12, 2013 8:22 AM


We can all be proud to be a part of such an amazing and inspirational nation. Thank you for ensuring that we never forget. Am Yisrael Chai.

(34) Ellen, March 9, 2013 9:50 PM

Loved this video

If we don't defend ourselves, no one will defend us. It is sheer folly to think that the U.S. would defend Israel. The U.N. would celebrate the death of all Israelis. The EU would have a party and the Arabs would rejoice as they planned their next victory: the United States!

Anonymous, April 24, 2013 2:54 PM

You are right

You have to do your job...till this day you had self belief so you destroyed IraQ nuclear reactor, Syria's nuclear reactor..reason your trust was on God now your trust shifted towards US so you couldn't able to fight Iran

(33) M. Richard Meyers, March 3, 2013 1:55 AM

Nancy; My brother-in-law, Bob Luery, was part of the Diaspora flying supplies out of Czechoslovakia. In your research, did you come across his name? He was from Escanaba, Michigan, a U. of Michigan grad. I would appreciate any information that I could share with my nephews and niece. Bob died circa 1994. Richard Meyers 120 Grand Palm Way Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

(32) Steve Truschel, February 26, 2013 6:27 PM

Grumman F6F "Hellcats" in I.A.F. inventory???

Dear Mrs. Spielberg, Many years ago I watched a movie on T.V. about the founding of the state of Israel ( the name of the film escapes me, however). As an aviation enthusiast I could have sworn I saw a flight of ex-U.S. Navy Grumman F6F "Hellcat" fighter aircraft, piloted by volunteers, which conducted ground attacks against Arab forces during 1948. Am I mistaken or was that scene simply inserted into the movie without any historical accuracy? Thank you. Steve Truschel Austin, Texas

(31) Ruth Sobol, February 18, 2013 7:02 AM


My thanks to Ms. Spielberg for reminding us of the vital contribution of these heroes.

(30) Benjamin Gal-Or, February 13, 2013 11:51 AM

Unballanced and Misleading Reporting

Ben Gurion contacted the SA PM who provided air transport to these WW-II experienced Pilot Heros, under the command of a high ranking pilot [see below] . At age 14 I detexted them inside secret ecaliptus woods in the Sharon Valley near Kfar Vitkin. They were assembling brand new parts, wings, engines, etc. of new Messerschmidts fighter aircraft that Stalin had sent from Czechia in response to Ben Gurion pleed. With German-Speaking Israelis they assembeled them, read flying instructions and then tookoff from a nearby dirt runway. They landed mainly elsewhere. BTW, the Commander of the SA Pilots has later been a supreme Judge in SA. As such I met him 27 years later. Enough said.

Benjamin Gal-Or, February 13, 2013 1:37 PM

Verifiable Facts on IAF, Ben Durion, Stalin and SA PM backed by historical References

In addition to the request for balanced historical reporting based on verifiable facts, as stated above, one may start by quoting Wikipedia and the various references cited there: "The backbone of the IAF consisted of 25 Avia S-199s (purchased from Czechoslovakia, essentially Czechoslovak-built Messerschmitt Bf 109s) and 62 Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IXEs ferried from Žatec base code-named "Zebra" where pilots also received preliminary flight training. Creativity and resourcefulness were the early foundations of Israeli military success in the air, rather than technology (which, at the inception of the IAF, was generally inferior to that used by Israel's adversaries). Many of the first IAF's pilots in 1948 were foreign volunteers (both Jewish and non-Jewish) and World War II veterans"

(29) Berel, February 13, 2013 4:07 AM

Fantastic! Is this a full length feature film in the works already?

I would like to learn more about WW2 US servicemen that went to help fight for the state of israel in the war of independence. Also, if you want to raise funds for the film you can try Berel

(28) Eden Maxwell, February 8, 2013 10:19 PM


An uplifting insight into the spirit of those we know are heroes. An inspiration to all of good faith.

(27) Marci Rapp, February 7, 2013 8:13 PM


Thank you to Nancy Spielberg and to the American men who helped Israel

(26) Eli Bendov, February 7, 2013 6:00 PM


So proud!!!!

(25) Elliot Mazer, February 7, 2013 8:16 AM

Is there a list of names somewhere?

I believe I knew someone who went over to fly for Israel in 1948, a physician in California whom I knew in the 1980's. He was a very humble man and never talked about it. If I could confirm his name on a list of flyers i would love to publicly honor his memory

(24) Anonymous, February 7, 2013 1:41 AM

Courage through faith

Deeply touching. What an indeleble act of courage and inspiring act. May Hashem contnues protecting the land of Israel and the life of those pilots who sacrified to defend it. Thank you very much for sharing that heartfelt piece of history.

(23) Carlos, February 6, 2013 11:11 PM

It made me Cry

Wow just wonderful. HaShem works in mysterious ways. I like one comment" For once I did something right" Just beautiful. congratulations.

(22) Ellen, February 6, 2013 8:52 PM

An absolute miracle!

This was nothing less than a miracle and could not have happened without God's intervention. Thank you to to the Machal pilots and everyone involved and THANK YOU to GOD!

(21) Paul Kupetsky, February 6, 2013 6:29 AM

A true Democracy

I was touched by the sacrifice of life and limb by these brave souls. The State of Israel is blessed and will always be a sacred sanctuary for freedom loving people. We are our brothers keeper, and her doors are open to all who want to live in peace.

(20) Anonymous, February 5, 2013 7:30 PM

Thank you.

Words are inadequate to express our Hakarat Hatov. Truly a sterling example of Kol Yisrael Areivim Ze im Ze. Chazak Va'Ematz

(19) Russell Gaddin, February 5, 2013 5:30 PM

Tme Machalniks froom the USA

Thank you for a most inspiring and beautriful story about the founding of the Israeli airforce. I do not wish to lower the level of heroism of a single one of these wonderful volunteers. The Machalniks came from all over the Jewish world, not only the USA. The South African Machalniks were the largest contingent as a % of their countries Jewish population and were very major players in the establishment of the IAF. The story of the Machalniks should not be confined to one group only.

(18) Beverly, February 5, 2013 4:38 PM

I am utterly moved to tears....Ben Gurion...

took the words out of my mouth regarding the fighter pilots being the Diaspora's greatest contribution ever to the State of Israel. Brings to mind 2 Kings 6:16 - "Those who are with us are ore than those who are with them." and from Esther - "for such a time as this." Now, off to read Weiss book - I Am My Brother's Keeper.

(17) Renata, February 5, 2013 5:48 AM


What an amazing story! I was floored by the American Jewish pilots' willingness to put themseves in so much danger and therby do a huge mitzvah to help their people. May G-d grant them only the best in their lives! They are real heros! Thank you for sharing their story!

(16) Ofra Bendavid, February 5, 2013 5:10 AM

In my hear you will never be forgotten!

Seeing this video with tears in my eyes, as I was so touched, this was new to me it made me proud to be Jewish However I couldn't help asking myself where R these kind of heart and soul and brave Jews today? as some of the Jews today R the worse enemy of the state of ISR. Thank you for your courage and help and G-d bless you all.

(15) Mordechai Rosenberg, February 5, 2013 4:42 AM

One thing missing.

I enjoyed the film and was inspired by the sacrifice of these brave men. However, as G-d fearing Jews, there is always ONE that we must include in our every effort and action. It is only because of G-d's Seyata Dishmaya (Heavenly Assistance) that this mission could succeed - not just because of "Israeli Determination to Win" as was suggested. Perhaps in the full version of this production, it would be wise to give credit where it is indeed due - and therewith create a Kiddush Hashem - raising the status of this production to a Holy offering - with just some simple recognition.

(14) Anonymous, February 4, 2013 11:00 PM

i like hoow they rembered to say they were from the usa b/c if we were not a frum site they would forget

(13) Sharon, February 4, 2013 10:59 PM

great film

Many thanks to the American pilots for their brave contribution to the survival of the State of Israel at its fragile beginning. What this film also demonstrated so clearly was the miraculous proportions of Israeil's survival. A mere 600000 people with inadequate weapons attacked by five strong armies. Who can deny God's love for the Jewish people.

(12) Miriam, February 4, 2013 6:28 PM

Beautiful Film - What Courageous Men

What an inspiring film! I wonder if I would have such courage as these young men had; risking their lives for a greater purpose. Kol Hakavod! Thank you Aish for inspiring us with this piece of history.

(11) Marion Da Costa, February 4, 2013 9:09 AM

I am sad that my father did not live to see this film, he would have loved it. He was part of the group of British Machalniks who used their experience in the British Air Force to contribute to the birth of the State of Israel although he wasn't a pilot. He often used to talk about his time there but was sad that there were so few people left in the Machal Association and that they would all be forgotten in the years to come. I am very proud of him and hope that this isn't the case.

(10) Michael, February 4, 2013 8:47 AM

A whetted appetite for more.

An enigmatic motley crew , but all displayed real character, & most seem to have developed flavor. Truth is often stranger than fiction , & sometimes it is also infinitely more interesting. The pilots here, although elderly now , display such interesting characters , that it's better than the best of movie trailers, & leaves me craving for more.

(9) Judith Herzog, February 3, 2013 10:04 PM

Thank G-d

Baruch H"m- With tears of gratitude, Thank G-d for these brave men! May they and theirs be forever blessed.

(8) Diana Farrow, February 3, 2013 9:37 PM


THANK YOU,SO TOUCHABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NEVER FORGET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(7) Michal, February 3, 2013 9:28 PM

I am very moved..

when I came to Israel for the first time in my life, it was just 13 years later. Israel was so full of life, hope, pride, Not even being Jewish by that time, I knew this was my real home, I had been longing for all the time. Every single Israeli was somehow like these brave American solders, wo came to fly one of the five old planes. I was so lucky, to be with my group in a Kibbuz, founded by young Americans.When I think back at them... they all were like these 5 young men, proud of being Jews, proud of building Eretz Israel... I was blessed, to be with them at that time.

(6) ELAINE PRICE, February 3, 2013 7:35 PM


Wonderfull, bought tears to my eyes. Well worth a look it's encouraging

(5) Chana, February 3, 2013 6:32 PM

Brought tears to my eyes.

Moshe Dayan was and is my hero.

(4) DINA HOROVITZ, February 3, 2013 5:44 PM


(3) Arthur Gilman, February 3, 2013 12:10 AM

Palestine Airline was there first!

An American Zionist named Katz, at the urging of his son, formed this precursor to an Israel Air Force in 1940. His son Fred returned to the US after the entry into WWII and joined the US Navy and became a pilot. Fred was in a crash while ferrying a new plane, and survived with serious injuries, and was partially disabled, so was not able to join the Machal.

(2) Des moines,Dave, February 1, 2013 3:31 PM

G-d bless these brave men. Were so thankful to you!

(1) Anonymous, February 1, 2013 3:43 AM



Lou, February 1, 2013 9:57 AM


This unique and fascinating film should be broadcast on TV in North America, Israel and all over the world to show the contributions of American Jews to the founding of the State of Israel.


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