والدي كان طبيبا وتدرب في جامعه الملك في انجلترا ، وقد ولدت في عام 1940 ، ولم اكن طالبا مجتهدا في المدرسه فلم استطع ان ادخل كليه الهندسه لدرجاتي المتوسطه ، وكان لدي امكانيه لاستكمال تعليمي في انجلترا ، ولكنه فشل لان من سيرعاني في انجلترا هو صديق للعائله وكان مصري يهودي والذي ترك مصر عام 1956.
وفجأه قررت ان اكون ضابطا ، وفي البدايه فشلت في الاختبار الطبي بسبب مشكله في اسناني ، وتدخل العديد من الضباط الكبار من اقارب والدي لحل تلك المشكله واحدهم كان اللواء جمال عفيقي رئيس عمليات القوات الجويه
(( والذي اصبح اركان حرب القوات الجويه في حرب 67)) وهكذا اصبحت طالب مستجد في الكليه الجويه عام 1957
وبعد فترة التدريب الاولي في الكليه الحربيه لمده سته اشهر ، ذهبت الي الكليه الجويه في بلبيس وبدأت بالطبران علي الطائرة الزيلين 226 ، وبعد فترة طرت علي الطائرة يالك 11 ومن بعدها ياك 18 اما الطائرة الجمهوريه فقد تم تطويرها بعد ان كانت قد صممت قبل ثورة 52 لتحمل اسم الفاروقيه ، وكان التدريب شاق ولفترات طويله ، وتخرجت في عام 1959 وكان في رصيدي 220 ساعه طيران تدريبي ، وكان المتبع ان الطلبه يتم تقسيمهم الي طياري مقاتلات ومقاتلات قاذفه وقاذفات ومواصلات وهليكوبتر طبقا للياقه الصحيه والبدنيه والفنيه اثناء الكليه .
وبعد فترة قصيرة في وحده تدريب المقاتلات والطيران علي الطائرة الميج 15 تم ارسالي الي روسيا لاخذ دورة تحويليه علي الطائرة النفاثه الميج 17 ، وقد قضيت فترتين كل فترة لمده عام ونصف في روسيا وبالتحديد في قرقزيا وكان الطقس باردا بدرجه لا تصدق ، وهناك في هذا المكان المتجمد تقابلت مع العديد من الطيارين من الجنسيات المخلتفه والذين يحصلون علي دورات مماثله
وفي فبراير 1961 عدت الي مصر لمده شهرين في وحده تدريب المقاتلات ، ثم تم ارسالي الي مطار ابو صوير في سرب ميج 17 مقاتل ، وامضيت وقتا متنقلا في مطارات سيناء ، مثل ثلاث اسابيع في مطار العريش وهناك تم اختياري كمدرس في الكليه الجويه ، وقد رفض عدد من الطيارين هذا الاختيار وفضلوا البقاء في الاسراب ، واغلب من رفضوا العمل كمدرسين قناعتهم بعدم امكانيهم للتدريس ، في هذا الوقت كان عددا من المدرسين من القوات الجويه الهنديه ، لكنني سافرت الي مركز التعليم الرئيسي للقوات الجويه الهنديه في تامرام بالقرب من مدراس ، وهناك تعلمت كيف اقوم بالتدريس داخل مدرسه المدرسين الجويين الهنديه ، وقد استمتعت بوقتي في روسيا وسط عشرين طيارا مصريا
لكن في الهند اختلطت اكثر بالاشخاص المحليين وانشات صدقات عديده مستمرة حتي اليوم ، وقد امضيت حوالي خمسه اشهر في الهند من يوليو حتي ديسمبر 1962 .
وهكذا اصبحت مدرسا في الكليه الجويه ببلبيس ، وبعد فترة من الوقت كمدرب طيران اولي ، انتقلت كمدرس طيران متقدم اوقوم بتعليم الطيران علي الميج 15 والميج 17 ، وكانت الميج 17 لديها محرك افضل ولديها كميه وقود افضل ، وكانت طائره جميله في طيرانها ويمكن الاعتماد عليها
وقد ذهبت في زيارة الي اليمن لكن لم اذهب هناك بصفه رسميه كمقاتل .
وفي تلك الفترة قد تم تغيير تشكيل القوات الجويه لتشمل الويه جويه يقودها ضباط كبار والتي كانت فيما قبل تتشكل في اسراب جويه فقط ، وكنت من اوائل المدرسين الطيارين الذين طلبوا دورة تذكيريه علي الميج 17 ، وقام اخرين بنفس الشئ من المدرسين العاملين سابقا علي الميج 21 .
وكان ذلك يعني اننا مازلنا في الخدمه الفعاله في اسرابنا ، وبعد تلك الدورة التذكيريه علي الميج 17 ، وبعدها تم تعميم هذا الاجراء ليقوم كل مدرس بيوم او اثنين كل اسبوع بالطيران علي الطائرة المخصصه له في السرب ليحافظ علي كفاءته الفنيه .
يوم 13 مايو 1967 ، تم استدعائنا في مطار كبريت حيث تمركز سرب طائرات ميج 17 F وبه عدد من الطائرات من طراز PF للطيران الليلي ، ولم اكن قد طرت علي النسخه الليليه ليلا ، فقط خلال النهار
وقد تم اعاده تنظيم الميج 17 PF لتكون طائرة نهاريه مرة اخري رغم وجود ما يسمي رادار بالطائرة ، حيث ان مهمه الطيران الليلي اوكلت الي سرب طائرات الميج 21 PF
وكانت الميج 17 مزوده بمدفع 27 ملم ( المؤلف يقصد مدفعين 30 ملم ) وحوامل صواريخ علي الاجنحه والتي اصبحت فيما بعد سلاحا اساسيا في تلك الطائرة ، وتلك الصواريخ المخصصه للضرب علي دبابات العدو قد تم استيرادها من سويسرا قبل الحرب، ولم نكن في تلك الفترة نظن ان هناك حربا ، ولو قامت الحرب فلم يكن هناك شكا في انتصارنا فيها ، وقد مكثت يوما في مطار بير تمادا وتكلمت مع زميل لي
( استشهد فيما بعد ) عن زيارة الملك حسين لمصر وانضمامه للتحالف المصري والسوري واتفقنا نحن الاثنين علي ان النصر مضمون ، كنت وقتها نقيبا وعمري 26 عاما ، ولم تكن ثقتنا نابعه من شئ محدد لكن المعنويات كانت عاليه جدا .
وفي يوم 5 يونيو لم يكن لي طلعات في الصباح ، وكنت في الميس بملابس الطيران ، وفي التاسعه الا ثلث سمعت صوت فهرعت الي خارج الميس وسالت احد الجنود فأجاب بانه يعتقد انه تدريب للجيش بالقرب منا ، في تلك اللحظه لمحت طائرة اسرائيليه تهاجم المطار من الجنوب الي الشمال علي ارتفاع منخفض جدا ، ورصدت طائرة سوبر ميستير تهاجم الممر ، وقفز الي ذهني ضرورة اللجوء الي الملجأ ، جريت الي اول ملجأ وسط الانفجارات ثم سالت نفسي عما اقوم به كالاحمق ، فوجدت قائد السرب المقدم ممدوح طليبه وهو طيار ممتاز جدا ، وجدته يجري نحو سيارته فجريت نحوه ودخلت الي السيارة بجوارة وانطلق بسيارته الي حيث اقرب طائره وساعدته في ربط الاحزمه في الوقت الذي لم يكن ايا منا متأكد من ان تلك الطائرة جاهزة للاقلاع ، وقبل اغلاق غطاء الكابينه عليه لاحظت ان صمام امان المقعد القاذف مازال موجودا فنزعته بيدي .
وعلي الفور اقلع ممدوح طليبه علي الممر الفرعي للمطار ، نظرا لان الممر الرئيسي قد تم تدميرة ، وفور اقلاع ممدوح طليبه جريت بحثا عن طائره لاقلع بها ، وكانت كل الطائرات اما محطمه او تحت الصيانه او غير جاهزة للطيران ، فدخلت عنبر الطائرات في الوقت الذي بدأ الفنيين والميكانيكيه من العوده من المخابئ واثار الصدمه علي وجوهم ، فجهزوا اول طائرة والتي لم اهتم اذا كانت مسلحه ام لا ، لكن كان كل همي ان يكون بها وقود ، واقلعت من الممر الفرعي في الوقت الذي هبط فيه ممدوح طليبه مره اخري ، وطيار اخر نجح في الاقلاع وكان طالبا لدي في الكليه الجويه وقد قتل في حرب الاستنزاف لاحقا ولا استطيع تذكر اسمه حاليا .
وفور اقلاعي وجدت اعمده الدخان تتصاعد من المطارات القريبه ، وكان اقلاعي بدون اي تصريح من برج المراقبه او غرفه العلميات ، وكان تصرف فردي بحت فبدأت ابحث عن الطائرات المعاديه ، ورصدت طائره ميراج تطير علي ارتفاع منخفض جدا ، وكان اسلوب طيرانها المنفرد يدل علي انها تقوم بمهمه استطلاع لنتائج الضرب السابق ، فتتبعتها بمهارة ووضعتها في دائرة الضرب وعمرت المدفع ، ولم تخرج الطلقات ، فعمرته مره اخري واخري ، ولم يضرب ، فالتعديلات علي الميج 17 وتركيب صواريخ جو ارض عليها وهذا التعديل هو ما جعلني لا استطيع تدمير تلك الميراج في يوم 5 يونيو 1967 ، لاني لم اكن قد تدربت علي هذه التعديلات بعد ، وفي الواقع فقد قمت بتعمير المدفع ثلاث مرات والميراج امامي في موقع ممتاز للضرب ولوقت طويل لكن المدفع لم يضرب بسبب هذا التعديل الذي لم اكن اعرفه ، وكنت غاضبا جدا ومحبطا من هروب تلك الطائرة حيث تم اضافه سويتش جديد للتغير من المدفع الي الصواريخ وانا لم اكن اعلم بذلك ، مما جعلني في قمه غضبي وانا اشاهد تلك الميراج تهرب والتي كانت صيدا سهلا ، في نفس اللحظه شاهدت جسما معدنيا ذو جناح دلتا يصطدم وينفجر في مياه القناه ، فتخيلت انه احد زملائي لكني اظن انه صاروخ سام 2 مصري ضل طريقه.
وبعد نزولي حاول الطيار محمد الحديدي الاقلاع علي الممر الرئيسي ، فأصطدمت طائرته ببقايا قنبله وتحطمت الطائره ، فانطلق الطيار بالكرسي القاذف رغم ان الكرسي القاذف مصمم للقفز من ارتفاع لا يقل عن 250 قدم لكن الحديدي المحظوظ نجا من تلك الحادثه .
في وقت لاحق اقلعت بطائرة ميج 17 اخري وكانت مخصصه للطيران الليلي من طرازPF وكان رقمها 2802 وصورها منشورة هنا في المقال لاحقا .
لم يكن هناك وقت بين الطلعتين لاخذ تقرير او التنسيق مع احد ، ببساطه اخذت طائرة اخري وبمجرد تشغيل المحرك ، بدأ هجوم علي المطار ، وكنت داخل عنبر صيانه الطائرات داخل الكابينه عندما بدأت الغارة ، فخرجت مندفعا من باب الهنجر بأقصي سرعه مستغلا الحارق اللاحق للطائرة ، وكانت الطائرة تترنح من اليمين الي اليسار باندفاعي عبر الممرات الفرعيه متجها للممر الفرعي للاقلاع ، وكنت خائفا من اصطدام اطراف الجناح بالارض ، وبدون توقف اقلعت من الممر بسرعه لكن طائرات العدو كانت قد رحلت ، ممدوح طليبه ايضا اقلع تحت الهجوم ، وانضممت له وامرني بأن اكون رقم 2 له الطائرة المساعده ، وبينما هو يتكلم في اللاسلكي لمحت صاروخ سام مصري متجه نحونا ، فتفادينا الصاروخ لكن طليبه امرني بالهبوط لقرب نفاذ وقودي ، وهبط طليبه قبلي وكنت في هبوطي النهائي عندما صاح طليبه في اللاسلكي (( حافظ – طيارة وراك )) فرفعت العجل مرة اخري واعدت الجنيحات لوضع الطيران بدل وضع الهبوط واعطيت الطائرة سرعه قصوي ، وفوجئت بأربع طائرات امامي علي مسافه 100 متر ، وبدأت الدوران متأخرا قليلا ، فبدأت الطائرات الخمس في الدوران حول بعضها في دائرة كبيرة ، وفجأه وجدت طائرة امامي وجها لوجه وفتح الاسرائيلي النار علي مما جعلني غاضبا وبدأت اشتم بصوت عال من الغضب
وبدأت الدوران خلف ذلك الاسرائيلي ولكن بدون زاويه هجوم مناسبه عندما تم ضربي في الجناح الايمن ، وكنا كلنا نطير علي ارتفاع 200 الي 300 متر وتعلطت اجهزة توجيه الطائرة وبدأت الطائرة في الدوران ولم اكن استطيع توجيها جيدا لكني كنت مسيطرا ، وبدأت الارتفاع بسرعه ولم تستطع الطائرات الميراج متابعه معدل التسلق مثل الميج 17 الاسرع منهم جميعا ، وبدأت طائرتي في الاضطراب عده مرات ، وكان من الواضح ان ثلاث طائرات تفرغت لمهاجمه المطار بينما الرابعه طاردتني بأستماته
وبعد ان تأكدت الطائرات الثلاث من تدمير المطار عادت الي قواعدها وولاحقتها الطائرة الرابعه التي كانت تطاردني ، بينما طائرتي مازالت تعاني من الاصابه ، قررت ان اهبط بها بأي شكل ، وبدأت في اجراءات الهبوط وبدأت اقوم بأجراءات غير نمطيه في الهبوط مثل استخدام الدفه اكثر لموازنه الطائرة ونجحت لك الاجراءت التي قمت بها بدون وعي في اتزان الطائرة وبدون اتصال لاسلكي استطعت ان اهبط بالطائرة بسلام
كانت الميج مصابه بشده في عده اجزاء في الجناح الايمن والجزء الاسفل من الدفه مفقود تماما ، وخزان الوقود الخلفي مصاب لكن لحسن الحظ كان خاليا من الوقت فلم يحترق ، لكن كان هناك حريق بسيط في الخزانات استطعت اطفائها بواسطه نظام الاطفاء الداخلي ولو كان هناك وقود اكثر لكان الحريق مدمر ومهلك لطائرتي .
كانت الساعه قرب الثانيه عشر عندما هبطت اخيرا ، ولم يكن هناك اي نشاطات اخري في ذلك اليوم ، وامضينا الليله في فندق في الاسماعيليه في محاوله لتجميع الطيارين ، وكانت الاسماعيليه هي مركز قياده الجبهه ، وفي اليوم التالي طرنا بالطائرات المتبقيه الي ابو صوير ، في الحقيقيه فقد اقلعنا كلنا من الممر الفرعي ثم هبطنا في كبريت مرة اخري بناءعلي اوامر جديده بمهاجمه دبابات اسرائيليه بالصواريخ والمدافع ، ونظرا لانه لم يكن هناك طائرات للعدو او مدفعيه مضاده للطائرات فقد كانت هجمتنا ناجحه جدا.
وبعد الهجوم هبطت طائراتنا الاربعه بسلام في ابو صوير وفي اليوم التالي تعرضت طائراتنا للاصابه علي الارض بفعل شظايا قنابل زمنيه ، وتم استخدام تلك الطائرات لاحقا بعد الاصلاحات ، ففي الحقيقه كان لدينا طيارين أكثر بكثير من عدد الطائرات ، ووصلت طائرات جديده ميج 17 سريعا وقليل من الميج 21 ، وكان مطار ابو صوير هو الوحيد العامل في منطقه القناه ومطار محوري جدا في هذا التوقيت ، وتم اصلاح الممر الرئيسي لاحقا بأستخدام اسمنت سريع التصلب وقضبان حديد.
بعد ذلك كام همنا الاوحد ان نخفي الطائرات التي ظلت سليمه فتحركنا في عده مطارات ثم استقرينا في مطار القاهرة الدولي ( مج 73- حيث تم جمع كل الطائرات المصريه المتاحه في المطار الدولي وحولها كل المدفعيات والصواريخ المضاده الممكنه في ذلك الوقت ) وقد شعر كل افراد القوات الجويه بالغضب والاهانه مما حدث في 5 يونيو ، وقد حدث خلال الحرب ان امسكني اثنان من الضباط الزملاء من ضرب رأسي في حائط خرساني من الغضب
وايضا خلال الحرب تم ارسالنا لفندق في القاهرة وانتظرنا هناك وكان خادم الفندق في منتهي التعاطف معنا ووضع يده علي كتفي وربت عليها ، وكان ذلك محرجا لي جدا ، وطلبنا عودتنا القاعده .
وبعد نهايه الحرب كنا نطير ليل نهار بالطائرات المتبقيه لنا ، نطير في دوريات وفوق بعض مناطق سيناء المحتله ، وكان وقتا عصيبا جدا لنا ، وكرهنا جدا تلك النكات التي تم اطلاقها علي الطيارين ، وفي احد الايام نسي احد ابناء عمي انني موجود بجوارة ، وبدأ يتكلم كيف ان العسكريين وخاصه الطيران قد خذلوا مصر كلها ، فأحتجت ان اذكرة بانني عضو في العائله واجلس معه وذكرته بأفراد عائلتنا التي تفتخر بأبنائها الضباط علي مر الاجيال
حرب الاستنزاف كانت فترة صعبه جدا علينا ، فدروس القتال مستمرة والتدريبات واعمال المظلات لا تتوقف ، وتم ارسالي الي الاتحاد السوفيتي للتدريب علي السوخوي 7 ، وكانت السوخوي طائرة لا سيئه جدا مقارنه بالميح 21 والتي اعتبرها طائرة جميله جدا ، وبعد عودتي عينت قائدا لسرب سوخوي 7 في بني سويف ، وكان معي في السرب 5 طيارين فقط ذو خبرة بما فيهم انا ، بينما الاخرين لديهم ما يقارب من ثمان ساعات طيران فقط علي السوخوي 7،
وكان ذلك قليلا جدا جدا لطائره مثل السوخوي 7 ، وكنا نتدرب في مرسي مطروح عندما صدرت الاوامر لنا بالسفر الي الاتحاد السوفيتي لاستكمال تدريب السرب
كان الطيارين الصغار لديهم القدره فقط علي الطيران بالسوخوي 7 ، لكن لم يكن لهم القدره علي القتال بها حتي سفرنا الي روسيا ، وبما انها كانت فترة عصيبه جدا علينا فقد لزم علينا بعد عودتنا ان نطير مهام قتال جوي رغم ان الطائره كانت مقاتله قاذفه ، فقمت مع الطيارين المتمرسين في السرب وعددنا خمسه بالطيران في كل مهام القتال التي طلبت منا ( رغم اننا لم نشتبك فعليا ) تاركين الطيارين الجدد للتدريب علي تلك الطائرة اكثر واكثر
كانت اكبر مشكله تواجهنا هي سلسله الجبال التي تفصل بين وادي النيل حيث مطار بني سويف والبحر الاحمر ، وكانت تلك فترة نشطت فيها الكمائن الاسرائيليه الجويه حول تلك الجبال ، ولم يكن لدي مصر رادارات قرب الساحل ولا فوق الجبال ، مما يعني ان الاسرائيليين يستطيعون الدخول علي ارتفاع منخفض بدون ان نكتشفهم وبدون ان نقلع لمواجهتهم ، لذلك امرت الموجه الارضي بعدم ارسال طائراتنا شرق تلك الجبال والتي لم نكن نري علي الرادار خلفها
وعندما استلمت وحده سوفيتيه مكاننا في مطار بني سويف بعد مغادره السرب للمطار وقعت تلك الطائرات السوفيتيه في كمين وخسرت خمس طائرات (( مج 73 – موضوع الكمين للطيارين السوفيت في موضوع الطيارين السوفيت في مصر – الجزء الثاني 1971-1974 في قسم الدراسات – ترجمه احمد زايد))
ولم يتكلم الطيار مصطفي حافظ عن دورة في حرب اكتوبر عندما اسقطت طائرته الميج 21 في اواخر الحرب وقفز منها بسلام .
(interviewed in the Gabaly Hotel, Cairo 15/2/1999)
My father was a doctor, he trained as King’s College, London. I was born in 1940, but I did not work hard at school and so I could not enter the Engineering Faculty at University, because I had inadequate grades. Another possibility was that I would continue my education in England, but this also fell through. The idea was that in England I would be looked after by an old family friend, an Egyptian Jew who had left Egypt for England in 1956.
So instead I decided to become an officer, but at first I failed the medical because of my teeth. Several of my father’s cousins were, however, senior officers and they included Gamal Afifi who was then the Air Force’s Director of Operations. Some strings were pulled and I became an Air Force Cadet in 1957. After preliminary training I went to the Bilbays Air Academy, flying ab initio on the Zlin 226, with further training on the Yak-11 and Yak-18. The training was very thorough and we flew plenty of hours. The Gomhouriya had been developed and almost built before the 1952 Revolution. It was going to be called the Faruqiya.
The proceedure for Air Force cadets in 1957 began with six months in the Army College doing the same basic training as those cadets who were going into the Army. In 1958 I went from there to Bilbays, and graduated in October 1959. That was when I was commissioned. I flew about 220 hours to get my wings. When they graduated the pilots were selected for fighters, bombers, transports or helicopters. After a short time in an Operational Training Unit (OTU) flying the MiG-15UTI, I was sent to Russia. All the conversions to operational jets was done in Russia, including the courses for MiG-17s. I spent two eighteen months periods in Russia, both times (starting?) in February and both times in Kirghizia, at Lugavaya. It was incredibly cold. This was a fighter station and men from other air forces were also sent there. Other courses went to other Russian bases. I thought that this part of Russia was very backward, compared to Cairo.
In February 1961 I returned to Egypt for another two months at the OTU, then I was sent to a squadron at Abu Sueir, flying the MiG-17F. I also spent operational time in Sinai, including a period of three or four weeks in support of a squadron at al-Arish. That was where I was selected for a flying instructor’s course at Bilbays. Some of those selected were rejected during the course, mostly because it was thought they could not teach. Some of the instructors were from the Indian Air Force but they did not teach me. On the other hand I did go to the main Indian Air Force training centre at Tamram (D.N., check this name) near Madras. I was actually taught how to instruct at Tamram, the Indian Air Force’s FIS (Flying Instructors School). I had enjoyed my time in Russia where I had been part of a group of twenty Egyptians, but in India we actually mixed with the locals. I loved it there and I made a lot of long-lasting friendships which I still have today. I spent about five months there, from July to December 1962.
So I became an instructor at Bilbays. After some time as a primary trainer instructor I went on to advanced training, teaching on the MiG-15 and MiG-17. The MiG-17 had a better engine, carried more fuel and had an after-burner but basically it flew much the same. The MiG-17 was very nice to fly, very reliable and forgiving.
I did not do a tour of duty in Yemen, but I did go there in a visit. By the way, Egyptian Air Force messes were “dry.” They had served alchohol like RAF messes into the late 50s or early ‘60s, but then it had been stopped. They are still dry today. The changes to the structure of the Air Force, with the renaming of senior positions, was also completed in the early 1960s. I was also the first of the Bilbays instructors to request a refresher course on MiG-17s. Some of the others did refresher courses on MiG-21s. This meant that we would be available for active service if needed. After I did this, most of the other instructors at Bilbays did the same. Once the system of sending flying instructors to operational squadrons in Egypt was up and running, we did one or two days per week in such a squadron at Inchas. This ensured that the instructors remained fully operational pilots, but this only applied to the fighter instructors, not to the men teaching other aircraft.
During the build up to the 1967 War, on 13 May we were mobilized, I was sent to a squadron based at Kabrit flying MiG-17Fs and MiG-17PF night fighters. I did not myself use the MiG-17PF (night fighter) at night, only during the day. The MiG-17PF had actually been relegated to day flying because we now had the MiG-21PF for night fighing. The MiG-17 was equipped with 27mm (D.N., check) Oerlikon rockets which eventually became a standard fitting. But it was this fitting which stopped me shooting down a Mirage, because I had not been trained for that particular modification. I fact I reloaded (cocked) my guns three times and had that Mirage in my sights for a long time on 5th June. This was the first sortie of the war for me. The rocket rails (D.N., or pods? check) had been developed in Egypt but the rockets themselves were imported from Switzerland (D.N., check that the 27mm Oerlikon rockets were fired from rails rather than pods). They moved us around a great deal, at one time to al-Arish, then to a new airfield at al-Sur (20 to 30 kms south-west of al-Arish), to Bir Thamada, then ending up back at Kabrit again.
Just before the June 1967 War we had landed back at Kabrit on 3rd or 4th June. We didn’t really think that there would be a war, and if there was one I myself was confident that Egypt would win. A little while earlier I had been sitting with a friend at Bir Thamada - he was actually killed later - and we were talking about how King Hussein of Jordan had come to Egypt to join the Arab alliance. We both agreed that the Arabs could win. I was then a Flight Lieutenant (Captain in the Army ranks used at the time), and I was twenty-six years old. Our confidence was not based on anything specific, but our morale was high.
On the first day of the war, 5th June, I hadn’t actually flown that morning. At about twenty past eight I was in the mess, since I was due to fly later that day. No particular aircraft had been allocated to me, since this was normal in our Air Force. We flew what was available. Suddenly I heard explosions and went outside the mess, and asked people what was going on. Someone said that it must be practise somewhere. That was when I saw an Israeli aircraft attacking, very low from south to north, coming in towards the runway. It was a Super Mystere. My first instinct was to run towards a ditch, but as soon as I got there I said to myself, what am I doing here like an idiot? So I ran to the squadron bus so I could get to the squadron headquarters. There I found the Regimental CO (D.N., Air Regiment in the Soviet manner, equivalent to a Wing). He had previously been my Squadron Leader at Abu Sueir. His name was Mamdouh Taliba, an excellent man. He was actually heading for his car so I went up to the passenger door. The CO drove to the nearest available aircraft, and I helped strap him in, though we weren’t absolutely sure that this aircraft was ready to go. Just as he was about to close the hood I noticed that the safety pin of the ejector seat was still in, so I pulled it out.
I think he took off on a subrunway as the main runway had already been hit. Then I tried to find another aircraft. They were all either damaged, or being serviced, or weren’t ready to go. Then I went to a hanger. By this time the mechanics were starting to come back after having run away as the first bombs fell. That was when I took off in an available MiG-17F. I didn’t even check if it was armed, but only asked if had been fuelled. I took off on a subrunway. By that time Mamdouh Taliba had landed again. Another pilot had also managed to take off. He had been a student of mine at Bilbays, and he was later killed during the War of Attrition.
I didn’t have any plans, only to try and defend the airfield. Once I was up in the air I could see the smoke from other airfields which had been attacked. I hadn’t even cleared my take off with the control tower, I just took off. Nor did I have any idea what the rest of the squadron were doing. Then I saw something flying very low. It was a Mirage going west to east, so I half rolled in behind it. It was probably doing a reconnaissance as it was on its own and was not attacking targets on the ground. As I followed it I tried to load (cock) my guns three times, but my MiG-17 was too slow to keep up and after a while the Mirage just flew off. Of course I was angry and frustrated because I was unable to shoot down that Mirage. There was a switch in the cockpit that changed the armament from rockets to guns. And I wasn’t the only pilot to make the same mistake. Hisham Said Abdu, who was another instructor, did the same thing.
Almost immediately after that I saw something else very low with a long exhaust of smoke. It crashed into the Suez Canal. I thought it might have been one of my colleagues but in fact it was probably a SAM. Then I landed safely. Another of our pilots tried to take off using the main runway but hit some bomb damage which damaged his aircraft so that he had to eject while still on the ground. He survived but he was very lucky because the minimum height for ejecting was supposed to be two hundred and fifty metres. His name was Muhammad al-Hadidi. This happened after I had landed.
Very soon afterwards I took off again in a different aircraft. This was a MiG-17PF (serial number 2802). There had been no time for me to report or to be debriefed. I merely changed aircraft. As I started the engine the airfield came under attack again, perhaps it was the second or third attack. I was still inside the hanger, in the cockpit, when I heard the attack. I cleared the hanger doors at full throttle and afterburner. The aircraft was swerving and rocking from side to side as I turned, first to the left to clear another hanger which was facing my hanger, then to the right along a taxiway, then to the left again to cross a small railway line which ran between the hangers and the main subrunway, then sharp right onto that subrunway. I was afraid the wingtips would hit the ground. I took off without a pause and climbed as steep as I could, but the enemy had gone.
Taliba had also taken off during the attack. He joined me and told me to accompany him as his Number Two (wingman). As I was joining him I saw a SAM coming towards us. We avoided it but Taliba ordered me to land as I only had about four hundred and fifty litres of fuel left. Taliba had landed and I was on my final approach at a height of about fifteen to twenty metres when Taliba shouted over the radio, “Hafez! You have aircraft ahead of you!” So I retracted my undercarriage and flap, gave the aircraft full throttle and afterburner. The Israelis were about one hundred metres ahead of me. I counted then, one, two, three, four, so I pulled up and tried to follow the last one. But this meant leaving the turn a bit late. I should have turned earlier. The Israelis were a bit lower than me. All five of us started circling, then one came at me head on and opened fire. This made me so angry that I swore out loud. The Israeli turned to the right. I turned first to the left and then to the right to try and follow him. A head-on attack is very difficult.
That was when I was hit in the right wing. We were all flying at about two or three hundred metres. My right aileron was damaged and I continued turning right, unable to straighten out, so I gained height. The Israeli couldn’t keep with me as a MiG-17 is better in a climb. My aircraft juddered several times and almost went into a spin. I thought it odd that it tried to spin under those conditions (D.N., this was perhaps when his aircraft was hit a second time, in the tail and rear fuselage). While three of the Israeli aircraft attacked our airfield, the fourth one followed me. After the three has straffed the field, the fourth one did the same, then they all flew home.
Meanwhile I was still turning to the right, unable to straighten up. As I lined up on a runway I used the aileron trim to straighten out. This wasn’t standard proceedure. I don’t know if I invented it or maybe it just came by instinct, but it worked. I had no communication with the ground, but I landed OK. The MiG had been badly damaged. The right wing was damaged, the lower part of the rudder had mostly been shot away, the main control rod to the stabilizer was very damaged. The rear fuel tank had also been hit but fortunately it had been almost empty and although there had been a fire in the tank, and the alarm had been set off in my cockpit, I had used the fire extinguisher and this did the trick as there hadn’t been enough fuel to cause a big fire.
It was about twelve o’clock when I finally landed. There was no further activity after that. We spent the night in a hotel in Ismailia, possibly as part of an attempt to regroup the pilots. Ismailia was the command centre for the Eastern Air Defence Region. I think it was next day that I flew with our four surviving and serviceable aircraft to Abu Sueir. In fact we took off from the subrunway again, but we were soon ordered to land back at Kabrit. Then we took off to attack Israeli tanks with rockets and cannon. Since we met no enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft fire it was a success and all four aircraft landed safely at Abu Sueir, where we were supposed to go in the first place. On the other hand taking off from the subrunway
on the second day had caused some damage to the aircraft, because they were hit by stones or bomb debris.
Other pilots used these aircraft later, but not me. In fact we had lots of pilots and very few aircraft. Some other MiG-17s soon arrived and there were some MiG-21s already there at Abu Sueir. This was the most central airfield along the Suez Canal. The runway had also been repaired using quick drying cement and steel mesh. The result was adequate and could be used.
After that we were mainly concerned to disperse and save whatever aircraft we could. We moved around quite a bit, and ended up at Cairo East (Cairo International). The Air Force felt very angry and humiliated by this war. On one occasion (during the war) two of my fellow officers had to stop me banging my head repeatedly against a pair of concrete pillars at our air base. On another occasion (still during the war) I and some others were sent to live in a hotel in Cairo, but the waiter in the hotel was too sympathetic and even placed his hand on my shoulder to comfort me. This was embarrassing and so we asked to be taken back to the base.
As soon as the war was over, or a little while afterwards, we were flying night and day on our surviving aircraft, flying patrols and also crossing over into (occupied) Sinai. It was a very hard time for us. We hated all those jokes (D.N., about the Egyptian Air Force). Once my own young cousin almost forgot that I, Moustafa Hafez, was in the Air Force and he started saying how the military had let Egypt down. So I had to remind him that I was a member of his family. Most of the Air Force just got down to rebuilding, but some men got involved in a coup attempt (D.N., these were members of Amr’s clique). Some were arrested but many were allowed back into the Air Force later, including Tahsin Zaki and Showkri. In 1968 I was in command of a MiG-17 unit. Hinnawy was Commander of the Air Force and he kept us on our toes. I remember one time when I was woken up by a sudden visit by Hinnawy at half past three in the morning.
The Attrition War and that period was very hard, with high losses in combat and in training. I was sent to the Soviet Union to train on the Su-7. The Su-7 was a very unforgiving aircraft compared to the MiG-21 which was a lovely aircraft. After that I became the commanding officer of a Su-7 squadron based at Beni Sueif. Here I had only five experienced pilots, incluing myself, while the rest were new pilots with only about eighty hours flying time. This was completely inadequate for the Su-7. I and my pilots had been training at Mersa Matruh when the order came to end the course and we were all sent to Russia to complete our course. The junior pilots were just about able to fly the Su-7, but they could not fight with it as well. Because this was such a tense period, at Beni Sueif we had to fly many air defence patrols. But I was never myself in combat during this period although the five experienced pilots (Hafez himself included) did all the operational missions. It was very tiring for us but it gave the new boys a chance to train up to sufficient standard.
The biggest problem was the mountains between Beni Sueif and the Red Sea. This was the period of the famous Israeli ambush tactics (D.N., which knocked down many Egyptian aircraft). Egypt had no radars on the coast, and certainly not enough in the mountains. And the Israelis also made that famous raid when they captured a new radar just after it had been set up on the coast. This meant that the Israelis could come in low hidden by the mountains before sending up another flight
to lure the Egyptians into the air. Then the first unit would pounce on them from below. This was why I told my controller never to send aircraft east of the mountains, but to wait for the Israelis to come to us. A Russian unit took over at Beni Sueif after I and my squadron left, and very soon fell into the same Israeli ambush. I think they lost five aircraft.
(D.N. Mustafa Hafiz did not speak about the October 1973 War, when he commanded MiG-21 squadron and was shot down - ejecting safely - during the final phase of that war).
(Further information on the air combat involving Mustafa Hafiz, drawn from Egyptian and Israeli sources, and comparing them with each other)
The second wave of the Israeli air armada struck at around 10.15 in the morning of the first day of the June 1967 war. According to the Israeli interpretation of results, Kibrit had been virtually put out of action by the first wave of attacks and so it received much less attention during the second wave. Nevertheless Kibrit was attacked by Super Mysteres of 105 Squadron as well as Mysteres of 116 Squadron. Meanwhile a formation of four Mysteres from 109 squadron that had intended to attack the air-base were diverted to attack the Jordanian airfield at Amman. Seren (Reserve) Asaf Ben-Nun, the leader of this second attack from 105 Squadron did claim to have shot down a MiG-17 during the raid. In fact he was the only pilot whose claim to have downed an Egyptian MiG-17 on the first day of the June War was subsequently allowed by the Israeli Air Force. At the time, however, 105 Squadron announced that had now shot down four Egyptian aircraft over Kibrit; two MiG-17s and two Il-14s, plus a dozen MiG-17s on the ground, in exchange for the admitted loss of two Super Mysteres. The reality was somewhat different.
Captain Moustafa Hafez, one of 105 Squadron’s supposed victims, continues the Egyptian version of events. “Very soon afterwards I took off again in a different aircraft. This was a MiG-17PF (serial number 2802). There had been no time for me to report or to be debriefed. I merely changed aircraft. As I started the engine the airfield came under attack again, it was the second attack. I was still inside the hanger, in the cockpit, when I heard the attack. My aircraft cleared the hanger doors at full throttle with afterburner. The aircraft was swerving and rocking from side to side as I turned, first to the left to clear another hanger which was facing my hanger, then to the right along a taxiway, then to the left again to cross a small railway line which ran between the hangers and the main subrunway, then sharp right onto that subrunway. I was afraid the wingtips would hit the ground.
I took off without a pause and climbed as steep as I could, but the enemy had gone. Mamdouh Taliba had also taken off during the attack. He joined me and told me to accompany him as his Number Two. As I was joining him I saw a (Egyptian) SAM-2 coming towards us. We avoided it but Taliba ordered me to land as I only had about four hundred and fifty litres of fuel left. Taliba landed and I was on my final approach at a height of about fifteen to twenty metres when Taliba shouted over the radio, Hafez! You have aircraft ahead of you! So I retracted my undercarriage and flap, gave the aircraft full throttle and afterburner. The Israelis were about one hundred metres ahead of me. I counted them; one, two, three, four, so I pulled up and tried to follow the last one. But I left the turn a bit late. I should have turned earlier. The Israelis were a bit lower than me.
All five of us started circling, then one came at me head on and opened fire. This made me so angry that I swore out loud. The Israeli turned to the right. I turned first to the left and then to the right to try and follow him. A head-on attack is very difficult. That was when I was hit in the right wing. We were all flying at about two or three hundred metres. My right aileron was damaged and I continued turning right, unable to straighten out, so I climbed. The Israeli couldn’t keep up with me because a MiG-17 is better in a climb. My aircraft juddered several times and almost went into a spin. I thought it odd that it tried to spin under those conditions. (This may have been when his aircraft was hit a second time in the tail and rear fuselage, almost certain by the Israeli pilot, Asaf Ben-Nun) While three of the Israeli aircraft attacked our airfield, the fourth one followed me. After the first three has straffed the field, the fourth did the same then they all flew home.
Meanwhile I was still turning to the right, unable to straighten up. As I lined up on a runway I used the aileron trim to straighten out. This wasn’t standard proceedure. I don’t know if I invented it or maybe it just came by instinct, but it worked. I had no communication with the ground, but I landed OK. The MiG had been badly damaged. The right wing was damaged, the lower part of the rudder had mostly been shot away, the main control rod to the stabilizer was very damaged. The rear fuel tank had also been hit but fortunately it was almost empty and although there had been a fire in the tank, and the alarm had been set off in my cockpit, I had used the fire extinguisher. This did the trick as there hadn’t been enough fuel to cause a big fire.”
The net result of these air combats over and around Kibrit seem, in the final reckoning, to be two Israeli Super Mysteres shot down and one Egyptian MiG-17 damaged. Not quite the story that was published at the time, and which continues to predominate in Western accounts of the Israeli air-strike on 5 June 1967. Nevertheless the broader picture was very different from that seen at Kibrit. The Israelis had almost paralyzed the Egyptian Air Force, destroying large numbers of aircraft on the ground, plus a few in the air, and damaging many runways. The Egyptian Air Defence Headquarters was still safe inside the Muqattam Hills overlooking Cairo and here Tahir Zaki soon re-established direct radio communication with all Egyptian pilots in the air. They, however, were few and the Egyptian Air Force was now only able to keep four fighters flying patrols at all times.