Arms shipments from Czechoslovakia to Israel 1947-1949

Arms shipments from Czechoslovakia to Israel 1947-1949

Between June 1947 and October 31, 1949 the Jewish agency (later to become the Israeli government) seeking weapons for Operation Balak, made several purchases of weapons in Czechoslovakia, some of them of former German army weapons, captured by the Czechoslovak army on its national territory, or newly produced German weapons from Czechoslovakia's post-war production.The Czechoslovak partner in this deal was the department of Ministry of National Defense called "Secretariat D", under command of general J. Heřman.

One of the first large contracts was signed on January 14, 1948, and included 200 MG 34 machine guns, 4,500 P 18 rifles and 50,400,000 rounds of ammunition. The deliveries from Czechoslovakia proved important for the defense of Israeli independence.

Total deliveries

(confirmed until October 1948)

Infantry weapons

*34,500 P 18 rifles
*5,515 MG 34 machine guns with 10,000 ammo belts
*10,000 bayonets vz.24
*900 vz. 37 heavy machine guns
*500 vz. 27 pistols

Other infantry weapons

*12 ZK-383 submachine guns
*10 ZK 420 semi-automatic rifles
*500 vz. 26 light machine guns (shipped, yet delivery not confirmed in Czech sources)

Ammunition

*91,500,000 7,92 x 57 mm cartridges
*15,000,000 9mm Parabellum cartridges
*375,000 13mm cartridges for MG 131
*150,000 20mm cartridges for MG 151
*375,000 cartridges 7,65mm for vz. 27 pistol

Aircraft

*25 Avia S-199 fighters
*61 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX fighters

Some of the aircraft were lost en route to Israel. The delivery of aircraft began on May 20 1948, and was conducted from the Czechoslovak airfield near the town of Žatec, which in the Czechoslovak army was known under codename Akce Žatec (Operation Žatec).

Some of the deliveries were not finished until after cessation of hostilities. Only eighteen Spitfires reached Israel prior to end of war by direct flight from Czechoslovakia (operations Velveta 1 in September (6 planes) and Velveta 2 in December 1948 (12 planes), both operations with a refueling stop in Yugoslavia.During operation Velveta 2 Spitfires were repainted in Yugoslav Air Force markings for the flight from Kunovice to Nikšić [ [http://101squadron.com/101real/spitfires.html 101st Israeli Fighter Squadron History] ] .The rest were shipped in crates, officially declared as scrap iron, along with 12 Merlin 66 engines, and deliveries lasted until the end of April 1950.

Other defense cooperation

Czechoslovakia also trained 81 pilots and 69 ground crew specialists, some of them later forming the first fighter unit of the Israeli Air Force, and on the soil of Czechoslovakia a group of Jewish volunteers the size of approximately a brigade (about 1,300 men and women) were also trained, from August 20 1948 until November 4 1948 [ [http://www.army.cz/avis/publikace/srdce_armady/osobozeni_totalita/unor_1948_voj_pom_izraelu.pdf cs iconCzech army page] ] . The Czechoslovak codename of the training was DI (an abbreviation from "Důvěrné Israel", literally meaning "Classified, Israel"). The Czechoslovakian trained ground forces didn't take part in the 1948 war.

The end of cooperation

With the rising power of communists in Czechoslovakia, as well as the changing views of the Communist Party and the decline of Stalin's support for state of Israel, the Czechoslovak government was forced to end its weapons sales to Israel.

References

ources

*Jan Skramoušský: Zbraně pro Izrael, Střelecký magazín 11/2005

External links

* [http://www.101squadron.com/ 101st Israeli Fighter Squadron History]


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