The Israeli Air Force is now considered the best in the Middle East. But its beginnings were very precarious and humble. Its first wartime fighter missions were flown by an eclectic mix of foreign and Israeli pilots in the Czechoslovakian-made Avia S-199. This plane was a copy of the Messerschmitt Bf 109, or commonly known as the Me 109. Yes, barely after the Holocaust, the new state of Israel was fighting for its very survival, during the First Arab-Israeli War, in Nazi-designed fighter aircraft. How ironic that must have been.
This unlikely story is shown in Above and Beyond a 2014 documentary by Roberta Grossman and Nancy Spielberg, the younger sister of the famous director.
Above and Beyond follows the compelling story of the handful of Israeli and foreign-born Jewish pilots who flew the copycat Me 109 against Arab armies during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.