13 Massive Air Battles That Changed World History

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Operation Linebacker, Vietnam
> Conflict: Vietnam War
> Date(s) of battle: May 10, 1972
> Combatants: United States / North Vietnam
> Aircraft used: U.S. 30 / North Vietnam unknown

By mid-1972, as the United States was weighing options for withdrawal from Vietnam, President Nixon approved of Operation Linebacker, which would focus American air power against targets such as airfields, power plants, and radio stations to disrupt the flow of supplies and reinforcements to communist units fighting in the South. During the operation, North Vietnamese MiGs engaged in combat but failed to gain control of the sky. On May 10, 1972, American pilots shot down 11 MiGs, the most in a single day of the Vietnam War.

Source: IDF Spokesperson's Unit / Wikimedia Commons

El Mansoura, Egypt
> Conflict: Yom Kippur War
> Date(s) of battle: Oct. 14, 1973
> Combatants: Israel/Egypt
> Aircraft used: Israel 120-164/Egypt 62

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel achieved a stunning victory in less than a week over its Arab enemies, predicated on destroying planes from Egypt, Syria, and Jordan on the ground. Israel tried to replicate the result during the Yom Kippur War six years later, but the Egyptian Air Force saw incoming jets and got airborne in time to fight Israeli planes. The battle between Israel and Egypt, which lasted under an hour, was nonetheless one of the longest aerial battles between jets. Outnumbered by at least 2-1, Egypt managed to down 10 to 18 Israeli jets while losing three to seven of its own.

Source: Shimon Naim / Wikimedia Commons

Operation Mole Cricket 19-Beqaa Valley, Lebanon
> Conflict: Arab-Israeli Conflict
> Date(s) of battle: June 8-9, 1982
> Combatants: Syria / Israel
> Aircraft used: Syria 100 / Israel 90

Operation Mole Cricket 19 over Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, involving almost 100 aircraft from Israel and Syria, was one of the largest air battles since World War II. Over two days, Israel shot down at least 82 Syrian aircraft without losing a single plane. Israel also destroyed 19 Syrian surface-to-air missile batteries. The battle ended in a ceasefire imposed by the U.S.

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