Lebanese Air Force




History Page 2






Harvard T-6 (Texan)


By 1952, the air force has already chosen and ordered the de Havilland Vampire jets for its next generation of fighters.  This choice made the introduction of more capable trainers than the existing one's a necessity.  The North American T-6 Texan (Harvard) trainer became the preferred choice and in late 1952, the first 6 of the type were delivered from the UK stocks.  All of these were refurbished and by their introduction, replaced the Percival Prentice trainers that were in service since 1949. The final batch of 6 T-6 Harvards was received in 1957 and the number of the type received by the air force totalled 16 through the years.  The last Harvards were retired in 1972.









Above:  A T-6 Texan, also known as the Harvard in the UK, pictured probably before delivery to the air force.  Note that it lacks the usual serials and the roundel on the tail.






Left:  The North American T-6 trainers were received in 1952, right on time for the arrival of the de Havilland Vampires.  This one is seen sporting full colours with complete serials, roundels and the Lebanese flag on the rudder.






A present day photo shows two worn out Lebanese Air Force Harvards (T.6 Texans) at the Rayaq AF base.




de Havilland Vampire


Things were in fact progressing rapidly for the Lebanese Air Force in the early days.  Pilots were now being trained both domestically and abroad, air bases upgraded and brought to higher standards to cope with the prompt addition of newer planes.  As mentioned above, the de Havilland Vampire jets were already ordered by 1952 and Lebanese pilots were having their advanced training on the type in Chivenor in the UK and were fully ready for this new generation of twin tailed jets.  Deliveries of the first batch of 6 de Havilland Vampires, which also became famous with many other Middle Eastern air forces, started arriving in 1953 and through the years and totalled 16 in all its variants.  These comprised of 4 FB.5s, 5 FB.52s and 3 FB.9 single seaters and a total of 4 T.55 twin-seater trainers.  The single seat Vampires, which made up the first bomber squadron of the air force, served through the 60s while at least 2 twin-seater trainer Vampires remained active to the early 70s when they were finally retired.





Four Lebanese Air Force de Havilland Vampires lined up in Habbaniya Air Base in Iraq in 1957.  These were invited by the Iraqi Air Force for joint air exercises during which live shooting at gliding planes were performed.  The two Vampires in the middle show L-158 and L-157 registrations.  The Vampire on the right is believed to be a T.55 two-seater trainer (L-154).



Two photos dating from the Lebanese Independence day parade in 1962 showing a formation of 9 de Havilland Vampires (left) and a line-up of the jets at the Beirut AF base.







de Havilland Chipmunk


Despite the arrival of the T-6 Texan (Harvard) trainers, the Lebanese Air Force introduced the de Havilland Chipmunk trainers.  A total of 6 DH Chipmunk T.20s and T.30s were ordered and received between 1950 and the early 60s. These were based at the Rayaq AB where Royal Air Force instructors trained Lebanese pilots.  The last surviving Chipmunk was retired in 1974 being replaced by the Scottish Aviation Bulldogs.






Right: A photo showing the early 3 de Havilland Canada T.30 Chipmunks (L-106, L-107 and L-108) received in 1950-51.  Note the tail of the de Havilland Dove on the left.







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