I’ve enlisted in The 2017 “What if?” group build at The Airfix Tribute Forum— mostly in a desperate attempt to build some enthusiasm for model building. We’ll see if this actually motivates me to build a model.

Airfix’s old Douglas Invader is a remarkable kit from Airfix’s “Golden Age” (the 1970’s). I’m going to try to build it to represent an interesting “what if” from the history of the Israeli Air Force. Here’s the “backstory” I concocted.

In 1961 Yak Nevo, the foremost tactician in the Israeli Air Force, came up with a strategy. He made the case that instead of buying expensive new Mirage fighters, the IAF should invest in older (and cheaper) WWII-era medium bombers to do close air support, counter-insurgency and other missions where long range and high payload would be be more important than speed. Ezer Weizman, the commander of the IAF and a national hero, hated the idea but the Army and the civilian government liked it, so he was overruled. 

Eventually, Weizman received most of the new Mirages that he wanted, but he was forced to accept 20 A-26 Invaders to be used for close air support. During the Six-Day War, the Invaders were badly mauled by modern Soviet-supplied anti-aircraft weapons, just as Weizman had predicted, and over half were lost. Weizman planned to get rid of the survivors after the war–but fate intervened. Just as the war ended, a shocking event occurred that deeply rattled the Israeli High Command. A combined group of Syrian and Egyptian commandos attacked Tel Aviv from the sea, using high speed patrol boats to land forces on the shore and drive inland in an attempt to kill or capture the Israeli leadership. The attack did not succeed, but it caused the government of Israel to make the development of a long-range maritime patrol aircraft into a top priority. Fortunately, the “perfect” aircraft for the job was already available and, just then, happened to be without a mission.

So the remaining eight A-26 Invaders were sent to the Israeli Navy and modified to carry the newly developed Elta Systems EL/M-1000 radar as well as other upgrades and modifications to make them into suitable long-range patrol aircraft, and then they were re-named “IAI Nabat (‘Beholder’) Maritime Patrol Bombers.” These aircraft were extremely secret when first developed, and only in recent years have photos of them wearing their distinctive blue camouflage been available.

I’ll be building a model of a “Nabat” of the First Patrol Squadron based at Haifa in 1971. These aircraft served faithfully until replaced by the IAI “Shahat” jet patrol aircraft in 1978. 

So what does a “Nabat” look like? Well, it has a long proboscis consisting of a black radome containing the super-secret EL/M-1000 radar. I’m building this out of the radome from a Monogram F-82 kit. I’m really bad at modifying kits, but here’s the nose as it looks right now.

Once it’s all sanded down it will be attached to the A-26 to create the distinctive look of the Nabat.

The paint job will be the standard (imaginary) Israeli Maritime Patrol Scheme.


  1. Carsten

    Now that is some serious what-if modelling. 🙂
    Just looking at the heading photo had me in disbelief as to what was going on but this is great.

  2. Brushpainter

    I may morph into a “what if” modeler if I’m not careful.

  3. Carsten

    Now be carefull out there – it’s known to be addictive! 😀

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