Supermarine Spitfire PRXIX Royal Libyan Air ForceEdit
Operation Musketeer (D+1) 1956Edit
His Majesty King Idris decreed in 1951 that the United Kingdom of Libya would have an air force, subsequently to that the country had relied upon the UK and the USA base within the country to protect its airspace, though as one of the world's poorest nations (oil was not discovered in Libya until 1958-9) the means to buy and operate such equipment was not specified.
King Idris's ministers approached the UK for help and a training mission was dispatched to the country, and the RAF transferred a number of aircraft to the country including Spitfires, Meteors, Lancasters and surplus civil Dakotas and C47s. Initially much of the air force was run and piloted by RAF and Reserve officers on contract, this changed quickly with a number of Libyan pilots graduating over the next few years.
During the planning stages of operation Musketeer Libya was approached about the feasibility of using bases within the country to launch raids into Egypt, Enthusiasm for the plan ran high throughout the Libyan high command and armed forces in general. With Libya stating that 24 hours after the Anglo French assault its armed forces would cross the Egyptian frontier and advance upon Alexandria!
This offer, flattering though it was, was declined and the plan modified so that only small border probes would be launched and a few over flights by the Royal Libyan Air Force would be launched.
The aircraft illustrated is one of the 3 aircraft to operate over Egypt upon the morning of the second day, it has the hastily hand applied recognition stripes (done overnight by two British ground crew) for the operation. The aircraft was on the 5th day intercepted by an Egyptian MiG and shot down.
Libya because of its support for the UK and France found itself as something of an international pariah and was one of the first none "Commonwealth" countries to join the New Commonwealth upon its formation.