Torpedoe Bomber D1.308, designation Kate, off the light carrier Zuiho, races at maximum throttle a mere 20 feet above the mottled waters of the pacific.
In years, she is but a young plane, a mere 18 months since she arrived on Zuiho shining bright, smalling new.
Now, now she is old, for those 18 months have been hard, harder than anything her makers could ever have imagined.
Yet right now, her great 14 cylinder, 2 row radial Sakae engine bellows with out missing a beat. 5000 hours old is this engine now, 7 complete rebuilds, 42 head changes, countless, countless spark plugs, and cylinder number 11 that has never, ever, despite all effort, stopped leaking oil.
5000 hours old, so many battles, so many full throttle attacks................
It roars now, still defiant, still strong.
The pilot banks D1.308 ever so slightly, and the great 50 foot span reaches for the water, skimming it, but never touching it, leveling out again, going lower, and lower.
No paint remains on the leading edge now, gone , worn away by 100's of spray whipped launches, of dozens of pounding rains, of scouring hail, and even at times dust.
Nor are the wings ever so straight and true now, the port one has patches (from the sydney raid) and the starboard, every pilot will swear it true), must be twisted, must be - heavens , the way the bitch always crabs through the air...........
She does not crab now though, the enemy ship growing ever larger, larger.
Her cockpit has seen better days too, always narrow, paint is missing on its edges. The seats are worn, the grip of the stick is worn, and shining metal shows where feet and hands have rested for many hours. Its a cockpit that shouts its history of heavy use, of abuse, and battle.
Rust, corrosion, even, dares to show in spots.....
The sight, on the other hand, is new, and shining, gleaming, and set to its 36 degree off set, and the sighting lines are narrowing, narrowing as the target grows, and grows.
Under her scarred belly (Sydney, Tarawa, the DEI's can even any one remember those battles?) the great fish is nestled, waiting , waiting.
Torpedo bomber D1.308 races in, and the levers are pulled, and the fish departs.
Free of that crushing wieght, she leaps, winging away across the bow of the fat merchant man, engine roaring, wings singing glinting in the morning sun, a picture of power, of grace, of lethality.
The merchant man leaps, spasms, collapses into fire and flame and death.
D1.308 is hated and loved by those who fly her, maintain her. She rewards them with stubborness, crankiness, pools of oil on Hidaka's hanger deck........and the uncanny ability to come home.
War is brutal
But some of the machines, and I think right now, D1.308 is one, are simply beautiful.