Doigawa is last to land, flight deck almost vanishing into the dark below him.
We have mentioned them little, our pilots of late. They have been there though, doing what they do, launching, circling, dodging the weather, circling, recovering
Eating, launching again
All are tired now, the strain stark on many faces.
This business of flying..........is no easy matter.
Not by half
Diogawa banks, hand easy on the throttle........rain beats the canopy........damnation, she is so hard to see, even at 2000 feet.
But Zuihos wake is a white arrow leading him home.
1000 feet, wings dancing, the white caps below.............lining up the lights, dropping, touch of throttle, right wing dropping, a bit of stick, ruddre, more rudder, easy, easy.........Slam!, and down, and third wire again.............
He takes a big breath, slams the canopy back -water beats in.
Men race, push his bird forward.
Hidaka greets him., face now just a floating white patch in the deepening dark. But white teeth gleam.
"My bet would be you are hungry Diogawa"
"From what, sitting on my arse all day?.......but yes, I am actually"
He joins him on the sleek wooden deck. "Where the hell are the enemy commander?'
"Running away............but I think we are going to try to catch them?'
Hidaka is right. Even as they cross the deck for the ladders below, Zuiho swings south again, the swells beating on her flank. renewed smoke pours, curls from her stack, the world vibrates about them.
Battle speed one. Full ahead all.
Into the night.