There is no cool morning breeze at Biak in this pre dawn.
Just the stillness, the crushing humidity, and literally the low hum of the mosquitos, mosquitos that cloud around the small oil lamps
Its light is weak, but enough to illuminate the ring of pale faces facing the commander.
The men are still, although at times the sound of mud sucking at their feet can be heard.
The commander speaks, weariness edges his voice, weariness and not a little excasperation.
Fuchida feels it, shares it. 20 Bombers killed in a week, and still they come.........
"The enemy are invading Wewak, thus explaining their interest in this piss hole" . The Commander smiles weakly.
"Even now, I am sure, they are coming. We will fight them, but this time not alone"
There are multiple bases north of Biak, and today they will add their wieght.
But some how, Fuchida thinks, its still going to be 47th's show.
The sky has yet to pink on the horizon as he settles in, all around the field you can hear the preparations in the still air, the clink of harness, the stamp of foot on wing, the quiet jokes and conversations.
On several planes, the steady whir, whir , whir of the hand fuel pumps...........and the unmistakable clang of the 44 gallon drum being dropped on its side.
It is a good time this, this time, the time before you fly. Even now, just that, flying can stir him.
But not today. today is going to be grim, and hard, and bloody.
But they are fighter pilots, and this is what we do................
The quiet is shattererd as the engines bellow into life, and now the world shrinks to just Fuchida, his stick, the cockpit.....shrinks until it fills the entire world, for a fighter pilots world is wherever he wants to go.
Taxi, bouncing, bouncing, it is so easy to break your beast here on the ground, so many things you can do wrong.
The strip is safety, of a sort.
47th take to the air, the now rising sun glinting on the great Tigers that adorn their planes flanks, for a moment, the eyes of the tigers glint, and sparkle, the teeth snarl.
Fuchida follows his commander, here, at last , the air is cooler, cleaner, alive, wings dance, and planes bounce almost joyfully.
10000 feet, 120 miles south of Biak.
And yes, above them, 60 plus zeros
There are Navy Geaorges about as well, but they are no damn good now, their spirit has been brocken.
Tigers will do it alone
"27 liberators appraoching, bearing 190"
The radio, it seems, works today..............
And there they are........sliding past to the west the bukas, still big and bad assed at 5000 feet.
Fuchida, fighter pilot, Son of a barsted engineer who he has barely ever seen, swings his fighter towards the enemy.
Fuchida, fighter pilot, ace, and killer.
Fuchida, mere man, doing his duty, attacks
The Tigers sweep into the attack, curving in with almost suicidal detirmination
Right now, in Germany, Galland has issued orders that any man who does nort press the attack is to be court martialled.
But this is Tiger Squadron, unthinkable to allow a companion to press in closer than you, intolerable to one honour.
Get in close, get in close and kill.
Fuchida sweeps in in his turn, world vibrating, the bomber growing, growing, wings, body, swinging turret, faces, a man in the side panel, 50 calibre...guns banging, bomber huge, a spray of red, gunner spinning away, past, stick savagedly down, rising in the seat, a stunning crash , smoke billowing, metal self destructing, prop trying to tear itself off...hands flashing for the belts, canopy slamming back, air blasting, pitching, out, out, I am out! falling, falling, so easy...pull the cord you fool!, the snapping, thumping KAWAP! of chute opening..........and silence
Swallow, and hearing returns..........poor bird, there she goes.............bang!
Fuchida floats down in the silence, as the battle fades to the north. Below, ocean, meeting jungle...........and beach.
A snarl fills the air, and a Tiger races past, banks, circles, waves.
Fuchida waves back, then concentrates on his landing.
The beach is soft, glorious.
But Fuchida is no fool. he spends 15 minutes marking the sand, then fades into the jungle.
The natives here, are more than restless.
(9 liberators shot down for 3 Tigers, 5 zeros)
Fuchida will be picked up by seaplane later this day, a fortunate occurance, japan is not usually this caring of its missing men
He will fill in his log.."Shot down"
And prepare for another day.