26 th June 44
Its big. Its beautiful, in its own way. Its Japans cutting edge of fighter design. And now 36 of them, Franks, to the Allies, sweep the skies over Changsa, manned by the very best pilots the empire retains.
From 20000 feet Changsa is a brown stain on the yellow plain, but on this stunning clear blue sky day, the strip complex stands clear.
And so do the fighters circling it at 15000, joining or leaving circuit.
Fuchida adjusts his mask again, shifts in his seat, flexes fingers.
LT Col Arwa waggles his wings,, the fighters begin to descend, sweeping down in a great turn to the right, cutting into the circle of P51's below.
Fuchida glances to his right, Ishawaya is there, wing man, mere feet away
And now the P51's are drifting up, swinging from right to left, rising across his nose.
he picks one, begins to bank into its turn..........they are doing 360 knots, maybe more, but so is the P51, and speed is so relevant......
The 51 banks as hard as it can, not hard enough, his fingers twitch, tracer reaches, guns hammer, Franks flashing through this flight of glistening machines, machines scattering, weaving, dying
Fuchida's target shovels smoke, flames erupt from its nose, he is past, behind it banking hard the other way, continuing the roll, diving towards another, it pulling up, and away, out.
Left banking, left banking now, seeling targets, the sky from horizon to horizon filled with machines duelling, dodging, rising to the fight, or deserting it.
The turn continues, Ishawaya now leading on his left, a p40n opposite them in the banking turn
Head swivelled left, eyes fixed......the circle closes
A 51 joins them , 500 meters behind, plenty of time
The Franks advanced flap design is winning here, the circle closes, closes, Ishawaya fires, the P40 stumbles , falls, the 51 is still hunting. hard rudder, hard stick, corkscrewing, earth, sky, eyes on the plane hunting, missing, pasing by, under, snap shot, missing, missing
But Ishawaya has not, the 51 is falling, tumbling,
barsted has two.............
It is a brawl, this fight, fighter pilot mecca, the hunted, the hunters
The 51's had challenged
22nd have replied
20 P51Ds, 12 P40ns will go down this day, and Japanese bombers will also hit the field
2 franks, but no pilots will be lost.
22nd kills rise to 76, Fuchida to 7