9 frank fighters.
Blue sky, green earth. Bright sun , glare, sparkling on armoured glass.
The steady roar of the engine.
Sweat, the salty taste, mixing with the cold, arid oxygen, the rubber mask.
Eyes seeking, head swivelling, again, and again.
Fuchida looks up, into the sun, again. A neat trick, to probe its impossible glare, to actually look, really look, at what might be lurking there, and not to blind oneself
And he see’s them.
Epileptically shaped wings. Long narrow snouts
647 missions, and still the thrill races through him.
Spitfires, a dozen at least, sweeping the sky, seeking them.
Well, they have found them then.
He waggles his wings, circles his finger, points up.
Throttle to full, stick back, and the franks climb, climb hard.
The spits wing over, too late, the altitude advantage is gone.
Fuchida banks hard, seeking the tail of a spit, it out turns him, a shadow on the mirror, a curse, one behind him!
He straightens, pulls hard, climbs almost vertical, one eye the mirror, yet still , head swivelling .
The spit follows, counting on its merlin, counting on its design.
They climb, arrows into the sky, speed slowly, slowly washing away.
Fuchida pulls a little more, the Frank now past the vertical, now easily at 110 degrees, …..pushing on the stick now, holding her from falling onto her back, still climbing, the great blade clawing at the air…………
The spit pilot is not good enough, he does fall away, falls into a spin, belly briefly white in the sky……….and Fuchida is full rudder over, diving upon, and past, smoke in his nostrils, the spitfire hammered under his guns.
He has 8 kills now
22nd has 175
There will be many more battles over battenbang this day.
No bombs will fall upon the troops below.
The invasion of Ambon begins
The Japanese response is swift
49 oscars race in………..bomb carrying, hugging the waves.
Easy targets for the CAP
They die, almost to a man.
Another sector, clear of the diverted CAP, 50 zeros, 21 betty, 6 kates.
CVE Liscombe bay……….sunk
CVE Sangomon, 3 bombs
37 more Oscars, another hit on the Sangomon
But it is the Helens, racing in at 100 feet, that bring the real terror.
14 attack,. Flak takes down5 .But they just keep coming………….
CL Mobile Bay is hit square by two of them., the results devastating.
For the allied sailors watching, there can be no hiding from it.
They were not injured. These were not damaged out of control aircraft. These were not actions of a despairing last effort.
This was cold, calculating. Deliberate.
And that, of course, is what makes it so terrifying.
Extract from Shattering the sword, a cantona production
The allied armies spread across Thailand
Bangkok has been secured, In the east, 3 japanese divisions destroyed, another two broken, Only two now stand between them and Hanoi, the chinese.
5 shattered divisions have been driven towards Battenbang, they can wait.
The main block, at the neck to Malaya, 15th Army. Allied command swings everything it has in that direction.
But the Battenbang army is not shattered. Reinforced, re supplied , , it leaves its defences, and begins to march north.
She hugs the coast, crawling east, the tow ropes taunt.
It is an amazingly nice day.. Of the enemy, nary a wiff.