Author Topic: Throwing One Back  (Read 5001 times)

Offline Robomog

  • ...had a very bad experience with [an] orange...
  • Would you buy a used kit from this man?
Throwing One Back
« on: June 02, 2018, 08:19:29 AM »
Hi All

I was going to enter a second model in the Allies 46 Group build, but when I started writing a small alt history the following story dropped into my head and kept expanding as I typed. when I finally got a grip on myself and stopped adding bits on, what you  read below is the final result.

The model never got built at that time, but now that I have got the story out of my head  I will complete and enter it in the upcoming Repair and Refurbish group build.

Anyways please read and enjoy, and, as always all comments and criticism gratefully received.



Throwing One Back

It was a bright day and the sun was up in a virtually cloudless sky, it was a fool’s sun, it was bright enough but had little heat. The ground remained hard as iron and the light wind still had a cold bite to it. If you could find a sunny spot out of the wind you could feel some warmth but these places were few and far between on an exposed airfield in the December of 1945.

Two men stood in front of the hanger as a sleek silver aircraft was towed from inside into the early morning sunshine, if you looked at it quickly you would say it was a Mustang but on closer examination you would realise it had two jet engines slung under the wings and in place of the propeller were two machine guns and a long cannon barrel.

One of the men was in American flying uniform, the other, was an RAF officer, he was of average height and dark haired with a classic handlebar moustache and side boards which hid some disfigurement he had  suffered earlier in the war.

“That’s one aggressive looking aircraft, sir,” said the American “and it flies like a dream.”

“Glad to hear it,” said the RAF officer “now you go and swipe a few Jerry aircraft.”

“That, I fully intend to.” replied the pilot replied with some conviction.

“Good luck.”


They shook hands, then Pilot Officer Peter Billing watched intently as the American pilot climbed in and working with the ground crew, fired up the twin engines of the Jetstang, there was a short wait for the engines to warm up and the instruments to settle then he taxied away towards the main runway, the turbines whining comfortably.

A thin ginger headed man appeared by his side.

“Hello Sergeant, a job well done, I think.”

“Very much so sir,” sergeant Bill Tanner replied “bet you wish you were flying that one, right good looking aircraft that.”

“You’re a mind reader sergeant,” Billing said “it is a fine aircraft but as you well know I copped a bullet in the lung in 1940 and I can’t fly higher than five thousand feet without blacking out.”

“Sorry sir, didn’t meant to bring back bad memories.”

“Don’t worry sergeant no offense taken, I’m just having a despondent day, I would dearly love to fly that aircraft.”

Two more men came over to stand beside them, one a big burly man with dark hair and the build of a rugby player complete with a broken nose, the other an older man of average height with a pronounced  paunch and a completely shaven head,  which was unusual for the time.

“Come to see your baby fly Guns?” said the pilot officer.

“Aye sir,” replied Corporal  Rory Cameron, the big man, what he didn’t know about aircraft cannon, machine guns or ordinance really wasn’t worth knowing, hence the nickname “I think we all put a lot into that one, it was Spark's here's brainchild after all.”

The bald man Corporal Kevin Wills, an electronics expert, looked at him and smiled.

“It was only my idea, we all made it work.” he said modestly.

“True enough,” said Billing “but still a magnificent effort to get those engines bolted to a Mustang and make it work, the test pilot said it handles well. Bloody powers that be wouldn’t let me fly it though” he finished bitterly.

He glanced back at the big hanger, a knot of people were forming in front of the hanger doors.

“Looks like everybody has come out to see it off.” he commented.

Out on the airfield they heard the turbines spool up to a roar then the aircraft was moving rapidly down the runway, it took off smoothly and climbed away, circling around it whined across the front of the hanger, waggling its wings, then flew north and disappeared over the tree line at the edge of the airfield.

The group beside the hanger gradually split up and went about their various jobs. The four men on the hardstanding watched on for a little longer then turned to walk back to the hanger.

The hanger wasn’t actually a hanger, it was a large industrial building which had been converted into a hanger by knocking an end wall down and installing a large pair of doors and a lot of bracing to keep the roof up. It was a building that had escaped any bombing and only suffered superficial damage when the allies had rolled across the area, now it was some way behind the stalled front line and totally ignored by the Germans as it appeared to be the graveyard for old airframes and military vehicles, nothing worth a bomb or bullet.

But that belied its true purpose.

Initially it was a store for captured German technology, either hidden in the depths of the massive hanger or stored in large out buildings that appeared to be derelict but were in fact totally usable. Some equipment was hidden in plain sight within the discarded aircraft at the perimeter of the airfield, or with others in the adjoining field, their outlines carefully disguised against photo reconnaissance from above.

But then it acquired a second purpose, and that was secretly adapting aircraft or military vehicles for one-off special requirements that were needed quickly and could not afford to be bogged down by bureaucracy, committee or red tape. They had done a number of adaptions to fire heavy rockets from fighter aircraft or mount heavy cannon on a variety of trucks for anti-aircraft work. Their crowning glory to date was to graft Jumo jet engines onto a pair Mustangs in an effort to intercept high flying Arado 234’s.

Their current, less glamourous, project was to adapt a tired Wellington bomber to transport captured V1 flying bombs back to England for evaluation by attaching them onto the back of the Wellington piggyback style. That way they could be flown into a secure airfield away from prying eyes.

As the four men reached the hanger battered aircraft were being dragged in front of the doors to make it appear as though the building was not in use. A Spitfire with a bent propeller, no wheels or a tail had already been wheeled into position on a trolley hidden under the belly and an engineless P-38, nose in the air, was sitting on a hidden tailwheel under the elevator and was being towed into a place next to it, some apparently derelict trucks would be trundled into position later.

They entered the hanger through a side door, inside was the Wellington brightly illuminated by overhead lights, the aircraft had been stripped of all its gun turrets and beam guns along with any other equipment that was not required. On its back was a box section the underneath of which had been braced internally onto the top of the bomb bay for support. The tail fin had been removed as they believed the V1 on its back would disrupt the air flow across the rudder. In its place some tail fins had been grafted onto the top of its horizontal stabilizers, these were in turn braced against the fuselage for stability. Behind the aircraft were a number of complete V1's on wooden cradles and either side unassembled rockets in component form, racked wings, main bodies and rocket engines on cradles. Crated parts were stacked against the wall along with wooden boxes full of loose parts.

“Poor old girl, what a miserable way for an aircraft to end up,” said Billing “instead of going out in a blaze of glory it end’s up like a mechanical donkey.”

“I’ll have to disagree with you there sir,” said Sergeant Tanner replied “goin’ in a blaze of glory normally  means somebody gets the chop as well, best to have a long and unopposed life.”

“You’re right of course Sergeant, but this one has seen some action, the bomb tally on the nose for a start and the battle damage repairs we found when we started stripping her out. Mind you I still can’t work out why they called her ‘Gerti’.”

“No, I can’t work that one out either sir.”

“It still strikes me this is not the way for an old warhorse to end up,” he paused for a short reflection then decided to get on with the job in hand “OK Sergeant let’s get a V1 on her back so we can check the structure can take it.”

“Yes sir.” Tanner replied, then to the men “OK lads lets get one of those ugly bastards loaded, Sparks, Guns, get ready with the anchor bolts.”

Lifting chains were attached to the closest complete V1 and the massive overhead crane easily lifted it up and took it to a position above the Wellington. From there it was gradually lowered onto the box section on the back of the bomber until the holes in the metal plates welded to the rocket lined up with holes drilled into the box section. With a minimum of hammering the bolts were passed through the structure and the nuts spun on and tightened with a long spanner, split pins were inserted into a hole drilled in the bolt and bent over to stop any vibration loosening the nuts.

There was a little bit of creaking as the bomber took the weight and the undercarriage sank a little, but on the whole it seemed to sit fine.
The airframe was checked thoroughly by the airmen and found to be sound.

“Looks like the structure is taking the weight of the rocket OK sir.”

“Well done Sergeant,” Billing replied “we will let it sit there for a while and check it again, then we will be ready for flight testing.”

He looked at the Bomber with the rocket on its back for a while then said to no one in particular.

“Damn shame we can’t throw one back at them.”

“Sorry sir, didn’t quite get that.”

Billing started “Did I say that out loud?”

Sergeant Tanner smiled “You said something sir.”

Billing smiled in turn “I said ‘I wish I could throw one back at them’ Sergeant, thinking out loud again.”

The Sergeant was grinning wildly “Hold that thought sir,” he said moving off excitedly “I need to talk to someone urgently.”
He ran off and shortly came running back with Guns and Sparks in tow.

“Sparks,” he said “Mr Billing here would like to throw one of these rockets back at the Germans, what do ya think?”

“I think we could pull it off,” he replied.

“Are you completely doolally Sparks?”

“No sir, think about it, we’ve got the V1 onto the Wellingtons back, it will take the weight, the fin is out of the way so we can run the engine.”

“We need to account for the fuel.” warned Guns

“We do, but we can balance the weight of that against the Wellington’s fuel, we don’t have to fly far to launch it, we just need to get height to launch.”

“We also need to design something to push the rocket off the aircraft,” Sparks continued earnestly “we can’t afford to let them separate on there own, you won’t be able to guarantee a clean launch.”

“That’s torn it,” said Sergeant Tanner “we can’t possibly lift all that weight off the aircraft.”

Sparks was smiling knowingly now.

“Actually no,” he replied a little smugly “as long as we get the Wellington over two hundred miles an hour, it will start to take its own weight and fly by itself, so all we need to do is design some sort of trapeze to push it off cleanly.”

“I take it back, Sparks, your not doolally, this is genius, do you have any idea how we make the trapeze work.”

“I’ve done some rough sketches sir, basically four hydraulic rams push the platform up and forward, it will be hinged at the two ends and in the middle. It will be held on by clamps which are pushed out when the platform rises.”

“Is this your work?”

“It’s more a combined effort sir, me and the lads talked it over and I put all the ideas together, I think it was the Sergeant’s brainwave in the first place.”

“Genius,” Billing said again “could I take these for a bit, I want to sell this to the CO. I really think we could pull this off.”

“Of course sir, give it the hot sell.”

“That I will corporal, that I will.”

The officer took the rough plans and walked across the base to the commanding officers office.

He tapped the commander’s door.

“Come in!”

Pilot Office Billing opened the door into a spartan office, containing a desk, a filing cabinet, a hat stand and a few chairs. Only one non standard picture hung on the wall depicting a Hawker Fury biplane in flight, the far end of the room was a jumble if various components and crates.

Sitting at the desk was a balding man in his late forties. Billing snapped to attention and saluted his senior officer, Squadron Leader Sykes, who returned his salute.

“Hello Billing, sit down and take your hat off you know I hate formality.”

Billing complied and sat down, removing his hat at the same time and flinging it expertly onto the hat stand.

“That’s better, now, what can I do for you you’re looking pretty fired up about something I can tell.”

“Well sir, the men have come up with a crazy idea to fire a V1 back at the enemy.”

Normal officers would have laughed him out of the office at this point, but Sykes was far from normal, eccentric and non conformist would be a better description, which is probably why he was running this semi-clandestine department.

“Really?” he said “and how do you propose we do that?”

Billing showed him the drawings and explained the method of launching the rockets, Sykes looked at the drawings.

“How many were you intending to fire?”

“Just the one sir, the ‘Secret Squirrels’ might miss them if we took more.”

The term ‘Secret Squirrels’ had been coined by Sparks when they started doing work for the SOE, it became the adopted the code word for hush-hush requests.

“They wouldn’t you know,” said Sykes, warming to the idea “there was no inventory taken, they arrived in a rush, filled up the hanger then buggered off without so much as a by your leave. Trying to keep it hush-hush. A week later a Wellington arrives and orders for us to convert it to a transport, the complete rockets to be ferried intact on its back, you know the rest. We were lucky it fitted through the doors of the hanger.”

“Only four have warheads sir, but I recon the men could assemble at least two with empty nose cones to replace them, possibly three.”

“Excellent, let’s do it, I’m getting a bit bored being stuck here doing nothing, it would be nice to go on the offensive for once, have you got a crew for the Wellington?”

Billing was suddenly silent.

“Shit.” he said simply “we hadn’t thought of that.”

Sykes looked at the drawings, then looked up at Billing.

“Any reason why you can’t pilot this yourself.”

“Only my lungs sir.”

“I know you can fly, Billing. I’ve seen you jump into the Magister for a ‘test flight', what did you fly before you copped one?”

Billing looked a little sheepish, “You don’t miss a trick do you sir.”

“Not on my base I don’t, well, what did you fly?”

“Blenheim fighters sir, then Hurricanes, you know my service ceiling is limited? “

“I don’t think it will matter, these things are normally shot off the ground anyway” he paused “so you have flown twins, do you want to give the Wellington a shot?”

“Yes sir, most certainly, but I will need some crew, at least one co-pilot/engineer and probably two others to launch the rocket.”

“Have a word with Sergeant Tanner he was a flight engineer before he came here and I reckon the two corporal's, Guns and Sparks, will be happy to be your launch crew, it was their brainchild after all, so I think they would like to be involved.  If you really want to do this we will take the V1 off and let you get used to flying the Wellington, then we will bolt the thing back on again and you can test fly that while we fabricate the launch mechanism. This is a capital idea you’ve sold me, are you happy to run with it? You will have my complete support and backing.”

Billing was a little taken aback by the speed of events, he knew Sykes well and they had the best working relationship but even he did not expect the proposal to be accepted so quickly.

“Yes sir,” he stammered “I must make sure I have my crew first, then we will get stuck in.”

“Good man, if you need anything just shout, off you go.”

Billing retrieved his hat and the drawings, saluted his superior officer then hurried back to the hanger.

On receiving the news there was a great cheer from all the men involved, Sergeant Tanner gladly accepted the post of flight engineer and the two corporals jumped at the chance to fly and launch the V1's. While the rocket was off loaded from the back of the Wellington Billing dug out some pilot’s notes and swotted up on the operation of the aircraft.

Construction was started on the launch apparatus, while the base plate was being marked out others started scouring the scrap heap for suitable components for the hydraulic system.

Sparks and Guns meanwhile went back into the Wellington to find any more equipment they could strip out to lighten the aircraft without compromising its structural integrity.

By midday the aircraft was ready Billing and Tanner donned their flying suits and climbed into the Wellington which had been towed from the hanger previously.

After doing the pre flight checks they started the engines.

“Do you still want to go ahead with this sergeant?” said Billing as they sat in the shaking aircraft “this could be a bit dicey.”

“I have every confidence in you sir, just don’t ram the scenery.”

“I will try my best Sergeant. “

“I wouldn't expect anything less sir.”

Billing waved away the chocks, advanced the throttles and they taxied away from the hanger.

They didn’t take off immediately, instead Billing  spent some time running up and down the taxi track to get used to the size and ground handling of the aircraft, This was followed by a couple of fast taxis to take-off speed down the main runway, again, to get the feel of the aircraft.
When he was satisfied with the handling of the aircraft Billing advanced the throttles and took off into the afternoon sky. They flew around the base for the next hour or so practicing turns, dives and wing overs until Billing was satisfied he could fully handle the aircraft. He returned to the airfield and performed a bumpy but successful landing. Not happy with this he taxied back to the head of the runway and took off again to do a series of circuits and bumps until he could land the Wellington cleanly. When he was totally confident flying Gerti he landed and returned to the hanger to be met by all the airmen working on the project, as the pilots climbed out of the aircraft the crowd burst into a round of applause.

“They must all of known.” said Billing.

“Word gets around sir” replied Tanner “it’s a small community.”

Billing whipped off his flying helmet and made a theatrical bow

“Thank you all,’ he said to the crowd “It feels great to be back in the driving seat again.”

“We can see that,” said Wills from somewhere in the front row

 “How so?”

“It’s the Cheshire cat grin from ear to ear, sir, dead give away.”

The weather delayed them for a couple of days but finally the day dawned cloudy but clear, the wind had dropped to a whisper and they spent the morning lifting a V1 onto the back of Gerti and bolting it down. The Wellington was towed out of the hanger ready. Billing and Tanner changed into their flying gear and walked out to the plane to find they were not alone, Guns and Sparks were already waiting at the entry hatch.

“This take off is going to be very hairy chaps, the warhead has no detonator but it could still go bang if I prang Gerti, do you really need to be on this flight?”

“I do skipper,” said Guns “I need to observe the structure under the rocket while it’s in the air.”

“So do I skipper.” said Sparks.
“And what’s your excuse?”

Wills looked left and right as if looking for something “err... ballast?”

Billing shook his head, smiling, as the others laughed “I’m surrounded by mad men,” he said “this is your last chance to walk away, if I get this wrong we will all end up paying harps.”

“As long as they give the Sergeant a piano I don’t mind, he’ll sound better on that.” said Corporal Wills.

“OK, right, thank you for your confidence and support, let’s get Gerti off the ground.”

Following a similar routine when he first flew Gerti, Billing first got himself used to taxiing the Wellington with the load on its back followed by a couple of fast runs to take off speed. The handling was as expected so he committed to a full take off. With engines blaring at full power the Wellington seemed to take forever to un-stick but it took to the air before it reached the pierced steel planking extension at the end of the runway, the aircraft slowly climbed away tucking up its wheels as it went. The Wellington was thoroughly tested in the air and although heavily laden bore the weight of the V1 easily, it could also get up to a speed where the rocket could be launched. Examination of the structure showed no ill effects. When manoeuvring it had to be slow and steady as they found that the weight of the rocket high on the back of the bomber had a pendulum effect on the handling, especially when banking. Satisfied they had a viable platform to launch the rockets Billing returned to the airfield and landed successfully first time.

The Wellington was returned to the hanger and remained there for the next three weeks while the release mechanism was constructed and installed. It was then that someone realised that if they fired up the V1's Pulse jet it would roast the fabric on the back of the Wellington, so the work force descended on the aircraft graveyard again to recover some aluminium sheet to rivet onto the geodesic frame. The result was the most bizarre camouflage pattern anybody had ever seen, somebody offered to overspray it but the aircrew stopped them as they all unanimously decided that the crazy paint scheme should remain, after all Rory Cameron pointed out, it would only be needed for four times.
The day finally came to launch the first V1, the atmosphere in the hanger was crackling, this time it was for real, the rocket had been carefully placed onto the launch mechanism on the back of the Wellington that morning and was now armed and fuelled.

Virtually everybody on the base was there as the flight crew and the station commander walked out to the waiting aircraft.

“Well, I can’t give you any advice because you know more about it than me,” said Sykes “just get the damn thing off the ground and come back in one piece, that’s all I ask.”

“We will do our best sir.” replied Billing.

“Aye sir, over the top as they used to say,” said Cameron.

The four airmen saluted in unison and Sykes returned the salute. Without any further comment the crew entered the aircraft and the Station Commander returned to the hanger with the other men.

Billing started the engines and let them idle while everybody went through their checks.

“Everything OK, Sergeant?”

“All checks complete sir.”

“Everything OK in the back?”

“Were ready sir, hydraulic pressure for the rams is a little low, we will top it up in the air.”

“OK, let’s get going.”

With that Billing released the brakes and advanced the throttles, moving Gerti slowly forwards onto the taxiway the engines chugging comfortably. Once at the end of the runway he swung the aircraft straight and after a few final checks accelerated down the runway, the Wellington took off heavily its engines blaring.

They all felt the aircraft lift off, the rumbling of the undercarriage ceased and the ground began to drop away. Billing retracted the undercarriage then slowly climbed the Wellington up to height. As they travelled to a safe area to launch the V1 Guns and Sparks took it in turns to work the handle of a hydraulic hand pump to bring the pressure in the release mechanism up to its working limit.

“I know we are throwing the V1 at Berlin,” said Billing to the plane in general “but what’s the actual aiming point.”

“Templhof,” Sparks replied “we figured that if we got our sums right I would make the most impact and if it drops short or either side we will still hit Berlin.”

“Makes sense,” agreed Billing “standby, were up to height, I’m bringing her up to maximum speed”

Billing pushed the throttle levers to there farthest extent and they heard the sound of the engines climb a few decibels.

“Confirming speed and course good,” said Taylor.

“All ready in the back, pressures good.”

“OK, light her up.”

This was the most dangerous part of the mission, they had not been able to test the engines on the ground, the trapeze would work, they knew, but if the engine would not start they were stuffed, or worse if it malfunctioned with it tanks loaded with fuel and a live warhead, it was possible they would disappear in a thunderclap and a black cloud of smoke.

Sparks pressed the start button, there was a short pause while the fuel was pumped into the V1’s combustion chamber, then it ignited, the sound inside the aircraft was deafening, the bubbling roar setting up some unpleasant vibrations in the airframe. They also felt a kick as the rocket motor started to push the Wellington forward.

“Let’s go for release!” Billing shouted over the noise “release in 3, 2, 1, release!”

On the word release billing dropped the nose of the Wellington while back in the fuselage Guns heaved on the release leaver, surprisingly there was no metallic clang, but a slow steady push to the end of its movement, the V1 parted cleanly. Inside the aircraft everything became relatively silent.

“Rockets away and flying,” said Sparks watching from the waist window, his voice sounding unnaturally loud “its wobbling a bit though, ah hang on the giro's taken control, successful launch, it’s flying!”

Billing reduced throttles back to cruise and flew after the rocket, they all crowded into the cockpit to watch the V1's fiery trail disappear towards the horizon. When it had become a glowing dot in the distance Billing banked the aircraft away to fly back to the airfield.

They hadn’t seen the V1 fly from the airfield but it was obvious as the aircraft circled the airfield to land that the launch had been successful.

On landing Gerti was quickly pulled into the hanger and all the decoys dragged into place outside.

The work force surrounded the aircrew to congratulate them and pump them for information, seemingly from nowhere bottles of beer began to appear and the return started to become an impromptu party.

The Station Commander appeared at the far end of the hanger.

“Officer present, ten-shun!”

All the beer bottles magically disappeared, one of the riggers quickly whipped away the aircrew’s bottles and silence descended as all the personnel in the hanger came to attention.

“As you were,” said Squadron Leader Sykes “stand easy!”

 He approached the four airmen and shook their hands in turn.

“Well done lads, hopefully you hit something worthwhile,” he paused and looked around the hanger “Jenkins where’s my beer? I need to celebrate.”

“Beer sir?” said Jenkins innocently.

There was a guilty silence, “Oh come on man, it’s all kept in the blue steel locker over there, and give the aircrew their bottles back they must be thirsty too!”

The implication of what he said struck home and a bottle was found, the pilot’s beer materialised in their hands and all the other bottles came out of hiding, the party atmosphere returned.

Sykes turned back to the aircrew, took a swig of his beer and winked conspiratorially.

“I think I’ve told you before, I know everything that goes on at this station.”

He took another swig from the bottle.

“We will give it two days before we launch the second one, I want to see if anything is reported, but that is unlikely, the allies will see a V1 going the wrong way and ignore it, the Germans won’t say anything or report it as something else, an accident or something, we shall see.”

They waited two days and as the Station Commander predicted there was nothing reported that could be construed as a V1 strike so they went ahead with the second launch. This one was fired over the airfield at dusk so that all the personnel involved in the project could see the fruits of their labours. The third V1 was launched in the same way two days later.

They were delayed by the weather for a few days and following the two dusk launches the station commander decided that the last launch should be at dawn so that a pattern could not be built up.

 Gerti was loaded for the forth and last time early that morning and as the first light was beginning to show on the horizon the lights in the hanger were doused before opening the hanger doors. The Wellington was pulled from the hanger and turned to face the taxiway. The aircrew boarded the aircraft and working with the ground crew started the engines one by one. It was bitterly cold at that time in the morning so by the time the engines were suitably warmed the sky had lightened considerably.

After final checks the wheel chocks were waved away, Billing pushed forward the throttles and the Wellington moved forward as the engine noise increased. Inside the aircraft the crew were relaxed as the aircraft trundled along the perimeter taxiway towards the main runway.

 “I’m going to miss this.” Billing said to the Sergeant sitting next to him.

“Ah think we all will sir,” Sergeant Tanner replied “but I’m pretty sure the Station Commander will find you some more flying work after this”

“I hope so, I..............what’s that?”

An incandescent red flare was bouncing off the frozen ground to their left, another two were arcing through the air behind it, something flitted past at the edge of his peripheral vision high up, and there was a puff of black smoke near the buildings.

“Jesus Christ 109’s,” shouted Tanner “the airfields being attacked!”

Three Messerschmitt 109's had flashed across the airfield perimeter and unloaded their bombs randomly across the base and were now turning back to attack with their cannons.

Billing instantly regretted taking the radio equipment out of the Wellington,  they would not have heard the sirens or the sound of enemy aircraft over the rumble of there own engines, with no radio to warn them some quick thinking individual had fired the flares across his nose to get their attention.

Two of the Me 109’s screamed back across the airfield perimeter, the trailing aircraft saw the taxiing Wellington at the last moment, banked tightly and gave it a burst of cannon and machine gun fire in the hope he might hit something with its cone of fire, before Billing could react Gerti was struck by a stream of bullets and shells that lashed across her tail and slapped through the fuselage creating a number of holes and torn fabric but doing no significant damage.

Billing chopped the throttles and stamped on the brakes, the Wellington ground to a halt engines idling.

“Abandon aircraft, everybody out, quickly now, it won’t take them long to circle back!”

Guns and Sparks were already at the escape hatch, it fell away and they swung themselves to the ground to wait for the rest of their comrades.

Tanner had unbuckled his seat harness and climbed from his seat before he realised Billing hadn’t moved, he was watching out of the window with his hands on the throttles.

“Come on sir, no time for heroics.”

“Get out now Sergeant, I have to get Gerti and the bomb as far away from the station buildings as I can.”

“I’ll stay and help.”

“No Sergeant, get clear, that’s an order!”


“Bill, please, get clear,” it was rare for Billing to use first names so his request held more gravity than shouting “I’m going to set the controls and throttles for a fast taxi, then jump. I need you out of the way, please go.”

“OK,” Tanner conceded “but make it quick.”

“I will.”

Tanner moved to the hatch and swung down onto the tarmac, as he did so the engine pitch increased and the Wellington started to move again. In the background the could hear the belated wail of the air raid siren and the first anti aircraft guns started opening up.

“Where’s skipper!” Guns shouted over the noise of the engines.

“He’s going to get Gerti out of the way!” Tanner replied “run with the plane in case he gets into trouble, let’s go!”

The three men set off after the gradually accelerating aircraft, trotting just behind the wing. After a minute or so they saw Billings legs appear then swing himself from escape hatch, he misjudged the speed of the aircraft, landed awkwardly and fell onto the concrete runway. His colleagues ran in and pulled him clear before he could be hit by the tailwheel or brained by the tail plane.

As he got to his feet he groaned in agony and fell to the ground.

“I think I’ve broke my ankle” he said between gritted teeth, without a word Guns and Tanner picked him up and started a fast hop away from the departing aircraft.

“Hurry!” said Sparks who was watching the sky “The 109's are coming back, head for that gun position.”

The two Me 109's dived in towards the bomber again, the first one giving the airmen a burst before turning on the Wellington, they all dropped to the ground as bullets lashed around them then got up quickly when the Messerschmitt’s had past over their heads gaining the relative safety of the gun position. Guns and Tanner were limping now as they had taken some shrapnel.

They watched as the leading fighter poured bullets into Gerti exploding in a line on the concrete then tearing chunks out of her body and wings, one of her engines started smoking, but she absorbed it all and kept moving forward. The second Me 109 followed quickly afterwards, undistracted by attacking the fleeing aircrew he hammered shells into the Wellington, the moving aircraft appeared to be disintegrating under onslaught there was a puff of black smoke and a dull thud as leaking fuel ignited. The Me 109 was still shooting into the Wellington when in the blink of an eye Gerti disappeared in a massive explosion, a black cloud rapidly climbed into the sky, unable to react in time the Wellington’s attacker flew into the expanding cloud, it came out the other side in pieces, the largest recognisable parts being the wings which fluttered slowly to earth.

Despite the protection of the gun position the airmen had been thrown to the ground by the blast wave, as they scrambled back to their feet, ears ringing, their attention was drawn back to the buildings and the deep repetitive sound of the Bofors gun firing at the attacking aircraft, interspersed with staccato rattle of Lewis guns. The returning 109's, braving the fire coming up from the ground, strafed on the gun positions until they fell silent.

“What are they doing?” said Billing “why are they not attacking the hanger”

“No idea.” replied Tanner.

“That why!” said Guns pointing to their right at six twin engined aircraft, low on the horizon “They are knocking out the anti aircraft guns for the bombers to have a clear run”

“Me 410's,” said Sparks “They are going to bomb the shit out of us!”

The Bofors started firing again, proximity shells now, bursting black around the incoming bombers, only to be silenced again by a fighter sweep as they watched the bombers split into pairs and start their attack run.

The first pair were almost in front of them when there was a loud crack and an explosion on the wing of the leading aircraft milliseconds later the wing folded and the aircraft crashed onto the airfield, two strings of tracers streamed into its wingman causing it to drop its bombs prematurely and break off its attack.

The roar of jet engines close overhead pushed the airman to the ground as a silver, shark like, shape whooshed over their heads.


Far to their right the second Jetstang was attacking the next pair of Me 410's causing them to scatter. A Me109 turned to give assistance but flew into the concentrated stream of fifty calibre bullets which riddled the fuselage with holes, cutting flying wires and killing the pilot. The 109 fell to the ground crashing amongst the field of derelict aircraft before exploding. Delayed action bombs from the first wave detonated on the airfield. The second pair of Me 410’s unloaded their bombs randomly across the airfield buildings before dropping to treetop height and jinking  away from the target area, dodging tracers from the newly revived anti aircraft batteries.

The last pair of bombers saw their chance to hit the target as the Jetstangs shot past in front of them, they were well away from the target but knowing it would take time for the jets to circle round to engage them, they went for broke. To their left the airmen saw men running and a number of military vehicles drove onto the perimeter road and past them at speed, they were all armed with adapted aircraft cannons on pintle mounts or heavy machine guns in aircraft turrets also adapted to be fired from a truck.

“Bloody hell!” said Sparks as they drove by “They’ve cleared out the workshop.”

“That’s my boys,” said Guns proudly, shaking his fist “give ‘em hell lads!” he roared over the noise of the engines and gunfire.

The trucks did not stop to fire but raced down the runway throwing up a barrage of explosive shells at the approaching aircraft hoping at least to put them off their aim.

The enemy aircraft came on, getting hit repeatedly by the concentrated ground fire, the Jetstangs were almost through their turn but were not yet in a position to attack, one of the trucks managed to stitch a line of twenty millimetre cannon shells into the leading aircraft, tearing chunks out of the wing and setting light to the aircraft, it continued its attack run but before it could release bombs the fuel tank exploded destroying the aircraft which fell in pieces to the ground. The last Me 410 its bomb doors open ignoring the barrage, bore down on its target, zooming past the sheltering airmen and  holding back the point of release until it could physically throw the bombs through the hanger doors.

Just seconds before the pilot pressed the release button the cannon armed Jetstang completed its turn and at extreme range started firing its thirty seven millimetre cannon. It was a desperate move as it only had four shots left, but that day the American pilot ‘got lucky’ two large shells hit the Me 410, the first punched through the tail skewing it sideways allowing the second to impact the cockpit and explode, the bombs were thrown from the aircraft as it spun onto the runway, they flew towards the hanger but glanced off the brickwork and fell between some adjoining buildings before exploding. All the windows of the hanger were shattered and a corner of the roof was lifted but the building stood firm. At the same time the Me 410 crashed to the ground and skidded towards the hanger doors but hit the decoy aircraft and vehicles in front of it and was stopped short before it could do any damage.

All firing ceased, the remaining Me 109 had made itself scarce. The Jetstangs pursued him for a few miles but the enemy aircraft had gone ultra low and lost himself in the trees. The Jetstangs  gave up the chase and formed up to return to the airfield and make a victory fly past across the airfield, waggling their wings, to the cheers and waving of the men below before flying off to their base further North. The whine of the turbines was soon replaced by the sound of crackling fire overlaid by alarm bells from the fire trucks and ambulances.

Billing limped out of the gun position and gingerly lowered himself onto one of a number of empty packing cases that had been left in front of the bunker and rested his back against the outer wall, the others followed except Tanner who started to apply a splint to Billings damaged ankle using some discarded timber and cloth strapping he had found at the back of the gun position.

It was still bloody cold but the sun as up now providing a modicum of heat to their sheltered spot.

Billing suddenly started laughing.

“You OK sir?” enquired Tanner looking up from his work thinking this was some sort of delayed shock.

“I’m fine Sergeant, speaking selfishly and broken leg aside, I'm happy. I got back to flying and Gerti went out in a blaze of glory, killed no one and took her attacker with her.”

Tanner finished his administrations and sat down with the others to wait for someone back on the base to realise they were still out on the airfield and send some transport.

Presently the anti-aircraft Lorries came racing back up the taxiway and a six by four truck screeched to a halt opposite them.

“Well?” said the Station Commander leaning nonchalantly against the twin twenty millimetre cannons “are you going to sit around all day or do you want a lift back!”

“If it’s alright with you sir I’d rather stay here.” replied Wills.

“Get in the truck you cheeky sod!”

Helping Billing limp to the lorry the all climbed into the back and made themselves as comfortable as they could among the spent casings and discarded drum magazines. Sykes shouted some instructions to the driver and the lorry slowly pulled away.

“Seems to be a lot of fires,” commented guns “looks like they did more damage than I thought.”

 “All the important ones are out,” replied Sykes “we are leaving the others to burn and lighting some of our own with additional smoke drums for the benefit of their photo reconnaissance, let them think they hit us hard.”

“Good strategy.”

The lorry hit a bump and caused the casings to move and jingle.

“And we need to devise some way of diverting or catching these casings, after emptying the first magazine we were sliding all over the place, poor Smith in the cab went over on one and cracked his shoulder”

“Did you get one of them?” asked Guns

“Unfortunately not, shot bits off them but the prize goes to the other lads” replied Sykes, there was a pause “you know what this attack means don’t you?”

Shaking heads and shrugs.

“We hit something, and we hit something big!”

“Hit something?” said Guns sitting next to him “you can’t be certain.”

“As certain as I’ll ever be,” Sykes replied “think about it, we have never been attacked, there hasn’t been attack along the front of this nature anywhere else for months and, and they were clearly going for the main hanger. We hit something and we must have hit something pretty important to generate that sort of reaction.”

The reality of what he said slowly sunk in and they sat in silence apart from the din of expended casings jingling.

“Wow,” said Billing eventually “we really did throw one back.”


Wellington Build is here :-

Jetstang Build is here

by Mog

« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 07:17:40 AM by Robomog »
Mostly Harmless...............

Offline Old Wombat

  • "We'll see when I've finished whether I'm showing off or simply embarrassing myself."
  • "Define 'interesting'?"
Re: Throwing One Back
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2018, 05:27:34 PM »
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline deathjester

  • 'Remember - Tiredness Kills Hedgehogs...!'
  • His Mother-in-law has Tardis pockets...
    • stormfront models
Re: Throwing One Back
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2018, 09:14:40 PM »
Now, I like that story - great characterisation !!

Well done!

Will these chaps return in another tale?

Offline Robomog

  • ...had a very bad experience with [an] orange...
  • Would you buy a used kit from this man?
Re: Throwing One Back
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2018, 07:54:05 AM »
Thanks for the comments guys.

Deathjester -  hugely special thanks to you.

I genuinely did not see this, You have made me backup a couple of paces and realise i've created the guidelines and cast for my own little whifworld. I had no plans to go any further than what you have read. But things are different now - watch this space - I am just waiting for three or more brain cells to collide.

thanks again

Mostly Harmless...............

Offline Old Wombat

  • "We'll see when I've finished whether I'm showing off or simply embarrassing myself."
  • "Define 'interesting'?"
Re: Throwing One Back
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2018, 04:42:17 PM »
Your characters are custom-made for a Captain-American-type series based on incremental tech, rather than a super-human lead with super-tech equipment. ;)
"This is the Captain. We have a little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and, ah, explode."

Offline Robomog

  • ...had a very bad experience with [an] orange...
  • Would you buy a used kit from this man?
Re: Throwing One Back
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2018, 12:23:44 AM »
Yea like it,  food for thought OW, will keep it low tech, but as I said above I have to wait for the brain cells to collide, my story writing is far from prolific  ???


Mostly Harmless...............

Offline elmayerle

  • Its about time there was an Avatar shown here...
  • Über least that is what he tells us.
Re: Throwing One Back
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2018, 01:01:59 PM »
I like Old Wombat's comment and I can see incremental tech, particularly that done at a local, ad hoc, basis making for some truly interesting and different stories.  Heck, it might even fit my Junkyard Dawg hybrid P-51 concept (Merlin-powered fuselage mated to wing assembly - with 20 mm cannon - of an earlier Allison-powered aircraft).