Monday, August 13, 2007

Farewell Norway

I flew three flights over Norwegian seas yesterday afternoon. 'Taj' (Tajfl, actually, but I just call him 'Taj') from Slovenia was airborne in a german fighter. So I had some real opposition as I flew my beaufighter in from the sunset and declining light of dusk towards whatever naval targets were available. Realising my crate would be no match for Taj's FW190, I resolved to keep my eyes peeled for him and try and stay invisible.

Sunset: I took off in the last fiery rays of the sun, setting over the Scottish landmass. I headed into hotile waters at under 200 feet in clear skies, hoping to not reveal my plane to any enemy on high flying patrol. I also flew on a course a bit south of the direct path. As I approached the Norwegian coast I caught sight of my opponent far far away and several thousand feet above, to my North. He didn't seem to react to me at all. Splitting my attention between the sea while I looked for targets and the sky while I watched Taj fly away, I began to turn towards the north so I could follow the coast. Almost straight away I saw a freighter in the distance. Using trim controls, I maneuvered into an attack run at about 100 feet, all the time looking to my West as Taj vanished into the fiery bloom of sunset.

I dropped the torpedo from a long way away, and was had flown in a long curve north and west before it struck the target. I was nowhere near it, and racing for home on a path to the North of the direct route. Before I reached base, I learnt that Taj had been shot down by naval AA fire. My landing was regulation in its perfection.

Dusk: Confident in my invisibility I tried to repeat my previous mission. The air was full of the red light of sunset. Beautiful. As the Norwegian coastline came into view, I still hadn't spotted Taj. I thought nothing of it. Near where I'd spotted the tanker I came under fire from a motorboat. Circling back towards it I felt some of its shells striking home. More than I'd hoped for. To this day, I don't know if there was another boat in the vicinity or not.

Anyway, I muffed my torpedo run. As I came out of my tight turn to come onto the boat I was approaching from the wrong angle, and my wings were still banked as the ship rushed towards me. Hurriedly I dropped the torpedo, knowing as I did so that I was too fast, too close, too high, too banked to have any chance of hitting him. Not wanting to tarry, knowing that the AA fire would be visible for many miles and draw Taj in his FW 190 like a moth to a flame, I skedaddled for home.

Before long, I realised I had a problem. Although both engines were ticking over nicely I was only managing to go slightly quicker than stall speed, with a huge yaw to the right which kept making the plane wanting to point its nose groundwards in that direction. I was spending most of my concentration on trying to keep plane in the air and flying towards home. I suspect I'd lost most of my tail and possible the rear bits of at least one wing. Not good when you're flying alone over the North Sea with a hostile fighter in the area.

Sure enough, in sight of the green lands of Scotland, I heard the sound of several shells striking my plane from behind. I heard five 'clunks'. Then his shells found my cockpit and the world turned black.

Evening: I can't recall much of this flight. It didn't last long. I flew a Mustang (single seater long range fighter) in the growing dusk towards the target area with a couple of medium sized bombs beneath me, but don't think I'd crossed the front line, when Taj warned me that he was behind me with some bullets flying past my left wing. I immediately dropped my bombs (they slow you down significantly) and threw my plane into gyrations trying to get back over friendly fleet AA guns.

No luck. Taj locked onto my rear and took out my engine. Stranded, I started a long glide towards friendly lines (I had gained a lot of altitude during the chase). Taj was having nothing of this tactic, and put a few more shells into my plane. I had no choice but to bail out, and watched my plane tilt at an increasing angle into a nasty crash in the ocean. Taj waggled his wings on his return journey past me in midair. My pilot was captured.

I did not know it then, but this was my final flight over Norway for forseeable future. The squadron has moved to Southern Italy to participate in the next campaign on the Norwegian Server.

No comments: