Tides of War

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


This is a unfinished chapter, please leave comments if you enjoyed this will be slow going.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1: Alex

Submitted: November 08, 2019

Reads: 27

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 08, 2019

A A A

A A A

0500 Hours

I was excited, nervous, and tense, my adrenaline was at an all-time high. Today was the big day. I and eleven other pilots were headed out to hit a German base. I could tell my best friend Frankie was nervous too. He tried to hide it, but when we were done with our briefing, he gave me a thumb up and I could see his hands were shaking.

I can’t blame him, I looked down at my hands which were shaking badly also. I tried to still my hands but they just trembled harder. I took deep breaths and finally managed to get my nerves under control.

We were flying North American A-36 Apache dive-bombers, which, out of all the jets and bombers I’ve flown is my second favorite, aside from the Lockheed P-80.

As we exited the briefing room Frankie, Joe, Tony and I walked side by side; as we headed for the hangars, we let small talk take over our conversation.

“I bet that I’ll get more confirmed hits than you.” Tony shot at me.

“Is that a challenge?” I mock demanded.

“It is, ready for your sorry butt to be kicked?”

“Challenge accepted. Bring it.” I retorted.

“Oooo, Tony!” Frankie said, “Alex’s gonna kick your butt.”

We reached the hangar shortly after that and we divided and went to our bombers and waited for the go signal. The wait was long enough that I began to get nervous again, my palms were sweat-slicked and my heart was racing. Dang, this job’s going to give me high blood pressure or something. It gives me a headache and an adrenaline rush, so here goes nothing.

It hit the 0600 hours before we got the go ahead. I got in my bomber, strapped in place, and went over the pre-flight checklist, everything was clear, tank topped off, and I was good to go.

“Tower this is Apache Lima Bravo Tango Nine, am I clear for takeoff?” I asked when I had radioed the tower.

“Copy, Apache Lima Bravo Tango Nine, this is London Tower, all clear for takeoff.”

Once I had my clearance, I got ready to takeoff. I taxied into position on the runway and soon reached the proper takeoff speed. I throttled up and punched it. I was flattened in my seat by the G-forces, before I reached the right altitude. The wheels were up! Turbos off, and the power reduced to forty-five inches at 2500 rpm. Things are fast on takeoff, but there is nothing better than the thrill in all flying than that race into the air

“Yee-haw!” I heard Frankie yell over our shared radio wave. “That is some good stuff right there!”

“We are off.” Tony replied. “This is going to be something.”

I grinned to myself, hell right. This is going to be one hell of a ride. “You got that right.” 

Our formation assembled above the usual cloud coverage at 16,000 feet in almost total darkness. Joe, our group lead was firing green flares, and not too long after we had climbed into assembly altitude, we were together and in proper formation.

It was a chilly morning and the temperatures drooped slowly but steadily as we climbed upward. We finally leveled off at 28,000 feet and our outer garments were nearly white with frost, and way below us on the ground the temperature was at nearly 50 degrees below zero.

It was spookily silent other than the roar of our engines as we head on a course of slightly south and more east.

Thousands of feet below my plane, as we plowed on our way, I could see the thick, fluffy stratus clouds, which hid our progress. However, it shielded our telltale trail of white foam from eyes on the ground.

As our A-36’s screamed East, I began looking for a spot in our formation to move into because I wasn’t fond of the ‘spare’, poorly guarded position I was in. It didn’t take me long to see one that was slightly better than the position I had been assigned and I wasted no time jumping into the spot.

 

0800 hours

Soon, the sun began to break on the horizon and we could see each other more clearly. The silence was broken only by our group lead firing off quick short position updates. I could hear the other pilots checking in and letting everyone know their positions. “I’m position six in the low element.” I radioed to the others.

Around 0830, we could see coast and it wasn’t too long before we were in enemy territory and over occupied Holland. However, far below us I could see the cloud cover breaking up.

“Cloud coverage dispersing.” I heard Tony radio.

“Copy. Hold formation and positions. Now’s not the time to be switching places.” Joe radioed back to everyone. I felt as if that last bit was directed specifically to me, he must’ve noticed my position change – dang, nothing ever slipped that guy’s notice.

Then at exactly 0850 we began to tighten our formation, I could see shell cases as the others test fired their guns and stuff. The radio was quiet except for quick decisive messages between the group ‘leads’.

We had entered Europe by way of the Zuider Zee, crossing over occupied Holland. Before long, Frankie gave a position report putting us well over Hitler’s fortress – Germany. After a seemingly endless period of close-formation flying, the initial point (IP) was approaching. We began preparing ourselves for the coming trip from the IP, down the bomb run to Merseburg.

At the IP, the four squadrons in our group broke apart and made the wide turn onto the bomb run ‘trail, and then as a part of our squadron we headed straight in to our target.

I kept my eye out for the black puffs of flak that would mark our target, and my gaze kept going beyond the lead plane to check; and then, oh Thor, there it was; not little puffs here and there but almost a solid black cloud. A solid black cloud of the feared and dreaded flak.

The planes ahead of disappeared into the black cloud and were swallowed up, almost completely, as the black mass closed around them.

I was so nervous seeing that happen that I nearly pulled out, but I continued forward and let the black fog-like cloud close around me. Once I was in, I heard and saw anti-aircraft shells bursting around my plane, holy crap! All the stories I had heard about this base’s anti-aircraft defense system was true. I was witnessing the defenses first hand and after this, I had no wish to return here.

Ever.

I took a deep breath and followed them into the dive bomb sequence. It was crazy as the planes screamed over the base and dropped their bombs. Once I dropped mine and got out of explosion range I let my plane follow the others. I twisted in my seat the best I could to get a glimpse of the damage we had caused; but I had gotten out of range.

Suddenly, my jet jerked and shuddered as if it had been hit. A heartbeat later sirens began wailing inside my cabin as the plane nosed over into a dive and began to spin. Oh, Thor, I’m gonna puke.

I tried to pull out of the crazy sickening spin but couldn’t and realized I’d have to abandon ship. I hit the radio intercom button and frantically began reporting my condition hoping that someone would see what had happened and if I crashed someone might come looking for me. “Mayday! Mayday! This is Apache Lima Bravo Tango Nine; Pilot Alexander! I’ve been hit! Lost my left wing, I’m going down fast! Requesting assistance; my position is-” I glanced toward my compass, but it was spinning crazily and I realized with a sinking heart that it was broken, “Unknown, but need help!”

Unfortunately, all I got was static in response as my jet continued to spiral out of control, that was disheartening but I used my elbow and drove it through the window, shattering the window and scrapping my arm up terribly.

I scrambled for the seat buckle and got it off and realized that the plane was going to crash into a lake. That was good and bad. I knew that it’d be a softer landing than if I hit the ground and I’d have a greater chance of surviving. However, on the other hand, I’d have very little time to get out of the sinking jet which increased my chances of drowning.

Below me, approaching fast was a glittering lake, I braced myself for impact, closing my eyes, the plane hit the water and I was snapped forward by the impact and was nearly sent tumbling over into the windshield.

 


© Copyright 2019 Laura Aris Michaels. All rights reserved.

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