From the combat archives of the
"U.S.S. Jim Beam"
(Combat reports of the missions from the Fighter Duel challenge ladder, 1996)
From: Lt. Goshawk
Subj.: Challenge, Goshawk vs Night Train (a rematch)
Date: Sept. 9, 1996
Sept. 9, 0001 hours, Pacific Theater of Operations
"Night Train" finished his last cool libation in the ship's Officer's Club, bid his chaps "goodnight", and walked out into the balmy night air. While he stood up on the bridge of the USS Jim Beam, he looked out over the expanse of waves. He noticed for the seemingly millionth time, the faint phosphorescence of the waves as they broke ever so slightly before washing against the expanse of the dull gray sides of the ship.
Others passed by, but unnoticed by the young over-achieving piot. He was still smacking from a recent defeat at the hands of an even more zealous artist of the air, "Duke".
Farther out to sea, "Night Train" caught the glimpse of a faint but growing light. His attention was fixed on the sliver of white, and it appeared to definitely grow closer in the distance. It also became brighter in luminescence. At the same time, yet possibly coincidentally, he caught the sound of something strange, yet vaguely familiar. It was more of a hushed murmur than anything else.
Several minutes passed with "NT's" attention rivetted on the sight and sound that was availing itself upon his senses. His eyes began to widen in disbelief as the light began to take on an all too familiar shape.
Also at the same time, his ears began to feed him the truth of the murmurings from the yet undistinct object approaching in the waves.
"Night Train" stopped breathing without thought of it, and his grip on the rail of the bridgehead tightened until his knuckles turned white with stress.
"THIS CAN'T BE!", he exclaimed in disbelief. "OH MY GOD, IT CAN'T BE!!"
His ears strained to hear in confirmation the sounds that proved to this young pilot that his hour was near at hand. The sounds were possible to make out now. Faint at first, too faint to identify, they began to take on a definite sinister statement that "Night Train" knew would haunt him again and again during his life.
"I think I can!" , "I think I can!", "I think I can!", passed over the waves building upon the phosphor, as if feeding upon it, and thereby gaining strength. The light grew steadily closer, until it reached the side of the ship. It was held by a swimmer.
"Night Train" noticed the swimmer in the waves and recognized the call from this denizen of the deep.
"EGAD!! It's "Goshawk",,,,again!", he stuttered.
"Night Train", it is time!", called the swimmer. "I still think I can, and you, sir, are challenged!"
From: Lt. Goshawk
Subj.: "Night Train" Goosed!
Date: Sunday, Sept. 15, 1996
"Night Train" was motionless, and hardly breathing. His grip on the rail grew in intensity until the blood was gone from the locked appendages below his wrists. The knuckles were pasty-white and rapidly cooling against
the balmy night air aboard the USS Jim Beam. A Lucky Strike cigarette hung from his parched lips, the flame having long burned out from inattention.
The pupils of his eyes had grown seemingly too large for the orbs to contain. It was difficult to tell what color his eyes should have been. Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead and small spatterings of gray
started to appear in his wind-blown hair.
Behind him, "Greywolf" and "Big Country" (aka: "Freight Train") came out from the Officer's Club and were forced to squeeze between the wall of the ship and their friend, "Night Train". Without noticing their friend's
condition and death grip on the rail, they jokingly toyed with him.
"Get outta the way, "NT" or we'll have to chuck ya overboard!", cautioned Greywolf.
"Yeah, get outta the way, "NT", or we'll have to chuck ya overboard!", mirrored Big Country, still trying to find his identity among the squadron peelots, and wanting to be just like his dad, Greywolf.
"Greywolf" then noticed the blank expression on "NT's" face, and thought that he had seen this look already,, too many times before,,, on the wan young pilots just before their last missions. (How did they know it would be their "last"?, he wondered.)
"NT" climbed into his familiar Spitfire, donned his goggles and helmet, and gunned the motor. The sudden roar of the 2050hp of the two-stage Griffon engine startled the occupants of the sleepy carrier. Deck hands burst from their bunks, wondering why a plane was preparing for a take-off without notice. The commander, "Duke", opened his bloodshot eyes,,, still exhausted from his long return flight from destinations unknown to his men. "What the hell is going on up there?", he wondered. He planned on grounding the upstart young pilot
who was daring to fly without his permission.
Greywolf and Big Country jumped onto the wing of NT's plane, each wanting to try and make sense of the haunting actions of the young pilot.
"What the hell ya think you're doing?, yelled Greywolf against the roar of the motor and propwash.
"Yeah, what the hell ya think you're doing?", mirrored Big Country again...
Night Train waved to a deck crew that was only visible to him, giving the customary "thumbs-up". He checked the rudder pedals, pushed against the throttle, and glanced by habit to the dials (reading all of them although they were blackened without the dash lights on). He strained against the wheel brakes, hoping to gain as much momentum as possible in the seemingly cool night air. He still failed to notice that his tunic was soaked through with sweat.
As he revved the throttle to max, then released the brake, the Spitfire lurched forward, like a pit-bull straining against a leash that suddenly broke.
Greywolf and Big Country were able to jump clear. They both ran to the edge of the deck, straining to see the plane disappearing in the darkness.
"HE'LL NEVER MAKE IT UP!", shouted Greywolf. "WE'RE NOT TURNED INTO THE WIND!"
"YEAH, HE'LL NEVER MAKE IT UP!", mirrored Big Country. "WE'RE NOT TURNED INTO THE
Greywolf turned toward his young charge, and finally overcame all of his pent-up repressions.. With a casual pass of the hand, he pushed Big Country off the side of the ship, and watched with a smile until he heard a splash far below.
"Damn, I wish that kid would get his own lines, and stop mooching off of mine!", thought the elder of the two pilots. He turned and walked back to the O-Club.
Night Train's plane roared off into the waning hours of the morning. The Spitfire clawed and chewed through the air, it's wings groping for more and more lift to sustain its flight into the challenge that awaited a few miles above.
As Night Train passed 15,000 feet, he pased another Spit flying in the opposite direction. He did not need to look at the cockpit of the other plane to know who it was, or what the intended purpose of the other pilot was.
He summoned his strength, skill, and awareness. He decided that the only way to win the events of this new day was to kill his challenger quickly. After a brief pass, he saturated Goshawk's plane with well-placed bullets. Goshawk's plane exploded in a huge fireball and his plane seemed to vanish.
Night Train's breathing started to slow down and his senses began to finally clear. "Piece of cake", he thought. His actions in downing Goshawk had been done without conscious awareness. He had done this many times before, and killing in the air had become commonplace.
As Night Train swung his plane around to make the return flight to the Jim Beam, he caught the glint of something in his "6-checker", above the windscreen. He spun the Spit around and pushed hard against the throttle. He suspected that a second challenger had been waiting in the heavens above him. As he again passed
15,000 feet, he noticed another Spitfire approaching and passing to starboard.
Night Train caught the hint of a devilish grin luminating from the cockpit of the other plane. "Damn, he's back again!", he realized.
The veins in his forehead started to swell and he felt a fire way down low, as the nerves of his autonomic nervous system started flexing the muscles in his abdomen in typical "fight or flight" manner. He made a quick high-G turn and again flamed the Goshawk. He looked for pieces large enough to recognize as a remnant from the
ghostly plane, but found nothing more than a black cloud where Goshawk's plane had been.
Night Train again turned toward home. Thoughts of glee and relief filled his head as he pulled back on the throttle. "No sense in siezing the sweet thing", he hummed in regard to the big Griffon in front of his seat. He really loved this plane, which had served him so well aboard the USS Jim Beam. His thought drifted to gentler times.
He even recalled his days in anxious anticipation of getting that lusty dame from Coconut Island aboard the carrier. ("Wasn't her name "KoKo" or something sexy like that?", he thought.) He was anxious to have her please the passions of the sex-starved peelots aboard ship, especially his.
"Yeah, KoKo's her name alright!", he reassured himself. "God, what a handful she was!" He started to chuckle to himself when he recalled KoKo's rampage upon being kidnapped out to the carrier by Greywolf and the others. As he chuckled even more at the image of her tearing apart several planes and tossing sailors overboard, he choked on a bit of spittle as it caught in his throat.
Ahead of him, bearing down fast, was the Spitfire flown by Goshawk.
Both planes passed and turned for yet a third bout. As NT drifted down toward Goshawk's lower Spitfire, Goshawk pulled up the nose of his aircraft and sprayed the air with 20mm cannon rounds. NT's plane burst into a glowing red fireball. A wing of his plane drifted past the cockpit of Goshawk's plane.
Night Train, grabbing a new craft, climbed again to 15,000 feet, and yet another pass between the Griffin powered steeds was made. Both planes turned toward the other. Guns spouted flame as their tracers painted red liness across the sky. When the firing stopped smoke was trailing from NT's plane, and he was drifting lower and lower.
Goshawk finished him with a quick burst.
NT grabbed another plane, and although he gained a position of advantage after the first pass, he caught a few well placed rounds from Goshawk's guns. Smoke erupted from NT's plane and positions of advantage were exchanged. Several close passes were made with tracers flying in seemingly all directions. After about the fourth pass, Goshawk heard a satisfying explosion below him and behind his plane. He turned to see pieces of NT's plane drifting to the waiting waters of the Pacific below.
Today, Goshawk was lucky! He thanked God for "Spray and Pray" and realized that all the years of parochial school had finally paid off.
Greywolf would need to be dealt with soon.
From: Lt. Goshawk
Subj.: Gos lucks out (vs Duke)
Date: Sept. 23, Monday
"What the hell is that?", Greywolf had asked, shading his eyes against the bright afternoon sun.
"Yeah, what the hell,,,", started Big Country. He was suddenly cut off in mid sentence by two large midshipmen, who grabbed him by his arms and picked him up.
These men had been assigned to assist "Big Country" in learning the correct manners of cautious restraint.
"I didn't mean it, guys", he had cried. "I swear I didn't mean it, guys!", he professed as he was dragged across the deck to the starboard side of the ship.
"COME ON GUYS, I DIDN'T MEAN IT. I PROMISE I'LL BE GOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooo", he had screamed as he was flung overboard.
The two burly midshipmen had snapped to attention, made a crisp about-face, and marched back to their assigned post astride the stairway leading up from the afterdeck. This was their assigned post, where they would await Big
Country's retrieval from the waters at the stern of the ship.
Greywolf felt relieved that he could finally communicate with other officers and crew on the ship without the resident "echo" from Big Country.
"I hope there's no one up in this weather!", he thought aloud in regard a sudden blast of wind.
"Just Commander Duke, sir!", responded a bosun-mate. "He left about an hour ago, but we lost contact with him a while back. He was going to go through some maneuvers with that Goshawk fellow, before Goshawk returned to Coconut Island.
Greywolf had seen many storms at sea before, and thought that the clouds brewing in the western sky appeared nastier than most. His hat was suddenly blown from his head, and the front of his uniform was suddenly and
mysteriously drenched by a sudden wall of rain, which drove down upon the men in a maelstrom. The wind pushed against the men with enough force to cause them to step backwards, almost at a run.
The storm had come up very suddenly, and without warning. It had started, the crew supposed, far out to the west, increasing in intensity until it had reached hurricane force, finding its way to the unsuspecting carrier far out to sea. The first hint of the trouble was a series of vapor trails far off in the distant sky. The crew had stood on the port side of the ship for what seemed to be hours, watching the slivers of smoke streak through the western sky. These slivers had grown in length and number, until it resembled a bowlful of spaghetti noodles at 15,000 feet.
"EVERYBODY GET INSIDE!!", screamed the Exec. "DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE AIRCRAFT. MOVE, NOW!!", he snapped orders at the crewmen who were trying to make their way to the Ready-Five craft. The officers and men took shelter inside the safety of the bridge tower. The door slammed behind them as if by some
unknown power, trapping them within the chambers of the ship. The water-tight door hatch screws turned on the doors, without aid of the crewmen. The men believed that some sinister force had imprisoned them within the bowels of the ship. None were able to witness the events which were then unfolding in the western sky, except for Big Country, who was still treading water behind the ship. (He was grateful for the ropes and survival rings that
were adrift in the wake of the Jim Beam, placed there by him after his third bout with being knocked overboard by Greywolf. (Accidentally, he was sure.)
Big Country watched as streams of vapor continued to build to a large cloudbank. He occasionally noticed as planes fell from the cloud. Over a period of many minutes, he saw three, no four aircraft, (Spits, he thought)
fall fro the meelee, to the waiting sea below. It was clear to Big Country that the epicenter of this storm was centered in the moddle of the vicious dogfight taking place in the once-clear sky.
Far to the west, Goshawk and Duke were "duking" it out at 15,000 feet. In the first round, Duke's plane exploded from the fury of 71 cannon hits. The plane erupted into a ball of fire, and fell to the waters below.
In a second round of action, Goshawk was able to penetrate the veteran Ace's plane with 36 rounds of cannon, however the remarkable aim of the "Top-Guy" made the bigger mark. Goshawk's plane crashed from the structural damage caused by only 5 (count 'em) 1-2-3-4-5 bullets from Duke's guns!
In the next round, Goshawk gained a position of advantage and as Duke turned to bring his guns to bear, Goshawk sprayed and prayed his way to 146 hits on the craft old veteran. Duke's plane again exploded.
The last pass found Duke in a high turn, with speed reduced on his plane. Goshawk sent countless rounds in Duke's direction, and as Goshawk passed overhead of Duke's craft, he heard it explode beneath him.
Goshawk looked back at the carnage below. He felt saddened at the loss of the brave Commander, yet blessed with the luck that followed him into the match.
"Hey, Grizzly", he mumbled aloud. "I beat ya to the top!", he smiled.
He turned forward again, and pushed forward on the throttle. "I better go check on Snapshot", he thought, as he flew off to the island just starting to come into view ahead.
Duke's last view of Goshawk was that of a silhouette of the Spit. Mk XIV as it flew into the bright orange globe of the suddenly visible sun.
Thanks for the great fight, Duke. You're a true champ and a gracious opponent. I'll only kep this "Big Comfy Chair" warm for a short while, 'cause I know you'll be back!
The waves started to recede, the doors swung open, and the winds finally started to calm. The deck of the Jim Beam was awash with debris from parts of the planes that were caught on deck as the storm struck. The deck crew ventured cautiously out from the tower, each glancing around as he stepped gingerly onto the deck. They moved as if in slow motion, heading toward the jumbled pile of torn wings, bent wheel struts, shattered glass, and
loose ordinance which once composed the proud "Ready Five" aircraft of the carrier. Gear, rudder, and assorted other body panels littered the run-up and launch areas. A Mae-West was spotted cart-wheeling across the deck, and over the side, down to the churning waters below.
The storm passed. Big Country finally made his way back onto the ship. He held out his arms to the waiting midshipmen. They escorted him back to the side of the Exec, Greywolf.
"Let's get busy cleaning up this mess, men!", Greywolf commanded.
"Aye Aye, sir!", responded Big Country.
Greywolf watched as the young pilot walked off toward the pile of debris and quietly began the duty of patching up the damage incurred by the storm.
"I ain't felt this bummed out since we got PAW'd by that KoKo gal", he thought. "I hope we didn't just get PAW'd again!", he cringed as he cast his eyes in the direction of where Duke's plane should have come into view... and he waited!
To: Lt. Goshawk
From: Lt.Cmdr. Greywolf
Date: Sept. 26, Thursday
I don't know how you did it...... but I want to congratulate you on getting to where you are right now. Which happens to be in my sights.
Heh heh heh, been waiting for this for a while. You bring that Spit of yours since I have been practicing against it a lot with my "Cat". Make sure you bring your little yellow raft and your silf. I intend to make you use both!
SIR, YOU ARE CHALLENGED!!!!!!!
To: Lt.Cmdr. Greywolf
From: Lt. Goshawk
Subj.: Your challenge
Date: 27 Sept., Friday
Yes, Greywolf, it has been a while since we had the pleasure of each other's company at opposite ends of the barrels. Too long! I graciously accept the challenge, AND I wish to make a point here.
We spoke some time back about you flying PAW., and joining the PAW ladder. You were unsure about that, since you did not have the experience with Pacific Air War, and did not want to be mere flotsam for the other pilots to feed upon.
I was willing to join your ladder, knowing full well that I was going to get spanked. I got spanked!! It's time now for you to follow suit, and get aboard the PAW ladder. Are you willing to put yourself in a position of getting defeated in PAW? So, tell you what. We shall fly, and if I beat you, you sign up on PAW. If you win, you don't have to worry about getting spanked on that ladder. Join up, so the pleasure can go both ways. :-)
See you in the air.
To: Lt. Goshawk
From: Lt.Cmdr. Greywolf
Subj.: My challenge, your response
Date: Sept. 29, Sunday
Ohhhhhh No you don't....... you low down bird of prey! You have a date with a Wolf!!
Now it's official!!! You are hereby challenged. Name the date of your demise you fowl bird!!! I intend to remove you from your lofty perch, and put a true FD'er into that comfy chair.
For some reason, I now have an appetite for some Goshawk. I only hope I don't choke on all those feathers. <ggggg>
From: Lt. Goshawk
Subj.: Request for flight time in Zero for challenge with Greywolf
Date: Sept. 28, 0625 hours
Sir, when are you going to make the AM5-8 Zero available for flying? I have had adequate practice in all of the other models, save this one. I would like to be able to humble the old-timer, "Graywharf", and want to beat him
up with the Zero against his Hellcat.. I would like to have bragging rights well into the 21st Century. Please provide clearance for this plane.
From: Lt. Goshawk
Subj.: Greywolf Goosed!!
Date: October 5, Saturday, 1302 hours
"Well, chief, whaddya think?", asked Goshawk as they looked at the tarp covering the two birds of prey.
"I think she's ready and able, sir.", he replied.
"Then lets have a look at her!", stated the pilot, and he grabbed a corner of the tarp.
Both khaki-clad warriors pulled at the camouflage tarp, exposing the airplanes beneath it. The Japanese "Tony" and the British Spitfire sat near the rear of the hangar, the skins of both planes immediately absorbing the heat of the afternoon sun. The Spitfire showed the results of the chief's night-long labor.
Underneath it's sleak belly, nestled between the landing gear door panels, was a newly designed bomb rack. The robin-egg paint was still drying and the smell of dope lingered in the air. The Spit's tyres appeared somewhat low on air due to the weight of the 2000 pound bomb slung on the new rack beneath the plane.
"Damn, that's a big bastard!!", commented the pilot. "You sure this thing will work?"
"You'll have only one shot at it, if I figure right", responded the mechanical, if not numerical, genius that Goshawk owed his life to. "It better work!"
Goshawk made the pre-flight checks of the plane and thought of all the guys who had made this mission possible; Grizzly, for his support and planting the seeds of hope for this mission; Snapshot for his rigidity and lack of response; Vapors for his constant pushing; and, Reno for helping to set up the Zero diversion on Greywolf.
With the pre-flight finished, Goshawk manned the plane, powered up the Griffon, signalled his chief to clear the chocks, and taxied to the runway. As the green and brown warbird throttled up, heads began poking out of their huts to see what manner of airplane was creating this new exhaust note. Many had never heard the throaty popping, and rapid throttle response of a European theater design.
Even KoKo, ordinarily apathetic to the airplanes, reached to open the flap of her hut and glanced to see what breed of fighter pilot had been sent to her by the "Gods of Fertility". Her interest was short-lived, however, as Deep6, newly challenged against another opponent, pulled her back into the hut.
"Oooooooh, you new boys are soooo much fun for KoKo", she squealed. "But, choo got to win me first, you horny "half-foot". Wanna nuther drink, fly-boy?"
KoKO did not see Goshawk look her way as he sped past. "This one's for you, sweetie, for coming back to us!", he spoke through the closed canopy of the Spitfire. Those "Beamie" peelots won't ever try to steal you from us again!"
Goshawk pushed the throttle to the stop, and felt the tail of the plane immediately lift off the tarmac. He glanced with apprehension as the ground speed climbed slowly higher. He wondered if the weight of the bomb underneath the fuselage would be too much for even this powerful steed, the Mark XIV.
60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110 were attained before the tyres started to skip and the wings bit into the humid air. The end of the runway was closing fast. At 120, the wheels touched their last. The airplane clawed its way into the toposphere. The Griffon screamed as it fought for victory in the battle for lift. At 130 indicated, the plane seemed to hesitate, as if in statement of refusal to press on farther. "Come on, dammit!", directed Goshawk. Beads of sweat turned into dropulets which ran down his forehead and into his burning eyes.
"You can make it! I know you can! I know you can! I know you can!", he yelled at the straining bird of prey. He felt certain that this bird was able to hear and respond to every word. Goshawk pulled back the throttle to the 50% mark and waited until he spotted a hint of the teardrop cowling droop a bit.
As the nose of the plane dropped, Gos pushed the throttle to the stops again and felt the response immediately. The wings appeared to rise and the Spit lurched forward in a rapid increase of speed. The airspeed climbed faster now, and it seemed as if maybe the bomb had fallen off the rack.
Goshawk climbed into the eastern sky, into the direction of the USS Jim Beam. He knew that he would find the ship in about a half-hour at his current speed. He rethought the steps he would need to take to place the "gift" at just the right spot on the big ship. He hoped he would catch the deck loaded with planes and figured there'd be Zero's aplenty aboard.
"Greywolf should be shooting them down like drones about now if he fell for the phoney messages on the ladder radios", thought Goshawk. "Maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll even find a few of those Zekes on deck and set them afire with this gift of mine".
"I sure hope they're parked close to the bridge tower!", he spoke aloud.
Making the final checks before locating the carrier, Goshawk mentally walked through the steps of the bombing process. This would be his first attempt, and he had to get it right on the first pass. After visualizing the entire
bombing run, he caught sight of a faint, but unmistakable phosphorous wake in the distant sea.There was no doubt in the mind of the old veteran as to the identity of the ship creating such a turmoil in the waters of the blue
The USS Jim Beam was plowing her way south to the warmer Japan currents. She was churning the waters at a speed of 20+ knots. On the bridge, sat Duke in the Captain's chair. He was still cussing the pilot who had
recently preened himself in that same chair, leaving feathers and bits of sinew from a feast of bilge-rat. Duke's tedium of launching Zeros for Greywolf's frenzied practice was broken only by the occasional outburst
of "Dammit, Goshawk!", when another long flight feather poked him in the arse.
"Send up a Zeke!", was the first request made by Greywolf at 0600 hours.
"Launch Zeke!", came the order in reply at 0601.
"Splash one Zeke!" was the next message from Greywolf at 0630, while lurking about, doing CAP in the heavens above.
"Send up another Zeke!", requested the CAP peelot again.
"Launch another Zeke!", came the order in reply from Duke.
"Splash another Zeke!", would be the outcome,,, over, and over, and over again. Duke was bored, except for the occasional pain in the arse from an errant goshawk feather. He was also getting slightly miffed at the expense of repeatedly sending Zero fighters up to be slaughtered by Greywolf.
This process continued until Duke could suffer the loss and expense of the practice no more. "Hey, Greywolf, why are you wiping out all our Zekes, anyway?", he asked.
"I got a feelin' that Goshawk fella will be coming back, and I'm gonna make him pay for shootin' you up boss!", came the radio reply.
"Well, Jeez, Greywolf, he flew outta here in a Spit. What makes you think he's gonna fly back in a Zero, fer chrissake?", inquired Duke.
"I heard that he was warmin,,,,,,OH MY GAWD!" came the interrupted and startled reply by Greywolf.
Greywolf gasped as he spotted the unmistakable outline of the Spitfire Mark XIV in the distance, and closing fast. As both planes passed to starboard, Greywolf thought he caught the glimpse of something foreign to a Spitfire hanging under the belly of the British fighter. He twisted his head around to catch a fleeting look at the pilot he had sworn to destroy after Duke's demise.
After the pass, Goshawk tried with all his might to turn the plane and meet the Greywolf's Hellcat head on. The weight of the bomb caused the Spitfire to behave sluggishly, and a hail of bullets greeted Goshawk at the next pass. Greywolf's aim was true, damaging the accipiter's bird.
After the second pass, Goshawk started his turn at a higher altitude. and allowed the added weight on the plane to assist in a gyro effect of the turn. The barrels of the big 20mm cannons were brought to bear on the sturdy Hellcat. The armor plating, self-sealing tanks,, and superb performance were not enough to ward off the destructive capabilities of the huge explosive bullets from the Spitfire. Greywolf's plane was likewise damaged.
Both planes scraped each other on a third pass.
The fourth pass was a turning battle with the Spit pulling a fierce number of "g". After several twists and turns, Greywolf's Hellcat pulled up into the path of the big guns again. Big mistake! After a few hits, Goshawk
overflew, allowing the Hellcat to get onto his 6. Goshawk dove for the drink, the weight of the bomb adding to the effect of gravity. The Hellcat dove to follow. After several more turns near the water's edge, Greywolf spun into the waves.
Another pass at altitude with a new Hellcat for Greywolf, resulted in another turning fight. The Spitfire nearly broke up with the effects of "g" force. After several passes and turns, Greywolf tried an Immelmann and was shredded by the big guns on Goshawk's plane.
As Greywolf swam back to the rear of the carrier, trying to grab a life-ring floating there, Goshawk climbed for altitude above the carrier.
At 15,000 feet, the carrier was a mere dash upon the ocean's surface, and visible primarily due to the long wake of the ship. As the ship disappeared beneath the nose of the Spitfire, Goshawk had to rock his wings to keep it in
view and line up the bombing run.
It was time for "Operation KoKo" to be avenged!!
Goshawk started his descent!
He pulled the throttle lever all the way back, and extended the crude dive flaps that the chief had fashioned from the gear flaps. He recalled the days in years past when he had to practice bombing with a Warhawk near Pearl.
"A damnable chore!", he thought.
He worked to keep the nose of the Spit centered on the deck of the carrier below. The warm air currents played havoc with his aim. At 10,000 feet, Gos was able to see the outlines of two Zero fighters on the deck.
Meanwhile, aboard the USS Jim Beam, Duke watched with horror as one of his top peelots went into the drink in the Hellcat. He shuddered as he noticed the dark dot in the sky above. He recognized the flight path of the Spitfire as sinisterly similar to the flight paths of the many dive-bombers he had flown escort for over the years. He cringed with the realization of the obvious incident about to unfold on the deck of the carrier.
"ALL HANDS ABANDON SHIP!!", came the order from the ship's speakers.
Men flooded upon the decks and jumped from the ship, through all of the available openings. The first person to hit the water was Big Country, having plenty of practice, and knowing exactly which direction to jump, or fall. He
was also the first person to surface and watch as the Spitfireclosed in on the carrier. Big Country realized who was in the Spitfire, and he smiled. He had flown against Goshawk not too long ago, and smited him smartly too, he did!
As the Spit reached 1000 feet, the men in the watrer noticed a small dark object drop from the bottom of the plane, and head toward the carrier deck. A large fireball blossomed on the deck, amid the Zero fighters waiting for the next "Launch" command from Duke.
The Spitfire then coasted toward the west, back in the direction of Coconut Island.
A bottle was thrown out of the Spitfire's cockpit, landing in the water near Duke. A note was visible in the bottle, as it bobbed in the waves. The commander opened the bottle and extracted the note. It read:
"Boys of the Jim Beam!, the note started.
"It is with sorrow that I bid farewell, if only for a while. I find that I am unable to continue the ladder missions at this time due to circumstances beyond my control. I am hereby going onto the inactive roster until further notice. The bomb is a fair warning for those uncooth scoundrels who might give thought to stealing our fair maiden again. KoKo is not to be tampered with!!"
It went on:
"You are a spirited bunch of guys and we'd sure like to see you all come to Coconut Island. Duke, this especially means you, as well as Dirtdobber, Corncob, Greywolf, Night Train, and even Big Country too. It's a lot drier here on the island, "BC"!"
END OF ARCHIVAL RECORD!