Monday, January 11, 2021

Blastoffjorden: Act 1 --- Scene 2

Date: August 14, 1943, 0600 hours
Location: Blastoffjorden, Norway {Imagineered}
Weather: 83° Fahrenheit, westerly wind rising, choppy sea
Situation: Torpedo Squadron #2's Mission

ACT 1 --- SCENE 2

USN Aircraft Carrier Ranger sailing with the British Home Fleet off northern Norway. Their mission: Disrupt German merchant traffic sailing along the coast and/or within fjords. Ranger's deck is cleared waiting for the return of Torpedo Squadron #2's Devastator Torpedo planes, Dive Bomber Squadron #3's Dauntlesses and Wildcat fighter escorts now en-route to Blastoffjorden.

Four Douglas TBD-1 Devastator Torpedo Bombers

"Chafee to Torpedo 2. Climb to 4,000 feet to clear the low mountain range ahead. Blastoffjorden will come into view when we are over the summit."

"But Skipper, I was going to throw out a fishing line if we flew any closer to the deck."

"Hey Nagel, you're from Nevada. There aren't any fish in the desert. Besides, you don't know how to fish."

"Ever heard of Lake Mead Simcoe?"

"This is Chafee. Save the fishing chatter for Scapa Flow when we get back. Meanwhile, avoid treetops and keep looking for German ships and aircraft." 

"Buckley to Chafee."

"Go ahead Buck."

"Where's our Wildcat fighter escort?

"The cats launched after us. They should catch up pretty soon with their faster speed."

"Hope so Skipper. Harrison, my rear gunner, doesn't see them behind us yet." 

As Torpedo 2 passed over the mountain barrier, the commander said, "Chafee to Torpedo 2. Welcome to Blastoffjorden boys. Enemy freighter in sight. Let's go down to pay our respects."

"Hey Nagel. See if you can snag this one."

"This is Buck. Two bogeys at five o'clock. We're spotted."

"Americanische torpedo bombers at 2 o'clock. Follow me Gunther. Stay off my right wing and do what I do. Keep an eye out for enemy fighters too."

"Ja Herr Leutnant Zeiss."

German merchant ship Wilhelmina

"Alarm! Steer to port. Schnell! Those are torpedo planes. Man the machine gun."

"We are as good as sunk Kapitäin if the Luftwaffe does not arrive in time. Our puny machine gun won't do much!"

The four Devastators soon dropped to the deck.

"All four planes are headed right for us and have launched torpedoes. Mein Gott!"

"Well done men. Torpedoes running true. The Kraut fighters are almost on us. Rear gunners fire when ready."

"Enemy fire com'n in! Tracers all over the place," shouted Nagel. "Buckley is hit."

"Hang on Buck!"

"This is Buckley. My engine is wrecked and we're smok'n."

"Ditch near shore Buck. The resistance is active in these parts. They'll help you."

"We'll never make it that far Boss. We're going down and will have to swim for it".

"Good luck Buck."

"See you guys after the war. I'll buy beers for all of you in Milwaukee."

"You're on Buck!"

"Torpedo 2. Bank to starboard."

"Keep turning right and head for home. Somehow we're being pursued by only one Me-109 fighter and it overshot us. The other appears to be flying away. Maybe we hit that one."

One torpedo barely missed the Wilhelmina's bow because the ship had been veering to port. The other three would strike home.

Two fish seemed to only lightly damage the freighter. The third bounced off. She started on fire.

Buckley's Devastator eventually nosed into the fjord and disappeared. He and Harrison abandoned the plane and swam for the closest shore. It was not too far away. 

Leutnant Zeiss in the only 109 still actively engaged silently said, "That rookie Gunther fired wildly jamming his ammunition belts leaving me alone to fight the Americans. Alright then. One to three odds isn't that bad for me. An immelmann and I'll get one."

Zeiss fired but results did not down the Devastator.

"Nothing but a few parts flew off and now I'm very low on ammunition. Time to break off. Maybe the American will not make it back to wherever he came from."

"Chafee to flight. That Kraut's abandoned the fight. Fly at your best speed back to Ranger. Keep looking for more bogeys."

"Skipper, where the hell did our fighter escorts go? We might not have lost Buckley!"

"I'll see to it Nagel. I know how you feel. Now stay alert."

"Skipper. Nagel here. I'm losing speed but think I can make it back to Ranger.

"We'll keep you company. Hang in there."

Elsewhere Zeiss flew to the crippled Wilhelmina. She was dead in the water but apparently not sinking. Time would tell. He looked in the direction of the downed enemy torpedo plane but it was gone. In moments he followed Gunther back to base thinking how best to teach the new pilot to better control his trigger finger. Upon reflection, Gunther probably had it already figured out by now.

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