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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

“Recycle and Reuse” by RangerElite

Weapons Development in WWIII 1946

Tank Gunnery Range
Aberdeen Proving Ground
Fort Meade, Maryland, USA

Staff Sergeant Barry Swinton was initially wary of the monstrosity known to him as the XM4G heavy tank, being nothing more than an M4A3 Sherman medium tank, retrofitted with an Allison turbocharged diesel engine and the entire turret assembly of the M26 “Pershing” (the “Pushing”) heavy tank, including its powerful 90mm gun, as the M26 hulls would no longer be needing them. Production had started on the M50 Patton, but not enough of that model was being built yet to satisfy current needs, so a stop-gap measure was needed to fill divisional inventories until enough M50's can be built to fill them. But what to do?

As it turns out, there was a plan before the end of the last war to retrofit older M4A3's the very same way, with excess M26 turrets being built to implement this design. The war ended before it could be done and the plan was shelved. But with the colossal failure of the M26 on the battlefield and the slow build up to full wartime production, the plan was once again considered and now being tested, along with a new gyro-stabilizer, that was supposed to allow the gunner to fire the main gun, while the tank is in motion. Along with the gyro-stabilizer, this tank would also mount a night-vision scope, allowing the tank crew, especially the gunner, to see heat signatures at night. Somebody said that it was something that the Krauts had been working on when the war ended, and our boys had gotten a hold of the research and the prototypes, and a few of the fielded models. That the U.S. had classified the project as “Top Secret” meant that government researchers, perhaps with the help of some the original German engineers on the project, had made a breakthrough in the technology.

Sergeant Swinton knew that he'd had his background thoroughly scoured by the FBI before being cleared for this project, but he knew that he had absolutely nothing to fear, and had an exemplary combat record to boot.

After the war, he was discharged to a life of drudgery, selling women's shoes, until this new war started, and he re-enlisted right away, even getting promoted before his first 60 days back were up. This night test would see how this mid-sized beast (he'd heard someone call it '20 pounds of crap in a 10 pound sack') would do, whether it lived up to it's expectations, especially the gyro and night-sight.

Swinton thought to himself “Here we go” as he started up the tank and peeped up through the night-sight in his periscope, looking at all the blobs in shades of red in the infra-red spectrum, before switching to light-amplification mode, where all the shapes were clearer, but cast in an eerie greenish light. As his eyes quickly adjusted to the greenish hues of the night-sight, he was able to drive the tank as smoothly as if it were daylight. As they reach their first target area, he felt the tank moving through a 30° slope, and he heard the hydraulic-electric servomotor of the turret moving while they were on the move, then heard the deafening CRACK-BOOM of the main gun, and a splash of exploded earth, then another CRACK-BOOM, followed by a KA-BOOOOOM! of a direct hit. This was all accomplished while the tank was still moving. To Swinton, it was a resounding success. He had never heard of a tank, except when it was handled by no less than a veteran crew and gunner, able to drive nearly flawlessly in the dark, let alone be able to fire on and hit it's targets dead-on, all in the dark. It was nothing short of amazing.

The five XM4G tanks of the test platoon did this all night, switching their night-sights from light-amplification to infra-red, and back again, to find their targets, and each other. Their gunnery improved with practice and the ease with which they eliminated their targets became readily apparent as the sun rose at 0657. It had been a long arduous, but they now knew that they had a tank, with some minor adjustments, that could match, or defeat, any tank that the Soviets had in their inventories. Knowing now what this new tank could do, Swinton wanted Soviet blood, and would not be satisfied, until he got it.

The Mouse in the Lion's Den by RangerElite

Far East Theater in WWIII 1946

In an abandoned Japanese military base,
Somewhere in Soviet-Occupied Manchuria

Shao Wong-wei felt exposed here, but not overly so. Dressed as a coolie, he could potentially go anywhere, and potentially listen in on anything, because, let us face facts,  NOBODY pays attention to the hired labor, no matter what your ideology is. And some years ago, he joined the Communist Party to solidify his cover. He had been spying for the Nationalist, no, it was now the Federal Chinese, government for many years now, and now more than ever, he felt that his efforts may finally do some good where it mattered the most.

He had been recruited as a trustworthy Communist laborer for this particular project, and had been present when the three special Soviet trains pulled into this special hidden rail siding, to off-load their very special cargoes of weapons and technicians. He had heard by word of mouth that these were very special weapons of high quality, of European, especially German, manufacture, captured by the Soviets in their invasion of Western Europe. After these first three trains, the trains didn't stop coming for the next 4 days, on average of five trainloads per day. But the last day was the busiest, with seven trainloads to off-load, well into the night. He duly passed this information along to his contact for analysis.

The job wasn't over yet, though. There was labor that was needed to be done in   lieu of the machines and mechanical devices needed to comlpete such tasks. But then, that had always been the Chinese way. As Shao made his appointed round, doing the work required of him, and no more, he would listen to the conversations between the People's Liberation Army troopers and their Soviet “advisors” and technicians. They were planning an offensive and it was to happen soon. He had not been able to arrange a meeting with his contact to pass the new information along, so he had to break cover and disappear, taking the information to straight to the government himself. But escaping the base would be difficult at best, considering the amount of security now being employed in keeping prying eyes out...

As Shao was mulling the problem over in his head, he heard his name being called in the distance “Comrade Shao! Come over here, NOW!” A chill of fear shot up his spine, and he did his best to suppress it, and headed to the man who called him. It turned out to be his supervisor, Comrade Commissar Hwang Li, who asked him, “Tell this Manchu barbarian that he needs to be mindful of fulfilling his quota for the People's War, else he'll find his family's food ration cut!” Shao dutifully translated his Mandarin Chinese overlord's diatribe into Manchu, thinking to himself that such fools should never be placed in positions of authority.

As he was dismissed and walked away, he quickly thought to himself that this was the perfect opportunity, as they had been near a guarded gate from which he could exit. He quickly walked to the gate and was challenged “On who's authority are you leaving the base, Comrade?” “Why of course, on Commissar Hwang's orders, Comrade. Didn't you just see us talking over there a moment ago?” The guard sheepishly nodded “Or would you care to explain to him why you did not allow me to leave to complete the task he assigned to me?” The guard immediately blanched, thought for a moment and let him through. And he was never seen at that base again.

The Acorn

It was on May 12th 1944 at 7:43 am that the big oak came down. Edmond Eyre had been keeping an eye on that tree on Llancadle Farm for over a year. Ian had finally given him permission to harvest the tree and it came down with a resounding crash. It was cut up into proper lengths and hauled off to the lumber mill and turned into a number of large beams. One of which was destined to shore up the thatched roof of the Green Dragon Inn in Llancadle proper. The roof had a tendency to catch fire a couple times a century and the latest owners were looking for some security from previous mishaps.

The tree itself had an interesting history. The acorn it grew from was on its way to be roasted and used for flour by another man named Eyre. This man named Eyre came from Co Galeay, Ireland. His first name is lost to history but he was one of the fortunate few to escape the Irish Potato famine of 1847.

The good ship Wanderer docked in Newport and deposited 113 destitute men, women and children with 20 of them said to be close to death. Our man Eyre was one of them and was foraging far and wide a few months later when he came upon a great store of acorns near Alberthaw. The pile of acorns was on the grounds of what would become the Boys School there. He gathered all he could in his pockets and moved on to find other edible forage to bring back to his family. Acorns could be used for flour if properly treated and many a life was saved during times of famine in Europe. Eyre knew this and was hedging his bets. On the way back to New Port our acorn fell of his pocket and started to germinate that spring on Llancadle Farm.

It was amazing to think that the huge oak just needed sunlight, water and some common nutrients to become the colossus it was. How from a little acorn no bigger than your big toe it turned into the towering shade tree that it had become.  And then in another amazing transformation to the pieces of lumber that kept many a man women and child warm and out of the elements for possibly another century or more.

The tree that Edmond Eyre cut down was close to a hundred years old and was the spawn of our acorn. That 96 year old tree would have taken the life of Edmond Eyre’s distant relative, Commander Anthony Eyre on Saturday 16th, 1946. As fate would have it the huge oak was not there to send the metal rod through Edmonds heart, for all that was left was a stump. Therefore Commander Eyre’s Tempest NV787 had no obstacle to impede its progress as it plowed into the ground after a failure in the sleeve drive mechanism caused the engine to seize after takeoff.

Commander Eyre was an RAF ace with 9 victories before being shot down over France after being married for only 68 days. He was sent to the infamous Stalag Luft III for three years. After the war he was on a routine flight when the incident that should have taken his life occurred. Fate rules all and the tree that he should have crashed into was not there. Parts of it were scattered in places like the Green Dragon and surrounding homes in Llancadle. Anthony Eyre’s distant relative planted the tree that was destined to take his life.  Another of his relatives cut it down thus saving his life. 

Eyre was itching to get into the fight again. He had sat out the last three years of the war in Stalag III and was ready to fly in earnest once more. They offered him one of the Gloster Meteors but he preferred to stay with the Tempest for the upcoming festivities with the Soviets. Something about the roar of a propeller ripping through the air was ingrained in his heart. The high pitched whine of a jet engine just didn’t sound right to him yet just yet. He’d move on to the Meteor or Vampire soon he supposed.

After that close call with his last Tempest and the touchy drive sleeve mechanism he was a little jumpy. He had been told that his most likely opponents would be the Lag 7 and Yak 3. They had the range to fly at low and medium altitude over Group 11 and most of Group 12 with drop tanks. Both were formidable opponents flown by seasoned veterans. This would be interesting if the 5 to 1 odds turned out to be true.

He had of course crashed before, the first time in his first flight in a Gladiator. He never thought he would live that one down. The last war started in earnest and it was readily apparent that the Gladiator was obsolete with only one scoring an air to air victory against the 109. The switch to Hurricanes came just in time for Eyre to get 3 kills in May while his squadron was constantly on the move running from the marauding Panzers in France. During the Battle over Convoy Bosom in the Channel he shot down three more 109s. Being sent to Preswick for a little rest defending Group 13 became an unwelcome reprieve after only a few weeks while the battle raged on over the skies of Britain.

In December, 1941 the now Wing Commander Eyre was flying with the “Circus” and trying to lure German fighters into battle over France when he was shot down. By fighting over enemy territory you lose home field advantage and the pilots that do survive and end up jumping out of a damaged plane also end up in an enemy prison camp. On March 8th, 1944 the newly wed Eyre crashed landed once again but this time near Abbeville in his Spitfire and spent the remainder of the war as a POW.

But that was the last war. All he could do now was to work to prepare his men and their machines. He hated leaving his still newly wedded wife but duty was duty. This 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

“On Desperate Ground” by RangerElite

CIA Offices
U.S. Embassy
Peking (Beijing), Republic of China

Major General David Halderman and Colonel Aaron Bank waited patiently for Brigadier General Archimedes L.A. Patti's attractive assistant, Sergeant Jane Li, to announce them. In the meanwhile, they entertained themselves by drinking coffee and watching Sergeant Li work, until she finally opened the door and announced them. Arch has done quite well for himself, thought Halderman, noting that the CIA's top intelligence officer in China, and General Donovan's personal envoy to Chinese president, Sun Li-jen, had an office that was far larger than the one that they had once shared.

As all the regulation pleasantries were adhered to, the men settled down to talk. “Nice accommodations, Arch. I was thinking that this was nothing compared to our office in the Pentagon” said Halderman. “Well, David, I really didn't have a choice in the matter, but if I had to be shanghaied again, this is exactly the way it should be. By the way, who's the newbie?” Patti was obviously referring to Colonel Bank, whose uniform mostly made sense to him, as an Airborne-trained OSS man, except for the green beret he wore and the crossed-arrow branch-of-service emblem he wore. As an old-school OSS man, Patti was familiar with Aaron Bank's exploits, especially his operation to kill or capture Adolf Hitler, Operation Iron Cross. “This is Colonel Aaron Bank, and we're here to ask for your help, Arch. I worked up a plan for Jedburgh-style drops into Siberia. See, over the past few years, there have been rumors as to what really happens in Stalin's Gulags and to the Jews that he's had transported east, under the pretense of 'protecting' them. As man whose maternal grandparents were Russian Jewish immigrants, this hits pretty close to home for me, as chilling memories of stories that my grandparents told me are unfolding before my eyes. Also, there are German and Eastern European prisoners in the camps that could be useful to us. It could be worth our while to free them and use them to sow chaos in Siberia...” as Patti allowed himself to absorb what he was being told, he was already formulating a plan, that he would have to present to President Sun and General Rushenko of the FRAF.

As a hedge, Patti asked “How can I help you, gentlemen?” Halderman and Bank looked at each other, then Halderman nodded to Bank, who said “Well, sir, General Halderman and myself, along with my executive officer, have developed a plan to insert my command, the 10th Special Forces Group, by air and by land, and we will require local help in doing so. Since you have impeccable local contacts, we figured that we could do worse than asking you, sir...” the last comment, Bank delivered with a lop-sided, insouciant, smile. Patti found himself thinking “an irregular commander for an irregular command” and found it difficult to suppress a smile of his own. “David, Aaron, you have my wheels turning and I have a few ideas of my own to add” Patti called into his intercom “Sergeant Li, please put on another pot of coffee for our guests, and pot of oolong tea for us, and then join us when you are ready” “Yes, sir” she replied through the intercom. Halderman and Bank shot concerned looks at Patti, as he replied “Jane Li comes from one of the most prominent families in San Francisco, and has been fighting the communists since before we had entered the world war. She has been vetted many times and holds high security clearances for us, and for the Chinese government. She also happens to be a very meticulous planner. We can use her unique talents”

A few minutes later, Jane Li enters the office, pulls out a couple of small office tables, and serves up coffee and tea, before sitting down to join the brainstorming session. She listens intently, and a few minutes into the session, she speaks up “Sirs – General Halderman and Colonel Bank – I think it would be prudent to hire trustworthy local guides to train your men how to travel through their terrain. There are several native Siberians that I can think of who can be given suitable motivation to defect and help us. From my understanding of the situation, if we do not do something soon, the window of opportunity will close and the Soviets will consolidate their gains everywhere. We will never have this chance again.” They all looked at Sergeant Li in stunned surprise, and agreement. They all knew that she was right. “Here's what I propose should happen: follow the model of the Cabanatuan POW camp raid on four of the gulag camps that Chinese intelligence has identified, near the border. One of those camps has been confirmed as having German and Eastern European POW's from the last war, being 're-educated' for repariation back to their nations of origin. We've had paid assets there for many years, especially after the failed 'Republic of Yakutia' fiasco, during the Russian Civil War” Only General Patti was familiar with what Sergeant Li was talking about, so he explained the local history, giving his guests a better understanding of the regional situation.

Having been thus informed, all four of them set about meticulously planning, and gaming, the first large-scale guerrilla action of the Third World War.

The Swarm Rises

The swarm started to rise on the radar screens all over Britain. Low level and high level radar picked up the now daily activity. It was obvious that the Soviets were trying to intimidate the British government as well as practice for the upcoming hostilities. Thousands of planes climbing for the sky and daily flying off to do practice bombing and strafing runs filled the skies of France and the Low Countries. On the radar screens it sometimes looked like a mayfly swarm rising from the waters of a clear mountain lake. Only it was September and these mayflies had the power to destroy a nation.

Novikov was in his element. Directing and choreographing on a macro level the deadly ballet that he had promised would lay waste to the Royal Air Force of Great Britain. This of course has been tried before and failed. Some say that Goering and the Luftwaffe came within a hairs width of defeating the RAF and some say the issue was never in doubt. By this time in history many a historian and military strategist had waxed eloquently on what the RAF did right and where the Luftwaffe efforts went wrong.

Novikov had read many of these essays and even interviewed a fair number of German and captured British commanders who fought in the first battle for the skies of Britain. He and his staff had immersed themselves in the history and lore of the Battle of Britain. A few very large and significant factors seemed to stand out.
As the Americans and the Germans found out, the range of their fighters must match the range of the bombers if they were to bomb in daylight. They must be escorted to and from the target. This lesson seemed clear.

Sergo and his minions had made sure that the VVS had competitive fighters that could range over the entire British Isles. In addition thousands of the acknowledged best fighters to come out of the last war would have their range extended by the use of drop tanks. The Yak 3s and Lag 7s would swarm the area over Southern England known as 11 Group.  Not as well known in the West, these models were well known to the Germans.

The Yak 3U was a late war model that once the Germans got to know its characteristics the orders came to avoid engaging it below 5000 meters. It was considered too dangerous and they had no plane that could match its performance. It was easily competitive to the best of the US and UK fighters below 5,000 meters.

The Lag 7 had ended the vertical maneuvering superiority of the German fighters and was faster than the FW 190 fighter bombers who plagued the Soviet troops with their hit and run tactics. They could no longer run.

The Luftwaffe failed in the initial Battle of Britain because of situational awareness and lack of basic  intelligence. They had no idea if their attacks were effective, what was working and what was not. Did a second raid need to be made or even the location of the targets themselves? Very often the wrong targets were hit and when the right ones were hit they did not know how effective the strike was. In addition no one of competence was given over-all command.

This would not be the case in this battle. The excellent Soviet spy system had been feeding information to the NKVD and Beria for years. They knew the initial disposition of virtually every fighter squadron and its back up fields as well. Each factory location and what they produced there was carefully plotted. Their destruction carefully planned and their magnitude of importance to keeping the RAF flying carefully projected. The luxury of six months to plan was indeed a welcome change from the war years.

The VVS also had the luxury of not caring about the RAF bomber fleet and its demise. Their only concern was the destruction of Fighter Command. Their bombers were not going to be used for terror raids or shipping attacks. Their sole purpose was to either lure fighters into the air or to destroy them on the ground.
The elimination of the air defense system from the equation was well thought out. The British Anti-Aircraft Command was a formidable foe and the first 4 weeks of the campaign would be critical. The combination of defeating the VT proximity fuse and other planned innovations and tactics should be enough to accomplish the task of leaving the air fields of the RAF helpless for significant periods of time.

  In the lower half of the British Isles this would once again be the time of the Sturmovik. With its range augmented by drop tanks the IL10 would range far and wide in southern England decimating anything that moved around the RAF fighter fields. Eventually it was planned that the regions known to the RAF as Group 11 and 12 would be devoid of safe places to land and gain respite from their relentless pursuers.

The other areas of the British Isles that harbored fighter squadrons would fall to other models of Soviet planes but Group 11 and 12 would be the domain of the Sturmovik and its unrivaled variety of deadly ground attack ordinance. Once the initial attacks began there would be nowhere to hide for the fighters of Group 11 and 12. Every waking hour the skies would be filled with Sturmoviks on the hunt.

They would have to retreat, but where? If they failed to rise to the fight then the VVS had won. If they ran to Iceland or Spain then the VVS had won. The destruction of the British infrastructure would begin just like it had to a helpless and prostrate Germany and Japan. The TU2S held as many pounds of incendiaries as the B17 and Lancaster bombers that fueled a fire storm in Dresden. The TU2S could range all over the British Isles. The Tu2S was significantly faster than the B17.
With the British populace devoid of an air umbrella the Pe 8 and Pe 9 heavy bombers of the VVS could be used with impunity, dropping their full loads of 11,000 lbs of bombs on the helpless populations below.  

If victory was not swift in coming the British would invent counter measures to the ones being practiced overhead. Novikov knew that for his own health and well being, he needed the Second Battle of Britain to be over in less than a month. With 5 to 1 odds it was imperative that he defeat Fighter and Anti-Aircraft Command quickly.

Stalin’s goal was not to invade Great Britain but to take it out of the war effort…to make it a neutral observer. To prevent it from becoming the unsinkable aircraft carrier it became in World War Two. To let the internal communist sentiments rule over the unruly…to assist a nascent communist party in its efforts to gain control over the people of the British Isles…to have them join the workers’ paradise…to throw out the Capitalist dogs that have held sway over the world’s peoples for far too long.

“Golden Dragon Rising” by RangerElite

Research & Development Laboratories
Hanyang Arms Manufacturing Complex
Wuhan City, State of Hupei, Federal Republic of China

Even though this was not in his area of expertise, Dr. Hugo Schmeisser was called into the laboratory to consult, and give his opinion. Though he thought the facilities as cruder than what he was used to, he felt that far more progress was being made, in far less time, than he would have ever hoped for. For his part, it was nice to be treated as an honored guest, rather than being prodded at gunpoint to and from the weapons laboratory at Izhevsk. If those Ukrainian patriots had not spirited him away from there, he surely would have died there, as old as he was.

Dr. Schmeisser was very excited as to what he was about to witness: the Luftfaust and the Luftschreck shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons, having been inproved to increase their range and lethality, were being taken out to the proving ground and test-fired today. It was such a simple premise, the same that had been used on the FlaK 36, to turn it from its intended purpose as an anti-aircraft cannon, into a premier, world-beating, anti-tank gun. The world had Erwin Rommel to thank for that. Had Rommel not been short on PaK's, he would not have even considered using the FlaK's in a direct-fire role. Well, this was a different kind of desperation, with a different set of circumstances, but the results always remained the same: improvisation and innovation.

The weapons themselves were fairly straightforward, but still revolutionary. The Luftfaust came in two different configurations: a 9-barreled 20-mm shoulder-fired projector and a 6-barreled 30-mm shoulder-fired projector. Both were loaded with disposable pre-packaged cartridges from the rear, and had to be fired from a clear area, as the back-blast that issued from the projectors was dangerous to the weapons' operators.  The projectiles were converted 20-mm or 30-mm proximity-fused high-explosive cannon shells, fitted to a tube filled with solid rocket propellant and outfitted with spring-loaded fins, that snapped out as soon as it left the muzzle of the projector. The Luftschreck was a straightforward conversion of the 8.8-cm Panzerschreck, with an anti-aircraft sight adapted from the one used on the MG34 and MG42 machine guns, and ammunition optimized for anti-aircraft use. By virtue of the fact that it still used liquid rocket propellant, and was now fitted with a proximity-fused combination HE/fragmentation warhead, made its manufacture problematic, especially in this area, where there were no mass-production facilities for making the propellant. A problem begging for a solution, thought Dr. Schmeisser. And as soon as the facilities became available for the large-scale manufacture of the liquid rocket propellant, there will be NOWHERE that the bloody Bolsheviks could fly where there wasn't steel shrapnel filling the air.

There were technicians and soldiers ready to conduct the tests, waiting only for the targets to appear overhead. And they appeared on time, huge box-kite targets being towed by Chinese Air Force C-46 tugs on very long tethers. As soon as the targets were released from the tugs into free-flight, and the tugs were safely away, the shooting began. Projectiles were flying all over the place, exploding high up, viciously shredding their hapless wood-and-fabric targets.

One tactic that became apparent to Schmeisser was that massed-fire was being used to destroy the targets. While he was more an advocate of good marksmanship, massed-fire had its place, and it was used to tremendous effect here. He witnessed 3 or 4 gunners concentrate on a target and completely blast it out of the sky. He also noticed the obvious difference in altitude ranges between the Luftschreck weapon, and it's shorter-ranged cousin, the Luftfaust. It was his uninformed opinion that if they were able to increase the range and devise a way to accurately track a jet, the Luftschreck would be the perfect weapon to shoot jets down. As a matter of fact, he would write a letter to the Chinese president to that effect, and let him know his impressions of this test, and inform him of his conclusions and ideas...

Now that this test was finished, he needed to return to his assigned duties, evaluating a new American battle rifle, a direct descendent of the StG-44, placed in his very capable hands by an American benefactor. This was an area of expertise with which he was quite familiar...

Do Unto Others by Tallthinkev

Jack stood at the edge of the apron, at the town end of Cambridge Airport and, really couldn't believe his eyes. He hadn't seen some of the aircraft since the first years of the last war, one of them not since he started at Marshalls 15 years ago.

'What the bloody hell is going on now?' he said to himself.Before him was a number of very out of date planes. 'All they need is a Heyford' he went on.

A few minutes later he was knocking on the door of Arthur Marshall.

'Come in Jack.' Jack did. 'I knew you would be here before long. You want to know what's going on, don't you?'

'Well I erm, was going to ask.'

'No need to ask I'll tell you right now. As you should know the Russian's used small slow planes to cause the very devils havoc to the Germans. Now it's our turn to do it to them.'

'By doing what?' asked Jack

'We need to find the best way to, buzz, I think the Americans call it, the Reds at night.'

Jack nodded, even though he didn't understand

Mr. Marshall carried on. 'We have to find out which of the one the Air

Ministry sent us is the best.'

'What do they mean by that.' Another nod.

'You know what they mean. As long as someone is doing something we can keep them of our backs, for a while at least. But we have to take this seriously. Shall we go and have a good look at what we have here. One thing I do know is one of them was sent by lorry in bits. Best bring young Wilhelm along, he may know what the Russian did.'

Two days later the biplanes they had been sent were ready for flight testing, even the Westland Wapiti. Apart from a few small bits and bobs things went well as expected and all flew.

The next day Jack again was called to the office.

'Right Jack, I want you and some other men to make your way to Wimpole Hall' said Arthur Marshall'

'Erm, why?', was Jack's reply.

'Why? I'll tell you why, because I told you to!' Arthur was not in the best of moods and it showed. Very unlike him in fact. Jack thought it was best to keep his mouth shut.

'I'm sorry Jack, that was uncalled for. We need to get to the hall because of prying eyes.'

Jack started to open his mouth, Arthur held up his hand. 'What I am going to tell you must never leave this office.'

Jack nodded.

'Spy's have been seen and caught in Newmarket Road.'

'Well I do know that, there was the bloke we captured at the Star. He was a wrong'ern.'

'Sorry, again, I had forgotten about that. Well anyway get to the hall and see how flat it is. We will test the planes there.'

After another fifteen minutes talking Jack left to office. He thought he had a hard job, he didn't think that was that bad for Arthur. He's only a few years older than me.

It was the next day,Tuesday, before they got to Wimpole Hall. Coming over Orwell hill took the little Austin van all it had, mainly because it was five up. Jack and Will in the front and another three in the back. Jack was surprised to see a couple of lines of tent set up in the grounds as they got there, and a strip had been marked out along the tree less avenue the ran from the front of the house It only took an hour or so check things over before heading back to Cambridge Airport.

The next day, at Wimpole Hall the small team of airport workers waited for the planes to land. When they had all arrived, they took some time for the sight to sink in, it was strange mix to say the least. From left to right were the six biplanes and one monoplane farthest the right.

First thing first, was to get them undercover. Large tent had been erected for this purpose and each did not look like anything like a place to hide a plane. One even had a field kitchen next to it, the fact that it was a field kitchen certainly helped. The place did look like a small training camp with a shooting range to one side and an cross country course to the other. A small Home guard camp was the idea, something the Russians would not worry about.
Some things were harder to hide, what to do with the fuel tanker was one. Tom was the one who came up with a very novel idea, a muck spreader. With just some bits of pipe added to each side and painted blue, who'd know it wasn't.

Another concern was what to do with the Westland Wallace, with a wing span of nearly fifty feet and length of thirty five it was just too big for a tent which was likely to be used by the army. The fact that it needed a tent height or twenty feet was yet another thing.

The Lysander was even bigger.

'Why wouldn't a Lysander be here anyway.' asked Will

'What do you mean.' said Jack

'It is too big to hide, is it not?'

Jack nodded.

'So why don't we let anybody see it. It would not be out of place at a camp like this, and it would also make the marks on the runway look like one plane.

Jack wouldn't have put it quite like that, but he knew what Will was on about. 'Good lad.' was all he said.

Two days later all the equipment they thought they would need was at the hall, hidden in the six man tents. Machine guns, drop tanks, dummy bombs, amour plate. They all knew that there was going to be stuff they would need that wasn't here.

The Tiger Moth was the first to be worked one and the first one to be discounted. Where to put two 20mm canon was the sticking point. The Gloster Gladiator was next in line, yes canon could be fitted but there was just no place with fixed hard points to carry bombs. It was a fighter after all. It was also too fast, if fast was a bad thing, it was the first time anyone had heard that.

Germany had used the Heinkel He-51 for the same role as Russia, with the Po-2. The trouble was they had no Heinkels. The two things they did have was two Hawker biplanes. A Hind and an Audax

First things first, they were both in very good condition, both very much the same performance.

One thing did stand when just looking at them on the ground. The Hart had a tail wheel and the Audax a skid under the tailplane. Things that you couldn't see were the hard points on the Audax, for a very good reason, it didn't have any. The Hind by contrast did and they decided to start with that.

It took only an hour and a half to look over the Hind. Everything that should be there was..
Thought then turned to the rear seat. Should they keep it? The Po-2 didn't have a gunner, should they do the same. It was late in the day and dusk was coming on. They would leave it until the next day.

Bright and early the next morning, too bright and too early as far as Jack was concerned, they were back. The powers that be had been thinking. Not that they had asked anyone who had to do the works opinion. The Hind was going be turned into a single seater.
'How are we going to do that.' Tom spoke up.

'How would you do it?' was Jack reply.

'Well I would take out the seat, the ring mount for the Lewis gun and then cover with fabric.'

'I never thought I would say it, but you are learning young Tom.'

Jack was pleased how Tom had come along within the space of the last few months.

'Get to it then Tom, you're in charge.'

It took longer than Tom had hoped it would, mostly down to rusted bolts on the ring and the Lewis gun mount. He stuck to it anyway and was not put off by the delay.

'The lad is really getting to be a good worker.' said Arthur.

'Yes I think you well maybe right there.' said Jack standing beside him.

'There is just one thing.'

'What's that?'

'We had to put a fuel tank in there.'

'Where? The place where the gunner was? I wouldn't want to fly it if it was there.'

'That makes two of us Jack. But as luck would have it we will also be putting in armor plate as well as the normal fire wall.

Jack did a bit of adding up. 'That's going to add the best part of 500lb to the all up weight. No, I haven't taken out the gunner.'

A few seconds later.

'Let's say without the gunner, seat, mount and gun and other bits and bobs.' Jack brow creased. 'It's still the best part of 250lb'

'Not quite.' was the answer from Arthur.

'What do you mean?'

'The added armor plate under and besides the pilot, the new tank and fuel, four 20mm canon plus a bomb load of, at least 750lb.'

Jack had to speak up, 'You mean it's going to be, what? 6500-7000lb? How the hell is it going to get of the ground?'

The work started two days later to find out if it could take off, let alone fly.

On the Friday, repair's started on the Hind. There was not too much to do, just where the starboard wing had clipped the ground. Cutting and fitting the tubular framework and then sow on the fabric and dope it. The under carriage somehow survived the 15ft drop from the hop the plane had managed to make before it ran out of runway.

Whilst Jack worked on the wing the rest striped the Hind of the extra fuel tank and took off two of the Hispano canons from under the wing. That already had taken the weight down by, the best part of 800lb, if the fuel was taken in to consideration. Still the Hind weighed more than the 4,650lb it was meant to carry. Jack after finishing the wing pointed, out that observer and his equipment was the best part of 250lb. That was taken off as well. Until Will pointed out that had already been take off when the tank was taken out.

'He's getting too clever by half.' muttered Jack.
On the Saturday afternoon they were visited by Sidney Camm the designer of the Hind. With his help the Hind took to the air.

This time for real.

Sluggish was the word that came to mind, others thought death trap.

It took the best part of 10 minutes to get to 7500ft, over twice as much as normal. This could be a real problem. But as Mr Camm said. 'Does it need to get that high if you want to attack the ground and not be detected by the Reds radar?' Another thing that hadn't been crossed the minds of those there.

Sunday morning was the set time for the mock attacks. The attack started at 15.00hrs along the course of the hundred foot drain, near Earth.
After three days of testing, including a night exercise things were no where as good as hoped.
More than a weeks worth of wasted time.

'A case of if you don't try, you don't know.' said Jack as they headed back to Cambridge.

Back home Jack slept. Then with almost a start he woke, got up and managed to find pencil and paper. This was something so obvious no one had though about.

'It's not what we had in mind, but should work. Why the hell didn't think of this myself.' said Arthur Marshall.

'I don't know why anybody didn't think of it.' said Jack 'Do you know where we can get some from?'

'Not too sure. Warboys might. Could still use one or two as station hacks I'll give them a ring.'

With that Jack left the office and went to collect his pay packet. He took it back a couple of minutes later.

'Anything wrong Jack.' asked Mavis

'There's 15 bob too much.'

'Let me check that, then dear.' Mavis looked in the large ledger. 'no everything seems to be fine. Well that'll mean a little more pocket money for young John won't it.'

'Yes I suppose it will.' and a good bottle of whisky for me thought Jack. It had been a very good day, after the last two weeks, it was about time. A plane for night attacks on the Russians and a pay rise. What's the next thing? They always come in three's.