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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Witches Fly Again

The team of Williams and Johnson had made triple ace status in the last war by being able to see in the dark. Combining the Mosquito and radar had created a killing machine that owned the night. Some of the new US planes designed specifically for night fighting might have a future advantage but for now the Mosquito Night fighter was the best there was in the battle space now in contention over Western Europe and Britain. They owned the night and Williams and Johnson were considered among the best.

They were perfectly matched with the pilot Williams proclivity for taking the occasional chance and Johnson there to reign him in when he started to wander too far from the garden path. Tonight was like many others with one glaring exception...TARGETS! From the airfields across the Channel in enemy territory close to a hundred echoes bounced back to warn Fighter Command that something was rising into the night. Exciting times if you were a night fighter but puzzling none the less. Why now?

Since the inception of the battle the VVS had declined to fight at night. The RAF had conducted many raids and created many widows and the response had been muted to say the least. Even the Night Witches had ceased to fly. It was widely surmised that the Soviets had no expertise, equipment nor the training to fight at night. They had no need to swirl about in the pitch dark. Their night defying missiles had put a stop to any large strategic bombing raids for now and the pin pricks visited upon their airbases at night were a mere nuisance and not worthy of concerted effort in the large scheme of things. Similar to Washing Machine Charley or their own Night Witches. An irritant but not a strategic or even a major tactical concern.

Yet tonight they had arisen from the shores of the Channel and were flying West with what seemed like a purpose. Almost 100, what seemed like solo missions, spread out and flying due West at low to medium altitude. The new models of radar easily picked them up and they must have known that yet here they were flying into what would seem to be certain destruction. True the AA defenses had been decimated but he night fighter units had been largely untouched and had been well hidden during the onslaughts of the previous days that had decimated their daylight counterparts. For the most part the night fighter units were intact and ready to deal death.

Williams dove down and approached the much slower target from the lower rear heading Towards the West but still over the Channel. When he got within 2km he saw a light come from where the target was. For all intents and purposes is looked like a missile being launched. Johnson shouted a warning that another blip was on the radar and closing fast. Williams didn't need to be told that he could see the damn thing streaking right at him at a tremendous rate. Acting instinctively he put the Mossie in a wing over screaming dive and luckily he timed it right as the missile could not turn fast enough given the closing rate. Williams mind was thinking... the God damn thing turn and would have hit us. It God damn turned. Jeesus where was it now? It was one of those guided things he has heard about. But in the night! What the hell!

"Where is that thing Johnson? Can you see it for God's sake?
"Hell no...and it's off the radar behind us somewhere?"
"We can turn faster than it can if we know where it is."
"It's got a flame coming out the back it shouldn't be this hard to see it for God's sake."

Williams with his pilots eyes, saw the blue flame off to the right as they continued on in the dive. As he was trying to pull up the Mossie creaked and groaned like an old rocking chair before it broke. If there was a tree down there we are dead, he thought. Then wham the missile exploded as it was turning towards them again.
The wood bomber power zoomed away from the water like only a Mosquito can and was quickly back to a safe altitude. All the unexpected gyrations had caused Johnson to smash his head into the radar scope and put it and his left eye out of commission. Their night was over.

"What in bleeding hell was that?"
"One of those guided missiles the day boys are always talking about I should think."
"What's it doing our here in the night? I saw no indication of radar pulses coming from it or the target and where did it come from. The target was moving away from us not pointed at us. We have to get back and report this newest big from Ivan and see if the egg heads can figure it out."
"How bad are you hurt?'
"Not too, but the scope is off kilter and we are done for the night anyway."

Just the then Williams spotted another missile launch and saw the missile initially drop from the now silhouetted twin engine plane. The missile had indeed launched backwards and was heading with a vengeance at something. That something turn out to be another Mossie. Whomever was in this plane did not react as fast or, as it turned, out as correctly as he did. The Mossie turned and dove way too slow and the missile hit it amidships and flames were everywhere along with pilot and crew he assumed. He kicked himself for being so crass at a time like this, but the mind does such things.

In all their maneuverings they were now low and slow and heading back East and heading towards Dunkirk. A tingling feeling went through Williams body and the hair of the back of his neck went up just before another missile slammed into them.

Zoya just hoped that what she was told was indeed what was going to happen. She and her fellow Witches were told to fly like a metal duck in a shooting gallery and wait for the Nightmare Missiles hanging from her outmoded Pe-3 Bis to tell her she was being hunted. Two of the things were pointed forwards and 4 where pointed backwards! Who would have thought of that and why? But then she thought about it. Where would a night fighter with radar attack you from? The rear of course! Why not have the missile launch backwards if your enemy was behind you. Who needs a rear gunner when you have a rear missile? It was not like the rear facing ones cause that much more drag. The Pe-3 was slow as hell anyway.

She was sweating and so nervous that when the four rear missiles started to signal in unison that something was behind her she almost wet herself and would have jumped a meter if she wasn't strapped in. She had not been trained to fly at night extensively. These Pe-3s had been given to the navy as dive bombers and no one expected them to see combat again. But they had slapped a new late war German radar set in them and put those Nightmares facing the wrong way on them and told them what to do.
Basically they were bait and a launching platform for the Nightmare. Nothing fancy about that. Just go and fly West into what looked like assured death for the Motherland. And they all did it of course. That's what you did in Stalin's realm. Only this might not be so deadly for them after all.

Once a rear facing missile was launched they were to turn and attempt to follow it to its target. If it did not hit the target they should be facing the correct direction and could turn on the radar or even just wait for the forward facing missiles to start signaling. If so then they were to launch them.

She and 18 others got lucky that night. A total of 53 missiles were launched with 11 rear firing and 7 launched frontally hitting their intended targets. She never did see the enemy until it exploded in a flaming ball that plummeted to earth.

After her left outside rear facing missile was launched she threw the little bomber in a tight right hand turn while Maya tried to keep an eye on the missile. While completing the turn she caught a glimpse of the Mosquito as the missile flashed by it briefly illuminating it. She supposed that the Nightmare could have some kind of flash suppressor or flame reducer or whatever they called it, so it wasn't so bright but then again maybe that was by design to scare the enemy even more and to make them and their intended target easier to see. It did work in his case and she clearly saw the general direction the night fighter was headed. She pointed her nose at where the plane should be and her forward Nightmares started to chatter so she launched one.

She reported that she did not believe that the enemy knew what hit him. The deadly Mosquito Night Fighter did not appear to be attempting any evasive maneuvers like the initial encounter and was flying fairly straight and level. Probably trying to process his near miss with death only to set himself up again for said fate. Other successful forward firing marksmen reported similar findings, although you could hardly call them marksmen when all they did was to point and hit the launching button. The missile did the rest.

The rear firing successes appeared to be a matter of surprise. A deer in the headlights type of reaction by the ill fated, would be hunters, caught red handed in the spotlight and not knowing how to react. Fascinated by the turn of events and not able to think to turn their planes quickly enough. Perfectly understandable if you asked her and the commissar did ask her.

The Night Witches were back!

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