Search results



Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
New Book Covers

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Dover Scar

The crater where the first bomb that fell on the British Isles was just starting to erode after 4 weeks. It hadn't been touched since the 1000 KG bomb was dropped prematurely by the TU2 S Bat when the bombardier hit the wrong switch shortly after crossing the Channel from France. Our particular bomb was a split second faster in being released and hit the ground ahead of its twin. The bombs landed about a kilometer West Southwest of the South Foreland Lighthouse in the chalky white Dover soil close to the famous cliffs of Dover. The white scar stands out quite well from the surrounding green grass of a pasture gone to seed. The sheep who used to graze there having been moved and eventually slaughtered and put in cans for soldiers in the British Army to eat.

The limestone that is just under the surface of a thin film of topsoil is blindingly white compared to the green grass surrounding them. The two bombs formed a distinct pattern with the lead crater shaped like an arrowhead pointing straight at London and the following white scar having created a crack in the stone that for all intents and purposes formed the shaft of an arrow. For months the VVS pilots had been using it as a kind of good luck charm and symbol of an arrow point the way to London. If the British had known they surely would have filled it in but the whole area had been abandoned as the battle raged further and further afield. This one crater among 10s of thousands was not a major concern.

This was to  be the last sortie for Andrei Yurkov and his Yak 3P fitted with drop tanks over Britain. The RAF had long since given up on the tactic of attacking the flights of Soviet planes over the channel to force them to jettison their drop tanks. Just enough escorting fighters were designated as interceptors and they dropped their tanks and took on the attacking Spitfires while the vast majority of planes droned on to their destination on full tanks. The dog fights over the Channel had been a draw for both sides and it did not greatly affect the outcome of later battles over the 52 airfields that Fighter Command had ringed with AA defenses in an attempt to create safe zones covered by a lead curtain of proximity fused 3.7 mm shells. These guns it turned out were the targets of the initial onslaught of over 6,000 sorties a day for over month that the Red Air Force was able to blanket the British Isles with.

Just as they had done over Berlin, the sortie rate had not slackened for close to 30 days. During those 30 days the AA defenses of Fighter Command has ceased to exist which left the landing and taking off RAF fighters sitting ducks to hundreds of marauding Tu2S Bats, Yak 9 Franks, La 7 Fins, IL10 Beasts and Pe2 Bucks. Then the hunt was on for taking off and landing RAF fighters running out of fuel or rolling down the runway. Even planes on the approach pattern who were low and slow took a beating.

The Scar in Dover, as it became known throughout the VVS, was considered a sign of good luck to pilots who flew over it. Andrei got as close to the Scar as he could for good luck. His Yak 3P was behaving quite nicely. It was a good machine to fly. Very responsive and it was very easy to avoid the high angle attacks that the RAF pilots tried to use against him. The timing had to be right but with so many potential wingmen flying cover for you he did not have a really close call yet. He actually regretted shooting down the 4 fighter planes he was credited with. It just didn’t seem fair to destroy a worthy opponent while he was just taking off or landing. It was like shooting fish in a barrel as he had heard an American pilot exclaim during the last war. Yurei was a triple ace for Mother Russia. All but the four last had been worthy kills. Well maybe not the 109 over Berlin. It was flown by what obviously was a student pilot who could barely keep his plane in the air much less do any combat maneuvers. But a kill was a kill and one more step towards the honors and medals that lead to a larger apartment for his family. The thought crossed his mind of, who would put fish in a barrel in the first place and when shoot them?

He was due to rotate out. See his family for a whole month and then move on to the Baku area for interceptor duty. He had heard that Novikov was concerned about the disappearance of the majority of American’s heavy bombers and was preparing for an attack in that area after the British were defeated. He was curious about the region around Cambridge. Whenever they did meet opposition it seem to come from that direction yet all reports were that the airport there was not functioning and was put out of working order earlier on in the attack. His Yak 3 was not made for such a long flight the rumors coming back from the bomber pilots and Yak 9D Frank pilots pointed towards an unknown and still quite functioning airfield of some size in that  area. Time after time he had heard that the NKVD was fully confident that such and hidden airfield was a myth.

Well that was not his concern today or for the near future. He was going to spend the winter in fairly warm climes compared to France and Britain. The area of the oil fields in the Caucasus was very nice in the winter. Far away from any combat. Just air patrols over the great expanse of the Mother Land. Hopefully quite boring. The first few days of this battle had been anything but. The RAF pilots were good. He was ever thankful that the VVS had used the intervening 6 months after the end of the last war to retrain thousands of veterans in defection shooting and practicing constantly on how to elude a faster opponent when he tried to zoom down on you and then zoom away. The maintenance was better and you could just feel the improved quality of the engines and even the cannons jammed less often thanks to the better quality of the ammunition.

It all helped to make you feel more confident. Add in the fact that the Red Air Force had 5 to one odds even at the beginning and that had only gotten better as the battle progressed. As he took a slow right hand turn over the South Foreland Lighthouse he noticed that someone had put a few cannon rounds into the North side. That was uncalled for in his opinion. There were plenty of other targets to shoot at than this giant white tower.

Yurei signaled his wingman. He still couldn’t get use to the radios they had been given and preferred the hand signals whenever possible. It kept the flight on their toes and always watching the flight leader. This was a good thing in his opinion. He did, however, allowed Oleg in number 4 slot a lot of latitude because he has the best eyes he had ever experienced. He would put up Oleg’s vision against any airborne radar system known for a 60 kilometer radius. He was truly amazing at spotting enemy aircraft.

Time to climb for some height. It didn’t matter that the British radar would pick them up easier. In fact they wanted to get into a fight with as many RAF fighters as they could attract.  Their little furball would call in dozens and then possibly scores of Red Army fighters who would either join the fight or wait for the English to break for home and then follow them like a pack of wolves attacking the slowest and wounded along the way and then catching the rest as they tried to land.

Many an initial battle had been numerically lost only to end up a huge victory for the vultures who followed the supposed victors home and shot them out of the sky when they were the most vulnerable. He preferred to be in the position of being the bait. The RAF rose to the occasion less and less now. He sensed that they were about finished. It did take them a good 3 weeks longer than the commanders planned on but it was about over.

How could the British stay in this war after losing the battle for the sky over their heads. Nothing moved on the roads or rails during the day and we were even setting the Night Witches lose at night. Any RAF fighters that were still functioning were very well hidden and did not venture forth often less they would be followed back to their hiding places. Even the new planes coming out of the factories were not allowed to be moved during the day.

He had flown top cover for a  couple of squadrons of IL10 Beasts that had been vectored into a couple of dozen brand new Meteors hidden in a woods near the factory waiting to be transported that night. When he had expressed his concern at finding the correct woods much less the planes hidden within it, his commander had hinted at spies and Lavrenti Beria being involved. Sure enough they did not see anything in the woods the first pass until a few Beasts dropped some PAT bomblets and then all hell broke loose as the IL10s dropped their external fuel tanks and did their Circle of Death ballet over the patch of still burning woods blindly reaching out with 23mm cannon rounds until another target appeared from under the camouflage.

It was very good camouflage to the naked eye. If the spy who spotted and then reported them would not have been involved they would never have seen them in the woods. The jets on either side had not played a major role as of yet. Both sides models had very limited range so they consequently never met in battle. The US Shooting Star had great range but except for a few incidents did not appear over British air space. He suspected that was why he was being pulled out of the Channel area and sent to Baku. The American’s were sure to attack from somewhere soon. He had heard a  major bombing campaign would be launched in the Spring from Iberia or possibly some of the islands in the Mediterranean. He was just a fighter pilot however and had no firm proof of anything.

Ten more minutes and then he would turn for home...or at least the French coast. He would go to sleep dreaming about the good life waiting for him near the Black Sea. It would be a major change from the intense fighting he experienced over Britain. A very welcome change he mused. Maybe he could bring down his family to enjoy the warmer climes in Baku. He felt in his bones that this part of the world was in for a very hard winter. He had felt this before near Moscow in 1943 and he was proven right.