BOB User Stories: Attack Height 50 Meters Episode II

Attack Height 50 Meters Episode II

Read Attack Height 50 Meters Episode I here.

Will I shoot someone who is defenseless? Would that be different from bombing the maintenance halls which might also contain some people that can not shoot back or from bombing the fox holes or even from the He111 crews bombing London? Suddenly, I realize that I have gotten the perspective wrong! The Spitfire is not flying away from me, as I had initially thought. It is flying perpendicular to my flight path and is not crippled but is actually taking off! If I do not get it now it will become a deadly menace to us shortly! I get an even bigger jolt as I look to the left. There, where the Spit came from, I can see several other Spits taking off, line astern!

Curving to get directly behind and on the “six” of the first Spitfire would, of course, make me an easy target for the others, so I will have to try deflection shooting. As usual, at first I fly so that I will have the best possible firing position for the middle unit of the six enemy planes. Ok, I am getting so near now I have to swing right or I will no longer be able to get the first enemy fighter into my sights. I squeeze off a short burst while swinging right and back again. Of coarse I miss my target completely. Swinging back, I have to get on the second one. I’m too high – push! Damn! My bullets went over him. There is the third one, but I’m too low! Bl**dy PIOs! Although having throttled back completely I am surprised that I can still shoot at the other three and have not crossed their line already. Maybe they took off staggered? It does not matter why.

I do not get the fourth and fifth one either. Unbelievable! What a bad shot I am, and with such an opportunity! With the last one, I at last get a satisfying bright flash of a cannon hit. Normally a cannon hit will do heavy damage to a single-engine fighter. In this case, it had struck in what is probably the least critical area, the area between cockpit and rudder, in the back of the fuselage. Anyway, I can not watch him to see the consequence of my action. I throttle up to leave the danger area as fast as possible.

Fate obviously wanted to test my shooting abilities a bit more because at that moment, another Spitfire flew in front of me from the right, almost into the optimal position for me and I automatically made a small movement with the control column to get behind him. I squeezed the trigger. Due to the very short distance we had now wound up in, this set him alight instantly. My aim is often better when I do not think about it and handle such things almost subconsciously.

In order to stay behind the Spit, my left hand went over to cut the throttle. Then I realized that he probably had had it and that I should get out of there. I left the throttle open. He was ablaze from front to tail. I hoped I had killed him so he would not have to endure the horror of his situation. We were probably not even 50 meters above the ground. To safely parachute out the enemy pilot would have to gain altitude first while remaining seated in an inferno. I was transfixed looking at the beautiful plane I was just overtaking; even the friendly 109’s I had only seen once or twice up this close. At that moment I had no fear. My hands instinctively steered me clear of him so there was no collision. It was only later that I thought about the possibility he might have exploded. I was a bit surprised when the doomed machine flew on straight. Probably this was only a matter of a second or even less however it seemed like eternity to me. I was now along side him. The Spitfire flew on straight, but began to roll. Once it had rolled onto its back and just above the tarmac, it nosed slightly down. As I realized what would happen, dread struck me. “Dear god – no!!” I do not know whether I spoke it out loud or managed to only whisper, so Rudi would not hear me. For whatever reason, God chose to stop the roll once the airplane was on its back and had it descend very, very slowly without further rotations.

I gulped hard, my head almost exploding from the flashback to Gert. This can’t be happening! This can’t be such a horrid coincidence! Am I dreaming? No, I somehow know this is happening for real. What happened was exactly like Gert’s horrible death, only in slow motion. I remember that cruel day during our advanced fighter training on 109’s as if it were yesterday.

Gert, was always the very best at everything he did. I knew him from Flieger HJ. He was always the best pilot and sometimes I thought he flew better than some instructors did. I not only admired him; he was also my best friend. Surprisingly I was his best friend as well. He was always laughing. He was never afraid of anything. One time in the Flieger HJ, a SG33 “Sch�delspalter” pilot hit his SG38 in the air. When we approached the crash site, he already came towards us, laughing.
We only had a few landings on grass and on this particular day were about to learn to land on a runway. Of coarse, after an intense briefing, he went first. We were standing near the fire engine. The fire crew stood there in the sun, sweating profusely dressed in their protective clothing. Right besides us was the Sanka. Its driver was an older medical officer who must have seen everything in his time. His was looking bored and read the V�lkischer Beobachter.

Gert came in a bit high and the 109 did not want to shed its speed. Right in front of us, right in the middle of the tarmac, we could see that he was now only a few meters above earth. I think he had finally slowed down to landing speed by now and he might still have made it. Maybe he would have overshot the runway and got a bent prop, but 100 meters past our position, he gave full power to execute a go around. The 109 violently rolled 180 degrees! She was now in a tail down, nose up position.
Sometimes I think that perhaps Gert, after being inverted, may have tried to climb while flying on his back instead of rolling 180 degrees again, and in the process, loosing even more height than he could afford. The rest went as slow and painful as the roll was quick and violent. The rudder scraped along the tarmac and we knew Gert would not make it. He must have known what would happen as well. We could literally see the rudder getting smaller, the top being sanded off by the rough tarmac.

The hard earth pushed up on the rudder and the 109 assumed a more horizontal position. We could see when the canopy touched the ground. The 109 was still sliding very fast along the ground. It was still travelling at a speed of at least 100 km/h. We could not see Gert, but we saw the canopy getting smaller and smaller and everyone could imagine how his head was being gradually ground off, slice after slice, like you use an eraser to erase a pencil mark. After the carcass of the 109 came to a stop, I looked around, saw the Sanka with a driver inside and the engine already howling. I reached out and grabbed it by and held on to the windscreen edge with one hand and an edge of the roof with the other. The driver headed for the tarmac, turned onto it and floored the accelerator pedal. I could barely hold on. Everything looked watery through my burning tears. Two blinks and I could see a bit better.

Read the next entry in this user-created story here, whenever it becomes available.