Attack Hitler's Bunker!
Attack Hitler's Bunker!
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At precisely 4.15pm, Michael eased back on the throttle and let his Bf 109E settle on her cushion of air. The silver ribbon of the Thames Estuary opened up below and ahead of him, as they emerged from below the cloud that had concealed the three aircraft for the last few miles while crossing the English Channel.
As planned, in the distance ahead of he could see the tiny bursts of flame and drifting smoke of the diversionary attack on West London by Heinkel He 111s. All was going to plan. Above him the glorious afternoon sun beat down in an almost clear blue sky on the Perspex of the cockpit. He twisted in his seat, first to his left and then right, to check Gustav and Joachim were in position behind him. Joachim, to his right waved once and stuck his thumb up, grinning. Michael turned back to look ahead and then took a deep breath.
'This is it!' he thought.
From 24,000 feet, he pushed the nose gently forward. As Gunther, his chief-mechanic had warned him, Daisy was a little sluggish, loaded as she was with 850 kilogrammes of the latest explosive, W-salz, packed in behind the pilot and fuel-tank. To compensate, rather than remove the heavy 40mm engine-cannon as well, they had left it in place. He heard the Daimler-Benz engine revs climb as the shaking needle on the airspeed indicator indicated 480 Km/h, 500, 520...
As the roaring slipstream started to shake the compact fighter the little Donald Duck Anna had given to him before the War started swinging violently from side to side, until its head started hitting the bullet-proof windscreen. He had to reach up and steady it to satisfy some strange inner urge. He pushed away the image of Oxford's old University buildings framing Anna's beautiful face, which came into his head unbidden, and focused instead on the image of all three aircraft flying smoothly between the span of Tower Bridge. He lined up the yellow nose of his beloved 109 Emile on the centre span and led the three Messerschmitt's, screaming, down to just ten feet above the choppy brown waves. Ack ack fire burned hot slices in the air all around them as they dove but they were quickly too low for the desperate aim of the gunners.
Just before dawn on the 12 th July, 1943, Oberleutnant Michael Dorfmann had swished aside the dewy grass with his leather boots as he walked up to the yellow nose of his Messerschmitt. Today was the day of the attack and this was the first time he had seen Daisy since she had emerged modified from the Jagdgeschwader (JG) 26's workshops at Vendeville. The other two modified 109 Es, called affectionately Emiles, squatted menacingly in the grass either side but both their pilots were still in their beds.
Michael reached up and patted the yellow spinner and then ran his left hand down one of the black propeller blades lovingly. His hand left the blade and flew through the air to land on the yellow-painted lower cowl of the engine. He patted her as if patting a lover's chin. Then he ran his hand along the leading edge of the port wing as far as the leading-edge slats. As his fingers passed over them, he ran his index finger around the glued patches over the machine gun ports. Although he was against war, it seemed an injury that his aircraft had had her guns removed. She was designed for one thing and one thing only; shooting down other aircraft. That was one of the things he didn't like about her. But love is able to accept a flaw.
She was beautiful. She was also the last 109 E in JG 26. Michael's old III Group had been using them when he had been posted to the Eastern front to command a new Group for the Russian invasion but then re-