Author Topic: Dolfo - An Alternative (Hi)Story  (Read 3941 times)

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Offline MichelC

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Dolfo - An Alternative (Hi)Story
« on: June 13, 2013, 02:53:18 pm »
A little story I thought of while building the Me 163 Komet. The beginning anyway, there's still more waiting to be written.

It's kind of a back story. Not exactly the historical background type. More like fiction, which I think is more fun. I've never been good with dates anyway.

Might not be the right board to post it so Mods, feel free to move it to where it belongs.

There is no title for it because I still have to think of one.

Of course you're welcome to comment.

Here goes.

   “You reach intercept altitude, level off. Your engine cuts out. Just then you get bounced by Indians. What do you do?”
   No immediate answer jumped out at him. He simply hadn’t seen this one coming.
   “What do you do, Leutnant Friedmann?”
   Was there a trace of sarcasm in the voice or was it his imagination?
He forced his brain into gear. You had to wait two minutes after a flameout before attempting a relight. No place to be with enemy fighters on your tail. Not if you valued your own life, anyway. Best course of action: get the hell out of there. The question was how.
“I take evasive action—”
    “Evasive, is it?” the Major cut in. “As in ‘stalling when you don’t know the correct answer’ perhaps?”
So it was sarcasm. Why? What did he do wrong?  
“I’m not yet familiar with the Komet’s combat tactics. But I will learn. Sir.” Trying to make it sound like a statement, not an apology
   “Why do you want to be a rocket fighter pilot, Leutnant Friedmann?”
   He wasn’t sure what he resented the most—the sudden grilling or the repeated use of the rank plus name form of address.
   “To do my duty to the fatherland.” A truth of sorts. Like a geometry axiom or the fact that the Earth is round are truths.
   “You were doing your duty to the fatherland already. Why did you apply for a transfer to JG 400?”
   Friedmann gave the rest of it, thought out and learned almost by rote for just such an occasion as this: “Because the Raketenjäger is what is making the difference. It will free the skies of enemy bombers. It is doing so already. It is turning the tide and will bring us victory. And I want to be a part of that.”
   And because of the sheer thrill of flying a rocket plane. He thought but didn’t say it.
   Sitting back in his chair, arms folded on his chest, the Major was gazing at Friedmann in a way that said, If the Komet it all that, which it is, then you know what hangs in the balance when it comes to choosing the right person for the job.
   A cold hand gripped Friedmann’s insides. He had been so close, thought he was so close, that he hadn’t even considered the possibility of a rejection, taking things for granted when he shouldn’t have, dismissing the meeting with the Gruppenkommandeur as a mere formality, confident in his good record and his lucky star, never realizing that becoming a member of the elite was much less dependent on a bunch of documents making it up the administrative chain of command and down again with the proper seals and signatures than it was on the elite itself accepting him as one of theirs.
He now stood before that elite and his self-confidence was crumbling fast.  
   “There is only one reason any pilot wants to fly the Komet,” the Major said softly. “And it isn’t duty.” He didn’t say what the reason was. He didn’t have to.
   Friedmann had gone through it a thousand times in his mind. The kick of the Walter engine. The nearly vertical climb. The Earth below an afterthought, gravity a defeated enemy. The excitement and the danger. His heart would hammer in his chest just imagining it.
   “I’ve dreamed of flying the Komet ever since I heard the rumors,” he said. A meaningful truth, this.  
   The rumors. Going around the barracks in whispers. Of a revolutionary new design: an arrow-shape with no tail, no prop. Fire coming out of its donkey. Fuel that burned the pilot alive if it leaked and blew him to smithereens if he so much as made a rough landing. Or for no good reason at all. But the beast was said to be faster than greased lightning. Nobody was supposed to know anything. The project was so secret it had a classification of ‘burn before reading’. Friedmann had been amazed at finding out just how much of the gossip, which had sparked many an ambition to become a rocket fighter pilot among the Luftwaffe rank and file, had been borne out by the facts.
“I would do anything to become a Komet pilot,” he added.
   Nothing changed in the Major’s expression.
   “And what makes you think you have it in you?” he said.
   Many are called but few are chosen, Friedmann knew. He had never doubted that the list of the few included his name. Before now.  
   “I know I do.” Said with a fervor he didn’t need to pretend.
   The Major leaned forward, resting his elbows on his desk, hands clasped together on the blotter.  
   “So you fancy a rocket ride. Do you have any idea of what it is to take the Komet into combat?” Emphasis on the last two words.
   “I have seen combat, Sir.” A weak defense but he didn’t know what else to say.  
The Major looked at him for a moment before speaking. His eyes were hard.
“You have five confirmed kills.” The way he said it, it sounded like a bad case of gonorrhea.
“Yessir,” Friedmann said, trying for a neutral tone of voice.
    “And a probable.” Voice still laced with scorn.  
   “Correct, Sir.”
   “Flying the 109. The Gustav.”
An old fighter design. Something little better than a Fokker triplane.
These weren’t questions. So he stopped answering.
   “With Jagdgeschwader 26.” Four facts, each an accusation.
A memory of his time with his old squadron flashed by. With something vaguely resembling hurt pride tagged to it.  
“The Amis feared our yellow noses,” he said.
The Major’s eyes narrowed.
   “How long to 20,000 feet in your yellow nose, Friedmann?”
   “Six minutes, Sir.”
   “It takes half that time to get to twice that height in the 163. With 450 mph on the clock. That’s faster in a seventy degrees climb than any Allied fighter in level flight.”
   Friedmann knew that. He’d learned as much as he could about the Komet. Though right now he felt like what he knew wasn’t worth a cancelled ration coupon.
   “I’ll tell you what the Amis fear,” the Major continued. “A tiny, bat-like thing that’s come and gone faster than they can say ‘holy poo-poo’. Shadow zooms past underneath, Dicke Auto disintegrates. Just like that. They wet their pants just thinking about it.”
   Friedmann had heard of the Jagdfaust. Formidable weapon. Tailor-made for the 163. Ten fifty millimeter shells, firing straight up, all at once, each capable of bringing down a bomber. Photocell trigger. Activated by the enemy aircraft’s shadow. Fly by underneath a Flying Fortress, leave only wreckage in your wake.
   “Nothing like a couple of their bombers exploding in their midst to send their nice, tight combat box to hell.” A smile on the Major’s lips. Humorless. “They’re still trying to figure out what’s hit them when you’re back for a second pass. Pick them off with cannon fire. Then a third pass. A fourth, if you’re good.”
   A realization: he’s been there, he’s done it. Friedmann felt a pang of envy.
   “To you they’re sitting still,” the Major continued. “To them you’re a blur in the sky. Escort fighters can’t catch you. Bomber gunners can’t even track you with their guns.” A pause. “And that’s the problem.” Another pause.
Friedmann waited for the punch line he knew was coming.  
   “Your approach speed is 590 mph. The bomber stream is pulling 250. That’s a closure rate of 340 mph if you’re coming from the rear. Time from the moment you’re in range to the moment you have to disengage: three and a half seconds. That’s all the time you’ve got to line up your target and fire.”
   The Major let that sink in. Then: “During a frontal attack it’s down to one second.”
   Friedmann called up a memory of an air battle: he in his 109—a straggling B-24—getting in position on its six—a short wait until the bomber’s silhouette fills the gunsight—a squeeze of the trigger—strikes registering on the bomber’s wing—applying a little rudder to tighten his aim before overtaking—overtaking.  
He time-lapsed the attack sequence to make it fit into the three point five seconds time frame. Tough. He didn’t even try it with the one-second frontal attack version.
   The Major was watching him, nodding slowly. “Right. Do you know how long it took you to answer my tactical scenario question? Wrongly, but never mind that.”
   “Two seconds?”
    “Three. Do you know what happens to pilots who need three seconds to react, Leutnant Friedmann?”
   A tiredness settled suddenly on his shoulders.
   “You will tell me, Sir.”
“Dead happens.” The Major said flatly. “Do you know what ‘dead’ means, Friedmann?”
“Dead means reports, an endless chain of them. It means personnel requests to be sent through channels, rosters in need of adjusting, letters to the next of kin asking to be written, personal belongings to be sorted…” Voice trailing off. “Dead’s a headache, Friedmann. I strongly advise you to never have anything to do with it.”
“I’ll do my best, Sir.”
   “Through taking—” a pause, a vague motion of the hand “—evasive action?”

(To be continued...)

copyright 2013 Michel Cendrart (you never know...)

Offline Caveman

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Re: MichelC - An Alternative (Hi)Story
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2013, 01:23:12 pm »
secretprojects forum migrant

Offline Rheged

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Re: MichelC - An Alternative (Hi)Story
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2013, 02:43:04 pm »

Agreed!! He writes as  competently  as he models!
"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you....."
It  means that you read  the instruction sheet

Offline Father Ennis

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Re: MichelC - An Alternative (Hi)Story
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2013, 09:23:33 pm »
I could say it differently,but you guys have said it quite well already.

Offline PR19_Kit

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Re: MichelC - An Alternative (Hi)Story
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2013, 02:08:04 am »
I wonder how small the original text was? I imagine Michel wrote it on the back of a handy postage stamp..............  ;)
Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage

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Offline MichelC

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Re: MichelC - An Alternative (Hi)Story
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2013, 03:07:23 pm »
Thank you for the comments. I'd been wondering how this was coming across. Glad you like it.

Kit, sorry to disappoint but I write this on my stinking slow laptop.  ;)

I just noticed the profanity detection/substitution software. "Holy poo-poo!"  ;D Gee, that's so funny. "Donkey" was substituted for...well, I guess that if I write the correct word it'll just come out as "donkey" again! What can I say? Feel free to use your own imagination and add back some expletives of a stronger character if you feel the need!  ;D ;)

I decided on a title for the story. It is "Dolfo." (Subject to change without prior notice...)

Without further ado, here's the second installment.

Never get locked in a dogfight with one of the Luftwaffe Experten. A basic survival rule for Allied pilots. If it happened, the advice was to disengage. A euphemism for ‘run for your life.’ Advice he, a Luftwaffe pilot, never thought he’d be in need of. Yet there he was. Except he wasn’t sitting in a cockpit. And they were on the same side. Supposedly.
To disengage meant going back to his old Geschwader and bury his dream. The problem was he knew he never would be able to keep it buried.  
What if one decided not to disengage, what if one couldn’t?
frak this. He was going to fight it out.
Something in his head switched on.
The dog sticking its snout into his crotch, that’s how it all started. And he suddenly had the absolute certainty that it was no coincidence.
Throw them off balance, then hit them hard. Oldest combat trick in the world.
He felt an urge to laugh, bit down on it.
He’d walked into an ambush. No, scratch that. He’d let himself be ambushed. Like a rookie. Careless.
Watch the sky for an enemy presence, always.
He’d entered the room, marched to the desk, saluted. Hans Friedmann, reporting for duty. That fell flat. The man sitting behind the desk was busy writing what seemed to be a report in triplicate, edges of carbon paper sticking out from between white sheets. He said something to the effect that Friedmann was to wait a moment, not bothering to look up. Didn’t stop writing either.
Major Heinrich Ritter, Gruppenkommandeur IV./JG 400. That, and the fact that he was his new boss, was about all Friedman knew about the man.
Presently he’d just discovered something else.  
Ritter—broad shoulders, thinning blond hair—wore the Knight’s Cross. With Oak Leaves and Swords. Swords! There must be no more than 150 soldiers at the moment in the entire Reich wearing that kind of necktie.
For pity’s sake, how come nobody told me!
Breathe, relax, look around.
There wasn’t much to hold his attention in the Luftwaffe airfield office. Spartan. A desk, a few chairs, some filing cabinets. A stand with a model of the Komet in flight on the desk, some pictures of the rocket plane on the walls. And something missing. Not sure what.
He gave the room another once-over. The dog, a handsome German Shepherd, was lying on its stomach in the far corner. How had he missed that! Front paws extended in front of it, head erect, the animal was watching him. Friedmann made eye contact, which he knew was a mistake the moment he did. The dog slapped the floor with its tail a few times then sprang to its feet, trotted over. Started nuzzling up against his legs.
Its snout against his knees and inner thighs, pushing, nudging. Repeatedly, relentlessly. Until the demand for attention could no longer be ignored. Friedmann made an attempt at placating the brute with a quick scratch behind the ears. Error number two. The dog went nuts. Knee, thigh, knee, thigh, thigh, groin! And there the snout stayed, half buried in his crotch.
He had tried to pay no further attention to the dog’s antics but that was just plain impossible now. Nobody could stand in front of a wearer of the Knight Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords while a dog nuzzled their private parts. Purebred or no purebred.
The scratch of the fountain pen on the low grade government issue paper, the only sound in the room. Friedman, painfully aware of it.
Do something!
Before he could: “Dolfo! Down!” Said in a voice used to give orders. To dogs and men, in all probability.
Ritter didn’t even pause in his writing.  
Dolfo. Friedmann heard the dog’s name and instantly knew what the room’s missing feature was.
The dog twitched its ears once but otherwise didn’t move, didn’t retreat.
“Down!” the Major growled, still not looking up.
That did it. Friedman was released. The animal turned around, trotted off. Tail carried high, which annoyed him. At least his plight was over.
The dog resumed its place in the corner of the room. Friedmann felt its eyes upon him but didn’t return the look. The animal had started to pant and he realized that he was himself sweating. It wasn’t the heat in the room.
   The sound of pen on paper finally stopped. Ritter signed his name with a double flick of his wrist and laid the pen aside. The pieces of carbon paper went into a drawer, the written sheets into a basket.
Ritter looked up, affording Friedmann for the first time with a view of his face. An austere landscape dominated by eyes the color of the sky on a rainy day.
Friedmann had seen eyes like these before. Eyes of fighter pilots who’d fired their guns in anger for the first time at the beginning of the Spanish campaign and were still in business today. During the nine intervening years these men had seen nothing but action. In gut-wrenching, nerve-wracking combat missions that often passed the one thousand mark. Those that made it that far ran up three-digit scores and a look in their eyes that set them apart.
The unblinking stare. Behind it: the knowledge that a fraction of a second is all it takes. The infinitesimal but never-ceasing motion of the pupils—forever searching the sky, forever hunting—that conveyed an almost physical impression of intensity. For the unprepared, a punch in the stomach.
Veterans. Experten.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. And welcome to Jagdgeschwader 400, Leutnant Friedmann.”
Ritter’s voice and manner were as pleasant as his position would allow. A surprise. Friedmann felt himself relax a fraction.
The conversation that followed centered on Friedmann’s just completed preparatory training. How many hours on the Habicht glider? The Stummelhabicht especially. How did that go? Did he do the full three weeks course of altitude acclimatization on the Zugspitze, including the daily walks up and down the mountain slope, no skimping? What was his success rate at point landings?  
Easy, lulling. Like flying at sunset on a spring day: war, what war?
It hadn’t lasted very long. No more than a couple of minutes. Just long enough for Friedmann to lower his guard. Forget about the awe the Knight’s Cross inspired him.
Then the Major had pounced.
In two swift moves he had him with his back against the wall. Exposed for what he was: young, ambitious, inexperienced. Stupid.  
Rookie versus Experte. Not one chance in hell.
But this wasn’t a fair fight, not from the beginning. Being given a test to pass before gaining access to the inner sanctum, that he understood. But the Major had used the dog to set him up and that redefined the matter.
His weariness lifted like morning fog.

copyright 2013 Michel Cendrart

Offline Father Ennis

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Re: Dolfo - An Alternative (Hi)Story
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2013, 11:36:02 pm »
Very nice ...  I can't wait post more.

Offline Gondor

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Re: Dolfo - An Alternative (Hi)Story
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2013, 01:04:00 am »
Reads like a novel

My Ability to Imagine is only exceeded by my Imagined Abilities

Offline MichelC

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Re: Dolfo - An Alternative (Hi)Story
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2013, 06:14:44 am »
Thank you guys! Glad you like it.

Here's more. Enjoy!

“Not evasive, no. Not if I can have the drop on them,” Friedmann said.
The slightest of changes in Ritter’s facial expression. A glimmer, no more. But Friedmann had been watching for it.
“Be their Hun in the sun,” he went on. “Pull up in their blind spot. Bait them, ambush them. Hit them before they can hit you.” He stopped himself before he went too far, made it too transparent.    
A glint in the Major’s eye. Surprise?
“Anyone can win with a good hand,” Ritter said. “Question is, how do you play a bad hand?”
“I find it helps to know what cards my opponent holds.”
“Meaning?” Expression impassive, the surprise of a moment ago—if it was that—gone.
Meaning I know what you’re doing.
“Tactics, aircraft specs,” Friedmann said. “Strengths, weaknesses. Know your enemy.”
“Know your enemy,” Ritter repeated, as if to see if his mouth could get used to the words.
“Know your enemy.”
Ritter was considering him.
It was a fine line. Friedmann feared he’d just crossed it.
A picture of the train he’d rode in on came to his mind, unbidden. He could see himself on it. Outbound.
The Major seemed to arrive at a decision. 
“You dive straight down,” he said.
“I beg your pardon, Sir?”
“The correct answer is: you stand the bird on its nose and go into a vertical dive.”
Friedmann tried to wrap his wits around two facts at once: what he was being taught and the fact that the Major was actually teaching him something. Something only the elite knew.
He pushed one of the two into the back of his mind.
Focus on the lesson, enjoy the victory later!
“Vertical dive, I understand, Sir,” he said, not understanding. Not fully. He realized his non-comprehension must be showing in his expression when he heard the Major continue:
“Know why? Because the Komet’s lines are as smooth as a baby’s bottom. No air scoops, no radiators, no bulky engine in front. Not even a tail. Blended wing roots. An aerodynamic piece of art.”
Friedmann recalled the story he’d heard of how Generaloberst Udet had become acquainted with the Komet, and caught on to what the Major was telling him.
The story: Udet had been talking to Alexander Lippisch, the designer of the Komet, while Heini Dittmar, chief test pilot on the program, made stunts in the 163 over the airfield. A happenstance. The development program was still in its early phase and the experimental fighter had not yet been equipped with the Walter rocket engine, which was still having serious teething problems at the time. The aerobatics Dittmar engaged in on that day were part of a series of unpowered test flights the team had decided to carry out pending delivery of the engine. After being towed to altitude by a tug plane, Dittmar zoomed and soared over the airfield and it took a good ten minutes until his momentum finally ran out, such were the aerodynamic characteristics of this exceptional glider. Udet looked on in fascination and then turned to Lippisch, demanding to know what engine the aircraft had, to which Lippisch replied—with great relish, rumor had it—that it had none. Udet, who thought the man was putting him on, went over to the spot where Dittmar had landed and had the fuselage panels removed. He checked out the guts of the plane himself, looking for the hidden engine and, finding none, became a believer. He’d believed so much he’d immediately made the Komet the RLM’s top priority project and, in so doing, saved the Reich from annihilation. That was before the booze annihilated him
“It is faster in a dive unpowered than any other fighter going balls to the wall,” the Major finished. 
“What if they’ve got you already in their sights?” Friedmann asked, his desire to understand taking the lead. “I mean, they can still shoot at you before you pull away.”
“They’ll miss.” Said with a finality that precluded further questioning. Friedmann was clearly meant to figure it out by himself.
End of lesson, then.
“There is a way to come out of a climb without flaming out,” he said.
Ritter raised one eyebrow.
“Do a half barrel roll, pull to level, do another half barrel roll to come out of inverted. No negative G, no flameout.”
“So you do know something about rocket planes after all,” Ritter said, voice like a bucket of ice. And before Friedmann could reply, “Now go and learn the rest.”
He wasn’t sure what kind of reaction his last piece of smartassery was supposed to have elicited but whatever it was, it hadn’t worked.
The Leutnant saluted and turned around.
As he walked to the door he shot a last glance around the room, verifying if his hunch had been correct. It had. No framed picture of the Führer.

copyright 2013 Michel Cendrart

Offline MichelC

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Re: Dolfo - An Alternative (Hi)Story
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2013, 02:18:09 pm »

Ritter reached for the ashtray he kept in one of the desk drawers. The heavy glass job had come with the office, fossilized remnants of cigarettes past and all. Ritter had kept it when he’d inherited the place, just like he’d consciously left everything else about the office unchanged. The less he’d personalize, the faster he’d get out of there. A strategy of denial.
He watched the smoke of his cigarette rise into the room’s stillness. The smooth, flowing curve that suddenly turns into mathematically indefinable circumvolutions. Order turning into chaos. Just like every battle he’d fought. Just like war. Life.
He took a drag on his cigarette and blew the smoke in his lungs against the smoke rising from the glowing cigarette end. Chaos against chaos.
“So. What do you think about our Leutnant Friedmann, Dolfo?”
A switch of the tail. Followed by a huge, tongue-lolling yawn.
“Right,” Ritter said.

copyright 2013 Michel Cendrart