Today’s guest post is brought to you by author John Brimlow.
Aboard the Graf Spee, lookouts had also taken note of the presence of the Arys. “Kapitan! Kampflinienluftschiff ahead, climbing,” reported Lieutenant Gruber.
“A Kampflinienluftschiff? We have none out here. Are you sure?” asked Kapitan zur See Karl Langsdorff.
“Yes, sir. There’s no mistaking the three gun decks.”
“Let me see,” replied Kapitan Langsdorff. He figured that his new officers were being overenthusiastic again.
“You’re right. Three gun decks. And the colors of the old Kaiser’s fleet.” Karl thought for a moment. The Abwehr had circulated a file on just such a zeppelin, but no one in the Kriegsmarine had believed it.
“Mein Gott! It’s the Arys! Sound action stations!”
Men scrambled across the deck as the Graf Spee increased speed. Ammunition lockers were opened and antiaircraft guns were brought to bear. The gunners awaited the order to fire, but Arys remained out of range. They could only watch planes begin to emerge from her belly, set the delay fuzes on their shells, and wait.
Aki put her fighter into a lazy circle, waiting to form up with other fighters. Glancing back, she noticed that the big Nazi warship wasn’t shooting yet. Bringing her plane overhead, Aki grinned broadly and rolled in for attack. Now the 8.8cm guns began to thunder, flinging softball-sized projectiles skyward. Dr. Nagumo retaliated by raking the deck with machine gun fire, causing some of the greener men to dive for cover. She held her dive as low as she dared, waiting for the Graf Spee to fill her gunsight. Then she released her two small bombs and pulled the stick back hard. G-forces slammed her back in her seat, but she strained against them to see the results. The bombs hit and exploded amidships. Something seemed to be burning, but she could not tell what. She sped away, gaining altitude, and keyed her mic. “Petar? Petar, hurry up. You’re missing the fun.”
Petar Jovovic was just completing his launch from the Arys’ port skyhook. “Coming out now. Any idea how to stop this thing?”
“We just have to inflict enough damage, preferably to the engines,” replied Aki. “Your bombs should be big enough. The funnels are a pretty good aim point.”
Just then, a pair of turrets a bit aft of amidships begun to spit bursts of five onion-sized balls of flame at the assembling planes. They contrasted vividly with the inky black puffs from the flak rounds of the eighty-eights. Petar had seen these in the War. He keyed his mic, “Mind flaming onions. They’re lighter than most flak, but they still hurt.”
Aki muttered, “I thought those were obsolete.”
“Well, you did set boat deck ablaze,” replied Petar. “I’ll come from above and you attack low to suppress flak?”
“Sounds like a plan,” replied Aki.