Today’s guest post is brought to you by author John Brimlow.
Petar and a few of the other heavy fighters gained altitude. Petar called out orders to his formation. “Alright, this is good height. Circle for a bit, then follow me in, slightly staggered. Aim for funnels.”
The three heavy fighters circled over the Graf Spee like great mechanical vultures. As the flak batteries started lobbing their black puffs of death skyward, Petar barked, “Go Aki, go!”
Aki brought her plane around, throttled up, and came in low, firing bursts from her guns to draw the gunners’ attention. Flak gunners frantically cranked their elevation wheels to lower the guns as bullets hit the deck and hull around them. Aki’s plane was so low that the 15cm casemate guns fired at the water trying to tip her plane, but to no avail. As she closed, she lengthened her bursts and gunners hit the deck. “Clear for attack, Petar,” she called.
As Petar rolled into his dive, he noticed puffs of smoke from boxy launchers on the quarterdeck and the aft gun turrets. “Watch out! Aerial mines!”
But it was too late. As Aki pulled out of her dive, her left wing caught on one of the aerial mine cables, gently drifting down on a parachute. The speed of her plane pulled the explosive charge into the wing, blowing off the wingtip and tearing off the left aileron.
“Kuso!” snarled Aki as she worked to stabilize her damaged plane. Fighting to keep her plane level, she drifted into the fire arcs of the flak guns on the other side of the ship. Eager to avenge their comrades, these guns opened fire.
Petar was well along into his dive now. Some of the flak gunners noticed the problem, but they were unable to elevate their guns fast enough. He aimed for the forward funnel with his big bomb and waited to get close enough. Petar knew his bomb-aiming skills weren’t the best, so he held his dive to the frightful altitude of 240 meters before he yanked the bomb release toggle and pulled back on the stick. Resistance on the stick was incredible, and despite his strength, the Beast of Belgrade found himself needing both hands to wrench the stick back far enough. His plane narrowly missed hitting the foremast as he managed to pull out of his dive. Beneath him, the large bomb crashed through the armored deck near the forward funnel, sending a gout of fire, smoke, and debris skyward. With altitude beneath him Petar watched his two comrades drop their bombs. One missed narrowly, sending up a great column of water, and another hit amidships. Between this and his own bomb, a significant portion of the upper decks amidships were ablaze. Smoke from the forward funnel was noticeably reduced, so he guessed boilers were out of action too.
“Arys, this is Jovovic. Ship damaged significantly. Will not be capable of pursuit or interference.”
“Copy that, we see it too,” replied Ernst Franz. “She’s slowed considerably. Nice bombing Petar. Come on home everybody.”
Aki keyed her mic, “That might be difficult. I’m hit pretty bad.” Her interceptor was streaming smoke and oil from its damaged engine, and her savagely truncated left wing was leaking fuel.