Six fighters sped into it. Five parachutes twitched, then turned nearly horizontal as fighters struck the steel cables hanging beneath them. Three of the fighters shook violently as their propellers and the cables tore each other to pieces. The other two parachutes fluttered in the wind a few seconds more, before explosions bloomed on two more fighters as the charges at the ends of the cables went off. In several pieces, the two stricken fighters fell past the three who had taken less critical damage.
The remaining British fighter passed through the minefield unharmed, rolling inverted and diving away, headed back toward its zeppelin. The way was clear for Inconstant‘s bombers.
Joe ordered them in, climbing above Inconstant as they lumbered by, all carrying loads of high-explosive rockets. They skirted the slowly-descending minefield, and Joe followed them, circling overhead. A mile south, Charlie flight herded the British bombers away from Inconstant, making quick slashing attacks and breaking off before the defensive gunners could draw a bead. As Joe watched, one bomber’s left engine belched black smoke, its propeller seizing. It turned out of formation, barely able to keep altitude as it followed one of its fellows toward HMS Sparrow. One of Charlie’s pilots must have winged it earlier.