The year is 1944. Early morning sun shines roseate on the silver fuselage of my DC3 as it rises over the Chespeake, banks a two-needle width turn, and heads out over the ocean. It's the start of a routine Naval Air Transport Service flight to the island of Bermuda. Tough Duty. Having climbed to 9,000 feeT to take advantage of the favorable winds aloft, I turn the controls over to the co-pilot and tune into the Berlin Philharmonic playing Beethoven's Seventh. All very routine.
Some three hours later, the sharp-eyed copilot abruptly levels inoculars on the forward horizon. "SUBMARINE"...Bearing 025 degrees. Rapid thumbing of the ID silhoutte cards confirms a surfaced German U boat's conning tower, crash diving. Break radio silence!! Warn Bermuda control!! Enemy sub position, course, and speed go out in clear language. With the message confirmed and transmission completed, we resume our scheduled course and land at Kindley Field, Bermuda.
Meanwhile, the call to general quarters shatters military routine throughout the armed island. American, British, and Canadian navies scramble patrol bombers and deploy anti submarine ships. Then follow three harrowing days of the deadly cat and mouse game hunting, finding, depth charging , losing, seeking, wounding the quarry. Finally, leaking fuel and losing seaworthiness, the Uboat is forced to surface. The crew scuttles the vessel, and everyone who had been aboard the sub is taken captive, including the captain.
Several weeks later, after interrogation, the U boat commander is ordered under Marine Guard to a POW camp in South Carolina. By coincidence, the same plane and crew that had spotted the Uboard is again in Bermuda, ready for the return flight to Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. Among the passengers are the Uboat captain and his Marine Sergeant guard.
Another routine flight??...Not quite. The passenger configuration of that workhorse of World War2, the rugged dependable DC3, features two lines of unpadded aluminum bucket seats along the sides of the fuselage. Up forward, just aft of the cockpit door, are four upholstered leather so called MacArthur chairs reserved for VIPs. On this run they are occupied by wounded servicemen with a Navy hospital corpsman attending. The prisoner and his guard are assigned two bucket seats.
Cleared for takeoff, as pilot I take the US bound plane to the designaed altitude of 8000 feet. The we level off, correcting the course, throttling back to cruising rpm, trimming for straight and level altitude, and leaning out the fuel/air mixture for optimum cruising speed and fuel consumption. Flying over the ocean, all pilots are conservationists.
However, on this particular flight for some reason the plane refuses to trim down to a straight and level course, but instead gently porpoises up and down, a gas-wasting motion. After adjusting the trim tabs again and again, finally in frustration, the copilot heads aft to investigate a possible cause in the cabin. Returning , he reports the the Uboat commander is stomping up and down the length of the cabin, citing the Geneva Convention and demanding a MacArthur chair as befits his rank. His constantly shifting 200 pounds is enough to upset the weight and balance ratio necessary to perfectly trimed, level flight.
Again, the copilot is dispatched to restore order and quiet,. however, angry and arrogant insistence upon his right of rank is the response the copilot could get out of him. The plane's porpoising continues. At this, I yield the controls to the copilot, I two-block my tie, don my lieutenant junior grade uniform jacket and gold braid hat, strap on my ammo belt and .38 caliber Smith & Wesson service revolver, and dramatically throw open the cabin door, then march down the aisle, right quarter turn before the Marine Guard and the now seated German prisoner. Jerking my head up, I lead the rising Marine in a formal salute.
Sergeant, if this prisoner gives any further trouble-----shoot him.!!!!. Both salute, with only the Marine catching the broad, private wink. Then I march back to the cockpit, knowing, as the guards knows and all in earshot know, this breaks the U. S. Navy regulations. The prisoner, however, knows only Nazi customs.
THE REST OF THE FLIGHT.....SMOOTH AND ROUTINE ALL THE WAY HOME.
Phil & Liz
The Original Phil & Liz
The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money. Margaret Thatcher
Never take an idiot travelling, you can always pick one up when you get there. Billy Connolly
I Didn't Come here and I ain't Leaving.
9/01/2013 Carnival Legend
2/16/2014 BC 7
20 years ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.
Inasmuch as WWII Magazine is a history magazine that showcases actual events, the article was obviously a personal experience of it's author. Therefore while I don't believe it is a plot for a novel, it certainly could be tailored as a segment of actual incidents that occurred aboard transport or other unarmed aircraft during WWII.