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This is my short story about another part of the world war in SSD's Story Mk.II It follows a multinational group of pilots (known as 999 Squadron) aboard a US Carrier in the early stages of the war.
For the Record...
- A Flight is 4 planes
- A Squadron is 3 Flights
999 Squadron (aka VFA-999)
Major Carl Timmons (USA)- Squadron leader, Flight leader of 999-1
Captain Timothy White (USA)- Flight leader of 999-2
Flight Lieutenant James Padwick (UK)- Flight leader of 999-3
Lieutenant Oliver Taylor (USA)- Pilot
Flying Officer Peter Heath (UK)- Pilot
Lieutenant Nelson Martens (RSA)- Pilot
The catapult belched steam as another F/A-18 Hornet was slinged off of the Carrier's deck. Naval hands began to work hurriedly as the next plane was brought up for launch. Timmons watched as his plane was slowly connected to the catapult, the nose being raised for maximum lift, the tail cable being hooked on, and the blast barrier raised.
'999 Lead, this is Regan Flyco, standby for go from Flight Operations.' came the call
'999 Lead copies. Standing by for go.' replied Timmons, as he adjusted the flight harness. All instruments are showing green, weapons are green, control surfaces green, he thought, so what's the delay for? Seconds felt like hours as steam leaked from the catapult, with the deck hands covering their faces from the blistering heat.
'999 Lead, we have, err, a problem here. We are ordering a stand down and recovery of all 999 planes'
'What? Please repeat Flyco'
'We are standing down the squadron for a high speed return to Pearl Harbour. War has been declared on the Mongol Empire, and Fleet Command is ordering a regroup.'
'Oh, right.' Timmons switched from Flyco's channel to the squadron's, wondering how to break it to the guys. '999, this is Timmons. We, we have to stand down and recover. Fleet's ordered all US forces to regroup at Pearl Harbour. See you on the ship gentlemen.'
3 days later...
'All right 999, here's the skinny. The Mongols have launched a campaign against the MEC. They're moving swiftly through Turkey and are closing in on Europe's back door. Soviets have allied themselves with the Mongies and are mobilising the Red Army to expand into Germany. EU's at Defcon 2, and could go all out any day. USN's marshalling it's forces in the Pacific right now'
'So we're just going to sit here in Pearl Harbour and wait for the Soviets to send some Aircraft Carrier to sink us all then?' complained Flight Lieutenant Padwick. 'Not what I transferred for.'
'Well, at the moment Fleets planning an offensive, and we're going to be the first ones in.' 'replied Timmons
'Haven't they got guys specially trained for that?' asked Martens in his thick South African accent.
'We're going in before them. Dunno why though, cos apparently we're too expensive to waste.' The Major sipped at his coffee, thinking heavily.'In the meantime, Flight Operations has got us permission to launch some training flights against an old US Carrier, and some dogfights against some drones. Wheels are up in 2 hours, so get ready gentlemen.' The squadron rose, saluted in various fashions, and flied out of the twin doors at the rear of the Ops Room. Timmons chucked the rest of his coffee into the sink, ripped off the top of the coffee machine, and poured the contents away. 'Tastes horrible. I'll stick to tea.' he muttered, as he mindlessly walked into his cabin, pulled on his flight gear and marched to the flight deck.
'Unknown plane 3-Foxtrot-Papa-Zulu, please identify yourself and your purpose.' The bridge was deathly silent as the ATC officer challenged the unknown aircraft. 'Plane 3-F-P-Z, please respond.'
'Well?' asked the captain
'My guess is hostile. Do we launch alert 5?' replied the ATC
'Hmm, no. Give it another few minutes.'
'Sir, it's changing course, now heading towards Pearl Harbour, speed increasing!'
'Gawd dammit! Final straw, launch VFA-999 on full alert!'
'VFA-999, prepare for immediate launch, full alert! All hands to launch stations!'
'What the frick?' exclaimed Padwick. 'We weren't meant to be-'
'Shut it Limey, let's go' interrupted Captain White, diving up the stairs. Padwick followed, with the rest of the squadron behind him. 12 F/A-18E Super Hornets were lined up on the deck, plane captains marshalling each pilot to the cockpits. Padwick's dark grey Hornet was the first in line, and so everything relied on him getting off first time. Failure could mean the destruction of the US fleet, and a swift victory for the Russians.
'All systems are set up for you. Pre-flights are all good, nothing much else.' The plane captain patted Padwick's head, and then jumped off onto the deck.
'Thanks mate!' called Padwick. After a quick check of all the major systems, flight controls, HUD, weapons, fuel, etc., Padwick lowered the canopy, and began taxiing to the catapult. A minute later, he was connected, and the green light was given by Flyco. After a quick firing of the bow cat, 999-03 was airborne. 'Flyco, this is 999-03. Am airborne and entering formation groove, awaiting flight formation, over'
'Flyco copies all, 999-03. Upon formation proceed to waypoint 5-Alpha-7 and vector to intercept, over.' Seconds later the bow cats flung another two Hornets off of the deck, bringing Padwick's flight into the air. With Heath and Martens on his wingtips, Padwick turned north, course set for Pearl Harbour. The Pacific Ocean glittered below him, as he broke through the sound barrier, his flight speed edging towards mach 1.5. Storm clouds brewed as the Hornets sliced through the air, tropical rains beating down on the canopies. Within an hour, the Hornets sighted Hawaii, and the large naval base of Pearl Harbour. An unknown blip pinged on his radar, the unknown bandit. Signalling to his wingmen, Padwick accelerated upwards.
'So, this is the guy then?' asked Martens. 'Looks like some normal jumbo jet to me.'
'Yeah, it does. Looks like we're on a bogus call. What a waste of fuel.' replied Heath
'Got to admit it, but you're right for on-' A beeping noise resounded through 999-03's cockpit. 'Heads up, I'm being targeted. Pearl Air Defense, are your guys targeting me, over?'
'Negative 999-03, we are not targeting you, over.' replied the ground officer.
'Then who is.' Padwick looked around the sky, searching for any signs of a possible source. A small glint above him caught his eye, revealing the silhouette of a pair of Russian fighters. 'Aw, crap! Two FAs, three o'clock high!'
'What the-! Wait, someone's got a radar lock on me from 7 o'clock, 3 miles out. It's not those FAs.' Padwick heard Heath's worried tone, but there was no time to waste. 999-03 roared upwards, Padwick arming the two AIM-9X missiles on his wing-tips.
'Flight Ops Regan, this is 999-03. We have been engaged by two Soviet PAK FA fighters and three unknown contacts over Pearl Harbour. We are moving to engage the PAKs, and need immediate back-up, over.' A dull tone sounded in the cockpit, a sound that the British pilot liked to hear. 'I'm locked onto the lead FA. Firing, Fox-Two, Fox-Two.' Pressing hard on the trigger, Padwick launched one of his wing-tip Sidewinders towards the lead FA, hoping for a quick kill. But the Russian was onto the threat in an eye-blink, pulling hard right and firing a trio of flares from the underbelly of his plane. 'Another miss' groaned Padwick, as he thumbed the selector switch again, switching from AIM-9s to the Hornet's lethal guns. But a blinding light caused him to look away for a split second.
'Splash one FA!' called out Timmons as he roared behind Padwick's Hornet. 'Got the Red with an AMRAAM.' Turing back to the other FA, Padwick realised his chance had gone. The cover of the explosion had been perfect for the Soviet plane to escape towards the east.
'Pearl to 999-01. We have a fleet of enemy CVs on our scope, 200 miles due west-north-west. We're gonna launch a strike ASAP, and we need every plane we can get. Better land sharpish and top yourselves up...'