Walli pushed back against the stick with as much strength as he could muster, straining to read the blurred out dial gauges in front of him as the shaking intensified. The 4 Schmidding rocket
boosters were furiously burning through their remaining fuel. As the craft accelerated, it began a slow roll. While the aerodynamicists had done everything they could to balance the powerful
forces of the rocket boosters by distributing them around the aircraft’s roll axis, minor misalignments due to the crude conditions under which they were built, resulted in some airframes
experiencing aerodynamic imbalances during the booster-climb phase of flight. The series was put into production before all of the fabrication issues could be worked out, and this morning, Walli
found himself at the controls of one of the more poorly-constructed examples.
Zooming skyward to intercept the incoming enemy bombers, his view of the horizon was now blocked by the nose of the aircraft. He tried to check the simple artificial horizon installed on the basic instrument panel in front of him, but the violent shaking, acceleration, and fumes had caused his eyes to water and his vision to blur. He instinctively shifted stick pressure ever so slightly to the right to arrest the roll and glanced out the right side of the canopy to check the effectiveness of his control input. “Steady on” he thought.
He had spent a long and sleepless night listening to the muffled booms of the Soviet heavy howitzers in the not too distant towns around the airfield, and was even more tired than usual. But no
one cared about his exhaustion. Not his squadron mates, certainly not senior leadership. Ironically, the only people who might care about his mental state were the fresh-faced young bomber crews
that were now racing to meet him in battle in the deep blue sky over Rostok. They knew that his fatigue would diminish his combat effectiveness, effectiveness honed by years of training and
fighting, fighting in the early invasions, fighting over the Eastern Front. The young crews speeding toward him now would need every advantage they could get, however slight. Walli thought of the
irony of being bested in combat by someone 15 years younger, with fewer than 20 hours of combat under his belt. Fatalism was creeping into his thoughts increasingly these days. Maybe it was the
fatigue. He was keenly aware that fatalistic thinking was not only forbidden, but could actually weaken his resolve to achieve a successful outcome in battle. Still, he had been fighting for so
long now. It was so cold, and the fumes were stinging his eyes. He was so tired.
A brilliant yellow light bloomed off to his right just as his craft bucked under him. The shock jolted him out of his wondering thoughts as a he turned his head to identify the source of the
light. A dazzling, crackling ball of fire and aircraft parts was arcing away from him, trailing flame and puffs of smoke as it slowed and started rolling off to the left before exploding,
shooting pieces off in all directions, each one leaving a smoking trail in it’s fall back to earth. He recoiled impulsively.
A familiar electrical feeling shot down his spine, from the base of his neck to his stomach. It was a mix of anger and sadness, shock and sorrow. Muted horror and white-hot rage washed over his mind in rapid blasts, each yielding to the next so quickly that he couldn’t keep up. Just like that, his friend Rolf was gone. They had flown together on the Eastern Front. They got along famously, sharing captured bottles of Russian Vodka, and the top-scoring pilot slot in the squadron for a while, until Rolf was shot down one morning on a patrol. Rolf spent a few months in a hospital back home, recuperating from his wounds before returning to the front. Walli always thought that Rolf was different after that. It wasn’t just the burn scars. Walli could never put his finger on exactly what it was, or whether it was even true, or just his own imagination. The young Russian pilot who had shot Rolf down had been lucky. The shot that nearly ended Rolf’s life was not well-timed, nor well-aimed, but just a round that had gone wild and hit the fuselage fuel tank of Rolf’s Bf-109, setting it ablaze and forcing Rolf to bail out over enemy held territory. For a moment, Walli thought of his own 9mm pistol, and wished he had it with him now, in case… A couple of weeks after Rolf had returned to the squadron, and settled back into combat routine, Walli had a chance to talk with him about getting shot down that day. “There was nothing I could have done Walli. It was… it was just… damned luck!”
And now with a flash of light, Rolf was gone. Another one, gone. Another friend, another squadron mate who had dodged countless bullets and walked on charmed air through 6 long years of all-out
war, had been lost to a faulty fuel line connection, or a sub-standard bolt letting loose, or poor quality metal fatiguing and catastrophically yielding to the explosive forces that were again
hurtling him and his plane skyward. The fumes and cold and vibration made his eyes water even more now, and he raised his left hand to his face to raise his goggles enough to wipe away the
accumulating moisture in his eyes.
His face flushed red with emotions. He wiped his eyes quickly and dropped his goggles back into position, adjusted them slightly, fixed his gaze forward on the simple glass gunsight in front of him, and clenched his teeth. As quickly as Rolf was gone, a strange calm now arrived. Calm that comes from intense focus on a task. The bombers were coming into range.
Walli lurched forward against his belt straps. “Scheisse!” He had let himself get distracted, and the burnout of the Schmidding rocket boosters had caught him off guard. He reached for the T-shaped handle just ahead of the throttles and pulled hard. The 4 small retaining pins locking the front end of the rockets retracted, and a small spring in the forward mount pushed the front end of the now-empty booster rockets away from the fuselage a few centimeters. Aerodynamics did the rest, and slapped the rockets away from the fuselage. The ear-splitting buzz of the twin Argus As 014 pulse jet engines was only slightly less violent than the Schmidding boosters crackling roar but the deafening violence decreased some, and Walli felt a little relief. The booster phase was the most dangerous part of the mission. Even more than the attack phase. Rolf’s death was more proof of that. Clusters of the empty rocket boosters were now free-falling back to earth around him as Walli and his remaining squadron mates rushed up at the massive, naked aluminum bombers.
In his mind, Walli knew that the war was lost, but he still resisted against the comforting fatalism that some of his squadron mates had embraced in these last days. He knew that he had to throw himself into this fight with everything he had. He always had. He had always been a fighter. Only his motivations had changed. In the early years, it was his love for flying and his desire to master the powerful machines of the day that drove him to seek a commission as a flying officer. When the war began, it was his national pride, and belief in the power of the righteous Volk. As the war mired in the eastern mud and eventually turned, moving speeches had beckoned him to avenge his fallen brothers and to “strike a blow”. Now, with the wheels of the machine coming off and the dark vision of a bleak future crystallizing into the massive clouds of aluminum before him, and below him into the ant-like armies of Soviet tanks and troops, his only goal was to delay. His war had re-aligned along a very personal axis that ran East to West. His only thoughts now turned to his beloved Elfriede, “Elli”, and her desperate escape to West. His only purpose now was to do whatever he could to slow the Soviet advance and buy her more time. He knew that every additional hour that it took the Russian army to advance one more kilometer gave Elli just that much more time to reach the American forces in the South.
Walli took advantage of the lightened control input forces that came from the booster rocket burnout and leaned forward to grab the gun-charging handles under the instrument panel. He pulled the left handle back as far is it would go, then released it to slam back forward against the stop. He hoped the guns didn’t jam this time, and that his ammunition was good. Command had forbidden all attacks on ground targets and insisted on focusing all resources against the bombers, but Walli knew that Elli’s best hope was in slowing the forces advancing from the East. His private war-plan was to make a single gun run on the American bombers, then to peel off in the ensuing chaos and head South to strafe the approaching Russian column with his remaining gun rounds and rockets. A swift end in a ramming attack on the bombers fleetingly entered his mind, but an unshakable mental image Elli, cold and trudging West through the winter snow, his 9mm pistol tucked into her thin coat pocket with 3 rounds, all he could scrounge the morning they said goodbye, loaded in the magazine, shook him out of it.
By that time the bombers were mostly returning to attack bombed-out factories and evacuated cities. Such was the industrial might that the Western enemy had brought to bear at that point in the war. While every liter of petrol and round of ammunition was precious to Walli and his comrades, the Americans seemed to be piling up bombs while running out of meaningful targets. He both admired and hated them for it.
In a flash of light, the bomber in front of him to the right erupted in flames as the pilot of the Ef-126 off his right wing opened fire with a full salvo of all 24 RS4 rockets. The aluminum giants right wing buckled and folded up over its fuselage as it rolled to the right and began to nose down. He decided that this was his moment. He aborted his own attack run and rolled hard to the left. He turned through 120 degrees, leveled out, pointed the nose at the ground to unload the wings and pick up speed, and headed South. He looked up and over his right shoulder to see two more bombers going down, trailing smoke, and was convinced that his guns and rockets would not be missed in this particular fight. He pointed his little fighter, with its full combat load of cannon rounds and rockets, toward the last known position of the advancing Russian column, and held the throttle against its forward stops.
“Keep going, my dear Elli.” He whispered. “Keep moving.”
We hope you enjoyed the story? You can also find this in the building instructions.
Here you come back to the product information of Das Werk Kit DW32001 Ju EF-126 „Elli“ / EF-127 „Walli“ (3 in 1).