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Thursday, June 7, 2018

I'm working on the next adventure for the Chasing Dragons crew(, Eddie and Nick. The first chapter is posted below. I'll post a few more over the next few weeks to see if there is any interest. If so, let me know and I'll keep on trucking.
Chapter 1
(August 7,1945)

In the pre-dawn darkness, a giant four-engine B-29 Superfortress lifted off from Tinian enroute to Kokura, Japan. It was following the same flight plan as the Enola Gay had the previous day. Painted on her nose was a buxom, scantily attired red-head brandishing a pair of six-shooters. Calamity Jane was stenciled above her head in bold, blue letters. She was the second of three planned missions. The last, targeting Nagasaki, would be flown by Bockscar two days later.

In the bomb bay sat Tin Man, the second of three atomic bombs destined for the Japanese mainland. The first, Little Boy, had devastated Hiroshima, and the third, Fat Man was scheduled for Nagasaki. The three bombs were each one-of-a-kind. Each had its own design. In many ways, they were little more than experiments…horrifically destructive experiments. Tin Man and Little Boy were Uranium-based weapons; Fat Boy used Plutonium.
The takeoff and initial climb-out were uneventful. Passing 14,000 feet enroute to her 30,000-foot cruising altitude the interphone crackled to life.
“Pilot, this is Engineer.”
“Go ahead,” came the reply.
“Manifold pressure and fuel pressure are dropping on number three.”
“How bad?”
“Not too bad”
"Okay, keep an eye on it.”
They continued to climb. Passing through 19,000 feet, the aircraft suddenly yawed to the right. The pilot quickly straightened the aircraft with left rudder. He hit the intercom.
“Engineer, Pilot. What’s going on?”
“Number three’s winding down. Manifold and fuel pressure both bottoming out.”
“Any idea what’s happening?”
“Cylinder head temp was normal. I’m thinking ruptured fuel line. We need to shut her down quickly before something catches on fire.”
The copilot, who was looking over his shoulder at the right wing broke in. “Too late, boss. Number three’s shooting flames.”
“Roger,” said the pilot. “Engineer, hit the Number three extinguisher.”
The flight engineer grabbed the red extinguisher handle and twisted it to the left. “Pilot, engineer. Number 3 extinguisher activated.”
“Rog. Copilot, what does it look like?”
“Not so good boss, still burning. Awful lot of magnesium in that crankcase. If it ignites, we’re toast.”
“Engine shutdown checklist,” commanded the pilot. “Feather three."
The pilot considered his options. His life and those of ten other crewmembers hung in the balance. He didn’t have time for extended deliberation. He needed to decide and act quickly.
“Crew, this is the pilot. Strap in. I’m going to put her into an emergency dive. Maybe we can blow the fire out.”
He nosed the bomber over and rapidly accelerated to its maximum airspeed of 300 knots. Any faster and he would risk loss of control and structural failure. The aircraft buffeted as in hurtled downward. The noise level in the cockpit increased as the aircraft ripped through the slipstream. The pilot had to yell to communicate. “How’s she look, Copilot?”
“Better. Still on fire, but a lot less flame.”
The engineer, who had unstrapped, tapped the pilot on his right shoulder. “Boss, we need some more airspeed.”
“We’re already at the max the book will allow.”
“To hell with the book, She’ll hold together. We need to get that fire completely out now!”
The pilot didn’t respond immediately. The book didn’t cover every situation. Sometimes you had to go with your gut. He pushed the nose over further and accelerated to 325 knots. The buffeting was severe. The control column vibrated violently in his hands. “Copilot, what do you see now?”
“Fire’s out!”
The pilot allowed himself a small smile as he reduced power and levelled the bomber at 9,000 feet. They had lost 10,000. He keyed the intercom. “Navigator, give me a heading back to Tinian.”
The crew relaxed. The three remaining eighteen-cylinder, R-3350 Wright radial engines each delivered 2200 horsepower…more than enough to get them home. The mission, critical to the war effort, was a bust. That couldn’t be helped. At least they had saved the Calamity Jane, themselves and, most importantly, the Tin Man.
“That was close,” said the pilot.
The copilot nodded as he looked out at the right wing. “Sure was. Number three’s a mess. Covered in soot. Cowling’s burned through in a couple of spots and…damn…it’s on fire again.”
“How can that be? The fuel and oil are cut off.”
“That damn magnesium in the crankcase.”
“Not much altitude left, but we’re gonna have to dive again.”
He pushed the nose down and began accelerating. The copilot was staring out at the wing with horror. The fire now engulfed the entire engine and was burning into the wing. Before he could say anything, there was a tremendous explosion as the engine and a chunk of the right wing blew off. Without the right wing, the bomber rolled into a tight right descending spiral. The nose was pointed straight down. The pilots struggled against the controls, but they knew it was hopeless. The nose of the aircraft rose and the bomber transitioned to a flat spin, reducing the rate of descent, but nothing could save them. All they could do was watch with resignation and terror as the ocean screamed up at them.
The Calamity Jane smashed into the surface taking crew and cargo with her. All that remained was an oil slick to temporarily mark the spot.