The Origin of Commander Victory – Part One –
October 7th, 1944 -22:13-
Major General James Doolittle, the new commander of the 8th Air Force, ordered many fighter pilots to stop flying in formation with the bombers and instead attack the Luftwaffe wherever it could be found. The aim was to achieve air supremacy. Mustang groups were sent far ahead of the bombers in a “fighter sweep” in order to intercept attacking German fighters.
Piloting one of those P-51 Mustangs was Captain Dillon Drake. Triple Fighter Ace with 140 confirmed kills, lots of medals and honors on his chest, and a wife and child back home in Georgia. The dark hair, blue eyed 25-year-old flew with his group in perfect formation as they swept through the night skies surrounding Berlin.
Explosions and gunfire filled the night sky as RAF, Americans, and Germans battle over Berlin for aerial supremacy. Flak cannons ignite the night skies and the sound of shrapnel erupting from steel and fire make it seem like a majestic fireworks display over the German capital.
Luftwaffe and Allied forces skirmish with each other, Ace against Ace relentlessly. The loss of firepower and men to both sides was tremendous. There will be many crying widows after tonight’s battle. However, a small group of fighters broke off from the main engagement and sneaked away into the clouds high above the battle.
The roar of Drakes’s two-stage, supercharged Merlin engine filled the eerie quiet night sky as they sneaked away from the main battle that raged below them under the clouds. Dillon and his two wingmen were going to make history this very night. While the main group of Mustangs was engaging the Luftwaffe his group would take advantage of the distraction to continue their top secret mission. To find the 5th Column’s secret air fortress high above the skies and bring the damned thing down.
A voice comes over Captain Drake’s Radio…
“Captain, I have visual confirmation of the target,” said First Lieutenant Rick Johnson (Tom Cat). “It’s at mark 12 and it’s straight up as high as the stars, sir.”
Captain Drake looked up and could see a huge flying fortress high up into the stratosphere. How the Nazi’s were able to build such a monstrosity and keep it up that high indefinitely was beyond him. From his position, the fortress looked a little larger than a star and in order to reach the fortress they needed altitude.
Lots of altitudes.
Drake looks at a picture of his wife and little daughter that was taped over a few gages he never looks at. He remained stoic and concentrated on his mission. For tonight would be the end of the war.
Drake speaks into his radio, “All right men, this is it.” he said unwaveringly. “Pull up at 40 degrees and activate the jets on my mark.”
The pilots of the two other P-51 Mustangs confirmed the orders and they began their climb towards the air fortress as they rose up high above the clouds. They could feel their engines push harder to fight the pull of Mother Earth’s gravity.
Drake felt his Mustang begin to fight him a little bit as they were already flying beyond the altitude of its sturdy design. He calmly calls over his radio again. “Looks like the RAF boys intel was right. They’re not expecting us. ”
Second Lieutenant Jim Davis (Bull Dog) spoke up over his radio. “This will be easy. Let’s bring the big bastard down. We’re already pushing 41,000 feet.”
Tom Cat replied, “That’s a long way down. I bet 20.” Referring to betting game the three friends have made before the mission. The game being, whoever gets the most kills gets the pot of money. Winner takes all.
Bull Dog “I got 50.”
A moment of silence went by as the P-51’s started to slow their accent, the wings and hull shaking from being at the apex of their altitude. Captain Drake looked down at the big red button that was jury-rigged into his cockpit before the mission.
“How about you, Captain?” asked Tom Cat waiting to hear Drake’s bet.
Captain Drake looked down at the picture of his wife and child, his speed averaging about 500 mph but was slowing down as they were approaching their flight ceiling. He then flipped off the cap on his stick signaling his weapons were hot. Then with his left hand, he reached down and pushed the big red button.
The sound of a turbine began to wind up and then a huge bang. Immediately after a thunderous roar echoed out across the skies as two scramjet rockets attached under the fuselage of Drake’s plane burst to life. A stream of hellfire and black smoke trailed behind Captain Drake’s P-51 Mustang as it rocketed into the stratosphere towards orbit.
“He’s betting it all!” exclaimed Bulldog as his rockets also ignited followed by Tom Cat.
On the artwork of Captain Drakes, P-51 Mustang was playing cards, all with the picture of Ace’s and they were blazing with fire.
The Callsign: Gambler.
To Be Continued…