February 08, 2009

What If...? #2

Outwardly, Warrant Officer Takeo Koyani, pilot of the G4M, looked calm and capable.  On the inside, however, he was cursing everybody involved on sending him on this stupid mission.  "Fly Admiral Yamamoto on an inspection tour of  the Solomons," they had said.  "It'll be easy, and the morale boost will be enormous."  And so it had, these past few days.  Then that airstrip commander at Rabaul had warned of ambushes coming from Guadalcanal, and yet here he was, flying towards Ballale island near Bouganville... in the direction of Starvation Island itself... in a damned "One-shot Lighter."  Still, here he was, and the flight had been uneventful so far.  Buka was nearby, and some additional Zeros would be lifting off right about... now... to provide additional cover.  Then he'd be... well, not safe exactly, but he'd feel a lot better.

Then the tailgunner shouted a warning.  With a curse, Koyani pushed the nose of the G4M down, picking up speed to get closer to Buka as fast as possible.  Tracers shot past the cockpit, but he heard the unmistakable sounds of bullets whipping through the fuselage.  Dammit, where was his escort?  A solid whump drew his attention to the left wing, where he saw a huge plume of smoke pouring from the engine.  Suddenly, the G4M snap-rolled that direction.  Koyani frantically struggled to level the bomber out, an American P-38 flashed by, the jungle below looked very green.  "We're going to crash, brace yourself," Koyani yelled as he hauled back on the stick.  Dammit, why hadn't he been picked for fighters?  Why the hell was he here right now anyway?   

Some miles away, an IJN minesweeper cruised in the Solomon Sea.  The brief aerial struggle had been in clear view, and the captain radioed back to Rabaul that two G4Ms had been shot down by Lightnings.  That task done, he turned as the man next to him spoke quietly.  "No wonder we lost at Midway.  They've been reading our mail."  The captain nodded.  "Take me back to Rabaul, Captain.  I've got a lot of work to do, and the inspection can wait."

As the minesweeper came about, Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto strode from the bridge and began calling for his aides.


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