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Crosshairs

Excerpt

Baltic Sea
24 miles southeast of Copenhagen, Denmark
April 9, 1944

"Bandits at one o'clock! I count three Me-210's," shouted 2nd Lieutenant Don Malloy as he sat in the co-pilot's seat of their B-17, an albatross of a plane carrying ten men high over the freezing waters of the Baltic Sea.

Crosshairs

They were on the return leg from a bombing run on the Focke-Wulf aircraft plant outside Poznan, Poland. They had already flown five and a half hours deep into the heart of Nazi-occupied territory. Now they were looking for a way out. The longest mission in the history of the 8th Air Force was about to reach new heights.

Instinctively he checked the fuel gauge on the instrument panel to his right. Four large 1200hp Wright Cyclone radial engines turned the eleven foot high propellers mounted two apiece on each of the massive wings. Stretching 104 feet across, these wings gave lift to the twenty ton bird that carried a massive payload of ten 500 pound bombs to their target. But Malloy frowned when he saw the readings. Engines one and three showed thirty-two percent of fuel remaining but number two was down to twenty percent. The gauge on engine four had remained stuck on forty-six percent two hours ago. Who knew what was left now. Evasive action would push these finely-tuned machines even harder.

"I see them," the man to his left replied calmly. The pilot and commander of the plane, 2nd Lt. William Potter, smiled thinly behind his oxygen mask.

"I count four coming in high from eleven o'clock," came a deep-seated voice over the intercom.