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by Jason Fischer

He banked the plane left, trailing smoke. Promised himself he wouldn’t look back, couldn’t look back, but he did. Poor Ern Tanner, there was nothing left of him but a charred mess, near impossible to tell where his flying leathers ended and his face began. Thank Christ the wind whipped away the smoke and the stink.

A miracle that this crate hadn’t caught the flame, there was nothing to the bi-plane but canvas and wooden struts. Another burst like that and it would be goodnight sweetheart, and thankyou for the dance.

The enemy was damn quick, and their slick manoeuvres made his plane look like a bus given wing. The last of his squadron, he looked down at the patchwork fields below, tried for a moment of peace before the inevitable. He would pass like a comet, a bright spark across a perfect sky. Hoped it would be quick.

Again, too close, and he banked right. Blighter was right up his tail, able to match his speed and wise to any clever tricks he pulled.

He was angry, mad that jerry had done for Ern and Ginger and all the other lads. Mad that he was outclassed in a dogfight, and that his young bride and bouncing baby boy would become fodder for the Hun.

One trick left. He leant forward on the flight stick, held it as it shook in his hands. He opened the throttle to full and prayed that the struggling engine would not stall.

Halfway through the great loop, he jammed the rudders and rolled as he cut the throttle. A perfect Immelmann turn and now he was beneath the enemy, who struggled to escape. He’d guessed right, they couldn’t roll like that and didn’t understand the tactic. Ironic, considering it was a kraut move.

He stitched that pale underbelly with bullets, aimed the gun at the spot where the Germans had painted their Iron Cross, fired until the barrels overheated and jammed.

The dragon went limp, and fell out of the sky.

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