Volume 3, Chapter 34
When the tarp on the last truck was pulled off, everyone looked at the large object that was uncovered.
“This…. Isn’t this the body of a Junker?” Wolfe saw the familiar corrugated surface and the square cross-section.
“Yes, isn’t this part of a Ju52? General, did you say that this was the third toy?
“This is the transport plane… How would this be used?”
“Don’t speak right now, the General would naturally have his ideas.”
“You’re probably right. But what would the new weapon be?”
Such conversations could be heard as the pilots muttered to each other.
Xu Jun smiled and looked at the pilots. Waiting a few moments, he coughed a few times and the discussions quickly died down. Everyone was waiting for the General to give them another surprise or shock. After all, they’ve gotten used to the endless tricks from their commander.
“Everyone has seen my third toy. Haha, do we recognize what this is?”
“It’s a Ju52 transport plane.” The group answered together.
“Haha, so we have recognized it. However, it’s not entirely accurate. This is only part of the fuselage for a Ju52. When the operation starts, this plane will be flown against the British.
Xu Jun’s words were like a drop of water on an oil frying pan. The pilots broke out in a ruckus.
“What! This how would that work!”
“Oh, God, I have no desire to die. This thing doesn’t even have a good machine gun. How do we strike the British?”
“Haha, Karl, your sock may even be more useful.”
“Perhaps its supposed to attract enemy fire?”
“Yeah, that is a good idea!”
“It doesn’t even have wings yet.”
“Well, it shouldn’t fly that poorly. Probably only a bit worse than my old Stuka.”
Xu Jun shook his head as he looked at the pilots. They were not blind to this and quickly shut their mouths once again. Some worry rushed into their minds. Their behavior of shouting in the midst of the general and moreover, he seemed dissatisfied.
Xu Jun was sort of surprised by the sudden quietness. No matter, since they finally decided to quiet down he could explain them the intricacies of it.
“Well, I want to ask you a question. How do you destroy small amphibious targets?” Xu Jun then pointed at a random pilot in the front.
“Lieutenant, I want you to answer my question.”
The pilot sprung up.
“General, it would depend on the size of the boat. If it is a small fishing boat, then an aerial bombing would work. After several rounds, it should be successful. In other cases, a precision strike from a Stuka may be necessary.
“Well, what if the boat is armed and covered by enemy planes?” Xu Jun asked.
“If we outnumber the enemy, we can divide the enemy planes and draw them away. Leaving the target open to our excess fighters. However, this would be a costly decision. Moreover, it leaves the risk of our Stukas being shot down before ever reaching the target.”
“Good, Lieutenant, you can sit down.”
Xu Jun’s questions still somewhat puzzled the pilots as it seemingly had nothing to do with the Ju52. After all, it wasn’t a bomber nor could it be easily retrofitted as one.
“Gentlemen, that’s why I want to use this kind of plane. According to the latest information, the enemy has prepared a large number of small vessels to cross the Dover Strait. Those small boats were organized for the purpose of ferrying the troops from shallow waters to the larger transport ships. When the enemy’s evacuation begins, these small ships will be one of the first.
Recently, we’ve been hard-pressed to find a countermeasure for this. As the boats will range from riverboats, yachts, and fishing boats. Ironically enough, these boats are too small for our bombers to reliably hit.
Although dive bombing has a better chance, there will be too many of these boats to destroy them all. According to our reports, there will be hundreds of such boats that will participate in the operation. Moreover, the British Royal Air Force has been tasked with providing air cover. Some of the boats requisitioned by the Royal Navy have also been lightly armed. Forcing us to abandon the prospect of dive-bombers as it would bring about unnecessary losses.
Not to mention fighters. Your sole task is to destroy the enemy planes at Dunkirk. Anything other than that can be cast aside. Your ammunition onboard is very limited, so use it wisely. Hence, you don’t have the time or supplies to deal with those boats.
In terms of artillery options, the Army’s long-range guns can indeed cover a portion of the sea, but they will have more important targets to eliminate.
As a result, we really don’t have a weapon that can effectively deal with this current situation. But do we really want to watch those boats snatch away our prize from right under our noses?”
“Of course not!” The pilots shouted in unison. “We will never let those Englishmen run away.”
“Is there any other way then?” Xu Jun gave a slight smiled and asked.
“I think the General has thought of a way, is that plane supposed to deal with those boats? Wolfe jumped out and asked.
“Haha, no need to be so impatient. But this time you are right. This is dedicated to the destruction of those boats, you could say it’s our secret weapon. Now I am honored to present the aerial platform-based fire. Or rather I prefer to call it the Air Gunboat or Gunship.”
Then with the cue of Xu Jun, two 20mm machine guns jutted out impressively of the modified windows. Giving a shock to the group. The idea of a gunship was something they’ve never considered.
“This…. This… It’s….” Wolfe looked at the gun then looked at Xu Jun.
“What’s it, Colonel Wolfe? Haha. This transport plane has been modified to accept these new changes. If you still think that it’s not enough. There are also spots to mount four more Mg34’s.
So, is everyone satisfied with it? This is merely a sample. The Junker factory engineers are making the same modifications to fifty more Ju52s. I believe they should be ready by tomorrow. As I said, I specially designed this in order to deal with the British vessels.
You could say that this transport aircraft now has the firepower of a general fighter plane. Both the 20mm and Mg34 machine guns have underwent some modifications to shed some weight. While it may have reduced some durability, it’s firepower is a potent as ever. I can say with confidence that anything within its range can be turned to debris in ten seconds.
This is not even the end of it. Onboard will be enough ammunition for half an hour of fire. Among these will be the white phosphorus rounds and some armor-piercing rounds. With such a combination, I believe that no boat can survive its onslaught.
The slow speed of the Ju52 works to our advantage in this case. Allowing the shooters to aim more carefully and overall, increased efficiency. Moreover, the plane will be out of range of the ground return fire. It will be like target training for the gunners. Finally, the tactics are also relatively simple. As long as the plane strafes the target, the guns on the fuselage will rip the enemy to shreds.”
After listening to Xu Jun, were quite intrigued. This was really interesting, a gunship, powerful! How had this not been thought of before? If the enemy infantry were clustered together then it would become the ground force’s nightmare. The commander was really a devil, even a transport plane would become a fearsome weapon in his hands.
The pilots raised their chests a bit higher, practically pleading with their eyes. “Pick me!”
Suddenly a pilot raised his hand and asked a question. “General, what should be done about the protection of this aircraft? What about enemy fighters?”
The other pilots nodded in agreement. While this kind of aircraft fire is indeed fierce, no one here was a fool when it came to aerial combat. The enemy planes would surely target the slow-moving transport plane. With its minimal defense even light weapons would pose a hazard.
“Oh this….”Xu Jun said as he still had a confident smile on his face.
“The protection of the plane has indeed been strengthened. This was mostly in order to withstand the recoil from the weapons onboard. Even the fuselage frame had been reinforced. Light armor plates have been placed around the engine and other vital areas for some protection. However, this would all inevitably weight the plane down and decrease the speed. If an enemy fighter attacked from any direction other than its side guns, then the gunship will have no chance.”
“What? Then isn’t this a suicide mission if it’s so easily shot down?” The pilots began to mutter in their groups.
“Of course not, just listen to me.” Xu Jun raised his hand and a silence ushered once more over the audience.
“This kind of aircraft cannot perform its task alone. The condition is that air supremacy must be held by us. After that, when these planes are deployed, it will be your job to protect them. I believe that our fighters can put down the British, especially after I’ve giving you those new bullets.”
The following fighter pilots firmly nodded. Their pride made them unwilling to allow an enemy victory.
“Very well. In the case of if enemy fighters do break through. Those who will be piloting the Ju52’s can drop to lower altitudes and return to German positions. I’ve already arranged with the Army plenty of anti-aircraft fire to provide cover for your retreat. Another point is that if your ammunition is running low, you can immediately return to a nearby German airfield for replenishment. Your special ammunition has already been transported to those airports. You can rest assured that your needs will be taken care of.
Finally, your goal not to attack those large destroyers or warships. The British Navy’s anti-aircraft fire is not something you can defend against. Besides, I’ve already made other arrangements for those large vessels.”
“Oh, but General. Since you’re giving us such a wonderful toy, who’s going to pilot it?” Wolfe asked.
All the pilots focused intensely on Xu Jun’s figure. The fighter pilots already knew they had no chance. After all, the General had already designated their job as escort and protection. However, they were still very interested in his response.
“Hmmm, well I would like to pick some people from the dive bomber group to pilot it. Mostly because during the first two days of combat, the dive bombers will have a minimal role. Moreover, they also have experience piloting large transport planes. As for the gunners, I should be able to pick some from the Luftwaffe ground forces. If you fighter pilots are interested, you can also register for a piloting role. Talk to Colonel Wolfe for your options. Do you have any other questions?”
“Well, you can start preparing for combat. At three this afternoon, you will be in the first wave bound for Dunkirk. You are dismissed to the task room to further discuss the operational plan!” Xu Jun gave a quick salute.
“Stand! Salute!” Wolfe said loudly. The pilots all rose from their chairs and neatly saluted.
“We are returning to the task room, don’t forget to bring back your chair!” Wolfe shouted and led the way back. Then the pilots followed and chat among themselves.
“Hans.” Xu Jun said. “What do you see in those pilots? What do you think of them?”
“They are great pilots, General.”
“I think so as well. I hope that after this campaign ends, I can see these brave young men once more.”
“You will General, most definitely.”
“Let’s go back, this time I’ll drive.”
“What is it General?”
“Where is the shift on this car?”