Hello everyone, and Happy New Year! The holidays should have meant more time to work on Projekt MUSE, but somehow it ended up slowing the whole process down. Still, it wasn’t idle time, and we’ve been working on a few new ideas for the Projekt MUSE universe. A special thanks to people who have sent us letters of encouragement, I can’t tell you how good it makes us feel. Anyway, I promise not to keep using the cliffhanger technique to end chapters. I will do my best to only use it when appropriate! On to chapter 6!
Archive for January, 2011
Projekt MUSE Chapter 6: Convergence
The Tower Frontier
10 February 1940
For one sickening moment, Adalwolfa thought that Wilhelmina had been shredded by the enemy fighter’s cannons. Instead, Wilhelmina seemed to pass right through the threads of fire ripping through the air.
Time slowed as the next few seconds passed. Wilhelmina fired a quick burst from both her machine gun and cannon at the grey arrow. As the barrels at the front of her Luftritter spat bullets, sparks flew as the machine gun rounds found their target, tearing holes in the front of the aircraft. Wilhelmina immediately swerved to her right at the last instant, her propellers clearing the enemy fighter by centimeters. As she entered into a sharp bank, her engine struts complained under the high-g forces as her left engine did a lateral pivot. The head on pass at nearly 1600 km/h was over in a blink of an eye.
The move seemed to stun the Tower fighter. Confused, the Tower fighter flew in a straight line, straight towards Adalwolfa. Perfectly aligned, Adalwolfa did not hesitate to fire. Adalwolfa unloaded with 2cm cannon fire, with multiple rounds impacting the fighter’s front and leading wing surfaces.
The devastating impact of the two gun passes delivered catastrophic damage to the structural integrity of the Tower fighter. The leading edge of the fighter’s left wing split apart. The sudden loss of aerodynamics caused the entire structure of the wing to fail. The wing shredded, first with the metal skin ripping from the skeleton, and then the skeleton itself tearing itself apart. In less than a second the Tower aircraft had entered into a death spiral, flipping wildly in the air, disintegrating as it fell to the earth.
Despite the wild descent, amazingly the Tower craft’s escape pod managed to escape the tumbling mass of debris and fly into the heavens.
Before Adalwolfa could hit the transmit button, Brunhilde was already on the radio. “Wil, how did you do that?”
“Do what?” Wilhelmina was trying to sound calm, but the adrenaline was still surging through her system.
“How did you pass right through that gunfire? It looked like you were a ghost!”
The question took just long enough for Wilhelmina to regain her composure. Taking in a deep breath, she started explaining. “Remember when we fought the first Tower fighter? They have their cannons in both wings. While watching them in the dogfight with JG21, I realized that they only fired when our aircraft were far in front of them.”
“Fixed convergence,” added Adalwolfa. “You bet on them having a fixed convergence set far forward. At the speeds they fly, and considering how slow they turn, that’s a very reasonable assumption.”
“Convergence? OK, now you lost me.”
[Ada’s Combat Tactics Lecture: With wing mounted guns, the guns are set at a slight angle so the stream of fire from the two guns meet at a certain distance from the front of the aircraft. This is done to concentrate fire at a very specific point to increase the chance of hitting your target. You can imagine this as two lines extending from each of the wings to a point in front of the aircraft. This is called the convergence point, and it is the optimal spot to engage an enemy with guns. Technically you can hit aircraft with your cannons closer or beyond the convergence point, but the Luftritter are very small, making it much harder to do. This is why the Luftritter favors a centrally mounted cannon.]
By now Brunhilde, Adalwolfa and Wilhelmina had joined up. Before Wilhelmina could say any more, another signal came through on the long-range radio.
A woman’s voice came over the radio. “Einzelganger SEF, this is Airfleet Command. Radar and ground spotters confirm Tower strike craft intercepted and destroyed. We also reported a momentary radar contact with an enemy Fighter type, and ground spotters report destruction of a Tower fighter type. Please confirm.”
“Airfleet Command, this is Einzelganger SEF. Confirming that Tower strike craft engaged and destroyed. Also confirming that Tower fighter type engaged and destroyed.”
“Good work Einzelganger. Unfortunately this means that Tower fighter craft have a means to avoid radar detection. We will brief you once we have evaluated the data. Sorry we couldn’t warn you sooner. Request immediate RTB and please have the delivery of gun camera footage and an engagement report to Airfleet Command Headquarters as a top priority.”
“Acknowledged. Einzelganger SEF is RTB.”
In a noticeably more relaxed tone, the voice over the radio continued. “Einzelganger, can you please report who scored the victories?” There was a short pause. “Of..of course the gun camera footage will be used for an official report.”
Slightly mystified, Wilhelmina answered. “One victory for Fraulein Rauchenberg. One victory for Fraulein Schulman.”
The radio operator excitedly spoke to someone off mic while still transmitting. “See, I told you! I bet they even take turns…” A different throat being cleared could be heard over the radio. “Ooops. Sorry, Airfleet Command out.”
The three girls looked at each other with a quizzical look.
Brunhilde spoke first. “What was that about?”
Wilhelmina could only shrug.
The moment they landed back in Berlin, Wilhelmina knew that things had changed. Waiting for them was an Airfleet Command limousine and police escort.
“Freiin Schwarzenberg, my name is Colonel Gunther Hallsted, General Staff Intelligence Directorate. I have been asked to escort you to Airfleet Command Headquarters.” The man not only had an impeccable uniform, his hair was neatly groomed and he smelt of expensive cologne.
Brunhilde and Adalwolfa exchanged glances. Wilhelmina simply nodded. Pausing for a moment, she walked over to Fredrick Schmidt, the Luftritter crew chief.
“Fredrick, could you please remove the gun camera film and put it into the trunk of the car?”
Fredrick nodded, and motioned to three technicians, who scrambled to remove the octagonal canisters from each of the Luftritter. As soon as the film canisters were loaded into the limousine, Wilhelmina bowed to the crew, and got into the limo.
As the Military convoy sped off, a shocked Brunhilde looked at Adalwolfa. “I hate to repeat myself, but what was that about?”
Adalwolfa could only shrug.
Berlin, Prussia, German Union
Bundsluftfahrtministerium (Union Air Ministry Building)
10 February 1940
Wilhelmina, who was normally calm and collected, began to pace about the luxurious reception area. General Wever’s secretary looked very apologetic and tried to make her more comfortable, offering her tea. Wilhelmina finally managed to calm herself when the doors swung open.
A group of men, all wearing different uniforms, briskly walked out of the office. An Admiral from the Confederate States noticed Wilhelmina first and bowed. A General from the United States walked up to her quickly and grabbed her hand, shaking it violently. “Good job hitting those Tower forces hard! Keep hitting them!”
A slightly stunned Wilhelmina simply nodded. The rest of the delegation bowed to her and the entire group marched out of the hall.
“Please send Freiin Schwarzenberg in, Carla. Thank you.”
Wilhelmina walked into the General’s office. Unlike the last time, General Wever looked quite tense.
“Freiin Schwarzenberg, I’m sorry to have kept you waiting for so long. May I get you some tea?”
“Thank you General Wever. Carla has already served me a cup.”
General Wever coughed. After a brief pause, he continued.
“The League of Humanity’s Allied Command was just here. Apparently the military commanders do not agree with the Supreme Council and are upset with the decision to restrict the use of the Luftritter in defensive operations. They also wanted to watch the gun footage firsthand as soon as it was developed.”
General Wever had a very uncomfortable look on his face.
“Freiin Schwarzenberg, your family is very important to Prussia…to the entire German Union…”
“Yes general. I believe we had this conversation once before.”
“Ahh, yes. Well, the League Allied Command has put us in a rather awkward situation. They have already forced the issue with the Supreme Council.” General Wever looked even more uncomfortable.
“The League…the League is now requesting that the German Union nationalize Projekt MUSE and incorporate your unit into the Luftwaffe under the command of the Air Ministry. The fate of the Panzerritter is still being decided. Perhaps it will be incorporated into the Heer, or perhaps it will stay under the Air Ministry. ”
General Wever watched Wilhelmina carefully. A thin line of sweat formed on his brow.
Wilhelmina simply smiled. The poor General had no idea that this turn of events had been exactly what Wilhelmina had planned, and he was worried how she would react. Wilhelmina actually felt a little sorry for making him suffer like that, but perhaps it was revenge for the way he treated her before. Revenge taken, she decided that it was time to play the gracious aristocrat.
“That will be quite alright, General Wever…or should I say Herr General?”
Once General Wever realized that he hadn’t upset the heir to the largest industrial group in Prussia, he breathed easier. The rest of the conversation focused on the technical matters of the transition, some of the legal matters (including a generous compensation package to the Schwarzenberg group) and other details.
“One last thing Freiin Schwarzenberg. You’ll need these.”
General Wever handed Wilhelmina a pair of shoulderboards.
“Congratulations Hauptmann Schwarzenberg.”
“Since your family created and trained this unit, it is only fitting that you command it. Congratulations Hauptmann Schwarzenberg, I am positive that the Einzelganger Squadron will serve with honor and achieve great things.”
Before heading back to campus, Wilhelmina had one last bit of business. She went by the command center to file some paperwork. As she walked in, she noticed that all of the side conversations had stopped, and that all eyes were on her.
As she approached the flight operations desk, one of the female radio operators approached her.
Apparently word travelled very fast at headquarters.
“Hauptmann, can I get your autograph?”
“Hey, not fair Greta!”
“Me too Hauptmann Schwarzenberg!”
A mob of female radio operators descended on Wilhelmina.
“Is Leutnant Schulman or Oberfeldwebel Rauchenberg here? Can we get their autographs too?”
Wilhelmina sighed, put on her best smile, and began to sign autographs.