The depleted Wasp squadron flew over Stran island. No defensive guns fired on them. Black smoke from the fires whorled around the ends of their wings as they passed through it. On the ground small figures ran to and from the flames. They would make easy targets for a strafing run, but the Wasp pilots were heading for their moments of glory in the fjord.
There were small boats on the grand lake behind the island, turning in tight fast circles to keep from being easy targets. Spotting the Wasps, they broke from their pattern and started heading into the attack in line abreast. Anti air arced up long before it could be effective.
The Wing split, the incendiary armed Cicciles and half the Wasps going high, the rest diving for water level. The low group hadn’t quite reached zero spans when they came within range of the anti air. A Wasp was hit, one engine flaming briefly the trailing black smoke, as tracer webbed around the planes. At wave height the planes flattened out, so low each trailed its own wake. The closing speed was phenomenal, and at zero elevation the gunners on the boats found their shells sailed over the planes.
Two of the boats turned away from the attack, presenting larger and easier targets. They were sliced by lines of converging gunfire as the planes opened up on them. The others fared better, presenting smaller targets, but the white spray from falling rounds traced toward them.
And then the planes were past the boats. Apart from one Ciccile, which pulled up too late and shattered its propeller on the radio mast of the boat it flew over. The plane dived, like a sea bird after fish, under the water. The rest of the flight didn’t see it pop back to the surface several counts later. The pilot, dazed but not even wet yet, wrestled the canopy open and climbed out.
Only four of the boats could raise fire at the receding planes. The wounded Wasp circled and headed back out to sea as its companions climbed to rejoin the rest of the Wing.
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