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End of a Night Fighter Sortie

Drawing by Vic Campden, OBE

End of the Night-Fighter Sortie

Text from "The Unreturning Spring" By James Farrar, 1944

There is a final, long wail of brakes and the just-seen shape comes to rest. It stands quietly muttering to itself.

At idling speed the engines run on for a minute or so. Gradually a final swell of power builds up: quickly it dies away. The sound decreases to a gentle throb. The port engine is cut out. The propeller runs on clattering for a few revolutions and flicks to stillness. The other engine raises its murmer to a shout and dies suddenly as the cut-out is pulled. The great blades whistle round jerkily, slowing. And they, too, stop.

The first sound to break the almost painful silence is the click-click of cooling metal as heat radiates from cylinders and cowlings. Then comes the clash of opening hatches and a hubbub of congratulations assaults the two who climb down.

The pilot stretches out his arms in piscatorial exaggeration and goes away laughing, pleased with himself.

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