June E-Postal: Twelve O'Clock High!
I think I'll start off this month's e-postal with a bit of humor.
An English pastor once had the tradition of saying a special prayer on the Sunday before Remembrance Day each year, and after the prayer he would ask if there were any former servicemen in the congregation and invite them to speak for a few minutes. A World War II fighter pilot stood up and reminisced about his war experiences.
"In 1942," he says, "the situation was really tough. The Germans had a very strong air force. I remember," he continues, "one day I was protecting the bombers and suddenly, out of the clouds, these fokkers appeared." There are a few gasps from the parishioners, and several of the children begin to giggle. "I looked up, and realized that two of the fokkers were directly above me. I aimed at the first one and shot him down. By then, though, the other fokker was right on my tail."
At this point, several of the elderly ladies of the church are practically swooning, the girls are all giggling and the boys are laughing out loud. The pastor finally stands up and says,
"I think I should point out that 'Fokker' was the name of a German-Dutch aircraft company, one which made many of the fighter planes used by the Axis powers during the war."
"Yes, that's true," says the old pilot, "but these fokkers were flying Messerschmitts."
Why am I bringing this up? Because I'm giving this month's contest an aerial combat theme.
The target has five outlines of the Messerschmitt BF-109 fighter aircraft each larger than the next. German fighter pilots learned early on that attacking a formation from behind exposed them a hailstorm of machine gun fire, but by attacking head on they minimized the time they had to spend in the sights of the gunners.
You are in the nose of a B17 and you spot a BF 109 headed your way. He has a wingspan of about 34 feet and is traveling about 380 mph towards you. You are cruising at 200 mph so your combined closing rate is a whopping 580 mph. That means that it only takes about 6 seconds to go from a mile apart to impact! Now this target has silhouettes ranging from about 3" to 8" wingspan (I'm approximating, don't bother measuring) meaning that if you are a distance of 11 yards from this target, the little fokker...er I mean Messerschmitt is only 5 seconds away, and the big one is less than 2 seconds away! Think you can hit all of them in 3 seconds?
Targets are to be shot standing unsupported with the firearm of your choice.
Distance to target should be 11 yards (33 ft) or as close to this as practical at your range.
Each target is to be shot in two strings of five for a total of 10 shots. Begin each string at the top and fire one shot at each aircraft proceeding downward. There is no time limit, but remember he's closing fast!
Scoring a hit on the small aircraft is worth 50 points. A hit on the largest aircraft is worth 10 points. The scores for the other aircraft are proportional, with a maximum of two hits allowable on each aircraft. This should give a total possible score of 300 points. I think you'll find however that it's challenging enough that scores shouldn't be terribly high and even a few hits are worth sending in. (If you get no hits at all, you'll still have the option of folding the target into an airplane, lighting it on fire and watch it spiral downwards.
There are five different classes
1. Rimfire firearms with iron sights
2. Rimfire firearms with optics
3. Centerfire calibers with Iron sights
4. Centerfire calibers with optics
5. Flying Circus Class
Here's where I'd like you to have a little extra fun with things. If you want to do something different (i.e. break the rules) just mark it class 5 and tell me what you did. Scoring will be the same except there will be a bonus (positive or negative) that is entirely at my discretion and probably unfair. If it amuses me I'll post it and probably give you points for instance:
Shooting the target from an airplane: +300 points.
The airplane is on the ground: -50 points.
It's not a real airplane: -50points
It's a kiddie ride in front of Walmart: -100 points
You didn't have any quarters: -100 points
You convinced the store manager to put in a shooting gallery: +100 points
and so on.
On a more serious note, I would like to encourage anyone with a timer to challenge themselves by timing their strings (starting on target) and seeing if they can hit anything in the brief window a nose gunner would have had. It'll give you a new respect for what went on in the skies over Europe.
Remember to print your target at 100% scale (not 'fit to page' ) and submit it any time between now and June 30. I should have results ready by the time the fireworks start going off.
Now, test your guns and call 'em out as you see 'em.