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Operation "Barbecue" - 17 February 2013
Mission objective; to inflict the heaviest possible damage on a stronghold of sausages, meat patties, salads and beverages slightly north of Tai Tapu. The Canterbury BSA Squadron had been chosen to fulfill this mission due to their unblemished record of successful sorties over the entire campaign thus far.
Being based at a remote outpost, my wingman and I started engines at 1000hrs in order to join the main raiding party by the intended 1030hr takeoff. An uneventful cross-country saw us assemble with the rest of the group at dispersals in the Bush Inn carpark. We waited there until further orders were to be issued.
An impressive lineup of firepower.
The squadron lineup today consisted of all the different classes of machine available during the conflict of 1950-1975.
All types represented.
There were some new crew amongst the ranks today - all welcomed as brothers-in-arms.
A seasoned campaigner - and survivor.!
The commanding officers finally deemed it fit to attend, and we were given some last minute instructions to ensure our best chance of reaching the target without suffering casualties.
"Standby while I open the sealed orders.."
The crews form into various groups to discuss the orders of the day.
Listen up chaps...
As pathfinders, my navigator and I were first to leave, and thus missed some vital final instructions. This was to have some ramifications later in the mission. We reached the first waypoint, and maintained an orbit until the main group arrived.
Impressive sight. A mixture of attacking classes here.
The main attack force arrived in several streams..
Proud examples of the BSA squadron.
This group looked the business - no doubt that they had some serious objectives in mind.
A few associated crew brought in for this special mission.
The last of the stream arrived and were exactly on time. This was going to be the perfect raid.!
More firepower than Hop Yip Cheong in November.!
The chaps observed the waypoint to a man, and the new course was adopted without a moment's hesitation.
Holding formation under pressure.!
We joined the main stream and began the process of working our way into the lead in order to record the mission. What we did not know, was that there had been an option for a mid-route refuel, so we overshot a number of the squadron on our path to waypoint 2 at the upper reaches of Gebbies Pass. This is the main ascent on the flightpath, and engines were labouring as each machine hauled it's payload up to max altitude before approaching today's target.
We were aware that some machines were missing, but having waited for an appropriate time, we were dedicated to press on to target and add our weight to the attack. When we reached the target area, it became immediately obvious that something was wrong. A shortage of ignitable material had resulted in the failure of a successful firestorm. A heavy transport was despatched to collect a suitable ignition source.
In the interim, the main force attacked the supporting beverages.
A stupendous melee ensued..
The women's chapter made sure there was no resistance from the grape quarter..
Doing our bit..
A truly dedicated bunch of chaps here - no effort was being spared to ensure the ale did not mount a counter-attack.
True to a man, the crew stayed together and kept the communication channels open.
Dedication to their craft.
The older chaps in the squadron made sure that the new lads got the benefit of their accumulated wisdom.
It's like this lad..
Totally at ease with their role in this mission, the squadron stalwarts kept a strong presence and made sure it was all under control.
An example of precision management.
As you would expect, the transport arrived and all objectives were achieved. The target was breached, and all mission criteria were exceeded in fine style. The barbecue took place, and the enemy stronghold was greatly diminished. A fine effort by one and all, and despite the adversities one might expect under wartime conditions, each man (and woman..) rose to the occasion, and managed their own personal best. A grand affair by all counts.
I would like to thank all my companions on this mission - with special note to the women's section who took the fight squarely to the enemy. While we men were able to defuse any resistance from the ale defences, the women not only quashed all wine insurgencies, but also dealt a decisive blow to the sausage and meat pattie trenches, so at the end of the day - we triumphed (and BSA'ed..) to great success.
My wingman and I returned home by the same route we had arrived, with no sign of threat to our safety. We did encounter a pair of Harley intruders, but they were despatched with no sign of a fight. The message has gone out.!
There are some notams that you should be aware of. They are observations relating to your performance during the climb to target. Not all crews are represented, but you will get the idea. First, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth.
Cheers mates, look forward to our next mission. I have your six.! Kilroy.