About The Book

Under a Bomber’s Moon is the true story of a New Zealand navigator-bomb aimer with the Royal Air Force and a German night fighter pilot as they fight for success and survival over night time Germany during the bitterest years of the Second World War. In early 1944, after completing one tour of operations and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross for his exploits, the New Zealander, Colwyn Jones, was killed during a raid on Berlin.

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About The Night War Over Europe

During the Second World War the night sky over Europe was one of the most lethal places to wage war. By 1945 almost half of the airmen who flew with Bomber Command and a third of the Luftwaffe night fighter crew pitted against them had been killed. Many German cities became moonscapes of rubble, their inhabitants the first to experience the reality of ‘total war’ – itself a glimpse of the destructive potential of the nuclear age about to explode in the Far East.

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9 - Interceptor EXCERPT

“Otto swung the Messerschmitt around to stalk the bomber from astern. When he was 700 metres behind the position indicated on the radar he slowed his approach. Only a thin layer of mist, as indistinct as a silvery fold in dark velvet, delineated the horizon from the star canopy that enclosed him. At a distance of 300 metres he could just pick out  the barely perceptible rear profile of a Lancaster’s wings, with its fuselage and four engines, which emitted a crimson glow from their exhausts. At 10.05 p.m. he closed to 150 metres for the kill.
Just as Otto was about to attack, the bomber flipped off to starboard, crossing through the Messerschmitt’s gunsight as it did so. Otto fired on reflex and, as he did so, the rear gunner shot a stream of fire laced with tracer back in his direction. Because of the evasive action of the Lancaster, however, this answering fire arced harmlessly into the darkness like an uncontrolled garden hose spraying droplets of light. Otto reported the contact to ground control. ‘Barabbas from Eagle 98 – Pauke – we’re staying on the ball.’
‘Viktor, understood.’
Otto wrenched the throttle levers back to reduce revs as he plunged the Messerschmitt to starboard to follow the Lancaster’s steep dive.
‘Keep an eye on the speedo, Fred, and let me know if we start to red-line. I have to keep my eyes glued to the lad in front.’
The Lancaster began ‘corkscrewing’ – weaving and see-sawing – trying to shake off its pursuer as it plunged towards the cloud cover. Otto, determined to follow the bomber’s every move, flung the Messerschmitt with complete disregard for his Bordfunker [radio and radar operator] and gunner behind him in the long cockpit. He was oblivious to their shrieks as the gunner, perched on a flip-down seat without a harness, floated up against the perspex canopy, his ammunition belts snaking weightless about him, then was rammed back against the floor as Otto pulled out sharply  to follow the bomber upwards again. In a desperate save-or-lose-all manoeuvre, the bomber pilot broke from the corkscrewing action and suddenly tipped into a vertical dive to reach the cloud cover. Otto stuck to him, provoking a note of panic in Fred’s response. ‘Are you mad? You’re pushing it past 700 Kah-Ems [kilometres per hour]!’ The speedo was already well beyond the red-line reading that showed dangerous strain was being exerted on the wings.
No sooner had the Lancaster dived straight down than it arrested its fall and roller-coasted back into an almost vertical climb. Otto rode the course like a bronco, but the audacity of the bomber’s manoeuvre so threw him that his reaction brought the two aircraft almost to a collision, the bomber sliding only metres above him as Otto continued on his downward trajectory, then sought to fasten the Messerschmitt back onto the bomber’s course. The bomber pilot had the advantage of surprise, but Otto’s aircraft was faster and more agile – though not enough to allow him a clear shot. Otto could think of only one way to gain the initiative: to anticipate the very instant the bomber teetered in its turn and to fire at that point. Otto attuned himself to the bomber’s rhythm, hung back to head off the next scything turn, then let loose a burst into its port wing – a hit, but no flames and the rear gunner answered with a salvo, again thrown wide by his aircraft’s careering movement.
The seven minutes this uneven duel lasted left Otto exhausted and boiling in his flying suit. But the Lancaster pilot continued to throw the larger craft around the sky like a toy, though the low cloud cover that had kept so much of the night fighter force grounded now also meant the bomber had some distance still to dive before finding sanctuary.”