Long before the Japanese bombers saw us I saw them. We were sittingin the catbird seat, 3000 feet above them and directly in the fiery ball of the sun.
Spread out and ragged after take-off from the runway at Yunnan-Yi, our eighteen P-40s now flew in tight fingertip elements of two.
Before we reached 20,000 feet I saw the glint of their windshields, the discs of their propellers in the sunlight.
My count reached twenty-four as I breathed deeply in my oxygen mask to slow my pounding heart.
Was this what RAF pilots called "getting the wind up"?
I tried hard to swallow, to make the lump in my throat go away.
Time after time I remember flicking the toggles of my gun switches to be certain they had been on ever since our struggling takeoff run from that high-altitude runway.
All the way, there there had been no conversation on the radio.
That had been my only order at the hasty briefing: no yakety-yak, and watch me.
Now we dove to the attack.
Not even the waggle of a wing among the enemy bombers as they grew from vague dots into real Kawasaki Ki-48s.
They still had not seen us - we had the advantage.