CARRIER 4: FLAME-OUT By Keith Douglass
CARRIER 4: FLAME-OUT By Keith Douglass
The Soviet Union, under new, communist leadership, has invaded
Norway. Carrier Battle group 14, sailing in the north Atlantic, is the
closest American Naval asset and is ordered into the Norwegian sea to
intervene. But the Americans are far outnumbered and soon find
themselves, along with the Norwegians, in a desperate fight for
survival. Violence. 4th novel in the “Carrier” series, 1992.
Also by Keith Douglass
ThE CARRIER SERIES:
Carrier 2: VIPER STRIKE
Carrier 3: ARMAGEDDON MODE
Carrier 4: FLAME-OUT
Carrier 5: MAELSTROM
Carrier 6: COUNTDOWN
THE SEAL TEAM SEVEN SERIES:
SEAL TEAM SEVEN
Wednesday, 4 June, 1997
1827 hours Zulu (1527 hours Zone)
Over the North Atlantic
Rain spattered the front of the cockpit, loud even against the drone of
the A-6E Intruder’s two Pratt and Whitney turbojets. Bleed air blasted the
rain away from the canopy, but the visibility wasn’t good. Not good at all
“Perfect end to a perfect mission,” Bannon muttered aloud. It was true.
The Intruder squadron off U.S.S. Thomas Jefferson had been practicing antiship
attacks against the frigate Gridley for two hours until worsening weather had
finally made further operations impossible. Bannon had made four mock passes
against her, but each time the burly man in the Bombardier/Navigator’s
position beside him had found some fault with the way he handled the plane.
And each time Intruder 507 had ended up missing the target. He felt like a
newbie aviator back at flight school in Pensacola again.
The weather had clamped down over the carrier deck just in time to screw
up their landing approach, of course. That had slowed down the recovery
cycle, especially after Lieutenant Commander Anderson had been waved off on
two attempts. The delay had kept them circling far longer than he liked, and
Bannon had been worrying about the fuel level for the past ten minutes.
Ordinarily he would have Put in a request to tank up from an orbiting KA-6D
tanker, but he didn’t want to elicit yet another scathing comment from his
companion. Now he was regretting the decision not to ask for a shot at the
“Watch your angle of attack, kid,” Commander Isaac Greene growled. He
was second in command of the carrier’s Air Wing, and he was outspoken,
quick-tempered, harsh in his judgment of his subordinates. It didn’t help
that “Jolly Greene” was a genuine hero, a veritable legend aboard the
Jefferson, who had earned the right to criticize inexperienced young aviators
a dozen times over. As CO of VA-89, the Death Dealers, Greene had led the
famous Alpha Strikes of the carrier’s Pacific cruise two years back–over
North Korea, Thailand, India–before reaching his new post as Deputy CAG.
“Save the comments for after we’re down on the deck,” Greene added.
Now Bannon was part of VA-89 … and Greene, with his long-standing
proprietary interest in the Death Dealers, was inclined to ride all of the
Intruder pilots in his charge. But sometimes it seemed as if the Deputy CAG
had a particular wish to make Bannon’s life a special slice of Hell.
Bannon felt himself tensing up. He tried to force himself to relax, but
it didn’t work.
“Aye, aye, sir,” Bannon responded. He tried to correct his approach, but
it was hard to tell if he had compensated enough. Lashing rain and low clouds
and the frustration of the long, fruitless exercise were all combining to sap
He glanced across at Greene, but the commander didn’t seem to be aware of
Bannon’s uncertainty. “You’re going to need to show me a hell of an
improvement before I’m satisfied with your flying, kid,” he said inexorably.
“The Intruder’s a precision flying machine, but you drive it like a damned
“Intruder Five-oh-seven.” The call on the radio was matter-of-fact,
almost bored. The Landing Signals Officer had already brought in half a dozen
Intruders from the training run, and sounded ready to come in out of the
weather. “On line, slightly to the left. Three-quarter mile. Call the
Bannon squinted through the canopy, trying to spot something, anything,
through the washed-out gray drizzle that made sea and sky look the same. The
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