Secrets of Radar
BY ROY J. SNELL
Goldsmith Publishing Company
THE GOLDSMITH PUBLISHING CO.
MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
- CHAPTER PAGE
- i Death In the Clouds 7
- ii We’re Going Back. And Soon 19
- iii Radar’s Secrets Are Not Told 27
- iv Burma or Bust 35
- v A Light at the End of the Trail 43
- vi Temple Bells and Terror 51
- vii Night Bombers 59
- viii I’ll Get Two of You 65
- ix Three Secrets of Radar 73
- x My Destination Is Tokio 81
- xi They Who Steal Out into the Night 92
- xii The Unseen Highway 101
- xiii A Dangerous Hideout 110
- xiv Pete 118
- xv An Enemy at Her Window 127
- xvi A Monstrous Procession 138
- xvii Mysterious Temple 148
- xviii The Lady Barber Quartette 157
- xix The Woman in Purple Burns a City 166
- xx Gale! Gale! 173
- xxi Gale Gets Her Plane 180
- xxii Two Shots and a Surprise 186
- xxiii This Is the Zero Hour 192
- xxiv Red Heads Always Come Back 198
- xxv What the Drums Told 206
- xxvi Count Your Men, Tojo 213
- xxvii The Fiery Cross 221
- xxviii This Is It! 228
- xxix This Is Tokio 236
Death In the Clouds
The girl with wind-blown hair ordered the coolie pushinga cart loaded with instruments and strange radio-likeboxes to come close to the big anti-aircraft gun and leavethe cart there.
“You runnee this-a wire backee and fixee him plentygood.” She handed the coolie a long electric cord. Thecoolie vanished into the shadows of the palm trees.
“What’s the big idea?” The sergeant in command ofthe anti-aircraft gun sat up. The air of India was hot andmoist that afternoon. He had been half asleep. Now hestared at the cart and its odd contents and then sent asecond questioning look at the girl with the wind-blownhair.
“You and I are going to do a little practicing.” The girlspoke in a steady even tone. Then she smiled.
The sergeant looked her up and down. She was, he decidedone of those rare girls who could make even thedrab uniform of a WAC look good. She was rather largebut well proportioned. “An oversize copy of a beautifulgal,” he told himself.
To the girl, after recalling her words, he said:
“Says the Colonel.” Smiling a little more broadly shefished a crumpled bit of paper from her pocket andhanded it to him.
“Military papers,” he grumbled as he smoothed out thesheet. “Should be kept in perfect condition, folded neatly.”
“And read.” She did not smile.
“Okay—okay, sister. All the same, that’s general ordersI’m giving you. I—”
He broke off to stare at the paper. “What’s this?” Heglared at the paper some more. “You are to send smallballoons carrying hollow steel balls up into the sky. Thenyou are to find them up there in the clouds and I amto try and shoot them down?”
“What’s this? A new game for a soldier’s pastime in astrange and foreign land?” He stared at her afresh.
“Ever hear of radar?” she asked.
“Sure! They use it in the Navy.”
“They do. And they’ll use it in the Army too, providingit is possible to get the co-operation of the Army sergeantsin charge of anti-aircraft guns.”
“Meaning me? Okay. You win,” he agreed with anunwilling grin. “But there’s one line in this paper that iscoo-coo. It should say that you are to try and find thosesteel balls in the clouds and I’m to shoot ’em down.”
“Wait and see.” She stood her ground.
The coolie returned with one end of the electric cord.She connected it to the box on the cart. Something beganto burn. Some tubes lighted up.
“Now,” she sighed. “It’s hot, don’t you think?”
“What? That thing? I wouldn’t know,” he said.
“No. The weather,” she replied.
“Terrible!” he agreed with conviction. “Just at the endof the rainy season! It’s awful having your rest periodbroken into by a gal in an army uniform.” He winked atthe two buck privates who helped man his gun, and theylaughed.
Paying not the least attention to this unflattering bitof drama, the girl went about her work. Removing a shortsteel tube from the cart, she connected it with a largepaper balloon, then turned on a valve. A hissing soundfollowed. The balloon inflated rapidly and pulled at thecord that held it to the cart. After attaching a metal ballabout a foot in diameter to the balloon, she allowed itto float skyward. It rose rapidly.
Squinting his eyes, the sergeant said: “You expect meto hit that steel ball after it gets into the clouds?”
“If your shell explodes within fifteen feet of the balloonthe balloon will burst and the steel ball will come down,”she explained with the patient tone of a born teacher.“If you burst the balloon, you score. Hit the steel ball andyou score double. Get me?” she asked.
“Oh, sure. But when do you score?” he asked.
“If you score, I score.” Her smile was broad and friendly.
“Fair enough,” the sergeant grinned. “Well, boys, we’llgive it a real try, huh?”
“Sure! Oh, sure!” came from his crew.
The balloon went up. In silence they watched it riseto at last disappear in the clouds.
At once the girl with wind-blown hair got busy withher instruments. “I’m feeling for the steel ball,” she explained.“I’ll have it presently.”
“She’s feeling for the steel ball,” one of the buck privategunners repeated.
“She’ll have it presently,” said the other. “Like h—l,”he muttered, under his breath.
The eyes of the gun crew were on the girl. It was as ifshe had learned some Hindu magic there in India. Theyquestioned that she could do the trick, but gave her thebenefit of the doubt, nevertheless.
“Something like making a boy climb a rope into thesky,” one of them suggested.
“Uh huh. Probably,” the other agreed. “I saw an old guydo that trick once. And say! Was it spookey!”
“Did the boy come back?”
“Not that I saw, he didn’t.” The two buck privatessettled back in their places.
“There now,” the girl sighed. “I’ve got it.”
“She’s got it,” one of the privates repeated. The otherwas silent. He had seen magic work. A boy had gone up arope and hadn’t come down.
“Show me how your gun is adjusted,” the girl said tothe sergeant. He showed her, carefully—painstakinglyas if she were a child. She grinned, but said nothing.
“The balloon is drifting south by southeast,—threemiles an hour,” she said at last. “I’ll find it again. ThenI’ll set your gun on the spot. Your job is to follow the driftand shoot the balloon down after a sixty second wait.”
“Okay.” The sergeant waited. There was an odd grinon his face.
The girl bent to her task. Then suddenly she straightenedup. Her keen eyes had detected a movement in theshadow of the palm trees. A dozen paces away she saw aman, a black dwarf, with strangely bowed legs and agrotesquely dried up face. Her first impulse was to say:“You go away!” She did not say it, but returned to hertask.
“Now,” she sighed once more, “I’ve got the steel ball’slocation. I’ll set your gun.” This task she performed withspeed and accuracy. The boys of the gun crew watched insome surprise. One whistled softly through his teeth.
“She knows about guns,” the other whispered. “Whatd’you know about that!”
“Now.” The girl straightened up to fix her eyes on thesergeant. “You take it.”
The sergeant took over. The girl held a watch on him.The sergeant was on the spot. A girl had offered him achallenge. As a gentleman he had accepted the challenge.His face tensed as the seconds—one, two, three, four, five—tickedaway.
“Now,” came from the girl in a hoarse whisper.
The sergeant’s fingers moved like triggers. Instantlythe gun boomed. They waited one, two, three, four, fiveseconds. Then came the dull roar of the exploding shell.
They waited again—one, two, three, four, five—up tothe count of twenty. Fragments of the shell could beheard dropping. And then, at the edge of the cloud appeareda gray shadow that rapidly developed into a blackball.
“By thunder! They got that balloon in the bag!” one ofthe boys exclaimed.
Turning about, the sergeant held out his hand to thegirl. She took it, man to man, a good hearty grip.
“That,” said one of the privates, “is better than the boychinning the rope. You’d ought to go in for magic, Miss.There’s money in magic.”
The girl smiled, but made no reply. She glanced awayat the shadows of the palm tree. The black dwarf was stillthere. Not knowing why, she shuddered, but she still didnot tell him to go away.
The steel ball reached earth some distance away. Thefirst gunner, still a bit of a skeptic, ran over to retrieve it.
“You never touched the steel ball!” he called on theway back.
“But he got the balloon!” the girl insisted. “That wasvery good indeed for the first try.”
“Thank—O—Thanks.” The sergeant made a bow.“Sometimes the Captain says I’m good and sometimes hesays I’m—well, never mind just what he says. It’s not fitlanguage for a lady.”
“I’m no lady,” the girl laughed. “I’m just a soldier, aWAC. So let’s just be nice and natural. Shall we haveanother try?”
“Oh sure! As many as you like.” The sergeant adjustedhis gun.
A telephone attached to a tree jangled.
“I’ll get it.” The first gunner jumped up.
“It’s for you, Sergeant,” he announced a moment later.
“Be right there.” The sergeant was away.
There was a serious, all but stern look on the sergeant’sface when he returned. “Sorry, lady,” he half apologized.“School’s dismissed for today.”
“Why—what—” she began.
He broke in: “Some nasty old Jap bombers are headedthis way to mess things up a bit. And did they pick on aswell day to do their stuff! They’ll come hopping out ofthe clouds, drop their bombs and drop back into the cloudsagain.”
“Before we get a good crack at ’em,” the first gunnerbroke in. “The dirty—”
“Lady, you’d better scram,” said the sergeant. “This isno place for you right now.”
“I hear ’em comin’!” The second gunner’s ears werecovered by a listening device.
“I’m not leaving,” the girl said, as she shook her hairinto a tangled mass. “This may be a man’s war, but they’llhave to put me in the guard house to keep me out of it.”
“Oh! Miss! I’m sorry,” the sergeant exclaimed, “butorders are orders. No ladies.”
“Who’s giving the orders?” she snapped. “You’re asergeant. I’m a second officer of the WACS. You tell mewho’s ranking officer on this gun! I’m staying! And we’regoing to get one of those bombers!”
“Get what? Get—” A strange light shone in the sergeant’seyes like the glint of a diamond. “Last time theygot a whole gun crew and one was my particular pal,” hegrumbled. He whistled a bar of “Lady Be Good”, thensaid: “Have it your own way. Let’s get set.”
By this time the enemy planes could be heard rumblingthrough the overcast.
“They’re heading for the airdrome. We’re practicallyon the edge of it,” the sergeant explained. “They may taketime to wipe us off the map first,” he added as a comfortingafterthought.
If the girl heard, she made no sign.
“They’ll circle over the place first, won’t they?” sheasked in a matter-of-fact voice.
“That’s what they most generally do,” the sergeantagreed.
“That’s when we’ll get them,” she murmured, as sheadjusted her radar set. “They’ve got one-track minds,those Jap pilots have. They circle about in the same tracktwo or three times.”
“That will make it nice,” said the sergeant. “Practicallyno trouble at all. Shoot ’em down like clay pigeons rightout of those thick clouds.” To him one toy balloon shotout of those clouds meant very little just then.
“Here they come,” the gunner with the earphones announced.“They’re headed right this way.”
“Probably got one of those cute little maps with an Xmarking the spot!” the sergeant grumbled. Then his voicerose. “All right, you guys. Get set to do your stuff. They’repractically over us now.”
Tense seconds ticked themselves away, and then thegirl who had been working and looking toward the cloudssaid:
“They’re beginning to circle now, at an altitude of