You’ve never read a WWII story quite like C.S. Taylor’s Nadya’s War before. Check out an exclusive excerpt from the gripping new novel below!
About ‘Nadya’s War’ by C.S. Taylor
Nadezdah “Little Boar” Buzina, a young pilot with the Red Army’s 586th all-female fighter regiment, dreams of becoming an ace. Those dreams shatter when a dogfight leaves her severely burned and the sole survivor from her flight.
For the latter half of 1942, she struggles against crack Luftwaffe pilots, a vengeful political commissar, and a new addiction to morphine, all the while questioning her worth and purpose in a world beyond her control. It’s not until the Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad that she finds her unlikely answers, and they only come after she’s saved her mortal enemy’s life and fallen in love with the one who nearly kills her.
Check out an exclusive excerpt from ‘Nadya’s War’!
“Nadya watch your six!” Martyona said as we came out of the dive and into a shallow, spiral climb.
Out of instinct, I rolled left. Tracers zipped by my cockpit, and I looked frantically over my shoulder. One fighter was peeling away, not bothering to follow me into a speed-bleeding maneuver, but I caught sight of another lining up from above. God, how did we miss them?
I jinked right, and a sound like gravel hitting a tin roof filled my ears. My controls became mushy. I glanced to my right wing and felt nauseous. Numerous holes were scattered across the surface, and my aileron was missing a fist-sized portion. Worse, I was also trailing a light brown mist.
“Nadya, you’re clear but leaking fuel. Get out of here while you can,” Martyona said.
I knew she was trying to sound reassuring for my own sake, but the tremor in her voice belied the optimism she put forth. I yawed my plane left and right, sliding the nose as far as I could without tumbling the aircraft so I could get a good view of what was behind me. The He-111s flew off in the distance, keeping their original heading, with the original two escorts flying loosely nearby. How smug they must have been, watching us play right into their trap.
Closer, some five hundred meters away, both Kareliya and Martyona fended off the Luftwaffe, but it was clear they were fighting a losing battle. The Messerschmitt pilots were taking turns making diving attacks, forcing my sisters-in-battle to burn altitude and speed to dodge the German’s sights.
“Two thirds left,” I mumbled, checking the fuel gauge mounted on the wing. That was more than enough to get me to Kamyshin where there was an auxiliary airfield we’d planned to refuel at on the way home. It was tempting to make a run for safety, but I didn’t want to see a girl who abandoned her sisters every time I looked in the mirror, and that wasn’t even considering what others would think of me.
I pulled on the stick and climbed, pushing past three thousand meters. With a gentle roll I brought my plane to bear on the dogfight. Martyona and Kareliya had sacrificed a lot in altitude and were making tight turns and staying together to keep each other clear. They didn’t have much more height to burn, and once they were skimming the treetops, they’d be easy pickings. But if I got there in time, the three of us had a decent chance to all go home, maybe even send the Germans running if we flew well enough.
Two 109s from up high began another diving attack. I was too far away to stop it, and all I could do was scream. “Two more coming! Break! Break! Break!”
“Nadya, I told you to return to base!” Martyona shot back at me. “Do as you’re ordered!”
I pushed the throttle as far as it would go. At that setting, the engine guzzled fuel and would be running on fumes in short order. I took aim at one of the 109s that had just started its dive, and even though I was about four hundred meters away, I opened fire with both cowl-mounted machine guns.
Orange tracers streaked through the air. They didn’t come close to hitting their target, but since they flew in front of the German, they produced the desired effect. The 109 pulled out of its dive and rolled away to avoid my fire. I followed the enemy fighter up into a shallow and banking climb, spraying bullets once more. Most missed, but I managed to pepper the German’s tail. Tiny pieces of fuselage broke off, and in my excitement, I pushed the trigger to my cannon.
The 20mm ShVAK cannon sprang to life, belching flame and large shells that could punch through an engine block or explode a fuel tank with a single hit. My plane shuddered from the recoil as I held down the button, hoping for a kill. The shots failed to connect. Worse, I was about to overshoot my target and thus put myself directly into his crosshairs.
I pulled up and rolled my plane to keep my speed high, and then pulled the nose of my aircraft back down to meet him. Within a split second, my enemy realized what had happened and began rolling and pulling his nose into my maneuver. Over and over we went, like a pair snakes wrapping around each other in a corkscrew fashion, each trying to get the other to overshoot, each trying to score the kill. With every roll we made, our planes grew closer.
In a span of a few heartbeats, I could see every marking on the pilot’s plane, from the red letter “U” with a set of wings on one side and inscribed in a shield that labeled the pilot as being part of the Jagdgeschwader Udet unit, to the bright yellow eight painted over the rear of the fuselage, to the white tallies on the tail. My breath left me when I saw those. There had to be twenty victory markers painted on the right side alone. Each one represented a plane he had shot down. I hadn’t picked a fight with a fresh, scared pilot like myself. I’d picked one with a proven ace at least four times over.
Our planes continued to jockey for position. My rolls became slower and slower. The muscles in my arms and shoulders strained more and more. Each pass we made gave him an edge and me notice my life was now measured in seconds. I realized it wasn’t only my inexperience that was about to get me killed. The damage to my right wing had given my enemy more than enough advantage for him to exploit, too. My plane wouldn’t respond as fast as his no matter how skilled I was.
“Damn it, Nadya,” Martyona said over the radio. “Why didn’t you leave when you were told?”
I swallowed hard as the German ace and I rolled by once again. I could see his sharp, unshaven face this time as our canopies nearly brushed by. I could see the shark-like grin he wore. We both knew what was about to happen. “I’m a stubborn boar,” I said. The calmness in my voice surprised me. At least I’d die a heroic death.
On the next roll, I overshot my enemy. I continued until I was upside down and then yanked on my stick for all I was worth. Pain erupted in my arms and back, and I was convinced the sinews were pulling themselves apart. The G’s slammed me in my seat, and I held the tight maneuver as long as I could.
My vision darkened. Yells, orders, chatter on the radio faded to nothing. Exhausted, I let go of the controls. My plane leveled. My senses returned.
Before I could react, my plane exploded.
About C.S. Taylor
C.S. Taylor is a former Marine and avid fencer (saber for the most part, foil and epee are tolerable). He enjoys all things WWII, especially perfecting his dogfighting skills inside virtual cockpits, and will gladly accept any P-38 Lightnings anyone might wish to bestow upon him. He’s also been known to run a kayak through whitewater now and again, as well give people a run for their money in trap and skeet.
Nadya’s War by C.S. Taylor hits bookshelves everywhere on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Get ahead of the curve and pre-order your copy today!