"Nachtigall reporting. Engaging the Galm Team."
-Anne "Nachtigall" Zweig, aka "Meteor 1", over Area B7R on May 28th, 1995
The Belkan 6th Air Division, 1st Fighter Wing, 21st Tactical Fighter Squadron, callsign "Meteor", was a unit of the Belkan Air Force that has been around since 1945, and like their Yuktobanian counterparts: "Buran", were initially established to test advanced aircraft, but unlike Buran, these were a combat unit from the outset.
The served in the variety of roles over the years, ranging from interception and air superiority to reconnaisance and multirole strike missions.
Part 1: Beginnings (1944-1950)By 1944, conventional fighter squadrons that had been effective enough to put a dent in them thanks to forward airbases being unusable from constant bombardment by V-1 "buzzbombs" forcing them to fly from further away without fighter cover now found themselves at a disadvantage due to one thing: Osea's P-51 Mustang becoming available in sufficient numbers. It could not only escort bombers all the way to their targets and back, but could outperform the older Bf-109 and Fw-190 variants fielded by Belka, and the only aircraft in their arsenals at the time that could outperform it, the Me-262, was too vulnerable to being attacked during takeoff and landing, not to mention that at times the slower Osean fighters sometimes managed to outfight them anyway due to a shortage of experienced pilots. This led the Belkan high command to order into production a new kind of aircraft that was simple and inexpensive to construct and easy enough to fly, but dangerous to operate: the rocket-powered aircraft. The Me-163 was the first of these, and there were no shortage of volunteers ready to take experimental fighter into combat; from these, two squadrons were formed, Meteor and Komet, in August of 1944 to defend the South Belka Munitions Factory at Sudentor and the Oil Refineries at Hoffnung.
Both Meteor and Komet's attrition rates were notoriously high due to a combination of Osean fighters and the extreme volatility of the Me-163's fuel, which led to more than one case of spontaneous combustion while the aircraft were still on the ground, and could even be set off by the shock of landing if there was any unspent fuel left in the tanks upon the end of one's flight (but surprisingly, the ratio of Me-163s lost on landing was still less than Belka's most numerous fighter: the Bf-109). The average lifespan of an Me-163 pilot was mere weeks or even days in some cases, which was usually no more than a few sorties before their plane blew up with them in it. In addition, controlling a fighter made of wood flying at over 600 miles per hour was no easy task for a pilot straight out of flight school, which combined with a measely 60 shots for the two 30 mm cannons made and the 8-minutes worth of fuel made the margin for error while shooting minimal (only a few pilots got more than one kill in their entire service lives flying the Me-163).Even so, Meteor Squadron managed to produce the first rocket aces in history, starting with Karl Grosser, who would lead the squadron from 1945 to 1947 and set an unheard-of record for flights in a rocket-powered aircraft with 21 confirmed air-to-air victories and another 13 damaged (the most miraculous part of this is that he SURVIVED flying the Me-163 for two whole years). Besides some remarkable feats by the aces in their squadrons, Meteor and Komet's effect on the Osean bomber fleet was at best laughably minimal and at worst virtually nonexistant, for despite their bravery, Belka surrendered in 1947 in order to prevent Dinsmark from being captured by the Allie Forces Meteor and Komet were disbanded following the surrender, and would not resurface until the eighties.
Despite this, the Meteor and Komet team's veterans were brought over to two of the major Allied powers: Osea and Yuktobania, and would help to kickstart each nation's respective rocket programs and eventually the space race. Karl Grosser went even further with his record-breaking at the time by being the first man to break the sound barrier in 1948, flying the Osean X-1 research aircraft.
Part 2: Rebirth and Second Demise (1980-1996)
In 1980, the Belkan military budget was greatly increased, and so many older squadrons were restored, among them being Meteor and Komet squadrons, and all of this was just in time for Belka's newest land grab attempts in the Republic of Recta. Unlike their original incarnation, both Meteor and Komet found themselves in the multirole strike mission more often than not, with Meteor in particular placing emphasis on ground attack. During the conflict they flew a mix of F-4 varients, with most of them flying hand-me-down F-4Es while some flew F-4Gs in anti-radar strike roles. They performed decently in this capacity, but it became clear that their forte was air-to-air ops, but this didn't mean that this was their last strike mission.
Years later, during the Cresence Island incident, they flew out to sink a Belkan Submarine that had gone rogue and joined the rebel faction, with the famed Silber Squadron flying top cover. The whole mission was a disaster, with most of Silber Team being damaged or taken out, most notably Silber 2, by then-unknown enemy fighters, with Meteor suffering heavy casualties after a prototype "multiple-warhead burst" SLBM (forerunner to the Yuktobanian burst missiles used primarily by the Scinfaxi-class submarines) was launched from the submarine, killing all but three of the Meteor squadron's F-4s. Following this, the squadron was refitted with brand-new Su-27s for the Air-to-Air role. In time, they would use these jets in combat.
In 1995, the Belkan War broke out, and Meteor was on the front lines with the rest of the 6th Air Division, along with other soon-to-be infamous squadrons like Grabacr, Ofnir and Wywyrm. In this capacity, they performed better, particularly after recieving a new squadron leader: a gifted female pilot named Anne Zweig, better known as "Nachtigall". Over the course of the war, the squadron was partially refitted with new aircraft, including Su-47s, but this wasn't enough to save many of them from being shot down and destroyed by the Galm Team at the battle of B7R. Nachtigall in particular was an interesting case as after Galm shot her down, this was believed to have provoked Ashley "Grabacr 1" Bernitz, who was also present at the battle, to intervene and shoot down both an Osean squadron leader and a rogue Belkan Ace known as "Huckebein" before he himself was shot down by Galm (it's no secret that there was probably some sort of "attachment" between the two, but to what extent is anybody's guess, but it was certainly more than just professional affiliation or even simple friendship)
The squadron was grounded following this battle, but refused to stay down, as some of them joined the fighting over the Anfang Coast. This was because they, like many others, refused to acknowledge the surrender, claiming that they had been stabbed in the back by "defeatists" in the government. With their refusal to stand-down, the squadron was forcibly disbanded and a warrant put out for their arrest, but all members disappeared, some to resurface under the banner of the "Falcons of Dawn", but others kept a low profile, waiting for their time to rise again and take back what was theirs.
Part 3: Gray Men (1996-2010)
The Belkan Air Force was forcibly disbanded by the Treaty of Lumen, leaving many people feeling angry and betrayed when the government refused to enlist them into other services (due to restrictions on the size of their Army and Navy). This made the option of rebellion that much more attractive, but many, including the Meteor Squadron, wanted more than to simply reclaim Belka's prestige, but to punish the victorious Allied Forces for destroying their nation's pride. It was from these feelings that the Gray Men formed.
From the outset, Meteor became one of the main squadrons of their secret Air Force (disguised as a squadron of test pilots working for North Osea Grunder Industries), and their former flight leader Anne Zweig, while rendered unable to fly due to the loss of an eye during the battle at B7R, was responsible for procurring aircraft for their cause. To this end, she managed to secure Su-47s from Yuktobania and YF-23s from Osea, enough to equip three fighter wings, a small force, but one made up entirely of veterans thirsty for Osean and Yuktobanian blood. In 2010, the Gray Men set their plan into motion, and some of Meteor team, posing as a flight of Yuktobanian Su-27s, shot down a squadron of Osean trainees over Sand Island on September 23rd, 2010. The mission proved successful, and helped to spark a war between Osean and Yuktobania, which the Gray Men hoped would exhaust the two superpowers so that in depseration, the two sides would destroy each other with weapons of mass destruction, supplied courtesy of the Gray Men's covert nuclear stockpile at Mount Schirm.
Soon enough, however, a spanner was thrown into the works: four of the survivors of Meteor's attack on Sand Island had become a potential war-winner for Osea, becoming synonymous with the legendary demon, "Razgriz". In a desperate attempt to prolong the war, Meteor, Komet, Falke, Drossel and Bussard Squadrons were scrambled and flew to the Vladimir Mountains in Yuktobania following the fall of Cruik Fortress, where Grabacr, under the guise of the Osean 8492nd Squadron, would lead the remaining three members into an ambush. Despite completely jamming communications and encircling Wardog Squadron, Meteor failed to shoot them down, but delayed them enough that the Gray Men's agent on Sand Island: Hamilton, could carry out their "Plan B": frame them as Yuktobanian Spies. Unfortunately, this, too, failed and sure enough Meteor was the first squadron to realize that Wardog was not dead after engaging them over Stier Castle, in what used to be Waldreich before being hit by nuclear weapons at the end of the Belkan War. The squadron clashed with Razgriz a few more times following this, their last attempt at shooting them down being at Sudentor, but alas, this time their skill wasn't enough to fight the Razgriz as well as several Yuktobanian and Osean squadrons. Eventually, they were shot down by the combined efforts of two rogue Belkan squadrons: Wywyrm and Komet, the former of which had left the Gray Men after the attack on November City and the latter of which had commenced a heel-face turn just before the strike on Sudentor. The surviving members of the squadron were convicted and thrown into an Osean prison, but managed to break out somehow and escaped to North Belka, where thanks to connections in the Belkan government, they were granted political assylum.
Part 4: Expeditionary Force and Ultimate Fate (2011-2018)
In 2011, the Belkan Air Force was reestablished, but was limited in size compared to before: it consisted of only six air divisions now, each with four wings consisting of four groups, each of those consisting of four squadrons. Meteor reassumed its place as the 21st Fighter Squadron of the 6th Air Division.
When the Annean Continental War broke out, Brigadier General Erik Felsen led the Belkan Expeditionary Force to assist Emmeria resist Estovakian aggression, and Meteor found itself on the front lines once again, where their experience proved invaluable to training some of the newer pilots in the art of air combat. This gave them and the rest of the 6th Air Division a fearsome reputation that they carried back to Belka with them in time for the Coup D'tat and the Second Osean Continental War. Unfortunately for Meteor, this war would be their last in every sense of the word, for by the end of the war, every active pilot in the squadron was dead, and with Belka's final surrender, their homeland was now but a memory.
- Anne "Nachtigall" Zweig
- The image of the Me-263 was drawn, as stated, by Philip Castro Barcelos. A link to his DeviantART page can be found here
- The only survivor of the Meteor Squadron after Belka ceased to exist in 2018 was Anne Zweig, the former squadron leader during the Belkan War and member of the Gray Men's procurement committee. She witnessed the horror of the Second Osean Continental War from the ground, including surviving a repeat of the Waldreich nuclear bombings. Out of guilt over the destruction she had stood for, she created the "Meteor Fund", a charity organization dedicated to helping rebuild the homes of those displaced by wars around the world, and also became an anti-war and anti-WMD activist. This led to her being given an official pardon by the United Nations and eventually a Nobel Peace Prize in 2040. On April 9th, 2047, the last of the Meteor Squadron passed away peacefully in her sleep.