Ace and Wild Weasel engage each other in an intense aerial dogfight.
At McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey Ace and Lady Jaye board a Skystriker for what is officially a training flight but really a test to check the new black boxes and Electronic Counter-Measure pods installed. At Springfield Wild Weasel tells the Baroness that the basic Rattlers have been modified and she needs to do a test run on one. Both planes take off from their respective runways. The Skystriker flies high and onboard Ace tells Lady Jaye that the onboard computer filters out safe stuff on the radar display. The Rattler flies low and Wild Weasel takes it alone a highway explaining that the computer-autopilot automatically ensures the plane clears the overpasses. On the Skystriker Ace explains the one drawback of the radar is that when activated it makes the plane visible to anyone with a radar detector like the one he has on board. He goes on to explain that in air-to-air combat the battle is normally won by whoever sees the other plane first and can maneuver into a weapons lock-on firing position. If spotted first one needs a tighter turning radius than the other plane so that one can circle behind it. On the rattler the Baroness detects the Skystriker. Wild Weasel explains that the Rattler is so close to the ground that the Skystriker's computer is unable to separate it from "ground clutter". But Ace's radar detector picks up the Rattler's system and he realizes there is something in his blind spot. Wild Weasel arms the heat seeking missiles and fires.
The Skystriker releases Rapid Blooming Chaffs (RBC) and infra-red flares, with the former neutralizing the missile tracking systems and the latter decoying them, However the blast knocks out the Skystriker's transmission antenna. Ace puts the plane into a tight turning radius and blasts at the Rattler with the Gatling gun, but the Cobra plane has a titanium steel armored "bathtub" protecting the cockpit. The two jets fly low over a small town and Lady Jaye tells Ace not to release the missiles where they could hit people barbecuing. On the Rattler the Baroness reverses the gun turret and blasts at the Skystriker, damaging the cockpit and Ace's helmet. Ace tells Lady Jaye to take the controls while he gets the helmet off so he can see and Wild Weasel realizes the Skytriker now has a non-seasoned back-seat driver. The Rattler performs a vertical circle round to get behind the Skystriker and attack with the Gatling gun, but Ace gets his helmet off in time and takes the controls to evade the bullets by flying straight up. Wild Weasel again takes the Rattler low to take cover in the ground clutter, but Lady Jaye activates the "look down" mode on the computer which filters out stationery objects to reveal the Rattler. The two jets fly low over a bungalow, knocking over a garden umbrella and without realizing it, Wild Weasal heads out over the ocean where the Skystriker can fire without endangering civilians.
The Skystriker locks onto its target's flightpath and fires its missiles but the Rattler engages breaks to evade them. The Rattler turns for a full head-on attack, but as this means it cannot deploy heat seeking missiles Ace opts to stay in a head-on position. The Rattler fires the missiles and the Skystriker performs a hard right turn so the missile servos get thrown off course by the excess g-force. The two jets head back over land and the Rattler makes a ninety-degree turn to fool the Skystriker computer. Ace realizes what has happened and tosses a coin to choose to turn right and Lady Jaye spots the Rattler over a factory, with the Skystriker now in the Rattler's blindspot. As the Rattler heads over a junkyard the Skystriker comes into attack. Ace fires his final radar-directed missiles at the Rattler, but Wild Weasel fires his missiles at the junkyard, with the resulting debris creating a radar screen to confuse and trigger the missiles. The two jets emerge from the smoke and fire their Gatling guns at each other head to head. But then they both find all their weapons are empty.
The two jets fly past each other and Ace and Wild Weasel salute each other as they then head for home. Both the Baroness and Lady Jaye ask their comrades why they are returning to base and letting the other plane fly away, but get no answer.
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Featured Vehicles & Equipment
Not a quote exactly, but Ace and Wild Weasel's salutes at the end are one of the most memorable moments of the entire run.
- No errors known.
Items of note
- With only four characters and two pieces of equipment, this issue of G.I. Joe is the "smallest" in the entire run.
- Also the most lines Ace and Wild Weasel ever had in any media.
- When Wild Weasel buzzes the highway, a hitchhiker can be seen on the roadside.
- The first single-issue, stand-alone story since Steven Grant's fill-in in issue 20, and the first such story by Hama since issue 11, two years earlier.
- This issue was reprinted in the G.I. Joe vol. 4 and G.I. Joe: The Best of Larry Hama trade paperbacks.
- In the United Kingdom the story was reprinted in Action Force #3 & #4.
- The cover price goes from 60¢ to 75¢ with this issue.
Footnotes and References