Bruce McNulty
Fictional Character
The Hot War
POD: November, 1950
Appearance(s): Bombs Away;
Type of Appearance: Direct (POV in Armistice only)
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 20th century
Occupation: Pilot
Military Branch: United States Army Air Force
(World War II);
US Air Force
(World War III)
Professional Affiliations: Consolidated Cropdusting (from 1952)

Bruce McNulty was a U.S. bomber pilot from San Francisco, California. He served during both World War II and World War III. During the latter war he was stationed in Sculthorpe, UK, piloting a B-29 over Europe. In April 1951, he met Daisy Baxter, the owner of the Owl and Unicorn pub in nearby Fakenham.[1]

The Soviets launched a bombing raid on Sculthorpe in April, using conventional explosives, rather than atomic weapons.[2] The attack was one of several on airfields in the U.K. that actually proved more nuisances than truly destructive.[3] Nonetheless, Sculthorpe itself saw one American barracks damaged, plus several planes and the runways. McNulty was quite lucky: he was blown from his cot through the window, and only received a cut on the cheek. When he visited the Owl and Unicorn, Daisy Baxter, who'd heard the story of his survival, but didn't realize he'd been the lucky soul, was astonished to see a bandage on his cheek.[4]

Daisy's relationship with McNulty progressed, but then abruptly stalled when she alluded to Wilf Davies, a neighbor who'd begun scavenging in the remains of Norwich. When she detected a hint of jealousy in McNulty's reaction, she came down on him very hard, briefly sending him away from the Owl and Unicorn.[5] Nonetheless, McNulty did return a few weeks later and apologized with flowers. Daisy accepted,[6] and the two began a romantic relationship.[7] Their romance blossomed even as the war raged around them.[8]

Unfortunately, their romance hit a substantial roadblock on 11 September 1951, when the Soviets finally dropped an atom bomb on Sculthorpe while McNulty was on his own bombing mission over Europe. The explosion there was large enough to level half the buildings in Fakenham. Daisy survived by luck.[9] While she developed radiation sickness in short order, McNulty continued to visit her as she recuperated, which helped ease her situation, even following her when she was moved to a hospital in East Dereham.[10] Once, after receiving permission to go digging around in Fakenham, McNulty brough Daisy a picture of her late husband Tom.[11] By New Year's Eve, 1951, Baxter was well enough that the hospital let her go out with McNulty, and, after night of dancing and socializing, the two took a private moment to allow their relationship to become physical.[12]

By February, Baxter was feeling well enough to move out on her own and take a room above a chemist's shop in Durham, owned by one Simon Perkins. Despite her circumstances, she remained quite happy in her relationship with McNulty, although the sexual part of it was carried out in locations other than her room.[13] Indeed, despite the incredibly dire circumstance of living on the dole, Baxter was very happy in this period. One major disappointment came when she learned that her insurance company had ruled the atomic bombing of Sculthorpe was an act of war and God, and therefore not covered by her policy.[14]

In May, 1952, Baxter and McNulty headed out for a night in Watton, even though Soviet Beagles had launched a bombing raid over eastern England. After spending part of the night in a club, they left. After stopping on the way back to East Dereham to make love, McNulty went to relieve himself. Baxter watched an aerial dog fight between a Beagle and two British planes take place right above her. One plane, probably the Beagle, was destroyed, and flaming debris landed on Baxter, killing her.[15] McNulty tried to save her, and was burned himself.[16] McNulty was one of the few people to attend Baxter's small funeral at a churchyard in Great Snoring. He had a brief conversation about the war with Wilf Davies, one of the few people who knew Daisy who'd survived the attack on Sculthorpe.[17]

In June, 1952, McNulty was part of Operation Long Reach, the deployment of the hydrogen bomb against Omsk. McNulty's crew actually attacked Petrozavodsk as part of a diversion. They were ordered to go over Finland, which wasn't actually in the war, but would certainly notify the Soviets. McNulty was horrified by the plan, but carried it out, successfully destroying Petrozavodsk despite the tremendous risk.[18] He was stationed in London after the war in Europe was finally halted in July, 1952.[19] During this period of decompression, he realized he'd done enough damage to the world, and resolved to leave the Air Force.[20] The end of the war in Korea in August, 1952 made this possible.[21] He mustered out and returned to the U.S. the following month.[22]

However, once he arrived in San Francisco, he had a difficult time finding work, as the major airlines had all the pilots they needed. In desperation, McNulty found a job as a crop duster in Fresno, and found some measure of contentment.[23]


  1. Bombs Away, pgs. 219-221.
  2. Ibid., pg. 278.
  3. Ibid., pg. 280.
  4. Ibid., pg. 281.
  5. Ibid., pgs. 344-348.
  6. Ibid., pgs. 415-419.
  7. Fallout, loc. 799-859.
  8. Ibid., loc. 1337-1401.
  9. Ibid., loc. 2428-2487.
  10. Ibid., loc. 2703-2762.
  11. Ibid., loc. 3897-3921.
  12. Ibid., loc. 4888-4950.
  13. Ibid., loc. 5300-5373.
  14. Ibid., loc. 6411-6479.
  15. Ibid., loc. 7041-7104
  16. Armistice, pg. 16, ebook.
  17. Ibid., pg. 16-18.
  18. Ibid., pgs. 72-77.
  19. Ibid., pgs. 192-194.
  20. Ibid. pgs. 237-240.
  21. Ibid., pgs. 280-284.
  22. Ibid. pgs. 328-331.
  23. Ibid., pgs. 380-383.