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Feindish Fokkers!

woff wings over flanders fields mission report

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#1 33LIMA

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Posted 24 January 2017 - 04:41:57 PM

Alarums and excursions in a 'prehistoric packing case'!

 

Shot01-24-17-21-18-03.jpg

 

A common British 'pet name' for an aeroplane, probably originating in WW1, was a 'kite'. New Zealand ace Keith 'Grid' Caldwell got his nickname from calling aircraft 'grids'. 'Packing cases' - perhaps in the sense of what in the UK we call tea chests, light and flimsy plywood boxes much sought after for moving house contents - is a common translation of a German equivalent from the same period. 'Prehistoric packing cases' seems to have been an uncomplimentary form of the term, attributed to Manfred von Richthofen and applied, generally, to single- or two-seat 'pusher' biplanes, like the Vickers F.B.2 'gun-bus', the F.E.2, and the D.H.2 that I'm flying in my current Wings over Flanders Fields RFC campaign. But this is March 1916, and the ascendancy of the new German fighter aircraft in the hands of Boelcke, Richthofen et al are some months away. Instead, our principal fighter opposition is the increasingly-obsolescent Fokker monoplane, which we in 'B' Flight, No. 24 Squadron, met and vanquished in my first operational flight.

 

Here's the briefing for my second show. The date is 2nd March, and I'm leading four D.H.s to provde an escort for three B.E.2c two-seaters on a reconnaisance mission to just over the lines.

 

24 2nd mission brief.jpg

 

As I've said before, this type of escort was relatively rare. The RFC's offensive doctrine preferred a system of timed patrols, what the Germans (in WW2 anyway) would have called free-booting frei jagd sweeps. 'Working aeroplanes' if they had an escort, were often provided it from within their own squadron (which sometimes had 'fast scouts' on its strength, useful for this purpose). This eliminated the difficulty in effecting a rendevous between slow machines flying in from different locations. In fact in January 1916, at the height of the 'Fokker Scourge', the RFC ordered that each recce machine be escorted by three others. Thus the Fokkers significantly reduced the RFC's sortie rate, never mind the aircraft and crews they actually shot down - 'virtual attrition' I think they call it.

 

Speaking of 2nd March 1916, I see the RFC's 'Comic Cuts' internal communiqué for that date recorded, as regards air combat, that '2Lt Fincham and 2Lt Price (B.E.2c. 2127, 8 Sqn) were persistently attacked by a Fokker biplane when doing artillery patrol in the Ypres salient. The result was indecisive. The pilot reports he distinctly saw the hostile machine using tracer bullets. Sgt Bayetto (Morane Scout, 3 Sqn) on escort duty to the Valenciennes reconnaisance, reports having been attacked by 5 Fokkers in the neighbourhood of Valenciennes. The reconnaisance machine dived to get clear, but was closely followed by the hostile machines. Sgt Bayetto opened fire on the nearest hostile machine and drove it down, apparently into the woods at Valenciennes. After the engagement he saw no more signs of the reconaisance machine and returned over Lille where he was again attacked by 3 Fokkers. These he eventually evaded and after circling around Lille for 15 minutes, returned to his landing ground.' The fate of the 'reconnaisance machine' is unrecorded, but may be deduced from being last reported as diving away, 'closely followed by the hostile machines.'

 

How will 2nd March be for me, Lt. Jock Higgins, from Stirling, Scotland? Would I have got a mention in 'Comic Cuts'? It's time to find out!

 

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It's about 09:00 and the sun is having a bit of bother breaking through the fairly extensive cloud cover. Undaunted, we head off to the north-east, to meet up with the recce machines, giving me time to admire the effects of the low morning sunshine, filtered by the clouds.

 

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I suddenly notice four aeroplanes slipping past above us, in a patch of open sky. I recognise them as 'pushers', confirming they are friendlies - the Huns had so few of this type it's more or less a given thing. I wonder if they might be our own squadron's 'A' Flight, which is supposed to be supporting us, but their more slender, less stubby appearance tells me they are the bigger F.E.2b general purpose two seaters, off on a mission of their own.

 

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Gaining height as we press on, I see the town of Doullens to our left, which provides a welcome re-assurance that we haven't managed to get lost, yet. You know what they say, about an officer with a map ('The most dangerous thing in the Army').

 

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Shortly after this, I spot three machines below and ahead, against some clouds, heading the same way. Doctor Livingstone, I presume.

 

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Ankor's latest DX9 mod's mouselook includes smooth scroll-wheel zoom, an excellent new feature.

 

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I start zig-zagging above the two-seaters. Our D.H.2s aren't fast, but the B.E.s are climbing hard, so we are able to do this without falling behind. Soon, we can see the churned earth of shelled ground, slipping in ahead and on both sides, replacing the previously-unspoilt countryside as we near the front.

 

Shot01-24-17-21-34-49.jpg

 

Looking down and over the side - another thing made easy without head-tracking, with Ankor's latest mod - I can make out one of our observation balloons, far below. You can see him close to my starboard wheel rim, in this next picture.

 

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Serves me right for sight-seeing, for when I look around again, I can see neither head nor tail of the B.E's. Where the heck have they gone?

 

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Have we got ahead of them, or are they out of sight somewhere beneath us, hidden by our airframes? I begin a wide turn to the right, confident that I will pick them up again pretty quickly. They can't have gone that far.

 

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Or can they? The B.E.s are no-where to be seen. I circle around again, feeling increasingly desperate. Still no sign! At least, I don't see any indication of an air fight, no pillars of smoke marking the fall to earth of one of my charges. Well, if they're still in the air, they're most likely ahead of us by now, so I level out and race off towards our objective. I have lost some height and the B.E.s were climbing when last seen, but I fly straight and level, the faster to catch them up.

 

Shot01-24-17-21-38-45.jpg

 

To my boundless relief, I soon spot the three B.E.s, ahead and above. A gentle climb enables me to continue to catch them up; I will worry about getting right up to their level, after I have done that.

 

Shot01-24-17-21-42-31.jpg

 

But suddenly, I have other, more pressing things to worry about. I haven't slowed down to ensure my flight can keep up during my recent manoeuvres, and now, I pay the price, as rounds whack into my machine from behind. A lone Fokker has slipped in between me and my spread-out flight mates and what's more, the Hun is making a very determined effort at bringing my career to an early and violent end!

 

Shot01-24-17-21-45-03.jpg

 

...to be continued!


For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of his country!" when the guns begin to shoot!

'Tommy', Rudyard Kipling, 1892

#2 33LIMA

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 02:38:16 PM

Meet the Fokkers...again...

 

Shot01-24-17-21-45-45.jpg

 

I bank around to the right to get out of the Fokker's way, but fail to apply enough rudder, and my aircraft mushes, before I regain full control. This isn't going at all well!

 

Fortunately, the rest of 'B' flight has recovered quickly from their surprise, and as my nose comes around, I can see - through my freshly blood-spattered goggles - that they have already chased the bold Hun off my tail.

 

Shot01-24-17-21-46-03.jpg

 

Within seconds, two of the others are hard on the Hun's heels. In these circumstances, it is of course tempting to charge in and get off some rounds yourself. But that is how accidents - collisions, in particular - happen. So I let them get on with it. As Boelcke would be telling the new pilots of Jasta 2 in about 6 months time, it's the flight that fights and must win the battle; who gets to claim the victories is rather less important.

 

Shot01-24-17-21-46-16.jpg

 

The Fokker spirals down with the others in pursuit. Our own Archie, which has been firing happily at all concerned from the start of the fight, seems to be having a bit of a mad minute, filling the sky below with white shell-bursts as the unequal dogfight heads for the deck.

 

Shot01-24-17-21-46-31.jpg

 

The Fokker falls off into a nose-dive and down he goes apparently no longer in control, his engine stopped forever. One up, for 'B' Flight! And another nail in the coffin of the so-called Fokker Scourge!

 

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But perhaps, I'm celebrating too soon! No sooner have I set course again after the three B.E.s we're supposed to be escorting...

 

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...than another Fokker is coming at me, from my right front. To borrow the immortal words of Kenneth Williams' Julius Caesar in Carry on Cleo, 'Infamy! Infamy! They've all got in for me!'

 

Shot01-24-17-21-51-37.jpg

 

..to be continued!


For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of his country!" when the guns begin to shoot!

'Tommy', Rudyard Kipling, 1892

#3 33LIMA

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 11:22:15 AM

Twenty-four comes out on top!

 

I turned right into the oncoming Hun, and let fly with my Lewis Gun as he flashed past. Hauling around after him, I able to get onto hil by pulling up, then rolling down after him.

 

Shot01-24-17-21-52-05.jpg

 

I get another few rounds off at him, and am gratifed to see him falling away. You can't see it in this picture, but when he begins to spiral down, I notice that he is leaving behind him a faint, thin while trail, perhaps a fuel leak.

 

Shot01-24-17-21-52-47.jpg

 

At that point the rest of 'B' Flight decides to take a hand. As with the earlier combat, I hold back rather than risk a collision in a melée. Besides, the Fokker is continuing to spiral earthwards, and while at least one of the others fires at him, I think I have done the lion's share of the work this time, and might be credited with the victory.

 

Shot01-24-17-21-53-07.jpg

 

The Hun smashes into the shell-turned earth, throwing up a brown cloud of dust and dirt. Job done! I pull up and begin a spiral climb at full power, looking around to be sure we were free of the enemy. As I do so, the others began to rejoin.

 

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Our own little battle seemed to be over, but down below the war was still very much in business. Atrillery fire was crashing into unseen targets on either side of a road.

 

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Sight-seeing again despite my earlier lesson, I cannot help but watch for a few seconds more, as the rounds fell and flashed on the hapless targets below. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that they are not our own people, as we are just on the enemy side of the lines at this point.

 

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Time to go home! As I come out facing west, I roll gently out of my spiral climb and set course for our airfield at Bertangles.

 

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In many another combat flightsim, I'd be more than happy to fast-forward at this point, but the whole WW1 ambience in Wings over Flanders Fields is so much an immersive part of the whole single-player campaign experience, that I value it as much as the actual combat.

 

Shot01-24-17-21-56-59.jpg

 

Looking north-west as we fly home, I can see that the gunners are at work on other front line targets. I shudder slightly, knowing that we still have a good stretch of this battered and torn countryside to traverse, before reaching friendly territory and able to feel relatively safe.

 

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At least I'm not alone. The other chaps have closed up nicely.

 

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We come out from over the front in the vicinity of the town of Arras...what's left of it, to be more precise. Which isn't much.

 

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Time to put this depressing senery behind us. We don't really need our altitude now, so I put it to good use, nosing down and increasing our speed, away from the frightfullness of the front and back to the place we call home.

 

Shot01-24-17-22-05-08.jpg

 

Back at Bertangles, I'm not surprised to find that I need a spell in hospital. My kite will need a few repairs, too, but we will both be back in action soon enough. Everyone in 'B' Flight has got off some rounds, and we are credited with two air victories. I am not displeased that neither are mine, or even that they were won with the odds very much on our side. We have once again won our battle, and I had brought all the boys home - that's what matters.

 

24 2nd mission debrief.jpg

 

So it looks like I would have got a mention in 'Comic Cuts' for that day, after all...maybe something like this:

 

RFC Communiqué No. 30

 

March 2nd

 

Lt Higgins and 2nd Lts Haw, Brighton and Landon (D.H.2s, 24 Sqn), escorting reconnaisance machines, were attacked from behind by a single Fokker monoplane, over the lines near Arras. Lt Higgins was lightly wounded but the others counter-attacked the Fokker, which was seen to crash after being hit by Lt Brighton. A little later, a second Fokker attacked Lt Higgins, but was also shot down after being fired on by all four of our machines. Both Fokkers were in clear doped linen, not the green seen recently on some machines. The pilots believe the enemy may been so bold in attacking superior numbers because they had mistaken the D.H.2s for older machines. All four returned safely to their home field.


  • whiteknight06604 and Silberpfeil like this
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of his country!" when the guns begin to shoot!

'Tommy', Rudyard Kipling, 1892





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