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'21/4/18: The Rittmeister Falls'

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A mission for First Eagles + Expansion Pack 1 + Nov 08 patch.


Bucky's Quick Mission No.10: '21/04/18: THE RITTMEISTER FALLS'


Released 21/4/09. The 91st anniversary of the action depicted in this mission.






I created this mission, a re-enactment of an actual aerial combat that took place at

approximately 10:40am (Allied time), on Sunday, 21st April, 1918, to commemorate the 91st

anniversary of Manfred von Richthofen's death.


Brown, Buie, Evans, Emery or Popkin? These are the names that all have a valid claim for the

honour of shooting down the legendary 80 victory German ace, Rittmeister Manfred Freiherr

von Richthofen.


For over eighty years it was generally accepted that von Richthofen fell to the guns of

Captain A.R. Brown, DSC, of 209 Sqn RAF. Now though, although far from being conclusive,

investigative research made in the 1990's would suggest that the Baron was most likely hit

by the ground fire of Sgt. Cedric Basset Popkin, Machine Gunner 1st Class, of the 24th

Machine Gun Company, 11th Brigade, 4th Australian Division.


For Capt. Roy Brown however, the story related that during a large dogfight with German

fighters over Le Hamel, and a subsequent fast dive from 5,000 feet to evade two enemy

aircraft on his tail, Brown, flying Sopwith Camel, B7270, spotted a red Fokker Dr.I Triplane

chasing another Camel at very low level. He dived down onto the Triplane's tail and after a

short chase, fired a long burst into Richthofen's plane...


The following is part of the brief combat report submitted by Capt. Brown on the afternoon of

21st April, 1918:



"...Dived on large formation of 15-20 Albatross scouts D5 (sic) and Fokker Triplanes, two of

which got on my tail and I came out.


Went back again and dived on pure red triplane which was firing on Lieut. May. I got a long

burst into him and he went down vertical and was observed to crash by Lieut. Mellersh and

Lieut. May.


I fired on two more but did not get them."



As von Richthofen pursued Lt. May, his Dr.I was being targeted by small arms fire from

numerous Australian troops situated in various positions in the Vaux-Sur-Somme/Corbie

area, Buie, Emery, Evans and Popkin among them. At this point in the chase, things were

not looking good for the inexperienced Lt. Wilfred May, in his 209 Sqn Camel, D3326. Von

Richthofen, in his all red Fokker Triplane, serial number 425/17 was gaining on him fast and

it was only a matter of time until he brought his guns to bear on the British machine.


However, as experienced and careful a pilot as von Richthofen was, he made two fatal

errors of judgement that April morning: First, he seemingly disregarded his perilous position

by flying so low over allied lines. He then also became target fixated in the quest for his 81st

victory...It was the undoing of him.


An eye witness described what happened next:



" ...(I) heard a burst of gunfire and the Fokker stopped in its stride and did the first half of

the loop, then straightened out and fluttered down out of our sight as if doing a pancake




Richthofen had been killed by a single .303 bullet.


We will never know with absolute certainty who it was that fired the fatal shot, but the

controversy has raged on ever since...






At this time, Jasta 11 were based at Cappy airfield, about 20 miles east of Amiens. The

weather on the morning of the 21st had been misty and windy, which delayed the early

morning patrol. But by approximately 9:30am (Allied time) the mist had cleared sufficiently

to allow von Richthofen and five of his Jasta 11 wingmen to set off and patrol the lines.


At almost precisely the same time at Bertangles, north of Amiens, 209 Squadron were taking

to the air on a routine High Offensive Patrol.


At about 10:25 the two units clashed over Le Hamel and a large dogfight commenced,

involving some thirty plus aircraft. As a novice to aerial combat, Lt. May had been instructed

to steer clear of any trouble. This he did by heading west and diving earthward. Von

Richthofen, ever watchful, and sensing an easy kill, went after him, towards his date with







Immediately the mission begins, you'll be a little over 5000 feet, with the two Fokker

Triplanes that Roy Brown mentioned in his combat report, on your tail and firing relentlessly

at you. Take quick evasive action by diving to earth, but at the same time, keep a keen

lookout for Lt. May's Camel, who meantime is being chased by the Baron...Can you reach

May in time to save him from being von Richthofen's 81st victim?


Now's your chance, flying as Capt A.R. Brown, to dispell all doubts over who killed the Red



Be aware though, that Brown had spent most of his ammunition during the combat over Le

Hamel...So how much ammo do you have left?






Unfortunately, the Flanders Terrain doesn't include the requisite towns and villages

(Vaux-Sur-Somme, Corbie, etc), so I've had to move the action about thirty miles north to

more closely replicate the real life action.

I could have used the Cambrai terrain, which does include those places but in my opinion,

the Flanders terrain is much more realistic, graphically.


There are no machine gun ground units to add to the historical authenticity either. But then,

at least there can be no arguments over who fires the fatal shot this time...





Before I decided to upload this mission, I asked myself; is this one challenging enough? After

all, if I can succesfully dodge those two chasing Fokkers, find Lt. May, then get on the Baron's

six and take him out, all in about two minutes flat, then anybody can! Thinking about it further

though, I didn't really put this one together with the "challenge", or difficulty factor in mind...

What I really wanted to do was create as accurate an historical re-enactment of the events of

21st April 1918 as it was possible to achieve, as reported by the combatants involved, and by

latter day historians and investigators.


I have to say, that although it's very "scripted", I'm really quite pleased with the result. For

example: While the player (Roy Brown) is diving down from 5000ft, dodging fire from the

chasing Dr.I's, Lt. May will actually be pursued by von Richthofen over the village of Vaux-

Sur-Somme (well most of the time, anyway), and they'll come very close to hitting the church

tower, just as it really happened on that April morning in 1918...


What I'm trying to say here, is that in spite of its apparent simplicity, this mission has taken

me longer to get right, and caused me more problems and frustration than just about all the

others put together!






To fly this mission as intended, you'll need the following mods and skins:


Flanders Terrain.

By Edward.

To be found in the Combat Ace, Downloads, 'Maps/Terrains' section.


209 Sqn, RAF Squadron skin set, which includes Roy Brown's B7270, for the Expansion Pack

Sopwith Camel.

By Quack74.

To be found in the Combat Ace, Downloads, 'WWI Aircraft Skins' section.


PLEASE NOTE: You'll need to place these skins in the 110 hp Camel folder.


MvR's Fokker Dr.I, 425/17 ('MvR Last Plane') skin, for the Expansion Pack Fokker Dr.I.

By Quack74.

To be found in the Combat Ace, Downloads, 'WWI Aircraft Skins' section.


'J11 Lt. von Linsingen' skin, for the Expansion Pack Fokker Dr.I.

By Quack74.

To be found in the Combat Ace, Downloads, 'WWI Aircraft Skins' section.


'J11 Scholtz' skin, for the Expansion Pack Fokker Dr.I.

By Quack74.

To be found in the Combat Ace, Downloads, 'WWI Aircraft Skins' section.


Many thanks to the above artists for their most excellent contributions to this great game.



Although not essential, for extra realism and immersion I would also recommend the

following mods, available at the Combat Ace, Downloads site:


'Thicker, Fuller Clouds'.

By ShrikeHawk.

Found in 'Maps/Terrains'. 'Environmental Mods'.

Excellent mod that greatly improves the "cotton wool ball" clouds effect.


'FE Sounds V.2'.

By yours truly.

Found in 'Sound Mods'.


'First Eagles Tracer With Smoke'

By Jan Tuma.

Found in 'FE Weapons Mods'



In order to replicate the low level chase between von Richthofen and May, I found it

necessary to amend two files which govern the altitude of AI planes. Without this change

the AI planes will not fly below 100 feet or so. IMHO, this change improves the overall

game and not just this mission.


Here's how to do it:


Using the 'SFP1 CAT file Extract Utility', extract the 'MISSIONCONTROL' ini (found in the

'Mission Data.CAT) to the 'Flight' folder, open, then scroll down to [Altitude] and re-set;

'VeryLow=' to '05'.


Then extract the 'AIRCRAFTOBJECT' ini (found in the ObjectData.CAT) to the 'Objects' folder,

scroll down to [Dogfight-----] and re-set; 'SafeAltitude=' to '05'. (Make sure to change all

four entries: Dogfight; Green, Regular, Veteran & Ace.


I would also recommend using Peter01's Fokker Dr.I Flight model DATA.INI, which improves

the Triplane's manoeuvrability and aggressiveness. This FM is in the 'FM Update 3rd

September' pack, found at the Combat Ace 'WWI, Add-On Aircraft/Flight Models' section.


For maximum realism I would also recommend that this mission be played with all gameplay

settings set to 'Hard'.






Install the mission by unzipping the downloaded file to the following path:

C:/Program Files/Thirdwire/WW1/Missions


Alternatively, you can drag and drop the unzipped MSN file directly into your 'Missions' folder.




I hope you enjoy flying this mission and find it both challenging and enjoyable enough to play

it more than once. I've tried to make it as historically accurate and authentic as the game will



Feel free to change any of the parameters as you wish.


I would welcome any suggestions or general feedback, good, bad or indifferent, via any one

of the FE forums.




Bucky. 21/4/09.






'The Red Baron's Last Flight'...N. Franks & A. Bennett.

'Under the Guns of the Red Baron'...N. Franks & H. Giblin.

'In the Footsteps of the Red Baron'...M. O'Connor & N. Franks.

'Who Downed the Aces in WWI'...N. Franks.

'The Red Baron Combat Wing'...P. Kilduff.

'The Illustrated Red Baron'...P. Kilduff.

'Red Baron. The Life and Death of an Ace'...P. Kilduff.

'The Sky their Battlefield'...T. Henshaw.

'Richthofen'...A.E. Ferko.




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