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Another Nail-Biter: Thank you OBD!

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Once again, the skies of OFF left my palms sweating and my heart racing this morning as another patrol ended in near disaster!


Attached is my Claims Report from this morning's action in the skies over Arras.



9/8/1917 8h17 Flanders Ste-Marie-Cappel Balloon Defense  Flying: Sopwith Camel. On this day claims: 4 Alb DV . 45 Squadron - B Flight was designated to defend an observation balloon just north of Arras this morning. While en route to the patrol area, our flight encountered a large formation of Albatros scouts. I am unsure of how many Boche scouts there were, as our formation turned due East rather suddenly and I found myself quickly surrounded by Hun aeroplanes. I also lost contact with my own formation as I followed one German scout down several thousand feet. His craft was painted with black diagonal stripes down the length of this fuselage and his tail was painted in white and black stripes as well. I managed to lead shoot rather well, and damaged his control wires which sent him into a spin. Being low to the deck, it led to his crashing just about a mile East of the friendly RFC field due North of Arras. As he was going down, another Boche chased after me to avenge his comrade. We entered into a turning fight which eventually allowed me to put my sights through the Hun flier and open fire. This time his engine was hit and I saw huge bellows of smoke pouring from the plane as he caught fire and subsequently crashed. I then spent the next several minutes trying to locate B Flight, but to no avail. As I climbed to gain altitude I noticed more Archie flak bursts behind me and, much to my astonishment, saw two more Albatros fighters, painted in the same colours, diving towards me. The next several minutes were a terrifying blur. The two Boche pilots worked together to trap my Sopwith Camel. Thankfully, the Camel out-turned the Huns, and I led them back over the same RFC aerodrome I had flown over a few minutes earlier. The ground gunners began pouring fire into the sky and the Huns were left to Zig-Zag all over to avoid being hit. This allowed me to circle back again and down one of them, leaving his scout stalled in the air until he fell tail first to the ground. The Final Hun then attacked and, unfortunately, severely damaged my Sopwith. As I led him back over the aerodrome, the ground fire clipped his Albatros, allowing me a killing shot on the Hun, which also saw him crash near the base. All scouts crashed somewhere in the vicinity of the Arras Aerodrome. Due to the severity of the damaged sustained in the final scrap with the Hun, I was forced to land my Sopwith at the base and file this report from there.. Witnessed by: Quentin Powell, Rob Ackland Status : Pending .



Simply stated, I am yet again amazed by the intensity of a mission in OFF. Even on the sim's stock settings, and without mods, the work done by OBD leaves me astounded at how well they replicated the danger pilots in World War I faced.


Also, I have to say that flying an entire mission without Warp is, quite possibly, the most rewarding flight sim experience to be had. Our formation of Camels took off, circled our field a few times, and headed out to our patrol area. I spent most of the ingress sipping my morning coffee and struggling to get my Camel to match the speed and altitude of my wingmen. As we drew to within three miles of the observation balloon we were assigned to defend, I finally joined the formation. I spent much of my time focusing on keeping my scout in line with the rest of my formation when my flight leader broke formation and banked hard right to the East.


A quick check of my map showed me that we were nowhere near a waypoint change and, as I glanced up through my upper wing, I could see a flurry of white flak bursts in the sky... but no planes. Clearly there was trouble but I couldn't make out what. Half of B-Flight trailed, also unsure of the danger and I stuck close to them... after all, some wingmen are better than breaking formation and being separated. As I trailed behind them I suddenly saw three German Albatros DV's dive between us. My pulse jumped immediately and I could feel the taste of adrenaline in my mouth. My wingman broke formation violently and from there, the fight was on.


Initially I performed gentle turns left and right and kept checking my six o'clock. The difference a TrackIR setup makes cannot be understated in a moment like this. Being able to simply glance behind me over and over again is what kept me alive this morning.


Then the fight began... An Albatros dove for me and opened fire - I violently kicked the rudder and rolled my Camel out of harms away and, again, glancing for my attacker, brought my scout around until I could get my guns on him. The dogfight described in my report was incredibly nerve-wracking. Even in a Sopwith Camel, the most successful scout of the war, I found myself on the ragged edge to keep the German pilots at bay. The Camel is also incredibly twitchy, and I frequently had to remind myself to pull back easily on the stick. 3/4ths input usually worked better and prevented me from snap spinning my camel and leaving it hanging helpelessly in the air.


The interlude between my two violent engagements was also a moment of pure tension and worry. After downing the first two Germans, and I only just downed them - they put up a terrific fight - I was completely alone over a friendly base. I started circling gently again, adjusting my mixture, trying to climb quickly to get off the deck, and desperately looking around for my wingmen... which I saw none.


Then, glancing up through the centre-wing cut-out once more, I saw more flak bursts about 2000 feet above me. Then, as I'm wearing headphones with my TrackIR rig, I could hear bursts directly behind me. Glancing back, sure enough, there were two more Albatros scouts and they were angry! They dived through the flak, their wings wagging as they opened fire on me. This time, I yanked the stick as hard as I could, snapped the rudder, and dropped my Camel out of the sky like a rock, leaving them to overshoot.


The hard part was regaining control and any semblance of speed. The next several minutes were the most intense I've yet had in this sim. Diving, banking, turning, and snap shooting - just like Cecil Lewis describes in Sagittarius Rising. It's all really just a blur of colour, ground, and sky, and you're desperately hoping you're going to catch a break. Thankfully, I was able to drag the Germans towards that friendly airfield again - and here's where having good Situational Awareness is key - as the ground fire hampered their ability to get me.


Still, that last German shot my Camel completely full of holes. There is no feeling to rival the sickening sensation you feel in your gut when you glance behind and realize that you're cold meat. The German pilot opened fire on me and I could hear his rounds tearing my plane to pieces. In that instance, you pray that your scout holds together and that you and the engine are spared. Later, it was out of pure luck that I caught him climbing away from the base's ground fire. Had the airfield not been there and had I not had the where-with-all to fly back to it, I would have most assuredly been killed this morning.


As that last German crashed, I frantically looked around to make sure I was at least temporarily clear - as I could feel my Camel struggling to stay aloft, and banked hard right until I was at least mostly lined up with the field. I immediately cut the engine and, though my descent was rapid, I held my breath until I was safely stopped on the ground.


I sat back, took a deep breath, and wiped the sweat from my hands.


It's amazing. This sim has been out since 2009 and, when I stop modding it long enough to actually play it, I am always left breathless by just how nerve-wracking the thing is. I also play Battlefield 3 in my spare time, and I never, ever, feel that sense of sheer terror that I get in OFF. Here, I always feel as though I am on the kife-edge of disaster and death... much like the men who experienced the war nearly a century ago.


Nicely done OBD! A four year old flight sim based on a graphics engine that's over a decade old beats out a Triple-A, multi-million dollar game every single time.


There are no words for you guys: Pol, Winder, Shred, Sandbagger, and the rest... you guys are incredible! Can't wait to see WOFF!

Edited by CaptSopwith
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Good AAR Capt. Well done on a difficult mission.

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Amazing, what a well-written description!  You had my adrenaline pumping just reading it!  Man I gotta get back in the air!

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