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A CombatAce and OBD Software special...

 

Bringing classic WW1 memoirs to life in Wings Over Flanders Fields!

 

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This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. To help mark this centenary - and to recall the courage and sacrifice of those who fought in the skies of WW1, for real - CombatAce, in partnership with OBD Software, will feature a unique series of mission reports.

 

Each article will take a look at one of the classic pilot autobiographies of the First World War and will then report on a campaign mission inspired by the book and flown to bring it to life. For this, we'll be using OBD Software's great new sim, Wings Over Flanders Fields, whose realistic orders of battle make it particularly well suited to this particular mission!

 

The books and the aeroplanes featured will be chosen to illustrate both the development of combat aircraft and the progression of the air war, from 1915 through to 1918. The titles and the planes we currently plan to cover are:

 

- Duncan Grinnell-Milne's 'Wind in the Wires' (BE2c, 1915);

 

- Cecil Lewis's 'Sagittarius Rising' (Morane parasol, mid-1916);

 

- Manfred von Richthofen's 'The Red Battle-flier' (Albatros DII, late 1916);

 

- Billy Bishop's 'Winged Warfare' (Nieuport Scout, early 1917);

 

- Arthur Gould Lee's 'No Parachute' (Sopwith Pup, mid-1917);

 

- James McCudden's 'Flying Fury' (SE5a, late 1917); and

 

- Rudolph Stark's 'Wings of War' (Pfalz D IIIa, mid-1918).

 

To accompany the series, we are pleased to announce that OBD Software will be offering a prize to the winner of a competition based on the reports; details will be announced soon.

 

We plan to begin the series in early April, so watch this space!

 

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Sounds cool! But, FYI, Richthofen's autobiography was written in May 1917 and published later that year, before he began flying the Fokker Dr.I.  Thus, his book contains no accounts of flying that make/model of airplane.

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Thanks Jim. I did consider the Albie for MvR but 1917 was getting a bit crowded and I didn't want to go back to late 1916. So think I'll stick with the Dr I! After all MvR, isn't terribly specific about aircraft types - security, and all that - so a bit of artistic licence may be forgiveable. Plans could change, though, 1918 is a long way off still!

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Artistic license is what it's going to take, I agree, because MvR's autobiography has nothing to do with either Fokker Dr.Is or 1918.

 

But, why not late 1916?  :dntknw:  MvR was at the sharp end of the brand new Albs while flying with Boelcke in Jasta 2, and he's written about flying them in his autobiography. The arrival of the Albatros in 1916 was a pivotal event of WW1 aerial warfare. Sure, WOFF doesn't have the Albatros D.I, but it has the Albatros D.II and there is the very famous fight with MvR and Hawker that is in MvR's autobiography. How about Udet's Ace of the Iron Cross for a Fokker Dr.I in 1918? He writes a pretty cool account of flying one with MvR, shooting down an RE8, watching MvR shoot down a Camel, and then the both of them (and others) strafing ground troops afterwards. MvR/Udet flying Fokker Dr.Is in 1918, based on Udet's book, equals two birds with one stone!

 

I know, I know, "Yankee go Home"! (Hasse, where's the sign? :grin: ) Despite my pedanthood, I think you have a fun idea and look forward to the results.

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Hi Jim

 

My edition of Die Rote Kampflieger includes a chapter by Lothar 'Memories of my Brother' which covers an air fight in Spring 1918 ('Last Flight with Manfred') and even an account of the shoot-down purported to be by A Roy Brown!

 

But on reflection, yes I'll switch to the Albatros DII in Autum 1916 - it'll bring a German plane into the mix sooner and better address the secondary objective of illustrating the development of aircraft during the war.

 

What are your own thoughts on how much of  the book represents Manfred's own words and thoughts? For example the section 'Thoughts in a dugout', which looks to have been a later add-on, possibly early 1918, reads to me like an officially-inspired attempt to tone down the 'gay hussar' tenor of the rest of the book, for the benefit of a more war-weary public. But even if the actual writing was that of a 'hack' writer, I like to think that we must be seeing something genuine of the Rittmeister's recollections, thoughts and feelings in that book.

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Hi, 33L,

 

From my research and studies for my MvR book, I believe Thoughts in a Dugout was written by MvR after the autobiography, but not in 1918. All evidence I've found indicates that in April 1918, MvR was 1. not morose, 2. not withdrawn, 3. no longer had headaches, 4. the Germans had been on a strong advance (Kaiserschlacht). This is based on personal recollections of those flying with MvR, numerous photographs, interviews with MvR, and his combat performance Thoughts in a Dugout was more likely written ca. mid/late August 1917, shortly after his headwound, when he had begun flying again but before he had been ordered away on recuperative leave.

 

In March 1918, his head wound was 8 months old. He no longer even wore a bandage on it. He had been away from the front on leave most of September and October 1917, most of December, and all of January 1918--i.e., he was well rested, with little flying in the winter after his return. He shot down 11 planes that month (two Big Acks, an RE8, a Biff, four Camels, two SE5as, and a Dolphin), 6 in April (one RE8 and five Camels), with long periods of bad weather preventing even more victories. This was his best performance since Bloody April a year before. He was fit, active, friendly, jovial, accessible (ie., not "behind four walls"), at the top of his fighting form. Thoughts in a Dugout matches nothing in that period. However, it does match everything with mid/late August 1917. His wound was slow to heal. He was bandaged. He had to get bone splinters removed from it. A letter home indicates he was unwell after flying. Other letters indicate his displeasure/frustration/disagreeent with the tactical doctrin being forced upon the Staffeln. A conversation in early July, recalled by Bodenschatz, revealed MvR's grim assessment of the current state of the war. He was frustrated with the Albatros company after being shot down in a new Albatros DV, the performance of which mirrored the DIII and did not offer the expected performance increase sought by German pilots. The Third Battle of Ypres had begun. All of these things better match the tone of TIADO.

 

IMO, people look for "a reason why" MvR was shot down, as if he were some invincible god. I.e., he must have been unwell, must have had PTSD, on 21 April had "violated his personal combat tactics" (he had not), etc. Baloney. He had flown a short distance over enemy lines at low altitude, chasing a lone plane by himself--these are things he had done many times before. The last time he did so, he caught a bullet. C'est la guerre.

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