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BE12 twosome - #2, Wings over Flanders Fields

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Second time lucky? Flying the BE12 in Wings over Flanders Fields

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This time up, having met a heroic but early end in my First Eagles BE12 campaign, I'm checking out the same experience in WOFF. No need to worry about editing files this time tho, for the BE12 is one of the new planes included in this latest version of OBD Software's popular WW1 airwar sim. 'Latest' not for long, though, as a new iteration, WOFF 2.0, is about to hit the virtual shelves, as a payware upgrade and expansion, with the emphasis on Home Defence against Zepps and Gothas: http://simhq.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/4018110/WOFF_v2.0_Screen_Shots__!#Post4018110

 

As in FE, I created a new pilot, finding that I could enlist in the same squadron from the same date - 19 Squadron, RFC, from 1st September 1916, just days before Boelcke and his 'cubs' from Jasta 2 burst onto the scene. WOFF bases us at Fienvillers/Candas, to the north-west of Cappy and further behind the Lines, than in FE.

 

19 Sqdn 1.JPG

 

And here's my pilot logbook, a much better presentation than FE's pilot stats screen (better than how most other combat flight sims have done this, come to think of it).

 

19 Sqdn -3.JPG

 

Not so good is the accuracy of this page, describing my mount, which emphasises the BE12's brief and almost accidental fighter role and says it was at the front in April 1915, a whole year or more too early. The data in the panel looks more like it applies to the BE2c; for example the BE12 has a 150hp RAF4 engine, not a 90hp RAF1 and the armament is also wrong.

 

19 Sqdn -2.JPG

 

Here's the squadron roster for my first campaign mission. Perhaps WOFF is trying to break me in gently with a patrol behind my own lines. And while I've selected 'always lead', I'm leading just myself, for oddly, I'm on my own in B Flight while A Flight is well up to strength, and flying top cover, for just little old me. Obviously, this squadron believes very strongly in looking after its new pilots. Naturally, I did not consider for a moment the possibility that they might be using me as bait for the wily Huns.

 

19 Sqdn briefing 1.JPG

 

And here's the briefing itself, confirming this rather odd arrangement:

 

19 Sqdn briefing 2.JPG

 

No doubt, the CO knows best. Ours not to reason why, and all that. Off to the airfield I went, finding myself lined up next to A Flight. Losing no time, I started up, checked the controls and as soon as the others began to move off, opened her up.

 

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The WOFF BE12 is not a bad replica, tho the nose is I think a little slender. Unfortunately it has not yet been updated like the WOFF BE2c and thus still has its interplane struts visibly too far inboard. Hopefully WOFF 2.0 will effect some improvement.

 

With little thought for such things, I banked around and turned my mind to the task at hand: to wit, a solo patrol behind our own trench lines, with A Flight covering me from somewhere on high. Nothing to it. Or so I thought...

 

Shot11-17-14-21-46-41.jpg

 

...to be continued!

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It's a long way to Tipperary the objective

 

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Gaining height with my single-aircraft B Flight, I looked around for A Flight. I quickly spotted them forming up and scudding around just above the deck. AI-led flights in WOFF, having taken off, spend rather a long time flying around rather aimlessly at low level like this, before something finally triggers them to climb up and head off on the mission itself. Avoiding this rather tedious routine is one reason I prefer always to lead a flight. In this unusual case, I was in a  flight on my own, to which the others were to provide top cover. So I spent a while following them around while slowly climbing to my own assigned 5,000 feet.

 

In the end, I got fed up waiting for them to come out of their 'take off, form up and potter around' routine and headed off down to the south-east, towards the Lines near the town of Albert, whose chuch tower's tottering Virgin Mary's fall was supposed to herald the end of the war.

 

Shot11-17-14-21-55-18.jpg

 

I had selected 'historical weather' and wasn't surprised to find it rather murky, with lots of low cloud and generally poor visibility in most directions at any one time. Despite this, as is my wont I kept the Tactical Display set to short range (to avoid the AWACS radar effect). It can be hard to spot other planes in WOFF at the best of times with visual aids off or minimised and today seemed unlikely to be an exception.

 

Shot11-17-14-22-03-16.jpg

 

While following A Flight around, I had tried to pick up and set a recognisable vector to a genuine mission waypoint on the Tactical Display. But I cycled too far ahead and couldn't get back so having spashed out on my own, I relied instead upon the in-flight map, to navigate.

 

Shot11-17-14-21-57-24.jpg

 

With no 'warp' facility, I went onto 2x time acceleration to cover the long leg to my objective area - I can fly this without autopilot and besides, any faster, it's a stutter-fest. I popped back into real time every so often, to double-check my surroundings, but I saw no flak and no other aircraft, A Flight included.

 

Nearing the limit of my patrol, things were still quiet and I began to fear that this was going to be one of the rather high percentage of my WOFF missions that encounters no enemies. In some frustration, I turned on labels. At least I might discover if A Flight was looking likely to join the party.

 

Shot11-17-14-22-10-06.jpg

 

Instead, the labels which now appeared were for a Halberstadt scout, from Jasta 4. He was about 5 miles away, at ten o'clock and slightly high. I mentally kicked myself for not switching first to 'dot mode' labels and avoiding this unrealistic revelation. The Hun was the other side of some clouds and with labels off, quite invisible. No friendly flak bursts in sight over there either, despite being well on our side of the Lines…where incidentally, Hun scouts should not often be. Maybe he was lost in the bad weather!

 

I continued on my course for a while, turning the labels on and off. The range seemed to be winding down, but slowly. Had the enemy detected me via some from of superior AI vision? Hard to say, but likely, if as seemed possible, he was now heading unerringly my way, despite the intervening clouds.

 

I decided I would do what I would have done, had I not seen the enemy aircraft - continue to the limit of my patrol, then if A Flight didn't show, break off and fly north, just my side of the lines, looking for trade. Another flick of the labels revealed that the Hun, steadily drawing closer, was 'fighting 19 Squadron' (or words to that effect).

 

Shot11-17-14-22-11-15.jpg

 

That was the limit of my patience! I was not going to fly another boring 'milk run' while the others had all the fun! So I turned towards the enemy and impatiently closed with him, flicking labels on and off again. Then, there they were - two Halberstadts, not one, to my direct front, slightly higher and on a reciprocal course. No sign of 19 Squadron...except for me...

 

Shot11-17-14-22-12-40.jpg

 

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They flashed past above me and then turned, even as I turned into them.

 

...to be continued!

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'Heavy-handed Hans flies Halberstadts' *

 

Shot11-17-14-22-15-30.jpg

 

The fight didn’t begin immediately. I lost a bit of height in my turn and the Halbertstadts, though turning too, kept their height advantage, rather than dropping down after me. I kept turning into them to deter an attack from the rear. After a while, one of them disappeared somewhere, how or where I have no idea. I kept turning and watching, toggling padlock on and off, deliberately trying to drag the other Halberstadt down with me, down over my own side of the Lines. And down he came!

 

Shot11-17-14-22-15-55.jpg
 
He dropped right down to my level in an attempt at a firing pass; and a proper dogfight developed. He was nimbler but I happily accepted losing altitude in my turns and my big BE12 refused to stall out, giving me several shots at the Hun. That big airscoop on my nose, the lack of a proper centre-line gunsight and my single Vickers's low rate of fire inhibited my shooting but I still got some hits.

 

Shot11-17-14-22-16-40.jpg

 

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The Halbertstadt's movements became more sluggish and he started layng a fine trail of white smoke or vapour. Switching to the side-mounted gunsight view for better accuracy at the expense of field of view - and keeping bursts short to avoid a stoppage - I managed to stay behind him longer and get closer each time I fired.

 

Shot11-17-14-22-21-15.jpg

 

Shot11-17-14-22-21-04.jpg

 

Fortunately the second Hun never showed up again because I was by now fairly well target fixated, knowing I should look behind but totally determined to get my man, despite the friendly AA fire that was now bursting around the both of us.
 
At one point my target climbed up away from me and extended the range further when I pulled up too hard and lost airspeed - and ground. But a slower climb put me back on his tail as he fled east and once again I had him. A few more bursts and he lost much of his forward airspeed and began a steady but wings-level descent. I broke away and watched from above, finally clearing my own tail. I expected the Hun to force land. But about a hundred feet up, he suddenly nosed down into an ever-steepening spiral and hit the ground near a hedgerow. Got him!

 

Shot11-17-14-22-22-48.jpg

 

Shot11-17-14-22-23-57.jpg
 
I wasn't in the mood for a long flight back to my own airfield so after checking the map, I decided to land on a nearby base which lay just to my west, south of a nearby river. I turned away from the smoking remains of my foe and within a few minutes I was slipping down to land.

 

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I taxied up to the sheds and switched off, hopeful of a hot drink in my host's officers' mess and that they would have seen and could thus confirm my recent splendid triumph.

 

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Mission over, I filled in a victory claim form and gave a pretty good description of the fight, lacking only the time. When I submitted the claim, a message warned me my named witness wasn't flying at the time, which was strange, as he was definitely up there with A Flight - who  admittedly weren't around anyway.

 

19 Sqdn debriefing 3.JPG
 
The full debrief shows no sign of A Flight having been in action, so perhaps that 'fighting 19 Squadron' label indicated the Huns were actually hunting (rather than fighing) me. Evidently, through the wondrous powers of AI vision, they had spotted me from way beyond the distance that their aircraft (as opposed to labels) became visible to me, for they appeard to have been making a bee-line for me the whole time. I haven't a clue what happened to the second Hun. Perhaps our AA fire had damaged him or scared him away, for it was firing all around us, friend and foe, for much of my dogfight. If so, I forgive the gunners for not alerting me to the presence of the enemy aircraft, earlier.

 

The debrief wrongly records me as landing on my home airfield but hopefully, the Powers That Be will at least get the victory confirmation right!

 

19 Sqdn debriefing 2.JPG

 

* from the RFC song:

 

Heavy-handed Hans flies Halberstadts

In handy Halberstadters for a flight our Hans does start.

His C.O. says 'Oh dash it!

For I fear that he will crash it!'

See how heavy-handed Hans

Ham-handles handy Halberstadts!

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