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33LIMA

Unlucky 13 for Stachel?

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33LIMA    764

Has Stachel's luck deserted him, on his fifth mission?

 

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I'm not superstitious, but when I saw in PWCG that the date for my next mission had advanced to April 13th, I hesitated briefly. Should I ask for a spot of leave? But no, I decided to press on. I might have thought again, if I had realised that this day in 1917 was Friday the Thirteenth!

 

Happily ignorant of this, I drew a patrol up to the lines to the north-west of our base at Pronville, and swapped out the appointed flight leader so that this would be my show. I accepted Karlstadt and Veidt, who had flown with me before, and selected replacement pilot Fischbein to make up the foursome. These would be the men I'd try to bring through the war with me.

 

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The northern end of our patrol down the lines was marked by a village who's name I've forgotten. It was a good landmark, though, lying astride our reserve trenches, close to the shelled area. It was probably abandoned, if its occupants had any sense!

 

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Swinging around to the south as we passed over the village, I noticed a formation of aircraft, higher up and on a reciprocal course which took them over our heads. Enemies would likely be diving on us by now, but I watched them closely, until I could see that they were Albatrosses, like our own.

 

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I watched them too closely in fact, for I nearly missed two other aircraft that were coming up on our right, at the same level. From their stubby noses, I realised they were almost certainly enemies, Sopwiths perhaps.

 

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I turned around after them, while they did the same, apaprently intending to come in behind my flight, which - as bad luck or carelessness would have it -  I had allowed to straggle a little, at that very time. Our flak opened up, the bursts falling so far below the two enemy aircraft that I took a little while to confirm there weren't additional enemies down there.

 

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I gave the 'Attack!' order, but it was probably redundant. My flight broke up as the two RFC Nieuports - for that is what they turned out to be - tore into them.

 

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Then it happened! As I came around to join the fight, two Albatrosses came together, then seemed to stagger appart. A collision! The victims fell away below, both seemingly in one piece but out of control. The best I could hope for was that one or both managed to force land and save their lives. But clearly, they were out of the fight and it was now two against two.

 

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I wasted no time in latching onto one of the Nieuports, before they could gang up on my surviving comrade. As usual, the more agile enemy machine could turn in under me, but by staying above him, I was able to bide my time until the opportunity presented itself to make diving attacks onto his tail.

 

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In one of these attacks, I think I managed to hit the pilot - I now have Gavagai's reduced damage mod enabled, which lessens the frequency of wings being shot off - for he seemed to be slumped forward in his cockpit.

 

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However, the Nieuport continued to turn, so I throttled back and stayed behind him, firing again. He fell into a sideslip...

 

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...and sensing victory, I kept after him, firing again. Suddenly his rudder came off and his nose rose up. If I hadn't been so sure I'd got him, I would have worried that he was still under control and trying to force me out in front.

 

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But no, his nose dropped and now I could clearly see that the Englishman was slumped forward, lifeless, in his cockpit.

 

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He spiralled down, and as I watched, I saw that his propeller had spun to a stop.

 

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My comrade all the while had been engaged with the other Nieuport and I climbed in the direction of the fight, ready to join in if needed. The opportunity to do so came when the two machines turned in diffrernt directions. In a flash, I dropped onto the Nieuport's tail and let him have it. His left aileron came off under my fire and I was lucky it didn't hit me. I didn't notice at the time, but in the picture below, you can see that there seems to be a fight going on up ahead, perhaps involving that other flight of Albatrosses.

 

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My target stopped turning, levelled off and flew to the south west, as if to escape. Checking that my flight-mate wasn't about to drop in us - one collision was more than enough! - I raced up behind him, cursing the friendly flak which had chosen this very moment to find the range.

 

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I slotted in close behind the enemy aircraft and basically shot him full of holes. It took more rounds than I expected but he suddenly nosed down and spiralled earthwards, crashing in open country just behind our lines. The score had been evened, in the face of some pretty foul luck!

 

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My wingman was behind me as I made a climbing turn to the south, back onto our patrol route. I contemplated going home - reduced to two aircraft with a fair bit of ammo expended, I believed I could defend the decision to the CO - but I felt duty bound to complete the patrol. I would, however, be more cautious about accepting combat...if I had a choice.

 

And more combat seemed to be a distinct possibility. Looking up, I saw a flight of four aircraft, a good deal higher up, also flying south. Out flak wasn't engaging them, but from their square-cut appearance, they didn't look like German machines. Evidently, we weren't quite done here.

 

post-66801-0-75128000-1473548062.jpg

 

...to be continued!

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33LIMA    764

The end?

 

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Keen to leave my surviving flight-mate in no doubt that I want him to rejoin formation, I gave the recall signal, and watch as my green flare arcs up then falls astern. He can catch up later, for I am keen to get up to the level of the suspected enemy formation. It driftc west, towards the enemy side, drawing fire from our flak as it does so.For now I'll be content if they stay over there.

 

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Our flak dies off as the enemy flight continues to slide off to the west. It looks like they have finished whatever it was they came here to do, and there is no way I'm going over into enemy territory after what I think is probably a formation of Sopwith 2-seaters.

 

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Looking behind to see how my comrade is getting on, I get a shock. He's still there, but so are three enemy machines, which I identify immediately as Sopwith Triplanes. This is very bad news. My flight-mate is badly outnumbered until I can get back there. And even when I do, it's two against three. And the three are in machines which, though having just one MG, are one of the few enemy machines now at the front with a performance good enough to best the Albatros. I curse my decision not to go home and for a moment consider running for it myself, but of course, I cannot abandon my comrade.

 

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As I race to intervene, one of the Sopwiths dives down somewhere out of sight. I know he can climb back up quickly enough when he chooses, but I ignore him for now and steer for the other two, who are harrying my comrade. The latter sensibly dives away, using his superior speed.

 

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The two Sopwiths dive after him, and I roll left and push my nose down to where all four aircraft are now whirling around below. I'm still too far away for a shot but know our only chance is for me to get into the fight before the enemy can defeat us in detail, one at a time. If my comrade goes down before I get over there, that'll likely be the end of me, too.

 

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Suddenly, there's a jolt and my machine rolls right, before nosing into a vertical dive. I throttle back, but all control is lost! It's not hard to see why...

 

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There's a burst of fire and clumps of soil fly as my Albatros hits the ground nose first, with a sickening thud.

 

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Evidently, Richard Stachel's bid for the Blue Max is over! I return to PWCG to complete the formalities. I find I can fill in my claim for two Nieuports shot down, then watch the animated, map-based mission debriefing.

 

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I then turn to my combat report, and here for the first time, I find that I have survived the crash, albeit seriously wounded. Later, I confirm my suspicion that this is because in PWCG's campaign options, I had accepted this as the higest level of injury my pilot could suffer! I have since changed the setting to 'Death' - I can always re-fly a mission before quitting RoF for PWCG, if I'm minded to save a deceased pilot.

 

post-66801-0-20751100-1473592826.jpg

 

Unfortunately, the two who collided have died. I have no idea what it was got me, and speculate in my report that it could have been flak, enemy fire or structural damage. A collision, with an enemy I had not seen, is another possibility. But really, I have little idea what it was.

 

My pilot's journal/dossier/logbook confirms that on this Friday the Thirteenth, I have increased my score by two victories - to thirteen!

 

Thus in a sense, Stachel's luck has sort of balanced out. He was unlucky to lose two flight-mates to a collision and unlucky again, to lose those wings; but extremely lucky not to be wiped out in the resulting crash.

 

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So...Herr Leutnant Stachel has survived Friday the Thirteenth, and lives to fight another day!

 

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Meanwhile, the war goes on, and the staffel Kriegstagebuch records the salient points of what's been an eventful day, in our sector and elsewhere.

 

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Methinks, I'll need not to push my luck too hard, on the next mission!

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vonOben    53

Hi 33LIMA

It's always a pleasure to read your mission reports and reviews! :good:
Thank you very much for doing them!

Which mods are you using in ROF?

Best regards

vonOben

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vonOben    53

Hi 33LIMA

 

Thanks for the info!

 

Have you seen this post: "HA! End of Rof Frustration! Finally"?
http://riseofflight.com/forum/topic/48930-ha-end-rof-frustration-finally/

According to that topic is the Criquets AiMod old and not for the current RoF version, and removing the AI mod actually improves the AI behaviour.

 

S!

 

vonOben

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33LIMA    764

Thanks for the tip, vonOben, I hadn't seen that, and will try disabling the AI mods. Stachel is due another mission soon, and it will be good to see if things are better - especially the awful crack-ups on landing, which seem to be a common problem.

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