Back-to-back missions in Sopwith's trend-setter!
For most non-multiplayer combat flight simmers, can anything be more frustrating than losing the pilot you have been carefully guiding through the perils of a single player campaign? The answer, of course, is 'Yes' - losing two campaign pilots, one after the other.
It happened to me in Wings over Flanders Fields, yesterday. First to get the chop was my current German fighter pilot, who was flying an Albatros D.III with Jasta 5 in May 1917. The mission started normally, but soon after this picture was taken, shortly after take-off...
...I noticed friendly flak bursts behind, in the direction of the airfield we had just left. Their target was a marauding flight of S.E.5s, and although I got one of them after a tough dogfight, when I turned back in search of the rest of my own flight, all I found was two more S.E.s. I did not survive the wounds which resulted, despite managing a forced landing.
Turning for succor to my concurrent Roland C.II two-seater campaign, things went rather better...for a while.
We soon ran into a flight of our opposite numbers, in the form of some Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters, and although they started with a height advantage...
...we seemed to be getting the better of them. I forced down one with hits from my forward-firing gun, but then allowed myself to become distracted, watching while my observer had a crack as the Sopwith went down...
This lack of attention to where I was going caused me to commit a cardinal sin in the WoFF Roland, which is to say, I let the nose come up too high, in a turn. I only noticed and recovered from the resulting loss of height in time to clip some trees with a lower wingtip. The crash in a field which followed robbed me of my second campaign pilot in the space of an hour!
They say when you fall off a horse, the best thing to do is get straight back on, so that's what I did. Except this time, I was in the mood to fight for King and Country, rather than Kaiser and Fatherland. And replaced both pilots by parallel ones - one each in Rise of Flight and Wings over Flanders Fields.
For a mount, I chose the Sopwith Triplane. I recall that my first serious knowledge of this machine came with one of the very first books I ever bought, the little Hippo Books Aircraft of World War 1, by well-known aviation writer JWR Taylor.This informed its readers that '...Triplanes were flown operationally only by Naval squadrons, who gained complete supremacy over the enemy in the spring and summer of 1917.' That's as may be, but the Triplane seems to have been a modest improvement over the delightful Pup and was soon overshadowed by the Camel. And it's not the most attractive of aircraft, to my eye - when RFC ace James McCudden wrote that he thought the reported Fokker Triplane was a rather quaint thing and expected that seeing one shot down would remind him of a Venetian blind collapsing, I suspect it was the earlier Sopwith Triplane he was picturing in his minds eye. Neverthess, the Germans were sufficiently impressed by the 'Tripehound' to embark on a serious bout of immitation, with many planemakers churning out triplanes, only Fokker's being particularly successful.
For both RoF and WoFF careers, I named my pilot Richard Collishaw, potentially a sibling of famous Triplane exponent Raymond Collishaw. Would the name bring me luck? Let's find out, starting with Rise of Flight!
...to be continued!
Making good use of one of the many features of Pat Wilson's Campaign Generator!
One of the many good things that PWGC lets you do in Rise of Flight - apart from create and change RoF campaign settings in about as much detail as most would want - is write detailed combat reports. Some may regard this as tedious paperwork, but to me, it can be highly immersive. And while Wings over Flanders Fields will also let you describe your achievements for later review (as well as giving you the option of making acceptance of your victory claims dependent on your reports thereof), the equivalent PWCG facility lets you type onto a decent sized page, rather than into a single, short window; this encourages a fuller description.
As I'm still spending much of my sim time working on scenarios for the upcoming Panzer Elite Britpack '44-x mod, and just dipping into actually playing other sims for a change of scenery, I thought I might relieve the break in mission reports here on CombatAce by reproducing some of my RoF/PWCG combat reports, illustrated by screenshots taken at the time. These are from my Richard Stachel campaign, flying the Albatros D.III with Jasta 2 in the heady days of Spring, 1917.
First off, here's one I see dates from a patrol up to the lines on 27 April. We took off at 10:30 and as usual, I had used PWCG to ensure that I was leading the flight (hence the blue streamer that's attached to my left upper mainplane) and had three other flight-mates with me, usually the same fellows each time. To 'get in character', I try to replicate some of the language of the time in these reports, complete with references to 'Englishmen' (or 'Huns' when flying for the British) and incorrect identifications - for example, the Germans tended to describe British 'pusher' aircraft as Vickers types, regardless of the correct manufacturer. Anyway, here's the report, as I recorded it immediately after looking at the handy animated mission 'debriefing' in PWCG.
"At about 10:40 I spotted five aircraft heading east over the lines at about 3000m, slightly above us. Although they were not being engaged by our flak, I observed that they were Vickers 2-seaters. One of the Englishmen broke off to the north-west and the others swung around to the south-west, flying in two pairs, one pair below and slightly behind the other.
By this time, I had drawn away from the rest of my flight. All the Vickers flew back towards their side of the lines, diving slightly, which made them hard to catch.
I finally got in range of the right-hand machine in the lower pair...
...and hit his engine after several bursts, causing white smoke to trail behind. The other enemies did not intervene and I stayed out of the arc of fire of the enemy observer, despite the aircraft weaving from side to side. Finally I appeared to have hit the enemy pilot and the Vickers fell away to the right and dived to the ground, about 3 Km on his side of the lines.
I then spotted the second Englishman further west, still diving, and although I dived after him and hit him, my ammunition soon ran out and I had to turn east for friendly territory.
As I crossed the lines I was rejoined by Oblt Bohme and Lt Tutschek. I claim one Vickers-type 2 seater shot down and another one damaged."
The 'Vickers 2-seaters' are of course F.E.2bs, a type I haven't bought as a 'flyable' yet, but which still appears in-game as AI-flown.
Not a bad morning's work, it was. And although only two reappeared initially, I brought all three of my comrades home with me, which is always a priority of mine. The next mission was to be rather more eventful.
...to be continued!
Has Stachel's luck deserted him, on his fifth mission?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
However, the Nieuport continued to turn, so I throttled back and stayed behind him, firing again. He fell into a sideslip...
...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.
But no, his nose dropped and now I could clearly see that the Englishman was slumped forward, lifeless, in his cockpit.
He spiralled down, and as I watched, I saw that his propeller had spun to a stop.
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.
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.
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!
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.
...to be continued!