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Thread: Mission 4: The Best Part of Valour (Entente - Steel_Ratt)

  1. #1

    Default Mission 4: The Best Part of Valour (Entente - Steel_Ratt)

    My Dearest Sophie,
    The aerodrome is simply buzzing with excitement, and William is the cause of it. No, not another near disaster. Your brother, and my good friend, has become an Ace having achieved no fewer than four aerial victories in a single day. His single victory over St. Caronne on our very first sortie over German lines brings his total to the required five. It came about in a very peculiar way, and I must say that the Boche must be in a tight spot as all four of the air craft that William brought down were older types that are seldom seen now-a-days.

    Just between you and me, I am dreadfully disappointed that it is not me being honoured for such an achievement. I am sure that my time will come in due course, but for now I must console myself with the thought that, if I do not become an Ace, at least I have a good chance of having one as a brother-in-law.

    I will write again soon.

    Love,
    Your Ginger
    5 November, 1917

  2. #2

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    From the Diary of William McKenzie:
    5 November, 1917

    The most peculiar thing happened today, and I am an Ace because of it.

    The day dawned miserably cold and overcast, the clouds hanging low and ominously overhead. Over breakfast I was desperately hoping that it would snow. A bit of snow would make flyer's weather - the kind of weather where we flyers get to sit in the mess beside a warm fire. The snow held off, so it was flying weather instead.

    We were to fly patrols as usual today, so I went over in the grey dawn light to sit with Deakin as he finished loading our ammunition belts; 1 tracer, 2 ball, 1 armour piercing, 1 incendiary, 2 ball - repeat. I asked him about the pattern. He gave me a grin and told me that "the armour piercing will go through the fuel tank, and then - whoosh - the incendiary will set the sausage-eater's crate alight". He always calls the Hun by that name, and he seemed so pleased about the idea of setting a plane ablaze. Quite frankly I am appalled at the thought. I have heard enough tales of planes on fire, and the dreadful results of that, that I am sickened by it. No-one should have to die that way, even a "sausage-eater".

    Deakin wouldn't listen to my objections, and instead sought to divert me with a tale of an officer he had seen fishing from the pier near the tram terminal, where he worked before the war, in Liverpool. Deakin had been fishing with only a bent wire. The officer, looking superior, had cast with his expensive new fishing rod and had immediately hooked a seagull. Deakin's imitation of the poor man, reeling desperately in and out trying to save his equipment, had me laughing in spite of myself. He is a good man, Deakin, despite his intense hatred of the Boche.

    It was not long after this that I climbed into the cold cockpit of my Camel. I gave a wave to Lieutenant Brougham and then we were off, bouncing along the frost-coated grass following the dark tracks of Ginger and the Flight Commander who had preceded us into the air. A scant half hour later and I realized that I was once again alone, having become separated from the Lieutenant during a brief snow flurry. My first thought was "Oh no, not again", and I hoped that the Bloody Red Baron was not in the vicinity. The Flying Circus must have been moved to another section of the front, as the events of the day made clear.

    I was, by this time, deep within Hun territory and so I decided to turn and head for home. It was just then that I saw ahead of me a single aircraft drop from the clouds. It was of a type that I did not recognize, and so I made a cautious approach in order that I might have a chance to assess it.

    (To be continued)

  3. #3

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    Mmmm... Teasing, are you?

  4. #4

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    Yes! Teasing you are young Luke.


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    Yoda.

  5. #5

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    Rob, you always get me quickly!!

  6. #6

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    The Boche must have seen me approaching and immediately turned "about face" to go back where he came from. He must not have been expecting me and, not wanting to engage, he headed for home. I must say that I am not surprised; closer inspection showed that he was flying what appeared to be a Halberstadt. We studied the D.I of that type quite heavily during training, for it was fairly common at the time but it has since been replaced by more effective designs. It is possible that this was an improved type of the Halberstadt, up for a shake-down flight - which would explain their reluctance to engage - but if that was the case, it was not much improved over the original.

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    I made a hard turn to engage the Halberstadt on its new course and, at last, it did turn as if to fight back. It was so sluggish in the air that I very nearly overshot it, which would have landed me in the path of its guns. As it was, I was able to put a good burst into the side of it with stunning results. My tracer stitched along the side until it reached the location of the fuel tank and then, rather than Deakin's "whoosh", there was a muffled "thump" and a ball of fire erupted from the fuselage. The poor pilot, sausage-eater or not, had no time for any action as the flaming wreckage of his craft spun from the sky. I do not expect that he survived.

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    I turned away from the flaming wreck, not daring to look to see the result of my handiwork. Looking about me then, I spotted a Nieuport 17 flying toward me from our lines. I felt a great relief at no longer being alone and turned immediately toward it. It also seemed to be alone, and so we would be able to pair up for the flight back home.

    It took the Nieuport pilot some time to notice me coming - he, too, was obviously not expecting to find me there. He noticed me just as I noticed the Iron Crosses that had been hastily patched over the cockade. I cursed myself for having made such an obvious approach, oblivious to the danger I was in. The Nieuport started dodging around. Like the Halberstadt, it appeared that he was trying to evade me - or perhaps he was reluctant to make a head-on approach in such a flimsy air craft. I manage to get a few shots into him at long range before breaking away to line up a second approach. With my faster, more maneuverable air craft, I felt sure that I would get one.

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    I circled to get into position and fired again at long range, only to have my guns jam. The sudden activity after having been cold so long in the frosty November air at 6000 feet must have been too much for them. We both circled for position again, at one point passing close to each other, and I managed to clear a spent cartridge that had jammed sideways in the breech of my right Vickers gun.

    At that point I'm afraid I quite lost patience with the endless circling and, expecting the Nieuport to come about using an Immelmann maneuver, I turned to take him head on. I was rewarded for my effort - we both fired, but with no effect. Almost no effect, I should say, for my guns jammed again and I was forced to circle again while I cleared the right gun of obstructions again. By the time I had finished that, I found myself behind and slightly to the right of the captured Nieuport - a perfect position.

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    I turned hard into him and opened fire again, this time from very close. The stream of fire tore large holes in the wings and fuselage... and then my guns stopped again. I could have finished it right then, but I had to circle yet again to clear that d------ right gun again.

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    I came in very hot after that. I had had enough and was in a bit of a rage. I had quite forgotten about the cold, and just wanted to best this Nieuport pilot. I predicted another Immelmann maneuver, but overshot the slower machine, passing behind him. I was able to turn about quickly using the torque of the engine to flip the Camel over like a rag doll, and I caught the Boche again from the flank. I unleashed another hail of bullets into the Nieuport, hitting the engine compartment and, I am sure, damaging the engine.

    I followed this up, approaching to within 50 feet. The problems with the right gun seemed at last to be cured and I continued to fire. All of a sudden, the upper wing separated from the craft and tumbled end over end as it fell to the earth. The rest of the plane also plummeted, shedding more pieces as it went.

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    I turned away again... only to spot another Nieuport approaching from the north. This one was painted in the fashion of Hun air craft, so I did not confuse it for a friend. For the third time I turned to engage an enemy air craft only to have it perform an evasive maneuver - an Immelmann this time - and I was forced to turn hard to adjust my approach. And then I realized that I had made an error in identifying this craft as well. This was another crate that we had studied in training - a Siemens-Schuckert - and one which had been relegated to use as a trainer months ago. I distinctly remember thinking to myself that I had better hurry up and get home or I would find myself facing an Eindecker.

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    I was rewarded for my aggressive maneuvering and was able to fire a strong burst into the side of the Schuckert doing heavy damage. There was a good deal of smoke and I prayed that I had not set the crate alight. Again, we jockeyed for position, each of us going around in a different direction. The superior turn of the Camel ensured that I caught him again. I fired another burst, thankful that my guns were still working, a saw that I had scored more hits.

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    Turning to follow him, I saw the first sign of fire as flames started to burn through the doped linen near the engine. I did not have time to pity him, for the fire of my Vickers guns tore the tail off the air craft and it departed controlled flight. I was astounded to see the pilot jump from his stricken air craft. I looked away quickly so as not to have to see any more than I had.

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    It was fortunate that I averted my gaze so quickly, for I saw something that changed my emotions from horror to amazement in an instant. Dropping from the clouds directly behind me was a monoplane. My eyes must have gone wide at the sight of it and I blinked several times to make sure I was not seeing visions. I was not. And I was, after all, engaged with an Eindecker. I wondered then what the very devil was going on. Old air craft... a captured one, a training craft, and now this: a Fokker E.IV.

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    The Eindeckers have been obsolete for a long time now - they were long in the tooth when they were withdrawn from front line service months ago - but I knew that I had to take it seriously. All of the other craft I had faced were armed with only a single Spandau. The E.IV would have at least two. (We had all heard the tales of experiments being made with three guns, though it would be unlikely that one so burdened would be up at this altitude.)

    I circled. The E.IV approached. Then, having misjudged my approach, I had no option but to turn to face the threat head on at very close range. We both fired, canvas tearing on both craft. His fire stopped suddenly a few seconds before my own. Finally, a jammed gun that was not my own. (Mine were now behaving flawlessly.) I was unable to take advantage of his momentary distress as he turned away from me to clear his guns.

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    On the next pass I narrowly avoided another head-on exchange of fire, instead side-slipping to the left and letting go an unanswered burst. I stitched the canvas again, but the damage was light. Again, we circled and I was able to score more hits on the old wing-warper.

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    After this pass, I lifted the nose of the Camel, pushed the rudder over, and executed an Immelmann of my own - the very first in this string of engagements. And what a mistake it was. I was out-maneuvered for the first time that day, taking more heavy fire from the twin spandaus.

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    Not to be out-done, I performed a second Immelmann and came up behind the E.IV, hammering at it again as it turned its nose up for an Immelmann turn. The turn never came, though, as the single wing broke apart and yet another Hun craft was thrown from the sky.

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    It was when another aircraft appeared that I decided that I had had quite enough. Low on fuel and perilously low on ammunition I could not face another dog fight. Thankfully, my craft was the speedier of the two and I was able to out run this fifth enemy.

    It was made clear once I returned to the aerodrome and made some inquiries that an Austro-Hungarian unit has taken a position across the line from us behind the fearsome Eagles. They have been sent up for training and have been given a ragged assortment of air craft in which to do so. I would not have encountered any of them if I had not gotten lost deep in Hun territory.

    Speaking of getting lost, I am in trouble once again for getting separated from my wing man. Like the last time, however, the circumstances of my return have considerably lessened the approbation of the Flight Commander.

    With my new status as an Ace, I have made an additional resolution. I will from this point on load my own ammunition belts. No more incendiary for me. I have seen enough of what it can do.
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    Last edited by steel_ratt; 08-13-2012 at 22:45.

  7. #7

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    The final tally:

    2Lt. William McKenzie Sopwith Camel 4 kills, RTB

    Unknown pilot Halberstadt D.I Fuel tank exploded
    Unknown pilot Nieuport 17 Shot down, exploded
    Unknown pilot S-Schuckert D.I Shot down
    Unknown pilot Fokker E.IV Shot down

    McKenzie now has 5 kills.
    As Ace Abilities he will select: Chivalrous Attitude, Dedicated Ground Crew I, and Lucky Git I

  8. #8

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    An excellent AAR Jon.
    Full of detail and incidental information. Also very well set out and explained it is a blueprint for the new members to emulate in their own reports.
    Rob.

  9. #9

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    Good AAR, John.

    Cool to watch the old Hun machines in action.

    Think the Germans are glad to buy new planes (& pilots ) now.



    Congratulation to McKenzie for his ace status. I upgraded the Canadian roster.

  10. #10

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    Excelent AAR, Jon.
    I love your planes. It's really a pity that the photos weren't that good.

  11. #11

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Officer Kyte View Post
    An excellent AAR Jon.
    Full of detail and incidental information. Also very well set out and explained it is a blueprint for the new members to emulate in their own reports.
    Rob.
    Ummm... wow! I am flattered. This is high praise indeed.
    I do try to put out a good report. The first-person perspective encourages me to add all the small details that make for a good story, and I enjoy being able to bring to life the characters in my reports. (I have long years' experience with that from various role playing games.)
    I'm glad you like the reports. I will do my best to keep them coming.



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