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Thread: Scoring a Hat trick (flying with Escadrille Americaine) – 25 May 1916

  1. #1

    Default Scoring a Hat trick (flying with Escadrille Americaine) – 25 May 1916

    I watched as the last of the Bébés disappeared into the blue. Five of us were slated for the morning patrol, but only four were in the air. My blasted engine wouldn’t start.

    “Try it again!” I yelled again forgetting to use French.

    The ground crew didn’t mind my lapse. One firmly gripped the propeller and gave it a mighty shove. It spun once and the engine coughed fitfully. I coaxed her until the fit stopped.

    The ground crew gave a great cheer and quickly gathered up their tools and cleared the way.

    Waving thanks I made for the airstrip. Moments that seemed like eons later I was airborne.

    Unfortunately my compatriots were nowhere in sight. It seemed that I would be patrolling alone. Still, I followed the course that had been briefed and hoped I would by some miracle catch up.

    Miracles are sometimes strange things, which I was soon to find out. Perhaps thirty minutes into the flight I saw a large body of aircraft buzzing about like hornets. Nearing the melee I discovered that not only had I caught up to my compatriots, but that they were heavily engaged with about a dozen enemy aircraft. Though the odds were heavily against us duty required I join my friends in combat.

    Down I went searching the scene below for the most likely prey. At that moment I saw one of my friends breaking for home. Another, it looked to be Thaw, was below and to my left. His plane was smoking and he was in need of help. My decision had been made for me.

    I dived on his tormentor, an E-III, who was unaware of my arrival, and riddled him with bullets. He banked hard left and Thaw went right circling toward home.

    I stayed with my quarry. He kept left and I stayed on his tail until he flipped over and spiraled earthward. One down, one less than a dozen to go!

    Scanning the sky for my next foe I saw Thaw again as he limped homeward. He had lost a lot of altitude and it appeared his chance of reaching our side of the line was slim at best. But, I couldn’t be bothered with that now. I picked out a new advisory to engage. It was an Albatros two-seater.

    Again I dived. I pulled to his level, perhaps slightly below and opened fire. From the angle I approached the pilot and his gunner were both unable to return fire. He tried to turn into me and I dived under him. Pulling back my Lewis gun I filled his belly from just behind the propeller back through the crew cockpits.

    The Albatros turned into a fireball clipping an E-III coming up behind me. The distraction was enough to allow me to escape and seek another target.

    There were now ten of them against three, no two, of us. Hall had had enough and was pulling out of the tangle.

    My thoughts were interrupted as another Albatros flew across my gun sights and I let him have it. He of course returned fire and I banked left to get in behind him. I managed to get right on his tail peppering him all the while. Suddenly he veered hard right and dropped like a stone.

    My airplane shuttered. Looking about I noted the numerous hits I had taken. The last of my friends was leaving as well. Chapman had dropped almost to ground level and was undoubtedly drawing ground fire in a big way. To my benefit he had drawn most of the enemy down with him. Still, the odds were long against me; and my little Bébé was definitely feeling the damage inflicted upon her. So, I flew for home.

    I caught up to Chapman a short while later, his engine sputtering, and descended to greet him. The sheer number of holes prompted me to give him a once over. I flew under him seeing even more holes and came up level on his left side. There was a large open field just ahead of us and I singled to him, indicating my thought that he should consider landing before his airplane broke apart. He shook his head in return, undoubtedly determined to fly home.

    Hall and Rockwell were waiting for us when we landed. Thaw, however, hadn’t made it. He had gone down shortly after crossing back into our lines, but it was quickly added that he had survived the hard landing.

    Our little skirmish had netted us three victories, all mine, in exchange for one Nieuport shot down. But, two of our aircraft had been so badly damage that they were little more than scrap. Still, it had been a good flight!

  2. #2

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    So our side had all five planes damaged or shot down (5, 6, 8, 8, and FTL/SD) while the Germans had two E-IIIs shot down or damaged (2 and SD) and two Albatros C.III shot down (2xSD) or 37 to 41 total damage points. All 12 of their planes fired at least one shot on our planes. One of my friends drew 12 zero damage cards!

  3. #3

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    Great story. The lack of pictures does not hurt at all since your descriptions of the action are so vivid.

    Well done!

  4. #4

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    Well done, Ace! At this rate you soon will be an ace.

  5. #5

  6. #6

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    Thank you all for your very nice comments.



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