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Thread: OTT-CYM-Mission 8 - "Formation Flying!" - 26th August '16 by Vagabond

  1. #1

    Default OTT-CYM-Mission 8 - "Formation Flying!" - 26th August '16 by Vagabond

    Well chaps it’s our turn, we all turned to look at Uncle knowing exactly what he meant.

    The Germans had taken to flying their light bombers over our lines in formation, this was pretty unheard of at this time in the war but became commonplace later. By formation I don’t mean a loose gaggle of planes headed in the same direction, I mean a tight knit formation designed to give maximum support to each other plane in the formation.
    With their usual Teutonic efficiency, the planes came over at the same time, in the same formation, every day. Headed for different targets it’s true but everything else was the same. These chaps flew in a diamond formation, close together, they did not vary their altitude, speed or direction and were proving quite deadly.

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    Our chaps had had a go at them and we generally fared very badly, they were taking all the fun out of Tandem Baiting and we were getting a bloody nose each time we attacked.
    That’s when Wilkinson, Bigglesworth and Anstruther-Browne met for a drink in the local French café and the bet was born. You have to realise that this was fairly early on in the war and for the flying forces there was much more latitude in patrolling and tactics than was allowed to the chaps on the ground.

    Yes - OK - the bet, well Wilkes of 287 squadron, Biggles from 266 and Biff from 56 bet a case of champagne that they would be the first flight to defeat the redoubtable Boche formation. The bet had limits, the formations were always 4 planes and so we would only put 4 planes against them, there was a rota, decided by a game of cards that Wilkes won, Biggles came second and Biff who was the worst Brag player I’ve ever come across, lost.
    You will of course have heard of Anstruther-Browne but the other two chaps are relatively unknown Flight Commanders, they showed promise it’s true but ended their period of obscurity only because of their association with Biff and The Bet.
    56 had a grandstand seat because the Hun always crossed our lines in the same place, half a mile from out drome and so at 08:00 every morning 2 Albatrii and 2 Rumpler’s would fly over in their diamond formation and we saw first Wilkes flight attack them losing 3 out of their 4 planes. No one was badly hurt and so it was with a bit of relief we saw Biggles lead his flight against The Formation the following day. Two of his flight were shot down, Algy and Henry Watkins a mathematician of some repute, known as the Professor and The Formation as it was being called just continued on it’s way undisturbed.
    We were ecstatic, the Champagne was ours, we had received a bit of a blow because of making our attempt last, due to the game of cards but we were certain to win it now. Well OK we were not at all certain we could achieve the victory but it would be one in the eye for 287 and 266 and so we were up high in the sky at 7:30 waiting for the Albatrii to cross the lines onto our waiting guns and to their doom.

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    Biff had his choice of C Flight, all except Bouncer Berry who was in the infirmary, I’m sure he would have picked Henry De Lacy usually the steadiest of our pilots, never exceptional but you knew he wouldn’t let you down in a fight, however he was proving very unstable after the affair with Jerome Dupont and so the young Japanese Samurai Ichiro Takahashi was in on the act.

    Biff had given us a very long briefing about this mission, it wasn’t our safety he was worried about but our reputation with the other leading squadrons and of course the Champagne Bet. “Well you saw how Biggles, Wilkes and their chaps went up against the German formation and it was a shambles, we can do much better and indeed if we want to be drinking that case of Champagne we need to do much better than them.

    We will fly as two pairs, I shall lead the eastern pair nearest the lines, that will be me and Taki, Rory you will lead the other pair, with young Vagabond here. We all nodded, wondering where he was going with this.

    Right ho the way we are going to do this is that we will fly in the opposite direction but parallel to the German formation, what’s known as a reciprocal course, and once past them we will turn and tuck in behind them. Taki and I will attack the last plane in the formation and Rory you and Vagabond will go for the most southerly one, the one that will be the nearest to us as we fly past them.
    This way we can bring 2 of our planes and 2 guns against 1 of theirs. Once we have taken down our first targets, I will go for the northern tandem and Rory you and Vagabond will go for the lead plane.

    Try your best to get into the blind spot behind the tail and try and avoid getting into the cross fire from the supporting planes. OK – any questions? I had quite a lot but everyone else seemed satisfied with this and so I kept quiet.

    Now chaps the only thing that worries me is that the Nieuports we are flying today are only just about as fast as these German Tandems, I’m hoping that because they are carrying a full bomb load that will slow them down a bit and so once behind them we can make good the ground and slide up slowly and destroy them one by one. Our range is a bit limited and so if we don’t turn in soon enough we will run out of fuel before we can catch up to them.

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    I was towards the left of our indented line, flying on Rory’s right wing and saw the 4 German planes well before they crossed the trenches. They were flying a perfect diamond formation, I have to say – they were good. Formation flying is difficult at the best of times, constant small course and speed adjustments to maintain your position, but these guy’s were pretty perfect. I started to have second thoughts about this but a case of Champagne is a case of Champagne after all.

    Biff had instructed us to keep formation on him and follow until he fired a red very flare and then we should attack in our pairs on the designated targets.

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    Biff turns to starboard and you can see we are pretty ragged in out response.

    I’m taking a leaf out of Dave’s book and so the flight will follow but 1 phase behind.

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    This has no effect on the confident tandem formation, who serenely continues towards their target.

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    We are all following Biff on a reciprocal course to the tandems and it’s looking as if his plan is going to work but there is one thing that we should have taken into account. We all knew about it but some how failed to recognise the additional difficulty it would cause.

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    Unfortunately we continue on this course a little too long and I imagine you are all shouting “THE WIND, the wind you damn fools” Yes the wind, it invariably blows from the East and it was pushing The Formation along faster than we anticipated and they started to blow past us. I could see the Observer in the nearest plane waving and making rude gestures at us, he realised what was happening and making his pleasure known.

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    And by the time Biff starts to turn to get behind the German formation he and Taki are going to be out of touch for quite a while.
    Rory takes some damage from the most southerly Albatros, the one that he and I are tasked to shoot down first and the one the Observer was gesticulating from.

    I’m flying V for Vagabond and feeling that I’m way out of position to do much good here and wondering if I should ignore my orders and close with the enemy directly, it was a good plan but it’s not surviving contact with the enemy. (I’ve heard that somewhere before)

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    Biff and therefore all of us turn in tightly and I see his red flare light up the sky ahead of me. Right Mr Albatros I’ll be having Seabird and chips for my first course.

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    Rory is now taking fire from 2 of the enemy but with a lucky shot he sets the last plane a blaze, that’s a good start and we are the first Flight to cause any significant damage to The Formation, I can taste the Champagne already.

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    Then the one thing we were trying to avoid, Rory who is closest to the enemy is out on his own and taking hits from two of them. This is the opposite of our plan and I jump up and down in my seat, thinking this might make my Nieuport go faster. It doesn’t.

    The Albatros with the blue Griffon on its top wing and the cocky Observer is firing a concerted stream of lead into Rory’s plane and it catches fire.

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    The fire damage at the start of the next turn is an indicator of how things are going and Rory takes twice as much damage as the Albatros does.

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    With the jumping up and down I finally get into a firing position and Rory and I are able to concentrate on the rear tandem.

    OK 2 on 1, the plan is starting to come together except we should be shooting at the one to its left but our poor judgement in turning in too late means we are well behind the formation of tandems and concentrate on whoever we can hit.

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    But it was too late, Rory’s fragile Nieuport went down streaming flames and smoke behind it, I made a bad turn to port and left my self exposed to shots from the rear Rumpler and couldn’t return them.

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    Looking back over my shoulder I could see that Biff and Taki were a long way back and weren’t going to be able to give me any support in the fight and I considered pulling out of the attack.

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    The wily Rumpler pilot had been successfully jinking his plane from side to side and was keeping the flames under control.

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    I was back on his tail but not close enough to avoid the return fire from the Observer although I could see that I was causing damage it was not enough and he just kept on going.

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    The bomb load that we expected to slow the tandems didn’t really seem to be making much difference, I was gaining but slowly, so slowly and then I felt the fabric of my beautiful blue plane tear apart as the last round of bullets swept through her. I couldn’t control her any longer and we started to spiral to earth.

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    As I fought with the controls there was some elation in that I had taken the Rumpler down with me, we both hit the ground hard but he was a blaze. I was scared out of my wits that my plane would catch fire too, and so I was out of it in a flash and running towards the Rumpler, but before I got there the plane exploded and I was thrown backwards to the grass. No one could live in that blaze and I turned away, sick to my soul of the war, the killing and the fear.

    I just sat there on the grass and let it wash over me. As my old Nanny used to say, “It will all look brighter in the morning” I hoped she was right.

    Indeed even in our darkest hour there is always a glimmer of light and as I looked over to Rory’s plane I could see movement, he was walking away from his burning Nieuport, relief and a sense of shame swept through me as I walked towards him.

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    I watched Biff and Taki chase after the three remaining German planes and they were slowly overhauling them but then they turned back, flying low over Rory and myself and waggling their wings at us as they went, delighted to see us alive and probably wondering if 1 Rumpler would get us the case of Champagne.

    Somehow I doubted it.

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    The majority of The Formation flew on to whatever their target was, probably more determined that ever to carry the war to us.

    THE END



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    Well some pretty abysmal flying on my part, I was sure that this was the tactic to use against the formation but I turned in too late and the difference of the stall move for the Tandems was just not enough to allow me catch up. This is the situation when I got shot down. I’ve moved all the planes back 29” to allow for the fight taking place over 3 mats width and there is no way the Nieuport’s are going to catch up.

    I’ve replayed this using a different attack plan and it worked much better in the context of a game of Wings of War and was one of my most exciting games yet but it resulted in me taking a lot of casualties and so I still believe picking off the last plane first and working your way forward is the way to go in the real world.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how the more experienced pilots tackled this scenario and I hope they flew better than I did, indeed I’m sure they will have and there will be lessons for me to learn.

    BUTCHERS BILL

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    2/Lt Ruairidh Rory MacNair = SD(FLM) – No Kills
    C&W Rolled 9 -2FLM = 7 Injured Skip 1D2 Scenarios Rolled 5 skip 2 Scenarios.
    Rory’s plane has taken 14 points of damage but the last 2points are fire damage that occurred earlier and are in the wrong place in the line, the damage that shot him down was the last 2+1.

    2/Lt John Vagabond = SD, 1 Kill
    C&W Rolled 11 – 1SD = 10 Alls well when you land badly but safely.

    Dave I think this is my 6th kill, should I have chosen an Ace skill when I became an Ace at 5 and if so the drinks are on me. You chose a skill for me in an earlier mission but I think that came from the actual mission not for the 5th victim.

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    Lt Montague Biff Anstruther-Browne – RTB - No Kills

    2/Lt Ichiro Takahashi – RTB – No Kills

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    Blue Griffon Albatros
    Wilhelm Heinrich = RTB - No Kills
    Bertram Hohndorf = RTB - No Kills

    Red Dog Rumpler
    Karl Fischer = RTB - No Kills
    Hans Brandt = RTB - No Kills

    Red Unicorn Albatros
    Paul Donhauser = RTB - No Kills
    Sebastian Frickart = RTB - No Kills

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    Black Dog Rumpler
    Pilot2 = SD(FLM) – No Kills
    C&W Rolled 4 – 2SD(FLM) = 2 KIA

    Observer = SD(FLM) - 2 Kills (McNair and Vagabond).
    C&W Rolled 4 – 2SD(FLM) = 2 KIA

    Dave I have a P2 Karl Fischer but I believe my last available Observer Dietrich Beer is still wounded so are you OK with calling these an unknown crew, seems a shame to create a crew to kill them in their first mission, although it will be a hero’s death with the 2 kills. Let me know how you wish to play it.
    Cheers
    Last edited by flash; 10-16-2020 at 14:36. Reason: Tally adjust - Fischer for Grassman (POW)

  2. #2

    Default

    Another great read for me before work this morning, John.

    Your presentation and the script are always terrific.


    Too bad about the tactics ...


    Once you fall behind two-seaters (that aren't BE2.cs) it's near impossible to catch up.

    A valiant effort - very much worthy of REP - but, unfortunately, I just gave you rep the other day so you will have to just accept a "Well done, sir!" and a

  3. #3

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    Blimey, I thought mine had gone badly ! I turned in a fraction too soon worried that what happened here would happen to me, turn late & there's no catching them. You got one though and it was the blighter that did the damage, shame it was an un-named crew, too new I suppose...

    Uncle says:

    Better luck next time chaps - seems your timing was a smidge off but lesson learnt.
    Had to adjust you tally & swap in Fischer for Grassman as he's POW since mission 6 - two Karl's causing confusion I expect.

    Not sure how I missed your 5th - You were an inherent Bullet checker so that becomes a full skill & picked up acrobatic pilot as an inherent skill for that mission so no picking required.
    2Lt Vagabond is awarded the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre with palm for his service to his King and Country and the Republic of France


    Meanwhile across the lines:
    Vzfwbl Wilhelm Heinrich is awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class for his service to the Kaiser (6 missions)
    Last edited by flash; 10-16-2020 at 14:59.

    "He is wise who watches"

  4. #4

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    Great story, John. Rep is in the post....so will be delayed.

    Funny about the bet...as I had already put that into my story when I read yours. The only change I made was to justify sending just 4 scouts after the formation.

    I suspect the real world tactic is to hit them with a bunch of scouts, but Pete is right, while the tail end charlie is the safest way to go one needs much faster planes to catch the rest.

    for Vagabond's 6th kill.

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stumptonian View Post
    Another great read for me before work this morning, John.

    Your presentation and the script are always terrific.


    Too bad about the tactics ...


    Once you fall behind two-seaters (that aren't BE2.cs) it's near impossible to catch up.

    A valiant effort - very much worthy of REP - but, unfortunately, I just gave you rep the other day so you will have to just accept a "Well done, sir!" and a
    Thanks Pete I still think the tactics are good, the only problem is that if your flying skills are as poor as mine obviously are, then it takes so long to catch up that you get a bit bored.
    My mistake, but with a bit of luck I shall post my 2nd shot at this tomorrow and a combination of better initial tactics as well as better flying resulted a spectacular




    Draw.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowDragon View Post
    Great story, John. Rep is in the post....so will be delayed.

    Funny about the bet...as I had already put that into my story when I read yours. The only change I made was to justify sending just 4 scouts after the formation.

    I suspect the real world tactic is to hit them with a bunch of scouts, but Pete is right, while the tail end charlie is the safest way to go one needs much faster planes to catch the rest.

    for Vagabond's 6th kill.
    Cheers Paul, I'm not sure where the idea of the bet came from but it's interesting we both had a similar idea.

    I can't remember what it was but you came up with some story line and I remember thinking that's good I should have thought of that. Now I've forgotten what it was, I'm sure sometime in the future I shall regurgitate it thinking it's a new idea.

    Thanks for the drink, I shall enjoy it.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vagabond View Post
    Cheers Paul, I'm not sure where the idea of the bet came from but it's interesting we both had a similar idea.

    I can't remember what it was but you came up with some story line and I remember thinking that's good I should have thought of that. Now I've forgotten what it was, I'm sure sometime in the future I shall regurgitate it thinking it's a new idea.

    Thanks for the drink, I shall enjoy it.
    In my case it wasn't so much as a formal bet as a RFC vs RNAS rivalry coupled with new fangled tactics not particularly suited to fragile Nieuports.

  8. #8

    Thumbs up

    A valiant effort there John but its a tough call to take down a well flown & experienced 2 seater kette!
    Shame about the Champers but at least you got one of the buggers & all your lads got home safely.

    Rep is on its way!

    "Its a fine line indeed between going out in a Blaze of Glory or having Crashed & Burnt!"
    Member Australian Society of WW1 Aero Historians

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by gully_raker View Post
    A valiant effort there John but its a tough call to take down a well flown & experienced 2 seater kette!
    Shame about the Champers but at least you got one of the buggers & all your lads got home safely.

    Rep is on its way!
    Thanks Barry, I expect I got to fly against the veterans and you all got the novices and so made it look easy.

    I shall find out later this evening.
    Thanks for the Rep



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