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Thread: OTT EYM Mission 3 - Take These Broken Wings and Learn to Fly – Vagabond

  1. #1

    Default OTT EYM Mission 3 - Take These Broken Wings and Learn to Fly – Vagabond

    “Vagabond, could I have a word please”….that was Biff asking politely if he could speak to me in private. I’d known Biff all my life, well about 5 months actually but in this awful war that was the same thing, and he’d never spoken like this before.

    My heart sank as I followed him into the small room, off the side of the main Mess area and there was Plaskitt-Smythe looking as sombre as a man at a funeral…his own funeral. “Look” Biff opened “I won’t beat about the bush, you’ve heard about the massacre of Terry Bull’s Tandem flight when they tried to bomb the railway sidings at Douai a couple of days ago”. I just nodded, not sure where this was going.
    “And you’ve heard about the Sea Dogs, the massacre of Commander Robert Sampson’s tandem flight on the same mission a day later”. I nodded more slowly this time because I was worried that I might know where this was going now.
    I’d vaguely heard of another tandem flight that had been cut to pieces attempting the same operation but couldn’t recall who they were. It was the word massacre that cut like a razor blade and I was wondering if I was finally catching the drift of the conversation.
    “Well” Plaskitt-Smythe said slowly, “we’ve drawn the short straw and are going over tomorrow”.

    The penny finally dropped….

    Biff hesitated before continuing, “I need 2 good pilots to ride shotgun and make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to P-S and his flight”. I thought about quipping that I didn’t know 2 good pilots but decided to keep quiet. Biff said, “I’ve already told the CO that it should be you and I” and he looked me squarely in the eye, I avoided his gaze, partly because I was flattered that I was his first choice and horrified I was his first choice.

    “The CO won’t let me go”, and that’s when I felt the pit of my stomach drop, if the CO didn’t want to lose his best Flight Commander he didn’t expect many coming back. “So I thought you and Taki might take the job, he’s good and you both get on well together, what do you think”? I was on shaky ground here, this isn’t a democracy, I get told what to do and like it or not, that’s what I do, he must be seriously worried.

    “Is this a Teaticket operation” I asked quietly. Teaticket was a bod at HQ who had tried to get us all killed about 6 weeks ago with one of his mad missions, we lost 3 pilots that day and if it was one of his ideas we were dead men. “No it’s someone called Stumpy” he answered, “rumour has it he speaks German like a native and might be distantly related to Ernst von Hoeppner but Trenchard thinks the world of him”. I pondered on this for a minute but it didn’t get any better with pondering.

    I didn’t want to get Taki killed and so I suggested Dusty, he’s not been with us long, I barely know him and besides he’s been extraordinarily lucky on his last 2 flights maybe that would continue. “Well if you think he’s up to it, you can have him” was Biff’s relieved reply, he didn’t want to send Taki either.

    “OK let’s get down to the details” he said, “P-S and I have been giving this some thought and I want your opinion on our plan”. After listening to them for 20 minutes I had a couple of suggestions and we’d hammered out a plan that if the Germans being the methodical chaps they were, might even work.

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    It was good to be back in the air after another spell in hospital, also it was good to be back flying a FEE, V for Vagabond no less. We should have been flying Pup’s but a surprise inspection by HQ had determined they weren’t fit to fly. Cracked struts, distorted airframes, ill maintained engines… No… we hadn’t had time to paint the markings on the tail and they’d been grounded until this vital operation was complete. The new Triplanes we did have were commandeered for a routine patrol and so the only planes available to us were the old FEE’s.

    This would have presented problems because we didn’t have enough Observers to man them but a pair of Strutters had dropped in on their way to a French squadron nearby and their CO didn’t have pilots available so he said we could keep the planes for the time being. The French are so much more accommodating than our own High Command.
    The delivery crew consisted of 2 replacement pilots, Jamie MacNab and Richard Cross already assigned to our Squadron, the Observers were to go on to 21 Squadron but Kyte our C.O. commandeered them to fly with Dusty and myself in the FEE’s, they were not happy about this but no one argues with the C.O.

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    The previous attacks by the German Jasta causing all the trouble had all started the same way, they fly high, get behind the Tandems, swoop down and inflict as much damage in the dive as possible and then finish the job in a swift dog fight. Our response had been the same in each attack. The Tandems carried on, maintaining their directive which was to bomb the railway sidings at Douai. Their escorting Scouts had turned to defend them, this turn left them trailing after the enemy and by the time they caught up the Bombers were all down.

    Standard Operating Procedure as it’s called is fine but we’re C Flight and we don’t like getting shot, those blood stains are hard to get out afterwards….assuming there is an afterwards and no one wants to be buried in a uniform with holes in it either.

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    So we had a plan, the Plan hadn’t been universally acclaimed, young Jamie MacNab, one of the new pilots who was to be MacGreggors taxi driver objected in a rather horrified voice that quavered a little he said “but Sir, it’s against Standing Orders, we’ll get into trouble”. “Yeell get a smack around yeer heed if yee don’t do as yeer teeled…..Sir”, responded Airman MacGreggor. Biffs eyes glinted like daggers, “you can observe standing orders as much as you please on the ground MacNab but when you’re in the air you’ll obey your Flight Commander or you’ll ship out”. “Is that completely understood”. “Err..yes Sir”. “And don’t call me Sir, my name is Biff”, Biff snorted.

    Just then flares went up. At least 2 of the Observers were observing, MacGreggor and Podgy, Joe Ryan’s flare was a couple of seconds late, he’ll get ribbed about this I thought…..if we survive. Of course the 2 new chaps observing with Dusty and I in the FEE’s saw nothing, but every pilot responded to the flares immediately.

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    Dusty and I turned away from the line of flight maintaining our height, and the Strutters put their noses down and dove.

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    The enemy started their attacking dive and came screaming down towards the Tandems as Dusty and I turned back onto our original line of flight.

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    At the same time the Strutters banked to starboard in perfect unison.

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    And you can probably see what our plan is by now.

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    Unbeknown to us the Dlll’s were taking structural damage due to the stress generated in the dive.

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    This continued as the dive got shallower and they flattened out at 8,000’ (Altitude 4). Dusty and I continued our turn and are coming in on the flanks of the Dlll’s and at the same altitude. The Strutters are 500’ (Altitude 3) below them and out of range of the Albi’s twin MG’s.

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    I’d slapped my Observer on the side of the head as he seemed to be daydreaming; nearly falling out of the cockpit when I’d banked hard to port. I’d indicated he should test the Lewis gun. goodness knows what they’re teaching them in flight school these days but as I pulled round to starboard I noted with satisfaction that we’d avoided the Hun and that my Observer could actually hit something as he opened fire.

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    On the far side of the line of Dlll’s Dusty wasn’t so fortunate, and the Blue Hun opened fire on him, if he wasn’t such a lucky bugger his plane would have exploded but fortunately it didn’t. This obviously scared the living daylights out of his gunner who missed the Hun completely.

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    The photo indicates the structural damage after 2 phases of diving. This gives the Dlll’s something of a problem. They are at alt 4 and the Strutters are at 3, they have the advantage of height for firing but only at ฝ a ruler distance. If they dive again then they will be below the FEE’s and may take more structural damage in the dive. To resolve this conundrum for them, each planning phase I rolled a D6 and on a 5 or 6 they would maintain height and on a 1-4 they would dive again.

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    On turn 3 the Dlll’s all turned to starboard to chase the Strutters, the blue Hun takes a pasting from Dusty’s Observer but is out of angle to return fire. This damage combined with the structural damage is to be enough to make him turn for home.

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    The red Hun fires on Dusty’s plane, causing some damage but then his gun jams. Then Joe Ryan fires into the Green Hun but misses.

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    My observer fires into the yellow Dlll and misses. He would have jammed his gun but I’d made sure he checked every round before we set off, so this didn’t happen.

    It’s all getting a bit chaotic but our plan seems to be working reasonably well so far.

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    The Blue and Green Dlll’s dropped down and the structural damage was minimal. They are hunting Strutters, but the Strutters are hunting them. They aren’t used to that.

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    The blue plane opened fire on P-S and Podgy but then became the meat in the sandwich as Podgy and MacNab open fire in return.

    MacNab is the Pilot who might become Jock 3, if MacGreggor, Jock 2 accepts him as a replacement for Jock 1 MacIver who was killed in the Teaticket incident already mentioned. This seems quite unlikely as the Twa Jocks had been a partnership for longer than I could remember and their first exchange of words just before this mission hadn’t been too auspicious, but stranger things happen at sea.

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    MacNab fired first but Podgy was the last one to fire into the Blue Dlll and so claims the victory.


    By now you will have realised that the Strutters are forming a circle, there is a name for it but I’ve forgotten so we’ll call it the Plaskitt-Smythe Defence or PSD for short.

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    MacGreggor and the green Dlll exchange shots, the pilot of the green machine is hit, slumping over his controls he tries to turn for home.

    In the distance Dusty continues his lucky streak by colliding with the yellow Dlll and neither of them suffers any damage.

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    The yellow Dlll, dives down and shoots up Ryan’s Strutter, damaging the engine and forcing Ryan’s pilot to give up and head for home but my gunner and MacGreggor pump bullets in its direction.

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    I can see my chaps bullets strike home setting the plane on fire, I wish I could remember my chaps name but I only met him the one time.
    MacGreggor is determined to take revenge on the Hun for killing his partner in crime and fires a long and deadly burst from the Lewis gun and the yellow plane rolls onto its back and falls from the sky.

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    The green Dlll streaks for home with its wounded pilot at the controls.

    Two down, one headed home, only leaving the red Dlll at altitude 4 still fighting.

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    Whoever is piloting the red plane he’s no coward and sticks like glue to Ryan but he takes the worst of the exchange unless you realize that he should get a +1 for altitude in this exchange. Ryan knows that his pilot is going to have to head home and so makes the most of this heaven sent opportunity by blasting holes through the red painted fabric of the Dlll but misses anything vital.

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    The Dlll continues to turn to starboard and he runs straight into my gunner’s line of sight. I’m loosing confidence in the man as his bullets fly wide of the mark, before the gun jams solid.

    Ryan’s Strutter is now directly underneath the red Dlll and he fires upward.

    I can’t find anything in the rules to resolve this situation, because their bases are overlapping he shouldn’t be able to fire but he’s using a swivel mounted gun and firing up to an altitude 1 level above, the sort of thing that I know Ball did in Nieuports and SE5a’s, any thoughts?

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    The red Albi is still at altitude 4 having decided that things are looking a little sticky he’s decided he should try and get out of here but on the way he attacks P-S’s Strutter inflicting no damage at all. I expect he’s a little shaky at this point. Dustys gunner is in a perfect position and opens fire inflicting lots of damage, Podgy also fires up in to him but it’s Ryan who gets the last shot in and the red plane explodes in a ball of flame.

    Which make the previous rule question superfluous.


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    The green Dlll is the only one to make it back across the lines, and he’s leaking fluid from plane and body so is not a happy chappy.

    We were lucky and didn’t meet any more Hun on the way to Douai, Plaskitt-Smythe and Jamie MacNab dropped their bombs on the railway sidings and we all made it back home again in one piece. I was relieved to see that Ryan had landed well, his Pilot, Richard Cross seems a steady sort and should prove to be a valuable member of the Tandem Flight. I’m not so sure about Jamie MacNab, his initial outburst about rules and orders didn’t go down well with anyone but he flew steadily enough, we’ll see how he shapes up.

    MacGreggor is still sitting on his own in the Mess, always with a whisky for himself and one for MacIver, we usually have to carry him off to bed. I think the destruction of one plane today might have helped even the score for him but it’s going to take many more before he can feel he’s taken revenge for Jock 1’s death.

    It was a riotous evening in the Mess, we had a lot to celebrate, no one was hurt today, well no one on our side and Joe Ryan and Podgy collected their 5th scalp and became Observer Aces, I’m not sure what that means but I bet it’s good. Maybe Uncle buys the drinks. Who knows!

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    2/Lt John VagabondRTB – 0 Kills

    Observer ditto and has now moved on to 21 Squadron

    2/Lt Barry ‘Dusty’ RhodesRTB – 0 Kills
    Lucky Pilot and so didn’t explode.

    Observer ditto and has now moved on to 21 Squadron

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    Lt Charles Plaskitt-Smythe (P2) – RTB – 0 Kills

    AM1 Raymond ‘Podgy’ Podgson (O) – RTB 1 Kill (Blue Dlll Neuenhofen)
    This is Podgy’s 5th victim and makes him an Ace Observer.

    Ft/Sgt Richard Cross (P2) just joined and has no identity card yet. – FRTB-E – 0 Kills
    FRTB: Rolled 3+5 = landed OK

    2/Lt Joseph ‘Joe’ Ryan (O) – FRTB - 1 Kill (Hubrich Red Dlll)
    This is Joe’s 5th victim and makes him an Ace Observer

    2/Lt Jamie MacNab (P2) just joined and has no identity card yet. – RTB – 0 Kills

    AM2 Alec ‘Jock 2 MacGreggor (O) – RTB – 1 Kill (Francke Yellow Dlll), 1 Probable (Schleiff Green Dlll)
    This is Jock 2’s 3rd Victim and he wants more.

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    Structural damage chits are on their side rather than upright.
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    ObLtn Edmund Neuenhofen Blue Dlll – SD. ET – No Kills
    C&W rolled 8 -1SD = 7 - Injured skip 1D2 scenarios, rolled 6 = skip 2 scenarios
    E&E rolled 11 -1WIC -1BEL = 9 - They didn’t even see me.

    Ltn Walter Hubrich Red Dlll – SD-EXP-ET – 0 Kills
    C&W rolled 7 -3EXP = 4 - Injured - skip 1D6, rolled 4 = skip 4 scenarios
    E&E rolled 6 -1EXP -1WIC -1BEL= 3 - Captured and escaped - skip 1D3, rolled 5 = skip 3 scenarios.

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    Ltn Albert Francke Yellow Dlll – SD FLM. ET – No Kills
    C&W rolled 5 -2FLM = 3 - Injured skip skip 1D6 rolled 4 = skip 4 scenarios
    E&E rolled 5 -1FLM -1WIC -1BEL = 2 - Captured the war is ended for this pilot.

    Ltn Friedrich Schleiff Green Dlll – FRTB-W – 0 Kills
    C&W rolled 3+3 = Crash.
    Rolled 9 -1FRTB +1 RTB -1WIA = 8 - Injured - Skip 1D2 Scenario. Rolled 5 =Sip 2

    Victory Points:

    Entente Points
    Bomber exits the far edge of the mat 3 = 6pts
    Scout Shot Down 2 = 6pts
    Scout FRTB or downed by structural failure 1 = 1pt
    Total = 13pts

    German Points
    Bomber Shot Down 3 = 0pt
    Bomber FRTB 1 = 1pt
    Scout Shot Down 2 = 0pt
    Scout FRTB 1 = 0pt
    Structurally damaged D.III RTB 1 = 1pt ?
    Total = 2pts

    Well Pete, I certainly wasn’t looking forward to this one, being certain that I’d have some empty chairs in the Mess afterwards. Your idea for the structural damage in the overdive played out very well, 3 of the planes taking 6pts each and probably turned the tide, along with the Plaskitt-Smythe defence for the tandems. I didn’t rehearse that manoeuvre so wasn’t sure how it would pan out. Especially as I’d set the plan in motion before I knew where the Dlll’s would come on. I was lucky with that, because the dice rolls were for them all to be together and also all in the centre, it might have been different with different initial placement.

    I pre-planned turn 1 and 2, turn 1 all Entente planes flew straight and level. Turn 2 the FEE’s, phase 1, both turning out and then phase 2 and 3 turning back in, all at altitude 4. I hoped this would put them in the fight at an advantage due the Strange mount, I still don’t know when this was introduced but figure it must be by now. I didn’t want them turning back to the Dlll’s knowing they’d never get into the fight until it was too late. Turn 3 the AI took over for the FEE’s.
    The Strutters turn 2 I’d decided they would dive, then turn right, putting Plaskitt-Smythe leading and then stall for the bomb load. After that the pilots had instructions to follow P-S in a circle, so I planned his move and then planned the other 2 to try and give the best representation of them following. I was surprised how well that worked because I’ve tried circling before and was pretty hopeless at it. Planning for the circle I totally ignored where the Dlll’s were so don’t feel that I gained an advantage by directing more than 1 plane in the fight.

    The other issue for me is altitude; I don’t normally use it and can’t reconcile the rules as written and the idea of altitude in a box like Dave and Zoe use it. My idea here was to move the Strutters down below the FEE’s so that they could protect them better. I was hoping that this would let the Strutters get into some sort of circle before being hit by the Dlll’s but it had the additional advantage of making the Dlll’s dive another level and potentially taking more structural damage. To be honest that didn’t occur to me when planning this and only the yellow plane took much damage from the additional dive and as he was on fire it probably didn’t affect the outcome but it did make me smile when I realised what was happening.
    That’s why once the Dlll’s had reached alt 4 and they’d all taken some structural damage I decided they had choices and used the dice to resolve the choices.

    Sorry to drone on but this has been one of the most interesting scenarios for me and I spent a long time thinking how I could survive it and I was mightily relieved to turn the tables on the dreaded 2 gun Albatros, I’ll be glad when they’re grounded.
    Last edited by flash; 01-21-2023 at 13:29. Reason: Tally Tidy

  2. #2


    Bravo, John, your cunning plan worked for you !

    Uncle says:
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    Well done chaps, your tactics, even with scratch crews, worked tremendously and although one of you was forced to RTB the rest could push on with the mission and you even bagged a few, which is nice, so I'll stand the first round

    You missed the WIA in Schleiff's tally - he rolled 5 and is out for 2 now !

    2/Lt Joseph 'Joe' Ryan is awarded a 3rd Bar to his Military Medal for his victories and service to King & country PM me the ace skill selected for him please

    AM1 Raymond Pogson is awarded a Bar to his Military Medal for his victories and service to King & country Now a full Weapon Specialist

    AM2 Alec MacGreggor is awarded (belatedly) a Bar to his Military Medal for his victories and service to King & country

    On t'other side:

    Ltn Johannes Braun reports for duty with the Eagles..
    Last edited by flash; 01-22-2023 at 03:59.

    "He is wise who watches"

  3. #3


    I was looking forward to this one to see how your plan worked - and it worked a charm. Three Huns downed and the 4th heading home "leaking".

    An interesting scenario and one probably worth repeating if I had the time to do that, but...before long we'll be gearing up for the next scenario. Maybe I'll wait until I see how the other Entente players make out. The next one is by Baz and you know the saying, "Beware Germans bearing scenarios" - even if they do work for a British HQ.

    Well done Joe and Podgy making ace status. Drinks in the mess for that and for giving the Hun a proper hiding.

  4. #4


    That was a great mission John. Very well thought out. I see no reason why the observer in the Fee couldn't fire upwards, although I'm happy to be corrected with any good reason. The fact the bases were overlapping shouldn't matter as they were at different altitudes, but again, I'm happy to be corrected. As for controlling more than one aircraft, well there's little wrong I can see in playing out the I in AI in a situation like this. Fees did fly in circles to protect one another and from what I've read, they were very effective at it too! I'm sure they weren't alone in attempting this tactic.

    An excellent mission with a great result for the Doggies and nice that nobody actually kicked the bucket. Congrats to your new ace observers and I'll put in an order for a few drinks to share with them tonight, by way of celebration. REP inbound.
    Last edited by mikeemagnus; 01-21-2023 at 09:54.

  5. #5


    Really enjoyed your 'take' on this mission, John.
    Again the structural damage worked how I had intended and evened the odds.

    I am pretty sure a 2-seater's observer should be able to fire upward and not be restrained like pilots are.

    I plan on using Fees in my version as well, only they will be the bombers. I just got the a pair of Darry's Reduced Aircraft Factory ones in December and need to get them to the table before they 'age out'.
    (Making myself some 'G' decks today to handle that)

    REP inbound.

  6. #6


    Nice work and plan. It worked to a tee ( or should that be bee) and allowed two of the bombers to continue their mission.

    Good work

  7. #7


    Just glad you are on our side young Vagabond.
    "Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death."

  8. #8


    Well done John - a very cunning plan. Great story telling and some wonderful pics made the action really easy to follow. A well deserved victory for the Bulldogs.

  9. #9


    Great AAR and photos John. A very enjoyable read

  10. #10


    Thanks Guys, I have to say I'm really pleased the plan worked, as I said we're C Flight and we don’t like getting shot, but at the end of the day it does depend on how the cards fall, just happy they fell well.

    Looking forward to seeing how the rest of you fare with this mission and thanks for the Rep.

  11. #11


    A good plan to trick those nasty Hun hunting you. Podgy and Joe did the plan well and each scored so rounds will be on them tonight.

    I'll be sending my flight leader to talk tactics with yours. Us Frenchies need a good outing to raise our morale.

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