Captain Canoe Parker-Knoll scanned the skies over Loos for any sign of the Boche. From the seat of his DH2 the views at 5000 feet were spectacular and the nimble craft with its free mounted Lewis gun was proving a match for the Fokker Eindeckers which had dominated the skies the previous year.
The Captain was out early, having received a replacement craft the day before following a prang near Vermelles last week. It was possibly not overly wise to go up alone, but Parker-Knoll was an experienced pilot and the risk behind the lines was, he had considered, minimal.
The roar of the Oberursel UI Rotary engine filled the ears of Hauptman Götten Himmelman as he put the nose of his Fokker down and accelerated towards the solitary Englander four thousand feet below. He checked his single Spandau again and prepared to make his attack. Below Canoe Parker-Knoll had seen the German and frantically began his climb to meet his foe.
The two planes circled each other for some moments, each trying to find the advantage, then Parker-Knoll brought his wing round and over, falling in being the the German and let off a whole magazine of the Lewis gun with a rear deflection shot, but to no avail. This Hun was clearly a slippery character!
Himmelmann was indeed alive to the threat posed by the Englishman and brought his Eindecker round to fly head on towards his foe, firing a brief volley as he flashed by, causing Parker-Knoll to involuntarily slip to the left.
The RFC Captain was in trouble briefly, changing magazines on the Lewis in the midst of a dog-fight was problematic and he had fumbled at first, almost dropping the drum overboard. Again he took the initiative, performing an Immelmann to come up behind the German but despite his close proximity the second magazine of Lewis ammunition has little effect.
Himmelmann brought his stick round rapidly to the right and in a hard turn he lost his pursuing enemy. Bringing his control rod back and then round to the left before righting the craft he brought himself round behind the RFC plane which was flying level for a moment as the Briton changed his Lewis magazine for a second time. Unable to lock onto his foe’s tail Himmelmann was still able to fire off a five second burst causing minor damage. Parker-Knoll attempted a hard turn to the left, intent on throwing the Hun off his tail, but the German was too good a pilot and the turn was less well performed than it should have been. The result was the Himmelmann was now tight on the Englishman’s tail and pouring eight seconds of Spandau ammunition into the DH2.
It should have been the coup de gras, and against a less experienced pilot it must surely have been so, but somehow Parker-Knoll kept his craft dancing in the air, avoiding the worst of the damage.
Now the Englishman thrust his control bar forward violently, diving down to 3000 feet. On his tail the German attempted to follow, but his craft went into a spin and headed for the ground.
Canoe Parker-Knoll climbed up to 5000 feet as he watched the Boche plummet down, but Himmelmann recovered and brought his craft round to face his foe.
Again the two airmen circled each other tentatively. Both were aware that they were facing accomplished opponents and both had used up a significant proportion of their ammunition, yet still they continued with their duel above the trenches.
It was Parker-Knoll who acted first, performing a wing-over and coming round to try to get on the German’s tail, but Himmelmann used his straight-line speed to streak away from the manoeuvring Briton. Again the planes circled each other.
Himmelmann brought his plan round for a rear deflection shot but his lack of ammunition saw him hold his fire looking for a better angle. Parker-Knoll turns to face his foe and uses up his third magazine with a forward deflection shot which has little effect other than torn canvass. He loads his fourth magazine out of the five he took to the air with, each allowing him around three seconds of fire.
The fight separates and then the pilots seek to come together again to finally end this grisly Danse Macabre.
Canoe wings over and uses the manoeuvrability of the DH2 to sideslip onto the tail of the German.
Another full magazine is fired, this time rounds cutting the fuel line to the engine. The German responds with a hard turn but his reduced speed due to the lack of fuel reaching his engine means that the Englishman sticks to his tail.
His final magazine loaded, Canoe Parker-Knoll fires thirty rounds into the stricken Hun.
With flames leaping from the engine, the aviation fuel explodes causing catastrophic structural failure. Hauptman Götten Himmelman is thrown clear of his craft by the explosion and contemplates the magnificent view of Loos as he travels at 32 feet per second per second. It had been good while it lasted.
This was our first playtest of the new version of Algernon Pulls it Off and we took it very easy with a single plane duel between two Veterans in 1916. The planes were relatively similar in terms of speed, the DH2 was more manoeuvrable and slightly more robust than the Eindecker, but the German plane had the advantage of a belt fed spandau as opposed to the tedious magazine fed Lewis guns (still 30 round mags for this scenario) which needs constantly reloading and can only fire off very short bursts.
It was a very tense game, with the two pilots very evenly matched. The eight second burst from the German about half way through should have really hurt the DH2 but some remarkable dice rolling saved the day (5 saves out of six dice as against six hits out of 13 attackers dice), and after that the aggresive RFC Captain used his manoeuvrability to keep the German on the ropes. The final kill was as a result of getting a good damage roll with the fourth magazine, the aviation fuel spraying over the planes structure turned it into a flying bonfire just waiting to be lit, and the final drum from the Lewis gun provided the spark.
Today we’re going to go with a larger game and see how that goes. Jolly fun stuff!
For those interested we used Wings of Glory planes straight out of the box.
It’s not often we’ll be so direct as to ask “Do you prefer CoC, or the alternative?” but a very comprehensive review of Chain of Command and one of the alternative rule sets out there aimed at platoon level actions has certainly got people talking. You can read Trailape’s comments on his blog here: http://trailape.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/so-youre-platoon-commander-comparing.html