“Right chaps, listen up. At 0700 we’ll be crossing the Hun lines on an Offensive Patrol. It’s time Jerry got shaken up a bit and we’re going to hop across and give him a prod.”
Captain Parker Knoll was keen that 266 Squadron kept the initiative that had gained in the past weeks. The squadron was performing well, losses had been light and they had boxed the ears of the Boche facing them on Douai on several occasions.
As the Captain stepped out onto the airfield he had a brief word with Lieutenant Vytis.
“I say Ginger, try to keep your eye out for the new kid. He’s just a Sprog but he’s flow well so far and it would be a shame if he didn’t get a chance to find his feet.”
“Fear not sir, I’ll keep my eye on the lad.” Ginger smiled. He’d only been with the squadron for six weeks but already he was being seen as an older hand. Demand for pilots was high and the life expectancy was short, but if a chap got past his first month he could hope to have learnt enough to avoid the worst of fates. Or so he hoped.
The three DH2s crossed the lines at just over 6000 feet through a hail of Archie sent up to greet them. It wasn’t long before they could see three Fokkers climbing up to greet them.
Parker Knoll waggled his wings and dropped down to face the threat, making the best of his height advantage.
Leutnant Helmutt Rasche leading the German patrol turned on to face the threat head on. He was a veteran of some months at the front and his two comrades were experienced pilots.
It was Parker Knoll who move first. Sweeping round in a chandelle manoeuvre he then side-slipped nimbly to the left to tuck in on the tail of one of the Fokkers. The manoeuvre was too much for the Sprog and he broke formation and remained at his high elevation, frantically searching the skies for his squadron leader.
Parker Knoll fired the five seconds of 0.303 ammunition in his first magazine, forcing the Hun to swin violently out of his sights. He touched the control rod and flung himself to the left onto the tail of Leutnant Rasche himself.
With a fresh drum he pumped another 47 rounds into the Boche’s craft but without luck,
Rasche was no Sprog and hauling on the control rod he brought the Fokker round in a loop to behind Parker Knoll.
Meanwhile Ginger had brought his kite round and let loose a long shot at his Hun, damaging the ‘plane and the right hand elevator.
The rattle of bullets on his engine was more than enough for Parker Knoll and an Immelmann brought him clear of his foe.
Performing an immediate Split S the RFC Ace dropped in behind Rasche and peppered him with his two magazines in quick succession. The Hun patrol leader had a damaged wing and was now unable to climb. He turned gently for home, narrowly avoiding more damage as Parker Knoll fired off his last magazine with no effect.
Ginger had lost his Hun and was frantically attempting to work his way round for a good shot, but to no avail.
Rasche failed in his attempt to dive down away from his pursuer and the gallant Captain Parker Knoll continued on the German’s tail firing off his final magazine. The German’s plane plane was on the edge of falling apart structurally and Leutnant Rasche turned for home.
Out of the fight until now, the Sprog dropped down top catch the third Hun with a burst of deflection fire with little effect.
Now a swift Wing Over from Ginger brought him round behind the Hun and a burst saw its pilot dive down out of control, careering towards the deck.
From nowhere the Sprog came round to latch on to the tail of his Hun. A full magazine saw the German pilot shot dead at his controls and gradually the plane spiralled down to crash in a field.
“Good show”. Ginger had seen the Sprog come round and pick off the Hun. His first kill. There was hope for the lad, the squadron would get to know his name and he’s have drinks bought for him in the mess. This was the youngster’s moment of real acceptance in 266 Squadron. The furture looked good.
Inspired by his first kill the Sprog looked round. He could see that Ginger was circling as his Hun spiralled down towards the earth, only pulling out of its dive at a few hundred feet above the earth. The Sprog pushed forward on his control rod.
Ginger cried out a warning, but it was to no avail. The Sprog was unable to control his dive and part of his top ‘plane began to come away. His steep dive turned rapidly into an uncontrolled spiralling dive, hitting the ground at full throttle.
With his Captain headed for home and the Sprog dead Ginger attempted to cut off the last Hun’s path of retreat but his heart was not in it.
The German swept low beneath him and Ginger turned for home.
Damn that bloody Sprog. What should have been a good patrol was now an unpleasant reminder that war in the air was fraught with danger. Over-confidence could be every bit as dangerous as he Germans.
Another playtest of “Algernon Pulls it Off Again”, and more good fun. Parker Knoll nearly took out Rasche but the old kampfer’s luck held out. A late own-goal turned a clear British victory, with one Fokker downed and another running for home in bits, into a narrow victory which actually felt more like a draw. The Sprog, previously quite an impressive flyer, was let lose and got his kill, but then threw his life away in an over-enthusiastic dive which simply ran out of sky.
The DH2 is a fun and manoeuvrable craft to fly with, the Germans are really in desperate need of reinforcements and these are coming in the shape of some early Albatri mark DI and DII from Shapeways. Mind you, I also ordered some Camels and Brisfits so maybe 266 squadron won’t have to wait too long for their pushers to go into retirement.
Tomorrow we’ll be going large, or larger anyway, with the Boche on an Art Obs mission and Captain Parker Knoll sending out Algy, Ginger and the rest of A Flight to spoil their party. Toodle pip!
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