To give folks a sense of how much enjoyment can be had from just the first(1915)installment of Ojcar's Armchair Aces campaign, it has for the first time inspired me to fly an Eindekker campaign or two, something I'd not done before in any sim, and to write this account of the second mission in my second campaign, starting in September 1915, the first campaign having come to a sudden end when KEK Nord pilot Richard Boelcke fell to his death after his Fokker collided with an RFC Nieuport 10. The account below is exactly what happened on that new campaign's second mission, and I hope it gives some small indication of the excellent results achieved by the combination of First Eagle's excellent AI, the great variety of free add-on planes and other mods, and Ojcar's new campaign - and KEK Nord is just one of the many units, and the Eindekker just one of the many, many planes available from 1915 onwards (far and away the best planeset of any WW1 flightsim) you can fly, with this campaign set.
'Yesterday, only a few days after his triumphant first mission from Brayelles, Garth Boelcke re-learned the hard way that despite the medals and the good food and better company at the mess table, the life of a war pilot can so easily turn from triumph to tragedy.
The day started out so promisingly. Responding to reports from front-line observers of an enemy incursion heading for Cambrai to the south, he led away from Brayelles VzFw's Becker, Recker and Barth, the CO having decided to send a strong flight in order to guarantee giving the enemy, and any escorts, a good drubbing.
Proud to be leading a flight of Fokkers again so soon in his new posting, and equally keen not to take any chance of dissapointing the Old Man's confidence, Garth took his comrades up above the mission's planned ceiling, to just below the broken cumullus which barely disguised the otherwise fine and sunny weather. The rattling drone of his Eindekker's powerful 100 hp motor seemed to echo the sense of power and security he felt, looking back at his comrades echeloned behind him.
On they surged, and soon, the buildings of Cambrai began to emerge from the morning mist ahead of them. Four pairs of eyes scanned the heavens, concentrating on the south-west, from which the reported enemy flight seemed most likely to appear. But all remained peaceful. No planes, no flak, 'all quiet on the western front', seemed to be the order of the day. Perhaps the report had been mistaken?
Looking back, well behind and below, just behind the German reserve trenches, an orange burst of fire suddenly appeared, and a smoke trail could briefly be made out. Had the enemy changed their course, and were they now up to some low-level mischief with the comrades on the ground? There was one way to find out!
Wheeling around, suddenly anxious at the thought of having been caught out by the wily English or the crafty French, the young Boelcke led his flight back, losing a little height as he did so to pick up some speed, lest some unseen assailant elude him by slipping back the short distance across the lines. But as they drew near the scene of the pyrotechnics, it was as if they had never happened. Whatever it was, it seemed to have left no trace; the skies and the ground all around were clear.
But were they? A glance back towards Cambrai revealed a line of black flak bursts creeping from the west towards eastern outskirts of the large town. A quick reversal of course brought Garth's flight heading back towards the intruders, but they were now well above the Germans and it was obvious that they would reach Cambrai long before they could be brought to battle.
As the range closed, two specks could be seen to emerge just ahead of the easternmost of the trail of black bursts, now over the town's western suburbs. The specks wavered, then started to swing around. At the same time, a series of sudden, violent splashes of orange fire erupted from the town below and behind them, followed by a raging fire topped by a pillar of smoke. A bombing raid, and somehow, it had sneaked in behind them!
Flushed with anger, Garth swung his flight to the right, still climbing, so as to catch the enemy on their way home, for the two specks had now settled onto what was clearly a course to the west, back to their own lines but a short distance away.
The range closed quickly, but not quickly enough for Boelcke junior. The enemy could now be seen to be a pair of BE2's, and as soon as he judged he was close enough, he gave the signal for a general attack and swung his own machine in behind the trailing Englishman. The climbing turn was too tight, however, and Garth could have shouted aloud in frustration as his Fokker shuddered and then spun away under him. A quick recovery meant he lost but a little ground, though, and looking up, he was relieved to see his comrades had made a better job of the business - two Fokkers were now snapping at the heels of the first BE, while a third was behind the other English machine. Four planes in a deadly conga line. Who would be first to fall?
Boelcke decided he would let his flight-mates win the glory today and intervene only if a suitable opportunity arose. That opportunity came as the rear BE, to escape the streams of tracers of the Fokker pursuing it, turned across Garth Boelcke's nose and he stitched it with a series of short bursts from his Spandau, receiving in return some accurate return fire from the enemy observer, which punched some holes in the fabric of his port wing and, from the racket it made to his rear, in the fuselage somewhere close behind him, too.
This BE was his now, and after a few further bursts, it shed some parts, began smoking, and started to spiral down in an increasingly steep dive, ending with a sharp explosion on the fields below. A horrible but compelling fascination seemed to force him to watch it all the way down.
Turning back to the other combat, he could see that the lead BE was being hard-pressed by two Fokkers; of the third Eindekker, there was for the moment no sign. As he closed on the action, one of the Fokkers behind the English machine curved away, gently at first, but as Garth watched with mounting dismay, its nose fell into an ever-steeping dive, until it was going down nearly vertically. No smoke or damage could be seen, and Garth hoped against hope that his stricken comrade would yet pull up. And indeed, the Fokker's dive seemed to level out slightly; but it was not to be; another spash of fire against the green fields and it was all over.
From that moment, in his heart he'd no taste for any further butchery; but in his mind, a sort of robotic trance seemed to descend, and dully, mechanically, he swung his sights onto the fleeing BE, the two Fokkers taking turns methodically to hose the enemy with streams of tracer. The observer's return fire seemed to have ceased, and it ended suddenly as the BE spouted a trail of grey-black smoke and dived away into the ground below.
Back at base, there was more bad news. Not one, but two Fokkers had gone down, and both pilots were dead. The BE observers' shooting had been good, and the two had sold their lives dearly. It still seemed a poor exchange to Garth, two planes and two comdades gone, for two English packing-cases brought down, but that, his mess-mates consoled him, was the reality of fighting in the air: sic transit gloria mundi.
The KEK Nord sergeant's mess at Brayelles was subdued and quiet that night.'