‘I’ve started, so I’ll finish’
is a well-known catchphrase in the UK, used in a certain game show featuring people who know lots of stuff but don't need the money. It also seems to be my policy for Cliffs of Dover - Blitz Edition
. Having started the RAF Redux campaign, I feel a strange compulsion to get to its end.
Be that as it may, having hikacked Blade_Meister’s ‘Blitz’ screenshots thread with occasional illustrated mission reports, I thought I had better do the decent thing and post any future ones separately. So here we go...
It’s now early September and - apparently following the same basic sequence as the scripted missions in the stock RAF campaign - I’ve been transferred from a Hawkinge-based RAF Hurricane squadron to a Spitfire outfit at Manston, north-east of Dover. Apart from less weird briefings, the main noticeable change is that I’m playing the historical character of US pilot ‘Red’ McColpin, albeit not following his actual squadron career, as he didn’t make that transfer.
The next mission's briefing has 602 Squadron’s CO, name of Boddington, tasking me to fly as his number two on a short low-level hop to the port of Calais and the nearby airfield of Calais Marck. Visual reconnaissance is the task. Possibly because it needs to fit with that basic sequence I mentioned earlier, the briefing includes a weird conversation with another pilot who wants to come and bring his camera. The CO flatly declines this request, hinting darkly at some sort of lurking tension.
The mission loads with me to the boss’s right rear, engine running and ready to roll. Sometimes you’re actually rolling, until you brake. To stop this, invisible chocks were added in a recent (?) update which Alt+C orders removed. But having fallen foul of this on the last mission, now that I know what to do, I find myself rolling and needing to brake again, like the invisible chocks are inconsistent. Anyway, here I am, all set. Note the nice matt finish on the wings; it's a pity other surfaces like the upper nose often seem almost polished from certain angles, given the RAF's penchant for very matt, rather scruffy camouflage finishes.
But we're not quite ready to go anywhere, just yet.
For a Squadron Leader, the boss has a particularly abysmal concept of radio discipline, for now, he clutters up the airwaves telling me things he should have said at the briefing. Plus, it’s not very far from here to occupied France and to any Hun who can listen in to our short-ranged transmitters, he also gives away the fact we’re going there. This silly dialogue is probably a left-over from the original mission, which the Redux authors couldn’t change or remove; I hope so, because it will soon get even sillier.
After the R/T goes quiet, nothing happens. I sit for what seems like ages, waiting for the boss to take off. Still, nothing happens. This seems common and so I do what I usually do – end the silent CloD equivalent of a Mexican stand-off by taking off on my own. At which point, ‘tower’ comes up with belated takeoff clearance and the boss finally obliges. By the time he’s off the ground, I’m passing Ramsgate harbour.
I let the other Spit overtake me and rather than resort to autopilot, take the opportunity to practice a bit of low-level formation flying. Badly, as is my wont. Possibly to distract me from this, CloD kicks off an airwave-clogging, stupid conversation between my virtual self and the boss. It’s all fairly cringe-worthy stuff, and seems related to the earlier awkward discussion with the pilot who wanted to come with his camera. Apparently, someone was shot down, and people who could or should have helped, didn’t. Or somebody thought they could have or should have. Whatever.
Possibly, all this is a vital link to future developments in the story. Definitely unconvincing, and it certainly should have earned participants an instruction to shut up from Control, followed on return by a roasting for a gross breach of R/T discipline. Of course, the person who actually deserves the roasting is whoever thought this sort of thing was fit for inclusion in anything with pretensions at being a serious combat flight sim.
I try to distract myself from this distraction by keeping up while not flying into the sea while looking out for Huns. But the skies are clear and soon, Dover's white cliffs are falling away behind....
..while we’re nearing the French coast.
Knowing that, after Calais, we will turn left to the nearby airfield, I start to slip over to the boss’s right, so as not to get in his way when he turns. I can be quite considerate when I put my mind to it, rare though that may be.
Some light AA comes up as we fly past the harbour and I jink a little, staying below the boss. This seems to work as intended, because the gunners concentrate on him. He doesn't seem too bothered, and starts chittering away. Again.
Very quickly, the boss makes his turn, finding time also to make an enigmatic comment about seeing something he doesn’t name, suddenly security-conscious.
What ‘that thing’ was, to which he is referring, I have no idea. I even pause the action briefly, to look around in the external view, but remain clueless to what ‘that thing’ was.
Besides which, I do hate it when instead of trying to use period language, people resort to anachronisms like ‘intel’. Which is pure US armed forces (though probably taking over) – it was ‘int’ in my time, and would NOT have been ‘intel’ in the 1940s RAF.
As I come out of the left turn, I can already see a grassy area which looks like the airfield that’s our next objective, rendering the boss's next commentary even more pointless than his usual drivel. Helpfully, the AA at least has died away.
As we come in, the boss resumes warbling needlessly on the R/T. I feel like shooting him down, to stop it all. But instead of fragging the boss (see what you’ve done, CloD – I’m using anachronisms now, too!) I look for someone else upon whom to vent my frustration.
But apart from some hangars which are too far off my track, there’s nothing to shoot at on the ground.
The boss must have much better eyesight though, because he announces that the Huns are taking off. I have another look, but can’t see so much as a speck of an aircraft, on the ground...
...or in the air.
A broken mission trigger, bad eyesight, poor aircraft visibility, or just a frightener from an over-wrought CO…I have no idea.
I keep a good look-out to the rear nevertheless, as we settle onto a course straight back to Manston. A few miles out from the enemy coast, the boss offers me a race back to Manston, his brief flirtation with security-consciousness vanished. Who cares if the enemy is listening in? Not my man.
Anyway, I take him at his word and keep the revs well up on the way home. Soon, he starts climbing, talking all the while...
...and I slip ahead, underneath him.
Despite arriving first in an apparently clear circuit back at Manston, I’m denied permission to pancake. This seems normal, so I ignore it. Any rocket I get for this should be dwarfed by the one my garrulous boss is due. I now start hearing/seeing instructions to join the circuit, but settle onto a curved approach as soon as I can. The mission objective was just to get back, so after trundling along towards the perimeter track while watching out for anyone trying to land on top of me, I accept the offer to quit the mission.
Were we supposed to be intercepted? Was I supposed to see ‘that thing’, whatever it was? Will the squadron’s guilty secrets be revealed? Answers on a postcard…!
The next mission’s briefing has me bumping into Florence, the ‘bird’ and possible romantic interest referred to in a previous bit of inappropriate R/T traffic, in a previous inappropriate mission. Food is mentioned, indicating she may work in the kitchen, but she addresses me as ‘sir’, which implies that she's not a civilian and therefore doesn’t. The conversation gets around to me offering her a flight, if she’ll meet me at Hangar 6 later. Reading this, it feels like all CloD’s silliness so far has been mere preparation for this most silly mission of all. What other explanation could there be? Anyway, it looks like the infamous Spitfire Girl mission will be my next outing in the weird alternative universe that is CloD. I suspect the sensation would be familiar to anyone who sat through that most infamous of stage plays ‘Moose Murders’ - which closed after its first night - feeling that they could take no more, but at the same time, unable to tear themselves away. ‘Sausage squad up the blue end!’
let it be, then!
PS if you don't get the last reference, it's clearly high time you saw the Monty Python RAF banter sketch: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2yvw86