Weiss was from the Baltic coast, he has white blonde hair and extremely fair skin. They called him "Moonbeam" because it was jokingly stated that he could sunbathe and get a tan by the light of the full moon. Fatigue and the weather killed Weiss, windshear to be exact. He had been coming in to Vivaise after a long patrol, been careless on his approach when a gust picked up and he flew slap into a tree on the edge of the field. His comrades buried him in the cemetery at Bruyeres et Montberault. The next day Kolb went up before dawn. A warm front had moved into the area overnight and the air was turbulent and gusty. Towering stacks of cumulus and the occasional cumulonimbus cloud dotted the air as far as the eye could see and Kolb's machine bucked and thrashed about wildly. He had intended to test the rigging and perhaps catch a French night raider on his way back down south but Kolb had to cut his flight short due to the extremity of the weather and the uneasiness of his stomach. They had given Weiss a fitting send-off, the four of them that remained, even Meinecke's stiff Prussian manners had been loosened enough for him to participate in the mess games.
Werner and Klaus eyed Kolb's machine proprietarily as he taxied to the canvas hangar where he customarily parked, they could see that the rigging was already loose again in places and that their morning's work was already cut out for them.
"Bit rought up there this morning Kolb?" Asked Klaus who saw to the rigging.
"Rough? Even the ducks are landing with scrambled eggs." Stated Kolb and strode off to the mess for breakfast since he'd left a good deal of his dinner somewhere between Vivaise and Sissone.
Kolb took a quick breakfast in the mess, which was empty. No serviceable machines except for his own and only four pilots meant that the rest of the squadron got to sleep off their hangovers while Kolb, being the neophyte, had been assigned the morning's flight. After eating he returned to his quarters and slept until a Gefreiter awakened him at lunch time with the news that his machine was ready for the afternoon patrol. Feeling much more chipper now Kolb had a quick sandwich and coffee in the mess before walking out to his machine where Klaus and Werner awaited him.
"All ready?" He asked
Werner nodded. "Yes and please try to bring her back in the condition you found her."
"Of course dear Werner!" exclaimed Kolb, heaving himself aboard.
The weather had settled a little and Kolb took off from Vivaise with a minimum of fuss, the wind was still strong but nowhere near as extreme as it had been that morning and Kolb was able to climb to 6,000ft whereupon he set off towards the juncture of the Oise and the Aisne rivers where he would be patrolling today. He'd hardly made it 10 miles from Vivaise when he spotted two large, dun coloured aircraft below him making the same heading at about 4,000ft. Kolb blinked, he couldn't believe his eyes. Two Caudrons lower than him and in perfect position to attack! Kolb switched the ignition of the Oberursel engine back to the half position where it would only fire on every second stroke so that he would not gain too much speed in his attack and then he dove after the French machines. Their observers were competent as they saw him attacking and the lower of the two aircraft seemed to panic, veering out of formation, Kolb selected this machine as his target. He made several passed but the turbulence interfered with his aim, it also prevented the observer on the Caudron from bringing his gun to bear and, so, overall Kolb had the advantage as his gun was easier to aim. He made several passes at the French machine, Machine gun hammering Tak-tak-tak-tak on each pass like an absurdly grateful Pole. Pieces flew from the lumbering French machine which staggered and lurched through the rough air but, by sheer skill and the willpower of its' crew, the machine stayed aloft. Kolb would attack, break away, climb then dive to attack again but the stubborn Caudron refused to go down under the hail of his bullets. Finally, both Kolb and the Caudron crew noticed a bank of cumulus approaching. The Caudron plunged towards it with Kolb in hot pursuit. Kolb made it within range and hammered a final burst at the Caudron before the cloud swallowed them both whole.
It only took a few seconds for Kolb to lose his bearings inside the cloud entirely. he cut the engine to idle and watched his RPM gauge like a hawk, easing back on the stick if it climbed even slightly. Eventually he came out of the cloud left wing down and in a slight descending spiral. He glanced frantically around for the Caudron which was above him by about 500 ft and heading towards Vivaise. Seeing Kolb the French pilot plunged his machine back into the cloud once more, preferring the uncertainties within to the inevitable fate that would befall him before Kolb's gun. Kolb decided not to follow but to wait, circling in the area and searching for his quarry. The Caudron did not emerge again, it somehow eluded Kolb and, after waiting for some time, Kolb gave up and decided to make for the front where the French machines would have to cross in order to remain home. Kolb was exhilarated, he'd seen his rounds striking the French machine, the splinters of wood flying, canvas flapping, neat rows of holes. He'd seen the terrified faces of the two Frenchmen staring at him aghast as he bore in. This was Kolb's second taste of blood and he wanted the kill but he also knew that he had made a mistake in following the Caudron into the cloud. A cooler head would have climbed away and waited for the machine to emerge but Kolb had pursued it like a fool into the murky fog and he could very well have been killed as a result. These thoughts occupied Kolb's mind as he flew to the front along with other thoughts about which route the French would choose to take home. Kolb guessed that they would climb above the clouds, ready to duck back into their safe embrace should Kolb reappear.
Kolb made it to the lines and wheeled about at 7,000 ft, waiting for the French machines to come into sight, he circled and circled but they did not appear. 'This is hopeless' thought Kolb after some time and he decided to try looking under the clouds incase the French machines were skulking underneath. There was nothing under the clouds either, this time the mice had escaped.
Or had they?
In the distance to the north kolb spotted an observation balloon and this gave him an idea, perhaps the observer had seen or heard the French machines, perhaps he could point out to him the direction of their passage. Kolb opened his throttle wide and roared off in the direction of the balloon which he arrived at in good time to find the observer, bobbing up and down in his basket and waving lazily at him in the most frustratingly casual fashion, like one would brush away a fly. Kolb circled, gesticulation to the observer in a futile attempt to convey his inquiry about the French aircraft while the observer watched him, bemused at the peculiar spectacle.
"Obviously a complete moron." Kolb muttered under his breath and he was about to fly away home when the observer suddenly became very animated, thrusting his arm outward and pointing to the North. Kolb wheeled his machine around and, sure enough, there above the clouds was a single Caudron G.4 with flak bursting all around. Kolb climbed hard to maneuver into position for a shot. It wasn't long before he was in range, the French machine turned hard to the left but Kolb easily matched its' turn and hammered off a burst which smacked into the Caudron, sending chunks of wood and canvas flying. Kolb squeezed the trigger for a second burst but his guns were silent. No ammunition. By now the French observer was furiously firing back and Kolb broke off the attack, muttering to himself about his poor aim and watching the Caudron wing its' way south towards home.
Kolb and the Caudrons
Kolb attempts to communicate with the observation balloon.
Let's pretend I got the BWOC badge to embed here.
Wenn ihr sieg im deine Kampf selbst gegen, wirst stark wie Stahl sein. "The best techniques are passed on by the survivors." - Gaiden Shinji