Thank you for kind words Lou and Scout! Lou, I suspect that Caudron's flight model may be a bit generous. It is true, you can handle it like you would a Nieuport. Scout, Caudron is better than a Fee. Guns in front and in the back PLUS two engines for safety. Raine, thanks for the reminder!
“Just get me to the front and I’ll show you how it’s done.” Yes, that was Sergent Durand, the cocky youth who recently replaced Sgt. Reille. Truth be told his bombs always seemed to find the target, as if by magic. Gaston was watching in horror from his cockpit as Durand’s machine was engulfed in flames and plummeted to the ground. He was too far away to see if the poor boy was already dead, jumped out, or was trapped in the inferno. Voscadeaux closed his eyes when the wreck was about to hit the earth. Becquerel charged the rear gun. He knew they are next.
Earlier this morning, after mission briefing, Adjutant Guytant was going over their flight plan with young Durand listening in and impatiently shifting his weight, eager to get in the air. He would be the sole member of the A flight while Guytant would lead Voscadeaux in the B flight. The conditions were favourable with clear skies and excellent visibility. Once in the air Durand’s machine started slowly slipping more and more to the rear with an unknown issue. He didn’t turn back and dealt with the situation. Gaston thought it was brave of him but perhaps in his youthful enthusiasm a bit foolish. And then it happened. As they were approaching their target Guytant’s Caudron “wobbled”. It was not the usual signal to start the bombing run. Something else. Something was wrong. Gaston immediately begun to scan the sky. He couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary. He looked back again at Durand in the distance and he understood. The aeroplane was trailing black smoke. Gaston immediately thought Durand’s technical issue turned into something more serious and he was sure the young pilot should have turned back home long time ago. And then a second shape emerged from the smoke trail. One with a single set of wings. A Fokker! Voscadeaux looked forward to see what the flight leader would do, but Guytant continued on to complete the mission. Gaston followed and hastily dropped all his bombs on the trenches below. He then quickly made about face checking the sky for any additional Huns and watched as the Boche dealt the final blow to Durand’s machine. As the stricken Caudron fell to the ground, it shed its wings and the reminder of the fuselage resembled a meteorite belching flames and smoke. Gaston couldn’t imagine what the poor Durand had to endure on the way down. He didn’t have much time to ponder as the Fokker was now coming directly at him. Gaston knew there was no point running away. The monoplane was much faster, it would catch him and would be presented with best possible target. Voscadeaux decided to face him and make a stand. He searched for Guytant who was now flying as far from Gaston as possible. Well, at least he will save himself and be able to tell the Capitaine what had happened here. The Eindecker dove head on and ended up behind and below Gaston. As the Hun was regaining altitude, Gaston’s Caudron banked to get the enemy into the firing arc of his gunner, nearly stalling in the process. It was a close one! The German nearly collided with Voscadeaux’s plane in the attempt to gain a favourable position behind. They both tried to stay on each other’s tail by weaving from side to side. For a second Gaston thought he was a goner when the Hun managed to fire a short burst at him. The rounds went wide and the opportunity was lost. The Fokker had to dive to avoid stalling and Becquerel took advantage of that. Bullets ripped through the green fabric of the monoplane’s wings. Ernest continued to fire and Gaston knew they had him on the ropes. The Boche went into a spin and Voscadeaux looked on with glee. Lower and lower the Hun went. One more spin and he will crash and then ... nothing. The Hun levelled out! He faked it all! It was all a sham! Ernest in the front realized they’ve been had. He made a rude gesture and slumped back in his seat with disgust. Gaston didn’t want to give up and dove after the shyster but there was no way to catch him. He was further discouraged from his pursuit by the Flak bursts and reluctantly turned his plane around. On the way back home Gaston overflew the crash site with the crater still in flames. Rest in peace Sgt. Ernest Durand. Rest in peace Cpl. Geoffrey Gisors. You will be avenged. Voscadeaux returned back to base where a nervous Adjutant Guytant was already waiting. He was very relieved to see Gaston alive and felt guilty for leaving him alone with the German monoplane. Guytant offered to buy Gaston a bottle of best red available in town to thank him. Gaston gladly accepted the offer. He needed a drink and a way to honour the recently departed. The remaining four pilots of Escadrille C17 piled into the aerodrome’s Peugeot and went to town in search of best red wine they could find. Where would any army be without alcohol?
"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys, The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain, From out of my arse take the camshaft, And assemble the engine again."