Thanks MFair. It was a hoot, and the Morane is capable of a lot more than folks give it credit.
4 April, 1916 Bertangles West, France 3 Squadron, R.F.C. 2nd Lt. Randolph Arvid Swanson MC 10 confirmed victories
After yesterday's stunting, 2nd Lt. Swanson was now the topic of conversation around camp, and the prime target of Captain Rankin's wrath. While Swany had gotten permission from the Major in advance to take the Captain up for a turn or two, and while the Captain had in fact agreed to it, no one, (apart from Swany), had any idea of the demonstration that was to be given. All of Bertangles had a front row seat to watch the antics as the ace pilot had climbed to 5,000' while he flew to a position just slightly south of the two fields before he began. Over the course of the following five minutes he proceeded to use up all the height he'd allowed himself as he put his Morane into every attitude imaginable and into several gyrations unimaginable. Rankin held tight to the Lewis gun and remained prepared to fire throughout the escapade, as he'd been instructed to do by the CO, but the poor sod threw up three times along the way, (he likely would have done so more times than that but there was nothing left in his stomach after the third regurgitation). By the time the Lieutenant put his bus back down on terra firma the Captain had to be helped out of the cockpit, so rubbery were his legs. He was also quite speechless. However, after a minute or so Rankin got his voice back and was able to stand, at which point he bellowed at Swanson that he was going to have him brought up on charges of attempted murder and stormed over towards the Major, who had been standing out on the field with the rest of the squadron watching the whole affair. The CO did his damdest not to burst out laughing as Captain Rankin approached, and managed to come up with a concerned face by the time the man reached him.
"I already know what you're going to say, Captain", the Major stated, cutting off Rankin before he could start. "You and Swanson and I will go to my office and discuss this right now in private. No need to air any of this in front of the whole camp."
Major Harvey-Kelly turned towards Swany and waved the young man over, pointing with the other hand in the direction of his office. A broad smile had spread across the Major's face which he was quick to get rid of before he spun back around to the Captain. Once Swanson had reached the other two men all three went off to have a chit-chat. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for that.
Today, while Captain Rankin was still clearly harboring all sorts of ill will towards his pilot, he did not allow it to get in the way of the job at hand. He went up twice with Swanson, to man the Lewis gun and to make observations. The first time was to assess the situation along the lines north of Miraumont; the second time was to drop some Coopers on enemy positions at Courcelette. With no Huns spotted in the air on either outing, 2nd Lt. Swanson held the Morane steady and true, much to the relief of the Captain. Rankin hoped the lack of EA would continue for a good long while as he was definitely not looking forward to another demonstration of his pilot's stunting skills.
Following the early afternoon sortie, Swanson headed over to the Bessonnaeu where his bus was parked. He'd gotten the go-ahead from the Major that morning to apply some personalized markings to the Morane, provided they were fairly conservative. Swany already knew what he wanted and collared one of the Ack Emmas to show him where he could find paint and brushes. Little more than an hour later and the job was done. The wheel spats on the Morane now bore the purple and white of Swany's MC ribbon. And on the sides of the fuselage, just below the forward cockpit, he had a bit of fun at his own expense. Three lightning bolts, and the name "Odin" with an exclamation mark. The "O" was quite strategically placed. He could already hear Jericho's laughter, along with that of the rest of the squadron. It made him laugh too.