CHAPTER FIVE - KEEPING UP WITH THE BOELCKE, THOSE DAMNED STUTTERS.
Konrad Berthold von Blumenthal June 17th, 1916. Sivry-sur-Meuse, Verdun. KEK Sivry
Rain and high winds had grounded KEK Sivry for two days, but then the storm passed and the sunshine returned. Konrad was keen to get back in the air. Besides, his mechanic was driving him absolutely crazy. He'd happened to mention that his engine had been prone to the occasional stutter and now the man wouldn't stop harassing him about it! They were standing by the hangar while his machine was being readied for the morning flight.
"I've told you plenty of times!", the mechanic grumbled. "These model 3 versions have serious stuttering issues that can never be fixed. I've been working on engines for over half my life and I know everything there is to know, so don't try telling me what you think you could do in my place to make it better!". The mechanic spat out the last sentence vehemently. Konrad looked him up and down, despising him and his attitude. God, he thought to himself, he's a bigger villain than me! The man shook his unruly shock of white hair back and started packing away his tools.
"Herr Behr, I find your continued outbursts to be extremely irritating. If you don't immediately desist, I will be forced to report you!" One of the other mechanics nearby could sense the tenseness between the two men and offered his colleague an exit from the confrontation.
"Err, Snowy, could you spare me a minute? I really need your help with this piston unit. I just can't seem to get it unstuck!" The man turned and answered.
"Hold on a moment, I'll give you a hand". Turning back to Konrad, he said "Look, it's ridiculous to spend any amount of money on trying to fix a problem that can't be fixed. It stutters. Plain and simple. If I were you I'd get the Hauptmann to upgrade you to the mark IV version. That stutters as well, but not as badly as this old thing". Konrad walked over to his plane as the other mechanics wheeled it out into the field. The annoying little man was probably correct about requesting a new plane. How the hell could he be expected to keep up with Boelcke and "stick to him like glue" with an underpowered machine.
They took off for a routine patrol, heading north, away from the lines. Konrad did actually manage to keep in touch with the formation and spent most of it neatly tucked in behind Boelcke's machine. The patrol was uneventful. Once they were back at their field, Boelcke approached Konrad.
"That was better, young man. Now, just keep things that way!".
"Yes sir, but... well, I've spoken with mechanic Behr and he's adamant that the EIII's stutter problem cannot be fixed, and, well, it is underpowered sir, so I do have a difficult time keeping with the formation. Sir!"
"Look, your new here von Blumenthal. Strunze has the same damned plane and he's got nine victories! I can't be giving you preference, now can I? In any case, old Snowy's a bit of a lunatic. Your best course of action is to steer clear of him. Keep improving, show me you have what it take and we'll get you upgraded at some point." He marched off to his office.