Fullofit - Feldgrau, you say? Uh-oh...planning on evening the score disparity that le Violet caused?
Lederhosen - that picture of the Halb falling is incredible! I like the D.II line-up as well.
Raine - Always a joy to hear another of Collins' expertly-woven stories. I always thoroughly enjoy the combination of the gallant Lieutenant and his vulgar Scotch Observer!
As for myself, I'm just clinging on to the present date at the moment, and trying not to slip behind again. Hopefully I get a little more free time soon, and I can start writing some more detailed entries.
Adj. James B. Fullard, Esc. N.124 'Americaine' Bar-le-Duc, France
July 18th, 1916:
Even with France’s greatest airman dead, the war continued. I felt a strange vulnerability as I slipped down into the cockpit of my new machine. I turned around as I pulled the stick back to check the elevators, and came face-to-face with the intrusive headrest. Frowning slightly, I contorted myself to see past the headrest. The elevator responded to my input.
The rain had come down heavily shortly after my new machine had arrived, and refused to let up for that day and the next. As a consequence, today was to be my first time flying the replacement aeroplane. Our assignment for the day seemed simple enough - we were to escort a Caudron from Escadrille 13 as it dropped bombs on German trenches just West of St. Mihiel.
Thenault’s engine roared to life, and our machines obediently responded. Listening to the Le Rhone, I recalled a phrase Luf had said to me once. The Bebe sings when you switch her on. The 16 growls. As the other machines started to roll, I pushed the throttle forwards, and the machine jolted sharply into life. Before I was fully prepared, we were flying down the field together. I pitched up, and the machine wobbled into the air. I then eased the stick down to fly level, and the nose promptly dropped back towards earth. Alarmed, I jolted the stick back a second time, before finally finding the machine’s level flight. Dubiously, I relaxed my grip again on the control column.
Besides the nose-heaviness, the controls felt smooth and responsive, no worse than the Bebe, and despite my misgivings I was in awe of my new machine’s speed. We quickly found the Caudron, and I gave one of its gunners a curt nod as we settled into formation beside it. McConnell & Hall, apparently in the mood for mischief, simultaneously flew very close over and under the Caudron, and I watched the same gunner duck into his cockpit in alarm, reappearing red-faced. I watched as his mouth silently moved, and amused myself by imagining what words he was screaming into the wind.
After twenty minutes’ flying I could feel my arm beginning to strain slightly from holding back the control column. Already, I had developed a mistrust of this new machine. With the Caudron in tow, we started to cross the lines. The front seemed to be active - at one point three Nieuports flew overhead, and for the duration of our transition across the lines a lone Aviatik hung above our heads to the West. I watched it irritatedly, wishing I was free to attack it.
The Caudron was soon over its target, and I watched disinterestedly as the bombs fell wide of their mark, and apart from the Aviatik, no other Bosches arrived. We escorted the Caudron back to its aerodrome and flew home ourselves.