31 July, 1916 12:35 afternoon mission Proville, Flanders Sector Kasta 17 Feldwebel Otto B von Kenobi 2 confirmed victories
They took off on time for some arty spotting near Arras. Obi followed Thiede as always. They flew over the train tracks. The 12:30 to Douai was steaming below and Otto allowed himself to follow it for a while as they were flying to their initial waypoint. He could see soldiers in the compartments. The windows were open and the sun beat down on them. Arms and heads protruded from some of the windows. The soldiers were smoking or trying to get some fresh air. Otto looked up just in time to see a gaggle of Nieuports fly by, nearly colliding with the Roland. Otto’s hands jerked the plane instinctively, but it was too late. One of them was already on his tail, firing. The plane was responding sluggishly. Von Kenobi could see holes appear in his plane’s lower wings. He dove to shake the Frenchman off. It worked for a while, but as Otto was pulling out of the dive he realized his crate was not cooperating and continued to pull him down closer and closer to the ground. More rounds slapped into the fuselage, shuddering and shaking the entire craft. In desperation Otto placed his machine in a quarter roll. That seemed to slow down his descent and finally he was able to regain control just above the ground. Gunther was firing wildly at the enemy. It looked like he was successful in repelling that last attack, but the Nieuport pilot was persistent and returned after regrouping. Gunther continued to fire, but the return fire was damaging the Walfisch even further. Obi decided to dive further down. He saw a lorry drive on the road beneath. They were at the same height level: the lorry and the Roland. Otto could feel the wheels scraping the dirt on the road. Finally a burst from Gunther’s Parabellum found the following scout, which immediately broke off his attack and turned back west. Von Kenobi pulled up just in time to avoid the trees growing on each side of the road. He looked for the safety of the home airfield. He could see smoke rising nearby, then the shapes of the hangars came into view. They were safe. A dot was circling above the ‘drome. “- Thiede was probably already in the landing pattern.” Obi thought to himself as he was approaching the field. Then, all of a sudden, bursts of Flak appeared around the dot. It wasn’t Thiede after all. Scheiße! He was heading straight for a trap and he could do nothing about it. He had to land and soon! The familiar silhouette of a Nieuport loomed above. “- Maybe he’ll just fly by. C’mon, nothing to see down here. This isn’t the Roland you’re looking for. Move along!” Obi was willing the scout above to ignore him, but it didn’t work. The shape above banked and the wings reflected the sun on its surface. The Nieuport was diving. He will be in range soon. More fire. More holes appeared on the surface of the German plane. Bullets tore through the windscreen and the gauges, glass and wood splinters hitting Otto’s face. Gunther was their only hope now. Obi could only fly level now. He was a sitting duck and the Nieuport was just behind. Von Kenobi kicked the rudder and aimed for the aerodrome. He will drag the Frenchman across it, hopefully the gun batteries are awake and perhaps can deter the persistent Gaul. He saw Gunther fire the machine gun again and again. The ground artillery opened up as well. The Nieuport pilot finally gave up. Otto watched the little scout make an about turn and disappear. Von Kenobi let out a jubilant whoop. Gunther slapped him on the shoulder to let him know the danger was over. All they needed to do now was a lazy circuit around the aerodrome and land. That’s when the engine started to lose power. There will be no circuit. There will be no landing at the aerodrome. They will land now, anywhere - just as soon as they clear the trees ahead. They barely made it. The sick Walfisch creaked and rattled as it bounced along on the farmer’s field, coming finally to a stop. They were done for the day.
End of July stats:
Feldwebel Otto Bernhard von Kenobi Kasta 17 Proville, Flanders Sector 2 confirmed kills 26.42 hours Roland C.II
"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."