Carrick, those new Hun scouts are a handful. Going up against them in those old Aircos has to be frightening. Hope Keith gets assigned a comely nurse - again.
Raine, I wonder what Alex has up her stylish, feminine sleeve. Fingers crossed James can make it back across the Channel, would hate to see him flying a desk for the rest of the conflict.
Fullofit, what use does Toby have for one of those flashy new N17s, he continues to do just fine with his trusty Strutter. Now then, it seems to me that Chesty should be spending a little less time chasing the Huns and a little more time drinking, the man is practically a teetotaller from the sounds of it.
MFair, hope to see some reports of Drogo in his new D.II very soon.
21 September 1916 Fienvillers, France
Captain Swanson, Lieutenant Chatwick, and the other two crews of A Flight had their hands full today and are now back at camp, and quite glad of it. The dud weather began lifting last night and by shortly after morning tea 70 Squadron was able to get back into the air and do their work. The first sortie that Swany led was uneventful, a recce of the front around Flers and Corcelette. The situation on the ground looked to be stalled with the new British lines but a few hundred yards farther east from where they had been before the carnage began on the 15th. How many thousands of men died claiming that sliver of real estate, Swany wondered.
The second outing, which began mid-afternoon, was a contact patrol from Bapaume down to Péronne and back. Things were quiet until the Strutters made their swing at the southern end of the route, that's when all hell broke loose. Five of the sleek new Hun biplanes, (which, it had been learned, are designated "Albatros"), descended on the three Sopwiths, and they meant business. Unlike the green pilot Swanson had sent down in one of the new kites on the 15th, these fellows knew what they were doing and how to make the best use of their mounts. It was a twisting, swirling mess as the King's airmen did their dam'dest to fight off the Kaiser's superior numbers. The air Huns were working together as a real unit and it was lucky that the men of A Flight were more than capable of doing the same. Each time an Albatros would flash across Swany's gun sight he'd let loose a volley, and Lt. Chatwick did an excellent job of swatting the Boche away from their six. The Strutters hung together offering each other cover as long as they could, but as it is with so many dogfights things eventually devolved into an every-man-for-himself situation. Fortunately, by that time two of the Huns had been driven off which left it a three-on-three fight. As the Albatros and Strutter pairs came together for the finale Swany noticed that he and his dance partner were getting rather close to No Man's Land. Bullets began zipping around both planes as troops on each side fired up at them from the trenches below. Amid this distraction Captain Swanson managed at last to get a good, sound burst from the Vickers to land on his target's vitals and watched as the Hun pilot suddenly lurched in the cockpit. Immediately thereafter the Albatros fell and crashed into the mud right in the middle of a barrage that was in progress. Swany, not wishing to linger in the hostile skies he and Chatwick currently occupied, swung the Strutter to the west and made for the friendly side, no sooner crossing over when the Clerget began to sputter. Moments later it conked out - Damm, no fuel! One of the rounds sent up from the trenches had holed the tank. The Captain aimed for an open field just beyond the craters and settled down gently next to a small road. As Swanson and Chatwick climbed out of their bus they could see the barrage continuing to bang away, and could also see the column of black smoke rising up from the remains of their attacker. A squad of French soldats of the 1st Corps were nearby and came to offer their assistance. Swany asked if they would help push the Strutter into the trees next to the road to keep it out of sight while he went to phone his squadron. A Sous Lieutenant Melltineau informed the Captain that the French airfield near Chipilly was only about three miles away and he was sure they would be able to send a truck. Two hours later a crew from Chipilly had indeed been sent and were able to make the repairs on the spot. Swanson and Chatwick waved goodbye to their helpful allies as the Strutter lifted off from the road and into a fading fall sky. Upon returning to Fienvillers Swany was relived to learn that his other two teams had made it back home, relatively intact, and with one claim submitted between them. The Captain and his G/O turned in their claim, but with all the ground fire that had been spewing up at them he was fairly certain the French troops west of Péronne had already marked the fallen Albatros as their doing. Swany didn't care much either way, it was one less Hun and that's all that really mattered to him.
The flights of 70 Squadron heading out on the afternoon patrols.
A Flight pounced on by five of the Hun's new Albatros scouts.
Captain Swanson making the most of every firing opportunity offered him.
Getting away from the lines PDQ, the smoldering remains of an Albatros amid the barrage below.
Back on the friendly side, sans fuel but otherwise safe and relatively sound.