Mission No. 4 for Hauptmann Kiener
It rained heavily for three days, beginning on the afternoon of the 16th and continuing so until the evening of the 18th of Nov., which was most unpleasant for Hauptmann Kiener. He preferred to keep active and to maintain best efficiency in the air, both while maneuvering his Eindecker and when looking through the sights of the Spandau. But what was one to do. He dabbled in a few card games with the men, to make merry as best they could in the weather, and also he looked over some of the technical journals that had arrived, to keep abreast of any possible aeroplanes or developments that the French and British might throw at them.
On the morning of the 19th it was finally viable to undertake a long reconnoitering flight down to the enemy positions south of Neuve Chapelle. The general idea was to keep escort to the resident Aviatiks, while they made their bombing runs. But, it was not to be - Kiener, and Hutzenlaub, who had been promoted to Leutnant in the meantime - were jumped by a green Nieuport while they were approaching the area near Diksmuide, still on their side of the lines. They flew fairly high, at around 2100 m alt., but the Nieuport almost magically presented itself, between Kiener and the Leutnant who was flying further back.
In a matter of seconds several bullets cracked through Kiener's fuel tank, and he began to smell gasoline vapor. Knowing what this meant, he immediately switched off the engine and went into a steep, spiralling dive, with his opponent still cracking at him with his M.G. Fortunately, by the time Kiener landed, Hutzenlaub had taken over and the Hauptmann could do nothing but observe the grim entertainment. 'Well done, Leutnant,' he thought to himself - 'I see that you have studied well and taken my directions seriously.' And the evidence was plentiful indeed. Hutzenlaub danced effectively around the pesky green fellow, turning around him, outturning him, also outmaneuvering him entirely, and getting some shots into the fellow to boot.
Here, however, his Spandau jammed and he began an ascent, at around 100 km/h, towards the 'drome at Ghistelles, waving to Kiener as he passed by. 'Yes, continue exactly at that angle,' muttered Kiener to himself, for, as Von Schnapps had suggested many times, this was the best speed to keep for maximal rate of climb. Soon, the stubborn Nieuport, although attempting to follow, fell further and further back, eventually to do a wide turn and head towards its own lines.
In a few hours Kiener and the now dismantled Eindecker would both be transported by truck back to Ghistelles. 'Hopefully I will have more success tomorrow,' he said to the C.O. and Hutzenlaub that evening, but said no more. And there was no need to be verbose - for he was lucky that only his fuel tank had been destroyed.