Previously, on THE ADVENTURES OF ALBRECHT "AL" KASELTZER...
Today was Leutnant Kaseltzer's first day at the airfield in Bertincourt...
Wasting no time, the commanding officer assigned Kaseltzer to carry out an artillery-spotting mission. He'd be flying an ungainly Aviatik two-seater, with Hauptmann Wolfgang Graf serving as observer; another Hauptmann, Hugo Ludwig, assumed escort duties in a Fokker Eindecker.
Albrecht found it difficult to continue tracking Ludwig's Fokker E.III through the clouds.
Ludwig must have just gotten off course in the clouds and turned back home, Kaseltzer thought to himself, as he prepared to turn back the same way...an hour later, the news reached FFA 32: enemy Nieuport fighters caught Ludwig from behind, and a lengthy battle ensued. Ludwig managed to get in some good shots, but it was all for nothing: the craft was destroyed, and the man was dead.
THE ADVENTURES OF ALBRECHT "AL" KASELTZER, EPISODE 2: "FIRST CONTACT"
12 November, 1915 Bertincourt, France
Day two on the job and Leutnant Kaseltzer was already having a stern one-on-one meeting with the commanding officer.
"So, looking over your reconnaissance career so far...it's not looking all that great, Kaseltzer."
"Oh yeah, yeah, it's been horrible."
"Probably the roughest start I've ever seen in all my time here at Bertincourt."
"Right, yeah, sir, I'm probably not cut out for reconnaissance duty after all..."
The C.O. grimaced. "Evidently not."
"...so I totally understand if you have to take me off recon duty. I mean, it'll be tough, since I was totally looking forward to it and spent so much time training for that Aviatik..."
"Well then I hate to break it to you, Leutnant, but we're taking you off two-seater duty altogether."
"Yes. You're the worst two-seater pilot I have ever seen, and due in part to your ineptitude, we lost our only pilot with single-seater experience - may Hauptmann Ludwig rest in peace." The C.O., a Catholic Bavarian, made a quick sign of the cross. "However, be that as it may, we now have a vacancy in single-seater duty, and given your previous experience, there is a glimmer of a chance that you may be somewhat less of a negative to this unit in the cockpit of an Eindecker."
"You mean I'm the only pilot ready to fly the #%&*$# thing."
"You're the only one who does us less damage in a single-seater than in a two-seater."
"...Sure, I'll take that."
And like that, the C.O. sent Albrecht off on an artillery-spotting mission in a Fokker E.III.
Our intrepid hero hadn't even touched the machine before, but he'd had ample experience in similarly-calibrated Morane Saulnier-type models which the Eindecker was based on - one primary difference being that the Fokker's handling was smooth.
Why the C.O. sent Albrecht on an artillery-spotting mission alone was beyond him. Maybe it was "discipline" for yesterday's failed mission? Perhaps the C.O. was hoping Kaseltzer would get shot down?
Of course, it's not like Leutnant Kaseltzer was going to follow instructions anyway: not long after he'd gathered enough altitude to head west towards the front, he spotted a Nieuport 10 on the horizon. As he crept within eyeshot, the paintjob, the insignias, all matched what he'd been told about the nearest enemy rival, French Escadrille N69. It was "go" time.
Ever a fan of living dangerously, Kaseltzer decided that he'd let the Nieuport get the first shot. Well, "decided" might be a bit generous - the truth is that the airman from N69 had the high ground and therefore entered with an inherent advantage. Kaseltzer knew immediately how he was going to counter that, however: he'd make a quick dive while flipping the "blip" switch on and off repeatedly, getting out of harm's way while also reducing his speed so that N69 would wind up in front of him.
The plan paid off. No surprise, really, since Kaseltzer was an experienced single-seater airman.
Only one problem: as much as Kaseltzer knew how to handle an aircraft, he had never so much as touched a gun before in his life. He directed his Spandau towards the Nieuport, fired several rounds, but missed entirely. He could hear the Nieuport pilot laughing as the much more agile craft out-turned him. Sensing that his opponent was about to gain position, Kaseltzer took a look down at the ground to gauge if he had enough room to perform a Split S. Only one way to find out... he thought to himself, as he clutched the stick and entered a roll - a slow, lumbering roll, for the E.III's wing-warping system was infamously heavy on the controls.
Thankfully, he missed the ground. However, he hadn't regained firing position - at least not yet. The Nieuport was still behind him; they now just had their backs to each other. "Time for a sequel..." Kaseltzer muttered.
With a little speed control, Kaseltzer found himself once again in firing range. Performing two Split S's back-to-back cost him some altitude, but it meant that he could now fire at the Nieuport from below - giving him a much larger target at this angle. Knowing that he had to deliver a strong, decisive knock-out blow, he went for it, delivering 70 rounds in the general vicinity of his opponent's upper wing.
It worked: the Nieuport's upper left wing ripped off, sending the airman from N69 straight to the ground below.
Had Kaseltzer finished his mission? No.
Was Kaseltzer going to finish his mission? Also no.
Somewhat shaken from his first combat encounter, Kaseltzer headed back to Bertincourt. He knew full well that his claim on the kill would get rejected in the absence of any witnesses, but he didn't care.
Last edited by AlbrechtKaseltzer; 05/25/2104:32 AM.