I open the throttle again and slide in after the Hun. However, for the third time, another Spitfire gets there first and sends the 109 down. Teamwork, eh
Many times I've seen two AI controlled 109s in BOB make repeated passes at RAF fighters.. like a tag-team. At other times one baits you and draws you high while his buddy drops on your 6. I saw this repeatedly in Rowan's earlier gem ...Mig Alley. Rowan learned a lot about handling large groups of ac in that sim. ...Dentist ..."Mig train heading south"
The situations pictured below (both pics posted here before) may or may not be what you have in mind Vox, but while it had its minuses - main one seen so far is escort squadrons following the 'proportionate response' to intercepts producing unengaged ones which ignore you if you're from an already-engaged RAF squadron but go for them - yes, the BoB2 fighter teamwork and bomber formations and associated AI are still leaders of the pack, by a long way.
Pair of 109s co-operating to harry and soon shoot down a Spit, while I can only watch:
Later mission, me having just been shot off the tail of a 109 which I thought was the tail-end Charlie in the pack I had attacked from astern:
For a while, it goes quiet in the Ops Room. I decide to put up a patrol over the damaged Dover RDF station. Once the squadron is on task, I can easily divert them to intercept another raid sneaking quickly across the Straits to hit any target in that area. I'm quite keen not to be so badly caught out again in that fashion.
But the wily Huns aren't tempted. Instead, the next raid, Hostile 301, thirty plus, is now plotted coming north-west up the wider stretch of the Channel, towards my coastal fighter airfields at Tangmere and Westhampnett.
From these airfields, 145 and 43 Squadrons are AI-scrambled, in accord with my standing orders ('Directives' in BoB2 speak). Their blue and white markers seem to take ages to start tracking towards the raid, which is getting ever closer all the while. I manually authorise two more interceptions. The result is that 85 Squadron is scrambled to come over from the east - from Lympne, by the look of it - while 64 comes down from Kenley, south of London.
But it's going to be touch and go whether any of these four squadrons intercepts before the raid reaches its target or targets. I'm wasn't generally a fan of 'sims within a wargame' until I persevered with the excellent 'Steel Armour - Blaze of War', but I am certainly finding that BoB2's wargame element adds a delicious extra layer of excitement to this sim. On top of that, it gives the resultant air combats a greater sense of time, place and context than in a conventional single-player sim campaign.
One such encounter now occurs as 145 Squadron sight Hostile 301, re-plotted as sixty-plus. I accept the offer to fly as Green 1. The rest of my section, Green 2 and Green 3, are out of sight here, either side to my rear. We are actually chasing the raid in from the Channel, heading north-west past the prominent headland of Selsey Bill and about to cross the coast just east of Worthing, by the look of it.
I look up and ahead, instinctively opening the throttle and beginning to climb, but can't make out the raid. Finally, I see some contrails passing throught a patch of Ack Ack fire. They're way higher! I call them in to the boss, who at first can't see them either. I try again, and this time he acknowledges the sighting and orders us to get at them. Easier said than done!
I continue to climb. As I do so, things start to happen. The Huns swing around to our right, moving rather quickly, and I can see that they are in three distinct groups. Even as I watch, the first group breaks formation and their contrails start spearing downwards. Bloody hell - these are fighters, possibly all of them!
That bunch who's diving, who are they going for? I look across to my right and see what could be two RAF squadrons, the higher one already beginning to loosen formation to meet the attack.
I tighten my climbing turn in their direction. If the contrails are anything to go by, a couple of the diving Huns have split off and are going for the lower RAF squadron.
By the time I level off, I realise that there are three distinct air fights going on. Directly ahead, a group of still-distant specks is whirling around. Quarter right, slightly lower over the coast, another dogfight is in full swing.
Over to my left and further out, the picture is more confused, with a group of aircraft in tight formation - bombers? - and two more scattered groups manoeuvring, one above, one below. It begins to look like that's the raid, well past us, and what we've run into is a large gaggle of fighers on a covering sweep.
Warily, I approach the nearest dogfight, the one straight ahead. I latch on to one figher who's chasing another. If the fellow out in front is one of ours, he'll be needing my help rather urgently.
I'm momentarily distacted by a group of aircraft flying past to my right, in the opposite direction. I have no idea who they are, but they pay me no attention, so I resume the chase.
Soon, I think I can make out that the leading aircraft has elliptical wings, the one I'm chasing squarer ones. A 109 after a Spit!
I soon realise that I if I wait till I get close enough for a good shot, the Hun will get the other Spit first. So I open fire early, to scare off the 109. He doesn't see (or ignores) my first short burst, but the second one does the trick. The Hun breaks off to the right.
The 109 is very fast, though, and a bit higher. I chase after him and while he curves around left, back towards the coast, he sensibly keeps it wide and doesn't give me a chance to cut across his turn. The best I can do is try to stay in his blind spot, so he isn't clear where I am, while keeping an eye out for anyone trying to sneak up on me.
The 109 levels out, heading now roughly west, still going like the clappers. At this point, I notice some contrailing aircraft being engaged by Ack Ack, higher up and slightly left.
This lot will need watching. My 109 turns left but then back the other way, but by this time I'm more concerned about the group now just up ahead. They look well placed to jump on my head if ignore them for the sake of chasing that 109. And Green 2 and 3 are no-where to be seen.
Suddenly, two things happen which clear up the situation no end. First, the formation up ahead starts taking Ack Ack fire. Next, its aircraft start dropping like stones. Like Stukas, to be precise. They're going for the airfield whose crossed concrete runways I can just about see up ahead, as I bank right. Tangmere is about to be dive bombed.
I race down towards the diving Stukas, knowing the best I’m going to do is get them after they have unloaded on Tangmere. Sure enough, I see the first flashes of exploding bombs above my nose, just right of my reflector sight.
The Stukas have fairly hammered Tangmere's hangars. You can perhaps just about make out several of the dive bombers as lighter specks against the fields beyond Tangmere, as the sun glints on their wings.
The Huns turn for the coast and climb, and I turn after them. At the same time, a flurry of Ack Ack fire flecks the sky with black bursts, a bit further away.
The anti-aircraft people are actually firing at a second group of Stukas. Concentrating on the others, I get a a bit of a shock when I run into these people nearly head on.
It's like Picadilly Circus, except with dive bombers instead of red buses and black taxis!
I keep going after the first lot and somehow manage not to collide with anyone.
The best time to catch Stukas is when they’re on their own, just after pulling out. By the time I’ve caught the crowd I’m chasing, they’re not only back in formation, but climbing for their withdrawal across the Channel. Finally I get into range and let rip at one of the beggars.
This doesn’t go well. My target is hit and blinds me with smoke. Hits from him or others plink into my airframe, but, reluctant to break before seeing the Hun go down, I keep firing until the last second. Breaking away, there’s a violent impact and my Hurricane goes into a vertical right bank...and keeps on rolling...
At this point, the red mist closes in – which is apparently what you see when you turn off the default BoB2 ‘spinning death’ external view. Which I did just before reloading the campaign. You can also see a rather large hole in my Hurricane’s side, but no other airframe pieces seem to be absent, so perhaps it was return fire, rather than a collision, which did the damage. Either way, I can only hope the rest of the squadron did better.
But I’m not finished with Hostile 301 just yet! To be continued!
Soon after returning to the Ops Room, I’m offered another chance to fly with an intercepting squadron, which I accept. This time it’s the Spitfires of 64 Squadron. By the time I’ve jumped into the cockpit, the boys have already split formation and my own kite has rolled well over to the right. It’s at times like this that you are glad if, like me, you have set the sim to auto-pause when you enter the 3d world.
Taking the chance to look around, I somehow don't notice that the Squadron is reacting to some 109s just below and right. I’m more interested in the phalanx of retreating Stukas, now climbing slowly but steadily and well out over the Channel. Above them on their left are more 109s. I decide to have a pop at the Stukas, first. Some other aircraft, Hurricanes I think, are already linining them up.
I slide over behind and below the dive-bombers, towards the group on the left.
There's no sign of a reaction from the 109s up ahead so I clobber the left-hand Stuka, taking only a few hits and breaking just in time to avoid running into him. This is a significant risk in stern attacks in BoB2, when the target produces an involuntary smokescreen.
The stricken dive-bomber falls out of the formation to the left. One down, about twenty-nine to go!
As I pull up and away, I realise the Hurricanes seem to have disappeared, along with the rest of my own squadron. Have the escorts slipped in unseen?
The 109s up ahead of the Stukas aren't implicated, as they're still flying on regardless. I decide to wake them up.
I come up on them from below and behind - I think close escorts never weave in BoB2, so I catch them up fairly quickly.
I break up and right after hitting the 109 on the right. He starts smoking but doesn't go down.
Taking no chances I make myself scarce, but the Huns fly on towards France, as if nothing happened, with the fellow I hit still in formation, leaving a faint smoke trail.
Apparently, per BDG modder Stickman over on the informative A2A forums, BoB2 close escorts like these detach one squadron to deal with each distinct threat - in practice, each intercepting RAF squadron. If there’s more than one squadron of escorts, the others stick to their charges, unless and until a second distinct threat/RAF squadron appears. I have broken away from my squadron, and as far as these 109s are concerned, dealing with me is the job of the other 109s that my squadron is already engaged with. Even if I attack them.
This limitation seems to be the downside of BoB2 being otherwise so uniquely good at putting into the air convincingly big formations which mostly behave convincingly. The easy way to avoid seeing it is probably just to operate realistically. Stick with your squadron (or lead it) and fight their battle. If separated, locate them and rejoin. If tempted not to, tackle unescorted bombers by all means, but if you see a bomber formation with close escorts, leave them if you don't want to exploit the unengaged escort issue – locate and join the battle that you left behind.
I have seen several accounts from the real BoB of escorts not reacting to one of their number, or one of their charges, being attacked. So it did happen, just not quite so predictably. If someone ever picks up again working on the BoB2 code, this I would rate the most pressing issue, second to a tendency for losses to be a bit excessive in air fights conducted in the 3d world.
But I digress. If I had looked around more carefully, I would have been able to see the other escorts figthing the Hurricanes and the rest of 64, behind me nearer the English coast. But I'm mesmerised by all those Stukas. I come across onto their right side and line up for another pass.
This time I damage one of them before breaking off...
...but though damaged, the Hun manages to stay in formation. The good news is that these air gunners aren't just so hot now, or perhaps they are running out of ammo - which BoB2 does model. I take a few more hits but everything still seems to be working. So I'm not out of this fight just yet.
Irritated at the sight of the smoking 109 likewise holding formation, I decide to pop him off. I've already exploited the AI so I might as well complete what I'd started.
In reality, apart from the windshield, a 109’s whole canopy - including the radio mast - was jettisoned on bailing out, not just the hinged centre section. At least one recent sim's 109 bailout animation has the hinged section swinging open normally to the side, which is quite wrong. At any rate, that's one Messerschmitt that won't be paying us a return visit - and one hot shot Hun fighter pilot too, unless BoB2 represents air sea rescue operations.
I’m now well out over the Channel and the boss is on the blower ordering the squadron to reform. I decide first to have another crack at the damaged Stuka, which I can see is still trailing smoke, but still in formation. They have climbed so high that they are beginning to contrail, which seems an unlikely thing to do.
This time my luck and ammo both run out as I start my firing pass. I do no visible further damage but take some more hits, before getting clear.
This time, real damage is done - my engine's revs start falling and rising, and one wing wants to drop. I complete my break and turn around for dear old Blighty.
The skies between me and the English coastline seen clear and I decide to fly her home. It feels a bit of a cheat, in such circumstances, to escape one's little difficulties by simply quiting the mission.
The airfields at Tangmere and its satellite Westhampnett are not far inland, but the grass Coastal Command base at Ford is closer to the coast and on my route. So I make for there. I come over the shoreline a bit high, just east of Ford, and make a spiral descent so as to line up with the airfield and land into the prevailing westerly wind. I get the speed, gear and flaps down ok. But I then struggle with the trim and throttle settings necessary to stop the visible juddering and audible rattling which results in BoB2, until you get the trim, speed and angle of descent sorted. You can see here, from the angle of the elevators, that I'm still desperately pulling back on the stick to keep her nose going right down.
In this condition, and highly alarmed, I come in rather low over the River Arun, managing to stop my damaged wing from dropping, but with the trim still not sorted.
I bounce once as wheels touch grass. But on coming back down, one wheel makes contact first and the Spit starts to ground loop around it, dipping a wing. I try to level her off, but it’s no use. The offending wing's tip catches the ground and the red mist closes in again.
I had so nearly made it, landing a damaged aircraft with a 109 and a Stuka to my name! Once again, that will teach me to make more of an effort to play with the team, not to go swanning off on my own. Hunting for glory, instead of sticking with the boys. Perhaps I will now award myself that promotion to flight leader, in the hope of encouraging myself to be more responsible!
2 or 3 reports back, your first clue that your day wasn't going to go well in the Hurricane was your call letters. SOL, for Gods sake, you should have called up the Boss on the blower and reported low oil pressure and headed for the Officers Club 33lima. What were you thinking mucker? Nice reports though Mate!
Had to look that one up BladeMeister -'SOL' or 'SOOL' is not an acronym that seems to get much use, on this side of the pond!
Anyway I'm not superstitions, as I seem to get clobbered regardless of markings!
A late afternoon show on 13 August gives my a chance to fly with 85 Squadron, notable amongst other things for a series of well-known photographs of the squadron in flight during the Battle, like this one:
Peter Townsend who flew with 85 wrote what is still one of my favourite histories of the Battle, 'Duel of Eagles', so I am glad to fly with the squadron. We are one of several scrambled to intercept a raid heading for the Dover area. By this point my losses are significantly higher than my claims, which latter may be exaggerated but are unlikely to be accurate. Does this mean I'm losing? It's hard to say. In that respect, playing BoB2's campaign reminds me of the words at the time of Fighter Command boss Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding. Quoted in Norman Gelb's 'Scramble!', Dowding recalls '...being cross-examined by the Secretary of State for Air about the discrepancy. He was anxious about the effect on the American people of the wide divergence between the claims of the two sides. I replied that the Americans would soon find out the truth - if the German figures were accurate, they would be in London in a week. Otherwise, they would not.'
As 1940 Spitfire pilot 'Dizzy' Allen put it in 'Who Won the Battle of Britain?', in conventional ground battles, you have tangible, territorial objectives, which you either hold or don't. In a fight for air superiority, it's not so clear; there can only be an assumption that you have it, and that assumption might be wrong. BoB2 conveys this sense of uncertainty nicely, conveying a real cliffhanger feeling.
In an effort to do better I am increasing the number of squadrons scrambled to intercept every raid. Before, it felt like I was feeding Oxo Cubes to a lion, and seems little point in holding back. If it shows signs of working I'll continue with the tactic; if it doesn't I'll have to try something else!
Anyhow, here I am in VY-O, a few thousand feet above Dover, with the raid well above us. The squadron climbs desperately to get at the beggars but long before we get there, the whirling contrails of escorting fighters, breaking formation and coming down, show we are in for a hot reception.
A shower of Messerschmitts descends on us and I break to avoid them, losing some of the little altitude I have in the process. I see a dogfight developing at about my level north of Dover and turn that way, skirting the port's balloon barrage on the way.
I manage to chase a 109 off the tail of a Spitfire - so at least we're not alone here. One of his wings looks narrower that the other in the pic below but that's because the sun is glinting on his starboard flaps and aileron.
The Hun dodges about a bit but at that level he can't just roll and dive away. I get hits from several bursts and see him roll over slowly and go down. I break off to clear my tail and see the pilot bail out. no doubt about that one! You can see 85's white polygon unit marking on my Hurricane as I bank steeply to get a good view of the crash.
Up I go in a spiral climb at full power. The straight line of specks to the left is I think part of Dover's balloon barrage, but there are plenty of aircraft specks over there too, plus the Ack Ack boys are having a go at something further inland.
I decide to rejoin the combat north of the port, checking my mirror and throwing in some turns as I go. Once again, I find myself skirting those darn balloons.
I close in behind an aircraft chasing another one, and when I find he is another 109 after a Spit, shoot him off. You can just about see the Spitfire on the horizon to the right.
Round goes the 109, and round goes my Hurricane, after him
The Hun sticks to his turn and I gradually close in.
Suddenly, a stream of yellow tracers flashes over my canopy and there's a clunk noise from somewhere. Caught from behind! I convert my tight right turn into a rolling dive in that direction, but when I try to level out, nothing happens. And I'm too low to bail out!
But there's no time for recriminations. Further west, the port of Southampton is under threat from another raid, and another big air fight is about to kick off!
I'm not long back in the Ops Room before I'm offered, and accept, another chance to fly - this time, with 234 Squadron, at the point it's about to take off. The squadron's Spitfires are lined up on the grass at Warmwell, engines running and ready to go; I'm in AZ-K.
I test the flying controls and, when the aircraft in front start rolling, release the brakes and open the throttle. Once airborne, I raise the undercart and climb a little to gain a bit of separation for the section I'm leading. Isolated patches of very low cloud are scudding along.
I slide Green Section out to the right of the others as they begin a slow climb to the east. Our target, as I know from the Ops Room, is a sizeable raid believed headed for the big port of Southampton.
As we gain height, I drift back over towards the rest of the squadron. RAF fighter undersurfaces varied a lot over the course of the Battle, ours being typical for mid-August - Sky, with no underwing roundels yet. Up top ,our Dark Green and Dark Earth aka sand and spinach is in the B Scheme pattern; BoB2 doesn't represent the mirrror-image A Scheme.
Rather than fly on in real time, I do what I often do in other sims, and jump or 'warp' ahead. In BoB2 this is done by time accelerating from the map view. I seem to recall this being reported as liable to separate you from the rest of your squadron but despite doing it twice, one 'next waypoint' at a time, I don't have any problems today. I come out the second time to see the enemy is still a long way off. Part of the raid is withdrawing roughly south, down Southampton Water, away from the port. The Ack Ack people have been doing their level best and a dense pattern of bursts marks the Huns' line of retreat. Further south and farther away, another patch of bursts marks the presence of more Huns, whose aircraft are too distant to make out, even as specks.
After closing for a while, I use the BoB2 menus to call up the raid on the R/T. Acknowledging my report, the boss orders us to pick our own targets. All I can see is bombers and I curve in towards them - Heinkels, by the cut of their jibs. The gunners down below have stopped firing at them but these Huns are now being attacked by other RAF fighters. The enemy formation looks small and a bit ragged, like they've already taken some casualties.
I abort my first pass to stay out of the way of other fighters, likely including my own squadron-mates, who are enthusiastically attacking the Heinkels from astern. Happily, there's still no sign of escorts. The Hun bombers begin a turn across my nose from right to left. This allows me to cut across their turn and make my own pass.
I hit the Heinkel on the outside left of the formation and take some hits in my starboard wing. I've hit my target in the same general area, but he's not going down just yet and maintains his turn with the others.
I make a wide circuit behind the bombers to clear my tail and make sure everything is still working. Which it is. By the time I have come around behind the Huns again, they are somw way off and heading south-east, over the Isle of Wight. And still under attack.
Closing in again, I pick a Heinkel, out to left of the main bunch, who's leaving a faint grey trail. I think he's the one I attacked earlier; he and I have unfinished business. The only fighters I can see are the ones still getting stuck into the other bombers.
I run in behind my chosen target, snapping out short bursts aimed between wing root and one engine. This time, I make no mistake. Sparks from my hits fly and bits fall off the Hun, who seems to go up in smoke, although he is merely hidden briefly from view by it.
At this point, I realise there are some 109s just ahead and above, to my right, who are being chased by some of our fighters.
I'm happy to leave them to it and slide across to the right, towards the main body of Heinkels, which is still under attack. One bomber, which could be my victim, is going diagonally down and at least one other Heinkel is smoking.
I attack the Hun on the extreme right and leave him smoking, but am hit hard by return fire and to cap it all, finally run out of ammunition.
Time to go home! I break away, reduce the throttle and slide back the canopy, in case I decide I should get out. My kite needs a fair bit of left stick to keep her level, but my trusty Merlin is still running smoothly and I reckon that this time, I can get home without ramming the scenery.
One Heinkel 111 probably destroyed and another damaged, I make it. Not a bad day's work, and I quit the mission at that point. As it happens, I've got one more battle to fight before dusk ends the fighting for 13th August. Although the RAF didn't know it at the time, that date was Adlertag to the Germans, the start of serious operations against our airfields and other defences. It's certainly been a busy day in BoB2.
I nearly forgot that I was given another chance to fly against this raid on Southampton, with 87 Squadron from Exeter, this time at the point they made contact. We must have met one of the other groups of the sixty Heinkels in this raid, after they had become somewhat strung out on their way back to France. They seem up to strength and display the unit code 1G, of Kampfgeschwader 27; the last lot carried V4, indicating they were from KG 1.
I don't remember much about the action, possibly as it was after two in the morning. I made some attacks, I recall that much...
...but ended running for home after taking some serious damage, by which time the boss had called us off anyway.
Last mission on 14th August was another one in Spitfires, with 72 Squadron this time, as dusk was approaching. This was another air start, slipping into the cockpit of RN-K just as the squadron split up to attack the raid. The latter is a bunch of Stukas with close escort, target possibly the RDF/radar station at Dunkirk (Kent, not Dunkirk, France, though reportedly named after a house a native of the French Dunkirk called after his home town).
The faint specks top right look to he the 109 escorts; the two groups lower down are the Stukas. I'm not sure who the people are, who are silhouetted against the sun. To their right, the two or three distant strings of specks are almost certainly other intercepting RAF squadrons, the result of my current policy to throw everything I can at almost every raid.
I'm definitely claiming this Stuka as 'Destroyed'.
This 109, too. Serves him right, for gate-crashing my personal Stuka party. How I got him is all a bit vague, but there it is.
This is me after firing off all my ammo, heading back towards the advanced airfield at Manston, near the tip of the North Foreland in Kent, not for from the Dunkirk RDF station. My route is marked with the burning wrecks of victims of the air fighting...
...which continues above and behind me as I fly east, hoping not to be noticed.
I vaguely remember that I cracked up landing at Manston. I should probably put in a lot more practice on the BoB2 training missions, especially useful when landing a damaged aeroplane. Which I find I have to do more often than I like. I tend to leave it too late to bail out then end up making an approach which is too short for me to trim her out and settle her down, or too long to make the airfield at all. It's all very distressing.
Oh well. The date moves on to 15th August, the Luftwaffe's 'Black Thursday' in the real Battle - an epithet I hope I can make just as relevant to my virtual opponents in the next day of my RAF 'Commander' campaign in Battle of Britain II - Wings of Victory. Watch this space!
"It's all very distressing." Imagine enduring the real thing. I have immense respect for all of those in the UK who stood alone, held their ground, endured the punishment and saw their Liberty and Freedom preserved in the face of overwhelming odds of defeat. Amazing, absolutely Amazing! I think James Hunt, Formula One World Championship Driver in 1976, summed it all up rather well when asked what is special about Formula One drivers that they can control these amazingly fast cars at speed? He simply replied quite nonchalantly,..... Big Balls! I am not sure if the British Government was making these standard issue to all people in the UK in 1940, but it seems the majority had them. Great reports and awaiting the results of your "Black Thursday" reports soon.
People did what they had to, I suppose. I remember my late mum telling me how, during one of the nights of the Belfast Blitz, they were sheltering under the staircase (no such thing as Anderson shelters in the back yards of the little terraced houses, which yards were/are not at all like US yards!) a neighbour came from somewhere across the street to invite her family over to his bigger house with (IIRC) a basement to shelter in. She recalled running across the street in the dark with fires raging and bombs bursting, and swore the family were machine-gunned by the German bombers! She was just a kid at the time and if anything I suppose it was more likely falling splinters from AA bursts, or maybe flying debris or cinders. Not that there were many AA guns in action, though she did recall there was a barrage balloon operating nearby - from the grounds of a local grammar school, IIRC.
The bombing (or 'machine gunning') didn't seem to faze her but it wasn't all 'stiff upper lip' - she told me there was a saying current at the time, along the lines of 'Be a man and not a mouse, come in from the fields and get back to your house'. A lot of people took to the hills - can't say I blame them. I recall in my youth the many patches of 'waste ground', still there 20 years later, where there were just gaps big and small, where houses had been and people had lived and in some cases died, even after a certain amount of post-war redevelopment.
Below is a major road junction about 200m from where my mum's family lived and where I was born. The people with the bikes are on the Antrim Road heading towards Carlisle Circus, about half a mile away. Hillman Street whose sign is visible to the right was where my Primary school was. The junction with the leafy Duncairn Gardens (with the little shop - Magill's - where I spent most of my pocket money, on Matchbox diecast cars and of course, Airfix kits of Spitfires, Me109s and the rest!) is on the extreme left - I recognise the row of small, single-storey shops there which look to have lost their roofs but were rebuilt and are mostly still there today.
A long time ago now, but it was fresh in people's minds while living memory lasted.
Enjoy your development of the flying stories, 33Lima. Also the picture just above.
Must add here that nothing brings home the devastation of war as seeing it in a familial picture or in person. The memory of a smell, decay or even smoke of an fire long-extinguished can bring a short pause to whatever you were doing for a second or two.
Yet we can still enjoy the coolness of altitude, the smell of hot engine oil and the joy of slipping past a cloud with a few bumps with the crackling in your ears; whether in a real flying machine hauling hopefully unused ammo or a simulated one.
Many thanks Fittop, glad you haven't got bored yet!
Normal service will be resumed very soon, following the latest missions flown on the morning and early afternoon of 15 August - a day when the Luftwaffe seemed to determined to swamp my defences with numerous raids.
This is a 'holding pic' from one of the missions flown, until I can find the time to write them up!
Jumping back into my RAF Commander campaign after a short break in London which included trips to a couple of historical sites from the real battle, I find it's early morning on 15th August 1940.
It's not long before a WAAF announces a new raid and its plot appears, tracking north-east across the Channel towards the Isle of Wight. Seconds later, it's joined by another raid. I click on both their markers to authorise additional squadrons to intercept them, over and above whatever the campaign AI will task. Within seconds - a few minutes real time at 30x acceleration - the number of raids has doubled, then trebled, coming in on a ragged but broad front. I give up scrambling extra squadrons - there seems little point trying to overwhelm this lot by numbers. If the Huns follow up with a second wave, they could catch too many of my fighters on the ground, refuelling and rearming.
So I watch and wait anxiously as the blue and white markers of my own squadrons converge on the raids, including reinforcements from 10 Group to the west and 12 Group to the north. This is going to be interesting!
The Hurricanes of 605 Squadron are the first to report 'Tally Ho!' and I jump in to lead Green Section. From my cockpit, it's not hard to spot the raid we've been sent to intercept. It's well above us and headed north-west, approaching the coast between the triangular headland at Selsey Bill and Brighton. Possible targets are the sector airfield at Tangmere or its nearby satellite Westhampnett. About thirty bombers in three broad wedges, by the look of it, with some smaller, paler aircraft barely visible, higher up - escorts!
I use the BoB2 radio menu to report them. The boss quickly acknowledges, then orders us to pick our own targets. Instinctively I am already climbing, with Green 3 to my left. Coming in over Brighton is another big group of aircraft - more bombers with escorts above, probably. Somebody else's problem. I don't see any friendly fighters nearby, so it looks like we're first and possibly last on the scene, over here.
A glance over my right shoulder shows that Green 2 is also keeping up well. But it also reveals something's going on further inland. Some distant aircraft, visible as mere specks, are flitting about on the horizon to the right, another is falling from the sky on the left, and in between, something is smoking on the ground. Again, not our concern just now.
Suddenly, the airwaves come alive with warnings and exhortations. We've been jumped by 109s which I hadn't seen before! I tighten my turn and level off, to clear my tail and search for targets.
Four aircraft in two pairs slip across my nose from right to left and I turn in behind the last two. I soon realise these fellows are 109s, chasing a pair of Hurricanes!
Cutting the corner as they turn, I get the range down and hose the sky around the Messerschmitts, in an effort to force them to break. Which they do, the chap with the yellow nose going left and the other one right. The Hurricanes have reversed their turn and gone right, too, so it's the Hun who went that way that I now concentrate on.
At the time I wasn't aware of it, but by now, Green 2 has fallen behind or slipped away, but Green 3 is stil there, a fair way back but gamely trying to keep up.
The Hun I'm chasing pulls away and sensibly avoids making tight turns, which doesn't give me much of a chance to cut any corners.
Suddenly, yellow tracers zip past my canopy and there's the plink of a round hitting metal! I break hard right. You can see the stream of tracer directed at me out in front of my dipped starboard wing.
Green 3 has now also made himself scarce and there is at least one Messerschmitt right behind me, firing as he comes.
Not as smart or as Hurricane-wise as his comrade, this Hun tries to turn with me rather than extending away, and after a few circles I'm gaining on him, although he's faster and going around the outside of his circle nearly as fast as I am in my smaller, concentric one. His friends are as scarce as my own so I keep after the 109.
I slow him down with some hits from a long-range burst then close in to administer the coup de grace. No doubt about that one!
Easing off my turn and looking behind, I'm pleasantly surprised to see Green 2 closing up, and he's soon tucked in next to my wingtip, in the approved fashion.
In my mirror, I can see Green 3 is also still in business and also closing up. They didn't manage to ward off the first attack, but can possibly claim they kept me out of trouble while I was concentrating on wreaking my revenge. So I'll let all that pass, for now.
The sky immediately around us now seems clear. But looking to the west, I can see specks milling about in the direction of Selsey Bill. I roll left and approach cautiously.
But not cautiously enough! For the second time, I'm attacked from astern by a 109! Two of them, possibly.
I break hard and get out of the line of fire. Coming around hard in search of my attacker, I can only find what looks like another Hurricane, probably Green 2 or 3. And I realise with surprise from the appearance of the water than I'm now quite low.
I clear my tail and head north, towards the coast. I can see that I have collected some holes in my right wing from that last encounter.
The skies seem to have cleared of other aircraft. Looking ahead, however, I can see clouds of smoke beginning to clear from an airfield with prominent concrete runways - Tangmere has caught a packet, as I suspected it would.
Although I'm still flying, I'm damaged, low on ammunition and out of targets. So I decide to see if I can put down at Tangmere. I should have looked around for the rest of my section first, but I wasn't feeling particularly protective, at that point.
Fortunately, apart from some small scars, the runways seem to have escaped damage. It looks to be the buildings behind the hangars which have suffered worst. Probably, this was done by the raid those 109s prevented us from intercepting - I doubt if any of the squadron got near them.
I make an uneventful landing. You can see that my kite's fin has been hit, too.
I should perhaps have headed for the sheds where my Hurricane could be patched up. But instinctively, I trundle along the perimeter track to Dispersal, towards some of the blast pens which also enclosed small air raid shelters for personnel. As I roll up, I realise the nearby Bofors gun is letting fly at something. So there are Huns about, and I've perhaps been lucky to get down without being clobbered by one.
The gun stops firing before I can see what he's shooting at, so no need to fear a strafing attack. I roll slowly up to the pen. This will be the smaller size of the Type E Pen, which looked like its letter in plan view, whereas the Type B had cranked outer wings or arms (according to Philip Birtles in 'Battle of Britian Airfields').
Back in the Ops Room after quitting the mission, I have litte time to start calling up boxes to begin finding out what just happened beyond what I saw with my own virtual eyes. The Spitfires of 603 Squadron have made contact near Dover, and it's time to have another bash!
As usual, I opt to fly leading Green Section. The mission loads with us still rather low, with the port of Dover over to our right. The area of the town next to the harbour has been reduced to a pile of rubble by previous raids.
Looking up, I see the raid, heading inland, with some other aircraft ahead of it. Ominously, some aircraft are already peeling away from the raid.
The boss orders us to get stuck in and the squadron promptly breaks up as we all start climbing steeply.
I keep a wary eye on the aircraft which have split from the raid. Sure enough, they are escorts - Me110s this time. And they're coming for us.
The Huns dive straight through the squadron and a wild fight develops. We've no mission, getting at the bombers, so this lot will have to do.
I pick out a 110 who seems to be on his own, and cut inside his turn. He's very fast, though!
When I start firing, the Hun zoom climbs. I go after him, but have to break away when another Spitfire pushes in. It's my very own Green 3!
I hang around in case he needs help. Which he doesn't.
I then latch onto another Hun and come up below and behind. But before I can shoot him, sparks fly and smoke billows as somebody else gets him first - again.
There's still plenty of trade, though, and I try to join another air fight which I can see going on nearby.
I don't manage to get a bead on anyone before the party breaks up and the aircraft disperse, leaving me alone again. Not wanting to be left out, I chase after something the Ack Ack boys are shooting at...
...and briefly pursue another 110, who gets away by diving and turning underneath me.
This is getting a bit frustrating. All these nice big targets and I still haven't bagged a single one!