I say. bit of a fap this morning, the chaps were sent out to chase snooper around Convoy Rose , but they turned out to be 5 0r 8 Me 109's. I was out late seeing the show at the Savoy so didnt notice a 109 on my 6 till he blew off the port wing. Bit of embarrassment to land in the channel amid fishing boats.
It's still only nine o'clock on the morning of 1st August 1940 and the flight's been called for a second convoy patrol - to the same area, and likely to the same convoy. I do wish those bloody sailors would get cracking and put into whatever port they're headed for. Instead of presenting Jerry with something to drop bombs on. And saddling the squadron with the job of stooging around, waiting to see if he decides to show up, or is content to let us wear out our men and machines on these blasted standing patrols.
Here we are lined up on the grass airfield at Hornchurch. As usual by the time I've settled myself in, checked the controls and so on, somebody else has decided not to wait for me, who's supposed to be the leader. As you can see, we all have the correct 65 Squadron ID letters with me in Gordon Olive's YT-A. A check with his logbook excerpt in 'Spitfire Ace' shows that R6883 is actually the correct serial number of the Spit he flew from 10 August until after the end of the Battle of Britain. Impressive attention to detail!
Here I go finally, leaving Hornchurch behind. Even with airfield detail set at medium, it's a nice reproduction and despite my slightly sub-spec 1.5 Mb GTX580, normal frame rates are good enough at mid-forties up to sixties at height. As usual I forgot to open the radiator flap for takeoff; its animation was a feature added in an earlier update.
We're taking off to the south-east and soon crossing the outer reaches of the Thames, with London lost in the haze upstream.
A glance left from the still-open cockpit gives me a good look at England's Green and Pleasant Land, which I'm here to defend with life and limb. Hopefully, neither will be lost on this sortie.
I soon come around to the east and settle on course to our patrol area, which once again is about where the Thames Estuary meets the North Sea.
I take it easy for a while so the boys can catch up and get into formation. As per last time, Red 2 is flying YT-D. From the duty roster, I know this is Oliver Gomm. If you want your RAF pilots to have the typical nicknames, you have to provide your own. So to me, Oliver will be 'Sticky' (get it?).
Red 3 is in position on my left and behind them comes Blue Section, who are making up A Flight's numbers today.
This is the view from Blue 3 while we climb hard for height, with the Estuary opening out to our right.
65 Squadron campaign - second mission - continued.
We continue to climb hard....
...and it's not long before we’re crossing the Essex coast, having levelled out at our briefed patrol altitude of 14-15,000 feet.
There’s still a lot of cloud about, and no sign yet of the convoy I’m expecting to be babysitting.
There it is! Looks like just three ships, all merchantmen without so much as an armed trawler to look after them. We’re all they’ve got, by the look of it.
I’m getting the hang of setting the elevator trim on my Spitfire but the patrol legs are quite short, as we need to stay near the convoy. So there are regular turns to be made, and if you wait to reach the triangular waypoints, you’re liable to go a bit wide, or need to make tight turns which can easily upset formation and height-keeping. It requires a fair bit of concentration, leading these tight vics with the new, more realistic settings now available in Update 1.19.
Several times I call the controller for news, but each time he tells me there’s nothing brewing. So round and round we go. Nothing else for it. We gave the Huns a bit of a pasting earlier; maybe they’re still licking their wounds.
Again I ask for news, and again there isn’t any. I’m beginning to feel like a child in the back seat of a car, asking the parents repeatedly ‘Are we there yet?’ But the controller doesn’t complain, he just suggests that I keep calm and carry on, basically.
The briefing told me we had to stay on station for at least 12 minutes and I’ve gone well beyond that. I don’t know if yet the ‘warp’ function works in WotR, but while the ‘next event’ warp worked fine in CFS and CFS2’s scripted campaign missions, I always hated its different ‘time acceleration gone berserk’ implementation in WotR’s ancestor, CFS3. It’s mission 2 on my new campaign and I’m taking no chances, so I decide just to go home. In real life, we would have patrolled much longer and stayed on station until we were relieved.
We're soon heading back towards the Essex coast. A last check with the controller reveals there is still no 'trade' for us, so I feel that I have done my best, or at least, done enough.
We dip down, down, back towards our airfield at Hornchurch. Not the most exciting of missions, but at least I survived, and got a bit more experience flying as a leader in WotR. Especially now that leaders can request reports on nearby enemy activity, I would not consider flying other than at the head of a flight or a squadron. Much more interesting that formation flying, to my mind anyway.
Anyhow, whatever the next sortie brings, I'm ready for it, and so is R6883, my lovely Spitfire.
Sadly, a glitch of unknown origin, but possibly mod-related, messed up my squadron roster so I restarted with a cloned pilot from the next day, 2nd August. Everybody else's name has changed and my record is back to a clean slate but no biggie.
I'm still flying with the new 1.19 Update squadron strength setting 'reduced' - not because my PC needs this to cope, but because I know we're flying patrol missions and these would have been made in flight (6) or section (3) strength. Fighter Command did not have the resources to maintain standing patrols, typically over convoys, at squadron strength. Unless and until this is automated or can be changed at the briefing stage, I will swap to full squadron strength in Workshop, when we start getting scrambled to intercept raids.
This first sortie of the day is a patrol, but this time not to a convoy aka shipping lane. We are to fly slightly further north, and patrol the RDF Chain Home station at Bawdsey Manor on the Suffolk coast. This site was the pioneer RAF radar station, and there is now a museum on the site, which I would love to visit one day.
Here we are, ready for 'the off' on the grass airfield at Hornchurch. Red 2 is next to me in YT-D, still flying the only kite with the pre-June black-white undersides. Red 3 is in YT-O, and everybody else has both correct squadron codes for 65, and a unique individual aircraft letter. You can see that I have the A Scheme camouflage pattern, while some in the flight have the mirror-image B Scheme, including Red 2.
Spits and Hurris in 1.19 now correctly take off with flaps raised. Taking off to the south, we're soon crossing the Thames and coming around to the left. I didn't notice the westward-bound goods train at the time.
You can see Hornchurch behind me as I turn left. The WotR Spit sounds as good as she looks. I hope to start a bit of skinning after the beta testing of 1.19 and if no-one else is doing it, would be inclined to increase the upper wing Type B blue/red roundels to standard 56" diameter and add the usual 'step' in the leading edge of the Dark Green band that now sweeps diagonally back under the cockpit.
On our more northerly heading this time and climbing steadily, we are soon leaving the Thames Estuary behind on our right...
...while London merges with the haze to our left. You can just about make out the Royal Group of Docks, let into the north bank of the river in the distance.
I was there for a couple of days earlier this week and they are really large bodies of water, overlooked at one point by a couple of original mill buildings which survived both the Luftwaffe and the developers (pic taken from the very modern Royal Victoria Dock footbridge).
Still climbing, I find I need to turn slightly right to correct for a tendency to drift to the other side.
At about ten thousand, I level off and let the others tighten up the formation again.
Our track takes us inland to the west of Bawdsey initially, and I find myself east of Ipswich, close to an airfield which I think is Felixstowe, an RAF Coastal Command station.
At last, just out from the coast, we reach our patrol area at about 15,000 feet, and start the patrol itself. I'm pleased to see that there's less cloud about than yesterday.
Heading back south-west again, I see that airfield once more, and another one further north, which I think is the fighter base of Martlesham Heath.
As I turn onto the next leg, you can probably just see the grey lattice towers of Bawdsey RDF station, visible against the cornfields on the far side of the river estuary above my Spit's exhaust stack, close to its seaward end.
Well, we're here, anyhow. Question is, will any uninvited guests be joining us?
Several times, using the new 1.19 update feature, I impatiently call control, asking if he has any 'trade' for us. Each time, he patiently tells me no. Which is not to say that all Hell's not breaking loose somewhere else, just that there's nothing he reckons we can do anything about. So the patrol continues.
There seems to be more cloud out to sea than overland. Every now and again, I turn on the tactical display, range set at just over 4 miles, to check my heading against the three legs of our patrol task, then turn it off again. As I have its target type set at 'Aircraft', it also acts as an occasional early warning. But in future, I think I may set it to display ships or something else, so that it functions only as a navigational aid.
In the new 1.19 tightest formation spacing, I have the impression that my flight is a little slow to react to changes in height (especially if accompanied by a change in speed) but is quite good at following me through turns, provided I don't make them too steep.
Looking to my right, out beyond Red 2, I can see where the estuaries of the Rivers Orwell and Stour come together, where lie the important North Sea ports of Felixstowe and Harwich.
Round we go again. Still, Control has nothing for us.
The tension eases a bit. I can't see any convoys, which are the main Hun targets these days, apart from what the Luftwaffe called 'pirate raids' flown by one or two especially-skilled crews against a point target. But these small daylight raids were usually mounted under cover of duff weather, which is hardly how you could describe this fine mid-August morning.
After a while, a TAC check shows our next waypoint is nearly fifty miles back to the west. So it looks like WotR has decided that since my briefed minimum time is up, I can go home. Which I choose to do.
So back to Hornchurch we go. I throttle back and lead the boys down. You can see that WotR's Spits reflect the main changes made to RAF undersurface colours up to this time, with Red 2 having the early black/white undersurfaces, while others have Sky with and without roundels, 'with' being the official standard from August 1940.
I'm not unhappy at having an uneventful restart to my RAF Spitfire campaign, but hope to see action before much longer!
'Be careful what you wish for', the saying goes, 'you might get it.' Well, I wished for action, and I got it.
It's ten a.m. on the same morning, 2nd August and already, we are tasked with another patrol. It's in the same general direction, to the north-east, but this time to an aircraft parts factory at Southend. I rather think we should get only convoy patrols; land targets would be covered by scrambles to raids which might threaten them, instead. Generally, we should be tasked to patrol over a feature on the ground (eg a town, or even our own base) only to pre-position us to be vectored against a likely threat.
Anyhow, ours not to reason why, and all that. We've soon got away - six of us - and started climbing towards our patrol area. Looking left, I can see Hornchurch, just below Red 3.
I ease off on the power to let the others get into formation and catch out Red 2, who ends up briefly in front...
...then it's power back on, and up we go again.
I don't bother to call control during the trip to Southend; I suppose I'm getting a bit blasé about the whole business. So I'm all the more surprised when, just as we're approaching our task location, one of the boys calls out Bandits, at twelve o'clock high! Crikey! I turn on the TAC display, select one of them (whoever they are) and order them attacked. The boys do their best.
Looking up, I see a bunch of about a dozen aircraft on a roughly reciprocal heading, rapidly passing several thousand feet above us. I can't tell what they are, but their formation looks unlike bomber vics. Sure enough, they are fighters, Messerschmitt 110s. One of them is somewhat ahead of the rest and he waggles his wings before coming down on us, along with some of his friends.
Next second, there seem to be 110s all around us! Even as the ones still above start coming down too, the developing air battle is claiming its first victims.
I latch onto one of the Huns who is crossing in front of me from left to right. Ack Ack bursts mark his passage.
He's very fast but I finally get in range and let the beggar have it. Puffs of smoke show that I'm hitting him, too!
He jiggles about a bit indecisively, then makes up his mind, rolls over and goes down. I nearly overshoot, in my efforts to keep after him.
Just when I think the 110 isn't going to pull out, he does just that, and begins to climb back up. By this time, he's a long way off, though still being shot at by the boys on the ground.
Time to settle his hash for good! With 'everything pushed and pulled' to get maximum revs, I tear after him. A quick glance behind reveals the indistinct head-on shape of another aircraft, which looks like one of his friends. But he's a long way back and I reckon I've time for a crack at the first Hun. I get off a good burst, and the big Messerschmitt rolls briskly to the right and goes down.
At that very moment, the Hun behind me catches up and tracers flash past to my left. Instinctively, I roll right and pull back hard on the stick as my Spit goes over on her back.
Crikey! Serves me right for pining for a spot of action!
I come up and around in a sort of loop in a non-vertical plane...and find myself behind my erstwhile attacker, who now appears to be making a run for it.
He's moving fast, but at full boost, I catch him up and let him have it.
I expect the 110 to wilt under my fire, but I seem to get few hits and he slips out of my way. I pull up and around, searching for him along his original track.
Ack Ack bursts lead me to another 110...or is it the same one? Hard to tell, but anyway, a Hun, is a Hun, is a target.
Before I can get into range, the 110 rolls over on his back and goes down steeply.
As I watch, he flicks out of control, wobbles, and spins out of the sky. I watch suspiciously, but he's much too low to recover and smacks into the deck, right next to what looks like a barn.
I clear my tail smartly and call the boys to order, but there's no response. I recall hearing a fair bit of chatter on the R/T, including at least one chap announcing he was going home. I turn on the TAC but there's nothing to see, apart from the fact I'm being advised to put down at the nearest airfield, Rochford.
Looking around, there's not much to see, except the scenery.
I don't see any particular reason to run to Rochford, but bank in that direction, anyway. Behind me, dark clouds are beginning to form.
The lack of company is becoming rather ominous. I slow down and lose height, but nobody catches up.
The skies behind me are cloudy, but clear of aircraft, friend or foe.
I reach Rochford but decide not to land there. I'm too impatient to find out what happened, to fly back to Hornchurch. So I call it quits and check the detailed debriefing. It's not a pretty picture.
Red 2 got a Hun, but he won't be coming back. Likewise, two others have bought it, and only one Spitfire - not my own - is undamaged. I sort of scared one Hun out of the sky so there's that, but it's small consolation.
Bit of a disaster, really!
PS I don't know why Blue 1's aircraft type is shown as 'unknown'. But I do know that my own shooting wasn't as bad as the numbers above suggest. After my last attack, having paused the action when firing (to take a screenshot), the guns were still going when I unpaused, despite the trigger having been released, and I had to press and release it a second time to stop them spraying lead all over the sky!
Have had a good ride with this test Pilot and received my first Medal! Wahoo.It has been a bit of a rough ride though with Large formations on. 72 Sqn is down to the last 3 pilots with 3 more on the way in 3 to 4 days. Have had some slowdown in big furballs but I probably have it turned up to high in WS and NVCP. I did fast forward into August just to get to the Coastal Attacks on Fighter command Phase. Have been shot down 3 times in these missions and belly landed 2 times. Was bleeding profusely 1 time and landed quickly and survived. 1.19 brings even more immersion and even with the limited time in 'Campaign' I have found it much more challenging. These are the results after my last mission this evening, in which I was jumped and handed my ass by a 110 with a grudge. I think in the previous mission I had shot down 2 of his JU 88 Hun buddies. Anyway, things are coming along nicely. Can't believe no one has figured out what has changed on 33lima's 'guess the changes' pictures in the WOTR picture thread. Common guys, it is clear to see and the answer is in taken in the picture.
I've made another and hopefully last fresh start with this campaign, having cleaned out pilots in a fresh install after another attack by the Fifth Column [attributed to mod leftovers] which blew up everyone else's Spitfire at the end of the runway...
This time I selected Adler Tag itself as my campaign start date, this being the point from which the Luftwaffe switched the main focus of their attack to the defenders, including airfields and radar stations. I have reduced squadron strength selected in Workshop, not to save system resources, but so that I can continue to fly patrol missions in realistic (Flight of 6) strength, instead of full squadron. While ready to switch to the latter when we start being regularly scrambled to deal with raids.
Here's the briefing for our first mission - to cover a Channel convoy. While continued in the North Sea, I think daylight convoys in the English Channel had actually been discontinued by this time, and that 65 Squadron was still at Hornchurch up to the north east, not at Tangmere. They often operated out of forward bases and narrowly escaped loss when bombed taking off from Manston on August 12th, as captured by Yellow Section's Gordon Olive in one of his many vivid paintings reproduced in his memoir 'Spitfire Ace'.
As before, I'm flying the machine he often flew, but as flight leader. Here we are at the end of the runway. Tangmere was actually a grass airfield at this time, and didn't get asphalt runways until 1941-2 (according to Chris Ashworth in 'Action Stations 9')
Getting off from Tangmere is tricky in a Spit unless you use maximum boost aka WEP. Somebody should have compulsorily purchased and levelled all those tall buildings on the rising ground to the north of the runway!
Anyhow, I made it, and by now I'm well practised at getting away ahead of the others.
Cockpit canopy still open, I level off a bit and swing around to the east. Our assigned course is just inland along the coast until roughly north of our patrol area. I decide to adhere to that, as it will help give me the lie of the land in this sector.
Throttling back to let the boys catch up catches out Red 3, who briefly slides in front of me.
But he's soon back in his appointed station, and I begin to climb again.
A little later and we're approaching Brighton. There's no sign of the famous pier, but there's a war on and no time to worry about buckets and spades or what the butler saw.
As the WotR weather forecast indicated, there's an increasing amount of cloud around, as we head east...
...but we don't give it a second thought. Up to this point, I haven't called Control for news of any Bandits. I decide I'll wait until we've reached our patrol area. In the meantime, Mother Nature's fluffy white clouds and blue skies certainly make a pretty backdrop to our darkly-painted war machines.
Nearing our turning point, we come out into slightly clearer skies. The boys are keeping up quite well, I'm pleased to see.
Just west of Hastings, we turn gradually onto a heading out into the Channel, with Red 2 on my right in his Spit with its older black-white undersurfaces.
The coast begins to fall away behind us as we grind south. We haven't seen any other aircraft since we took off, but I know that could change quickly. I can feel the tension rising with every mile we get further out to sea.
Well out over the Channel, we get our first glimpse of the shipping we have come here to protect...
...and soon after, begin the patrol itself.
Behind me, Red 3 comes rather close during the turns, but manages to avoid running into me.
I'm generally making left turns, so life is a bit easier for Red 2, provided I don't go full tilt.
Calls to the controller reveal no sign of Huns, so I get a bit of a shock when I suddenly notice a bunch of aircraft flying in the opposite direction, a couple of miles out to my left.
Off we go! I select full power and go for them. Huns I reckon, intent on attacking the ships, or perhaps a fighter sweep.
But no - as I get closer, I can see that they are Spitfires like our own. I'm tempted to close with them and find out who they are, but they turn right and away, and I let them go.
In my excitement, I've pulled away from the boys a bit, so slow down to let then regain formation.
By this time, our briefed minimum time on patrol is long passed and as it looks like our relief is on station, I lead the flight home.
A look at the gauges shows the top tank is nearly empty, but the bottom one is still full. A final check with the Controller confirms the skies are clear of Huns so I feel it's safe enough to continue back to Tangmere.
I let down over the sea as we near the coast, with the shadows of the clouds dappling the steely blue waters of the English Channel.
Brighton comes up on our right as we fly along just offshore.
Cutting diagonally inland, I can soon see Tangmere up ahead.
This time, instead of just putting down myself, I decide to try out WotR's flight commands and as I reach the airfield, I give the order to land. The boys promptly peel off to the right, leaving me time and space to make my own circuit.
As far as I know, flying control at fighter bases of this early period tended to consist of an officer with a Very pistol and a supply of 'reds', housed in a hut or caravan. None of this modern ATC stuff. Keeping a look-out for traffic, I'm soon settling into a curved approach to the runway I took off from about an hour earlier.
Once safely down, I taxi onto the perimeter track, into one of the dispersal points, and swing her around deftly so that I'm facing back out. I switch off and hear the distant hum of aero engines, as the flight makes its own circuit. Soon, the first two - probably my own Red 2 and 3 - are dropping onto the ground and rolling to a halt behind me.
An uneventful first trip it's been, apart from the excitement provided by the unexpected arrival of those other Spits. But I'm always quite happy for a gentle start, and to bring everybody safe home. There'll be plenty of time later for the heroics, I have the feeling.