Rick Rawlings No 24 Squadron Aug 23, 1916 Bertangles West
We set out yesterday morning for a simple-over-the-lines patrol. As we made our way north to shoot across the front and head for Riencourt, a most unusual thing happened: our flight leader spotted enemies below us, on our side of the lines(!), and dove for an attack. I followed and found to my surprise a couple of Eindeckers and a Halberstadt very low, possibly coming of an unsuccessful balloon attack. The fight was soon joined and we manged to get the upper hand, at which point our enemies sought to disengage and make a run for the home field! We all went off in various stages of pursuit and I wound up following one of the Einys. I caught him just over the lines and after a brief struggle was able to force him down with a dead engine just past his trenches. Feeling pleased with myself, I headed home only to find that no one was close enough to see my victory and it happened too low for the boys in our trenches to confirm it. Claim denied!
Rick Rawlings No 24 Squadron Sept. 8, 1916 Bertangles West
We were going to head over the lines today when we encountered a flight of Halberstadts on our side of the lines with the same idea. Since they came to us, we decided to indulge them. I managed to send my fourth confirmed victory down, unfortunately he stalled and crashed hard with no survivors. We have heard rumor of the new Albatros scout making its way to the front and have also heard that SPAD production is behind schedule, not that it matters much to me: the SPAD looks like a tank, the DH2 like a Mayfly. And we all know what the life expectancy of those are... I fear this may signal a turn in the fortunes of this war!
Rick Rawlings No 24 Squadron Sept. 17, 1916 Bertangles West
I have sent down my fifth (confirmed) enemy aircraft. We were supposed to attack the Athies airfield, a type of mission which I hate as I always wonder what my little Lewis gun is supposed to do against an entire airfield. Although, come to think of it, I don't believe we have ever completed one of these missions as we always run into the enemy before we get there. Which happened today as well. We encountered a pair of Halberstadts good and fairly met at the front at about 5000 feet elevation. One went down quickly as the other fled with half of our flight in pursuit. We caught him about two miles behind the lines and the others sent him down in good measure. We were reforming our flight in a gentile climb when I spotted an Eindecker trying to sneak up on us. As we were at the level, he could not use height to his advantage and I was quickly on his tail. I closed and fired very close when I saw the pilot slump over and the craft went down in a slow spiral to crash below. At this time, I looked up to see three more aircraft entering the area a thousand feet above me. As they closed, I squinted at a craft that I was unfamiliar with and realized it must be the dreaded Albatros! Fortunately, they did not dive on me immediately but went for the rest of my flight! Despite having a clear path to the front, I couldn't leave my comrades behind to face this new foe alone, so I dove back into the fray. I was able to get behind one of the sleek new craft as he pounced on one of our pilots, who was swiftly shot down. (He suffered only minor injuries and amazingly made it back from enemy territory that same day!) I pursued the hun and got some hits in, but he was a fierce fighter and it was hard to keep him in my sights! After a few passes, I had lost sight of the rest of my flight and when my enemy and I we were clear of each other, I sprinted for the front. On the way back, I was puzzling over my choice to be a pilot in the face of this new and fearsome opponent when I happened to look down to see huge plumes of earth being pulverized with each massive artillery shell in a bombardment below and realized that all things considered, I was probably best where I was. I landed at a nearby aerodrome to check over my crate (which was, amazingly, unscathed) and I saw that a pair of Nieuport scouts had also alighted there, and I began to develop an idea...
Rick Rawlings No 24 Squadron Sept. 28, 1916 Bertangles West
The Battle of The Somme (or so I suppose they will so call it) rages below me but in the air above, it is a series of wash-outs, dead engines and inconclusive engagements with only the occasional suicidal Roland to test our mettle. So it was yesterday when we encountered a pair of them at the front. Following a quick close pass, I tried to keep my distance based upon what had happened to me the other week. Trying to fire from a relatively safe range, it took several drums of Lewis to bring him down, but down he went for my sixth confirmed which came with a promotion to Lieutenant! I suppose they figure it is time for me to start earning my keep around here!
As a bonus, here is one of my inconclusive Albatros engagements. They can basically leave whenever they like!
Also, I just picked up a new monitor which boosts my native resolution to 2560x1440 from 1900x1200 along with a much nicer color palette and refresh rates up to 144hz. I have to say that I am finding it quite a bit easier to spot and track the enemy even with that modest boost, although I am getting a weird slight negative ghosting when using Track IR, which I have to puzzle through, but it was definitely a worthwhile investment!
Rick Rawlings No 24 Squadron Oct 24, 1916 Bertangles West
We went off on an airfield attack the other day headed to Athies. Gerry Knight made captain and he was in charge. To show his newfound authority, he took us south of the airfield to make our attack from a side the Huns wouldn't be expecting. The problem was, this took us over a pair of observation balloons, lighting up the sky with ground fire and alerting everyone for leagues around of our presence. As we turned north and approached the field, the Captain kept right on past, choosing to instead attack a couple of Halberstadt scouts a few miles to the north. After dropping one in a quick fight, I decided to make my way back to the front since any element of surprise was now completely gone.
As I was crossing the lines, I was approached by a pair of Rolands who apparently felt they needed to get their fun in for the day. I chased one back over the lines with some damage and was angling to swoop down and finish him when his observer made one of those long range shots for which they are famous, holing my fuel line. I made it back just short of the lines and came down by the river. I spent the next two days crawling through the reeds to make it back to Bertangles. Knight asked what took me so long...
They are sending me off for a week for my troubles.
Rick Rawlings No 24 Squadron Nov 4, 1916 Bertangles West
Well, a bit of excitement today. Yesterday we had a patrol-over-the-lines mission on my second day back from the cheering-up-the-troops tour after my tenth confirmed victory. I had to admit that I was surprised and a little saddened to learn of the death of the German pilot Boelcke while I was away from the front, he was a worthy adversary. Anyway, we were off to Riencourt as we had been so many times before. Captain Knight led us confidently over the lines at 8000 feet and just as we were passing over the enemy airfield at about 11:30 AM, we saw a flight of three scouts below us with big black crosses on the wings. Captain Knight turned into a dive and we followed, eager for the action. It turned out the scouts were Fokkers; not the old eindecker monoplanes, but the newer biplane versions. They were faster and more powerful than us, but we were more mneuverable. Short story long, over the course of the fight, I sent three of the enemy down! (A fourth joined in later in the fight, so I did not account for all of the original flight.) One of them, I got one long burst into in a quick pass and payed him no further mind as he spun down, figuring that he was just trying to escape, but the Captain later told me that the plane never pulled out of its downward spiral and crashed into the ground below. This morning, we got word that all three were confirmed. Oh, and they also awarded me the Victoria Cross this morning as well. So bit of a full twenty four hours, if you take my meaning!
Rick Rawlings No 24 Squadron Nov 10, 1916 Bertangles West
I went up on a solo flight today, hitting the front to see what I could find. I ended up following a couple of Quirks as they did their recon and was heading back to the front when I saw some craft below me. As I went down, I saw they were Rolands! Diving on them, I split them up and followed one close by, determined not to make the mistake of the other day. It was going to be him or me! (Or...both, I suppose. I probably could have thought that part out better...) I closed and fired until part of his wing came off and he crashed right near our trenches. Landing on the remains of a nearby road, I went over and cut off a section of the fabric to prove my claim. There were no survivors...
Rick Rawlings No 24 Squadron Nov 17, 1916 Bertangles West
We are assassins now. As winter approaches, the days grow short. I took a flight up for a line patrol at four o'clock and the sun was already sinking. We wandered back and forth along the front until it was starting to get dark and then we swung back behind the lines trying to catch anyone coming home. As we passed over one enemy airfield, two Albatros scouts gamely took off to engage us. One had an engine failure and landed in a nearby field. I gave the signal and we dropped on the other. I came in behind him and fired until his wings fell off and his engine caught fire. I hope he was dead before that. Kill confirmed.
Rick Rawlings No 24 Squadron Nov 25, 1916 Bertangles West
The Major died the other day. "Major Hawker was shot down over the lines in combat with Albatros scouts." That was all we were told. Each of us feels a personal responsibility, as if we should have been there to help, as he always was for us. Even my latest victory and promotion to Captain can do little to numb the pain of his loss. It has cast a pall over the squadron and only seems to reinforce how tenuous our grip on life is...