It's now 20th August and somehow, Fighter Command has got through another hard day. In the critical south-eastern area, 11 Group is pretty well smashed, unless and until its battered airfields can be repaired and aircraft strength built up again. The whole burden of the defence now rests on the relatively smaller forces of 12 Group to the north and 10 Group to the west. The airfields of these Groups have become the main focus of the Luftwaffe's efforts, with raids ranging far and wide. Often they are un-intercepted, as I try to concentrate what squadrons I have on selected raids.
The first contact with one of this morning's many raids is made by 'B' Flight, No. 3 Squadron. I drop into QO-L, the Hurricane flown by the leader of its second 3-plane section.
The raid we've have come here to greet, just south of London, is ahead and still above us, closing diagonally from left to right. There's about thirty bombers, with as many escorts in two groups above them. The nearest bunch of escorts has already started loosening formation, indicating they are alert and reacting to our approach. Anyhow, the boss orders us to get stuck into them, so onwards and upwards it is.
The Hun fighters aren't diving straight down at us. Wisely, they seem to be keeping their height and manoeuvring for position, which they have plenty of time to do.
Below us is the distinctive presence of the airfield at Kenley. The base looks relatively undamaged apart from a scattering of visible bomb craters, but I know that it is currently out of action. At any rate, the raid is headed somewhere off to the west, probably going for one of 10 Group's airfields.
I pull up in anticipation of a tussle with the higher Hun fighters, leaving the other five Hurricanes climbing more slowly and lagging behind a little. I don't notice the lone Hurricane with the standard black spinner; it looks like our white-spinnered squadron is not entirely on its own in this little enterprise of martial kind.
I curve around after the raid, momentarily and dangerously losing sight of the manoeuvring escorts. The sudden warning over the R/T, directed at Blue 1 by Blue 3, tells me the Huns haven't lost sight of us.
I tighten up my gentle right-hand turn and look for the developing air battle. It's rather hard to find, considering that there's likely about twenty aircraft involved and they can't be that far off. There's a handful of aircraft milling about some distance away, further right, but they start going down long before I can get anywhere near them. I'm in no hurry to lose precious height investigating further.
Always conscious that it's the one you don't see that gets you, I keep changing course while I look around. There's quite a lot to see, like clouds of Ack Ack fire off to the north-west of London and some aircraft here and there, but it's all a long way off.
I'm not too bothered if the fight has gone low, but I am a bit worried about those fading Ack Ack bursts up above.
The gunners are tracking a target that's flying roughly east down the line of the Thames. I can't see what they're shooting at, so it's possibly an individual aircraft, a solo fighter being more likely in the circumstances.
Suddenly there's another, closer outbreak of Ack Ack bursts, lower down on the opposite side. They're tracking a small group of fast-moving aircraft that's going the other way and is now behind me. Three of them, 109s probably.
I really should ask the others where they've got to and re-join them, but they're clearly some way off. Three seemingly-unsuspecting 109s close at hand seems worth having a pop at, first. So after them I go.
I start to have second thoughts when I notice there's actually now four of them and they're closing in behind another group of similar fighters.
Before I can change my mind, the 109s begin a turn to the right. It’s now a bit late to run for it, so I fly on, like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
The Huns level out, heading back in my direction, but do not drop down. I’m now underneath their noses and sense they haven’t seen me, or at least, aren’t interested. It’s still a bit unsettling, though.
The 109s slip behind and change course again, but still heading away. The Ack Ack boys are banging away, but their rounds seem to be bursting between me and the Huns. At any rate, it looks like I’ve had a narrow escape!
Up ahead is a large raid flying in roughly the same direction, maybe thirty bombers with two groups of escorts slightly below. The Ack Ack directed at them is bursting rather low.
Frustrated at my inability to earn my crust so far, I go for the low escorts on the right of the raid. They aren’t weaving, just holding position. I catch them up quite quickly, glancing in the mirror at intervals to check that someone else isn’t sneaking up on me. Ahead of these Huns is yet another raid, with the escorts above, this time. There’s no sign of any friends, just enemies. Lots of them. I must be off my rocker, trying to sneak up on this bunch. It's not as if I'm Albert Ball and this is 1916.
The tension mounts as I gain steadily on the Huns.
Finally the 109s I'm going after come into range and I start shooting, getting hits right away on my unsuspecting target.
I keep up my speed and basically blast my way through the 109s on the right of the bunch. They scatter wildly, some going left…
…and others going right. I haven’t shot down anyone, I’m sure, but I’ve hit at least one and shaken up a few more. This is more like it, and actually quite fun!
I hold off patting myself on the back, though…better wait to see if I survive the next few minutes.
A quick look around shows my tail is clear, although there is an impressive array of imperturbable Teutonic airpower sailing overhead...
Then it's off I go, after the two 109s who have broken right.
I get a good burst into one of them, who drops like a brick, damaged and hopefully scared, if not actually shot down.
Next, I waste no time in chasing off his friend.
After he too goes down, I make my escape, as planned. This takes me in the general direction of another large raid.
But I'm not feeling that brave anymore. So when a handful of 109s come in contrailling from my right, I take the opportunity to slip in behind them, instead.
The Huns are fast if not going at full tilt, and a bit higher, so I close only slowly...
...until they start a turn to the right, which enables me to cut across the circle in the approved fashion.
They get the same treatment as the other 109s, Basically, I carve my way through their formation, snapping out short bursts as I go. The Huns seem suitably impressed and keen to get to know me better, but I don't hang around.
Unfortunately my ammo runs out at this point, a bit earlier than I was expecting. So I take a leaf out of the Huns' own playbook, roll inverted, and dive away.
Apparently, 109s were seen to do this more often than nose over, despite the fame attributed to that escape manoeuvre. Possibly because the latter was more uncomfortable, one reason Erich Hartman (as described in Edward H Sims' 'Fighter Exploits') often favoured the negative G diving turn to get away - being an uncomfortable manoeuvre to follow. But I digress...
The morning's raids are far from over and my next show soon beckons...flying Hurricanes again, now with 145 Squadron. As seen here near Corydon, with some of its buildings looking rather blackened from recent visits by the Luftwaffe.
This time, the 109s will turn out to be in rather better form!
Again, there's just six of us on this hop. This the view of my kite from Green 3, on my left. We're south of the Thames and to the west of the capital.
There are Huns about but the closer ones are a lot higher up. Fighter sweeps, sweeping hither and thither, possibly.
I'm not really sure what to do for the best, but a bit more height to do it seems indicated. I pull up a little, taking my own section with me and keeping a wary eye on the nearest contrails. Are they just changing course, or circling around after us? Hard to say.
Safe enough - the contrails recede out to the west. On either side, my numbers two and three are keeping up nicely...
...but the next moment, they are gone. Down below me, as it happens; you can just about make them out down in front, in the next pic. What are they playing at?
The whine of a passing Daimler Benz engine above the noise of my own Merlin provides a clue. Looking left, I can see a couple of 109s zipping past.
Instinctively, I bank around after the nearest one. Who isn't that near. But he's turning, and I try to cut across him
Next thing I know, I'm being shot at from behind. Serves me right from taking my eyes off the second 109. Who's now sitting on my neck.
I somehow manage to get out of his way and turn the tables. At the same time the Ack Ack boys join the party. The 109 twists and turns like a snipe.
Suddenly it's me who has to take violent evasive action again, as a beggar with a yellow nose comes up from below and behind. I fling my kite over to the left to get out of his line of fire....
...but have no sooner recovered than I have to dodge again as another 109 puts in a head on attack and flashes past.
I recover and go after the Hun with the yellow nose. He's out to the east over London and turning hard. I seem to be on my own out here, but I'm rather annoyed and determined to get these two.
Before I can get anywhere near the 109, rounds whack into me. Hit hard, I roll over and go down.
The Hun with the plain markings has wasted no time in coming after me. This pair is co-operating very well. Sadly for me. For the first time, I begin to feel trapped - the hunted, no longer the hunter.
I'm now quite low and head for the deck, twisting around as I go.
Despite the plentiful Ack Ack fire, the Huns won't let go. Yellow Nose is now back on my tail, too, and my kite is leaving a pronounced smoke trail.
By now I'm more or less back where I started, with Croydon visible in the middle distance. Except that I'm on my own...apart from two Huns who are determined to bag me.
I contemplate trying to get down at the requisitioned airport but know I'll never make it that far. So I slide back the canopy and start gaining height in a turn. Time to hit the silk! But the nearest 109 is now breathing down my neck.
I should maybe have tried a forced landing in those fields, but I doubt I'd have made it even that far.
Somehow I manage to shake off the Hun. But I'm still not high enough to bail out. I need to take a chance and start climbing again.
But it's not to be. Yellow Nose clobbers me from behind and my elevator control goes, leaving me going down instead of up.
The ground rushes up to meet me and before I can do anything else, it's good-night, Vienna!
About lunchtime on the 20th, 43 Squadron arrives south-east of London. It's come across from 10 Group's airfield at Middle Wallop as I manually scrambled it to intercept Hostile 201, a thirty-plus raid. The Ops Room map view below shows the squadron later, nearly home, with one aircraft less than the six it started with. How that came to pass, I will now relate.
Here I am in FT-K, leading the flight's second section. The morning's many raids are homeward bound by now, and at first, the skies look rather empty, apart from our six Hurricanes.
Somebody comes up on the R/T reporting tanks half empty, and soon after, the boss orders us to turn about and return to base. His section begins a turn to the left and is soon going home.
In frustration, I look at my own gauges. We might be pushed to regain Middle Wallop if we go much further and get into a fuel-hungry scrap, and many airfields in this area are still unserviceable. But I feel hopeful we could get down somewhere.
So I delay turning for home a little longer and instead, bank gently left and right, looking for Bandits.
And there they are! A raid of about thirty in three groups - unescorted bombers, I think.
Worth having a closer look, I decide, and lead the section after them. The closer we get, the surer I am that they are bombers on their own. If only we'd had the whole squadron up!
As the range winds down, the Huns begin a turn to the left, which helps me close in, and identify the enemy. They're bombers, all right - Dornier 17s.
I pick out one in the left-hand group and make an attack from astern. I take a few hits but I set one of the Dorniers smoking before having to break.
Pursued by Hun tracers but still in business, I realise the rest of the section isn't with me.
I end out well out to the right of the raid. From here, I can see that the Dornier I attacked is still trailing smoke, but still maintaining formation. For the time being.
Meanwhile, my numbers 2 and 3 are rejoining. Perhaps I've been too harsh on them and just didn't notice their attack.
Anyway there's still no Hun fighters anywhere to be seen, so in we go again. Rather than cross all the way over to the left for the sake of going for the bomber I damaged, I attack one on the near side of the formation, this time.
I start getting hits, closing in quickly. This looks promising!
But with the smoke from the bomber suddenly increasing, I lose a clear view of him and break too late, The first I know about it is when my Hurricane lurches violently and starts rolling left. Very fast. Looking out on that side, I can see the wing is no longer there! I chop the throttle and slide back the hood. Somehow, I also manage to make it out of my doomed fighter.
Up above, the Dorniers are sailing on, and my numbers 2 and 3 are no-where to be seen. Also missing is the Dornier I collided with - there are now nine aircraft I the right rear group, instead of ten.
There he is! Spiralling down and pretty clearly doomed. Problem is, so am I, unless my canopy withstands the sudden shock of opening, which is always in doubt in high-speed bailouts.
But all is well, and in another second I find myself dangling serenely under the silken canopy as the raiders rumble on, up above.
Evidently, everyone else made it back to Warmwell - hence the five aircraft showing on the 43 Squadron marker on the plotting table, in the first pic on the previous post. And in the pic below. This shows the dialogue boxes opened for the Mission Folder, Warmwell airfield, and the 43 Squadron 'Diary'. The latter has the 'Single' box ticked so it shows the results of that unit's last action. It seems somebody else saw Messerschmitts, but as we claimed none and lost nobody to them, they were probably far away - 109s can be very hard to spot unless they are close to a raid.
The Dorniers I damaged and shot down (all right, rammed!) were the only damage done to Hostile 201 (which per the Mission Folder, was making sure the fighter base at Duxford, further north-east, stayed 'critically damaged'). But for six Hurricanes up against that lot and many 109s not too far away, it could have been far worse.
The latest updates (by the BDG community mod group, 2.13 being the very latest and best, link to it should be on the A2A BoB2 website) are not entirely compatible with Windows 10. The best result achievable is that missions CTD when you exit them so no debrief, leaving the many historical missions playable and the campaign I think, too, although the results of the mission you just flew won't be taken into account (the AI campaign engine takes care of things, instead). Some people can't get it to work even so well. But there is now a hybrid update available from Felizpe which is Windows 10 friendly, at the cost of some of the latest features, but with some new ones of its own:
I'm running Windows 7/10 dual boot with Win 7 on a separate SSD, but apparently Win 7 won't install readily on the most modern PCs, so that's not an option for all.
There are still improvements released by modders from time to time; most are linked to in the A2A BoB2 'Subscriber modifications' thread eg Boreas released a fix for the Sipt camo patterns, A and B Scheme variations for Hurris and Spits, and red doped gunport patches (absent in the original) to Spits, in six and eight patch variants.
The lunch-time raids have crept south off the map and there's a welcome break. Announcements stream into the Ops Room - replacement aircraft allocations, a worn-out squadron being posted north for a rest and most welcome of all, Coltishall fighter base in 12 Group is back in action, though still damaged. The bases in the crucial 11 Group in the south-east are still all out of action and I need some of these to come back on stream.
The Luftwaffe is going to allow no such thing, it seems, for at tea-time, the next wave of raids is being plotted, with the main effort coming right towards the heart of 11 Group.
I had ordered paired squadrons from 12 Group - 46 and 310 Squadrons - to patrol 11 Group's airfields and as the raids sweep north-west, I divert both of them to intercept Hostile 651, which consists of thirty-plus Heinkels. Today's raids seem to be covered by strong fighter sweeps, rather than closely escorted, so I'm hopeful of being able to catch some bombers before the 'snappers' can react.
No. 310 (Czech) Squadron has less far to go so meets the enemy first. As usual I drop in as the leader of Green Section in 'B' Flight. I'm in NN-R as our twelve Hurricanes rush north-west after Hostile 651.
Behind us is another raid, Hostile 652, which from their formation, also looks to be unescorted bombers.
We're over the south-western outskirts of London; nearly directly below is the distinctive landmark of Hampton Court Palace.
Out to my right is Green 2; thanks to Boreas's recent mod, he's in the 'A' Scheme upper surface pattern, while my kite has the mirror image 'B' Scheme, as does Green 3, out of shot on my left side.
I open the throttle and lead Green Section slightly further out to the right of the squadron, to give us some elbow room. Up ahead, the bombers are attracting some Ack Ack fire. At this point I notice a midge-like cloud of fighters moving out to the right of the bombers, barely visible in the pic below. There seems to be about thirty of them, at least.
This could turn rather nasty! At least Green 2 is undeterred...
...as is Green 3.
At this point, the bossfinally comes to life on the R/T and orders us all to get stuck in - nothing too fancy, pick your own targets. Of which there are plenty - too many, if anything!
As we race after the bombers, I keep an anxious eye on the Hun fighters, which have drifted well out to our right. By this time they have started contrailing, so perhaps they have also climbed. Watching the contrails, I notice that they have turned sharply and are now on a course which is bringing them closer, instead of taking them further away.
Up ahead, the bombers start turning left. This is good, since it will take them away from the enemy fighters, as well as enabling us to cut the corner.
Which of course is what we do.
The bombers catch me out by continuing their turn until they are nearly coming right at us. They are Dornier 17s, not the Heinkels I was expecting.
The angles aren't right for a head-on attack so I come in around behind the bombers. At the same time, Blue Leader - my flight leader in fact - is on the air announcing he's going in. I decide to go for the right-hand rear Dornier, not noticing a group of fighters further ahead, just in front of the bombers.
I start shooting and get hits on the bomber. Just at that moment, I see the fighters ahead come rushing through the Dorniers. My first thought is that they're 109s, but they're actually more Hurricanes - from our own squadron, or possibly 46 has arrived.
I'm my surprise, I stop shooting momentarily. Meanwhile, the Dorniers have started dropping their loads.
The other Hurricanes roll right and curve away. Green 2 and Green 3 have fallen behind a bit, but are now closing in on the Dorniers.
I resume shooting. My target starts smoking and drops out of formation to the left.
There's another Dornier ahead of him in the leading wedge and I make a split second decision to carry on and attack him, instead of breaking off. This quickly turns out to be a rather bad idea, for suddenly, there's tracers coming at me from all directions and I'm hit repeatedly.
By this time, incidentally, I'm right over what must be the bombers' target - Northolt airfield. Which hardly looks worth attacking, since all but one of its hangars, and most of its other buildings, are just rectangular piles of greyish rubble. I suppose the enemy wants to keep things that way.
In for a penny, in for a pound - despite the hits I complete my attack on the second Dornier, and break upwards at the last moment, only just missing him.
Up and over the Dornier we go! Already my engine's running roughly and I feel like I'm trying to clear Beecher's Brook on a cart horse.
As I pull away, I'm unaware that the Hun fighter sweep is passing across to my rear. They are making no effort to intervene, possibly short of fuel and having to run for home.
Suddenly, there's a loud explosion somewhere behind and below. A bomber, probably the one I just attacked, has blown up, leaving only smoke, fire and flying aeroplane fragments.
I come around again after the Huns. It looks like Green 2 and 3 have made their attacks. One bomber near the front is streaming smoke and another is going down in flames, parachutes falling away behind.
More Hurricanes attack as I struggle after the Huns. A second Dornier falls away to the left in flames...
...while more 'chutes are popping open next to a bomber which is going down vertically, clearly doomed.
The increasingly erratic note of my engine concentrates my attention on my own situation. Engine coolant temperature is fine but the needle in the oil temp gauge is up against the stop. The revs are fluctuating wildly, with the needle flicking up and down between 2,800 and 2,200. I'm barely making 180 Indicated...
...and no longer gaining on the bombers, which are in fact beginning to draw away from me. Time to go home!
As I bank away, I get a good look at the mess the Dorniers have made of what's left of Northolt.
The Ack Ack boys are no better pleased with this than I am, and they let fly as the Huns turn for home, still under attack from the occasional Hurricane.
Well, we managed to catch a raid without close escort and certainly did it some damage, but we didn't stop the Huns from doing what they came here to do. Not so good.
Excellent to see you back in the saddle over here 33lima. "trying to clear Beecher's Brook on a cart horse". I looked it up and as I suspected this involved a Steeple Chase, The Grand National Steeple Chase no less. I did not know each fence has its own name though. Nice Mission with 2 Victories for your boy. Good show old bean!
NoFlyBoy, I purchased my copy of BOBII WOV on CD format from a seller on E-bay. Unfortunately I have still not installed or flown it yet do to other commitments. One day I will!
Soon after, the second squadron sent to cover 11 Group - No. 46 Squadron, also flying Hurricanes - spots the enemy, just north of London. No, not that lot over to our left...
...this bunch, up ahead. I report them on the radio and hear myself calling them in - bombers, straight ahead and level, plus a bunch of fighters in a different direction.
The boss acknowledges and orders us to pick our own targets. The bombers up ahead are crossing from right to left and I begin a turn after them. At the same time, the Huns start making a course change of their own, revealing themselves, even at that range, to be Heinkels, with their distinctive wing planform. There's what looks like another bunch of bombers ahead of them. Hard though Fighter Command has been hit, I know we have been taking an especially heavy toll of the Messerschmitts, and coming across bombers like these - without close escort - seems to be much more common than before.
Green 2 and 3 are still with me, but the rest of the boys seem more interested in the leading group of bombers and slide out to our left. So be it. I carry on after the nearest bombers.
There are about thirty Heinkels in two or three groups and I come around in a curve or pursuit after the nearest lot.
Their turn throws me off initially and I end up banking across the rear of the bunch I intend to attack. Fortunately, I seem to be doing so out of range of the enemy gunners, and there's still no sign of Messerschmitts.
Green 2 and 3 have not quite kept up with my wanderings but look to be lining themselves up for an attack of their own.
Things go wrong fairly quickly. I come up on the right-hand Heinkel from behind and below and start shooting. But I soon start taking hits, including one right in my armoured glass windscreen.
I bank clumsily back to the left to get out of the line of fire and with a high overtaking speed, flash past the Huns, without being hit again.
More through luck than judgment, this moves puts me into position for a pass at the group of bombers on the left, which is slightly ahead of the others. The bomber gunners give me another warm welcome.
I get some hits on one of the bombers but have to break away before observing any particular results.
I go wide then bank right to come in for another crack. By this time, Green 2 and 3 are also having a go.
They seem to have opened fire at rather long range and break off without having done any more visible damage than I did.
My next attack produces much better results...
...and this time, the return fire seems to be absent, or at least, much less apparent.
Up and away we go once more. Disappointingly, my target seems to have shrugged off all the hits. Just how many .303 rounds can these Hun bombers soak up?
The good news is that the bomber I attacked is now lagging behind the others, trailing some faint grey smoke, mixed in with his contrail.
My next pass ends abruptly when the bomber blows up under my fire!
Aircraft parts large and small whirl through the air and I hold my breath, until I burst through into clear skies on the far side of the inferno. No doubt about that one!
Emboldened by my success, I line up for another attack on the same formation...
...but my ammo runs out after the shortest bursts and I break off hastily, pursued by tracers from the vengeful Hun gunners...
...who can still see the remains of the disintegrating Heinkel falling from the sky.
I watch the Huns go for a while, hoping to see Green 2 and 3 have another go.
But nobody shows up, and after getting a bearing from the boss, I fly off towards the west to rejoin the squadron, who seem to have given up due to low fuel, having come rather far.
My own Hurricane is showing no particular signs of damage, so all in all, it's hasn't been too bad a show.
This is the 'Hostiles List' as seen almost immediately after my two engagements of the evening. Hostile 651's thirty Dorniers have been well whittled down, but have somehow exacted a heavy toll on our interceptors.
This is 310 Squadron's Diary, the unit that mauled, and got mauled by, those Dorniers. As they had 12 Hurricanes in the air, I'm not sure why it's reported they had 8 damaged and 12 lost, but at least only two pilots are casualties.
This is 46 Squadron's Diary, showing they had a much quieter time, with just one victory claimed and one Hurricane damaged - my own, in both cases.
Anyway, the day's activities are nearing an end and we're still in business - only just!
The day's not over yet, though. Thirty Heinkels have bombed the fighter base at Digby, well to the north in 12 Group's territory. I've managed to scramble 56 Squadron from the airfield, and they catch the raiders as they run southwards for home.
Fifty-six is at reduced strength, having been posted north for what should have been a rest from the rigours of service in 11 Group. There's just six of us against thirty, but we'll do our best. Happily, we're well out of range of the 109s.
Just at that moment, the boss comes up on the R/T and orders us - Keta Squadron, BoB2 using authentic squadron code names from the Battle - to go home!
In an effort to prevent this, I call in the Bandits, using BoB2's radio command menu.
He acknowledges, but continues to lead his section off to the right.
This puts me in a bit of a quandary. These Huns have just bombed our base and I'm disinclined to let them get away scot free. So I hold my course. Incidentally, you can see that our Hurricanes' undersurfaces are in the early 1940 black and white, with aluminium fuselage and tailplane and the roundels added to aircraft operating from, or over, France.
I check my fuel gauge, in case we're short of juice, but no, that's not the problem.
So on we go, while the other section continues to drift away.
Up ahead, there's about twenty bombers in two groups. There's a third group, further ahead. I decide we'll have a crack at the nearest bunch, on the left.
There's an awful lot of Heinkels, and very few Hurricanes, but what of it? In we go!
I select as my intended victim the Heinkel on the right rear of the Hun formation and as his wingspan fills the ring in my reflector sight, let him have it. It's smaller target area but as in real life, it seems better to concentrate on an engine that pour rounds into the fuselage. The Heinkel lurches up and left, out of formation.
Meanwhile Green 2 and 3 are still with me...
...and come under some long range tracer fire from the second wedge of bombers, on our right.
Feeling adventurous if not actually bulletproof, I make a tight 360 degree turn and come in for another pass, this time at the next bomber ahead...
...pulling up wildly at the last moment and leaving a second bomber smoking, too. With my original target already trailing well behind, I've now forced two damaged Heinkels out of formation.
Now, all I need is to have enough ammo left to finish them off!