Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Bloody April - Wings of War

In April 1917, the French and British launched the latest Big Push, aka lunatic attack. The RFC were ordered to fly army support operations into German territory. The British had about 25 quadrons, a little more than 350 planes. Two thirds were two seaters who carrried out the reconnaissance and artillery spotting missions, leaving about 120 scouts to escort them. The Germans concentrated 8 fighter Jasta, say 80 scouts, in the area.

This looks OK on paper but the RFC scouts were largely obsolete. The twin-gun Albatross scouts outclassed them in all regards. Nevertheless, the RFC was obliged to go on the offensive.

This scenario takes place in Bloody April. The British two seaters have been slaughtered so the RFC sends two single-gunned Airco DH2 pusher scouts on a deep reconnaissance. They have added a Royal Naval Sopwith Triplane as an escort. The Triplane has only a single gun but can at least match the Albatross in performance, which is just as well as the formation runs straight into an Albatross trap.

The formations close.

The Albatross break.

After an initial exchange of fire, in which one of the DH2's gun jams on the first burst, the British planes loop around on the tail of the purple Albatross. It's partner makes an attack run on the Triplane.

There is a swirling dogfight in which the scouts fire when they can while twisting to evade being attacked themselves. The powerful spandeaux of an Albatross punch through a DH2's fuel tank causing it to explode in a ball of fire. The second pusher is set on fire and the Triplane's engine is hit. It nevertheless tears straight at the purple Albatross riddling it at close range. The wings collapse and the German falls. The DH2 does not survive to celebrate. The onboard fire spreads to a petrol line and the DH2 explodes.

The Triplane escapes while it can, the pilot nursing the stuttering engine.

In the real world the Britsh lost 245 aircraft. The Germans lost 66. So this scenario was quite accurate. Two guns are a big advantage.

Thanks to Shaun who piloted the Albatross scouts.

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