A BLACK DAY FOR THE ROYAL FLYING CORPS

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It was a black day for the RFC!

Last Friday good chum Dave was back to continue our Algy campaign. We are jumping forward in 3 month bounds because we want to move through to the end of the War in a reasonable number of games so we can see the development of the planes and the changes in balance as time progresses.

Anyway, so it was April 1917. A ‘Big Push’ was on the cards and the Germans had located a British Divisional HQ close to the front. With the Push probably only days away, the Germans decided to complicate British planning and bomb the HQ! They sent 2 Rolands with bombs and an escort of 2 Albatross DIIIs. All German crews were experienced except for the leader of the Scouts, a Junior Ace.

On the British side, we had elements of 2 squadrons again. The Nieuport 17s were back, but this time with a Veteran Flight Leader and an Experienced wingman – both having progressed as a result of the last game. We also had the same 2 Pups with a Junior Ace and an Experienced wingman.

So, the Germans came on in the centre of their short edge, the Rolands flanked by the Scouts, who were also higher. The Nieuports were clearly on their game again and came on first move from the British left corner of their short edge and quite high too. The Pups? Once again, breakfast was clearly too good and there was no sign of them. Here are the Germans coming on and the Nieuports diving to meet them:

HITACHI HDC-1491E HITACHI HDC-1491E

As the Nieuports swooped in on the bombers, the Pups arrived on the opposite (right) corner and used their speed to good effect to drive towards the Rolands, who proceeded to advance towards their target, dropping to low level and positioning themselves for bombing runs in sequence.

The Pups arrive with the German Junior Ace heading straight for them:

HITACHI HDC-1491E

And now it all turned into a real melee!! The Experienced German Albatross Pilot stayed high and pretty much out of the action, but the Pups swept past the Rolands and pulled round to get behind them. The Nieuports were closing on them from their front right and things were looking good for the RFC. The German Junior Ace was coming past with a view to coming round and back towards the Rolands and the British fighters.

HITACHI HDC-1491E

First off, the Nieuport wingman got off a burst and forced the left hand (grey) Roland to side slip – would it be enough to compromise his bombing run? Sadly not and both Rolands successfully bombed the target scoring a whopping 5 points of damage. Next up was the British Junior Ace in his Pup he closed and got a chance to get on the tail of the left hand (grey) Roland – “anything but a 1” was the cry and he duly threw a 1!

As the lead Pup moved and overshot the left hand (grey) Roland, the Nieuports moved in behind him and again, a chance for the Flight Leader to get on the tail – “anything but a 1” and he managed it!

The Pup overshoots but the Nieuports come in and get on the tail:

HITACHI HDC-1491E

But the Roland got the first shot and the gunner did enough to cause the British pilot to lose control and go into a spin. Now the problem was that we were so low because of the German bombing run, that the pilot had no chance to recover and crashed into the ground. One down.

The German Junior Ace then tried his luck against the Pup Junior Ace, it was a hard shot but, once again, just enough to cause the Pup pilot to go into a spin and yes, still too low and into the ground he went! Two down.

The Nieuport wingman had his go next, we ruled that we would give him a chance to take over on the tail having seen his leader crash – “anything but a 1” and, guess what, ANOTHER 1! He overshot and could only watch over his shoulder as the Rolands both turned for home and safety, the grey giving him a parting shot! But it wasn’t over yet! The German Junior Ace manoeuvred hard to come in behind the fleeing Nieuport and duly got on the tail. With his superior firepower and having got up close the Nieuport really stood no chance at all – a long burst and the Nieuport burst into flames and headed into the deck. Three down.

HITACHI HDC-1491E

So, a REALLY bad day for the RFC. In campaign terms, the German Junior Ace chalked up his third kill and is now a Top Ace! The Grey Roland crew both did enough to become Veterans and the Pilot has been transferred to the Scouts with his replacement being a Sprog – good job he has a veteran in the back seat. The other Germans remained unchanged as experienced crews. As a Top Ace, the German commander has much more choice in terms of planes and will return in a brand new Albatross DVa! His Scout comrades will retain their DIIIs, at least for the next game, and the Roland will also soldier on.

As for the British. Only the Pup wingman was left and he stayed as Experienced. We rolled up 5 more Pilots to give us a total of 6 – British numbers are starting to tell as we move to July 1917. The Nieuport Squadron has been withdrawn as a result of the losses and has been replaced with a Squadron fresh from conversion to the new SE5a! They come with a Junior Ace and 2 Experienced pilots. The Pup Squadron got another Experienced Pilot and a Sprog and remain equipped with Pups for the time being – although there is talk of a new Sopwith super weapon due towards the end of the year and they have been warned for conversion!

And what’s up next – Balloon Busting!!

As for the rules, we have made a few changes to the playtest version and these have worked well. We have also come up with a few more to test in the next game but we are really finding that these games now flow well, give realistic results and play well and quickly for a club evening.

Monty the Desert Rat

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