11 days a pilot
The image of the First World War pilot was often romanticised and unrealistic. In reality, the average life-expectancy of a pilot was just 11 days.
Tonight we played the second of our trilogy in acknowledgement of the centenary of the beginning of World War One.
Tonight was Wings of War (Wings of Glory).
My planes are on route to scout some allied positions.
This photograph could be crucial for the next big push on the western front. The photo is a little blurred - but see if you would do better leaning out of a plane, jerking to avoid the machine gun bullets of a trailing enemy fighter!
This fighter was being flown by non other than a much younger and slimmer version of a chap called Goering.
One of SWF's combat aircraft.
He is soon joined by a second plane conducting a dawn patrol over crucial defensive positions.
I needed to evade the allied patrol, fly directly over the target to take a recon photo and escape in the direction from whence I came. Goering was escorting the two seater camera equipped aircraft.
SWF had to stop me with his two fighters, flown by Lt Coward and Lt Faversham - two boyhood friends who grew up in a small hamlet not far from Swanpool, Cornwall. Their love of flying grew out of playing cricket, rabbiting with their Yorkshire Terriers in nearby fields, and building bonfires near the sea - they loved adventure - but that is a story for another day.....(just trying to build up the characters so you care about what happens to them in my after action report)
My plan was simple - the two seater (which helpfully had a rear facing machine gun) would proceed at best speed to and from the target. Goering would drop behind and attempt to pick off any trailing enemy fighters and catch them in a machine gun sandwich - Goering liked this analogy, mainly because he liked sandwiches......
SWF decided to move at top speed toward me and swing around behind. This was a good plan, and hopefully the detailed planning by Coward and Faversham would pay off.
The rear gunner nervously scans the skies for trouble......
Goering sees two small dots approach directly from the front of his plane, they quickly grow into enemy fighters.....game on.
One of the fighters, flown by Faversham passes the starboard side of the German two seater and then turns toward the plane, clearly lining up a shot..to Faversham's surprise, Coward turns the same way, but passing down the port side, turns away from the enemy...."what the devil!"
Coward would later confess in the a Officers mess to having forgotten his left from his right, but he never got rid of the whispers behind his back, and questions about his pluck continued for some months....
A shot of Lt Cowards 'kite' - isolated and clearly travelling in 'an unexpected direction' - as described in Lt Faversham's flight report.
A wide view of the table. Both the German pilots were a little surprised by the ease in which the cut through the 'Dawn Patrol'.......
The chase was on. Lt Coward turned in an effort to catch the double seater. Lt Faversham was also trying to re-enter the fray. This was the first Wings of War game we played that wasn't simply a free for all - I had a mission, and the Allied fighters were finding it tough stopping me from getting to the objective.
"the bomber will always get through".......
Flying at top speed to catch up, and firing at long range too..
The Germans returned fire, both planes suffering some damage, the Allied plane more-so, but the rear gun on my recon plane jammed.
We played with hidden damage - which also added a little bit of spice to the game. To be frank, I had forgotten how much fun the game was....
Soon the valuable photographs had been taken...with minimal Allied interference.
"Click click click' goes the camera - 'dakka, dakka, dakka' went the Allied machine gun....causing what, on another day, may have been fatal damage to the rudder, preventing me turning left. Luckily - I needed to turn right.....phew
The culprit, he was only a few inches from achieving victory...
The chase was on, but I was now confident we would make it home.
And we did......
As I said earlier, I had forgotten how much fun this game is, and it just feels right in capturing the feel of WW1 flyinging (bearing in mind that (a) I am not a pilot and, (b) I am not, or ever have been a WW1 pilot). Easy to set up, and easy to play. A Central Powers victory - 1 - 1 in the trilogy.
The naval game will be the decider......