Dawn Patrol Report, 31st of July 1917

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Dawn Patrol Report, 31st of July 1917

Post  MJDixon on Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:23 am

(No fancy paper or pen effect this time as the stuff for making that is on the other PC, so this will have to do. Razz )

31st of July 1917

'A' Flight, consisting of myself as flight lead with pilots Hinkel, Speedy and Dezey took off for the dawn patrol at 05:50 hours local time in S.E.5as to patrol along the front sector to the east - lack of bombardment damage at the front sector is of note, this is due to a breakthrough in this area resulting in new front lines along the river running north - south, British and Canadian forces having control of the western bank of the river, with German forces controling the east.

Climbing towards the front we patrolled south to north along the river at aproximately 8000 feet, then upon reaching the northern most reach of the river we reversed course to patrol south - spotting two aircraft ahead of us during the southern leg - some 1 - 2 thousand feet below us at 12 o'clock, which turned out to be an enemy Aircraft (either a Pfalz D.III or Albatros) chasing an unknown allied two-seater, which evaded in thick cloud to the east - as such we gave chase, the enemy machine also heading into cloud, before emerging below - I was able to get behind the Hun machine and fire into him a number of times - resulting in his port wings being torn away, the machine falling out of sight.

We then regrouped over our observation balloon over sector 26, which then began to fire red very lights to warn of an enemy aircraft in the area - which we soon spotted as an enemy two-seater, attempting to shoot down the balloon with his observer gun (probable identification as German Halberstadt) - as such I signalled that I would take high cover position, with Speedy going in to attack and Hinkel providing close cover - however Speedy lost sight of the enemy machine over forest - as such I signalled that I would dive at the enemy and fire a red very light to indicate his position - which I did, Speedy then resuming his attack - only to see the enemy machine lose his wings, presumably to our Balloon defence anti-aircraft artillery.

Reforming again we then continued our patrol along the river - spotting an unidentified two-seater flying along a railway line on the enemy side of the river - as such we began to follow it, noting the enemy anti-aircraft fire around the machine, which lead us to believe that it was a friendly aircraft, as such we were about to abandon the chase and return to our patrol sector - however at that moment I spotted a large machine directly above us, flying westwards, which must have been either an enemy Gotha bomber flying out to a target, or one of our own Handley Pages returning to base after a raid - as such we began to climb up under the machine - making sure to stay directly under him to try to stay unseen and initiate a sneak attack.

After navigating under some clouds I was able to sneak up below the machine, which Hinkel had by then identified as a german Gotha, as such I lowered the mount of my overwing Lewis Gun so that it was pointing upwards some 50 degrees or so - enabling me to launch a sneak attack on the Hun from under his port side - firing long bursts into his port engine - even managing to finish one drum and reload the gun before the German crew realized what was happening!

Having fired an entire drum into the Hun machine and a substantial number of a second, the Gotha's port engine began to spew smoke - it was at this moment that the enemy crew realized they were under attack and began evasive action (either this or the loss of power in the port engine lead to the Hun machine going into a stall) as such I continued to give chase, using both my Lewis and Vickers guns in a standard six o'clock attack - which was rewarded when the damaged engine of the Gotha was set alight, after which the Hun machine entered a death spiral, the port wing giving way and the enemy bomber dropping out of sight.

The flight then reformed upon a green very light from myself, and - having regained altitude, continued our patrol along the front line from north to south.

Some three to four minutes after resuming our patrol I spotted a number of aircraft ahead of us, aproximately 1000 feet below, numbering some four or more machines - as such we positioned ourselves to attack, myself diving down on the rearmost aircraft, which I identified as an enemy Albatros scout - and, firing a medium length burst into the top of the machine from close range - whilst he was unawares, I was rewarded with the sight of the Hun machine catching fire and falling down out of sight.

I then spotted a second Hun machine, which was being chased by one of my wingmen, as such I gave chase to support him, however I soon found myself under machinegun fire from behind - being fired upon at very long range by an enemy Albatros, as such I broke to the west to extend away from the Hun, before coming back in to the fight.

Returning to the fight I saw Speedy being chased by an enemy scout, with Hinkel trying to assist - then during the melee which followed I spotted an Albatros with a green tail (Jasta 5?) I am unsure if this was the Hun that was chasing Speedy, or another - but it seemed to be unmolested - as such I attacked the Hun machine from the rear - being surprised to find that I was able to match the Albatros in his turns - presumably he mut have had some damage or was otherwise unable to turn fully, nevertheless I continued to chase the Hun as he twisted down to lower altitude, landing a number of glancing blows, which after one burst seemed to set the enemy machine aflame, but if so it was soon extinguished - some more twists down to low altitude and a final burst sent the enemy machine crashing down into trees, destroyed.

We then reformed to return to base, but were unable to locate Speedy again, we can only hope that he was forced to land on our side of the lines.

After a short break the remaining S.Es of the flight were rearmed and refueled, after which we flew out for a three man patrol back to the front line, this was short lived for Dezey, however - as I noted that he was leaking fluid during take-off, and signalled to him - however he reported that his dials were all reading normal, as such we continued for a few minutes, only to find that Dezey's engine had seized up - forcing him to make a crash landing in a field to the east of the Aerodrome.

Having waited for Dezey to take off in his reserve S.E we then began to climb back to the front, patroling south to north along the river line, but soon spotting a flight of two aircraft to the east of us, some 2000 feet above, as such we turned west to gain altitude on them, not wishing to engage from below - I then turned the flight to the north however, as the two unidentified aircraft were about to pass between us and the Sun, and I did not want the enemy to be in a position where they might attack us with the Sun to their backs - however, I fear we may have banked too sharply and reflected sunlight from our wings, thus alerting the enemy to our presence - as one of the machines (probably a Pfalz D.III) then begain to dive upon us. - Finding ourselves under attack from above I signalled to gain altitude if able, or else take the enemy lower if attacked, so that we might close the altitude gap between us.

After coming under attack a number of times we were able to close with the enemy, landing a number of hits on the Hun machine and forcing him to dive down lower, however not before Hinkel took damage to his engine in a head-on pass, disabling it - we then continued to chase the Hun down in a number of very fast dives - firing into him as we went, during this time we lost contact with Dezey, and so myself and Hinkel were left to give chase - with Hinkel's engine being disabled I found myself diving down behind the Hun - firing into him as he levelled out at very low altitude, and - after another gun pass, the Hun was forced to make a crash landing on our side of the front, flipping onto his top after a heavy landing.

After this Hinkel was then also forced to make a landing on our side of the lines, having had his engine disabled, as such I returned to base alone - having lost contact with Dezey during the engagement, he was possibly also disabled and forced to land, as he has not reported back to the Aerodrome.


(That's all from memory as I haven't looked at the video yet - best way to write an AAR if you ask me, else it's cheating - so bear in mind 95% of it might be completely wrong! Laughing

Incidentally, from a point of view of historical interest - July the 31st 1917 was the opening day of the third battle of Ypres.)

_________________


"I look forward confidently to the exploits of our Fighter Pilots - these splendid men, this brilliant youth, who will have the glory of saving their native land, their island home, and all they love, from the most deadly of all attacks."

- Winston Churchill
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MJDixon

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Re: Dawn Patrol Report, 31st of July 1917

Post  speedy77 on Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:20 pm

Nice AAR MJ, there haven't been any for a while, always a good read.

By writing this you will note I did survive. I pulled out of a dive little to forcefully and lost my top wing. I managed to jump up just as the plane impacted..so thats all good.
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speedy77

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