I get excited when, on Thursday nights, the Jasta5 Flugpark server fill with WWI flight sim enthusiasts. These classic aircraft battles are a world unto their own and that can make it extremely fun to participate. This Flight Journal episode seeks to highlight the fun in the challenge but also in defeat as things don’t always go according to plan. Flying together with Wolfpack345 and Jon Coughlin we took to the skies in some fun flights that don’t end the way you might think.
Pfalz success… and failure
For the first sortie, Wolfpack345 and I took the skies in the new Pfalz D.XII. This aircraft is one that I just wrote a review on a few days ago and wanted to get some more stick time on it. Although high performing, its just a bit quirkier than its Fokker D.VIIF stablemate. On the other hand, variety is the spice of life and it’s really nice to be able to fly a very competitive but different aircraft. Enter the Pfalz!
Taking off, we quickly climbed to 2,500 meters and flew along the frontline looking for trouble. Initially, all was quiet so we made it a point to hit one of the observation balloons along the frontline.
Diving in, Wolf and I agreed that we wanted to make this a one pass kill if possible. We’d both recently had some bad luck when it came to getting hit by flak so we wanted to avoid our time spent over this well defended target. With guns ablaze, we both closed in firing one after the other with the balloon going down in flames thanks to our concentrated attack.
Fast forward a few more minutes and we found ourselves looking at a large battle taking place over the Somme. Over a dozen aircraft were involved with recon flights and their escorts from both sides engaging each other.
Wolfpack engaged a swarm of SE5a’s while I was bounced by a SPAD. Very quickly, I was able to turn the tables and fired a long deflection shot scoring hits. The SPAD nosed over looking for an escape route but I was too fast and too close and I scored several more hits leading to the aircraft flying out of control towards the ground.
Meanwhile, Wolfpack and I had gotten separated and he was badly shot up by fighters that attacked him. I, however, was unable to intervene as I was again attacked by a SPAD and a SE5a.
I managed to get guns on the SE5a as he passed by but was forced to break away as a SPAD came at me almost head on. I broke into a tight turn and so did the SPAD – these two aircraft are remarkably well matched and our turn radius was similar leading to a second head on pass.
I decided to try and escape as the SE5a was back and firing bullets at me. I pointed my nose down and attempted to follow Woflpack out of the battle.
Unfortunately the SE5a and SPAD were right with me and the two chased me down low over the Somme. Both fighters were firing at long ranges hoping to get me and eventually they did. My pilot was wounded twice before more bullets hit my controls causing the Pfalz to pitch up violently. It was soon over. Drat!
The Fokker trio gets in trouble
Jon joined Wolfpack345 and I for this second flight. It started uneventfully as we climbed for the front and found only friendly aircraft patrolling. The Entente aircraft were nowhere to be found. Then we got a tip that their recon flight was down in the southern sector of the scenario so off we went to intercept.
We couldn’t find the recon flight but we did find their base. Intending to intercept the flight as it neared home, we dove down from our high perch at 3,500 meters and went looking for a fight. And we found one!
Wolfpack spotted a Sopwith Camel in a tight turn and dove in to engage. Meanwhile a SPAD came out of the sun and shot at Jon and I. Jon, with engine damage, had to ditch while I tried to keep the SPAD busy and away from the other two.
Although the SPAD had altitude advantage, he wasn’t able to fully capitalize on it. On his second diving pass, I fired a bust upwards at his aircraft striking his fuselage and his radiator. Fuel leaked out of one hole while coolant streamed from the engine.
Meanwhile, Wolfpack had corned the Camel and sent it crashing down into some trees opening his score sheet for the mission. Nice!
Meanwhile, I continue to tangle with the SPAD who made repeated passed along with a new threat. A Bristol FB.2 joined the fight in a bright scheme. I was hit only superficially on the first pass and then managed to use my aircraft’s superior agility to press the attack. The Bristol took a long burst from my machine guns before disintegrating infront of me.
The SPAD attempted to make this momentary distraction work and nearly succeeded but missed in another jousting match. By this point, damage to the SPAD’s engine must have been having an effect as his next turn wasn’t as tight and I fired another deflection shot scoring several hits. The SPAD went down and crashed.
Meanwhile, another Camel appeared and attempted to shoot at me. Wolfpack quickly doubled his kill tally by shooting that Camel down. Great teamwork!
More Allied fighters were coming at us. Wolfpack tackled another Sopwith Camel (shooting that one down too) while I engaged another F2B. Unfortunately, my lack of caution allowed the gunner to score several hits on my aircraft. The radiator was hit and I knew my time was limited. I finished off the F2B and then made a turn for home.
Although victorious in the fighting, my Fokker D.VII suffered an engine failure over friendly lines and crashed into a field. My virtual pilot? Didn’t make it.
Final tally from this second flight was one SPAD and two F2B’s while Wolfpack was victorious over three Camels.
So, we won some and we lost some in these challenging battles. Flying Circus battles do sometimes take a long time to play out with some sorties lasting over an hour. But when the fighting does start it gets incredible intense with close and personal jousts and duels that you don’t get in World War II aircraft typically.
The slightest lapse in concentration can mean a busted radiator, a damaged engine, or the enemy finding their advantage over you. It’s risky business. Survival is rarely guaranteed! Thanks to both Wolfpack345 (YouTube and Twitch) and Jon for flying with me on these sorties. It was fun!