Saturday 14 April 2012

Angels 20....Game Number 6, Part 3

Summer, 1940....Somewhere over Southern England at Angels 10 (10,000 feet)....

Squadron Leader Harry 'Chips' Ramsden eased back on the throttle of his Spitfire as he surveyed the two accompanying Hurricanes at two o'clock. Thus far the sweep had been singularly uneventful despite the constant stream of reports from the various ground stations. Jerry was about for sure but not so far anywhere near where he was. Just as well really, he mused, with a Polish pilot barely able to speak two words of English and the other fresh out of OTU and certainly with down still on his cheeks. He dipped first one wing and then the other as he continued to scan the skies for any sign of the enemy.

Sqn. Ldr. Ramsden's Spitfire (bottom right) and the accompanying Hurricanes on patrol (the white markers indicate the size of the game map and so were used for deployment purposes on the larger area the game was fought over)

Hauptmann Walter Mainz was not happy. It was bad enough that the fighters only had a limited duration over England but to also act as chaperon to one of those Bf 110 'Zerstorer' was adding insult to injury. The much vaunted Bf 110 was described as a long range fighter but was woefully inefficient when up against a modern single seater. Acting as an escort to an escort was simply too much in his opinion. He nervously scanned the skies and his fuel gauge with equal attention as a swim in the Channel was not a prospect he relished. His wing man, Leutnant Hugo Furst, was dutifully on station and so Mainz was confident his back was covered. He checked his watch and saw that only ten minutes was left before they had to head back home.

Hauptmann Walter Mainz (the yellow nosed Bf 109) and his wingman Leutnant Hugo Furst in company with the much maligned Bf 110 'Zerstorer'

"Bulldog leader, this is Bluebell control over" The RT crackled into life and Ramsden was immediately alert. "Bulldog leader receiving, what's happening Bluebell, over?" His scan of the skies assumed a new urgency. "Bulldog leader we have ground reports of possible bogeys in your area, estimated Angels 10 and ahead of your position over!" Ramsden's attention naturally went to the area ahead and to his left as the Hurricanes were to his right and he was sure that had the Pole seen anything he would be haring off into the attack like a whirling dervish. "Roger Bluebell control, I will keep my eyes open and....."

His voice trailed off as several things happened at once. To begin with the RT suddenly burst into life with a stream of what sounded like mumbo-jumbo. "Niemcy, Niemcy - Jestem atakuje teraz - opÅ‚ata!" (for the benefit of the uneducated I shall translate: "Germans, Germans - I am attacking now - charge!") Ramsden did not need a translator to work out what was being screamed across the airwaves as both the Hurricanes immediately increased speed and roared across his front to his left. "Bluebell control, Bandits Angels 10 in sight, I am attacking now, Tally Ho!" Ramsden straightened his flying goggles, settled into his seat and flicked the gun safety off to the firing position whilst simultaneously dipping his port wing and bringing the Spitfire round in a fast but lazy turn.

With the enemy in plain sight each side attempted to gain an advantage and so the turning for firing position began

Mainz had spotted the enemy fighters almost at the same time as they had and he instinctively turned into the opposition whilst applying extra power. Furst followed suit immediately and the lumbering Bf 110 accelerated to full power and tried gamely to turn its nose to the enemy.

Ramsden cursed the impetuosity of the Pole and his wing man as in attempting to jump the opposition he had sprung the trap too soon and as sure as the sun came up in the morning a well handled 109 was always going make a Hurricane struggle. Even the 110 would give them a run for their money in a straight line but there was no time to worry about it now. He stared helplessly as the Hurricanes continued their turn into the enemy - an enemy that was faster and so was able to choose exactly where to attack. 

In the blink of an eye the sky was full of whirling, screaming machines; simultaneously intent on engaging the enemy and avoiding the same fate befalling them.

Under fire from a brace of 109s, Ramsden's Spitfire opens up on the Bf 110 but to no effect

The Germans had virtually turned 180 degrees and were in a tight formation (the 109s had gone around the outside of the 110 using their superior speed and turning ability) whilst the Hurricanes had simply not been able to keep up. Ramsden had turned into the enemy and instead of facing a single machine had managed to find himself in the middle of a swirling dogfight and receiving the undivided attention of a pair of 109s. Machine gun and cannon fire boomed out as the lead 109 opened fire at the Spitfire. Ramsden felt the pinging of machine gun bullets plucking at his fighter but it was a poor deflection and so although damaged it was nothing serious. He opened the throttle wide and pushed the stick forward to gain some airspace.

Meanwhile, with the Pole in the lead, the two Hurricanes turned as tightly as they could in order to engage the Germans. In doing so, the lead Hurricane found itself with a grateful 109 on its tail and a 110 at point blank range in its eight o'clock arc. Both fighters fired and the Hurricane staggered under the hammer blows of machine gun and cannon fire. The rugged fighter, belching smoke and glycol, was crippled but was miraculously still in the air.

A young Hurricane pilot learns the hard way

Ramsden saw the stricken Hurricane and immediately turned back to engage the enemy and hopefully distract their attention. At full throttle the Merlin engine roared as he sped into the attack, the lumbering 110 his target. He opened fire, clenching his teeth as the eight machine guns shook the fighter with their recoil. He was rewarded with seeing bullets stitching the fuselage of the big fighter but there was a sting in the tail. The rear gunner - who happened to be the Staffel gunnery champion drew a careful bead on the incoming Spitfire and let fly. Ramsden new something was wrong as the windscreen suddenly obscured with a milky-white fluid. Glycol! The cooling system had been hit and so his fight would soon be over. He slid the cockpit open a fraction and put the nose of the crippled Spitfire down.

The crippled Hurricane attempts to get away whilst pursued by Leutnant Furst whilst Ramsden comes to grief from the rear gunner of the Bf 110

With both his wing man and the accompanying Spitfire out of action the gallant Pole reluctantly puts his nose down and dives away from the action. There will be another time and hopefully the odds will be better.

Meanwhile, the two 109s continue to harry the crippled Hurricane and Spitfire. With smoke and glycol pouring from the Hurricane, the controls dead but with the aircraft still staggering along, the young pilot, fresh from OTU, readies himself to take to his parachute. Leutnant Furst, confident that the situation is fully under control reduces his speed sufficiently to bring himself into the optimum firing position against the battered enemy fighter. A quick jaw-juddering burst and the Hurricane noses over and begins the long plunge to the earth. A bundle falls from the cockpit and a mushroom of silk follows with an ungainly dangling figure forlornly hanging beneath the billowing canopy.

Furst of the few....

Ramsden frantically looked over his shoulder, praying that he would be able to sneak away from the fight and so be able to nurse the Spitfire home. It was not to be. A yellow speck on the horizon grew rapidly into the shape of a 109 at full speed. He did not wait for the inevitable. Quickly unbuckling the harness he slid the  hood back just as the 109 opened fire. He was already tumbling free from the crippled fighter when, under the impact of the fusillade of cannon and machine gun fire, the Spitfire disintegrated above him. The 109 described a lazy circle around him and as it turned for home the pilot waggled his wings at him, seemingly in salute for the recent fight.

Ramsden has his chips....

As he swayed beneath the parachute Ramsden wondered who the mysterious pilot of the 109 was and if there paths would ever cross again. Somehow, he was sure they would....


Bartek Zynda said...

Great battle report! Your translation into polish is quite good, but I think that you should change it into: "Niemcy, Niemcy - ruszam na nich - hurra!!!" (you can translate it as: Germans, Germans - I'm charging them now - hurrey) it has more sense. But I think that, he will use a different word for Germans, which is much more abusive ;)

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Great AAR

I have to say I was rooting for the RAF and was expecting better from the Poles

SteelonSand said...

Brilliant action report, DC - round one to the Germans! See your humour isn't improving, though... 'Hugo Furst' indeed! ;-)

David Crook said...

Hi Bart,

Many thanks for the kind comments and the correct Polish! Mine was courtesy of Google Translate but I am sure the sentiment was not misunderstood!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

I will be doing a follow up post re tactics, rules etc so you will see what went wrong for the boys in blue. In fact they were very unlucky with shooting and initiative - not to mention some difficult manoeuvres.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi SoS,

It was great fun and given the current hosepipe ban I thought Walter Mainz was quite appropriate....;-)

Methinks this project may be receiving rather a lot more attention than originally intended....;-)

All the best,


Sean said...

Great report. Looks like an interesting game.

David Crook said...

Hi Sean,

It was a lot of fun and I think that there is a lot of mileage in the game - even at the level I am considering.

I was very pleased with the way it ran and it is quite quick to play as well which is a bonus for a club night.

All the best,


Brigadier Dundas said...

Late to the party, but again a wonderfully epic report. I really like that Hexon terrain.

Have found my F4F and Zero on Ebay. Waiting impatiently for their arrival.


David Crook said...

Hi Don,

Thanks old chap! Looking at the stats for the Zero and the F4F I would suggest that the Zero be piloted by the better player because whilst very effective it will be brittle! Liken it to a rapier rather than a cutlass!

Enjoy it though - it is really good fun!

All the best,