Hello, everyone. You may notice something a bit different about today’s adventure.
That’s right, we’re flying a different plane! This is the Sopwith Triplane. Triplanes are a unique feature of aerial battles in the First World War. They look a bit ridiculous at first, but they come with a few neat advantages. Strapping three wings onto your aircraft instead of two has the effect of increasing the rate at which you can climb, as well as allowing tighter turning. This should make those hectic dogfights a little more exciting, assuming I don’t get a little too ambitious and tear the plane apart. This particular model is the Sopwith Triplane in service with the Royal Navy’s 10 Squadron.
Getting to fly this beauty wasn’t the only reason for my transfer, however. That impulse was particularly driven by the increasing danger to life and limb I experienced while flying with 56 Squadron. That danger wasn’t just due to the well-practiced capacity I had for creative landing procedures, nor was it the increasingly treacherous missions I was being sent on in penance for my ingenious aircraft remodeling. No, the biggest danger was the trigger-happy tendencies of my allies combined with what I could only assume was an extremely lax standard in friend or foe identification.
The hail of lead from every direction, ally and adversary, landed me in the hospital not once, but twice.
Honestly, it started to get a bit old, and when I was awarded with the Military Cross for my sterling effort at being shot at mercilessly by every pilot and his dog, I began to think command was taking the piss. I submitted my transfer papers and hoped that wherever I ended up, I’d be flying something a bit more distinctively friendly in the company of other fliers who weren’t criminally insane.
And that’s how I ended up with 10 Squadron. So far I haven’t been shot at by a friendly pilot once. The Triplane is brilliant to fly, the tighter turning is especially useful in catching those cunning jerry pilots, and after a couple of missions I even get to pick out a custom paint job. I opt for a nice blue trim, just to make extra sure I’m not mistaken for the bosch, and I fix another gun to the front as well, hoping that the extra firepower makes up for the increased ammunition consumption.
I’m raring to go and bring the fight all the way to Berlin, so I’m a bit disappointed when I keep getting assigned to escort patrols and balloon attack missions. I’m itching for some action.
Action doesn’t take long to arrive, however, because I’m soon rostered onto an offensive patrol over jerry’s side of the front. Here I encounter my first enemy fighter pilot since I joined up with the 10th. He’s flying an Albatros D.V, a relatively new German plane that entered service in May of 1917. He begins to evade me, but with my new plane’s increased manoeuvrability, I quickly end up on his tail and give him both barrels of my twin Vickers.
My rounds tear through canvas, ripping gaping holes in his wings as a rather distressing amount of smoke begins to disgorge from his engine. Jerry holds steady, keeping his plane under control with some expert flying. Impressed but not deterred, I follow him, firing burst after burst of machine-gun fire into his tail, trying to force him down. Eventually he loses it. His wounded craft begins to spiral down to earth. He gives one last valiant attempt to flatten out his trajectory before impacting the dirt with a terrifying bang.
He won’t be goosestepping away from that one. Feeling the adrenaline coursing through my veins and the weight of the remaining ammunition in my plane, I scan the horizon for more targets. My vanquished foe must have been on a solo patrol, because I can’t find a single other enemy plane in the sky. With that established, I take out my frustration on a nearby observation balloon.
Today isn’t a good day for the Prussian bird-watching society, as I send their airship plummeting back to land. I start to feel rather pleased with myself, maybe I really can be a heroic fighter ace! I should have checked my overconfidence, however, as the Imperial German Army decides to take that moment to teach me some humility.
A direct hit from a flak gun sends both my plane and my ego tumbling back to earth. Any moral lesson life chose to teach me is rather cut short by the impact, and I once again find myself getting to know the French countryside rather intimately.
I land almost right on top of a German camp. Is this it? Is the war for me over? Am I doomed to eat nothing but sauerkraut and bratwurst for the rest of my life in captivity? Am I going to stop making ridiculous racial epithets that are quite possibly offensive to the German people?
Nah, she’ll be right.