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"9/11/11 AAR -- Watch Your Six" Topic

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744 hits since 13 Sep 2011
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quidveritas Inactive Member13 Sep 2011 2:43 p.m. PST

I have to admit, I had been dreading this game. My outfit (KEK Wirtz) spent the last month trying to contend with Sopwith Camels at low altitude -- and while holding our own, we lost some good pilots. In the context of the campaign, if this continues, things will get grim indeed on the German side of the table.

Conversely, the Allied players are also rather unhappy with their present lot in life. They have great aircraft but the superior German pilots have been ravaging their own airmen. As was the case historically the average life span of a British pilot is measured in days.


May 17, 1917.

British HQ directed the RNAS to insert a spy south of Zeebruge. To accomplish this mission, RNAS Squadron No. 9 detailed a flight of six Sopwith Camels to escort a single DH-4 (which carried the spy) from Naval Squadron No. 5.

The RNAS operational plan was quite simple. The Camel flight would precede the DH.4 and sweep the skies beginning at a high altitude. The DH.4 would then follow a quarter of an hour behind at a very low altitude to deliver the spy to his point of embarkation.

The area selected by the British incursion fell within the jurisdiction of the Flanderin Marinekorps -- even though many miles from the coast. The British Sopwiths were identified by forward elements of the Marinekorps as they crossed the lines and KEK Wirtz received orders to intercept.

It has been a long time coming but KEK Wirtz only just recently received orders to turn in their Albatros D.3 machines and received Albatros D.5a machines in return. The new Mercedes 180 hp engines performed flawlessly this day as KEK Wirtz climbed to nearly 18,000 feet of altitude without incident.


Broken cumulus clouds spotted the skies as the KEK proceeded south. Our prior encounters with the Sopwith Camel had not been particularly successful and in the two prior encounters we lost two of our best pilots -- to include our late flight leader.

As we arrived in our patrol area a flight of four Sopwith Camels (two of the Camels developed engine trouble and returned to their aerodrome before encountering the enemy) were observed at an altitude of roughly 17,000 feet. Acting flight leader Laroude made good use of the late afternoon sun and clouds to approach the Camels -- apparently unseen.

As the distance shortened the British flight leader spotted our formation -- apparently depriving us of any surprise. We could see the British flight leader (an experienced veteran of 7 dice) waggling his wings and pointing in our direction but for some reason the other aircraft in the British formation failed to respond to his antics (the other three aircraft were flown by relatively new pilots [3 die Canadian recruits -- one and all] who had all they could do just maintaining formation).

This momentary lapse allowed the German formation to swoop around behind the Camels and in two cases, short bursts were directed at Allied aircraft before they reacted to the German attack! One of the Camels (rookie pilot) went into a spin -- a spin that the inexperienced pilot was unable to correct -- this aircraft would eventually flutter to the ground destroying the aircraft and killing the pilot.

The remaining Camels reacted in good order, quickly reversed direction, and delivered a number of bursts in the direction of the Germans closing on their rear. These were difficult shots as the German aircraft were closing fast and all fire suffered from a deflection angle.

The abrupt maneuvering by the Camels left them in a position where the left wing of the German formation could now close on the Camels from behind at a deflection angle. Unlike their British counterparts our German Albatros D.5as were piloted by experienced, battle tested pilots (7, 7, 7, 6, 5, 5 dice respectively).

A lot of shooting ensued, most of which was largely ineffective. The only successful attack was delivered by the German flight leader on the British flight leader -- the damage here was considerable and crippling -- the Flight Leader's Camel temporarily lost all ability to maneuver while the pilot fought to prevent his aircraft from entering a spin.

A lesser pilot could not have maintained control in this situation but the British Flight leader somehow managed to steady the badly damaged Camel. At this instant in time the British flight leader could have put his nose down and dived for home. He probably would have made it as the pursuing Albatros dare not engage in a prolonged dive at high speed.

Instead the British flight leader used every trick in his book to bring his aircraft into a position to drive off another Albatros that threatened to shoot up one of the inexperienced British pilots. These heroics proved to be the British flight leader's undoing as a second Albatros (piloted by Lucky -- see below) delivered a prolonged burst that largely struck the Camels Bentley engine -- effectively depriving the aircraft of 2/3 of its power.

With his engine failing, unable to maneuver and unable climb the British Flight Leader's only remaining option was to dive for home. Try as he might, the Flight Leader was unable to direct his aircraft toward the allied lines as his aircraft plummeted into German occupied Belgium. He would later be taken prisoner after burning his aircraft.

The sacrifice of the flight leader did not fail to produce dividends. The remaining pair of British aircraft managed to escape to the west suffering no further damage.

This left only the DH.4, now cruising at about 4,000 feet heading east. A pair of Albatros D.5a's descended on the British two seater. As mentioned above, an Albatros cannot safely sustain a prolonged dive at high speed.

Still, we (the Germans) reasoned, the clunky DH.4 appeared to be cutoff and could not possibly escape. As things played out our assumption proved to be overoptimistic and gave the DH.4 just enough of a margin to come about and put its high powered Eagle engine to the test. Flying at top speed at tree-top altitude the Rolls Royce Eagle engine powered the DH.4 to safety --- easily out distancing our new Albatros machines.


The British strategy in this game was to draw any German aircraft into a high altitude battle while the DH.4 slipped in at low altitude and deposited his spy before the Germans could descend.

Until recently Naval No.9 consisted of Sopwith Pups -- an excellent high altitude aircraft. Recently Naval No.9 switched to the Sopwith Camel (Bentley engine). This aircraft is actually not all that grand above 10,000 feet. Without question it is at its best between 6,000 and 10,000 feet.

Conversely the Germans traded in their Albatros D.3s (lead sleds at high altitude) for the much lighter Albatros D.5a. While the D.5a is not a big improvement on the D.3 it comes close to matching the Camel at high altitude, its engine suffers less from thin air found at the extreme end of its operational altitude range.

The Germans were fortunate to get as close as they did to the British before being detected. The odds of the British accomplishing the same thing were just as probable. Still, better to be lucky (no pun intended) sometimes than to be good.

Remaining at 17,000 feet produced the biggest mistake made by the British. At that altitude the Camel is a bit better than the Albatros but not so much that a rookie pilot can overcome a more experienced German aviator. When you combine this with a 2:1 edge in aircraft, all the advantages swung to the Germans.

Had the Camels immediately dived to about 8,000 feet the Albatros aircraft would have had trouble staying with them.

If the Camels had dropped to 8,000 feet the Germans would have had the advantage of superior altitude but they would have been facing oncoming Camels possessed of considerable airspeed and the ability to translate that airspeed into altitude very rapidly.

If nothing else, this would have bought more time for the DH.4 and very likely would have allowed the British to use the superior qualities of their aircraft to best advantage.


Lucky, who's real name is now unimportant -- is a German pilot -- dubbed 'Lucky' by the Allied players. This particular pilot is a bad pilot; a bad shot; undisciplined, has no talent for flying; has no motivation to become a better pilot; has no enthusiasm for the war! It is not possible to roll up a pilot with less desirable characteristics in the context of our campaign. Generally when a pilot like this joins your unit he seldom lasts more than a couple games.

Indeed Lucky's only remarkable talent is a highly successful instinct for self preservation!

The man was assigned to our unit back when we were receiving the dregs of the German pilot pool.

Incredibly, this man has not only survived many many encounters but he has actually flourished. In spite of his natural tendencies he has become the best pilot in KEK Wertz (now at 8 dice). He has three confirmed victories and a pair of questionable claims.

Go figure. Well, its things like this that tend to make a campaign interesting.


If you like these AARs let me know and I'll post more in the future. They take a fair amount of time and effort to prepare.

Feedback is always appreciated.

GilmoreDK Inactive Member10 Oct 2011 12:15 p.m. PST

Hi Quidveritas..

Nice write-up and very nice level of detail. But i am missing one thing in the details as i do not know the game system (and has an interest in systems like this) – How does it work. How is the campaign system working out. And how about piloting and combat?

Also pics! Show those wonderful minis..

lapatrie88 Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 12:08 p.m. PST

QV, thank you for the entertaining writeup. More, please, as well as some detail on Watch Your Six, which is unfamiliar.

Asking solely from ignorance, why is the Sopwith Camel inferior to the Pup above 10,000ft? Wouldn't the Pup's smaller horsepower be an increasing weakness at altitude?

gweirda Inactive Member18 Oct 2011 1:49 p.m. PST

Mike (quidveritas) is locked out of TMP, so any questions or interest in his system are perhaps best handled through his Yahoo Group ("watchyoursix" -no spaces).

Note that this is a new group: the old one ("watch_your_six") was hacked.

If anyone has general questions about the game, I'm willing to field them as best I can (gweirda at yahoo dot com) and/or pass them on to Mike.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.