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"Essential Maneuvers and "The Happy Warrior." " Topic

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World War One

330 hits since 23 Aug 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 Aug 2018 3:27 p.m. PST

A Happy Warrior; Letters of William Muir Russel: An American Aviator in the Great War


Russel describes the three maneuvers he had to master before he would be sent on a combat mission. Two of them are what most would expect: Getting out of a spiral, the
rencersement, but the third, a "side-slip" was not what I thought a side-slip was, and it isn't a maneuver you seen in air rules for the period, but here it is seen as mandatory for all pilots to master. Of course, this is late in the war, but still.

Great book, by the way. Lots of color. They even had pilots flying captured Albatross IIIs to become familiar with them.

page 120-121

All the acrobatics and squadron flying, really the two most difficult phases of aerial work, are completed. The acrobatics consist of three stunts which sound impossible in description, and which would draw a thousand dollars a flight in exhibition at a side show, but in these machines (Spads) are not so much.

The first is a vertical spiral with the motor cut off and a continual bank of 90. It is very difficult to keep your spirals even and to keep your machine in a vertical position.

The second is the side-slip, and is most valuable in fighting, as it is the quickest way to get away from the enemy if he gains the superior position on you. In this, you place your machine in a vertical bank and allow her to fall vertically towards the ground off on one side. In this way, you can lose about three thousand feet in less than one minute. It is much faster than the vertical nose dive.

The third, which is really beautiful, and looks very difficult, but is not, is what the French call the rencersement. This is also very valuable in fighting, as it is the quickest way to turn when being pursued by the enemy. While flying along level, you suddenly pull the nose up into the air, let her slip to one side over on her back, then nose her to the ground and come out going in the opposite direction. All of these movements in five seconds. It seems most complicated, but it is necessary for you to learn it in forty-five minutes. You practice the movement on the ground for some time before you go up, and then you try it. Many get into the vrille, or tail spin, the first few times until they finally get it. It is very pretty to watch, and the sensations at first are quite unpleasant; later you do not mind it at all. The remarkable part is that no altitude is lost in the entire operation. You may understand it better from my rough pen and ink sketches. (See page 130.)

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2018 9:19 p.m. PST

Excellent read. I don't know of any games with these maneuvers included.


Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2018 9:26 p.m. PST

Hey Wolfhag,

Glad you found it interesting. I found out reading Marked for Death: The First War in the Air
by James Hamilton Paterson that the 'Side Slip' was seen as an important maneuver to learn by trainees by the French and Germans in the last half of WWI when planes were strong enough to handle such maneuvers. The British had a much more lackadaisical approach to training that Peterson is very critical of, where training only included the maneuver requirements that Russel describes in the last 12 months of the war.

The book is a good read too if you are interested in the period.


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