Thursday, August 02, 2007

North Sea Fog

This evening (real time) I have spent about two hours flying three missions over the North Sea in my Beaufighter. In server time, these hours were just after sun rise. Fog was quite thick in first flight, but seemed to be lifting towards the end of it. Second flight, Fog kept lower and less thick. Third flight, had reduced to a light haze.

Thick fog: I thought I'd go hunting for the german u-boat base, reportedly at Bergen. To do so, I first had to find out where Bergen is, as the briefing map that opens a mission didn't have it on it. That done, I took off, Planning to fly South of it, coming in up a fjord. I didn't count on the fog being so thick, nor the larger islands of Norway being so featureless. In other words, I got seriously lost. Eventually I decided to head home by heading due West.

I'd thought I'd navigated to a point over the North Sea from which I could set my homing bearings when I realised that I was surrounded by AA bursts. I had probably only now found Bergen! Not waiting to find out, having already used about 40min fuel I couldn't afford to have a fuel tank punctured, I set course for home. Through the fog I again found myself navigating on instruments, and came onto the Scottish coastline right where I wanted. I banked down into approach and landed in the fog. Although no points after an hours flying time, about half of that in the fog layer to avoid a FW 190 that was presumably hunting me, a good deal of satisfaction upon landing.

Ambushed: An FW190 was prowling the North Sea when I took off for my second mission. I didn't know much about where it was, so took a gamble on being invisible if I again stayed in the fog, relying on max speed in flying due East to target area. I was about to cross the midpoint of the transit when there was a worrying thump - thump - thump sound. I was being hit by bullets. I counted five strikes by ear as I jammed on the rudder and flipped up my right wing. At that moment I lost my rudder, aerlions and got a fuel leak, plane went 'mushy' in midair, heeled over and dived into the sea. Considering I was at less than a thousand feet, no chance to bail and me and observer died suddenly.

Hazed: Third flight of the morning was as the sun rose above the fog, degrading it into a light haze. As I entered the cockpit of beafighter there were air raid sirens and my own flak guns going off all around. An F190 was dropping bombs, one of which landed a few score metres from my plane (doing it no damage luckily). I waited in the cockpit until I heard that the AA had shot down the intruder. Only then did I feel safe enough to take off.

In the better visibility I felt more confident, and cruised east at about 3000 feet, able to see the ocean pretty clear. Having crossed what I believed to be the midpoint I had passed a couple fishing boats and the usual hospital ship when another grey shape caught my eye. Circling down I was able to clearly identify it as a civilian ship red smokestack. This matched intelligence reports of enemy shipping. I circled in too steeply and too quickly, dropping my torpedo too late and suffering the consequences of being not far from an exploding torp at only a few metres altitude - I got knocked out of the sky and into the ocean by the concussion. Not before I realised I'd somehow sunk another friendly ship, however. Very dissappointing. Looks like I'll need to make sure I can see the coast before attacking ships.

No comments: