Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Three Predawn Raids

Hopping onto Hyperlobby earlier this evening I noticed that 'Wolf' was online, flying on Norwegian server. Unable to resist, I too joined in the fun over the North Sea. We both flew beaufighters, he from Banf and I from Peterhead. I never saw him over the evening, and he only when I was pouring out smoke during my disastrous second sortie. Nevertheless, nice to have someone to chat to online whilst flying. He also pretty keen flyer and from oz.

Night:Take off at about 4.30 am, full moon and only faint hint of pink in the East. Head roughly easterly at about 200 mph at 1500 - 2500 feet. Can only just see the sea beneath when flying on instruments. Drop down in wide circle to about a thousand feet, looking over wing to check out a ship below. Hospital ship. Head off, off bearing. Correct mistake. Shells start falling in sea beneath me. I start zigzagging. See grey ship below, firing. Paranoia takes over, I think it's firing at me. I circle down to wavetop and torpedo it, taking no hits. Only then do I realise it's a friendly warship (I think a destroyer). Shamefaced, I head back to base. I cross the coast right over my landing strip and make a perfect (almost) three point landing. My score? Minus 800 pts!

[Interlude: I go away for about half an hour. "Wife on my six, with steak and chips," I message Wolf who is busy subhunting. Sated, I return.]

Dawn: Much a repeat of the last mission, but I'm flying a lot of straighter lines so I don't find myself believing I'm over enemy lines when I'm not. There's a lot more light, allowing me to fly at about 3000 ft or slightly higher with reasonable view of ocean on high manification. I don't need my cockpit lights to allow me to adjust trim off my instrument panel, creating both more time and better vision with which to look for prey. I realise the fun that there is for freaks like me on the few 'Full Real' servers out there.

Anyway, I pass over the hospital ship, and recall registering the fishing boat I see shortly afterwards on my earlier flight. Before much longer, shortly after I sweep northwards to fly parallel to distant but visible norwegian coast, I spot a suspicious grey shape below. Suspecting a U-boat, I circle wide and clumbsily to get a better look. Before long, I am surrounded by flak explosions. Being beam-on to the ship I must either abort or take the chance of continuing the wide loop to come back on the ship side-on for a torpedo shot. Perhaps foolishly, I choose the later.

Needless to say, the flak grows heavy as I bank out of my long curve to approach the ship side on. In the long turn, I've lost much of my speed, and I am down too low to be able to dive further. With the torp beneath, my plane is sluggish and dangerously close to stall if I put heavy pressure on rudder to avoid the flak. So, I fly straight on and before long the shells are striking my plane. Still too far out to be effective, I jestison torpedo and bank away. Just in time, probably, as I lose an engine and half my instrument panel, as well as gaining a fuel leak, in the last several seconds before I get out of the tracer lines. Somehow, I manage to limp about half way home. I'm lucky, I still have all my control surfaces.

And then the plane goes all sluggish on me, into a spin and crashes before I have enough time to successfully bail out.

Fogrise: Take off with the sun just beneath horizon. Head almost due East. Overfly hospital ship and fishing boat. Keep going, until close to large islands. Spot target shipping. Sweep in from several miles away, dropping from about 1000 feet on the turn to about 50 feet on the approach. Manage speed to keep it at around 300mph. The ship appears large, and is shooting a storm at me. I weave with my rudder, take no disastrous hits. My speed increases as I open the throttle - releasing the torp from maybe half a mile. Immediately I bank up steeply to the left, and am watching my torpedo's trail over my left wing as I climb away. It strikes firmly amidships. There is a large explosion and the vessel rapidly sinks. I reckon it was a capital ship.

Again, I fly unerringly back to my base. Lucky, because the fog is beginning to rise now that the sun is. As I come in over the coast within 5 miles of my base, the fog starts obscuring the land below. I fix my bearings, fly out in descending turn over the sea to come in for approach run at about 30% throttle, and plant my plane exactly where I want it. This was probably my most successful mission yet, as it brought my score down to minus 550. Will be interesting to read the name of the ship I sunk on the stats page,available on Norwegian Server.

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