This is my After-Action-Report from Flanders in Flames XXIIb Campaign Session 3b.
Session 3b, Saturday 31th October 2015 – 18:00GMT
Today I was assigned to an air raid on a factory, an airfield and a bridge deep into enemy territory along with my comrades Adler, von Bu and Falke from Jasta 99. Adler, who had the lead of our flight got one of these brand new Halberstad CL.II, the rest of us took one of of our old brave Rolands.
We took off together – this time Falke wasn’t late – and headed East-South-East in a Four-Finger formation, constantly climbing up to 2000 meters. Soon we saw the line of our balloons and a few minutes later the line of enemy balloons. As they noticed our flight they began firing flares hectically, but we ignored them and continued our way to a smaller airfield East of ther bomber base Udschtera. Our task, especially my task, was to destroy the petrol tanks at the airfield.
Half way to the airfield we spotted a lonely aircraft in the South, at about 2200 meters altitude. It was heading west and it looked like it was trying to get behind us in a wide bow to the North. But again, we ignored it as it was far away and our Halberstadt and Rolands were pretty fast.
After a 30 minutes flight we reached our first target and I started my descent. I spotted the petrol tanks on the Eastern side of the hangars. I rolled over and started my run, approaching the airfield from the South.
When I noticed two FLAK-Trucks I entered a steeper dive and opened throttle to gain some speed and come in very low. This made me a fast moving target, difficult to hit by FLAK. I was perfectly lined up with the petrol tanks. Two rows of four tanks each. Flak came near but not too much and I swas still running on full throttle. Now! I dropped one of my 12,5kg bombs.
Bam! The bomb exploded with a short and sharp bang. But one moment later I felt like in hell. An inferno of several explosions created an incredible noise and a wave of hot air hit our Roland, so hot that I was afraid the fabric of the wings could catch fire. My first bomb must have hit an almost empty tank, mostly filled with an explosive mixture of gas and oxygen. That caused a massive explosion which destroyed all the other petrol tanks.
Flak was still firing on me and the shells exploded around me and my brave Roland so I dove away and headed South-West a few meters above the ground while performing some evasive maneuvers. I had still 3 bombs and was now going for the factory. Otto, my observer tapped on my shoulder and pointed up into the sky. There I saw Adler, von Bu and Falke circling around the factory, still on 2000 meters.
I crossed the Chornyava River and a few minutes later the Stavyshche River when I saw the factory ahead. I climbed up to 250 meters and started my run on the factory buildings. On full throttle on a shallow dive I headed directly to two smaller buildings on the left side. This time I dropped two bombs, one for each bulding.
Unlike my first bombardement today, now I heard a thud and a growling explosion. That was because the bombs muddled through the roof of the building and exploded inside. When I turned and looked back, I noticed that only one building was destroyed. One of my two bombs missed its target. I extended a bit and turned again starting another run on one long building. This time I hit my target and again I heard this growling sound of the explosion.
I looked up to the sky and spotted my comrades and it looked like Falke was already descending to complete my work. I was already looking for a FLAK that was shooting at me the whole time. I spottet it East of the factory beside some trees. “FLAK” I shouted to Otto and he nodded. I turned into the FLAK-Truck, aimed and opened fire from my Spandau when I got into firing range. Otto send some bursts of his two Parabellumgs after the truck when I passed it and finally it exploded.
In the meantime Falke arrived and started his hun on the factory. I watched him completing his run when Otp tapped on my shoulder again. He pointed to the North where I spotted two dots that were rapidly growing. The first was the familiar shape of a F.E.2b, the second one was new to me, it was a Sikorsky S-16. Falke was still bombing the factory and so I turned into the two enemies and attaked them.
Of the F.E.2b I was not afraid since I knew that I was able to outrun, outclimb and outturn this crate. But the S-16 was a nimble little plane. I gave my best to fight these two, and Otto was continously firing wild bursts off his Parabellums. The S-16 and the F.E.2b were turning against each other, so that every time I was behind one, I got the other on my tail. But my brave Roland was a tough littly boy and I handled it more like a fighter than a two-seater.
I was constantly turning and twisting, changing targets every second – now I landed a few hits in the F.E2b and in the next moment the S-16 appeared in my gunsights. The whole time I tried to keep my Roland on speed, because that was my biggest advatage against my opponents.
Then, either the S-16 pilot made a mistake or I had damaged his engine, he entered a straight shallow dive as I was directly behind him. I followd, aimed well and fired an angry burst from my Spandau into him. He went down, I turned instantly looking after the F.E.2b but it was going down as well. Otto did a good job on him.
In the meantime Falke was downed by groundfire and Adler was approaching the factory. Otto, me and the Roland were up and well.
But we had not much time to take a breath. The Russians somehow managed to man a new FLAK truck which was again shooting on us and I spotted another F.E.2 and two S-16. Within a minute I was again in the middle of a heavy dogfight. Again Turning and twisting, wild firing. But this time, the Roland catched some hits somewhere underneath the cowling.
But Otto and I somehow managed to land some hits on the F.E.2b and one of the S-16 and forced them down. I noticed that Aldler also was going down, but he successfully finished Falkes and my work. I flew away from tha factory and looked for a safe place to land my Roland. When we landed, Otto and I burned our brave aircraft and ran away heading for home through enemy lines about 50 or 60 km away. On the late evening we met Falke and his Observer Fritz, but no sign of life from Adler.
After four days of walking by night and hiding by day we reached Sadzhavka where we met an Infantery company which guided us home.