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Ack Ack and You


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Here's what I love about OFF -- there are so many ways to die, especially if you're stupid.

Last night I started a campaign flying SE-5s with No. 56 Squadron in April 1917. Just me and my old pals Albert Ball, James McCudden, and Cecil Lewis. Like old times. I think the SE-5 is my favorite ship in OFF -- big, sturdy, fast, well-armed. Sorta like a Corsair. Plus, you gotta love an aircraft called "Scout, Experimental."

Right then, here comes 2LT Dick Sullivan, RFC, by way of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas and a detour through Canada. (A generation later, Dick's son would fly odd bent-winged fighters in the Pacific with a Marine Corps squadron, of all things.)

First mission was a standing patrol to guard a friendly airbase. Circled for the prescribed period but Fritz never showed. Well then, let's go looking for him. Banked east at 10,000 feet.

You don't see No Man's Land first -- you hear it. Thud, thud, thud, like an approaching giant. That's the barrage, a metal monsoon that never lifts. Soon enough, life starts ebbing from the earth. Green gives way to brown and you notice flashes from shells landing in the muck. Peer closely beneath the clouds and you might make out troops marching behind the lines, perhaps a stray column of trucks. In the trenches, all is still -- motion amounts to suicide. Then you see craters, sterile and sodden, the churned-up quagmire where hope lies buried. Patches of black blossom around your aircraft, and the air itself shudders and screams.

You've arrived in another world. Welcome to the Western Front.

Somewhere along the way, I lost my wingman. No matter. A quick pop across the lines, a short patrol over Hunland to see if I can drum up some trade. I head south, just on the far side of the trenches, eyeing a few airfields below. Nothing doing --- looks like Jerry is taking the day off. I’m just considering turning back when the SE-5 lurches sharply to the left, as if somebody reached up and slapped us. Hard right rudder as I pull her around. With effort, I point the ship west but I can’t hold her level. We don’t make the lines.

That’s how deadly flak is in OFF. It reached up and swatted me at 10,000 feet and 125 mph. I should have been on my own side of the lines, pulling a stunt like that. Better yet, I should have just landed after my mission instead of freelancing.

Now, if I could have one thing, it would be something to indicate damage besides a long list of messages scrolling down the screen. I’d like to have looked left and seen part of my wing missing, instead of just feeling it. Perhaps the OFF team will work on modeling damage visually in future updates, or maybe it’s a CFS3 limitation.

Not that it would have made a bit of difference. Archie nailed me last night, bigger than Dallas …


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The Ack has caused more grief over the lines than most anything in my 15 campaign missions.

Had a similar event to yours, single slap at fairly high altitude. The list is, indeed, worthless,

as most events whole your fuel tank, and cause indetectible engine errors, as it doesn't run rough,

or give any other indication until it just plain dies.

If I get hit, I immediately head to the correct side of the lines, and scout for a treeless area, `coz

dollars to donuts, you're going down...

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