It didn't seem like much of a shot at the time. Even Ethan didn't think much of it when his Fokker Dr I pilot took at 200-foot tail shot on Rick Lacy's Camel. One of Ethan's guns was already jammed. The shot scored only two hit factors of damage.
But it was enough.
That single bullet turned out to be the margin between victory and defeat in one of the most bizarre Red Baron Fights in the game's 23-year history. Dice were rolled and the sides stacked up like this:
- Dory, Sopwith Camel 130
- Rick, Sopwith Camel 130 (CPT Gordon Firth-Hewitt, 4/0)
- Ethan, Fokker Dr I (Citrudes Mercedes, 1/0)
- Stephen Dale, Albatros DVa [rev] (Alex Godfrey, 2/0)
- Stephen, Albatros DVa [rev] (OF ST Sabine Schorst, 7/1)
The Albatri of Stephen and Stephen Dale pursued Rick's Camel, while ten squares to the north, Ethan's Fokker Dr I pressed the attack on Dory. At this critical juncture of the game, the Brits flew exceptionally well and managed to avoid what appeared to be a certain defeat by using their speed to dodge attacks and offer only the poorest shooting angles.
The Germans, meanwhile, were plagued with bad luck. Stephen's Albatros had jammed one machine gun on the game's opening turn. He was unable to clear it despite trying eight times throughout the game. On turn 12, both Stephen and Ethan double-attacked Dory's severely battered Camel in what should have been a decisive moment. But instead of shooting her down, Stephen's last remaining gun jammed and Ethan could manage only 5 hits.
By this time Dory knew that she had run out of miracles. With 41 bullet holes in her Camel it was time to get out while the gettin' was good. She had flown well and had nothing left to offer to her wingman offensively, and was rapidly losing the ability to defend herself. She had survived 20 possible pilot chances and only taken one critical hit in her airplane. Dory left her 17th Red Baron Fight the same way as the previous 16... without a Silver Goblet.
With the Albatrosses effectively out of the fight and unable to keep pace, Ethan's Dr I played a cat-and-mouse game with Rick's lone remaining Camel. They would briefly exchange shots, then fly out of range before a general dogfight could ensue.
Stephen Dale's Albatros was unable to get close enough to an opponent for a shot in the last 16 game turns. In that same span, Stephen's Albatros managed only two total shots. Like their Camel counterparts, both Alb pilots flew brilliantly but simply lacked the airplane performance to be a meaningful part of the outcome.
The final shots were exchanged on Turn 21 when Ethan's Dr I took a 200-foot tail shot on Rick's Camel, scoring 2 hit factors. Those bullets scored the deciding points. When the points were tallied, Ethan came out ahead, 79-77 in the closest Red Baron Fight since Scott Jones and Terry Phillips finished in a dead tie in 1995.
With only five competitors, this was the smallest RBF since 1998 (RBF IX won by Scott Campbell) and only the third RBF ever to have fewer than six players.
Some of the early records for RBF are sketchy, but this year's event was probably the only one in history to produce no kills on either side. At 21 total turns, it is also among the longest in RBF history.
At age 11, Ethan becomes the youngest player to have won the squadron's two elite events, Red Baron Fight and the Armistice Day Fits Tournament. That record may stand for a while.
RBF XXIII will be remembered as a tactical chess game that produced few points, but loads of fun for everyone.
Red Baron Fight XXIII
April 21, 2012
Arsenal Game Room
784 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis
- Ethan Skinner 79
Fokker Dr I
- Rick Lacy 77
Sopwith Camel 130
- Dory Oda 47
Sopwith Camel 130
- Stephen Dale Skinner 43
Albatros DVa (rev)
- Stephen Skinner 39
Albatros DVa (rev)
April 21, 2012
A total of four games were played on April 21. The first was a quick warm-up game that randomly pitted two Albs and a Roland (Ethan, Dory, Stephen Dale respectively) against a pair of 130 hp Camels flown by Stephen and Rick.
We learned that flying Camels and Albs just before Red Baron Fight was a bad idea. Otherwise, the game was uneventful until the last turn when Rick's Camel hit Stephen Dale's Roland DII with forward fuselage critical hit 4/4. No one had ever had this critical hit before, so we were shocked to find that it was a fuel tank explosion.
Stephen Dale's pilot was buried with full military honors. The second game of the day was RBF XXIII.
Stephen wanted to fly a Caproni bomber on the Italian front and everyone else was very obliging until the game actually started. At this point, much wailing, whining and gnashing of teeth ensued until by some miracle, both Rick and Stephen Dale's Austro-Hungarian fighters jammed their lone wing guns on the same turn.
The game ended without further interest, although Stephen was delighted to have destroyed an enemy bridge with his Caproni and increased his pilot and aft gunner's records to 10 missions apiece... surely a Dawn Patrol record of some sort.
This game was notable in that the SE 5a's of Rick and Stephen both scored kills for their ace pilots. Stephen Dale's battered DVII 160 went down in flames to Lt. Norman Duckworth (Stephen, 23/9) while Dory's DVII 160 had its right wing sawed off by Perceival Stuart (Rick, 18/5).