Volume 32, Number 5-6
10th Indy Title for Stephen
For the first five turns, the Indy Squadron's 2020 Armistice Day Fits Tournament appeared to be just another well-matched title game. The contest was held on Saturday afternoon, November 7th at the home of Nelson and Sharon Skinner in Lewisville, Indiana. A fresh, hot lunch of brats, hot dogs, chips and dip, soft drinks and snacks was served as the first turn was getting underway.
It was difficult balancing a seven-player game, so the scenario offered evenly-matched airplanes and a pot luck dice roll as to who would get the odd player. The only concession made to even the scenario was that rookie player Taylor Morgan (who did not, in fact, end up playing like a rookie) would be on the side with a numerical advantage. The sides stacked up like this:
Rick Lacy - Dory Oda - Taylor Morgan - Stephen Skinner
Germans - Fokker DVII 200 hp high compression
Stephen Dale Skinner - Michael Morgan - Ethan Skinner
Michael and Stephen Dale fired at Dory's SPAD on Turn 2 but were plagued by early gun jams and failed to do much damage. Stephen Dale's Fokker suffered a double attack from Rick and Stephen and took 11 total hits.
Although outnumbered, the Germans still appeared to have the upper hand in Turn 4 but they were again unable to critically damage an Allied airplane. The DVII's of Ethan and Stephen Dale double attacked Stephen's SPAD. Ethan managed only a few hits and Stephen Dale missed entirely. The Germans needed just one or two benevolent die rolls to put Stephen's SPAD in serous trouble, but they couldn't get a break when they needed one. Michael successfully tailed Dory and was making the best game possible with just one machine gun.
Dory was maneuvering under constant machine gun fire and sustained heavy damage, including critical hits to her tail and wing. The German team desperately needed to take Dory's SPAD out of the fight to even the odds, but she stubbornly fought back and refused to leave the fight. Michael and Ethan's gunfire caused her SPAD to be stuck in a right bank, but Dory was lucky and resolved the problem on her first try. Once again, the Germans came close to turning the tide in their favor but came up one die roll short.
One Turn 6 the first hint of trouble appeared for the Germans. Stephen Dale's Fokker was double attacked by the SPADs of Taylor and Stephen who scored 4 hits and 2, respectively, to critically damage the DVII's engine. Smoke poured from the Mercedes, which only added to the mounting difficulties faced by the already-outgunned German team. Although she didn't get a kill, Taylor's shot on Stephen Dale would weigh heavily on the Germans in later turns.
Worse yet, Stephen Dale's Fokker was hit hard again by Dory's SPAD pilot on the same turn and the damage to Stephen Dale's DVII began to get serious.
The game lasted only one more turn. Ethan rolled high initiative and had to move his damaged DVII first yet again. He dove his Fokker out of the game box to end his championship run, and Stephen Dale was left alone in the sky against four opponents who made quick work of his already stricken DVII. The SPADs of both Rick and Stephen fired, knocking out Fokker's Mercedes engine. Stephen Dale glided his airplane down in German lines where he successfully parachuted to safety and the game was over.
To the Germans, the game appeared to be in question until the very end. But the Allies knew otherwise after suffering multiple gun jams throughout the entire game.
Despite being saddled with poor initiative numbers, Ethan scored his third top-3 Armistice Day finish in the last eight years and has established himself as a perennial title threat. "Why I left," Ethan explained, "was I saw that (Stephen Dale) was making bad rolls. I figured (he) was very close to dying. (Michael) was dead and I had jammed my gun. I could either try to help (Stephen Dale) or we could just go our separate ways and get out of here. The game was over on Turn 7 and my gun was jammed."
"We all had jammed guns during the game," Michael said of the German team. Michael is among the finest tournament players in squadron history, but he could do nothing to stop constant gun jams and a fatal bullet to the chest.
Stephen Dale fought valiantly and managed 32 hit factor points despite having just one gun for most of the game. "If you look at the numbers, you guys did more damage mathematically than we did because both me and Mike had jammed guns," Stephen Dale said. "We were doing two or three hits at a time and you guys were doing five and six at a time, and it added up."
Rick flew brilliantly but needed a solo kill and a few turns of good shooting. Half a kill wasn't enough and he settled for his second consecutive runner up finish. The Germans needed Taylor to be overwhelmed and ineffective in her first title game, but she wasn't. Instead, she surprised everyone by finishing fourth, contributing 45 points and playing a pivotal role in the Allied victory.
"First, I only shot twice. I kept having bad initiative," Dory said after the game. "Secondly, I couldn't get these guys off my tail... Michael and Ethan... I could not shake them. Dory was forced onto the defensive early but her ability to stay in the fight weighed heavily in the Allies' favor. She ended the game with her SPAD shot to ribbons with 36 hits and two criticals, yet she still finished the game and made it back to her home field (Dory also floated the idea of an all-female squadron based in Indiana, which met with resounding support).
"The ladies made it possible for me and Rick to battle it out for the title," Stephen said. "If either of them had faltered, the game could have been very close and gone on for another ten turns instead of ending up as a route. We really needed four SPADs to stay in the fight for the duration and contribute, and they did."
Oddly enough, Stephen has scored a record ten Indy titles yet has never managed to win the Victory Medal in consecutive years. That feat has only been accomplished by Dory, Rick and Ken Mrozak. The 2020 Armistice Day championship also turned out to be among the shortest games in recent memory.
November 7 Game Wrap Up
The pre-championship warm-up game had four Fokker DrI's get surprised by four Camel 140's in July 1918. Stephen's DrI pilot, VZFW Gerald Holzhauser (12/2) reached experienced status but otherwise the game was uneventful and ended after only three turns in order to accommodate a timely start for the Armistice Day Tournament.
Two more games were played after the tourney finished. The first featured Stephen Dale and Stephen in Austro-Hungarian Berg DI's (185 hp) against Ethan's Italian Caproni Ca.4 and Rick's Camel 140 in May 1918. Stephen's Berg fired a single burst at the Camel and jammed a gun. But the gunfire still took its toll when the Camel's engine burst into flames and crashed, killing the pilot.
Stephen Dale's Berg then attacked the Caproni and had his engine promptly knocked out. He glided to a landing in No Man's Land where his pilot was shot dead while trying to dash for friendly lines.
The final game of the night was a September 1918 balloon attack with two Albatros DIII's (Ethan and Stephen... and yes, we rolled a 1% chance for Alb DIII's in September 1918) against an Allied balloon guarded by Rick's Camel pilot. After a brief dogfight the Albatri dove on the balloon, achieved a total surprise and shredded it instantly. Both Albatros fighters returned home and the kill went to Ethan's pilot.
Up For Grabs On December 19
For the fourth time in seven years, an Indy Squadron player has the opportunity to win Indy's Triple Crown... the Whosyercon Open, Red Baron Fight and Armistice Day Fits Tournament in the same year. Two players (Rick Lacy, Stephen Skinner) have won all three events during their careers, but no one has won all three of the Indy Squadron's signature events in the same calendar year. It is the final remaining mountain of success that no Indy player has yet achieved.
Stephen had the first opportunity in 2015, winning Whosyercon and Red Baron Fight but losing Armistice Day in November. Rick won Whosyercon and Red Baron Fight in 2018, but lost the squadron championship that fall. Stephen had another shot at the Triple Crown in 2019 but was beaten badly in the season finale by Bob Meister, who took the 2019 Victory Medal.
Stephen nearly lost his third shot at the Triple Crown when Whosyercon was canceled due to the corona virus hoax in March. However, squadron members voted to hold the Whosyercon Open as a separate event in December in order to maintain the event's uninterrupted status.
Stephen eeked out a six-point victory over Stephen Dale in last spring's Red Baron Fight followed by a strong win in November Armistice Day Tourney. The 2020 Whosyercon Open will be held on December 19th at a venue to be announced on the east side of Indianapolis.
Due to the discovery of a cache of historical medals the Indy Squadron will - at least temporarily - suspend the Victory Medal's 32-year tradition of a gold or bronze medal hung from a pure red ribbon.
For the first time ever, the Victory Medals for next two or three years will be of varying color combinations. The squadron obtained the medals of a Mr. Charles Becker, an accomplished rifle marksman who won numerous shooting competitions from 1947 through 1957 throughout the eastern Indiana and western Ohio area. His surviving awards were discovered at an antique shop in Cambridge City, Indiana, last year and the squadron purchased the entire lot of four medals.
The first medal - coincidentally - was actually a red ribbon with a gold medal and was inscribed and given away as the squadron's 2020 Victory Medal. During gaming on November 7th, a question was posed - should the squadron temporarily suspend its tradition of a red and gold Victory Medal in order to use the Becker medals, or should we not?
The overwhelming response was the Becker medals should be used by the squadron due to their uniqueness and history unless the winning player specifically requests a modern red and gold medal instead. It is yet to be determined if the smallest medal among the Becker set (yellow and black ribbon) can be engraved for use, but we will try. We anticipate resuming the Indy Squadron tradition of a red and gold medal in 2023, but in the meantime, the next Victory Medals given to Armistice Day winners will be quite special indeed. Photos below ---
AERODROME 185 Published
The latest issue of the official magazine of the Fight in the Skies Society (FitS) has been published. Aerodrome 185 covers the use of signal flares in Dawn Patrol, an update on the society's financial status, a preview of the upcoming online campaign and much more.
Please consider subscribing to Aerodrome by clicking on the previous link. At just $15 per year the subscription rate is outrageously low and has only risen by $3 in the past three decades. Four magazines are printed each year with vital information for anyone interested in the Dawn Patrol game. Aerodrome is an indispensable source of information for the Dawn Patrol player.
"A Coward if I Return, A Hero if I Fall"
by Neil Richardson
Review by Casemate Publishing
In 1914-1918, two hundred thousand Irishmen from all religions and backgrounds went to war. At least thirty-five thousand never came home. Those that did were scarred for the rest of their lives. Many of these survivors found themselves abandoned and ostracized by their countrymen, their voices seldom heard.
The book includes accounts of the first Victoria Cross, Irish troops at Gallipoli and the Somme, Ireland’s flying aces, heart-rending stories of family sacrifice, the lucky escapes of some and the tragic end of others, and why there was no hero’s welcome for Irishmen after the war.
"A Coward If I Return" includes over 300 photographs from the lives of these men and their families. It is an important book that opened up the conversation in Ireland's role in World War I. It remains an award-winning collection of veterans' stories as told by the families, with military records, surviving documents and letters.