This year's title match will go down in Indy Squadron history as the “Armistice Day Fits Lapse Tournament” due to the unprecedented tidal wave of mistakes that plagued the game from the first turn.
Rick Lacy designed the scenario for the 25th Indy Squadron championship game, which featured a relatively small field composed of veteran players. The teams are listed below with each player's plane type and number of appearances in the Armistice Day tourney.
Ethan Skinner (3rd), Fokker DVII 160 hp high compression
Rick Lacy (13th), Fokker DVII 185 hp
Stephen Skinner (25th), Fokker DVII 160 hp high compression
Dory Oda (25th), American SPAD XIII
Evan Lacy (5th), Sopwith Dolphin twin deck guns only
Stephen Dale Skinner (13th), Belgian Camel 140 hp
The game began with two major errors (universally known as a “Fits Lapse” in DP terminology). The Allied fighters of Dory and Stephen Dale sandwiched Stephen's Fokker DVII on the first turn but suffered a series of altitude errors that resulted in the German escaping the turn unscathed.
Meanwhile, Stephen's DVII was equally inept although for different reasons. He fired 12 times throughout the 18-turn game, missing on all but four of them. Despite his aircraft being in reasonably good condition for most the fight, the 7-time champ was never in contention simply because he couldn't hit anything.
Evan's story had a huge impact on the game. After being pounded mercilessly by all three German fighters, Evan's Dolphin had multiple critical hits and was near destruction. Losing Evan would have been a disaster for his wingmen, awarding 30 or more points to the opposing Germans and virtually assuring that an Allied pilot could not win the Victory Medal.
By some cosmic miracle, Evan stayed in the air long enough to outroll his opponents. Even more importantly, he had the presence of mind to escape when given the chance. He made a perfect landing at his home field, saved his pilot and preserved a chance for his Allied wingmen, Dory and Stephen Dale, to win the tournament.
But Dory was unable to capitalize on the opportunity. The dice were against her when she missed critical shots at several junctures in the game. She had two instances of altitude miscalculation, both costing her a chance to score valuable points. Part of this game is being lucky at the right time, and Dory wasn't. She was able to survive the mission but could never mount a serious run for her fourth squadron title.
After about four hours of playing, with a smoking Fokker and five hits in his engine, Ethan finally escaped the melee and landed safely at home. Stephen and Rick were the only remaining Germans, opposed by Stephen Dale and Dory.
Stephen and Dory were still aloft but out of contention. Their only real purpose was to support their wingmen and help push them to victory.
Rick fired his final burst and fled the scene in his Fokker DVII, unable to be of any more use. Stephen fired twice more at Dory, scoring only three hit factors with his first burst and missing on the second. Stephen Dale's Camel continued to fire until the very end, heavily damaged but knowing that just one good machine gun burst might swing the championship his way.
When the scores were tallied, Rick had edged out Stephen Dale by 18 points to earn his first squadron championship. It was a hard earned win in a long and often frustrating game that will be remembered for its mistakes and poor shooting.
It was also one of those rare Dawn Patrol games that never really develops or draws its own conclusion. It was a draw between two teams and six experienced players, none of whom were ever able to satisfactorily close any segment of the game or score a game-winning burst. But this was not the first championship to be won by consistent (if not accurate) shooting, nor will it be the last.
The Armistice Day Fits Tournament is all about scoring points, and Rick adapted quickly. He was unable to score big, but he scored regularly and kept his guns constantly ablaze. This is the biggest win of his 13-year Dawn Patrol career, and his first Indy Squadron title. The final scores are listed below:
Rick Lacy, Fokker DVII 185 95
Stephen Dale Skinner, Belgian Sopwith Camel 140 hp 77
Ethan Skinner, Fokker DVII 160 h-c 67
Dory Oda, American SPAD XIII 47
Evan Lacy, Sopwith Dolphin 43
Stephen Skinner, Fokker DVII 160 h-c 43