Shepherd Boys Smoke Balloons
Game Update for October 28, 2023
Jonathon, Dory, Benjamin and Stephen were on hand for the first of three games in Lewisville, Indiana last Saturday. The first game matched Dory and Jonathon's Albatros DIII's against the Sopwith Pups of Benjamin and Stephen. The bomb-laden Pups were tasked with stopping a German supply train from reaching the front. Rather than attack the train directly, the Brits chose to stop it by bombing a bridge in its path.
The Albatri had an early opportunity to knock Stephen's Pup out of the game but failed to capitalize when both of Dory's machine guns jammed in a single turn and Jonathon's Albatros missed completely. Things got even worse for the Germans when Ben's Pup scored a critical engine hit in Jonathon's Alb, forcing a compression loss and crippling him for the remainder of the game.
With the Albatri unable to mount an effective defense, the Pups were able to knock out the bridge, stop the German train from reaching the front and win the scenario.
Stephen and Jonathon flew rocket-equipped French Nieuport 17's against a pair of German balloons defended by Benjamin's Albatros DV. Jonathon's Nieuport took a big hit in the first turn when Ben's Albatros scored a 7-hit burst from the side, but the French pilots quickly turned the tables.
Stephen's rockets scored a direct hit on the nearest German balloon, flaming it on his first pass while evading nearly all of the defensive ground fire. Meanwhile, Jonathon's Nieuport executed a simultaneous solo attack on the other more lightly defended balloon. Although he was too far from the balloon to use his rockets, he machine gunned the gasbag until it exploded. The balloon was the first confirmed kill of Jonathon's Dawn Patrol career. All airplanes returned safely to their respective bases.
Jonathon's Fokker DVII and Benjamin's Fokker Triplane rounded out the day's activities by attacking a pair of British balloons defended by Stephen's 150 hp Sopwith Camel.
The Germans needed two consecutive attacks to flame the first balloon, while the defending Camel climbed high above the action and allowed the ground fire to do its job while taking an occasional long range shot. Surprisingly, the Camel did manage to score a few hits. Immediately after being attacked, 11-year-old Benjamin accidentally overdove his Triplane into the ground. Meanwhile, Jonathon's DVII went on to attack and destroy the second balloon despite heavy damage from ground fire before making his escape.
"The idea was to give younger players a fun scenario," Stephen said. "So while Jon and I escaped, we decided to allow Ben an emergency landing chance instead of an automatic crash. And we withheld troop fire and anti-aircraft fire. He actually landed his plane successfully, so then we allowed him to avoid capture until he could take off again. This wasn't a tournament or anything. He had just scored his first kill so he deserved a break."
Jonathon's DVII pilot got solo credit for the second balloon, and when Ben's Triplane finally made it home, he won the cut for the first balloon. This was the first confirmed kill that Ben has scored as a Dawn Patrol player.
Frank Luke Film Update
Schiffer Publishing's "THE STAND; The Final Flight of Lt. Frank Luke, Jr." was optioned by an established film company over the summer for adaptation to the big screen. The screenwriter has been working with author Stephen Skinner consistently over the past two months and the initial draft of the screenplay is nearly ready for presentation to the producers.
The screenwriter has adamantly stuck to telling the truth of the Luke saga as documented in the book, consciously avoiding the historical compromises and composite characters that burdened "Flyboys," "The Red Baron" and other past films.
No date has yet been set for filming and no discussion of casting is yet known. Check upcoming issues of the Indy Squadron Dispatch for more news.