The 30th Indy Squadron Armistice Day Fits Tournament was held at Rick Lacy's home on the east side of Indianapolis on Saturday, November 10, 2018, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Great War's end. The squadron is grateful to Rick and Pam for hosting the day's festivities. Eight players participated and planes were chosen by random die roll:
Stephen Dale Skinner, Camel 140
Michael W. Morgan, Camel 140
Ethan Skinner, SE 5a Viper
Stephen Skinner, SPAD XVII
Bob Meister, Fokker DVII 200
Dory Oda, Fokker DVII 200
Bruce Yoder, Fokker DVIII
Rick Lacy, Siemens Schuckert DIII
The game lasted thirteen turns but three pivotal moments were crucial to deciding the championship...
Players involved: Rick, Ethan, Stephen, Bruce, Dory, Stephen Dale
Result: Stephen Dale's Camel and Rick's Siemens Schuckert badly damaged, Germans outnumbered
Defending Armistice Day champ Stephen Dale moved first one Turn One and quickly absorbed three engine hits inside the 12-square tourney box. He moved first again on the following turn and took two more engine hits from Bruce's Fokker DVIII. Smoking and crippled, Stephen Dale flew cautiously but stayed in the fight.
Ethan's SE 5a and Stephen's SPAD XVII double attacked Rick on the first turn, scoring ten hit factors and crippling his Siemens Schuckert with a critical hit in the engine mount (2/2). With both guns jammed, Rick was forced to escape shortly afterward to avoid offering his enemies an easy kill, ending his bid for a second squadron title and leaving the Allies with a numerical advantage early in the game.
The situation for the Germans was made worse by Stephen Dale's ability to continue the fight despite his damage, and by the fact that Dory's Pfalz DVIII missed three consecutive shots in the game's first four turns. (Continued below)
Players involved: Bob, Michael, Bruce, Ethan, Stephen Dale
Results: Bruce's pilot wounded and his Fokker damaged, Stephen Dale's Camel and Bob's Fokker DVII further damaged
The middle portion of the game was dominated by Michael's persistent and successful tailing of Bruce's Fokker DVIII. Not only was Bruce taking damage every turn, but his offensive options were severely limited because he was under cards. This was instrumental in Stephen being able to keep his SPAD XVII from sustaining even a single hit during a string of poor initiative numbers. Michael eventually scored a light wound on Bruce's pilot, which would become important later in the game.
Bob's DVII was hit hard by Ethan's SE 5a, but the German continued to fight effectively. Bob managed another big burst into Stephen Dale's Camel but by some miracle, none of those shots went into the engine. Had Stephen Dale rolled a “1” in his damage resolution, Bob would have vaulted into the points lead midway through the game.
Just a few turns later, Bruce's Fokker would be shot down when Stephen's SPAD scored a second light wound on the pilot, resulting in a critical wound (Bruce's pilot passed out and died in the crash for a confirmed kill). Ethan missed Bruce on the same game turn, which robbed him of an opportunity to vie for the title.
Pivotal Moment #3, Turns 9-10
Players involved: Stephen Dale, Dory, Bob, Stephen
Result: Stephen Dale and Bob are shot down
The Allied fighters of Ethan and Stephen were caught about a thousand feet below the main fight after chasing Bruce's stricken Fokker to the limits of the tourney box, which was the edge of the board at that point. Their wingmen, Stephen Dale and Michael, were fully engaged with the final two Germans, Dory and Bob. Michael had finally cleared his right machine gun after having it jammed for most of the game, while Stephen Dale's Camel was barely flying at all.
Beaten on initiative numbers (yet again) and knowing he was unlikely to survive the turn, Stephen Dale made the crucial decision to dive down toward his wingmen. If he had to die, he was going to make sure that his wingmen had a chance to win the game.
Bob made the same decision, passing up a chance to escape and bravely flying his battered Fokker DVII back into the fight to help Dory. The result was that both wounded planes went down.
Dory's Pfalz opened fire on Stephen Dale's Camel, shooting out the engine and killing the pilot with a head wound in the same burst.
Ethan's SE 5a and Stephen's SPAD both latched onto the tail of Bob's Fokker and fired. Ethan missed. Stephen scored three hits, and another four after tailing Bob successfully into the next turn. All four hit factors went into his right wing and Bob's airplane was shot down.
At the end of the fight, being in the right place at the right time was the key to victory.
Ethan might have won but his final shot at Bob missed while Stephen's hit. Michael might have won but the wound he inflicted on Bruce's pilot wasn't fatal. Bob, who flew possibly his best tournament game ever, might have won but his final burst on Stephen Dale hit everything except the engine. Dory had the Allies' only solo kill and might have won but gun jams and poor initiative kept her scoreless and defensive for a lengthy spell during the middle of the game.
But Stephen's SPAD XVII was there to finish off Bruce's Fokker at the right moment. His SPAD was there to finish off Bob with four lucky hits just as Bob's DVII was escaping. And while most of the contenders struggled badly in the middle of the game, Stephen was able to limp along with his only functional machine gun and shoot on eight of the game's thirteen turns, never missing.
Stephen's right machine gun jammed on the game's second turn and was never repaired. That may be a first for an Armistice Day winner. And he is the first to admit that his teammates and a healthy dose of good fortune account for his 9th Indy Squadron championship.
125 points Stephen Skinner, SPAD XVII
75 Dory Oda, Pfalz DVIII
67 Michael Morgan, Camel 140
49 Ethan Skinner, SE 5a Viper
40 Bob Meister, Fokker DVII 200
36 Bruce Yoder, Fokker DVIII
30 Rick Lacy, Siemens Schuckert DIII
0 Stephen Dale Skinner, Camel 140