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Bombing Italy in 1917? But I have to Cross the Alps first!

The campaign continues, previous installment: here

The Mission
My mission was to cross over the Alps and proceed to the Italian port of Venice. There I was to bomb war targets to assist in the Battle of Caporetto. My return flight was to be over the Adriatic Sea and landing in Hungary.

Easy right?

I was assigned the L.61 Height-Climber, Type V. Which had a very high ceiling, but very little defence (a single MG in the Bow Control Car). The point was to fly high enough that nothing could attack me, and then hope the weather was clear enough to see my target.

The Trip

Weighed off, I began by dropping 3 tons of ballast from all four sections. With a massive amount of lift we were off!

Clouds at 2xxx and a tail wind wouldn’t last for long. Sailing at our manoeuvring speed we soon burnt through a ton of petrol (petrol burn, petrol burn).

The flight continued uneventful (Petrol Burn for high altitude and Rain both no-events).

Soon our ascent began to slow at 3500m and we dropped another 3 tons of ballast from sections B+C and continued to rise.

We spotted an unknown enemy land vehicle far below (submarine) which we ignored.

Whatever it was, must have radioed us in, for as we were still rising a Scout 4th class was spotted!

It was a FBA Type H Flying Boat, armed with a fixed .303 and nose .303, flying at it’s ceiling of 4850m! We were currently at 3900m but rising steadily! It seemed likely that we would still be beneath it by the time it reached us. Not Good.

We rose to 4100m as the FBA flew directly towards us (at 4850m)
We rose to 4300m as the FBA continued flying straight, it was now directly above us!
We rose to 4500m and the FBA plummeted straight down at our tail!

The FBA fired both its nose MG and fixed MG in it’s vertical dive and delivered a walking hit! We suffered severe damage as Cells I,II, III, IV and V were all damaged. Cell I was already leaking Hydrogen and our Machinist reported critical damage!

Firstly, our damaged canvas from the fin entangled the elevator, which was no longer operable!

Secondly, our Airframe Ring was fractured, decreasing our maximum manoeuvring speed and also weakening our hull (which would now buckle if it exceeded -10 lift, as opposed to the normal -17 lift!)

(A high altitude headwind began.)

We nevertheless continued to rise to 4700m and passed the FBA which pulled out of its dive and cut beneath us at 4550m. Luckily, it only had 47 round drums and needed to reload before it could attack again.

Our Machinist began his climb to the stabilizer to attempt to free it from the damaged canvas as our Sailer and Parson were sent to repair the damaged cells. The CC dropped the remainder of the ballast to ensure maximum lift.

We slowed our speed to our new maximum manoeuvring speed as cells III and V leaked. We rose to 4900m, too high for the FBA, who was shadowing us and trying to gain altitude.

A Storm Front began to develop and we burnt some more petrol. The headwind was too strong so we would have to veer to avoid it.

Cell I leaked, but we hit 5000m. We dropped the stern breeches to lighten our stern as our tail was becoming too heavy for the damage to the airframe ring to handle! I became concerned that if we rose too high, the strain on the tail would become too much, but that damned FBA threatened me if we dropped at all.

A RNAS Strike Force was spotted at 1100m, but we ignored each other. The FBA continued to follow us though as we rose to 5150m.

Cell V was repaired.

Twilight began to fall as we rose to 5250m. Cell IV was repaired! In the attempt to repair the elevator, the frame snapped and it was irreparable! The Machinist began the long trek to the bow to lighted the stern.

Our ascent stabilized at 5300m. The FBA continued to climb. The Scout was having a hard time rising as with an observer at high altitude it was struggling under it’s own weight.

Suddenly, Cells I and III leaked and we began to fall (5200m). Our hull was on the verge of collapsing. That bloody Airframe ring fracture could be the end of us!

The Machinist reached section C as the Sailer and Parson worked to repair the leaks. Amazingly, both cells II and III were repaired! A stroke of good luck!

We dropped to 5100m as that annoying FBA was coming head on towards us at 4700m.

Cell I leaked and was now empty, which had the annoying result of us slipping to 5000m. The FBA, 300m below us, performed a hammerhead! It reached 4850m and opened fire at our Stern again!

The nose gun missed us, as the observer was disorientated, but the fixed gun ripped along delivering another walking hit, damaging cells I, II, III, IV and V again!
Just as our repairs were complete, everything was damaged again! At least cell I was already empty so we could ignore it.

As the FBA stalled and fell out of view, night fell.

Our crew scrambled back to repair work as a petrol burn allowed us to maintain altitude at 5000m.

Cell V was repaired!
Cell IV was leaking!
Cell III was leaking!

The Stern was at a negative lift of 9 (-10 was the limit), and we began to hear our airframe cracking from the stress. The Parson, currently in Section C, having repaired Cell V, was unable to help in the stern, as the added weight was too risky!

We began to fall (4900m) which would hopefully relieve some of the strain.

The CC vented some Hydrogen from section B and the Airship began to lower as we began to fall faster. No more leaks (4700m).

Still no leaks and we fell to 4450m and gained some lift in D (-8)! Whew.

Some clouds at 3xxx and a slight headwind slowed us to a crawl. Cell IV leaked (at -9 again), but our sailer repaired Cell II. Still two damaged cells (III and IV) to repair.

We then spotted a Mountain Pass at 3500m, so we couldn’t drop too low!

Cell III leaks (-10) and the hull groaned! We dropped to 4150m and gained some lift in our stern (-9). It was a very touchy balancing act!

We reached 4100m, with the mountain pass slowly nearing and cell III leaked again (-10), despite our machinist’s attempts to repair it!

We slipped to 4000m, needing enough lift to clear the mountains. Our Machinist worked fervently on cell III, but it continued to leak!!! Our stern reached a negative lift of -11 and the disparity between sections caused our weakened hull to collapse under the strain!

Klaxons rang out as our airship began to plummet and crashed into the mountain pass.

There were no survivors.


Final shape of the Stern – yellow dice are used instead of coins to show loss of gas.
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