|"Algernon Pulls It Off!"
Royal Flying Corps
Another of my favourite planes of WW1 and a recent addition to the Wings of Glory WW1 range.
The DH2 first saw service in February 1916 and was well liked being both highly manoeuvrable, for the time, and
comparatively easy to fly.
The DH2 went some considerable way to combating the Fokker E. III 'Eindecker' which had created the 'Fokker
Scourge' and wrenched air superiority away from the Germans until the new Albatros and Halberstadt fighters
arrived in September 1916.
The plane I used is that of John Andrews of 24 Sqdn RFC.
I replaced the pilot 'blob' with a Peter Pig pilot and then painted the undercarriage hub caps with different colours
for identification purposes. Finally I added flight leader's streamers to the struts of one plane.
With a big engine behind him, the pilot had improved protection against rear attacks but at the expense of a greater
likelihood of engine hits and propeller damage.
As an option in Algy, I swap the pilot hit / engine damage results on the (C) column of the Critical Damage Table for
attacks from Rear / Rear Deflection.
So now, a roll of 8 would read Engine damage and 10 a Pilot hit.
Royal Aircraft Factory FE 2
Another 'Pusher' the FE 2 (aka 'Fee') was a remarkably versatile plane being able to fulfill roles as a
reconnaissance, fighter, light bomber and even a night bomber.
This model is a Skytrex one from their Red Eagle range of kits and is particularly tough to put together.
The FE2 had a crew of two with the observer sitting in front of the pilot with both of them in front of the engine and
propeller. Usually, the observer had a flexible Lewis gun firing forward and a mounting behind him with a Lewis
gun pointing backwards. He then had the most unenviable task of standing up in the nacelle, facing backwards and
firing back over the pilots head, wing and engine. With no strapping to keep him secure it really was not the safest
duty to be performed in the war.
It was not easy to fire backwards accurately in this situation and to reflect this perhaps reduce the rear arc burst
limit to 3 seconds. If firing in the front arc then suggest a 2 seconds burst limit for any opponent attacking head on
and 4 seconds for anything else.
An FE2 pilot had to be careful with manoeuvres when an Observer was standing up firing at a target behind.
Perhaps limit the FE2 to easy manoeuvres only in the turn an observer fired at a target behind. In addition, if the
FE2 goes into a spin on the turn that an observer fired behind him then on a 1D6 roll of 1-3 (adjusted for luck) the
observer falls to his death.
As an aside for the FE2, they were known to enter a circular formation when under attack. See Nick’s rules for the
“Circle of Death” formation as presented in 'Their Finest Hour' if you wish to incorporate these.
In addition, visibility to the rear was very restricted and so for Algy a modifier of -1 is incurred if spotting in this
Nevertheless, the Fee was a surprisingly tough formidable opponent for German planes of its time.
German Ace Max Immelmann was killed whilst in combat with Fees. Whether he was shot down by an Observer,
or shot his own propeller off due to synchronisation problems, is a matter of question.
It was also whilst in combat with FE 2's that the Red Baron received a nasty head wound which kept him out of the
sky for several weeks.
The Nieuport 17 was a French built fighter which saw much service with the RFC from Summer 1916 until Spring
These models were originally Wings of War models of French Ace Raoul Lufbery.
This is a really nice cute looking model but one that needed a bit of alteration.
I removed the synchronised Vickers gun mounted on the top of the engine as very few RFC Nieuport 17's retained
them due to their reduced effect upon airframe performance.
I repainted the planes silver and added RFC roundels from Dom's Decals, replacing the pilot blobs with Peter Pig
pilots. Finally I added Flight leader streamers to the struts of one plane.
Voila 40 Sqdn RF late summer 1917.
The biggest failing of the Nieuport 17 was the narrow lower wing which though allowing greater manoeuvrability
also had an alarming tendency to disintegrate in hard dives, much as the Albatros D.III and D. V/Va suffered from.
In Algy therefore I like to add a house rule that Nieuport 17's must test for structural failure for a Hard Dive if
descending three or more altitude bands counting a -1 modifier in any structural failure tests.
One of my Nieuports is armed with Le Prieur rockets for balloon busting which along with the introduction in 1917
of 'Pomeroy' and 'Buckingham' types of ammunition made it quite unhealthy to be a Hun balloon observer.
As you can see below I managed to get my hands on one of the Wings of War balloons, which though quite
expensive are really rather nice. my good mate Max Maxwell also scratchbuilt a rather nice German one for me
Royal Aircraft Factory RE 8
The RE8 was a two seater reconnaissance and occasional light bomber, nicknamed in rhyming slang 'Harry Tate'
after a popular music hall star of the times, suggesting as an adjective to be amateur or incompetant.
It was designed as a replacement for the obsolete and vulnerable BE 2 but performance wise wasn't that much
different. One advantage over the BE 2 was that the Observer now sat behind his pilot and functioned as a rear
RE 8's first arrived at the front in November 1916 but it was during the 'Bloody April' of 1917 that they suffered
most. Superior German pilots, planes and their tactics took a heavy toll of RE 8 crews.
These are Skytrex Red Eagle miniatures bought before the Wings at War miniatures was released and were a real
nightmare to put together. Be thankful that now you don't have to make one.
I added yellow streamers to the flight leaders machine.
Airco DH 4
The Sopwith Camel was the first British designed fighter which featured twin Vickers MGs as its forward armament.
This gave the Camel a powerful punch and made it a match for its German opposition.
It first saw service in July 1917 and though a difficult plane to handle was very manoeuvrable. The gyroscopic
effect of its rotary engine meant turning to the left was slow, whereas turning to the right could be performed at
half the speed of the enemy.
It was however particularly difficult to regain control of in an uncontrolled spin and so in Algy I give it a modifier of
-1 when trying to recover.
It was said that the Camel would give a pilot the choice of a "Wooden cross, red cross, and Victoria Cross."
Camels shot down more enemy planes than any other type of Allied fighter during WW1.
I used the Wings of War Sopwith Camel of William Barker as the basis for my first Flight of five Camels, adding
blue streamers to the flight leader's machine.
I then made a section of three Camels based around Aubrey Beauclerk Ellwood's Wings of War Camel, adding red
streamers for the flight leader's plane.
Towards the end of the war Camels were becoming outclassed due to their slow speed and poor performance at
high altitude and so were used in a ground attack role strafing troops and dropping 25lb Cooper bombs, roles which
the SE5a, with its single Vickers MG and upper wing mounted Lewis gun, was unsuitable for.
Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a
Another truly iconic plane of World War 1 which first saw service in Summer 1917.
The SE5a was a massive improvement on the underpowered SE5 which had arrived on the Western Front in March
It was highly manoeuvrable, reasonably fast, strong in the dive and with an excellent rate of climb.
It was in the hands of 56 Sqdn RFC that the SE5a accounted for 48 kill German Ace, and close personal friend of the
Red Baron, Werner Voss, in an epic dogfight on 23rd September 1917.
Top British aces James McCudden and Edward 'Mick' Mannock both scored many of their kills in the SE5a.
Canadian Ace Billy Bishop's 85 Sqdn RFC Wings of War plane forms the basic building block for my SE5a flight for
I coloured the undercarriage hubs and added leaders streamers. Also I simply removed the Z letter and added new
ones from the Sopwith Snipe set from Dom's Decals.
Royal Aircraft Factory BE2c
If ever there was a plane victim of the Great War in the air it was the BE2.
The BE2 was a two-seater reconnaissance and light bomber which was developed as early as 1912.
Relatively easy to fly, slow and very stable made it particularly suitable as a platform for artillery observation.
However this also made it an obsolete sitting duck to any Hun pilot, and they were shot down in droves.
It became known as 'Fokker Fodder' in 1915, and in April 1917, the RFC's 'Bloody April', 60 BE2s alone were lost.
Interestingly the pilot flew from the rear seat with the observer taking the front seat. This awkward position made
the observer unable to act effectively as an air gunner to protect the plane from attack.
In Algy the observer can only fire to starboard, to enable him to miss the screw.
The BE2 was eventually superseded by the RE8 which was almost as vulnerable, and not as easy to fly.
These two BE2's are Skytrex Red Eagle kits and being particularly awkward I can say hand on heart these will be
the last two I will ever make.
I replaced the crew with Peter Pig ones and added a tail fin to make the BE2a kit into a C variant.
Bristol Fighter F2
The 'Biff' as it was affectionally known was one of the most successful combat aircraft of all time.
Fast, rugged, well armed and for its size manoeuvrable, the Biff was highly effective in a multitude of roles; fighter,
ground attack, light bomber, reconnaissance.
However, when it first saw action in April 1917 with 48 Sqdn RFC its initial impact was inauspicious.
On its very first patrol six F2's were bounced by five Albatros D.III from Jasta 11 led by Manfred von Richthofen.
Four Biffs were lost including that of William Leefe Robinson V.C. , who was captured, with a fifth F2 badly
Crews soon learnt though that the F2 was best used as a fighter, with a nasty sting in the tail.
Used aggressively the Biff was responsible for many RFC pilots achieving Ace status, with several going on to
My five Biffs are all Shapeways planes with Peter Pig aircrews.
Sopwith 1½ Strutter
The Sopwith 1½ Strutter was one, or two seater plane, and was the first British plane to feature a forward firing
Vickers MG synchronised to fire through the propeller.
It was given the name "1½ Strutter" because of the "one-and-a-half" (long and short) pairs of cabane struts
supporting the top wing.
My Shapeways Strutters are of 43 Squadron RFC which arrived in France in January 1917.
During 'Bloody April' 1917 the Strutter was savaged by the German Albatros scouts, 43 Squadron losing 35
casualties out of an officer establishment of only 32!
Stutters served in a variety of reconnaissance roles along with service as a light bomber and strafer, fighter and
Strutters also served in home defence Squadrons attempting to combat Zeppelins and Gotha bombers.
In Algy, Strutters can perform quite well but suffer from a lack of robustness.
Whilst the BE2 and RE8, which fulfilled similar roles, are robustness 4 the Strutter is only two.
This means they are incredibly vulnerable and require a good escort to ensure they survive first contact with the
The SPAD S.VII was a French designed fighter that first entered RFC service with 19 Squadron in October 1916.
They continued to see action until exchanged for SPAD S.XIII in January 1918.
The SPAD S.VII was very fast, much stronger in a dive than its contemporary Nieuport, and though only armed with
one forward firing sychroised MG, offered a real challenge to the Albatros scouts then in ascendancy on the
Considering only two RFC Squadrons used the SPAD S.VII there is a huge variety in finishes and markings, with
very different looking planes serving in the same flights at the same time.
My 19 Squadron planes have a red, white and blue striped band over an unpainted dope finish, and roundels on the
undercarriage wheel hubs, as used in April 1917. However at times both black and white dumbells were used as
23 Squadron RFC replaced its FE2 'Fees' with SPAD S.VII from February to April 1917 and continued until December
of that year, when they upgraded to SPAD S.XIII.
My 23 Squadron machines are in PC10 Green camouflage with a white triangle and letter Squadron indicator as of
All my SPAD S.VII are F-toys which have been repainted.
Morane-Saulnier Type N ('Bullet')
The 'Bullet' was a French monoplane fighter which saw limited service with the RFC in 1915 and 1916,
notably with 60 Squadron.
Of similar performance, and limitations to the Fokker E.III 'Eindecker', the Bullet however lacked a synchronised
forward firing machine instead using deflector wedges on the propeller blades.
It utilised 'wing warping' instead of aelirons and was known to be difficult to fly, however with a rotary engine it
could the engines torque to make snap turns to turn sharply to the right. It had a slightly higher ceiling than its
The 'Bullet' could just about handle the Eindecker, unless piloted by the likes of Boelcke, but was completely
outclassed against the Fokker D.III, Halberstadt and Albatros Scouts
I have classified the 'Bullet' for Algy as Speed 5, Manoeuvrability 2, Altitude 8, Rate of Climb 1, Robustness 2,
Size 3, and with a frontal fire factor of 2.
The Morane Saulnier Type I, an up engined 'Bullet', looked almost identical. In Algy I increase the speed and
ceiling by a further 1.
One RFC pilot who flew the type and later went on to become an inter war test pilot went on record to say that in
his long and varied flying career the Type I Bullet was the only plane which he thought was actively trying to kill
To incorporate this in Algy I make them difficult to regain control of in an uncontrolled spin and so I give it a further
modifier of -1 when trying to recover.
"Don't get too clever chums when you're in a Bullet" says Carpet-Byrnes.
My Bullets are repainted from the Wings of Glory Early War Fighters range for 60 Squadron RFC, Summer 1916.
In complete contrast to the awkward, difficult to fly Bullet, the Sopwith Pup was forgiving and described as
'delightful' to fly by RFC and RNAS pilots.
Originally known as the Sopwith Scout, its nickname ' Pup' was derived from its small size when compared to its
bigger brother, the Sopwith Strutter. The name promptly stuck.
The Pup first saw service in Autumn 1916 where, in spite of its single forward firing synchronised Vickers MG, its
relatively high speed and manoeuvrability immediately had an impact on its Luftstreitekrafte opponent's morale,
outclassing both the enemy Halberstadt and Fokker D.III.
However it only really appeared in large numbers in 1917 when the Pup itself was outclassed by the better armed
and faster Albatros Scouts, but continued in front line service until December 1917.
The Sopwith Pup also served with Home Defence Squadrons to counter the threat from the enemy Gotha bombers
which began to target Britain in summer 1917.
The Pup's manoeuvrability was unmatched until the arrival of SE5 and Sopwith Camel on the Western Front during
This was largely due to its Le Rhone 80hp rotary engine, allowing pilots to execute a fast snap turn to the right
using the natural torque. This survivability of the Pup in a twisting dogfight was another reason why it inspired
such love amongst its pilots.
My Pups are Shapeways planes with Peter Pig pilots added.
I also added flight leaders streamers to the struts on one plane.
Felixstowe F 2 Flying Boat
This Shapeways offering is a proper whopper with an 8" wingspan in 1/144th scale. It was my 2012 Christmas
present to myself.
The Felixstowe F2 served to patrol the North Sea during 1917 and 1918 and can lay claim to being one of the best
aircraft of WW1. Relatively fast, manoeuvrable and well armed with four to nine machine guns, the Felixstowe was
a hugely successful design. It fought enemy scouts and patrol aircraft, U-boats and even Zeppelin airships, all
with notable success, and was popular with, and well liked by its crews, being relatively safe and comfortable.
After Summer 1918, Felixstowe's were an early example of a plane that used 'dazzle camo' in a variety of garish
colours and designs. Mine is somewhat subdued being painted for markings of a plane for 1917, and early 1918.
A proper whopper!
Now for the tiddlers.
The Sopwith Baby was a small and versatile float plane which saw service as a ship borne scout operating from
sea plane carriers, cruisers and destroyers along with larger merchant vessels and minelayers.
It also served with the Sea Plane Defence flight operating out of St Pol and Dunkirk.
Operating from June 1917, the Pups and Babies of the Sea Plane Flight were tasked with escorting Allied Sea
planes and attacking enemy aircraft along the coast.
Armed with a forward firing Vickers, the remarkable Sopwith Baby float planes were even used to intercept Gotha
raids on Britain.
These are both Shapeways planes and amongst my favourites.
In Algy I rate them as Speed 5, Manoeuvrability 3, Ceiling 6, Rate of Climb 1, Robustness 2, Size 2.
You can view my Luftstreitkrafte here