Thursday, 30 March 2017

Canadian Jets - RCAF Sky Lancers, Part 2

Part 2. Canadian Sabre MK.6 of the second Sky Lancers, 1956.

Reformed for 1956, the Sky Lancers were now based at RCAF Station Baden-Soellingen in Germany, attached to No.4 (Fighter) Wing. On 2 March 1956, a tragic accident would claim the lives of F/O JD McLarty 414 Squadron 23483, F/O JH Adams 444 Squadron 23445, F/O FK Axtell 422 Squadron 23439 and F/O EH Welters 414 Squadron 23524.

The sole survivor, F/O LC Price 422 Squadron 23408, wasn't airborne that day.

More information can be found at 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Changing up the Pony

Slowly but surely, I am progressing up through the Mustang H in World of Warplanes. One of the biggest drawbacks to this aircraft, thus far, is the serious lack of punch from the stock guns. There have been many times where I believe the option of having the pilot slide back the canopy and throw confetti at passing enemy aircraft might do more damage. So, with that in mind, it's time for an upgrade, or two.

However, having the new parts and not installing them wouldn't make a whole lot of sense now, would it? It's a good thing I have a sizable nest egg built up to cover this expense, since I have been running a standard account for....a very long time now. With the airframe switched over and the new guns mounted, my hope there will be a very noticeable difference during future sorties.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Russian the Skies

After not playing War Thunder in a little while, I decided to check out the latest micro-update and take to the skies....

Bent Wing Widowmaker Flies Again

Taking a break from flying the Mustang H in World of Warplanes, a trip to the messy mid-tiers with an old, premium friend....

If you are old enough to remember, thanks for not allowing me to be alone with the memories. 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Loopty Loo

Hard to know which way to label this battle, annoying or frustrating. But when you and an enemy aircraft are aerial dancing and both are just waiting for that opportune moment to strike....that never comes....

Here is just one of those experiences from World of Warplanes.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Painted Pony

Not happy with my two previous custom skin results (kinda blah, really), I decided to draw some inspiration from a near-future, real world project I will be attempting....

Although my son wanted and got a model tank (PZKW VI Ausf.B "King Tiger" in 1:76 scale), I wanted a warplane and the Mustang was the only thing I considered "decent" from the selection at the time.

Despite the fact that we will be working on two distinctly different projects, as a parent, it is my hope that it will be done together, in each other's company. I might document my first build of a model aircraft in about thirty years. If anything, it might prove entertaining.

While I didn't match the colors exactly from the box, I went with a more "blue" variation of the British camouflage from the era. Besides, green camouflage in a blue sky?

Nevertheless, I am not enjoying much success with my new Mustang H. Part of the problem is the serious lack of upgrades and I am flying it like my "Elited" Mustang D (which wasn't too proper either). Here is a recent for yourself and leave a comment on what you saw.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Canadian Jets - RCAF Sky Lancers, Part 1

Part 1. Canadair Sabre MK.5 of the first RCAF Sky Lancers aerobatic team in 1955.

Based at Gros Tenquin, France, No.2 (Fighter) Wing formed the Sky Lancers. After only twenty exhibition flights, this group would be disbanded after just one season of demonstrations.

The first team was F/L Tony Hannas 421 Squadron AX23062, F/O BR Campbell 430 Squadron BH23310, F/O LM Eisler 421 Squadron AX23046, F/O GCE Theriault 430 Squadron BH23156 and F/O HL Graves 416 Squadron AS23226.

For further reading, check out this archived Globe and Mail article.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A dab of paint and flames

When it comes to being a graphic artist, let's be kind and say I have very rudimentary skills. I have created images through the resident Windows Paint program over the years, mostly copy, pasting and altering other pictures I have found. On occasion, I have even created original works of art, but the quality of those could be judged through the eyes of the beholder.

Nevertheless, I started my search for a decent skin for the P-51H in World of Warplanes some time ago, but never found one that really screamed "pick me." Instead, through a very technical means of exploring the game client files, exporting a template to Paint and then transferring over to another graphics program, I have created a non-historical look for my latest Mustang. I wanted a simple modern and close to gun metal look as I could create with my meager skills. I think I didn't do too badly on my first attempt.

If there is anyone out there who is interested in this skin and/or a "weathered aluminum" variant that I first created, let me know and I will upload them and post a link.

Having said all of that, here was my first battle of the day, wearing the new paint scheme and demonstrating a few things of what not to do in a battle....

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Letter H

After not having access to a computer (at least, one with WOWP installed) and not able to collect more for the Exquisite Achievements special that was running this past weekend, I sat down and had my own personal "mini-marathon" to grind out the Mustang H. In the real world, is moving time again, just across town, but I doubt I will get any free time to play in the virtual skies.

With the Mustang D now put to pasture, here is the first battle with the Mustang H....

Canadian Jets - de Havilland DH-100 Vampire F. III EEP42387

Originally assigned with RAF serial VP770, but never marked. Taken on strength with the Royal Canadian Air Force in July of 1948 and given serial number 17069. In service with No. 411 (Aux) Squadron and/or No. 400 (Aux) Squadron, based at RCAF Station Downsview, Ontario.

Retired and sold to Fliteways Inc, of West Bend, Wiscoinsin, with a new civil registry of N6877D, recorded in March of 1958. Later sold to Ken Cook Publishing Co, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1963. Purchased and brought to Calgary, Alberta, by The Honourable Mr. Justice A. Milton Harradence, receiving a Canadian civil registry of CF-RLK.

Part of the original 1964 collection of the later foundered Air Museum of Canada, moved to the Calgary Centennial Planetarium ground in 1973. On display at the former Aero Space Museum of Calgary, now known as the Hangar Flight Museum, since 1988.

Friday, 17 March 2017

A Paddlin' on St. Paddy's

There might not be an Irish Air Corps version of the Hawker Hurricane currently in the World of Warplanes, I still felt inspired to take out my premium (and loved by a select few) IID out for a good St. Paddy's Day paddlin'.

Here is how it all went down....

A touch of Irish, Hawker Hurricane Mk.X (Can) P5178 NV-G

Part of an original serial run of forty units built between March and August 1940, by Canadian Car and Foundry Corporation of Montreal, Quebec, P5178 was delivered to RAF in 1940. Taken on strength and assigned to No. 79 Squadron at Pembrey, Wales.

In September of that same year, P5178, flown by P/O Paul Mayhew, intercepted Kampfgeschwader 55 over the Irish Sea. After shooting down one Heinkel He 111P and sustaining damage during the sortie, the Hurricane was forced to land due to fuel issues in Wexford, Ireland. There are conflicting reports the Hurricane was captured (Ireland had claimed neutrality during World War II) or purchased from the British Governement.

P/O Paul Mayhew was interned, but later escaped to Northern Ireland in June, 1941. In February, 1942, P/O Paul Mayhew succumbed to injuries sustained in a crash, never regained consciousness and died.

P5178, now assigned with Irish Air Corps Serial No.93, was the first Hawker Hurricane to enter Irish service with the Advanced Training Section, Air Corps Training Schools in March (some sources say May) of 1942. Transferred to No.1 Fighter Squadron at Baldonnel, Ireland in 1943, was withdrawn from use in August of 1945 (other sources claim a last flight in May, 1946) and later scrapped.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

A Familiar Face

Before you keep reading or come up with the wrong idea, this isn't a "brag post," despite the outcome of this particular battle.

Most of the time, I just hit the record button while in the hangar and let the cameras roll during the next single or series of battles and edit them up for the content I want to publish and share. Granted, I put out more winning videos than defeats and the reason behind that has to do with mostly negative and non-constructive comments from "Armchair Air Marshals," something I have experienced from past publications (there are those who do and have offered real, helpful advice and I thank them for sharing their insight).

This just happened to be another one of those occasions where the action was already being recorded, but this time, I saw an old and familiar name. pyantoryng is one of those players who has been around even longer than I have (and more consistently too). In fact, I have a few screenshots from my early days of them on either my team or the enemy's. I even have a few of being shot down by them, but that is another story altogether. Of all the names I have seen come and go over the years, it's nice to see those from the start are still around.

Nevertheless, here is a rare sight, the both of us in the same battle. Sadly, one of us got the wrong team....

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Night Bite

Night flights were a reality, from the early days of flying right up to the modern day and War Thunder renders this fairly realistically. Although a player has the option to remove ingame markers to "up the challenge level," I decided that I am not even close to ready for that kind of cerebral action.

After fiddling around in the controls menu, I have reduced the difficulties of trying to play by simplifying how my keyboard and mouse interact with the game. In other words, I think I can fly a lot better now, with out having to fight with my controls so much. Funny thing is, I don't remember having any of this before.

Nevertheless, here is the first results of those adjustments....

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Slithering through the Sky

Not to say I am going to get back into War Thunder with any real vigor, but it is becoming more of a adventure of rediscovery and comparison.

When I was playing more, it was my own personal "act of rebellion" against the displeasure I was experiencing with World of Warplanes. I didn't set out any specific goals, merely taking part and collecting on the events that were being held at the time, something the other flying title of interest was serious lacking.

I suppose those reward planes were goals of sorts, but at the time, I just wanted to load up a decent flying game and blast stuff out of the sky.

Now that I have reinstalled and taken another look at the game, I have decided on actually settling on something to achieve. In World of Warplanes, I set the goal of acquiring the end game North American F-86 Sabre. Looking at my scattered progress in War Thunder, it would appear I am closest to collecting something of a more Soviet flavor.

Which one specifically, I couldn't say for certain. Even after all this time and despite reading many questions and answers from other players and related posts of information, a lot of the progression system still confuses me.

Nevertheless, I decided to take out my high rank premium Bell P-63A-5 Lend-Lease Fighter, among other aircraft selected and give a sortie a try. Little did I know the default settings would be half the battle to just stay in the air....

A past dream, revisited

Long ago, in a time before bots were even a consideration to help populate regular, random battles in World of Warplanes, I had this dream.

Clear your mind and imagine, if you will, a map called Asian Border and both teams are flying jets. One side would be in North American F-86 Sabres, the other would pilot their arch nemesis, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 15. Immerse yourself into the high speed aerial action and interesting ingame cross chat, sound like fun?

However, this was also a time before the Mikoyan-Gurevich line was even introduced to the game, so I settled on the goal of what I believed to be the next best, current-for-the-time alternative, the Yakovlev Yak-30. I thought that the F-86 might have been the more popular choice and somebody has to fly those "enemy" planes.

Over the years, it has been a start and stop endeavour, breaking into jets with the tier VIII Yak-15, wander off and play other stuff, return and push up to the Yak-19 at tier IX and detour myself again to other things....

The jet propelled Yaks had that playstyle I was looking for, highly maneuverable, decent rate of climb and they could turn exceptionally well. The trade off was fairly poor weapons accuracy, guns that overheated too quickly for my liking and they really couldn't take a serious hit. Despite that, these aircraft delivered a speed and fun factor that I hadn't experienced before and couldn't wait to try and make that dream battle into a reality.

Sadly, that didn't and won't come to pass.

The bitter reality of the here and now is there are more bots than real people flying in sorties, thanks to all the events that took place over the passage of time. Many players who already have acquired a F-86 and/or the later released MiG 15 have moved on to other things and far too few new players are comfortable with playing other aircraft in different tiers. To even organize such an event these days, would take a monumental effort and one would have to secure prizes for the participants, since the impression I am left with is people will only play for a tangible reward, not so much the experience of the moment. The golden era of "what could have been" has come and gone.

However, I still hold on to that dream, even if it is to satisfy my own goal of scratching it off my game "bucket list" and took out my Yak-19 to terrorize the skies....

Monday, 13 March 2017

A Mustang in Other Skies

Although I play mostly World of Warplanes these days, I did try out and play War Thunder on the side for some length of time. Along the way, I bought and earned a few premium aircraft and advanced up most of the ingame nation lines, but after I switched over to the Ground Forces (Tank battles) portion, I became frustrated with the game and uninstalled the whole works.

After being bit by the virtual flying bug again, I decided to download, install and take another look at the Aerial Combat part of War Thunder.

Firstly, the flight control differences between the two games is considerable (I am using the default settings in both). World of Warplanes allows a player to jump right into the action with a very simplified control system (I just happen to be a keyboard and mouse user), while War Thunder requires a lot more micro-management just to avoid hitting the ground.

Simply put, WOWP is a arcade shooter, WT is trying to bring more of the simulation element into their gameplay.

There are a great deal of other differences too and I might cover those items in the future, but for now, there was one thing I wanted to experience. 

After returning from an extended break and taking to the skies in a Canadian skinned P-51D in World of Warplanes, in an attempt to advance up the line there, I decided to try and loosely compare the changes in War Thunder (and the flight model versus WOWP) since I last played and took out the premium British Mustang Mk-1A for a test flight, from takeoff to landing....

Canadian Jets - Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk. V 23060

Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk. V (Serial No. 23060).

Leaving the Canadair plant in Montreal, Quebec in late November 1953 and first flight in January 1954, this Sabre was taken on strength with the Royal Canadian Air Force with the serial number 23060.

Known service career consisted of transferring to ADC, 443 Squadron, RCAF Station Sea Island, British Columbia, then with 1 (F) Operational Training Unit (OTU) and to the Sabre Transition Unit (STU) at CFB Chatham, New Brunswick.

Struck off in October 1967 (conflicting report claims January 1968) and later donated for display at Royal Roads Military University, Colwood, British Columbia. Purchased from Royal Roads in 1972, moved and mounted on a pylon in front of the Army, Navy and Air Force Association Veterans Club, in Sidney, British Columbia.

Partial sources: Link 1 Link 2 Link 3

Friday, 10 March 2017

Rising Sun in the lower tiers

A long time ago now, World of Warplanes introduced Mission Rewards spread across the tiers to collect. In order to fulfill these requirements, a player has fly their aircraft in tier brackets of I-IV, V-VII and VIII-X. Of course, these varying levels also bring a change in gameplay, where both human and artificial opponents can be quite challenging to fairly easy to defeat.

The lower tiers, say from I through III, are meant to be somewhat forgiving, since this is where new players get their first taste of the game. Although some will graduate from this level of action and move up through the tiers, desiring to challenge themselves with increasingly more difficult scenarios, others will choose to stay in what some call "the kiddie pool." The reasons are many for some players not wanting to advance any higher, from having a strong affection for that era of aircraft and playstyle, to exploiting the skill level of gameplay for a sense of self worth and bragging rights.

Suffice it to say, I don't play the lower tiers too much, preferring to be more of a mid-to-higher tiered participant in an attempt to collect on much better experience and credit returns from those battles. However, I figured I would try and collect as much as possible from this battle, by using the multipliers associated with a premium aircraft and the rear gunner equipped, Japanese Ki-8 Fighter seemed like the right choice.

I had no idea the payoff was going to be quite this good....

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Playing a genre legend

Surprising to say, I haven't played a whole lot of air combat games, so remembering those on my short list will be relatively easy.

1942 is one of games that has become a fixture of sorts, especially the upright, coin operated version. Even today, there are many of these machines still in operation and accepting money from customers, giving them in return some intense gameplay action, somewhere in the world. Populating those forgotten arcades from days gone by, to that rare sight in the corner of an airport lobby, very few titles have enjoyed such a long lifespan, in a very international market.

The gameplay was simple enough, by moving forward, backward and side to side, destroy all (or as many as you can) incoming enemies from a top-down perspective. As a player progressed, the attacking enemies grew in number and increased in speed. Throw in a couple of "Bosses,' large aircraft that seemed to take forever to shot down and you had a recipe for a pretty good experience.

Although I was first introduced to the game in an arcade, it's the disappointing and tiring memory of playing it on the original Nintendo Entertainment System that stands out the most for me. When I was a lot younger, a school friend had rented the title (yeah, you could do that, way back when) from a video store, invited me for a sleepover, with the plan to take turns and beat the game. I couldn't tell you when, exactly, we started playing, but I can remember seeing 4:30 in the AM as being the finishing time. All those hours crammed into one day for such an anticlimactic ending, the game just rolled over and started again, with our combined high score still collecting points.

Although I would still play it on the occasion I visited the hometown arcade, I slowly drifted away from it and tried out other titles. The game itself broke down one day and sat with the perpetual "Out of Order," sign taped to it's screen, before vanishing from the floor altogether.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Hurricane in the Harbor

With International Women's Day being observed, World of Warplanes has put on a limited time event to earn a decal in commemoration of the occasion. Since I only have one female pilot, Charlotte von Staufen, the currently-trained-for German-heavy-fighters pilot, I thought it was about time I would change up the look of the aircraft I have her in, the tier VIII premium Me 109 TL. Frankly, I am tired of looking at that ridicules bird (put on as a lark, but too lazy to switch it out for something else, after all this time).

All I needed to do was win ten battles....

To add a little "spice" to the task, I decided to browse through my aircraft collection and fly some that haven't seen airtime in....who knows when. I dusted off some lower tiered Japanese Fighters (got a Gorovets Medal in the Ki-8), flew the American XP-75 Heavy Fighter and of course, knocked back the daily for the P-51D Mustang.

However, the biggest disappointment of all the planes I have has to be the Hawker Hurricane IID. Not to play an old, broken record of my thoughts and feelings about this aircraft and how it exists in World of Warplanes, but my bitter feelings still linger about it, even after so much time has past since it's introduction.

Nevertheless, I watched a few recent videos from highly experienced players pulling off what others wouldn't believe possible, very decent results from this very aircraft (getting an Ace Achievement in a Hurricane, especially how WarGaming implemented it into the game, is nothing short of outstanding).

 While repeating that same level of performance and results would have created a most wonderful and fuzzy feeling, I will settle for this....

....which was no small effort in itself.

In the end, I received and applied the decal and Charlotte von Staufen was defiantly thrilled with the aesthetic change. Can't you tell?

Canadian Jets - RCAF Blue Devils, Part 2

After the original de Havilland Vampire equipped Blue Devils were stood down in 1950, a scheduling oversight for the following year was noticed almost too late.

To meet this commitment, the Blue Devils were hastily reformed in early August 1951 and issued with licensed built Canadair CL-13 Sabre Mk.II aircraft from the 410 (Cougars) Squadron. After a condensed, but intensive solo and formation aerobatic sessions, the Blue Devils performed for three successive days in late August at the Michigan Air Fair in Detroit, Michigan.

The Blue Devils were stood down permanently after their final aerial exposition.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Canadian Jets - RCAF Blue Devils, Part 1

 Canada's first post-war jet demonstration team, the Blue Devils, also know as the 410 (F) Squadron Aerobatic Team, was stood up in May, 1949 at RCAF Station St. Hubert, Quebec. They would showcase their first airshow performance at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario in June that same year.

Some known members were F/L Don Laubman, F/L Omer Levesque, F/L Joe Schultz, F/O Bill Bliss and F/L Bill Tew. Flying the later part of 1949 and through 1950, the Blue devils would suffer a single fatality in July, when S/L Bob Kipp crashed during an inverted opposing practice pass at the Michigan Air Fair.

The Blue Devils, flying De Havilland Vampires, was disbanded in September, 1950. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Grab some popcorn and hold on

For some more veteran and proficient players in World of Warplanes, the way I fly and fight in certain aircraft must be a cringeworthy experience to watch. Take the video, at the end of this little wall of text, for example.

The North American Mustangs (and a few other aircraft) are better known as "energy fighters," and ingame, it's best suited to "Boom and Zoom" (also known as BnZ) tactics.

The concept of BnZ is simple enough to explain in layman's terms. At the very start of a sortie, climb up to a very high operational altitude, allow lower altitude friendlies to spot incoming enemy aircraft, select an opponent below, swoop or dive down to get the "bounce" on the target and race away using stored energy to regain altitude to either make a return pass or select and engage another target. This tactic was once explained to me as "eagle fishing"....

For a more detailed description that might even involved mathematical equations, check out this Google link and seek out those answers not covered above.

Despite my best efforts, I have still have difficulties mastering this technique, as simple as it has been explained to me. It's not that I don't understand the concept and execution of this, I don't particularly see the thrill in it.

For me, I prefer the maneuvering playstyle that involves high energy turns, banking and more erratic changes in direction. This too, has a name, "Turn and Burn" (also known as TnB). A simple way to describe it would be a "car chase in the skies," at all altitudes. Here is a Google link to find out more on this tactic.

However, by design and for the sake of "balancing," the Mustangs in World of Warplanes are not designed to mirror the exploits of their real life counterparts, nor live up fully to claims made by veteran pilots and their fantastic stories of man and machine becoming one in action.

Which brings me to that video I mentioned earlier. The more carful viewer might be able to see that for a while, I was trying to stay within the BnZ doctrine, but that went out the window very quickly....

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Flying a Canadian Pony

I don't normally use mods in the games I play, but sometimes, I feel the developers and/or publishers leave out some necessary content that should have been included. In World of Warplanes, there is and always been a serious lack of  historical and national identity for some aircraft, outside the their use by the major powers.

Such as Canada.

Currently ingame, there are three distinct flavors of the North American Mustang, American, British and Chinese. However, there isn't a whole lot of "sub-options," like those used by other Commonwealth forces, Post War nations and such.

Not to suggest that WarGaming should start marketing a bunch of "copy-paste" clones, just for the sake of a cash grab or to satisfy the small community who would favor these aircraft. But perhaps, consider creating or giving a little compensation to those players who have crafted "skins," an appearance package that requires a lot of time, attention to detail and overall labor of love.  

hawkeyededic, a well known player on the North America server, has created this (take a good look at the top picture). Their rendering of a P-51D from the 443 "City of New Westminster" Squadron, circa Fall 1951, is nothing short of  breathtaking. Comparing that image to the one just above, one can see a great deal of time and eye straining focus to detail went into the end result.

For my journey to the top of the tier list, I made the decision to install and try out this new livery and put some Canadian flavor into the game....


Friday, 3 March 2017

Quelques lectures légères

For the month of March, French premium aircraft are up for grabs from the Premium Shop. Unheard of aircraft such as the Arsenal VB10, CR C.714 and AD 10C2 can be purchased through the offered packages. The only plane that looks somewhat familiar is the SPAD S.510 (then again, I could be confusing this with the WWI Fighter, the SPAD S.XIII).

Meanwhile ingame, I am still plodding along with my progress in the P-51D Mustang, wining a few battles, losing a few too. I am trying to pace myself with other activities to not burn myself out with the limited time I have available, nor overload those who are interested with too much content about my adventures.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Canadian Jets - Gloster Meteor F. III EE311

Gloster Meteor F. III EE311

Transported by ship to Montreal, Quebec from England in August 1945, reassembled and taken on strength with the Test and Development Establishment at RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario, in September. Operated in standard RAF Fighter Command markings and paint scheme. Piloted at air shows in Quebec and Ontario by S/L Shan Baudoux, F/L Bill McKenzie and F/L Jack Ritch, before the aircraft was disassembled and transported by train in December, 1945 to the Winter Experimental Establishment in Edmonton, Alberta.

Crashed enroute from Namao, Alberta to Hamilton, Ontario into Helen Bay Lake, Northern Ontario, in June, 1946, after improvised external fuel tank malfunctioned. Salvaged after being submerged for six weeks, later dismantled and returned to England.