“Memory is long. Time is infinite. Vengeance is final.”
“See it. Hate it. Hunt it. Kill it.”
First formed in Air Warrior in the Fall of 1987, the “4Q” is probably the oldest quasi-active squadron in the online WW2 air combat player community. While most of the roster have gone on to other things (like real lives), many are still active and pop up in all kinds of places in online gaming. A few still fly in Air Warrior and WarBirds. The members of the 4Q shared very little in terms of geography or background. But all seem to have strong independant and creative streaks, and most had chosen career paths in keeping with that.
The squadron originally came to be somewhat because of the way the old Air Warrior terrain was configured. There were 3 countries (A, B, and C) – all players started in A. Players who gained a little experience then generally migrated to B and devoured the new players arriving in A. C was ignored because there was a mountain range between it and A and B. The relative tranquility (i.e. no constant air raids) and solitude of C-land was also the perfect breeding ground for Evil ideas – and it was here that the 4Q first started to collect.
Probably the first organized tactic tried by the 4Q was the “gang bang.” This is not the happenstance kind of event that now has become expected in the skies. Rather, 3 or 4 pilots would fly towards a group of enema and the flight leader would call which of the enema planes they’d all make a run on – ignoring the rest. Usually 1 pass like that would cut down the selected target. Then the next target was selected, and so on.
The mission profile which sort of solidified the 4Q was the “Around The World In 80 Dweebs” mission. The 4Q would launch en masse from a C field and circle around the primary A and B fields, going for the secondary, rearward fields. At these fields could be found fledgeling pilots – practicing chasing each other around – not knowing of the ways of “stallfighting.” The 4Q would drop in on these little tea parties and munch on a few dweebs, and then fly to the next rear area field. After an hour or so, ammo and fuel would be low, and the 4Q would have made the circuit of all the A and B rear fields, and they’d fly home.
Soon the more experienced A and B pilots got sick of the intruders from C-land, and so they started posting “police” at the rear area fields. The only problem was that the police were in Spitfires mainly, and the 4Q had adopted the Me109K for this mission type. The 109K back then couldn’t stall fight with the Spitfire, but it could climb to 10,000 feet almost on it’s tail, and then accelerate away from any other plane in the game. So the A and B police ended up being led on merry chases across the map – chases they always lost.
These missions were quite novel for AirWarrior at the time, as the game was more or less just a furball that moved North and South between A3 and B2. It was also the first sort of real “terror” tactic seen in the game in that it evoked a very visible response from the victims – forcing them to change the way they operated. This was when the power of The Dark Side started to become apparent.
The Heart of the 4Q
The 4Q was originally known simply as the “Bastard Squad.” A name taken from the English comedy series “The Young Ones.” Other squads started getting all hung up on putting “wings” on their handles, usually choosing a couple of letters as an acronym for their squadron name. DoK decided that the Bastards should have their wings say: “4Q.” It was cryptic, but it was a statement. And it stuck.
At the core of the 4Q were about 5 pilots who really were the heart and soul of the group. Were it not for the unique mix of skills and personalities in these people, the 4Q certainly wouldn’t have been what it was. Mentioning these particular pilots doesn’t diminish any other member of the group, but when there was trouble to be caused, it was usually one of this bunch which started it:
Tango Circus … or “TC” for short. Probably the best furballer who ever played. Ever. TC could wade into a 1-on-6 and come out with 6 kills. He was a machine, he was a natural. If someone was foolish enough to cross him, he’d delight in hunting that person down – over and over and over again. His call of “Yoooooohoooooo” on channel 1 announced who he was hunting to one and all. TC was a pilot in real life and knew his stuff. He was also a great ground attack player, and was great at parking an A26 right behind the enemy take-off spot. TC was probably the most banned player in the 4Q … or in all of Air Warrior, for that matter. TC preferred furballing under 5000 feet.
Flush Garden … or simply “Flush.” Flush was a commercial pilot for TWA after flying A7’s in the Navy. One of the best technical pilots in the game. His kill-call was “Har!” – and when he got on a roll, you heard that a lot. Also a great ground-attack pilot (harking back to his A7 days). His knowledge of how to conduct a fight in the air made it possible to do complex 2 and 3 plane combination moves (drags, rope-a-dopes, isolations, etc.) with no messages between players being needed. If you knew what should be happening, so did he, and he did the right thing. It was uncanny being up there with him sometimes. Flush’s specialty was high altitude fighting.
Cap’n Trips … “Trips” was another natural in the air and was usually Flush’s wingman. Trips loved it down in the dirt – in a Zeke – making people crash all around him. Trips probably delighted the most in finding – and “testing” – bugs in Air Warrior. His “Jets in WW1” sorties are legendary. There weren’t many people who could take Trips 1:1, and he eventually ended up working at ICI on WarBirds.
Vermin … “Verm” was pretty much good at everything – especially in a Focke Wulf. He could dice up P51’s up high in it, rip open P38’s at medium altitudes, and mangle Spits down on the deck. He was awesome. Like TC, he loved hunting particular people who happened to piss him off. And despite his lone wolf persona, he was an incredible wingman – no matter what weird crap you got into, when you came out the other side, Verm would still be there.
DoKtor GonZo … “DoK” was the founder and the defacto leader of the 4Q. He usually winged for TC, and Verm usually winged for him. DoK’s specialty was awareness – 1:1 he wasn’t all that great, but 8:8 he had the edge, and so did whoever was with him. His favorite fighter kills were ultra-high speed 1-pass jobs in the Focke Wulf. If you were tooling around not paying attention, he’d probably find you – somehow – and kill you before you knew what was coming.
Stoopid Bomber Tricks
The 4Q excelled in finding new and interesting ways to use bombers in the game. Sometimes these were related to some oddity in the game itself. Once such example was the “Weed-Whacker A26” tactic. There was a time when AirWarrior wasn’t registering hits on targets below the shooter. So you had to fire up into your target. By flying the A26 right on the deck, it became almost impossible to hit. Meanwhile, the gunners on board had a beautiful shot at the planes struggling to get a shot in. Those that didn’t auger as they tried to get below 1 foot altitude.
Another unique trick used by Flush and Trips was the use of ground spotters for ulta-high-altitude bombing. Once again, this keyed off a peculiarity in the game. From above about 15,000 feet, you were unable to see AAA guns in the bomb sight. But you could see planes on the ground. They would use a spare account placed on the opposing country as a virtual ground spotter. The technique was to take off from the field that was the target and taxi over to the first AAA gun. The spotter would then call one of the bombers (who were now in the target area at around 25,000 feet) and announce that the spotter was in place and to drop on his location. One bomber would drop a stick of bombs and the spotter would taxi over to the next AAA site and the process was repeated. Once the bombs were on the way, the spotter went back inside and moved to the next field to be attacked. It only took a minute or so to take out all the AAA at a field this way and it was almost impossible to stop. Especially since it was done very secretively, so no one on the opposing sides knew they what was happening to them.
The rest of the story is still Under Construction … as they say …