The year is 1933 in Europe. The Germans have developed the Flak 18, one of the first true antiaircraft artillery. Previous attempts during WW1 were clumsy and generally unsuitable for the task of shooting down flying things. The new Flak 18 is purpose built to put the hurting on airplanes.

During a training exercise in the Black Forest, German scouts discover a great cave filled with treasure, the bones of many many animals and an overwhelming smell of sulphur...a dragon's lair!

The main German force is still 30 km away and the dragon is not yet home. The scouts have been gone, taking a small treasure sample with them. They leave the smell of fear and excitement behind them, a dinner invitation to the dragon.

You, oh answerer of questions, are the dragon. Your horde has been violated and the tasty treats left a trail back to their camp. Your first snatch-and-grab was a resounding success with many tiny morsels consumed in a single night. Your stomach bubbles in happy contentment. But there are many more to be had and you soon grow hungry.

Your next attack however, is not as successful. As you fly to the camp, black puffs of smoke appear in the air around you accompanied by angry buzzing hornet noises that bounce of your beautiful scales. Suddenly, you take a glancing blow to the chest that nearly knocks you from the sky, so you retreat.

How will you get more tasty morsels?

You are a:

  • Smaug sized dragon with the ability to breath fire to a distance of 50m. You have the usual horns, claws and thick scales.
  • Operational ceiling without load is 10,000m for an indefinite period.
  • Operational ceiling with a 1000kg load is 5,000m.
  • able to hover for very short periods
  • able to get airborne without any kind of running start.
  • top speed in level flight is 200km/h.
  • top speed in a dive is 400km/h.
  • able to appreciate the subtle nuances of charcoal meat but prefer rare or medium rare at the most.

The German camp of 1000 men is in a large clearing running along the valley floor surrounded by tall forests. A paved road runs the length of the valley. The surrounding ridges are inaccessible by truck because of the dense trees. They have no tanks or armored vehicles.

If you are so inclined, please write your answers from the perspective of the Dragon instead of the more typical third person view. You are up against a German army of strict 1933 capabilities. The only magic in the world is that somehow a giant dragon has somehow found its way into 1933 without prior discovery.

  • $\begingroup$ What is the environment of the camp? Forest? Cliffside? Lakeside? $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Aug 2, 2015 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ Is the ceiling supposed to be higher while under load? $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Aug 2, 2015 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ @AndyD273, I'm speculating that the OP dropped a "0" from the 'without load' operational ceiling, i.e. 10000m rather than 1000 as written. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Aug 2, 2015 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ @AndyD273, nope it isn't. Added in the extra '0'. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Aug 2, 2015 at 23:30
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Fly over to Papua New Guinea. People there won't give you that much Flak. $\endgroup$ Aug 3, 2015 at 11:56

4 Answers 4


First, since approach by air wasn't successful the last time, I'd be cautious and approach by ground. A lot of people think of a dragon flying high above, and forget that we can walk, or hold our legs in close and slither like a snake.

On my first foray into the camp I got a pretty good look at the layout.

Now, I land a distance away and make my way through the trees as quietly as I can. My night vision is excellent, and I'm approaching from down wind, so I have a good idea of what is coming up ahead.

I run in to two of the creatures walking through the forest, but come up behind them, and so am able to catch them unaware. It was a good snack and much appreciated, as this silent sneaking is much harder than my normal majestic flight.

When I get to edge of the clearing I can see the prey in their small wood dwellings. From my first attack I know they have things that throw hard lumps of metal at me, but they aren't strong enough to pierce my beautiful scales. From my second, failed attack I know that they are adaptable, and learn from their mistakes. They have some level of intelligence, as they are tool users. Unfortunately for them, they are also tasty.

There is a thin barrier around the camp, and once I go through it the whole camp will be on the alert. I will have to move quickly, but what strategy should I use?

If I strike them and run they'll learn from it and may make it harder next time.

I should hit them hard, destroy as much of their camp as I can, and try to scatter them into the forest, where I can hunt them at my leisure. I see their game trail heading out of the valley, and decide to drive them away from that. There are many of them, and I will lose some meat to fire, but since most animals are scared of fire I'm hopeful that they will leave the clearing instead of burning.

It's dark, the camp is quiet, and there is no moon. I smell many of the creatures here, but few of them are out in the open. I burst from the forest by the road with a roar that shakes the very stars, and follow it with a stream of fire that sets several of the larger buildings near the gate on fire. Flame spreads, and several metal tanks near one of them explode in giant fireballs. I wasn't expecting that, and flinch back, but it's over quickly. I roar again, and pause to admire my work.

Utter, beautiful, chaos. Creatures are emerging from their dwellings and looking around, lit by the fire. Some use their metal throwers, but again they don't have much effect. Many more begin to run, as I hoped, when I see a flaw in my plan. The barrier that surrounds their camp will keep them from getting into the forest as I planned.

Easy enough to fix, if I move quickly. I jump into the air, my wings spread for a quick flight just above the roof tops, and I breath fire below me to sow more panic and confusion. When I reach the barrier on the far side of the camp, I land, tearing down a large section of it. Then I leap again, back toward the entrance. I dip my head down as I glide, snapping up a running figure. Mmmm, nice.

Then I smash some more buildings with my long tail.

I see some different structures from elsewhere in the camp, and this was the area where the light flashes came from, before the buzzing hurting things attacked me. I loose my flame, and make short work of the hurtful things.
When I over look the camp again, I see many of them have fled, and only a few remain, looking discouraged that I've mostly ignored their feeble attack. Cheer up little ones, I will ignore you no more!

I move quickly among them, grabbing with jaw and claw, eating as many as I can. Then as the others scatter I unleash my rage, smashing and burning the remaining buildings, giving them nothing to return to.

Once the task is done, it is now time to play.

I turn toward the forest. It's time to hunt!

Later, when my belly is full, I begin to ponder... Where does that game trail lead?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I love this answer... but it clashes a bit with the "smaug-sized" description of the dragon. I don't think smaug could sneak BETWEEN trees unless they're actually ents and actively moving out of his way - so I'd think you, dear dragon, have embellished your sneaking ability and left out the part where you ran down a convoy of horseless carriages trying to flee along the game trail ;) $\endgroup$
    – Syndic
    May 29, 2020 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Syndic It might depend on the age of the forest. I've been in some old growth forests where there isn't much undergrowth, and the trees are pretty far apart. Granted, I'm having a little trouble visualizing Smaug at the moment, and size may vary a bit between different accounts. The first version I saw was animated, and a bit smaller than the more recent live action movie. But a dragon with all its limbs/wings pulled in tight isn't too different from a really really big snake. That being said, I'll accept the criticism :) It was fun to write. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Jun 2, 2020 at 3:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Now I had to do some quick googling - obviously there's some conflicting information, but some fairly math-heavy posts seem to estimate smaug at 60m long and 9m wide at the chest. If there's enough room between sufficiently big, old trees for that, this story could indeed check out - but it amuses me far more to imagine the dragon just talking up his sneaking prowess after he crashed through the woods like an out of control train. I mean, who would contradict him? Except me through the anonymity of the internet of course! ;) $\endgroup$
    – Syndic
    Jun 2, 2020 at 7:20

A valley clearing with tall forest all around and one paved road in/out? Sounds like a recipe for dinner.

Step 1: I rip up a bunch of trees and block the paths, and set fire to the forest in a circle around the camp. I clear a "ring" of area around the outside of the fire, so I don't burn down the entire forest, and so that the fire only spreads towards the camp. This is also to prevent anyone from trying to run away.

Step 2: Staying as low as possible, while above the treeline, I start lobbing trees into the camp. Ideally the scenario should be somewhat like this

\                 / Front view
 \       ME      /  where the = are stacked trees blocking the path
  \ |||||=||||| /   where the ||| are burning forest
   \|||||=|||||/    and the \/ represent valley walls

              <--- Throw trees this way  <------   ME
||||         V         |||||         Side view where __ is clearing, || is burning trees

Note that in the sideview we can see that by staying away low and close to the treeline, the enemy can't actually see me because there are burning trees in the way. Once I think enough trees have been thrown in to cause a decent amount of casualties, and to disable their main flak cannons and what not, we proceed to step 3.

Step 3: Fly up high and see if they start shooting at me. If yes, go back to step 2. If not, continue to step 4.

Step 4: Since they've stopped shooting, I'm safe to swoop in and pick out my din din~ Since they were in a clearing, they won't be charred at all! Rare humans, pre-tenderized by the falling of giant trees!


While I waited for the scratches on my armor to mend themselves, I pondered the arrogance of these fleshlings. To strike at me, ME! The knights of old and I had an understanding: they run when I appeared on the horizon and I let them flee. Perhaps I slept too long. Whatever world this is, it should be reminded who is really in charge.

But doing so will require more tact than this morning. These fleshlings have tricks I've not seen before. I'll need to investigate these smoke balls, see where they come from.

I stand and spread my wings. With a strong shove, I leap into the air. The setting sun gives me a last farewell before dipping below the horizon. Not that I care. The world is my playground, by day or night. I can hear the fleshlings beyond the ridge, but I won't just rush in.

I land on the cliff overlooking the fleshlings. I stretch out and settle in, surveying the area. I can see them. All of them. They almost glow in the dark to my eyes. Some small groups are standing off from the rest. Six groups, four fleshlings each. They are near strange iron monsters with gaping mouths pointed at the sky. The monsters are silent, but subservient to the fleshlings. I've not seen their kind before. It is a good enough place to start.

I pull back from the edge and rise to my feet. Once more, I leap into the night sky. A few flaps put me in the perfect position. I fold my wings and tilt forward. In seconds I descend silently out of the night onto these arrogant fleshlings. I see the monsters on the edges of the camp. I inhale deep; feel the fires sparking in my chest; and, with aim born of long practice, unleash my fury upon the flesh below.

Fires bloom beneath me, igniting the flimsy armor of the fleshlings and reducing the subservient beasts to slag. I turn, spreading my breath in a ring around the fleshlings, passing from one monster to the next. When my fires have set a ring of trees on a course for ash and the monsters are destroyed, I plummet to the center and land with a thud.

Pebbles strike at my sides and wings, a few at the corner of my jaw, but these are less irritating than the sands of the far south. Hemmed in by the instrument of my wrath, these fleshlings are now set to realize they are inferior to my glory.

With a gleeful roar I set to the task of recovering my hoard and enjoying a feast the like of which I haven't known in many long years.

  • $\begingroup$ @user6760 This has nothing to with the scenario as proposed. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Aug 3, 2015 at 2:14
  • $\begingroup$ I'm sorry I gets too excited but the setting is not favorable for the Germans, set alight the forest Germans are trapped the CO2 being denser than air will probably deprived any living things at lower ground. It saddens me to see the 88mm being wasted😭. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Aug 3, 2015 at 2:55
  • $\begingroup$ @user6760 No harm done. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Aug 3, 2015 at 3:00
  • $\begingroup$ But now that you have burned the forest, there's no food in the area for you, and the Germans have a clear line of sight to your cave. Flak shots incoming! $\endgroup$
    – Oldcat
    Aug 3, 2015 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Oldcat It was my understanding that the camp and cave were not adjacent to each other, but the OP doesn't really specify. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Aug 3, 2015 at 18:33

George the Dragon here, stepping out of the time machine into 1933.

I would start by making sure I was as light as possible for the outbound trip. Needless to say, a pre-sortie bathroom break would be most certainly in order!

Next, given the presence of the guns, I would study whatever maps I had, looking for likely ammunition stockpile sites. Given that the 8.8cm FlaK 18 was only good up to 25,600' due to limitations on shell fuzing and accurate target heightfinding, and I can get up to 32,000', I can outmaneuver the gun's ability to accurately deliver shells my way by maneuvering in the vertical plane, in a not-fully-predictable sinuous fashion as they need to accurately determine how high up I am to set the shell to go off next to me, instead of going off prematurely or bouncing off me without detonating. As a bonus, they might send a convoy out to deliver ammunition to a gun-site, which would allow me to follow that convoy back to the dump.

Once the ammunition stockpile is sighted, I would strike swiftly, using a maximum-speed dive to get within striking distance of the target. Since they are using time or altimeter fuzes on their shells, getting an effective hit on me during the pass would be a matter of sheer luck or swift changes in shell settings, not aiming alone. Now that the ammunition dump is burning brightly, I simply use the speed to enter a zoom climb initially before transitioning into a maximum sustained rate climb back to cruise altitude, and can cruise home, performing a penetration descent on arrival to again minimize my time in the 'hot zone'.

No food yet tonight, but boy, they'll be in a pinch for a while! Serves 'em right for shooting at me, morons...and maybe I'll be able to hunt in peace for a few days or weeks while they bug HQ for replacement 88 ammo.

  • $\begingroup$ Oops! 25000 is the effective range. The maximum range is 39000 feet and you find that out when a fortunate shot goes right through your thoractic cavity. Goodbye George! $\endgroup$
    – Oldcat
    Aug 4, 2015 at 17:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Oldcat -- first, AA fire is uniformly high-explosive shells, not armor-piercers. So, even a direct hit is no good if it turns out to be a dud shell, considering that they are stuck relying on time and altimeter fuzing as proximity fuses weren't around in 1933. Second, the effective range of an AA gun is capped by non-ballistic factors including the heightfinding ability of the operators and the maximum fuze delay available. Third, the theoretical maximum height of an AA gun is often unattainable due to gun carriage elevation limits, and is listed as 34,800' for the 8.8cm FlaK 18 anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Shalvenay
    Aug 4, 2015 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ Without proximity fuses we're likely toast. With them, we dine well tonight. $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Aug 4, 2015 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Mazura -- I'm sure the AA gunners on US ships in the Pacific said the same thing many times over ;) (the prox, or VT, fuse was invented in about 1941, and did wonders for the effectiveness of Allied AA guns) $\endgroup$
    – Shalvenay
    Aug 4, 2015 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ As a dragon, I'd be more worried about M45's (quad mounted .50's) but those don't exist yet either (tho I'd expect them to, very shortly). $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Aug 5, 2015 at 0:08

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