Blakeslee’s Bombing London
Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. Every one of those covers tolds a story, and Blakeslee had a page with which to do so. We present Blakeslee’s cover for the November 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces—”Bombing London.”
THE COVER shows a night raid on London by a squadron of Gothas—one of the most cruel and useless gestures of the War. The Germans seem to have had the idea that these raids would break the morale of the English people. In that respect they utterly failed, for they made England fighting mad and stimulated recruiting as nothing else could have done. The average Englishman took the raids philosophically. Instead of flocking to the cellars a great many went to the roofs to watch the sport. The following anecdote shows their reaction. In a hotel where the people were on the verge of panic during a raid, one of the guests heard the banging of anti-aircraft guns, put down his paper and said in a loud voice, “Come in!” Everyone laughed and the tension was broken.
However, raids were not jokes. They were horrible, serving no useful military purpose and killing hundreds of non-combattants. Most of the raids were at night, although a few were carried out in broad daylight. One such raid killed 104 people and injured 423 in the congested area around the Liverpool St. Station.
The Germans sometimes paid for these “murder raids.” During one of them, perhaps the greatest that took place over London, forty Gotha machines were used. Six were brought down in combat by anti-aircraft and one as the result of engine trouble.
Because of the many failures of Zeppelins to return from raids on London, the Gotha was designed to take its place. It had a wing span of 77 ft. and was powered by two 260 h.p. Mercedes engines, which gave the ship a speed of 73 m.p.h.
We published a small collection of 10 of Blakeslee’s “Story Behind The Cover” features in The Three Mosqitoes: The Thunderbolt Ace which can be ordered from Amazon. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations so check back again…