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“Death Wings!” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on September 25, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. Every one of those covers told a story, and Blakeslee had a page with which to do so. We present Blakeslee’s cover for the March 1933 issue of Dare-Devil Aces—”Death Wings!”

th_DDA_3303THE EXPRESSION, “ignorance is bliss,” is well illustrated in this incident. A patrol of S.E.5’s took off for the purpose of giving a new member his first glimpse of the lines. They spotted three Albatrosses scudding along beneath them, so signaling the new member to streak for home, they dove.

The new member however, did not see the signal and a moment later realized with a start that he was alone. He dove and coming comparatively close to the ground, took his leisurely way home, enjoying the country as he went. While he was thus employed a grim tragedy enacted itself close above him, and although he was the cause of it, he was in complete ignorance that an enemy ship was within miles of him. The whole thing was an excellent example of air-blindness, experienced by new pilots. It took a great deal of talk and corroboration to convince the new pilot that death had been so close to him.

When the S.E.5’s dove, the Germans spotted them and there began a game of hide and seek among the clouds. At first the British chased the Germans, but when the Germans turned on them they sped away into a cloud. This kept up for some time before the Bodies speeding in V formation out of a cloud, crossed the path of the lone new member, apparently not seeing it until they had passed.

Then the tragedy occured. The Boche leader made a sudden turn toward the S.E.—but the German flying on his left evidently did not notice him and started a wider turn on his own account. He tipped up just as his leader flashed by and the wings hit and sheared away. Both planes began the swift plunge to destruction, while the third Jerry, turning with the leader, went right through the path of flying debris which smashed his propellor, causing him to land, when he was taken prisoner.

The above drawing, at the moment of impact, shows how it was done. The scene on the cover is a split second later.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Death Wings: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (March 1933)

Check back again. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations.

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