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“The Yellow Hornet” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on October 23, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

We’re back with another of Frederick Blakeslee’s “The Story Behind The Cover”—this week the spotlight’s on the July 1933 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. Blakeslee presents the story of an attack on a flight of German planes that was the result of a toothache! Without further ado, Blakeslee’s “The Yellow Hornet”…

th_DDA_3307THE COVER shows a Spad attacking a group of Germans. However, it was not a premeditated attack at all—it was the result of a toothache!

This story was told to me by the pilot involved. I shall call him Smith, although that is not his name. It happened in early 1918. Smith doesn’t remember the exact date, but two days before, a pain developed in his left jaw. He didn’t pay much attention to it, except to think that sooner or later he must visit a dentist. By night the pain was steady, yet not troublesome and Smith hoped it would be gone by morning. Morning came and so did the toothache—by now more severe.

It acted like an ulcerated tooth but the nearest regimental dentist was miles away, so Smith put off the dreaded ordeal and in the excitement of a dogfight that day the pain was forgotten.

He took his place next day in the dawn patrol. They had been out about an hour when an agonizing pain shot through his head. It made him jump and yank back his controls. The rest of the squadron were startled to see Smith’s Spad shoot suddenly straight up, tracers blazing. (In the agony of the moment he had squeezed his triggers.) Thinking they had been attacked the squadron broke rank and zoomed in every direction.

Smith let go his throbbing face long enough to bring his ship out of a tail spin, and then with motor wide open he streaked for home and a dentist. The squadron, not seeing the enemy and shrewdly surmising the trouble, had reorganized and started in pursuit of their comrade. They had to keep their distance, for every so often Smith’s plane would emulate a contortionist.

These spasms marked the pain that came and went in Smith’s face. It was during one of these that Smith barged onto a Boche patrol, scattering them right and left. Strange to say, his tracers, shot without aim—in fact without knowledge —found their mark in an L.V.G. which was put out of commission and forced to land. Before the startled Boches could get organized, Smith had gone. The rest of the patrol, taking advantage of the situation, proceeded to give a thorough beating to the frightened Jerries.

Smith meantime had landed. A crowd, luckily a French crowd, was at the spot almost at once and by gestures and groans which anyone could understand, and with the help of the sympathetic crowd and a pair of pliers the tooth was yanked out then and there.

Smith was promptly dubbed the “Yellow Hornet,” because his small, bright yellow ship, contrasted with the dull colors of the German ships, gave exactly that appearance.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Yellow Hornet: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (July 1933)

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

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