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“The Tailless Ship” By Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 16, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time Mr. Blakeslee gives the first in a new series of mismatched time images with planes from the Great War along side present day planes from 1935! Without further Ado, Mr. Blakeslee gives us the story of “The Tailless Ship!”

th_DDA_3509AFTER looking at the cover this month you have probably turned to this story quickly to find out what it is all about. You probably think you have missed something in German war-time ships. But you haven’t. Its this way.

Recently we were wondering what a war-time pilot would think and do, had he, in 1918, met a ship of today. So we took 1918 and 1935, mixed them thoroughly and what have we? Well, the result certainly isn’t the World War. As a matter of fact it isn’t any war. It isn’t even real, and that is just the result we were after. Not being real we can let our imaginations roam. Therefore, this cover is No. 1 of a brand-new series. To
keep them in order we will number them. You will find the number in the lower left-hand corner on the blue band.

Now let us suppose that a French pilot, in 1918 meets a ship of 1935. This opens a fascinating field. We can keep abreast with the very latest in modern fighting aircraft design on these covers as well as present the war-time ship. And more, you will then have an easy way of comparing the fighting ship of today with the fighting ship of yesterday.

To start off, we have selected a tailless ship. It is not strictly speaking, a fighter. It was designed by a young German inventor in 1933 and he startled the aeronautical world by actually flying it.

It was, therefore, the forerunner of the modern tailless type. Designers seized on the tailless idea and a recent ship of this type, produced by Great Britain, may prove to be the most formidable fighting craft yet made. That ship is the Pterodactyl, which we shall show next month.

As we said above, the tailless ship was not designed as a fighter. But for the purposes of this cover and to give the Spad a break, we have made it into a fighter by merely making the passenger cockpit into a gun nacelle.

Granted it is a fighter, let us see what Pierre, our French pilot of 1918, would think of it. When he first sighted it he probably thought it was a bat, but as it approached and grew in size, and although it still looked to him like a bat, he knew it for what it was, for he caught the flash of propellers.

And then he sat fascinated as the strange ship circled him. His eyes told him it zvas an airplane, but his mind refused to accept it as such. He probably said to himself, in French of course, “There ain’t no such animal, there couldn’t be! Why, it hasn’t even got a tail and where the tail should be is a propeller! There’s a propeller at the bow too. Good grief, it’s a pusher and a tractor at the same time, impossible! And what are those green things at the end of the wings, if they are wings?”

Just then the bat-like ship banked. “Are they rudders? How could rudders be there? No, I’m seeing things, no more cognac for me!”

Of course we must assume all this went through Pierre’s head in a flash. As the ship banked, Pierre was startled to see smoking white tracers flash past. He then saw what had escaped him at first, the bat ship carried German crosses. Pierre looped and although he didn’t think the thing was really there, went to work.

Now what chance would Pierre have against this ship? A very good chance indeed. Pierre, with his 300 h.p. Hispano could do 130 m.p.h. on the straight-away. The tailless ship with only 150 h.p. could do 160, no use trying to run for it. Maybe he could out-climb it? No, the German could climb a thousand feet a minute. Well maybe he could out-dive it? Not that either, the German ship could dive like a bat out of hell.

He could out-maneuver it however, but what good would that do? The gunner had an unrestricted field of fire, back, ahead, up and to the sides. Well, maybe the thing has a blind spot. Ah! There we have him; underneath Pierre was as safe as a church. Now just tip up and let him have it.

Yes, we’re sure Pierre would win this fight, but next month the tailless ship tells a different story.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Tailless Ship: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(September 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

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