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My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Rex Warneford, R.F.C.

Link - Posted by David on June 14, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have Sub-Flight Lieutenant Rex Warneford’s most thrilling sky fight!

Sub-Flight Lieutenant Rex Warneford of the British Royal Flying Corps was the first airman to shoot down an enemy Zeppelin, likewise he was the first war pilot to win the coveted Victoria Cross. Previous to his epic fight with the raiding Zeppelin young Warneford was a comparatively obscure pilot. After this amazing and brilliant victory he leaped to the highest pinnacle of fame, he escaped from the German lines with his plane after being forced down fully five miles from his own territory. A troop of German cavalrymen rode up to take him prisoner, but using his machine-gun to the greatest advantage he managed to hold them off until he had completed temporary repairs on his plane. Then, amidst a continual hail of fire, he took off in flight, running the gauntlet of fire successfully, eventually to land within his own lines. Unhappily, two days after the V.C. had been conferred on him, he was killed in an air accident near Paris. In the account below he tells the story of this fight in his own words:

 

DOWNING A GERMAN ZEPPELIN

by Lieutenant Rex Warneford, R.F.C. • Sky Fighters, February 1935

I WAS cruising high over Belgium beyond Poelcapelle on a solo bombing mission when I chanced to glance above me and saw a huge moving shape parting the cloud reaches above me. At first I did not recognize it for what it was, but after swinging up on one wing to get a better view, saw immediately that it was a giant Zeppelin raider. It was far above me and flying in the opposite direction.

I decided immediately to go after it, so swung up in a steep climbing circle with the bright noonday sun at my back. The clouds served me in good stead, for they kept my movements somewhat masked. I managed to get within 500 yards of the big bag. Then a veritable hail of machine-gun fire began spouting at my plane. I was not nervous nor scared at the moment, but I recall that my hand shook uncontrollably on the control stick and my feet quivered against the rudder bar. The consequent erratic motion of my plane probably helped me to dodge the German bullets.

I was so thrilled that I shook all over. But after I had fired my first burst of retaliatory fire, self-command returned. I went about my task grimly, sliding in through the Zeppelin’s fire until I was immediately over the bag. I let loose then with my first bomb. It missed by several yards.

I whined back in a swift bank, climbing, came in again, nosed down swiftly, got over the bag again and let go with another bomb. The Zeppelin fire was terrific now. I heard the bullets crackling through my wings. One landing wire snapped. That second bomb missed, too.

I got mad, dived straight down with my gun blazing. The bullets poured through the big bag—but nothing happened. I dived underneath, climbed up on the other side to the rear and came in again haltingly. My motor had begun to falter. I pushed the nose down and dived head-on until within a few yards of the airship, then pulled up quickly in a stall and dropped my last bomb. It hit squarely.

The resultant concussion when the big bag exploded buffeted my plane severely. My motor was faltering badly and while I was struggling to right my ship it conked out completely. I had to go down in enemy territory, but I was not unhappy, for as I looked down below me I saw the giant Zeppelin break in two in the middle and go flaming earthwards in separate parts. I thought, as I went gliding down, of the old story of David and Goliath. The fact that I was soon to be taken prisoner did not sadden me.

The story of my escape from the Germans is a long one and will have to be told another time. That was certainly my lucky day and most thrilling fight!

“The Hawker Demon” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on June 12, 2017 @ 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. On Dare-Devil Aces’ May 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee has painted a flight of Hawker Demons bombing an enemy ammunitions dump!

th_DDA_3605ON THE cover this month, a squadron of Hawker “Demons” is bombing an enemy ammunition dump. Apparently the raid was a complete surprise, since no resistance was offered. But perhaps the enemy was expecting the raiders to come in from a much higher altitude. Whatever the case, the “Demon” was well suited to carry out a surprise attack.

Besides carrying its supply of bombs, it would give a good account of itself in a dog fight, since it was a two-seater fighter, the same type made famous by the never-to-be-forgotten Bristol Fighter. Speed, combined with a low altitude, probably accounted for the surprise. You see them streaking over their target at the maximum speed of 202 m.p.h. This, of course, is going some, especially when you consider that its “father,” so to speak, the Bristol Fighter, had a top speed of 125 to 130 m.p.h.

Obviously the dump is near the sea and the raid is enjoying the cooperation of the Navy. As you see, the ship in the foreground, banking around, is a fleet fighter —the single-seat Hawker “Nimrod”. This ship is slightly smaller than the “Demon”, but has the same 630 h.p. engine, along with a slightly greater speed of 206 m.p.h. Following the Nimrod is a Fairey “Fox”, almost identical in appearance. These ships have been shooting up the ground with great success, and are thinking about doubling the order.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hawker Demon: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(May 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“Gorillas of the Air” by O.B. Myers

Link - Posted by David on June 9, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

This week we have a story by another of our favorite authors—O.B. Myers! Honestly he haven’t featured Mr. Myers enough on our website, so when I saw this story in the October 1930 issue of War Birds, I knew I just had to post it. The title says it all—” Gorillas in the Air!”

  “But the others?” said the major softly.
  Pop shook his head slowly from side to side. There was an instant of silence.
  “But how come?” blurted a voiced from the group. “Tell us what happened. What’d you run into?”
  Pop turned toward the speaker with an unfathomable look in his eye.
  “The ‘Gorillas’,” he said quietly.
  A chill fell upon the group, as if some unnamable horror had stalked into their midst. Each man seemed to feel the cold hand of fear laid upon his heart.

Flying beasts of the air—the sight of their hairy animal heads meant death and their Spandaus never missed.

“Von Satan’s Lair” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on June 2, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story by another of our favorite authors—Harold F. Cruickshank! Cruickshank is popular in these parts for the thrilling exploits of The Sky Devil from the pages of Dare-Devil Aces, as well as those of The Sky Wolf in Battle Aces and The Red Eagle in Battle Birds. He wrote innumerable stories of war both on the ground and in the air. Here we have a tale of Captain Jack Malone, the last of his squadron not to be downed by the evil von Satan. Malone learns that his fellow flyers were not killed by von Satan, but captured and had their brains operated on to turn them against their countrymen! To save his pals, Malone must free them from “Von Satan’s Lair!” From the April 1934 Sky Fighters

Captain Jack Malone Sails the Sky Lanes Grimly in this Gripping Drama of Sinister Secrets of Hun Hate!