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“Famous Sky Fighters, November 1933″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on January 31, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Starting in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The November 1933 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Lt. Allan Winslow, Ernst Udet and Lt. Rene Dorme!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison breaks it down with aviation’s Ace of Nations Lt. Bert Hall, Balloon Buster Lt. Frank Luke and Captain Rene de Beauchamp. Don’t miss it!

“Doin’s in the Dunes” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on January 26, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” You heard right! That marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back! And this time we find that Knight of Calamity finds himself shrieking amongst the sheiks in “Doin’s in the Dunes” from the pages of the March 1936 Flying Aces.

Foreign Legionnaires, it was true, swallowed corosive cognac without batting an eye. But they choked when the Kraut Intelligence agents added Abd-el-Fizz to their diet. It was then that the action in Morocco got fast. And it got even faster when Phineas met Beni Hazzit—and let him have it!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Norman Prince

Link - Posted by David on January 24, 2018 @ 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 the founder of the LaFayette Escadrille—Lieutenant Norman Prince!

Born to the purple on August 31, 1887, scion of one of the blue-blooded families In old Boston, was Norman Pslnce, the founder of the famous LaFayette Escadrille. Educated at Groton and Harvard for a career in business with his wealthy family, he hazarded his promising future and used his wealth and family prestige in overcoming obstacle’s to form a squadron of American aviators for battle at the front. With him in the beginning were Thaw, Chapman, Rockwell, McConnell, Hall and Cowdin. These Americans with Prince made up the roster of the original squadron sent up to the front at Luxeuil in May, 1910.

Later on it became known as the Escadrille de Lafayette and 325 fighting pilots flew under its proud banner before the war came to an end. Prince’s career on the front was short but meteoric. Before he was killed, however, on October 15, of the same year, he had engaged in 122 aerial combats and won every award possible for his many acts of bravery and heroism. The story below is taken from the records of a French war correspondent.

 

SOLO TO DOUAI

by Sous-Lieutenant Norman Prince • Sky Fighters, May 1936

A HIDDEN Boche artillery emplacement was holding up the French advance on the captured fortress of Douai. The General des Armees became frantic. His cavalry scouts had failed. Infantry patrols had learned nothing. The Boches had command of the air. But locating the hidden emplacement was imperative. Though the weather was far from auspicious, the General demanded that the avions de chasse break through the Boche net and discover the hidden guns so that our 75s could destroy them.

It was a grim, desperate order. The sky was on the ground in spots. It was rain and sunshine alternately, and the wind blew in whirling tempests across our front . . . very bad weather for flying. And much, more worse for reconnaissance. Twenty-four avions took off on that desperate mission, 4 from our squadron; the rest from other squadrons nearby, including the famous Storks.

Little Hope of Returning

I had few hopes of returning when I lifted wings into the air on that bleak day. But one thing I vowed: no Boche in the sky or on the earth was going to force me to turn back until I had won through to Douai. I did not fear death. I feared only that I would not be able to accomplish the mission; that no one of us would.

The first half hour it was a battle against wind and weather. My frail avion tossed up and down like a cork. For a few minutes I saw my comrades on either side of me, then they gradually faded into the dismal sky and I found myself alone in a dripping, grey-black void. My thoughts were somber and the whirling rotary engine seemed to sob out a sinister cadence: “Solo to Douai! Solo to Douai!”

I caught myself mouthing it aloud in rhythm with the moaning exhausts where I was rudely awakened from my lethargy by the stitching, ripping sound of Boche bullets tearing into the fuselage at my back. Instinctively I whirled off in an abrupt virage and saw black spots that were enemy planes dotting the grey sky all around me . . . and the fortress of Douai was immediately beneath!

Enemy Avions

I took in everything with a single, darting glance. My Lewis coughed sharply as I spiraled down through the converging black specks. Some of those black specks puffed and mushroomed . . . shrapnel bursts! Others grew wings and blue smoke spouted over engine nacelles . . . enemy avions!

How many I did not know. There was not time to count. I circled, dived, zoomed; firing my piece when Boche shapes slid by in my sights. I got one I know, for I saw the avion sway and fall away in a lazy zig-zag glide with black smoke pluming from the cockpit.

But that was not important. More important was the blinding flash of firing guns just below me . . . the hidden gun emplacement! There it was in a wooded copse beyond and to one side of the fortress of Douai.

There was no need of me tarrying longer over Douai! Back I whirled with my avion not more than 500 meters off the ground. Bullets from sky and earth rained around me like hail.

Ages passed, it seemed, before our trench lines loomed beneath me. But finally they showed, then my own airdrome, the green turf glistening like an emerald in the sudden sunshine.

I set down safely to find that of the 24 who tried to reach Douai, I was the only one to succeed. And I had returned with what the General ordered. Fate had favored me, but I know that she shan’t always do so. Some day I shall not return.

“Sky Fighters, August 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 22, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. For the August 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the a couple of Junkers C.L.1 Seaplanes taking on a Neieuport 27!

The Ships on the Cover

ALL metal low-wing monoplanes th_SF_3508 are not a new wrinkle in sky ships. Back in the World War days, Professor Hugo Junkers sat before a drafting table littered with plains, blueprints and bits of corrugated metal. His simple stream-lined designs were far ahead of his day, therefore they were scoffed at by the heads of the German Flying Corps.

Anthony Fokker had a welded steel frame in the fuselage of his planes at the time. But this welding job was an exception. Fokker liked the looks of the Junkers design and saw to it that certain strings were pulled along the political line and it came to pass that those who had turned down the Junkers all metal planes swung into a snappy about-face in their beliefs. Fokker linked his name definitely with Hugo Junker’s. If those shiny metal jobs load been adequately powered with engines which were not too heavy, they would have revolutionized airplane design.

Finest of ‘em All

The C.L.1 All Metal monoplane in the foreground on the cover, powered by a Mercedes engine, was probably the finest ship turned out by Junkers in 1918. The wings had considerable dihedral and were very thick at the leading edge. Junkers who was an authority on Diesel engines which his firm manufactured, insisted that the Mercedes engine be used in his planes. Car type radiators were used in the nose. Ailerons on most of the Junkers craft were balanced, similar to the Fokker D7. But on this particular version of the C.L.1 they were unbalanced as was the elevator. The rudder was anchored by a single post which in rotating swung it to left or right. Corrugated aluminum was used throughout, which did not by any means make the ship bullet proof but it did minimize the fire hazard and give added strength to the ship that allowed inner structural bracing to be lightened.

Professor Junkers, who died only a few months ago at the age of seventy-six, predicted when he made his first all metal airplane that some day planes would be armor-plated. But with heavy motors developing less than 300 h.p., he was limited to aluminum which is about one-third the weight of steel. Had he been able to armor plate the Junkers planes, a different story could be told of the cover picture.

Zeebrugge, the submarine lair of the German navy, was bottled up by the British navy on April 23, 1918, by sinking ships filled with concrete across the mouth of the harbor.

Blazing Red Skies

A lone French Nieuport roared along the coast toward the heavily fortified submarine basin. A final observation from the air was necessary to the British. Two shining German Junkers seaplanes skidded off the water and flashed into the skies. The Nieuport looked like a butterfly attacked by two bats. But the thundering Vickers guns in the French plane’s nose blasted a rain of slugs through the thin-gauge aluminum of the Junkers into a vital spot. One down! The back gunner on the foremost Junkers blazed at the Nieuport. The tiny French ship flipped under the German plane. One volley sent it reeling towards the sea. The Nieuport circled twice over Zeebrugge, streaked for home.

A telegraph key clattered in a British seaport. An admiral smiled grimly as he read the dispatch from the French pilot.

That night the skies blazed red above Zeebrugge in the most spectacular naval-land battle of the whole war. The engagement mounted to an unbelievable pitch, then slowly died out as the British ships, battered, decks blasted away and superstructure listing, limped into the darkness toward home.

A terse message flashed through the ether from the Admiral’s flagship to British headquarters: “Mission accomplished satisfactorily.”

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, August 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Aces Fly High” by Frederick C. Painton

Link - Posted by David on January 19, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton. In “Aces Fly High” Painton relates a tale of brothers in the same flight. The older, Blake Grenfell tasked with the duty of looking after his younger half brother, Pup. And that’s a task in itself as Pup is determined to become an Ace at the expense of all others. Good men are lost in Pup’s pursuit of becoming an Ace and things just go from bad to worse until drastic actions and sacrafice must be made to save the Grenfell’s name and social standing back home. From the November 1933 issue of Sky Fighters—it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “Aces Fly Hig!”

Daring Rescues and Savage Strife in the Flaming Skies Above No Man’s Land!

As he would in “Flaming Death” (Sky Fighters, November 1934) Painton has once again named the squadron’s operations officer Willie the Ink—Painton uses a similarly named character—Willie the Web—as operations officer in his Squadron of the Dead tales.

“Famous Sky Fighters, October 1933″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on January 17, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Sky Fighters returned after a several months hiatus, it included some new features. One of these was “Famous Sky Fighters,” a two page illustrated feature by cartoonist Terry Gilkison. Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

In the premiere installment from the pages of the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters, Gilkison devote the whole feature to America’s Ace of Aces—Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. Future installments would frequently feature several famous sky fighters!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison breaks it up a bit and looks at Lt. Allan Winslow, Ernst Udet and Lt. Rene Dorme. Don’t miss it!

Silent Orth returns in “Shooting Star” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on January 12, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

ORTH is back! Silent Orth—ironically named for his penchant to boast, but blessed with the skills to carry out his promises—takes on four of Germany’s greatest Aces! Hauptmann Kruger, Weisskopf, Buchstabe and Braunstein. Their insignia are, in the order named, a crimson splash on the sides of the fuselage, representing blood; a hooded figure carrying an enemy’s head in his hands; the opened Book of Life with blank lines, presumably to hold the names of condemned enemies; and a comet with a tail of fire! From the pages of the September 1934 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s Silent Orth in “Shooting Star!”

One man against four—and those four among the mightiest Aces of Germany—in a rip-roaring sky yarn that packs a mighty punch!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Paul Marchal

Link - Posted by David on January 10, 2018 @ 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 Lieutenant Paul Marchal of the French Flying Corps!

Paul Marchal joined the colors on the first day war was declared, and it was he that answered the challenge of that bold German, lieutenant Max Immelmann, when the latter bombed Paris with leaflets calling for surrender. Immelmann had to fly a matter of but a hundred kilometers, or less, to get over the city of Paris. But when Marchal answered his challenge with an identical flight to Berlin, he had to fly 8QO kilometers.

The fact that Marchal succeeded in bombing Berlin with leaflets proves his unusual courage and daring. Marchal was the first sky fighter to be captured by the Germans. Likewise he was the first to make his escape from a German prison camp and rejoin his squadron after a trek through hostile Germany that reads like a page from epic literature. Before his flaming career on the front was inadvertently halted, young Paul Marchal was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the Medal Militaire, and the Cross of the Legion d’Honneur. He told the story below upon his return to France after escaping from Germany.

 

BOMBING BERLIN

by Lieutenant Paul Marchal • Sky Fighters, April 1936

THE idea of a flight over Berlin bloomed suddenly in my dumb brain. Of course, if my motor should fail, or the avion falter, or should I run into contrary winds and had weather, I was doomed to failure. But I was willing and anxious to try.

Finally mon-commandant reluctantly consented. Then began the period of preparation. I had charted my course over Germany, intending to fly down the valley of the Moselle into the Rhine, then along the Rhine until it veered off suddenly to the left. After reaching Berlin, and dropping my leaflets, I was going to bend off to the right and make a try for Poland, the terrain of our Russian allies.

To lessen weight, I dispensed with all guns except a small pistol with a single full cylinder of ammunition. The day was just dawning, when my avion was wheeled from the hangar and faced toward the east. I shook hands all around, then took my place in the cockpit. After a long run I got into the air, and headed straight for the trenches, waving back over my shoulder as I left my comrades behind. Would I ever see them again? I did not know.

Over the trenches I was fired at. Some of the bullets made holes in my wings. One or two enemy avions I spied, or thought I did. But in the half light they did not see me. When it was fully light, I was far behind the enemy lines.

Over Unknown Terrain

The winding Moselle heaves into view. I course along it until it empties into the Rhine, then I follow up the Rhine. It is a splendid day.

I have been hours in the air it seems when I must leave the Rhine and strike out over terrain unknown to me. But I have studied my carte Taride well, and I recognize the cities as I fly over them.

Finally Berlin looms beneath me. I am very high now. Over the Unter den Linden I fly, tossing my leaflets out on both sides. They flutter down like snowflakes.

But I am not to get out of Berlin without being shot at, and enemy avions come up, too. But I am so high that I run far from Berlin before they can reach my elevation . . . and they give up the chase.

Flight Toward Poland

Kilometer after kilometer, I fly in a straight line for Poland. I think I am going to make it when I see the Polish villages across the border line far ahead of me. But no, I am still 30 kilometers or so away, when my engine starts to spit.

I am still 20 kilometers from the Polish border when I am forced to spiral down and light on a plowed field. Being so near the border, there are many soldiers, and they run towards my avion as it volplanes down. I consider if I should use my pistol and make a fight of it. But I decide not to. There are too many against me.

That is all there is to it. I was taken prisoner and sent to a prison camp in Silesia, but I have made the longest flight in the war. And I have scattered French leaflets over the German capital. I had delivered my answer, France’s answer to Max Immelmann and the Imperial Army. The people of Berlin knew now that they were no longer safe from attacks by air.

Next Time: LIEUTENANT NORMAN PRINCE

“Sky Fighters, July 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 8, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. For the June 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Spad 22 and Spad 13 C1!

The Ships on the Cover

THE cannon ship used during th_SF_3507 the World War did not necessarily have to be one type of plane. Any ship having a “V” type engine with a geared propeller could do the trick. The geared prop was above the crank shaft at the front of the engine, therefore above the center of the round radiator in the Spad. The hub of the propeller was made hollow just large enough to clear the sides of the muzzle of the 37 millimeter cannon which protruded about two inches. In the accompanying drawing this is clearly shown.

The ship with the complicated bracing in the foreground of the cover is the Spad 22, one of the little known crates of the war. It rated a 220 h.p. Hispano-Suiza motor with a geared prop which could accommodate the cannon. The Spad zooming up in the lower background is the Spad 13 C1 with geared prop. There were plenty of these “cannon ships” tried out from time to time and words flew hot and heavy from pilots who used this new gun arrangement for and against the stunt.

The Original Cannon

The original 37 millimeter cannon, the type the great French ace Guynemer used to down his forty-ninth to fifty-second victims, had to be fed by hand. Each seven-inch shell weighing about one pound had to be dropped into the breach of the gun. This took about three seconds in which time a pair of Vickers guns could churn out around fifty slugs, one of which might find a vulnerable spot in the enemy or his ship. But said enemy ship in three seconds could vary its position about 600 feet which is about equal to a shooting gallery target being reduced from the size of a wash tub to an aspirin tablet, a comparison which you fans with air guns or .22 caliber rifles Will appreciate.

On the other hand a Vickers slug might smack into a strut longeron, engine or even the gas tank, if it was rubber housed and not cause any serious damage; but let one of the one-pounder shells which explodes on impact connect with about any part of the enemy plane and the fight is over. The non-explosive one-pounder shell will knock a plane down in from one to three hits. Then there was a “fireworks” shell which was designed to set the target on fire, also a shell similar to a shotgun shell, which when loaded with buckshot would tear a wing to pieces.

A versatile gun, that cannon, and one which certainly did plenty of damage to the Germans.

Later Models Weighed More

The later cannon was semi-automatic, using the recoil, which was eight inches or more, depending on the muzzle velocity, to eject the used shell and slide a new one into the gun chamber. Guynemer’s cannon weighed about 100 pounds. The later models, 150 pounds or more. So put this added weight into a plane with a given speed and load, is to cut down its speed and put it at a disadvantage in a fight. To overcome this, the ammunition supply was limited or the fuel supply cut down which naturally decreased the cruising range. There were plenty of arguments for this weapon but also a few plain and fancy arguments against it.

Those two Albatross D5s zipping down on the foremost Spad are churning out four streams of slugs at a range which only amateurs would fire. The Spad 13 C1 coming up under them has a better range at a good angle. Not only are the bets on the Spads to come out with flying colors but when those explosive shells from the one pounder connect with the German ships, only one shell is necessary for blasting each one, where dozens of Spandau bullets may whistle through the Spads without harming them.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, July 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Nieuport 27 and Junkers C.L.1!

“Talons of the “Dove”" by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on January 5, 2018 @ 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 Lt. Harcourt Bryson Dovely, recently sent up to “C” flight at 78th Pursuit Squadron where he has become Captain Dave Dillon’s problem For Lt. Dovely seems more interested in the plants on the ground than the Huns chasing him in the sky. But maybe he’ll surprise them all and sho him that this dove is really an eagle! From the October 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Talons of the “Dove”"—

Dovely was the queer egg of “C” Flight—But he sure knew his botany!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 43: Capt. John Mitchell” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 3, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have American Ace—Captain John Mitchell!

John Mitchell, a Harvard graduate, enlisted on March 1, 1917 and trained at Miami, Fla., Essington, Pa., and at M.I.T. He was commissioned 1st Lieut. June 27, 1917, and went overseas Sept. 1, 1917, continuing his training at Issoudun and Cazaux, France, and joined the 95th Squadron.

At Toul he was credited with helping members of his squadron to bring down two Boches, and at Chateau-Thierry he did excellent work in patrolling and strafing infantry formations. He tangled with Richthofen’s circus—dividing the honors with Lieut. Heinrichs in bringing down one of the circus.

On Aug. 1, 1918, Lieut. Mitchell was commissioned Captain, and on Oct. 13, 1918, he was placed in command of the 95th Squadron.

The Squadron was demobilized Dec. 10. Mitchell arrived back in the U.S. Feb. 14, and was discharged Feb. 16, 1919. He received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, and the American Distinguished Service Cross–both for engagement in the Toul sector in May 1918. Mitchell is credited with the destruction of four enemy planes in combat according to official credits in the A.E.F. at the close of the war.