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“The Other Cockpit” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by David on February 23, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the prolific pen of Mr. Robert J. Hogan—the author of The Red Falcon and Smoke Wade as well as G-8 and his Battle Aces! In fact, all three of those characters had a published story the same month this tale was published in The Lone Eagle—March 1934. In “The Other Cockpit”, Hogan gives us the story of Bat Benson, a blow-hard observer pilot that blames all his short comings on his observer. That is until he comes up against his latest observer who sets him straight!

Bat Benson, Flight Leader, Always Panned His Observers—But Lieutenant Nash Just Wouldn’t Take It!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell

Link - Posted by David on February 21, 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 member of the LaFayette Escadrille—Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell!

Kiffin Rockwell was a true soldier of fortune. Born and raised In Aaheville, N. Carolina, young Rockwell got the wanderlust soon after graduating from the University of Virginia. When the Germans made their surprise move on the forts of Liege, Rockwell was serving in the ranks of the Foreign Legion. For a heroic exploit in hand to hand bayonet fighting, he was awarded the Medaille Militaire. For a whole year he served with the Foreign Legion in the trenches, then transferred to the aviation and went into training at Avord. When Norman Prince formed the first American Flying Squadron in Paris, Rockwell was one of those invited to join. He proved out to be one of the best and most daring pilots of that original band. His career was cut short by his untimely death on September 23rd, 1916.

Rockwell ran up a score of three official victories before being killed in action and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with additional citation for his Medaille Militaire. The following is taken from a letter to his brother in Asheville.

 

WHY WE CALL THEM LES BOCHES

by Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell • Sky Fighters, August 1936

YOU asked why we call the Germans les Boches, or butchers, in our language. There are many reasons. I shall relate a recent experience so you can determine for yourself.

Captain Thenault, Prince and I had taken young Balsley out for his second trip over the front. We were cruising along behind the Boche lines when we suddenly found ourselves face to face with about 40 Boches. They were grouped together in a close formation but at different altitudes. On our level there were about 12 or 15 Aviatiks.

These Aviatiks had about the same speed as our Nieuports, but they carried a gunner behind the pilot. The pilot shoots as we do, but the gunner has a movable gun which enables him to fire in all directions.

A Mêlée of Battle

We were but four and on the German side of the lines, but none of us turned and ran away. For ten or fifteen minutes we flew over and around the Aviatiks, being fired at constantly, some of their bursts being at very close range. Finally we saw an opening. One of their machines raced toward our lines. The rest were behind us.

We plunged after this isolated Boche. A general mêlée resulted, for the whole swarm of Boches pounced on us, coming from above and all sides.

One of our planes dived and fell as though streaking to death. I wondered if it were Prince or Balsley. Tough in either case, I thought. Then in the mêlée I lost sight of another of our little Nieuports. Now both Prince and Balsley were gone. Only Captain Thenault and myself remained and the Boches were giving us plenty.

Thenault signalled to draw away and we ran for our lines, confident that both Balsley and Prince had been shot down.

An Exploding Bullet

We managed to run the gauntlet. Later Prince showed up. He had followed down after Balsley when he saw the youngster falling. It appeared that poor Balsley had darted in on a Boche and just as he pressed his Bowden to fire his gun, it jammed.

He swerved off to clear and just at that instant a bullet struck him in the stomach and exploded against his backbone!

Balsley’s machine went into a dive as he fainted over the stick. But the rush of air in the dive revived him. And as he had kept his feet on the rudder he was enabled to redress and land right side up. The machine, however, smashed to bits. Prince got Balsley out. Twelve pieces of the exploded bullet were removed from Balsley’s interior. Balsley will live but he will never fly again.

So, you see why they are called les Boches? This is the second time we have run into explosive bullets. First it was me, and I am not entirely recovered yet, now it is poor Balsley.

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

Link - Posted by David on February 19, 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 September 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Nieuport 17 taking on a Albatross D1!

The Ships on the Cover

PLANES kicked through the air at th_SF_3509 the first of the war and were laughed at by the ground troops and their commanders. Toys, things to wonder at and possibly admire; but to be taken seriously as an offensive weapon. Never!

Weapon? That’s exactly the right word that keys the whole advance of the airplane from a trick war sideline to a major cog in the wheels of war. On the Nieuport in the foreground the weapon blazing from the top wing is the Lewis gun with a revolving metal drum which fed shells into the gun breech. But let’s slide back to the first part of the war when machine-guns were not thought possible. In August, 1914, cavalry carbines were occasionally tucked into a cockpit and the observer or even a pilot of a single seater optimistically pushed the snout out over the side of the fuselage and took a pot shot at a Boche flying parallel to his plane. With the vibration from the engine, the bumpy air and the back pressure from the slipstream it was all the would-be assassin could do to hold the rifle from jerking out of his hands and barging back into the empennage, let alone draw a bead on the enemy who had ideas of his own about remaining in focus.

Bags of Bricks

Finding this method useless the sharpshooters of the air dragged out, believe it or not, good old bags of bricks. The trick was to get above your opponent, mentally calculate the trajectory of a brick from your shaking hand to the whirling prop of the enemy plane. Of course there was always the chance of ringing the bell by a super-lucky throw if the falling brick made direct contact with the enemy’s head. About the only casualty from this duck on the rock technique was a direct hit on a high official’s private cow. Orders went out immediately: No more bricks.

Small steel darts, diminutive bombs and hand grenades were hurled down at ground troops and supply trains but the damage was small. Then came the machine-gun firing from the back pit or from the front nacelle of the pusher type.

In January, 1915, the Lewis gun was first mounted on the top wing of a Nieuport firing over the top of the propeller in the line of flight. A few months later the Roland Garros gun appeared, shooting through the propeller arc, but not synchronized. Triangular steel plates deflected bullets that would otherwise have shattered the wooden propeller.

Finally the Fokker synchronized guns blazed a devastating hail of bullets through the prop arc. The Allied airmen were battered and smashed from the skies. Fast pusher type planes were thrown against the German’s super gun. And then a German plane crashed behind the Allied lines. The interrupter gear secret was out. Synchronized Vickers guns were mounted on Allied cowlings. The Germans’ advantage had been lost. The war in the skies blazed forth with accelerated tempo. Toy ships of a few months past had blossomed into major weapons of war.

An Old Stunt

However, the top gun firing forward was not discarded by many Allied aviators. Nieuports and S.E.5s used it, up until the Armistice. The Nieuport on the cover has its top gun and a synchronized Vickers which has jammed hopelessly. Only a few shells remain in the pancake drum above. The French pilot is wounded and attacked by two German Albatross D1s. He knows he cannot get them with front gun fire, but he remembers an old trick. Painfully he reaches up, yanks back the Lewis butt, jams the Bowden wire on the trigger as he zips under the belly of one German plane. A direct engine hit. Down goes the enemy. The remaining German sees the tricky gun work of the wounded Frenchman and feels the wind from the bullets of a second Nieuport coming to the rescue. He veers off and streaks for home allowing the Frenchman to get away, land and become a confirmed booster for the old top gun Lewis.

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

“The Lone Eagle, February 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 17, 2018 @ 10:21 pm in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the February 1934, Frandzen has a British Bristol monoplane taking on a cornered German L.V.G.!

The Story of the Cover

THE planes pictured on this th_LE_3402month’s cover are the Bristol monoplane, one of the prettiest little jobs turned out by the famous British and Colonial Aeroplane Co. The German ship is an L.V.G. type C.V.

High above the ground, against a background of blue, these two planes have met. The German pilot was heading back into German territory when the prowling Bristol pilot hopped the German. The Bristol, only rating one gun, was outclassed in armament at the start of the scrap by the L.V.G. which had two guns in perfect working order; one Spandau up front and a Parabellum at the back pit.

For ten or fifteen minutes the two guns on the L.V.G. have kept the Bristol at bay, but the L.V.G. being the slower and bulkier of the two has been more or less driven into maneuvers by the Bristol. And after each maneuver the German has found himself closer to the Allied lines. Also he has been forced to allow his ship to lose considerable altitude.

Over No Man’s Land

They have passed over No Man’s Land with its writhing lines of battered trenches and shell-torn fields. The Allied pilot signals the German to land—gives him to understand that he will be given a safe passage to the ground. The reply from Fritz and his observer is an assorted spray of slugs.

“O.K.,” the Allied pilot yells. And slamming the gas into the hungry carburetor he starts to really do his stuff.

The Bristol slashes back and forth across the back of the L.V.G. like a fighting shepherd dog ripping the hide from a bulldog’s back. In and out of ring-sights— short bursts—few of them, but effective. The German observer shudders, claws at his chest and stiffens, then slumps against the ring of his pit, mortally wounded.

Little Chance of Escape

The German pilot knows now that his tail is unprotected; his chances of escape amount to very little. Still, that small chance is better than nothing. He kicks his ship around and blasts at his enemy, his Spandau hammering out sizzling slugs.

Far below, carefully hidden from keen-eyed Boche airmen, a battery of Yank anti-aircraft guns have been trained on the aerial combatants.

Suddenly the commanding officer sees the Bristol dive away from the spurting gun of the German plane.

“Fire!” barks the artillery officer.

The drone and roar of the fighting planes is drowned by the sharp bark of the “75s.”

The Bristol pilot coming out at the top of a loop sees two blossoms suddenly burst on either side of the L.V.G. He pours a steady stream of lead into the German plane.

An Exciting Moment

That is the spot in the fight pictured on the cover; just that one moment when the unlucky German is beautifully bracketed by a couple of archie bursts and is getting a broadside from the Allied Vickers gun. One second later the German raises his hands above his head. The Bristol closes in on his tail. The anti-aircraft guns cease firing.

“Just in time for lunch, Fritz,” chuckles the victor. He points toward a cleared space flanked by tent hangars far below. The German nods solemnly, shrugs his shoulders—and obeys orders.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, February 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

Richard Knight in “Masks Over Madrid” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by David on February 16, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THE unstoppable Donald E. Keyhoe had a story in a majority of the issue of Flying Aces from his first in January 1930 until he returned to the Navy in 1942. Starting in August 1931, they were stories featuring the weird World War I stories of Philip Strange. But in November 1936, he began alternating these with sometime equally weird present day tales of espionage Ace Richard Knight—code name Agent Q. After an accident in the Great War, Knight developed the uncanny ability to see in the dark. Aided by his skirt-chasing partner Larry Doyle, Knights adventures ranged from your basic between the wars espionage to lost valley civilizations and dinosaurs. Knight is sent to Spain to get the American military men out of the Spanish Cival War, only to find the mysterious Four Faces—a criminal cabal that seek to control all crime on the earth—trying to turn La Guerra Civil into another World War with America taking all the blame!

Above those barrage – battered buildings of Madrid, vengeful Heinkels had hemmed in a lone flyer, were pouncing in for the kill. Fascinated, Richard Knight stared up at that grim drama, saw the doomed airman cast from his lead-flailed cockpit an oddly-fashioned chest bound to the chute that would have saved him. But when Richard Knight pried the lid from that strange box, he halted, transfixed. Inside was naught but a yellowed human skull! Why had a man given his life for this?

“Sky Herdin’ Heinie” by Frederick C. Painton

Link - Posted by David on February 9, 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.
Painton gives us his take on the cowboy war bird. In it, the cowboy in question is the mesquite Midget, Billy Sanders, from Jim Sills’ Bar-Bee Ranch. An old hand at rounding up the Boche in the air, he finds Jim Sills’ boy Harv now in his squadron. The two come up against Boche air ace von Steffen who seems to have a charmed life and cannot be touched, but when he shoots down yung Harv, the Midget is left with no choice than to break his sky-jinx!

From the pages of the November 1928 issue of Triple X Magazine—so called because it featured air, western and war stories each month—it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “Sky Herdin’ Heinie!”

They called the German ace a Sky-Jinx and said his plane couldn’t be shot down. But Midget, the cowboy-flier, didn’t believe in jinxes and he swore to kill the man who had shot down his friend and old range buddy.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Col. William Barker

Link - Posted by David on February 7, 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 Canadian Flyer with the R.C.F.—Lieutenant Colonel William Barker’s most thrilling sky fight!

The plain unvarnished truth of William Barker’s career on two flying fronts reads more like fiction than fact. Born in the prairie province of Manitoba in 1894, he enlisted as a Private in the Canadian Army at the age of 19. He served in the cavalry before transferring to the flying corps. Barker began as a simple private. But he skyrocketed swiftly through all the grades to that of Lieut. Colonel. His training for a pilot was limited to two flights with an instructor. After that he was turned loose to begin piling up an amazing record. On October 27, 1918, he crowned this amazing record with the most astounding aerial feat of the whole war . . . fighting and escaping from a surrounding net of 6O enemy planes at the dizzy altitude of 20,000 feet.

With one leg useless, shattered by an explosive bullet, one elbow torn away by another, and two bullet wounds in his abdomen, he nevertheless maneuvered his plane in such a masterful manner that he downed 4 enemy aircraft and managed to escape to his own side of the lines. For this, his last and most terrific fight against stupendous odds, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. When he departed from the front he ranked fifth among the British Aces with 50 official victories. He was killed in an airplane accident 12 years after the war. Barker picked the following encounter as the most thrilling of his experiences.

 

WHIPPING THE FLYING CIRCUS

by Lieut. Col. William Barker• Sky Fighters, September 1935

WHEN I was assigned to the 28th Squadron, I was made a flight commander. I decided on an immediate test to prove my right to the assignment. Richthofen’s Flying Circus was operating in our area, the Hauptmann himself was away on leave, but those remaining to carry on were crack air fighters. I called my boys together for a foray over their lines.

It was late afternoon and the ceiling was less than 1,000 feet, but I picked my way across the lines by following the Memi road, vaguely discerned below by the twin rows of tall poplars on either side. Malloch, a high caste Indian, who always insisted on wearing his colorful turban with his regulation uniform, flew at my right. Fenton was at my left. Three other boys filled in the rear, 6 of us in all.

For almost an hour we dodged back and forth among clouds behind the Hun lines without having any luck. Our Sop Camels were ticking along smoothly but somewhat futilely . . . when suddenly it happened! We had slid from a cloud only to run smack into the whole Flying Circus. Malloch was closest and drew fire first, three Fokkers of dazzling hue pouncing in on him simultaneously. I split-aired to his assistance and cleaved the Hun attackers in two. But another Hun arrowed from nowhere, fastened on my tail and began pumping hot lead.

Diving for the Earth

I kicked rudder abruptly, glanced swiftly at the sky and ground, came to a sudden decision. I could spin or turn my light-engined Sop Camel on a half penny. The Fokker with its weighty Mercedes motor in the blunt nose was heavier and faster. The ceiling was low. I decided on a new adaptation of an old trick. Pushing the stick forward I dived for the all too close earth with full sauce. The Hun peppered away at my tail and I let him have it. When my lower wingtips almost touched the topmost leaves of the waving poplars I tugged the stick abruptly and went into a tight loop.

An old trick, yes. And easily countered—usually! It had been worn thin since Ball first used it two years before. But this was a new adaptation at an ungodly low altitude! The heavier Fokker couldn’t follow me. I came out sitting smack on his tail with my sights on the back of the pilot’s helmet. One Vickers burst was enough. The pilot crumpled over the controls and the Fokker fell.

I zoomed up again, just missed being hit by a tumbling Fokker coming down in flames. Fenton was going at it with two Huns. I lured one of them away by flashing my tail in his face. We went around and ’round in an ever tightening circle. The Spandau bursts swept harmlessly beneath my trucks. The Hun pilot was not able to bend his Fokker far enough to get my range. That was where our Camels were superior to the Fokkers. While circling that way I slid off on a wing nearer and nearer to the ground. When I could descend no farther I straightened out and let my antagonist line me in his sights. With his first burst I pulled up and went over in a loop to come out on the Fokker’s tail. Two bursts accounted for it. It exploded in flames. The pilot was a victim of the same trick I had pulled on the first Hun.

Four Missing Men

It was too dark now for further fighting and my squadron mates had swept away through the clouds, I could see neither friend nor enemy anywhere, so I turned homeward. Malloch was there when I landed. He reported getting one Hun. I had downed two. But four of my mates were missing! It was a sad and bitter ending to my first encounter with the Circus.

Later on, however, Fenton phoned in from a nearby field where he had been forced to land in the darkness and reported a victory. Two others had landed with him, but one of my men would never return. Fenton had seen him fall in flames behind the German lines. But I had won my first joust as a single-seater flight commander. The final score was 4 to 1 in our favor. But what pleased me most was the working out of my new tactic.

“The Lone Eagle, January 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 5, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the fourth issue from January 1934, Frandzen has a German Halberstadt smashing into the undercarriage of a French Breguet—with dire consequences.

The Story of the Cover

SMASH! A crackup in the air! th_LE_3401 That is the picture on this month’s cover.

A shaved second before the collision there were two trim ships battling each other high above the war-torn fields—two ships piloted by airmen intent on blasting each other into oblivion. Vickers, Lewis, and Spandau slugs have slashed back and forth across the heavens.

The big Breguet with its wing span of forty-seven feet is not as maneuverable as the small Halberstadt scout with a span of only twenty-eight feet. But the Breguet’s handicap is offset by its rear gunner, who has an office unequalled for visibility. On either side of his pit he has Cellon windows.

There is a hole in the floor that he can see through and fire through if necessary. Therefore the blind spot under his tail is not as vulnerable as in ordinary two-seaters.

A Dangerous Opponent

The small Halberstadt has had a taste of the observer’s fire when sneaking in from behind to make the hoped for kill. The ship the German pilot thought was an easy victim has turned out to be a dangerous opponent.

Twice the German pilot has barged in from in front. Each time a stream of Vickers’ slugs drenched his ship. One of those hot, whistling messengers of death has slashed into his shoulder. Not a fatal wound, but a painful one. A wound that causes his flying to become jerky and erratic.

Another Angle of Attack

Mad clear through from being bested in a sky duel with a lumbering two-seater the German pushes the nose of his ship down. He starts to slither out of the fight, then he suddenly changes his mind. There is one angle of attack he has not tried; that one is coming up under the blunt nose of the Breguet. Coming up with a brace of Spandaus churning out hot steel.

His Halberstadt shudders as he pulls it out of its dive into a loop. Up swings the nose. He presses his gun trips. A short stutter from one gun, then it jams.

The other gun is silent—its ammo exhausted. Then directly in front of his blazing eyes looms the undercarriage of the Breguet; six husky steel members holding the axle and wheels—the strongest under construction of any Allied two-seater. Too late the German yanks on the stick to pull out of danger.

And This Is What Happens

Smash—his prop chews into the tough steel struts. His top left wing snaps—rips off—his prop flies to pieces, as does the undercarriage of the Breguet.

Both ships will get to earth; but one will be a wingless fuselage holding a doomed German pilot. The Breguet, minus wheels, can come down under its own power, flatten out and take the ground on its chest. It will be a rough landing but it is a ten to one chance that those two Yanks will be in the air again in a few days. They will be on the job—looking for trouble and overconfident Boche pilots.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, January 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“Martinet” by Arthur J. Burks

Link - Posted by David on February 2, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story by prolific pulpster—Arthur J. Burks! Burks was a Marine during WWI and went on to become a prolific writer for the pulps in the 20’s and 30’s. He was a frequent contributor to Sky Fighters. Here we have a story of Frank Tracy, a strict flight leader who rules his troops with threats of court-martial or other disciplinary action. Tracy uses his methods as a way of keeping his flight safe, but they see him as just hiding behind his flight to save his own hide. As is the case in these situations tempers reach a boiling point! From the June 1933 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s Arthur J. Burks’ “Martinet.”

Frank Tracy ruled the Third Flight with an iron hand and they hated him for it. But they learned that the heart of a martinet is not always as hard as his orders!