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“Mission of Death” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 22, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

TO ROUND off Mosquito Month we have a non-Mosquitoes story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. It was always his observer, Jim Evans, who judged the dive, who directed Haskell as the latter worked controls, who told Haskell the precise moment to jerk back his stick and pull up—the same moment when Evans would release the bombs. And due to this uncanny judgment of Evans, and also to Haskell’s flying skill and strength, the two had never failed. Oh, they had been a team—Bomber Dan Haskell, big, husky, two-fisted—and Jim Evans, smaller, but lithe and agile and just as ready for action. An inseparable team, Which co-ordinated like a machine—which could do bombing work as no other unit. With Haskell as reckless pilot, and Evans in the rear as gunner and observer—though he wore a pilot’s full two wings—they had fought their way through all odds, dived upon their target hellbent, and blasted it right off the face of the earth. But Jim had been lost the day before on a run leaving Dan to set off on a daring mission alone—He must bomb bridge K-100 to keep the Germans from advancing on the Allied lines! From the June 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Mission of Death!”

Two Fighting Buddies Hold the Fate of the Allies in Their Hands as They Ride the Sky on an Errand of Doom!

“The Hawker Fury” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on March 18, 2019 @ 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’ January 1937 cover, Mr. Blakeslee gives us a couple of Avia ’34’s trying to drive a bunch of Hawker “Furys” away from their Zeppelin base!

th_DDA_3701IN THE action on the cover, the reader will have no difficulty in discerning that a group of British ships are bombing a combined airdrome and dirigible depot. The green ships and the yellow plane are easily recognizable as variations of the Hawker ‘Fury,’ so we need give little of our time to them.

The plane in the upper left of the picture, however, is of a type not nearly so common as the others. It is an Avia ‘34’, if that means anything to you sky-hawks.

Germany, as you know, is exceedingly secretive concerning her air force and the new developments that she has undoubtedly made, so I’m frequently forced to ascribe to her ships which really are those of other countries.

Britain, of course, manufactures ships for a great number of countries. In fact, the green plane on the cover is a replica of a ‘Fury’ which was made for the Portuguese Air Force. The similarity existing between this ship and the truly British ships can easily be seen.

When we speak of European aircraft, we unconsciously think of the products of Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy, but strangely, the Avia with which we are concerned is the creation of none of these, but of tiny Czechoslovakia.

This country, of which we hear but little when the war drums throb in the sullen sky, is well equipped with beautiful, efficient ships of many varied types.

The Avia is a fighter of a single-seat type, and is powered by a 650 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine of the latest design. It is unique in that it carries four machine guns,—two on the wings near the outer struts, which are not shown, and the usual pair,—one on each side of the fuselage. These latter two fire through invisible troughs.

This fighter has a speed of 200 m.p.h. at sea level and its service ceiling is 24,600 feet.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hawker Fury: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(January 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

The Three Mosquitoes Disband in “Broken Wings” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 15, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

Were back with the third of three Three Mosquitoes stories we’re presenting this month. The Three Mosquitoes disband! The darker side of notoriety rears it’s ugly head—is Kirby a “Glory Grabber” taking all the glory and sharing none of the credit—easily picking off the other’s adversaries out from under them? Does he take Shorty Carn and Lanky Travis for granted? Yes, that inseparable threesome have it out and go their own ways! Each sinking the lowest a man can go without the others—and just as the big German offensive is about to kick off! Can the Kirby, Carn and Travis fix their “Broken Wings” or is this it for the intrepid trio? In what is probably their darkest tale, from the pages of the January 1931 issue of War Birds!

No greater engine of winged destruction ever rode the red winds of the Front than The Three Mosquitoes—then came a Boche flamer and a face in the dark to confront them with the greatest mystery of their career.

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page! And come back next Friday or another exciting tale.

“Famous Sky Fighters, August 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on March 13, 2019 @ 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 August 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Lt. Col Bill Thaw, Billy Bishop, Lt. Max Immelmann, and East Indian prince turned R.A.F. sky hellion—Sidor Malloc Singh!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Italian Ace Major Barracca, Canadian flyer Captain W.W. Rogers, America’s Lt. Norman Prince, and Germany’s own Manfred von Richthofen! Don’t miss it!

The Man Behind The Mosquitoes

Link - Posted by David on March 11, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

BACK in 2015 during our first Mosquito Month, we ran a series of articles from The Pocono Record that covered Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World. Recently, I came upon another article about Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim and their Magic Puppet World—this time from nearby Allentown, PA’s The Morning Call from 1967—complete with a picture!

Monroe Puppeteers Automate Their Art

by WEALTHY KORTZ | The Morning Call, Allentown, PA • 8 February 1967

Oppenheim’s Music Puppet World near Snydersville takes the age-old art of puppetry and harnesses it to automation to depict in pantomime stories full of whimsy, humor and absorbing action.


Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim create new doll exhibits,

The work of Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim represents 15 years of creative effort and study. It is an enchanting, completely new entertainment medium with an appeal to young and old alike.

Marionettes perform without puppeteers. Their strings are pulled by automatic precision machinery, giving them more versatility of flowing motion.

Although self-educated in the field of electronics and other necessary components, the Oppenheims achieved their success—admittedly—by trial and error.

Both native New Yorkers, the Oppenheims decided to settle in the Poconos because they like the area and it was familiar to them since childhood.

Bought Farm

They opened their Magic Puppet World about three years ago shortly after purchasing the old Rupert farm along business Route 209 about six miles west of Stroudsburg.

The couple polished the 110-year-old barn discreetly to preserve the original meaning of the landmark and set up 17 exhibits. Each is self-contained within its glass-enclosed cabinet stage and electronic impulses to present the series of pantomime stories that have been tastefully arranged.

Tedious hours were spent perfecting the impulses for complete synchronization; the careful uniting of silk threads to as many as 13 joints of the single puppet with its mechanical puppeteer levers and cams; the careful lighting effect and art work. It takes the husband and wife team a minimum of from two to four months to perfect a single exhibit.


Dancing Ballerinas — a small segment of the “Doll Ballet.”

The largest exhibit in “Ballet Square” of the old barn is the “doll ballet.” This took several years and nearly threadbare patience to master the movement of the seven eight inch high marionettes that perform in true ballet technique.

There are more than 200 strands of silk thread and 32 working levers with companion cams that control the precision. Another problem was synchronizing the “thought1ess” ballerinas with the music.

Backstage Peek

Visitors are invited “backstage” by the Oppenheims at this particular performing exhibit so they may view the automatic machinery controlling the miniature dancers.

Because of the intricate mechanism and its complications, the exhibit is personally attended by its creators at each performance.

Mrs. Oppenheim, a former ballet student, worked closely with her husband in perfecting the movements.

The beautifully hand-painted verse at each exhibit is the handiwork of Mrs. Oppenheim, who is a professional artist. The verses, describing the action, were composed by her husband.

Verse adds a warm appeal. For example, at the “Rival Romeos” Oppenheim composed:

“Two Romeos, not one but two!
Came to Juliet’s house to woo!
One wooed her with a simple song
Until the other came along;
From him she tried to take a rose,
And nearly fell upon her nose.
Which one would save her?
Watch and see
Who puts her back on the balcony
And see what kisses this one got.
See the other one get . . . a flower pot!”

The rustic road that visitors take leads them through Lilliput, “The Littlest world in the World,” where a four-foot Gulliver introduces the Lilliputian marionettes less than three inches high.

Children’s Stories

In another area exhibits are devoted to favorite children’s stories about Miss Muffet, Cinderella and the like.

Taped music box melodies enhance the background for the over-all atmosphere.

Oppenheim, who sports a flattering mustache and goatee left over from the Stroudsburg Sesquicentennial, is a former pulp fiction adventure story writer.

Holder of several patents, Oppenheim invented a textile machine to make raffia. The ingenious operation of his magic puppets is also under patent.

The puppets were almost a first love of this gifted man — dating back to boyhood in a boarding school.

The stall area of the old barn has been transformed into a comfortable workshop for the couple. Shared only by their two schnauzers, Bridget and Maggie.

It is in this area that the couple develop their “dolls” from chunks of white Canadian cedar, pine, birch and virgin maple. They also make clever items of jewelry and souvenirs of their exhibits. A craft shop that is a part of complex is open during the off season of the Magic Puppet World which is open to the public from May to October.

Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim are the originators of automatic puppetry. They have won national recognition for their new medium of special projects commissioned by some of the country’s leading industrial companies — for such showplaces as the New York World’s Fair and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

They had been approached by a representative of Walt Disney a couple of years ago — but declined all offers rather than lose their individual identity.

 

With Ralph’s death in August 1978, Shirley closed up the Oppenheim Gallery and Puppet World and moved back to New York City to be near family. She passed away in 2006.

The Three Mosquitoes battle “The Squadron from Nowhere” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 8, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

“LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.

Were back with the second of three Three Mosquitoes stories we’re presenting this month. The Three Mosquitoes have been dispatched to the Scottish Highlands to investigate sightings of German Gothas! Equipped with brand new Sopwiths, the Three Mosquitoes take on The Black Raiders and try to fathom how these planes could even be this far from their Fatherland and so perilously close to the shipbuilding yards of Deemsgate! It’s a mystery whose answer lies in the craggy mountains of Scotland!

An awed gasp broke from the tense watchers, for at that moment they saw a red light glow into sudden livid brilliance directly above them, until it became a ball of red fire which illuminated the whole sky. A parachute flare with a message from the mysterious raiders! Who were they? How did they get there? These and a hundred other questions baffled the Three Mosquitoes as they prepared to do battle with—black shadows.

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page!

“The Heyford” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on March 4, 2019 @ 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’ December 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee gives the modern take on a couple of old classics—the Handly-Page Heyford and the french Morane-Saulnier!

th_DDA_3612THE world war produced many excellent fighting ships—ships that have become world famous. These world war types are now, of course, obsolete and except for those in museums and a few which are privately owned have practically disappeared. The R.F.C. display this year was unique in that several war-time ships were on the field. Flying over head were the direct descendants of some of those war-time ships. Most of the modern ships are known by other names while some carry the same name by which they were known in war days.

The difference between the modern ship and its war-time ancestor is enormous. For instance, take the war-time Handly-Page 0/400 and the modern Handly-Page “Heyford”. Quite a change!

Let us consider a famous war-time ship and see what it looks like today. Above is a drawing of this ship as it looks today. In this case the ship is known by the same name it had in war days. Its war-time ancestor is perhaps the best known of the war-time ships in America. American flyers used it almost exclusively and it features in most of the stories in this issue. Would you recognize the above drawing as a SPAD? I don’t think you would, for the Spad as it is today has developed beyond all recognition to the war-time model. Personally, I think the war-time Spad is the better looking ship. The modern version is a high-altitude fighter with a ceiling of 35,750 feet. Its speed lower down is 195 m.p.h. while high up it is 231 m.p.h. It has a 500 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine, the same engine its ancestor had with the addition of a few more “horses”. The only recognizable feature between the war-time Spad and the modern Spad is the letter “S” on the rudder.

The French monoplane on the cover is another descendant of a war-time ship not, however, as famous as the Spad, It also has the same name as its predecessor, the Morane-Saulnier. Except for refinements in design, it is remarkably like the older Morane-Saulnier. The parasol monoplane type is peculiar to France as it has always been a specialty of French military design. This ship has a speed of 204 m.p.h. and its absolute ceiling is 36,080 feet.

The ships attacking the airdrome are Dorniers. They have a maximum speed of 161 m.p.h. and a range of 745 miles.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Heyford: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(December 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

The Three Mosquitoes vs. “The Dynamite Flight” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 1, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THEIR familiar war cry rings out—“Let’s Go!” The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Captain Kirby, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Travis.

Yes! The Three Mosquitoes—the approach of spring has brought the Mosquitoes out of hibernation to help hurry on the warm summer months ahead. At Age of Aces dot net it’s our fifth annual Mosquito Month! We’ll be featuring that wiley trio in three early tales in the hell skies over the Western Front. And we’re starting things off with a bang! The Germans have developed a new super explosive they’ve called XXX—five time as powerful as the Allies’ most destructive explosives! A boast they demonstrate by wiping the 44th Squadron’s drome off the face of the map! The Three Mosquitoes concoct a perilous plan to sneak into the largest and most well-guarded German munitions plants where the XXX is being manufactured and blow it all to kingdom-come!

“Into the dugouts!” was the frantic order as that giant black Gotha hurled its death-dealing bombs down upon the airdrome. But Kirby, Carn and Travis crept across the blistering, bomb-torn tarmac toward their planes. For the grim mystery of that Gotha had to be solved. Smashing new “Three Mosquitoes” yarn.

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page! And come back next Friday or another exciting tale.