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“Sky Fighters, March 1936″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on December 10, 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. Mr. Frandzen features a battle between a De Haviland Pusher and a German D.F.W. C4 on the February 1936 cover!

The Ships on the Cover

THE R.E.8 had the title th_SF_3603“Reconnaissance Experimental” but there was not so much experimental in her as good old fighting spirit. Since the line of R.E.s preceding the 8 had worked out most of the defects in actual combat flying rather than in the brain of designers, the old girl had been pretty well refined when she made her debut. The British Royal Aircraft Factory was responsible for some lesser lights in their production but the S.E.5 came out on their wartime stage to end the show in a round of applause from the aviators who flew them. But even when the S.E.s were starring at the front the R.E.8s were holding up their end of the show patrolling the sky lanes dropping bombs In the darkness of night to the end of the war.

Backstage at the training schools the R.E. put the young novices through the groundwork, in this case groundwork of the sky of fancy turns, pauses for leveling out between steep dives, pirouettes, all maneuvers to make sky hoofers for the chorus of war.

Never a Has Been

The R.E.8 did her work so well carrying on in any job that she could never have the slurring title of “Has been.” A ship that could look back on the glories of such a career need never slink away when the applause was for newcomers. It had the quiet reserve to serve gracefully, giving of its experience while treasuring in the heart of its big engine the memory of such days as the one when it flew back in 1918, the scene pictured on the cover.

An army is said to march on its belly. That’s a good old bromide and gets past first base, but marching never brought in a home run. The same can be said for a plane with only gas to feed it. It can go places but it can’t do things. The one thing needed above all others to ground or air forces is ammunition.

Silencing a pair of machine-guns in a bombproof hillside dugout commanding a pass was the problem confronting “Crackup” Jones of Texas and points West. Now “Crackup” came by his name because he had smashed more planes in landing and taking off than any other three living flyers in the A.E.F. He’d cracked his way through two schools and left a trail of splinters that ran up the national debt considerably. But that didn’t bother Mr. Jones for he and every one else who had seen him fly knew that once he got into the air no other two-legged mortal could swap lead with him and live to tell the story.

Wotta Man!

One guy swore he’d seen Jones crack a Nieuport full speed into a hangar roof. Thrown clear he sailed through the air a hundred feet and landed gracefully on the top of a grounded captive balloon. When they finally got him down he’d written a thousand-word account of the experience with diagrams for the “Stars and Stripes.” Wotta man!

“Crackup” is in the pilot’s pit of the old R.E.8 he borrowed from the British. He’d dropped all his bombs on the bombproof dugout at the head of a narrow pass just in front of his own lines. He’d sprayed every round from his machine-guns. His gas was nearly exhausted when he spied three Boche lugging up ammunition to the machine-gun nest. If those men got their cargo to the guns safely it meant the Yanks couldn’t push through.

“Crackup” Thinks—and Acts

“Crackup” thought fast. A narrow river was below the cliff. If he could smash his plane into those Germans and his luck held out he’d be catapulted into the water safe on the Allied side. Having thought, “Crackup” acted. Down he swooped, gave the last drop of gas to his coughing engine and smacked his enemies and their dangerous ammunition over the edge of the cliff with his empennage.

His tailless plane leaped through the air like a ski jumper, cleared the river and smashed head on into a jagged mass of rocks. “Crackup’s” luck had deserted him at last. When they pulled him out of the wreckage it was found that the wind had been knocked completely out of him and he had suffered a severe fracture of the left little finger.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, March 1936 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Full specifications of the R.E.8 were featured in the LIBRARY OF WAR PLANES in this issue.

“100 Minutes of Gas” by O.B. Myers

Link - Posted by David on December 7, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author O.B. Myers! Myers was a pilot himself, flying with the 147th Aero Squadron and carrying two credited victories and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The Plan was a simple one: Strip down a Nieuport to it’s barest essentials in order to nip across the lines and get the low down on Germany’s latest plane—the Pfalz. The plane was stripped so down that it was filled with only 100 minutes of gas, which left only ten extra minutes for trouble. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned! From the July 1932 issue of War Aces, it’s O.B. Myers’ “100 Minutes of Gas!”

It took a crazy man to fly into that trap; but when be found that he was the bait, Speck had them singing, “—and we learned about flying from him”

“Famous Sky Fighters, January 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on December 5, 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 January 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, Features Lieut. Colonel Robert Rockwell, Belgian Ace Willy Coppens and Capt. Clyde Balsley of the Lafayette Escadrille!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Lieut. David Putnam, Colonel Dean Lamb, Capt. C.F. Chander and the only Ace of the three seaters—Captain Didier Le Cour-Grandmaison! Don’t miss it!

“Scrappy Birthday” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

“HAW-W-W-W-W!” That sound can only mean one thing—that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors is back to vex not only the Germans, but the Americans—the Ninth Pursuit Squadron in particular—as well. Yes it’s the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa himself—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham!

What do you get the man who has everything? If you’re Herr Hauptmann von Spieler and you’re looking to please his Excellenz Kaiser Wilhelm, you go out and get him that one thing no one has been able to get—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham! Just make sure you wrap it well!

Over in Kraut-land spirits were high. Flourish and fanfare heralded a super celebration in honor of the A-l Hohenzollern. And the first dish listed on The Great One’s menu was—”Phineas Pinkham on the Half-Spad.” But too many cuckoos spoil the hasenpfeffer, and though the meat is sweeter near the joint, the Vons hadn’t figured on double joints.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 4: Manfred von Richthofen” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 28, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Back with the final of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This time around we have the August 1932 installment featuring arguably the most famous Ace of WWI—Baron Manfred von Richthofen!

Widely known as the “Red Baron”, Richthofen is considered the ace-of-aces, officially credited with 80 air combat victories! He was awarded the Pour le Mérite, Order of the Red Eagle, House Order of Hohenzollern and the Iron Cross.

Wikipedia summarizes his rise to greatness thusly: Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of fighter squadron Jagdstaffel 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became leader of Jasta 11 and then the larger fighter wing unit Jagdgeschwader 1, better known as “The Flying Circus” or “Richthofen’s Circus” because of the bright colours of its aircraft, and perhaps also because of the way the unit was transferred from one area of allied air activity to another—moving like a travelling circus, and frequently setting up in tents on improvised airfields. By 1918, Richthofen was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and respected by his enemies.

Richthofen was shot down and killed near Vaux-sur-Somme on 21 April 1918.

As a bonus, here are links to all 45 “Live of the Aces in Pictures” that we’ve posted over the years:

Lives of the Aces in Pictures Index

“Is That a Fact?” October 1931 by William E. Barrett

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

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. As November winds down, we have one last installment of his “Is That a Fact?” feature from the pages of War Birds magazine!

The October 1931 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features fun facts about Lt. Leo Ferrenbach, the Allied Cocarde, and a woman who married the German Ace who killed her first husband in combat!

Look for more installments of “Is That a Fact?” coming soon!

“Death’s Lament” by William E. Barrett

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

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday with four of his pulp stories—one each Friday.

Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

To close out the fiction portion of our Barrett celebrations we have “Death’s Lament”—the story of Billy North who left home to fight in the war to avenge his brother’s death, but is stuck flying in the observation squadron where they fight the war with pencils rather than bullets!

In the crucible of duty-tortured skies was welded the stuff of which fighters are made—for only in the thunder of red-eyed guns could Angus play his death music for a friend.

From the May 1932 War Aces, it’s William E. Barrett’s “Death’s Lament!”

Some historical background was included with the story:

“Famous Firsts” November 1931 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 21, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Famous Firsts” which ran frequently in the pages of War Aces. “Famous Firsts” was an illustrated feature much along the lines of Barrett’s “Is That a Fact?” that was running in War Birds, only here the facts were all statements of firsts. And like “Is That a Fact?” in War Birds, this feature was also taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The November 1931 installment, from the pages of War Aces, features airplane firsts—The British Experimental, The First plane to take off from a ship as well as the first to fall during the war!

Look for more installments of “Famous Firsts” coming soon!

“Is That a Fact?” September 1931 by William E. Barrett

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

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Is That a Fact?” which ran frequently in the pages of War Birds. It was an aviation themed version of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not kind of feature with hard to believe they’re true facts. Although started by Barrett, the feature was taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The September 1931 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features fun facts about Anthony Fokker, Bert Hall and the machine guns used in the great war!

Next Monday Barrett features fun facts about Lt. Leo Ferrenbach, the Allied Cocarde, and a woman who married the German Ace who killed her first husband in combat!

“The Night Eagle” by William E. Barrett

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

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday with four of his pulp stories—one each Friday.

Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Today is Barrett’s birthday, so we have a different kind of story from Mr. Barrett. It’s the story of Philip Law—a young man who’s blind who longs to fight in the Great War when he hears about it. By chance a German doctor arrives at the asylum for the blind looking for willing participants for an experimental procedure he’s developed that could restore sight to the blind!

What meant blind ruin to other men was salvation to Philip Law—for in the pitiless glare of war-torn skies he alone could wrest the secret from the eyes that could not see.

From the July 1932 War Aces, it’s William E. Barrett’s “The Night Eagle!”

“Famous Firsts” October 1931 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 14, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Famous Firsts” which ran frequently in the pages of War Aces. “Famous Firsts” was an illustrated feature much along the lines of Barrett’s “Is That a Fact?” that was running in War Birds, only here the facts were all statements of firsts. And like “Is That a Fact?” in War Birds, this feature was also taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The October 1931 installment, from the pages of War Aces, features Major General F.P. Lahm, The Sopwith Camel, and Captain William G. Schauffer!

Next Wednesday Barrett features airplane firsts—The British Experimental, The First plane to take off from a ship as well as the first to fall during the war!

“Is That a Fact?” August 1931 by William E. Barrett

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

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Is That a Fact?” which ran frequently in the pages of War Birds. It was an aviation themed version of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not kind of feature with hard to believe they’re true facts. Although started by Barrett, the feature was taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The August 1931 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features a seaplane that got stuck in a wireless mast; a British pilot with 22 victories to his name, but is not considered to be a Ace; and an early version of the parachute!

Next Monday Barrett features fun facts about Anthony Fokker, Bert Hall and the machine guns used in the great war!

“Non-Commissioned” by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 9, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday with four of his pulp stories—one each Friday.

Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

This week we have another tale of sausage men—those brave individuals who risked their lives dangling in a basket below a balloon to help the artillery get an accurate range for their guns. And that basket is mighty small when you’re a non-commissioned officer hanging under the bag with Cecil Granville Terence Dwight-DeLacey! Cecil Granville had been hatched on a parade ground. His buttons shone with a holy radiance and he saw no reason why the buttons of the world should not shine with equal luster. Nor did Cecil Granville take kindly to men who slouched or drank or forgot salutes or who assumed comfortable positions. In short, Cecil Granville was the type of officer best calculated to make any branch of the service unattractive to the poor devils he outranked. Jimmy Carr, the noncom in the basket with him, was his entire command and Jimmy got all the grief which would have been heavy if distributed over an entire company. But events transpire that lead Carr to prove that not all Cecil Granville’s beliefs are true!

Rank counted for little when officer and man glared at each other in the basket of that drifting Sausage. Then came fog and Fokker to prove that courage is owned by no man.

From the January 1931 War Aces, it’s William E. Barrett’s “Non-Commissioned!”

“Famous Firsts” August 1931 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 7, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Famous Firsts” which ran frequently in the pages of War Aces. “Famous Firsts” was an illustrated feature much along the lines of Barrett’s “Is That a Fact?” that was running in War Birds, only here the facts were all statements of firsts. And like “Is That a Fact?” in War Birds, this feature was also taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The August 1931 installment, from the pages of War Aces, features Lt. Roland Garros, The Henri Farman plane, and the Short Seaplane!

Next Wednesday Barrett features Major General F.P. Lahm, The Sopwith Camel, and Captain William G. Schauffer!

“Is That a Fact?” July 1931 by William E. Barrett

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

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Is That a Fact?” which ran frequently in the pages of War Birds. It was an aviation themed version of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not kind of feature with hard to believe they’re true facts. Although started by Barrett, the feature was taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The July 1931 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features Richthofen’s famous tri-plane, armor plating in planes and Zeppelin helmsman Muhler’s improbable fall!

Next Monday Barrett features a seaplane that got stuck in a wireless mast; a British pilot with 22 victories to his name, but is not considered to be a Ace; and an early version of the parachute!

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