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“Web of the Spider” by Arch Whitehouse

Link - Posted by David on December 30, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

WE’VE come to the final story of our twelve tales from the Christmas 1931 issues, and what better way to go out, than with a story from the ever-reliable Arch Whitehouse! Always a crowd-pleaser, Whitehouse wrote hundreds of tales for the air pulps with many featuring series characters. Possibly his longest running series was Buzz Benson! Buzz was featured in every issue of Sky Birds starting with the February 1930 issue. When Sky Birds closed up shop, Buzz moved over to Flying Aces where he continued for two more years.

Billy “Buzz” Benson is a flying reporter for the Los Angeles Mercury newspaper, but his real job is much more dangerous—he is a secret agent and pilot extraordinaire for the U.S. military. In this month’s issue, deadly forces have stolen the latest high-powered submarine, the Baracuda, as well as kidnapped the designer’s daughter. It’s up to Buzz to get them both back!

The Navy had named their newest submarine the Barracuda, after the deadliest fish that infests tropical waters—that sharp-toothed killer that will attack anything for the joy of battle. Then that sub turned against its masters—and Billy “Buzz” Benson took off on the blood-strewn trail of the killer ship!

“Aces Back to Back” by E.W. Chess

Link - Posted by David on December 28, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

OUR penultimate of our twelve tales from Christmas 1931 issues is another by E.W. Chess—he was a busy man that month with both this as well as a story in Aces! This time we get the bizarre tale of gambling and a four–sided love triangle!

A gambler, was Major Arthur Lem, C.O. of the 25th Yank Pursuit Squadron. All his life he’d gambled—and won, for he bet only when the odds were in his favor. But now, in those flaming skies over the Western Front, the game was different. Young Philip Mayson and those seven hotheaded replacements were gamblers of another breed— and to bet with them. Major Lem had to learn a new way to play his cards! The most unusual air story of the year!

From the pages of Sky Birds, it’s “Aces Back to Back” by E.W. Chess!

If you haven’t check it out, Pulpflakes posted an excellent post about the life of “Elliot Chess—Fighter pilot, Author” last year.

“The Frozen Fate” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by David on December 25, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

AH, CHRISTMAS! As our present to our faithful readers on this fine Christmas morning, we give you a curious tale from the Teufelhund Jagdstaffel. It’s those flying leathernecks, Donald E. Keyhoe’s The Devildog Squadron! At the same time Keyhoe was writing the Philip Strange stories for Flying Aces, and the Jailbird Flight stories for Battle Aces, and the Vanished Legion stories for Dare-Devil Aces, we was also telling tales of those flying marines known as the Devildog Squadron for the pages of Sky Birds magazine. A marine flyer himself, Keyhoe imbues the tales of “Cyclone” Bill Garrity and The Devildog Squadron with a realism in their unrealistic events you just don’t find everywhere.

The Germans have developed an unstoppable behemoth that shoots a clod light ray that freezes whatever it passes over on contact! While out scouting for the big ship, Luck Lane is forced down and finds himself right in the thick of things! But he finds help in the most unlikely of places! From the December 1931 Sky Birds, it’s Donald E. Keyhoe’s “The Frozen Fate!”

Upon that desolate drome, where stark black trees reared up grimly from the stripped ruin of the tarmac, those Devildogs landed their ships. Biting cold rose up from the ground on that sweltering August day—and near the deadline lay three figures—frozen to death! A thrilling Devildog mystery.

And look for the first volume of the complete tales of the “Cyclone” Bill Garrity and the Devildog Squadron coming soon!

“The Noël Patrol” by Edgar L. Cooper

Link - Posted by David on December 23, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THE Stockings are hanging from the mantle with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there. But we still have time for one more story before the big day—and this time it’s an actual Christmas themed story by Edgar L. Cooper.

All Lt. Duke Rittenhouse wanted for Christmas was that last victory that would make him an Ace. And he was determined to get it even if he had to go out in a raging snow storm on Christmas Eve to do so, but it was the gift Baron Rupprecht von Hentzau—the ‘Werewolf of Austria,’ gave him that night, that he’d remember forever.

So pull up a chair and light a fire, get a good drink and enjoy Edgar L. Cooper’s “The Noël Patrol” from the December 1931 War Birds!

Christmas Eve—and the dogs of war were leashed. But Ace-Up remembered his vow of a fifth by Christmas, and the fangs of the Austrian Werewolf were still unpulled.

“Specter Strafe” by O.B. Myers

Link - Posted by David on December 21, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

IT’S Christmas week! And what better way to start it off than with a bit of a ghost story. Our eighth tale of Christmas is O.B. Myer’s “Specter Strafe!” Myers was a pilot himself, flying with the 147th Aero Squadron and carrying two credited victories and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Stack Sherman accidentally shoots down an Allied plane, but his C.O. tells him not to worry about it until he’s asked to testify. Easier said than done! Although Sherman tries to forget about it and move on, his conscience won’t allow it.

And then the pilot’s brother shows up at the 44th—and he’s assigned to Sherman’s flight! From the December 1931 War Birds, it’s O.B. Myer’s “Specter Strafe!”

Riddled with Vickers lead, that Yank ship hurtled down to oblivion—and only Stack Sherman and the specter that haunted him knew on whose gun trips rested the murder’s guilt!

For all his many published stories, O.B. Myer’s didn’t really have any series characters. The few recurring characters he did have in the pages of Dare-Devil Aces, we’ve collected into a book we like to call “The Black Sheep of Belogue: The Best of O.B. Myers” which collects the two Dynamite Pike and his band of outlaw Aces stories and the handful of Clipper Stark vs the Mongol Ace tales. If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love these stories!

“Death’s Double” by Frederick C. Painton

Link - Posted by David on December 18, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

SIX down, and six to go! For the seventh story from the Christmas 1931 issues of the Air pulps we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton. Paint known to our readers for his gritty Squadron of the Dead.

The War Department sends Jerry Gallens to the 92nd Pursuit Squadron with a film crew in tow to make a movie! Gallens is the American flapper’s big crush, the swoon of old maids, the envy of every young American man, the sweetheart of the United States. He is America’s outstanding musical-comedy star, a Broadway matinee idol. He is a great movie actor, the only one outside of Charley Chaplin who’s had his pictures translated into the Chinese. But he also longs to be a real Ace like he’s portraying on screen! From the December 1931 issue of War Birds—it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “Death’s Double!”

Into the hard skies of war-aged pilots came a movie idol under special orders. They hated his guts and called him yellow, until that red day when hell broke loose over their heads—and a man was born.

Painton has once again named the squadron adjunct something along the lines of Willie-the-Ink. This time it’s Johnny-the-Ink, but it’s the same character. And not too dissimilar from Dugger Banks, the squadron leader in Painton’s “Aces Fly High” (Sky Fighters, November 1933), he’s named the squadron leader of the 92nd Pursuit “Digger” Banks!

“Death Takes The Stick” by R. Sidney Bowen

Link - Posted by David on December 16, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY we have a short but poignant story from the prolific pen of Robert Sidney Bowen. Bowen was a war pilot of the Royal Air Force, as well as the editor of one of the foremost technical journals of aviation in addition to penning hundreds of action-packed stories for the pulps.

“Chunky” Towers was not a particularly good Jerry hunter. As a matter of fact he was just an ordinary product of Field No. 8 at Issoudun, with perhaps a better than the average portion of guts. He was always on the lookout for a possible scrap—especially with a certain German pilot who always flew a pale green Fokker—”Green Bird” as Chunky had nicknamed him. The real name of the pilot he did not know, and he didn’t care. Green Bird was not some great German ace who sent Allied pilots down like so many clay pigeons before his yammering guns. To tell the truth, Green Bird was a very ordinary pilot, and a rotten shot—just as rotten a shot as was Chunky.

They had met several times and on each occasion both spewed costly ammunition at thin air. By some queer trick of fate neither could get in the fatal burst when opportunity offered, and opportunity had not been stingy by any manner of means. It just seemed as though each was immune to the other’s bullets. Until that fateful morning…

Even after the Grim Reaper took over the controls, that Fokker obeyed its pilot—and showed a Yank how the dead repay chivalry.

“Ask No Questions” by Frederick C. Davis

Link - Posted by David on December 14, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

OUR fifth tale from the Christmas 1931 issues of the Air pulps is a short story by renowned pulp author Frederick C. Davis. Davis is probably best remembered for his work on Operator 5 where he penned the first 20 stories, as well as the Moon Man series for Ten Detective Aces and several other continuing series for various Popular Publications. He also wrote a number of aviation stories that appeared in Aces, Air Stories and Wings.

Lieutenant William Ballentine—a big name for such a small pilot. He looked like a ten-year-old dressed up in his big brother’s flying togs, he was so small. As a matter of fact, he was just a half-portion of pilot. But what he lacked in size he seemed to make up in joie de vivre. But when the C.O. told him to follow orders and “Ask No Questions”—unfortunately, he did just that.

Too much courage was Half-Pint’s burden—then came the day when he softened the C.O.’s anger and showed that even feathers have wartime uses.

“The Laughing Major” by George Bruce

Link - Posted by David on December 11, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY we have a story from the highly prolific George Bruce. Bruce, a former pilot, began writing in the 1920’s and became noted for his aerial war stories—several publications even bore his name. In the 1930’s and ’40’s he transitioned into screenwriting for Hollywood action films and then into tv in the 1950’s and ’60’s.

The Fourth Squadron hated Major Powers. That hatred seeped out of the soul of the lowliest of the ground crew exactly as it surged unceasingly in the souls of the pilots.
He never seemed burdened by fatigue. His eyes never lost the half-feverish, half-mocking light—never lost a peculiar brilliancy which seemed to feed upon his soul. His face was never anything but a pale mask, contorted by a never-changing grin which drew his thin lips back over his white teeth—and made every man on the field harbor the insane desire to smash his fist against Powers’ face and drive those wolf-like teeth down the Major’s throat. Yes, The Fourth hated Major Powers—that is, until they got to know him.

The pilots of the Fourth fought black-crossed ships, but they kept their hate for the man who led the way into the sky. They hated his sneer, his jeers, his scorn—but most of all they hated his laugh.

From the December 1931 issue of Aces, it’s “The Laughing Major” by George Bruce!

“The Devil on Wings” by Edgar A. Manley

Link - Posted by David on December 9, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY, for our twelve stories of Christmas 1931, we have an excellent tale by Edgar A. Manley from the pages of the December 1931 Sky Birds magazine!

Destiny had linked Chuck Bland strangely with that mysterious pair on the train from Paris. One a French artillery officer, the other a French flyer—one a murderer, the other a murdered man. And Chuck Bland did not know which was which—until one night, weeks later, in the messroom of a French drome!

From the pages of Sky Birds, it’s “The Devil on Wings” by Edgar A. Manley!

You may recognize the art for this story—it was also used for the Philip Strange story “Hell’s Gateway” (Flying Aces, April 1932)

“Had-Boiled and Handsome” by James Perley Hughes

Link - Posted by David on December 4, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author James Perley Hughes! Hughes was a frequent contributor to various genres of pulps, but he seemed to gravitate toward the air-war spy type stories.

Skag, Dinty and Mugs Miller liked to “groom” the fresh recruits to the Game-Cock Squadron. They were case-hardened comedians and had given Major Crossley all kinds of trouble by their weird ideas of what made a joke. The quiet, bashful fledgling was usually let off with a short hazing, but the fresh fish were tormented until the three were satiated. Orders against this hazing had been issued time and again, but they were difficult to enforce. It was time someone taught them a lesson, and who better than someone straight from the school at Issoudun!

If you didn’t like somebody in the Game-Cock Squadron, you just arranged for him to fight a duel with von Steuben, famous German ace. It sounded easy—until those three tough boys from South Boston tried it on a certain replacement!

“Dual Control” by E.W. Chess

Link - Posted by David on December 2, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

TO START off our twelve stories of Christmas 1931, we have an excellent tale by E.W. Chess from the pages of the December 1931 Aces magazine!

Martin Hale became a man without a country—He had been found guilty of desertion and insubordination. Rather than leave the war, Hale assumes the identity of an American pilot who has been presumed dead after his plane crashes and burns. But just who is Jerrald Hammond? What starts out as a way to stay in the war turns into a tale of espionage and intrigue.

One pilot passed to the tune of tapping drums, another fell with crimson flame to mark his end. But behind the Front was a strange rendezvous for the ghosts that walked the war night.

From the pages of Aces, it’s “Dual Control” by E.W. Chess!

Pulpflakes posted an excellent post about the life of “Elliot Chess—Fighter pilot, Author” last year. You can check it out here!

The Aces of Christmas 1931

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

WHILE browsing through eBay a couple months ago, I came upon these two snapshots from a family’s Christmas in Memphis 1931. What caught my eye was the little boy all dressed up as a WWI ace with leather jacket, aviator’s cap with goggles, and some sort of tall leather boots(?)! It got me thinking about what stories that boy could have been reading that rather mild, snowless December in Memphis.

So this month we’ll be featuring stories published in the December 1931 issues of Aces, Sky Birds, War Aces and War Birds, by some of our favorite authors—Arch Whitehouse, O.B. Myers, Frederick C. Painton, Frederick C. Davis, Donald E. Keyhoe, and George Bruce—as well as a couple new or seldom seen authors to our site—Elliot W. Chess, Edgar L. Cooper, and Robert Sidney Bowen.

Looking at that impressive list, you may be wondering where a few of our most often posted authors are. Authors like Ralph Oppenheim, Harold F. Cruickshank, Lester Dent and Joe Archibald. That’s a bit of good news/bad news. The good news, we’ve already posted the stories Ralph Oppenheim (“Lazy Wings”) and Lester Dent (“Bat Trap”) had in the December 1931 War Aces; the bad, I don’t have the December 1931 issues of Wings featuring George Bruce, F.E. Rechnitzer and Edwin C. Parsons or Flying Aces with Keyhoe, Archibald, George Fielding Eliot, Alexis Rossoff, and William E. Poindexter. And as for Cruickshank—he didn’t have a story in any of the air pulps that month.

With that in mind—and since it’s Monday, let’s get the ball rolling with the covers of Christmas 1931!


ACES by Redolph Belarski


BATTLE ACES by Frederick Blakeslee


FLYING ACES by Paul J. Bissell


SKY BIRDS by Colcord Heurlin


WAR ACES by Eugene Frandzen


WAR BIRDS by Redolph Belarski


WINGS by Redolph Belarski

Come back on Wednesdays and Fridays this month for some of the great fiction from these issues!

“Cat’s Spad-Jamas!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on November 27, 2020 @ 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!

All the Allied Brass Hats were frantic. For Hauptmann von Heinz—the “Owl of the Ozone”—was raising fifty-seven varieties of Cain along the Western Front, and something had to be done before he perpetrated the fifty-eighth. Yes, it was a job for the famed Pinkham. But when the Boonetown Bam tried to snare the Kraut killer into a dog fight, somebody let the cat out of the bag. And from then on it was cats-as-cats-can!

 

As a bonus, here’s a great article on author/artist Joe Archibald from April 24th 1927 edition of the The Brooklyn Citizen!

 

Joe Archibald Sees, Comes and Conquers,
Ascending Ladder of Fame as an Artist

by Murray Rosenberg • The Brooklyn Citizen, Brooklyn, NY • 24 April 1927


To show he’s a good sport and a cartoonist Joe Archibald drew this picture of himself—without the use of a mirror. He knows himself too well for that.

Red fire of determination in his eyes, grit in his heart and with very little money in his pockets, young Joe Archibald, cartooning pride of a rural, somewhat obscure town in the New Hampshire hills, fared the whole wide-cold-and seemingly unfeeling world, fully determined to set that chily sphere on fire.

His pen, grit and perseverance were his only weapons but artist Joe was young and he felt that they were match enough for any universe.

It took him four years to get a drawing in print.

Year after year of earnest endeavor in contributing to all types of publications failed utterly. Joe began to suspect that he was the only person who knew he was good.

The art editors, cold bloodily refused him interviews, the papers went to press just as well without his work, the magazines returned his efforts without comment, without the checks he so fondly hoped to find. But Joe gamely contained his persevering struggle for recognition, and then the events of a single day wiped out all the heartaches and bitterness of four long years. One of his cartoons was in print.

It was the “Judge” magazine that suffered. It might be reportod here that Joe, claims the distinction of having more rejection slips than any other cartoonist—sufficient to paper the entire ceiling of the museum of Natural History. But his motto is “keep feeding them pictures until they accept one in self-dense.”

The King of Sports

To-day Joe Archibald, who a decade and some odd years ago was a happy go-lucky country schoolboy, obscured from fame in a hinky-dinky rural village in New England, is recognized as a cartoonist de luxe and a national medium in the sports realm, for, as you probably know, Joe makes it his specialty to draw sport cartoons. Yes, he now sits up on the throne of success to look upon the public with a contented smile, for, like every scout, he does his daily good turn by brightening up sport pages with his peppy drawings and offering the fans intimate glimpses into the lives and records of their favorite athletes.

Following the first purchase of his sketch, the rocky road to success grew a bit smoother and life took on a brighter aspect. Other periodicals accepted his contributions and then he sent a cartoon of a prominent sport event of the day to a daily paper. To his surprise and joy the drawing was accepted and published, and thus Joe embarked on the trail that has finally led him to national fame as a sports cartoonist.

From the position of irregular sports department artist on a junk-town paper Joe emigrated to the big city and began again the routine of presenting his drawings to editors, “big-time” men this time. They were accepted from time to time and soon his work attracted the attention of William J. Granger, sports editor of “The Brooklyn Citizen.” He quickly came to the conclusion that young Joe would be a worthy addition to the cartooning staff of the “Citizen,” following which the machinery began functioning to secure his services. Joe finally consented to pen his “John Hancock” to a contract; and now cartoonist Joe, who through his own relentless efforts and unswerving and set ideals has surmounted the steps to success, provides the many thousands of “Citizen” readers each day with vivid picture descriptions of the latest doings in sports.

Backward, Time in Thy Flight!

Let us look back a bit upon some of the past history of Joe Archibald at the time he began his career—a career fraught with thrills and excitement. He first awakened to the content of his latent talent when be completed a picture with chalk on the blackboard of the little red schoolhouse in New Hampshire. It was a drawing of Lincoln and a startling likeness. It was exhibited in the town and made him famous in the “400.” That was the population of the hamlet.

Then came the ascension of the second rung of the ladder to fame when one of his drawings was selected as the best among many competitors by the famous Homer Davenport. This consequently brought him much fame as a cartoonist in the neighboring counties. When 17 years of age he left the Academy of Arts in Chicago to enlist in the navy. While at Newport, R.I., he joined the staff of the “Newport Recruit,” a famous war time publication and it was here that he labored until the kaiser cried “quits.” Then he landed in New York.

There are few sports cartoonists today better equipped to portray athletic events in cartoons than Joe Archibald, who far back as he can recall has been a keen observer and close follower of every phase of sports. His activities as a sports scribe and artist bring him into close touch with some of the brightest luminaries in athletic competition and it usually is Joe Archibald who much wanted interview. This together with the draftsmanship that seems to make his characters actually “live” on the sport pages, have all served to make his reputation an envied on envied among the brotherhood of cartoonists. joe’s cartoons and articles have been syndicated in close to 100 cities from coast to coast. He was at various times affiliated with the Portland, Me., Press Herald, Boston Advertiser and Telegram.

An Artist Athlete

To cap all that has been said, Joe is himself a finished athlete which accounts partly for his deep and sincere interest in each and every one of his cartoons, in an effort to bring it up to the acme of perfection both in the way of reality and mechanical exactness. And together with aforementioned sufficient humor is injected into his drawings to give the reader a reaL moment of enjoyment.

Cartoonist Joe made a serious study of every star whose name is a byword among sport fans and in the vernacular of the modern slangsters. “He knows his onions.” His lot was success for he saw—he came—he conquered.

“Famous Firsts” November 1933 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 25, 2020 @ 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 1933 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features President Taft, Parachute flares, the first fatal crash and Aileen Vollick—Canada’s first woman pilot!

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