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The Story Behind The Cover


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

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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. On the October 1936 cover, It’s the Morane-Saulnier 27C1 & Roland D2!

The Ships on the Cover

THE French developed th_SF_3610 the outstanding monoplanes of the Parasol type produced during the war. The early Morane-Saulnier Parasols were very successful and the later war models progressed with the quick advance of aviation but continued the main design features of the original Parasols. The Morane-Saulnier 27 C1 was a single-seater righting scout which carried substantial strut bracing to the wings instead of the large number of wire braces used on previous monoplane models. The rounded fuselage housed a 160 h.p. Gnome motor.

This understrut bracing of the high wing Parasol has not really been abandoned. Many of our high winged monoplanes, although not strictly Parasols, never-the-less are closely related to the old Moranes. Our Stinson, Bellanca and several others with the understrut bracing, merely have the fuselage and cabin fused in with the top wing. It was a good stunt in the old days. It’s a good stunt now. A forerunner of the Morane-Saulnier Parasol was called the Aerostable on account of its inherent stability. It had no ailerons, so it was up to the pilot to shift his weight in his seat to give lateral control.

The Roland Seemed Impractical

The German plane known as the L.F.G, Roland had an original design which was seemingly so impractical that the firm, Luft Fahrzeug Gesellschaft was safe from anyone stealing their idea. The Roland D2 was a single-seater fighter in which this design was incorporated. The fuselage under the top wing was carried up to the wing cutting off the pilot’s view in front, even though this superstructure did thin out considerably at the top and left room for two windshields, one on each side of the center ridge. Despite this drawback the D2 was a good ship and was still used in many German squadrons in 1918. The 160 h.p. Mercedes may have been partly responsible for the good qualities of the D2’s performance but even with a good power plant it was against all reason to park a solid mass in front of the pilot’s eyes. It would be just as practical to put a strip of tin six inches wide smack down the windshield of your car directly in front of the steering wheel. But just a few dozen cockeyed hunches like that thrown into the war crates gave the civil designers plenty of precedents of what not to do when the war was over.

Possibly if war comes in the future it will be a mass of planes against a like mass of enemy’s fighting planes. Aces will be a thing of the past. A few men will be outstanding in their flying but it will be hard to observe their deeds in the terrific rnixup that must occur far overhead, possibly out of sight. Publicized stunts will be few and far between, but to cut out entirely from the picture the personal element of friendship and cooperation between men of a squadron will be impossible!

Saving a Buddy

The Morane pilot on the cover knew exactly where a buddy, who had been taken prisoner from a cracked-up plane, was confined in a hospital in a small suburb. He communicated with his friend by those devious means that humans will always work out some way, despite the vigilance of the enemy’s espionage system. The man in the hospital feigned lameness longer than necessary and at a prearranged moment, while the Morane was landing at an adjacent field, he swung his crutches with vim and vigor. Down went the two unarmed attendants. In ten minutes he was securely tied to the top of the Morane’s wing and high in the air headed for home. Another Parasol joined the French plane and drove off two Roland D2s who had sighted the overburdened Morane and considered it easy pickings.

The personal touch was in that quickly executed rescue. War will always have those daring exploits. Friendships formed under fire are lasting and strong.

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

“When Bishop Fought Richthofen” by Paul J. Bissell

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CONTINUING with the Richthofen themed covers, this week we present “When Bishop Fought Richthofen”—The story behind the cover of Paul Bissell’s June 1932 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the June 1932 cover Bissell put us right in the action as the planes of Bishop and Richthofen square off!

When Bishop Fought Richthofen

th_FA_3206THE early spring of ‘17 saw Richthofen, the Red Knight of Germany, with almost two-score victories to his credit. For months now, hunter that he was, he had carefully searched the skies for his victims, and steadily built up a record that had already made him leading ace of the German Air Force and air idol of the German public. He had seen several months of duty as an observer at the Front, but it was under the guidance of the famous Boelcke that he started his career as a fighting pilot.

Now at last he was able to satisfy the impulse of the hunter which had always been a part of him. A deadly shot, and an expert flyer, he would climb into the clouds and there stalk his prey as carefully as he did the wild game on his own estate, waiting patiently his opportunity to dive headlong at some unsuspecting “bit of cold meat.”

This same spring there landed in a British airdrome on the Western Front a young pilot fresh from the training fields of England. He, too, had already done some four months of duty at the Front as an observer, but without getting the opportunity even to fire a shot. This lad of twenty-three was Lieutenant William Bishop, R.F.C., without a fight to his record, though he was destined in the next few months to pack in more air scraps than any other pilot in a similar length of time. He was, in these same few months, to became the dread of the Germans, the ranking ace of the R.F.C.—to barely escape death time after time, and rise to the rank of major.

He had been at the Front scarcely two weeks when he got his first German, while another two weeks saw him the proud possessor of a bright blue propeller hub-cap, presented to him by his mechanics upon his becoming an ace.

April the thirtieth was a red-letter day for both Bishop and Richthofen, though other days showed larger scores against the enemy for each of them. On this day, Bishop, in one hour and forty-five minutes, before lunch, had the distinction of engaging, single-handed, in nine separate aerial combats, bringing down a two-seater to add to his score, while Richthofen, before his noonday meal, by shooting down two of the enemy, had raised his score to fifty-two planes.

Seated as they were in their respective messes, it is questionable if either Bishop or Richthofen gave a thought one to the other, in fact, it is almost certain that Richthofen had never even heard the name of Bishop. However, fate that afternoon was to bring these two against each other.

It was about two in the afternoon, when Bishop, accompanied by his major, who was flying in another Nieuport, took off from his airport. For almost half an hour they flew steadily eastward without seeing any signs of the enemy; then, noticing some archie fire off to the left, they turned to investigate. Off some distance and below them they saw a German reconnaissance plane, and started the attack, when suddenly, darting in from their right, came four scarlet-nosed Albatross scouts.

SWINGING to avoid the first dive of the enemy, the two Britishers turned back into the battle. The major, with guns blazing, bore down upon the leader of the Germans, who, reversing quickly, avoided the direct fire of the major, and in turn attacked Bishop. It was then that Bishop realized that this plane was solid red, crimson from nose to tail save only for the black crosses standing out strongly in contrast on the wings. It was Richthofen, diving at him, trying to get him full in line with those deadly guns which had meant death to so many Englishmen. Well Bishop knew that only a split second now separated him from death.

Automatically he threw his stick over, and the plane banked up just in time, as Richthofen’s tracers went wild. Then began the tail-chasing. Around and around they swung, striving desperately to gain that deadly position behind the other’s flippers. Moments came when one or the other, by some quick maneuver, would, for the fraction of a second, find his target in line with his sights.

A burst of flames as the guns spat, but to no avail, and the chase began again.

The major had drifted off to the left, scrapping it out with one of the other Germans. This left two others, beside Richthofen, in this mad fight with Bishop. They, too, fought for a position from which they might fire upon the Britisher without endangering their own comrade and leader.

The circles were now getting tighter and tighter. The pace was terrific, and the other planes, unable to help their comrade, and fearing collision, had withdrawn to the side. Alone, the two masters of the air fought on. Each, finding himself unable to obtain the desired dead spot, was now firing with more abandon, hoping that one stray bullet might find its mark and bring this whirling dance of death to an end. For those two, time had ceased. The world was just themselves, rushing through endless space, madly circling, instinctively using every maneuver, every bit of skill at their command, to gain the desired opening.

They flew now as part of their own machines, and their guns, as part of themselves, spoke, when, for even the barest fraction of a second, their target flashed by.

Suddenly Bishop realized that he was near the end of his ammunition. He could not be sure that his opponent faced the same situation, and decided that he must conserve the few bullets that he had left. His feeling of desperation turned almost to despair, when, at this instant, he discovered three planes diving steeply at him.

Back he pulled on his stick, climbing sharply out of the mad circle, expecting every instant to feel the German bullets begin to spatter his plane, but knowing that he must take this hazard to get away from the new attack.

However, to his surprise, the planes dived past him, and down after the Red Knight, who had headed toward his two companions and Germany. Then Bishop discovered to his relief that the three planes were not Germans, as he had thought, but were three British naval planes which had come up opportunely at this moment.

The fight was over. One of the great air battles of the war was a thing of the past. The sportsman and the hunter had fought to a draw and retired with honor, each to fight many times again for his country, but never again against each other. For yet another year Richthofen continued his victories until he fell with an enemy bullet through his heart, to be buried with full military honors by his admiring foes.

Bishop fought steadily for six more months until, with forty-nine victories, he returned to his homeland, to receive every honor that a grateful king and country could bestow. He survived the war and is today the only living man with a V.C., D.S.O. twice awarded, and M.C.

The Ships on The Cover
“When Bishop Fought Richthofen”
Flying Aces, June 1932 by Paul Bissell

“Bombing Richthofen’s Drome” by Paul J. Bissell

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THIS week we present “Bombing Richthofen’s Drome”—The story behind the cover of Paul Bissell’s April 1932 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the April 1932 cover Bissell put us right in the action as the planes of Squadron 100 circle over Richthofen’s drome, bombs exploding down below!

Bombing Richthofen’s Drome

th_FA_3204IT IS April of ‘17. Above, a full moon shines from an almost cloudless sky. Below, the landscape spreads away to the east—dark, except where a faint glimmer traces the twisting course of a river. To the west, against the horizon, continuous flashes show the progress of the battle of Arras, raging in its full fury.

There men lie in trenches, waiting in mud and slime for the signal which, at dawn, will send them from their meagre protection into that hail of bullets sweeping across No-Man’s-Land. Here, high in the air, all seems peaceful. Only the droning of many motors tells that death is on the wing. Death in the form of a dozen or more planes, each bearing the blue, white and red circles of the British Air Service on its wings; each carrying its little bunch of “bouquets” slung carefully in their racks underneath—”bouquets” to be presented to Richthofen’s Jagdstaffel II at its home airdrome at Izel le Hameau.

Suddenly the squadron leader, sensing rather than actually seeing what he knows to be his objective, cuts his motor and, tipping up one wing, descends in a wide, easy spiral so that he may more carefully check against his map the few faintly visible landmarks below. The other pilots, too, have cut their motors, hoping that there is a chance of getting down a bit before their singing wires will give them away. They do not know that already word of their approach has been given, that the searchlights and defenses are already manned by tense and eager foes waiting for that signal which will turn the quiet night into an inferno.

ONE thousand—two thousand—three thousand feet the leader drops, spiraling slowly. His companions, maintaining a much flatter glide, circle about the airdrome, holding their elevation until the leader can find his objective and drop his phosphorus bombs to light up their target.

Now, when he is scarcely a thousand feet up, a siren screams from the ground; a brilliant beam of light stabs the night—another, then still others, all sweeping the sky searchingly until one, finding its prey, stops suddenly, and the others quickly focus with it on the old British F.E. 2B. Instantly the sharp bark of archies shatters the stillness. On the ground, men dash from barracks and hangars. Hoarse orders are sharply given, and though the range is still too great, machine guns are already rattling nervously.

On, with never a waver, comes the old British crate—slowly gliding in, as surely and quietly as if she were coming down to land in her own airdrome. Down, down—five hundred feet. Now she is directly over the airdrome. The observer can be seen clearly in the white, merciless gleam of the searchlights, peering over the side—awaiting his moment.

They level off, one hundred and fifty feet up, and from the under wing of the plane comes a dark rush earthward. Men dive for shelter, and an instant later all hell breaks loose. The whole field is lighted up with the flaming brilliance of the burning bomb. Two hangars are ablaze. Shrapnel and flaming onions scream through the night. Other bombs crash, and the machine-gun fire is incessant.

NOW the other planes can be seen, diving straight in, or swinging in a wide circle to take their places in the parade of terror and death. One after another they come through the terrific barrage, and with deadly aim drop their bombs into the German quarters. One terrific explosion follows another. Hoarse screams echo as some poor devil is blown to bits.

Above, the motors are roaring full on, as the planes circle again and again to drop the last of their deadly missiles.

After all, it is only a matter of minutes. Destruction has come and passed, leaving in its wake burning hangars, dead and maimed bodies, and huge gaping holes in the formerly smooth carpet of the airdrome.

Already the hum of the motors can scarce be heard, as the squadron wings its way back home. Back over the front line, through another baptism of shell-fire, and then to their own field. Dawn is just graying the east as the last plane glides in safely. Not a machine but is torn by shrapnel. Wings are riddled with bullet holes. But Squadron 100, of the R.F.C., has bombed Richthofen and come back without the loss of a ship or a man!

The Ships on The Cover
“Bombing Richthofen’s Drome”
Flying Aces, April 1932 by Paul Bissell

“Sky Birds, April 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

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THIS May we’re celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties for Sky Birds with the July 1934 and would paint all the remaining covers until it’s last issue in December 1935. At the start of his run, Sky Birds started featuring a different combat maneuver of the war-time pilots. The lower corner presenting a play-by-play of that month’s maneuver with the remainder of the cover illustrating it. For March 1935 issue Mayshark gives us “Superiority in Speed!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
Superiority in Speed

THE predominating factor in the th_SB_3504 development of aviation ever since the Wright Brothers took wing has always been speed. Speed has been the password of the manufacturers and the demand of the public, and this element has done more than anything else to foster the building of better ships.
The keenest competition that the aircraft industry probably will ever know took place between the years 1914 and 1918. If some German appeared with a new ship that was superior in speed to any of its predecessors, it was but a matter of time before the Allied forces came forth with a plane that had the German one stopped dead in its tracks. And vice versa.

One of the fastest planes produced in the war was a French ship called the De Marcay biplane. This plane was not constructed until late in the war, and therefore it did not see much active service. However, had the ship been produced in mass, and had numbers of them been thrown against the machines of the enemy, there is no doubt but what it would have come through with flying colors.
On our cover this month we have illustrated the method by which the speedy De Marcay was enabled to attack two or more enemy ships and get away with it.

Returning from an artillery spotting job far over the lines, the French pilot suddenly finds himself confronted by three German scouts who are determined to keep him from returning with his valuable information. The sector is in a rural district which has not been torn up by the racking fire of heavy artillery, and there is nothing below but smooth, level fields and a line of telephone wires. An ideal place to bring this devil down, thinks the leader of the Hun patrol. No trouble about getting a victory confirmation here.

But the German patrol leader is doomed to disappointment. Worse than that, he is doomed to death. Yet death comes so quickly that he scarcely knows what hit him.

Banking around in a tight turn so as to attack from an angle, the Frenchman opens his throttle wide and comes tearing down across the sky, head-on into the enemy formation. One burst of fire is enough to knock the leader out of position, and as he falls rapidly in a sickening spin, blue smoke begins curling up around his fuselage. Suddenly he is a mass of fire—a flamer!

Continuing on in a straight line at a terrific rate of speed, the De Marcay biplane darts between and below the two remaining German scouts before they know what it’s all about. As he gets clear and heads for the lines, the Hun ships reform and attack with a little altitude to their advantage. Their tracer hits, but the Frenchman is going too fast for accurate aiming. He loses an outer interplane strut, but that’s all.

So a victory is won, and speed is the one thing that gets the credit. The Frenchman continues home unmolested, lands, and makes his report. He is a good pilot, yes. But besides that, he has a ship that is faster than anything else on the Western Front.

The De Marcay biplane was powered with a 300-h.p. Hispano-Suiza motor. Its top speed was 162 miles per hour, and an overall safety factor of 14 was claimed for the machine.

The German ship pictured on the cover is one of the many types of single-seater biplane that the L.F.G. Boland concern put out. It was designated as type D XIV, and it was powered with a 160-h.p. Goebel engine.

The Story of The Cover
Sky Birds, April 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
(Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots: The Story Behind This Month’s Cover)

“Sky Birds, March 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 20, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we’re celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties for Sky Birds with the July 1934 and would paint all the remaining covers until it’s last issue in December 1935. At the start of his run, Sky Birds started featuring a different combat maneuver of the war-time pilots. The lower corner presenting a play-by-play of that month’s maneuver with the remainder of the cover illustrating it. For March 1935 issue Mayshark gives us “Top Gun Triumphs!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
Top Gun Triumphs

A BRITISH S.E.5 is on reconnaissance th_SB_3503 duty high above the shell-torn contours of the Rhine. As it skims along on the dead air, its pilot is suddenly struck with a feeling of loneliness. Even the sun, which is covered with a thick, murky haze, affords no companionship.

With his observations well in mind, the British pilot banks his ship around and heads for home, thinking that maybe this war flying is not such hot stuff, after all, especially when even the sun isn’t friendly. But suddenly the sun is a great deal less than friendly. A German Hannover drops from out of its glittering depths with a screech and a thunderous roar, and the S.E.5 finds its wings being splintered with Spandau tracer.

In panicky excitement, the British pilot sends his ship up into a steep climb and veers off in a mad effort to shake off the German. As he finds himself momentarily clear of the murderous machine-gun fire, the Britisher feels like a rat without a hole into which to crawl. With both ships out of firing range of each other, the S.E. pilot has time to think, and he grimly determines that he will not go down without firing a shot.

However, extreme difficulties must be overcome in order to down a German Hannover two-seater. This ship is noted for its practical immunity to single-ship attack, and its only blind spot is hard to get at. With a rear gunner who controls a wide arc of fire, it is almost impossible for one to dive upon the ship—that is, if life is to be considered. Attack from the rear is also hazardous because of the specially constructed tail assembly. With the lifting and elevator surfaces built in biplane form, the lateral dimensions are greatly reduced, thereby providing for a much greater arc of fire on either side of the fuselage than on ships of conventional style.

Also, the narrow fuselage enables the gunner to fire down at a very steep angle. Of course, the pilot’s guns firing through the propeller cover anything ahead which is in the ship’s line of flight. The Hannover is fast and maneuvers easily. All in all, it is a ship with a very high efficiency rating.

Knowing all these facts, the S.E. pilot plans his attack shrewdly. Waiting for a moment while the Hun plane comes upon him again, the Britisher continues flying in a straight line. The instant the German opens fire, our pilot fakes being hit and stalls, nose-up. As the S.E. falls away in a flutter to the rear of the Hannover, the Hun gunner, with a yell of triumph, smacks his pilot on the back. But his rejoicing is short-lived, for suddenly the S.E. comes to life. It gathers speed like a streak and is below the German in an instant. The Britisher handles the Lewis gun mounted on the top plane with cool precision, and as he pulls the handle down, he fires up almost vertically. A few short bursts are enough, and then the S.E. ducks out while the ducking is good. A moment later, the German two-seater careens crazily and then dives for earth in a mad spin. The British have won again!

The S.E.5 (S.E. meaning Scouting Experimental) was one of the best single-seaters in the Allied service during the war. It was designed by the engineers of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, and numbers of them were built by several different airplane manufacturers in England.

The Story of The Cover
Sky Birds, March 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
(Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots: The Story Behind This Month’s Cover)

“Sky Birds, February 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 13, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we’re celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties for Sky Birds with the July 1934 and would paint all the remaining covers until it’s last issue in December 1935. At the start of his run, Sky Birds started featuring a different combat maneuver of the war-time pilots. The lower corner presenting a play-by-play of that month’s maneuver with the remainder of the cover illustrating it. For February 1935 issue Mayshark gives us “Safety In Numbers!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
Safety In Numbers

UNDER ordinary circumstances, th_SB_3502 when you get one ship in combat with many, you have a very one-sided battle. Of course, there were instances during the war when a single combatant came out the victor over overwhelming odds, but these cases were few and far between.

Usually, when one lone ship came upon a flight of enemy planes, the solitary plane made a decided effort to duck out. A pilot who was seen streaking for home with a flock of Germans on his tail was never considered a coward. On the contrary, he was thought to be displaying a lot of good common sense. Foolhardy exposure never drew praise.

On this month’s cover, we have illustrated an air battle which, at first glance, looks like a victory for the enemy. A Britisher who was trapped between two Huns got nothing but sympathy and prayers from nonparticipating onlookers, if the combat happened to be taking place over Allied soil. If the Germans were viewing the fight, the Britisher didn’t get even that much of a break. But in our cover, the British pilot is fooling them all, whether they be enemy or Allied bystanders.

Diving full upon a German scout, the British pilot is just ready to line up his target when he suddenly becomes aware of the fact that another German is bearing down upon him from behind. His first impulse is to abandon the prey before him and attempt to get away. He almost carries out his impulse, but in a second he foresees the possible outcome of the battle if he sticks where he is. He is taking a long chance, and he knows it. The only alternative is almost certain defeat.

Having decided that he has a fifty-fifty chance of disposing of these Huns one by one, the British pilot pulls up closer onto the tail of his adversary. The German ship which is bringing up the rear also pulls up closer, but the Hun finds himself in a fit of indecision. There is a chance that he can fire upon the Allied ship before him and register a hit with the first burst. But if he misses, the chances are ten to one that his comrade ahead will get it in the neck. What to do?

Then, suddenly, he sees it is too late to do anything. The British pilot has opened fire, and one short burst proves adequate to knock the German out of the sky.

As his ship falls away in a spin, the remaining German is blinded with rage. Why hadn’t he drilled this British pilot when he had a chance? He has been duped, and, as a result, his comrade has fallen to his death. Now the only thing left is revenge.

But the Britisher is as wary as he is smart. As soon as he sees that his bullets have found their mark, he spins away from the remaining Hun with the speed of lightning. And now he finds himself free to engage the enemy on even terms.

But what is this dropping out of the clouds on his left? A whole flight of enemy scouts! The Britisher knows when he has had enough. Losing altitude quickly, he gains speed and streaks for home.

Thus a victory is won. An Allied pilot has fought bravely and smartly, and when the odds mount too heavily against him, he quits. A courageous but cautious airmanl

The planes on the cover this month are high-performance single-seater fighters, one of which is comparatively unknown.

The Bristol monoplane was built late in the war by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Co., Ltd. Incorporated in its design are found what was then the latest ideas in airplane construction. As can be seen, it is a high-wing, wire-braced monoplane. The fuselage is circular in construction, the shape of the cowling being preserved down to the tail by fairing. The ship is powered with a 110-horsepower Le Rhone engine, and a large spinner is fixed to the propeller boss. The ship has a top speed of 130 m.p.h.

The German planes pictured on the cover are the well-known Albatross D-3’s.

The Story of The Cover
Sky Birds, February 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
(Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots: The Story Behind This Month’s Cover)

“Sky Birds, January 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

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

THIS May we’re celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties for Sky Birds with the July 1934 and would paint all the remaining covers until it’s last issue in December 1935. At the start of his run, Sky Birds started featuring a different combat maneuver of the war-time pilots. The lower corner presenting a play-by-play of that month’s maneuver with the remainder of the cover illustrating it. For January 1935 issue Mayshark gives us “The Maneuver Master’s Massacre!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
The Maneuver Master’s Massacre

IT IS the concensus of th_SB_3501 opinion that the Handley-Page bombing plane was the most efficient machine of its type ever to lift its wings above the shell-torn vistas of France for the Allied cause. There is no doubt that this opinion is correct in every respect. However, Boulton and Paul of Norwich, England, constructors of fighting aircraft, built late in the World War a bomber which might even have surpassed the famous Handley-Page if it had had time to prove its merit.
The Boulton and Paul “Bourges” bomber, pictured on this month’s cover, is one of the most remarkable wartime aeronautical engineering feats ever accomplished. The most amazing feature of the ship is the small overall dimensions. Bombers have always been thought of as huge, clumsy-looking craft, with none of the sweet lines of grace usually associated with the Sopwith Camel or the Bristol Fighter. Not so with the “Bourges.”

This machine combines the speed, climb, and maneuvering abilities usually connected with a small single-seater, with the range and fuel carrying capacity expected of a large bomber. The essential measurements of the “Bourges” are as follows: Span, 54 feet; overall length, 87 feet; gap (uniform), 6 feet, 6 inches; and chord, top plane, 8 feet, bottom plane 6 feet, 6 inches.

The ship is powered with two 300-horsepower A.B.C. “Dragonfly” stationary radial engines. These motors attain for the ship a speed at ten thousand feet of 124 miles per hour and a landing speed of 50 miles per hour. The fuel tank capacity in hours is 9.25. Besides the pilot, the ship carries gunner-observers in the forward and aft cockpits.

The maneuver on the cover depicts the method by which the bomber might be expected to get itself out of a tight spot. Bombers returning from night raids must be constantly on the lookout for surprise attacks.

As the German Roland dives on the bomber, it falls away, slowly waiting until that time when all airmen, by means of a sort of sixth sense, know that they can expect to feel tracer splashing through their fabric.

Suddenly the “Bourges” jerks up, taking the chance that the Hun will pull up, too, rather than crash. Of course, the German does pull up frantically, thinking only of getting his wheels away from the tail assembly of the Britisher. As his ship gains a little altitude, the German pilot is thinking that he has never seen a big ship move so fast. He has been tricked completely, and as he looks down over the side into the glare of his own searchlight beams to get his bearings, he realizes that he is whipped. British bullets are already smashing his plane to pieces. With controls shot away the Roland sinks over into a flat spin. A few minutes later, it crashes in German territory, and a very lucky Hun pilot hurries back to his airdrome to tell in wide-eyed amazement of how a certain British bomber, the equal of which he had never seen, was as maneuverable as his own single-seater.

The ship in which the German had such a narrow escape was a Roland parasol monoplane which was built by the L.F.G. firm. It was a high-performance single-seater scout, built primarily for patrol and escort duty, and designated as type D XVI. This ship was very smoothly streamlined, and the absence of wires facilitated in cutting down resistance. The power plant consisted of one 200-horsepower, eleven-cylinder Siemens engine.

The Story of The Cover
Sky Birds, January 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
(Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots: The Story Behind This Month’s Cover)

“Sky Birds, December 1934″ by C.B. Mayshark

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THIS May we’re once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Every Monday in May we’ll be featuring one of his great covers—in order to get an extra cover in, we’re starting a few days early! Mayshark took over the covers duties for Sky Birds with the July 1934 and would paint all the remaining covers until it’s last issue in December 1935. At the start of his run, Sky Birds started featuring a different combat maneuver of the war-time pilots. The lower corner presenting a play-by-play of that month’s maneuver with the remainder of the cover illustrating it. For December 1934 issue Mayshark gives us “The Kite Killer Escapes!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
The Kite Killer Escapes

DURNG the war, balloon th_SB_3412 strafing was one of the most hazardous and thrilling aerial sports in which a pilot could take part. And before the shells stopped bursting over the ruins of France, most of the Allied pilots had been initiated into the gameful art of balloon firing.

Of the few who attained fame in this branch of the air offensive, perhaps the most renowned is Willy Coppens. Balloons were his meat, and he attacked always with such fury and determination that the enemy defense ships usually went scuttling home, their pilots satisfied with the conclusion that here was a devil not to be denied by the German Imperial Air Corps.

At the time of his activity on the Western Front, Coppens was a very exacting and painstaking individual. He planned every engagement from the moment he first sighted his enemy, and he never deviated from his own original systemaof precautionary safety measures, which on more than one occasion tricked his enemy into foolhardy exposure and certain death. But Coppens did more than plan his fights. He planned his escapes, when a quick getaway was necessary, and quick getaways were necessary when balloon strafing was the business at hand.

On this month’s cover, we have shown you how the Belgian ace employed skill and cunning to effect his escape from the bullet-riddled air around the German kite balloon which he has just fired. As the Belgian makes a bee-line for home after the balloon has begun to burn, two Fokker D-7′a swoop down on him, determined to cut off his escape and avenge the defeat of their two fallen comrades.

The Belgian finds himself in a tight spot, but instead of losing his head and fighting blindly, he makes a wide turn and heads back towards the burning balloon. The two Germans stick with him.
As the trio nears the mass of flame and smoke, the Germans become puzzled and a little leery of their reckless enemy. Can it be that this fool is going to lead them to destruction? But the Belgian has his eyes open, and he is laughing up his sleeve. Suddenly the cable which anchors the balloon to the ground looms up. The Belgian succeeds in dodging it, but one of the Fokkers is not so lucky. The German plows headlong into the atrands of steel, the propeller splintering into a thousand fragments. The impact is so terrific that the burning balloon lurches downward as the Fokker sticks fast to the cable.

As the Belgian ducks around the front end of the balloon, the remaining German skids off to the right, expecting to pick up his enemy at the tail end of the burning craft. But the Belgian, piloting his ship almost mochanically, goes up in a steep climb. Gaining altitude, he slides over into the loose smoke some five hundred feet above the doomed balloon, settling there momentarily while his wide-eyed adversary frantically combs the hot air around the falling balloon. Suddenly the Belgian darts out into the open, and with his advantage of altitude, it is impossible for the Hun to reach him. Thus the Kite-Killer escapes.

The ship carrying the Belgian cocardes is a French-built Hanriot single-seater scout. Very few of these ships were built, although their performance was good and their response to the controls was as active as that of the Camel. It was powered with a 130-h.p. Clerget rotary motor. The curious arrangement of the center-section struts is the most distinctive feature of the plane.
The two German ships, as has been said, are the well-known Fokker D-7’s, and the balloon is a Perseval type observation bag with stabilizing flaps on either side.

The Story of The Cover
Sky Birds, December 1934 by C.B. Mayshark
(Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots: The Story Behind This Month’s Cover)

“The Night Bomber” by C. Heurlin

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THIS week we present a cover by Colcord Heurlin! From 1923 to 1933 Colcord Heurlin painted covers for a wide range of pulp magazines. His work appeared on the covers of Adventure, Aces, Complete Stories, Everybody’s Combined with Romance, North-West Stories, The Popular, Short Stories, Sky Birds, Sea Stories, Top-Notch, War Stories, Western Story, and Flying Aces!

The Night Bomber

th_FA_3102THE tense drama of night bombing is clearly shown in the cover of this month’s issue. Many stories of these Boche bombing raids have been told. First the ominous whir of enemy wings sounded through the night. In the drome below, lights were hastily put out, and helmeted figures scurried to their ships to take to the air and ward off the dreaded danger. Streaks of Archie fire felt futilely through the black night sky for the range—and then the bombs fell, hurtling downward through the darkness on the tarmac beneath.

Sometimes, as in our cover, an Allied ship took off in time to get above the bomber, and a powerful searchlight caught the German ship in its merciless glare. Then, though the Archie shells burst harmlessly about, death tracers from the sputtering Vickers above caught the German gunner. That was one ship that did not flee to Germany unscathed, leaving death and destruction behind.

The Ships on The Cover
“The Night Bomber”
Flying Aces, February 1931 by C. Heurlin

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

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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 Fairey F127 Seaplane making an escape after an attack on a giant Zeppelin on the April 1936 cover!

The Ships on the Cover

GOTHA and Friedrichshafen th_SF_3604 bombers of World War time ventured forth on daylight raids over England. They swooped down on the great cities dropping every conceivable type of bomb. But the slow-moving Zeppelins chose night as their time for harassing the enemy. Flying at tremendous heights with muffled engines they were often directly over their predetermined target before the defenders were aware of their presence.

Count von Zeppelin didn’t let size or weight bother him. There was fifty tons to be lifted into the air when the ship was fully loaded. The crew of twenty-two men could scramble through the big bag on a narrow catwalk running along the keel from one gondola to the others.

Aside from the navigation of the Zep they had to man nine machine-guns and release their cargo of about sixty bombs. Two of the machine-guns were mounted on top of the Zep in a small fenced platform. Her metal lattice work girder formation held twenty-four ballonets filled with inflammable hydrogen gas, within the framework. The big bag was around 650 feet long and 72 feet in diameter at its widest point.

Above London

The Zeppelin pictured on the cover nosed its way through the clouds of night towards the English Channel. Below faint splotches of flame marked the muzzles of roaring Allied cannon. Higher and higher climbed the air monster; Maybach engines pushed her toward her goal at around 50 m.p.h. Altitude was about 15,000 feet as she neared the Channel.

“Higher” ordered her commanding officer as the clouds disappeared and clear starlit skies opened ahead. The three men directly behind him glanced at each other with apprehension. Already the thermometer had dropped below freezing. It was going down fast. The great bag’s nose continued to point upward. The thermometer slid lower. Below zero. Hands froze at the control wheels. They were above London.

Bomb after bomb screamed down on the sleeping city, flames broke out, airplane motors roared as they lifted defense planes into the sky. Not a sign of the Zeppelin could they find. Altitude had again done the trick, and with dawn breaking in the east they pictured the high flying raider far back toward its home base.

The siren’s “All’s well” signal echoed through the darkened streets of London. The air raid was over. Householders could once more return to their broken slumbers. Those who had not perished.

But the Zeppelin was wallowing uncontrollable over the North Sea with a crew of men and officers nearly frozen to death. Control wires coated with ice from the morning mists, water ballast frozen in tanks. Even the engine radiators, although raised into cars, were frozen, and the motors were very nearly useless. Gradually the giant bag was settling.

The North Sea Patrol

Patroling the North Sea were the R.N.A.S. seaplanes. One of these, a Fairey F127 N9 was the first seaplane to begin flight by being catapulted from a warship. It was a big plane with a 50 foot span. The top plane had a large overhang. The machine had a 190 h.p. Rolls-Royce engine but these power plants were in such great demand for other planes that the N9 could not be put into quantity production. The original N9 was in service until a few months before the Armistice.

A surprised observer in the British Fairey seaplane rubbed his eyes and pounded his pilot on the back. Up shot the pontooned patrol boat. A nearly stationary Zeppelin hovering directly over the Channel in broad daylight was unbelievable. They soon realized it was the real thing as a barrage of machine-gun fire greeted their approach. A sharp bank brought the seaplane’s tail around. Lewis slugs streamed into the gut-covered ballonets. The great bulk of the raider shuddered as the first explosion racked her ribs.

Fire wrapped the envelope in clutching tentacles, ate into the canvas-covered sides of the control car and slashed at the three men and their commanding officer still fighting their controls. The fire engulfed the Zeppelin crew, just as flames had engulfed scores of non-combatants in London homes a few hours before.

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

“The Hawker Fury” by Frederick Blakeslee

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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 Heyford” by Frederick Blakeslee

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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 Lone Eagle, August 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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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 August 1934 cover, Frandzen has a couple of S.V.A. biplanes and an Austrian Lohner flying boat!

The Story of the Cover

ITALY, a country producing no th_LE_3408 steel or coal and an insufficient amount of foodstuffs, took a mighty walloping from Austria for over two of her three years in the Great War. But during that time, in the face of defeat after defeat, they put up a mighty sweet scrap against the Austrians.

Caught without sufficient airplanes, they tore into the job and produced some of the finest made by any country. During the war they were even supplying their allies with engines and planes.

The Adriatic does not appear to be much of a puddle when compared to other seas and oceans but it took all the ingenuity and vigilance of every available Italian flyer to patrol it.

Lurking Perils

German and Austrian submarines were lurking beneath its surface, laying in wait for cargo ships laden with iron ore and coal enroute to Italy’s foundries. Austrian airplanes roared down on seacoast cities; left a trail of ruins in their wake. Brandenburg and Lohner flying boats were continually a menace.

Gradually the speed and reliability of the Italian airplanes, seaplanes and flying boats increased. Outstanding among these were the S.V.A. types of planes. One of these, the S.V.A. biplane fitted either with pontoons or wheels, was a flying killer which the Austrians dreaded to meet.

On the cover two S.V.A. biplanes have caught an Austrian Lohner flying boat as it has finished dumping its load of bombs into a cargo ship laden with coal bound for the Italian coast.

A Devastating Bomb

One after another the bombs slipped from their racks and smashed through the steamer’s deck, down into the hold. The crew were mowed down with machine-gun fire from the Lohner’s front cockpit. Fire, the dreaded foe of all at sea, burst through the shattered deck. Dense masses of greasy opaque smoke billowed upwards. A bomb had ripped plates from the side of the ship below the water-line.

The gunner in the Lohner grins, points to the listing, stricken ship. His pilot laughs, shrugs his shoulders and looks at his gas indicator. It is low, just enough to reach home. Still smiling, he kicks his ship around to scram.

No Smile Now

The smile of victory is wiped from his lips. He yanks at his controls like a novice, nearly pitching his gunner into the briny. Bearing down on the Lohner are two S.V.A.’s tearing across the skies at a hundred and thirty-five mile clip, their 220 h.p. motors roaring. With hardly enough gas to see him home the Austrian pilot is forced to fight. To try to escape with his slower ship would be suicide.

A hail of bullets blast at the Austrian plane. Up flips the flying boat’s nose. The gunner in the bow, crouching over his gun, sends a stream of lead back at the S.V.A. The range is great but a lucky shot damages an aileron control.

The other S.V.A. coming up from below rakes the gunner and pilot of the Lohner with deadly effect. The bulky flying boat flutters, noses over and dives straight into the Adriatic, carrying a dead crew and a heavy 300 h.p. Austro-Daimler engine to use as a sinker.

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

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

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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.E.G. on the May 1936 cover!

The Ships on the Cover

BEFORE the World War airplanes th_SF_3605were more scoffed at than praised as a possible military weapon. Capitalists invariably put an extra knot in their purse strings when approached by optimistic promoters or inventors.

Firms that did any manufacturing to speak of were those who built airplanes as a side line, having large established plants already at their disposal. Such was the Allgemeine Elektricitats Gesellschaft, A.E.G. for short. This firm was one of Germany’s big electrical manufacturers. Their first entry into aircraft was naturally engines. They secured the option for building Wright motors and made some of their own design. Later when they branched into airplane design and manufacture they stuck rigidly to military planes principally of metal construction and some armour plating.

The ship on the cover smacking the water, is an A.E.G. of 1917 and ‘18 vintage. It has armour plating protecting the under-part of the fuselage and sides of the cockpits. But the A.E.G. firm was up against a tough proposition. Heavy armour plate protected the pilots perfectly but the engines were not fine enough to carry this added weight satisfactorily. Light armour had very little satisfactory results, but could be lifted okay. Therefore the pilots kidded themselves that they were pretty safe from enemy bullets with the light armour till a few rounds of Allied ammunition tore through and made more jagged wounds than a clean sharp bullet.

Used for Trench Strafing

A Benz 200 h.p. motor was up front and managed to yank the ship along at around 100 m.p.h. with favorable wind conditions. Primarily used for trench strafing it was fairly successful if protected by fast scouts, but for any other type of work it couldn’t take any first prizes.

The German lines ran from a chicken wire fence backed up against Switzerland all the way to the North Sea. Now any place along that line the A.E.G. could have got in some good licks. But when it stuck its nose straight out over the water and ambitiously went about a little job of work in conjunction with a German submarine it just didn’t make the grade.

An Allied Freighter in Sight

Through a series of prisms a clear image of an Allied freighter loomed before the periscope observer in the submerged submarine. He ran his periscope up another foot, got a better view and barked the information into the stifling air. The commanding officer leaped to the instrument. He grinned in anticipation, as he saw thr flag of the merchantman. “Verdammter Amerikaner.”

Terse orders snapped to the crew. Engines whirred into added power, down to within a foot of the water came the protruding periscope. The sleek underwater raider slipped through the water toward its victim. Ten torpedo tubes were available to sink the plodding ship carrying supplies to the American forces. Grins wreathed the faces of the crew as they learned the freighter’s nationality. The U-Boat steadied, slowed up, pointed its nose then it flattened out. A shudder raced through the ship as a torpedo was shot by compressed air out through its tube. Another shudder of greater volume caught the undersea craft. A detonation shook the boat. A wreath of smoke hovered over the freighter’s 3-inch gun. It had made a direct hit.

hen the torpedo smashed into the Yank vessel. It listed and began to sink. Up came the sub, its wireless calling for help. The message picked up on the German shore was given to the A.E.G. crew. Up soared the plane, the only one available. “Kill all survivors of the freighter,” were their orders.

Wildcat, Do Your Stuff!

One Yank in the bow of the freighter’s lifeboat was a crack shot with anything from a bean shooter to a siege gun. He unhurriedly unlimbered a machine-gun. “Wildcat,” he crooned to his pet gun of guns, “do your stuff.”

He waited till the German plane had hailed them with bullets. And then at just the right moment “Wildcat” started spitting.

One burst was enough. It tore jagged holes through the thin protecting armour. The German pilot sagged, the plane nosed down and smacked the water. Armour plate in addition to the heavy Benz pulled the crate down into Davy Jones’ checkroom in fifteen seconds.

The Yank patted “Wildcat” affectionately. He looked longingly back at the spot where his 3-inch gun had sunk with the freighter.

“Cheer up,” chided one of his companions, “we’ll take up a purse and buy you a Skoda howitzer for your next birthday.”

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

“Lufbery Becomes an Ace” by Paul Bissell

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THIS week we present “Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”—The story behind Paul Bissell’s April 1933 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the May 1932 cover Bissell presents the moment in the battle of Mauser raid where Raoul Lufbery became an ace!

Lufbery Becomes an Ace

th_FA_3205“PROCEED to their objective, the Mauser Munition Works at Oberndorf; there drop their bombs at points most destructive to the enemy positions; and then return to their home airdromes.”

So read the orders for October 12, 1916, at all Allied airdromes located back of the front line and south of Verdun. Orders of Brass Hats, “—and then return”! What a chance! With the objective one hundred and fifty kilometers inside the enemy lines and the sky filled with Boche. Well, anyway, it would be a great show, and at least one pilot smiled, thinking that tomorrow might bring death, but most surely would bring the opportunity of becoming an Ace.

This was Sous-Lieutenant Raoul Lufbery, of the Lafayette Escadrille, with four official victories to his credit, who, with three companions, Lieutenants Masson, de Laage and Prince, had been ordered to fly guard patrol for the bombing planes and protect them from attack.

Arriving at the appointed rendezvous, they saw a sight then strange to any eye. Perhaps the largest concentration of air forces the world had yet seen was spread below them. Farnums, Breguets, Caudrons, Sopwiths and Nieuports, almost every type of plane yet developed by the Allies for work at the Front, was in this huge flying armada, which would strike desperately at one of the main centers of German munition supplies.

Turning east, the whole group passed through a terrific archie bombardment, but it was not until they neared Oberndorf that the real show began. Here the Germans seemed to come from all directions. A general alarm had been spread, and every available German ship had been pressed into service.” Single-seated scouts, double-seaters, and even big three-placers, planes seldom seen on the Front at that time, were massed ahead of the advancing bombers.

The larger enemy ships would charge in, boldly maneuvering to bring their swivel guns into play, only to find the sky suddenly raining lead as Nieuports and Sopwiths dived headlong from the blue, their guns blazing in defense of their bombers. Then flashes of crimson and black, as Albatrosses and Fokkers and Pfalzes attacked fiercely, striving to gain that deadly blind spot underneath the tail of the slow-moving bomber, or twisting and squirming to evade the fire of some Nieuport, and, by some quick renversement, bring the tri-colored cocarde full in their sights.

IT WAS from such a mêlée that Lufbery, pulling out for an instant to clear a jam of his gun, saw a German go down in flames before the withering fire of Norman Prince.

“Yeow! Number one for the Lafayettes! Good old Nimmie! Now for number two!” And he pushed his stick over. But that dive was never to be finished. At that instant a sudden impact in his cockpit told him that a German was on his tail. Instinctively he yanked his stick back hard against his chest. Up he zoomed, his head twisted around to find his enemy.

There it was, a huge three-place Aviatik, with three guns, and all of them’ blazing at him. A flip of his ailerons—a kick of his rudder—then down hard on his stick, and in an instant he was away from the fire of the Boche. A sharp climbing bank would, he thought, bring him back under the tail of the larger ship, but here the German pilot, an old hand at the game, was too crafty to be caught. Banking up sharply on his right wing he exposed Lufbery again to the open fire of his three gunners.

This was entirely too hot a spot to stay in, and Lufbery turned the nose of his little Nieuport sharply away, out of the line of fire, climbing rapidly to gain altitude, from which he might dive down on the larger machine. As he turned, a flash of red went by, followed by a streak of silver—de Laage on the tail of a Boche!

Now, below him, Lufbery could see the three-seated Aviatik, the gunners all set for his attack. Over he nosed his ship and hurled down at the enemy, but at the same instant the big plane banked around and he overshot his mark. In a fury he twisted back in a sharp renversement, this time approaching the plane from the most dangerous position, open to the fire of the gunners.

But the Germans were square in his sights, and straight on he flew, feeling a thrill as the pulsing guns answered to the squeeze of his hand on the stick. He could feel the German bullets spattering his plane. Another instant, and he turned to avoid a crash, just as the huge Aviatik, the pilot dead, slipped crazily off on one wing. A telltale whisper of smoke, and then a burst of flame as it headed down to where falling chimneys and bursting roofs showed that the Allied bombers had
found their objective with fearful accuracy.

THAT was one hundred and fifty kilometers inside the German lines, and it meant one hundred and fifty kilometers of scrapping to win their way back through. The Germans took their toll. However, it had been a great show, and very successful from the Allied viewpoint. Much havoc had been wrought to the munitions center, and the Allies, too, had taken their toll in German ships. Three more victories were to the credit of the Lafayette Escadrille, for de Laage had brought down his German also.

A happy reunion awaited them, had not Fate here taken a hand. The four pilots, blown slightly off their course, and running short of gasoline, were forced to land at the French field of Corcieux, a field strange to all of them. It was almost dark as they eased their ships down, and Prince, unaware of some high tension wires strung across one end of the field, crashed into them as he glided in. With characteristic courage he refused to have his comrades move him until flares had been lighted to prevent some other pilot crashing as he had done.

Two days later he died in the hospital. The famous Mauser raid was history. Lufbery was an Ace, and Norman Prince an international hero.

The Ships on The Cover
“Lufbery Becomes an Ace”
Flying Aces, May 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

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