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The Story Behind The Cover


“Sky Fighters, November 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 November 1936 cover, It’s a S.V.A. coming to chase of a Fokker D6 trying to thwart the Italians from moving a canon between mountains platforms!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3611ITALY, before the beginning of the World War, was a potential enemy of the Allies because of her Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria made prior to 1914. On August 1, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. On that same day Italy renounced her tie to Germany and declared she would stay neutral. But to declare and to actually keep her skirts out of the war muck of blazing Europe were quite different things. On May 24, 1915, Italy declared war on her former ally, Austria. From that day until Austria signed truce terms with Italy on Nov. 3, 1913, the Italian front was the scene of the most dramatic and nerve fraying encounters of the war. Men fought on snowcapped peaks, on slippery sides of glacial formations, on ledges where mountain goats would become jittery. It was slow tortuous labor, this perpendicular scrapping but one in which both sides were familiar.

The Austrians took an awful beating at the hands of the Italians until October, 1917, when the Austrians launched ferocious counter attacks, driving the Italians back and back. It was not until June, 1918, that the Italians again took the offensive. From then on it was the beginning of the end for Austria.

An Almost Unknown Ship

The Fokker D6 was not given the publicity it deserved and all the glory falling upon the D7 overshadowed it so that it was almost an unknown ship. It did plenty of service on the Western front and was so good that the Allied squadrons who banged into its speedy way were writing it up in their flight reports around the end of 1917. It did most of its damage on the Italian front and the Italians who fought it in their S.V.A. fighting scouts were a couple of minutes behind in climbing to give it battle. A few minutes difference in a plane can mean a lot in the air. The Fokker D6 had an Oberursel engine of 110 h.p. against the S.V.A.’s 210 h.p. Spa motor. It was suicide for the Italians to stage single man duels with that fast moving, supermaneuverable Fokker. So they flew in droves and kept the superior ships from absolutely ruling the skies.

The Austrians knew that supplies which were stored high on the mountain tops were being safely transported by the retreating Italians. The ground forces of Austria had hoped to capture those stores. But mountain fronts are taken by inches and feet, not yards and miles.

Enemy Planes Come Closer

Men who had worked days rigging up a cable across a valley groaned as they watched the enemy planes getting closer and closer to their hidden means of transportating their huge heavy artillery to the rear. One morning at daybreak a giant gun was eased out onto the cable. A gunner rode a swaying platform, a rope tied to each end of the gun ran to mountain peaks between which the gun was to be ferried. Those ropes acted as brakes and motive power for the gun’s movements. The man on the platform signaled constantly to both sides to control the speed and angle of his passage.

As the gun neared the halfway mark in its dizzy trek, the Italian suddenly signaled frantically for full speed ahead. A roaring Fokker D6 was racing up from the valley futilely pursued by an S.V.A. The Austrian pilot’s guns began hammering out lead. The Italian on his swaying perch crouched low. Bullets raked the sides of the cannon, whined off into space. Nearer and nearer raced the enemy plane. The Italian without even a pistol seemed calm in the face of such overpowering odds. His waving hands continued to signal his comrades at the two ends of the cable. For a moment he held one hand extended like an orchestra conductor holding a long note. Then abruptly he dropped it to his side and grabbed the ropes. The men at the drum controlling the cable’s tension understood the signal. They kicked out the rachet guide and the drum raced in reverse, giving out slack.

The Austrian pilot coming up from below sure of a kill and a report to headquarters which would send bombers to wreck the gun transporting equipment, suddenly yanked at his controls as a look of horror flashed in his eyes. Too late! The sagging cable smashed down into the leading edge of his top wing. The cannon and its human cargo lurched and swayed with the impact. The Austrian plane stopped. A twisted mass, it hung for a moment then plunged straight down.

The Italian wiped sweat from his dusky brow, looked over his equipment, nodded approval and gave the signal that would take him and his charge to their destination.

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

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

Link - Posted by David on March 16, 2020 @ 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. On the June 1936 cover, It’s the L.V.G. C6 being pursued through the Italian mountains by a Macchi M14!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3606ITALY’S air force was a meager thing in 1914; but as soon as the greater powers started tearing each other apart Italy concentrated on engines and planes and by the time she entered the war she was so well winged with fighting planes that she was selling her surplus to the Allies. ”

After men have struggled up thousands of feet of treacherous slippery mountains in continuous danger from snow slides as well as from the Austrian enemy, they do not give up their hard-gained toehold until the last man is out. Not only have the defending Italians in the cover picture dragged themselves to a dizzy height, but on their aching backs have borne parts of their mountain artillery piece. Others carried wicker cartons containing shells and food. That one small mountain gun was now holding up an entire Austrian regiment which was trying to penetrate a snow-choked pass in the narrow gorge below.

Frantic Demands for Help

Feverishly the Austrians dug the pass out, hoping to get through in single file. Then the Italian sharpshooting artillerymen smacked a few of their precious shells into the precipitous cliffs above. As though a hydrant had been opened forty or fifty tons of tightly banked snow toppled down into the gorge burying dozens of men under a cold suffocating blanket. The moment this was accomplished the cannon was swabbed out and the Italians awaited the time for another salvo. The terrain made it impossible for the Austrians to get the range of their enemies above, so as usual when the foot sloggers are brought to a halt frantic demands for help went back to the rear, to the aviation unit.

Only one plane was available, but it would be enough, the airmen said. What was one small cannon to a snorting L.V.G. (Luft Verkehrs Gesellschaft) C6, a mighty two-seater yanked into dizzy heights by its churning 230 h.p. Benz. With two machine-guns turned on the brazen Italians the cannon would soon be silenced.

Up into the cold air raced the ton and a half plane. Its observer and pilot ground their teeth as they thought of the carnage caused by the single piece of artillery. So intent were they on revenge that they did not spot a tiny single-seater Macchi M14 which was quickly closing in from below. In front and on the same level appeared the Italians and their magic cannon. “I’ll give them the Spandau first,” yelled the pilot to his observer, “then I’ll bank in close and you finish them with your Parabellum.”

Blazing Cannon

The front gun blazed at the cannoneers crouched on their platform behind their gun. They waited until the ship was about to swerve. Suddenly the gun crew came to life. As the plane banked and the observer sounded off, the cannon blazed. A direct hit through the right wings. An aileron was out of commission. The Austrian plane lurched crazily past the pursuing Macchi, lost altitude in an uncontrollable spiral. The horrified Austrians in the pass saw it loom above them, then fall out of control in a screaming dive into the tons of snow directly above.

A faint crackling which grew into a thunderous mounting crescendo reverberated through the valley. The ground shook and groaned as the entire side of the mountain slipped and came thundering down on the massed Austrians. For ten minutes the murderous snow swept down, and then through the mist of powdery flakes the Italians looked down on a flat narrow plateau. There was no pass, no Austrians, no target left for the defenders. Their commanding officer shrugged his shoulders and beamed on his gunners. He pulled out a bottle of the stuff Saint Bernard dogs carry in canteens. He smiled, passed it to his gun-sighter and said, “After you, sir!”

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

“Fairey Hendons and the Gladiators” 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. For the June 1937 Dare-Devil Aces, Mr. Blakeslee’s paints a flock of Fairey “Hendons” bombing a big gun emplacement along with a flight of Gloster “Gauntlets”.

th_DDA_3706ON THE cover this month you will find a flock of Fairey “Hendons” bombing a big gun emplacement. They’ve come over just around dusk, when everything is quiet, and they’re giving the boys below plenty of hell.

As an escort, they have a flight of Gloster “Gauntlets,” those fast, speedy jobs that we’ve heard so much about recently. One of the most feared types of planes in the world, the “Gauntlet” is a tough baby to mingle with.

But we’re not concerned for the moment with the “Gauntlets.” We’ve devoted our attention to the nearest plane, the one without the streamlined pants on the wheels. It’s a “Gladiator” and gentlemen, what a job!

The “Gladiator” is a development of the “Gauntlet” and it’s really a better ship. You will notice that the “Gauntlet” is a two-bay wing job. Well, the designers saw fit to make the “Gladiator” a single-bay ship, and I think they were right.

Another deviation from the “Gauntlet” is the single-strut cantilever undercarriage. They constructed these babies so that they’d last and this single-strut business is a testimonial to their confidence.

When it comes to throwing steel around the sky, the “Gladiator” can take fine care of itself. Its armament consists of four machine guns, and they speak a language of their own. Personally, I wouldn’t want to speak with any of them.

When you talk about power, the “Gladiator” must be considered. In its motor-bed is a Bristol “Mercury IX,” a nine cylinder radial job. This power-house is air-cooled and supercharged, and when you give it a bit of throttle it goes places!

Do you want speed? This baby will do 255 m.p.h. at 14,500 feet, and it has a service ceiling of 32,800 feet.

The “Gauntlet” isn’t far behind in performance. It’s equipped with a Bristol “Mercury V.I.S.,” another radial, air-cooled engine. It boasts of speed of 230 m.p.h. at 15,500 feet and has a service ceiling of 33,500 feet.

Frederick Blakeslee.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Fairey Hendons and the Gladiators: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(June 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Blackburn Shark” 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. For the March 1937 Dare-Devil Aces, Mr. Blakeslee’s paints a tale of British planes catching a battleship docked in a small seaside town.

th_DDA_3703THE scene of this month’s cover is any place your imagination cares to place it. For my own part, I thought a little seaside view might be pleasant and just took a stab at some water and somebody’s city. But the story behind the cover is obvious enough.

The British planes have caught a battleship in dock and are doing a job on it. I imagine the most interesting crate to the reader would be that torpedo carrier, number 720. This is the Blackburn “Shark,” though I imagine the side drawing of it above looks a bit different than the three-quarter rear shot on the cover appears. Its speed is 152½ m.p.h. maximum at 5,500 feet and a landing speed of
62½ m.p.h. The torpedo it lugs around through the sky weighs no less than 1500 pounds.

All the other ships but one, of course, are of the Hawker family. And if you’ve been guessing what that tricky little blue job might be, here goes:

It is the Swedish Svenska “Jaktfalk” single-seater fighter. In an imaginary war, you would naturally pick this ship to be allied with the British, especially when you consider the close relationship between these two nations. Its British-made, supercharged motor gives it a speed of 208 m.p.h. and its ceiling is 19,680 feet. Hope you liked it, and see you next month.—Fred Blakeslee.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Blackburn Shark: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(March 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

Dare-Devil Aces, February 1937 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. The February 1937 Dare-Devil Aces’ cover is the first of Mr. Blakeslee’s “Planes by the Numbers” covers where he has so many planes on the cover, he explains which plane is what with a legend on the story behind the cover page. He featured the Hawker Fury on the previous issue—on this issue he featured the other planes in the Hawker line of fighters.

th_DDA_3702SOME very particular gent wrote to me the other day. complaining about the covers. He yelled that I took too much liberty with facts, and grouped planes that seldom, if ever, are seen together. He must be a new reader, for I have oft stated that, as this magazine is a fictional enterprise, the covers try to keep pace with the contents. Of course the covers are slightly screwy! I’m afraid that they wouldn’t be very interesting if I showed you a squadron of planes that were exactly alike in every respect.

This month’s cover is an example of what I mean. About seven types of planes are represented, and although some of them are slightly out of place, I don’t think you’ll mind. Let me tell you about them.

You’ll notice that the silhouettes on this page are really ships on the cover, set in exactly the same positions.

No. 1 is the Hawker “Osprey”, a Fleet fighter that ordinarily operates from aircraft carriers and other ships of the Royal Navy. I don’t know just what it’s doing over the city. Maybe the guy is on leave. It has a top speed of 240 m.p.h.

No. 2 is a Hawker “Hart”, the standard single-engined day bomber of the R.F.A. It is the basic type for most of the other Hawkers, and does 184 m.p.h.

No. 3, there are two of them, are German Ardo fighters.

No. 4 is a Fairey “Hendon” night bomber, and don’t ask me what it’s doing out in the daytime. Maybe it hasn’t been home yet. You’ll notice that it has left the rest of the flight and is off by itself. Ginsburg is probably at the wheel, and you know that guy!

No. 5 is a Hawker “Hardy”, a general purpose biplane that is particularly adapted for use in India and the Near East. Details are lacking on this, however.

No. 6 is a Hawker “Audax”, an Army cooperation crate with a speed of 152 m.p.h., which is practically walking. The way it’s heading now, the pilot would have done better to stay in bed.

No. 7 is a Bristol “Bulldog”, a really high-class piece of business. It does 175 m.p.h. at sea level, and 218 m.p.h. at 20,000, which is really lugging the mail.

So look them over, gents, and remember that I warned you.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(February 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

“How Barker Won the V.C.” by Paul J. Bissell

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THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers 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 February 1932 cover Bissell put us right in the action as Major Barker fights his way through Hell skies to down five German planes in a single day!

How Barker Won the V.C.

th_FA_3202JUST four years before, it had been Barker. W.G. Private 106074, First Canadian Rifles. Today, October 17, 1918, it was Major Barker, D.S.C., M.C., with forty-six Germans to his credit, who was waving good-bye to his squadron mates as in his Snipe machine he took off for England. The day was clear, and those on the ground smiled as they saw the little machine climb higher and higher. Yes, Billy Barker was obeying orders and “proceeding to England,” but via Germany, and one last scrap.

He was four and a half miles up when he met his first enemy, a double-seater machine, with a good pilot and a scrappy observer. Twice Barker attacked before he sent this plane down. Then, when the machine burst into flames, he pulled out of his dive, leveling off just as a burst from above caught him completely unawares.

He slipped away on a wing, but not soon enough to avoid an explosive bullet which completely shattered his left thigh. Turning to the attack, his fast-maneuvering Snipe quickly got him into a position where, with deadly coolness, he finished his second German of the day.

Dizzy from loss of blood, he suddenly found the sky around him literally black with German pjanes. The watching Tommies on the ground estimated that the planes numbered no less than sixty.

Without hesitation Barker dived at the nearest enemy. Number three went down.

Now the Germans were firing at him from every direction. His machine was hit repeatedly and he himself was wounded again, this time in the right thigh. His machine out of control, he fell into a spin, followed down by the whole German circus. After a few thousand feet, however, the rush of air revived Barker, and savagely he returned to the attack.

A quick tight loop—his favorite maneuver—one short burst, and the fourth German went down in flames. But again Barker pays dearly. This time another explosive bullet takes away his entire left elbow joint. Once again he goes into a spin, down he twists, the Boche diving after and riddling his machine. The gas tank is demolished. Fighting desperately to maintain consciousness, he switches his engine to his auxiliary tank, and once again turns on his foes.

But the battle is over. Faint from loss of blood, scarcely conscious, Barker, with one last effort, turns his plane toward the west, and dives headlong toward the shell-pocked earth, piling up in a barbed wire entanglement just inside the British lines.

Downed at last, but still alive and smiling. Sixty to one were the odds. Five German planes was the toll he took.

The best that England could give in medical attention was his. Slowly they nursed him back to health, and Major Barker became Colonel William George Barker, V.C., D.S.O., M.C., with fifty-one official air victories to his credit—and he was less than twenty-four years old!

The Ships on The Cover
“How Barker Won the V.C.”
Flying Aces, February 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“Bombers Down!” by Colcord Heurlin

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THIS week we have a cover by the great Colcord Heurlin! He provided covers throughout the 1920’s and early 30’s for various pulp magazines—most frequently for your Adventure type magazines. Here we present his cover for the March 1931 issue of Flying Aces—a dynamic cover that once again has a story to tell.

Bombers Down!

th_FA_3103NOT all the danger attending the life of a bombardment pilot was crammed into the few mad minutes he spent over his objective, dodging enemy anti-aircraft fire, intercepting aircraft or the betraying beams of searchlights while his observer pulled the toggles that released the grim eggs. There was the dangerous take-off with a loaded plane. There was the wild flight across the line through the barrage of steel that vomited up from anti-aircraft batteries, and then, above all, there was the flight back.

To carry high explosive was no cinch at the best of times, and many a pilot lost pounds in weight or added years to his age as he sat in the ship carrying the dangerous missiles. Once over the objective, they could get rid of the stuff and heave a sigh of relief. But—suppose the bomb rack jammed and left the bombs hanging by a lone loop. Suppose the observer yanked and pulled on the toggles in an effort to get it off, anyway and anywhere at all, with no success.

This has happened on several occasions, and generally speaking, the airmen are in a tight position. They cannot land with the bomb hanging in that manner. With the nose portion clear of the rack, as is shown in this month’s illustration, the wind vane has been released and the percussion pin has been wound into concussion position. All it requires is a slight jounce, and the 500-pound shell of T.N.T. is touched off. There is nothing to do but try and get the shell off somehow. Many an observer today is wearing a ribbon on his old flying tunic for getting out and releasing a bomb from a rack that has jammed. Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes the observer has had to get down on the landing gear and actually file the release pin off, or even shoot it away with an automatic.

There were times when it was done successfully. There were many when they were unable to release it before their gas supply ran out.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Bombers Down!”
Flying Aces, March 1931 by Colcord Heurlin

“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

Link - Posted by David on August 19, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

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

Link - Posted by David on May 27, 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 April 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

Link - Posted by David on April 29, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

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)

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