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The Story Behind The Cover


“Roscoe Turner—Speed Flyer” by C.B. Mayshark

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

THIS May we are once again 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. Mayshaerk changed things up for the final four covers. Sky Birds last four covers each featured a different aviation legend. The subject of the August 1935 cover was speed flyer Roscoe Turner!

Roscoe Turner—Speed Flyer
The Story Behind This Month’s Cover

th_SB_3508OCTOBER 20, 1934, was a big day for aviation enthusiasts the world over. For at Mildenhall, England, a score of airmen were turning up powerful motors, waiting for the flagman to wave the signal which would start them off on the 11,323-mile grind to Melbourne, Australia.

Among the ships entered for the race was a Boeing 247-D, piloted by a certain Roscoe Turner who, along with Clyde Pangborn, had elected to take a shot at the most hazardous and thrilling adventure in aviation history—the MacRobertson Trophy Race.

The name of Roscoe Turner was not new to the thousands of people the world over who read the list of entrants for the big race on the morning of October 20. Indeed, Turner had been a popular air hero for some years. He was not outstanding as a spectacular and breath-taking pilot who took long chances and always managed to get through by the skin of his teeth—but more as the type who is cool, methodical and well-schooled in the fundamental principals of aeronautics. Even when he was behind the controls of one of his various racing ships, Turner always knew what he was going to do next.

For Roscoe Turner had learned about airplanes and how to fly them from the ground up. His career in the air began in March, 1918, when he transferred from the U.S. Ambulance Service to the Army Air Service’ and was commissioned a second lieutenant.

Turner served overseas for ten months with the second army, and then with the third army at Coblenz, Germany, following the Armistice. He was discharged with the rank of first lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Service, in 1919, and returned home to engage in civil and commercial aviation in the United States. Turner’s Army record was not particulary outstanding, although he did win a promotion. He was saving himself, as it were, for a more important role—that of an accomplished and publicized peacetime airman.

However, the desire for military duty soon overcame him, and he joined with the California National Guard, where he served as captain from 1925 to 1927. He was later made personal aid to Governor Rolph of California, for whom he acted as pilot, and was promoted to the rank of colonel.

Turner’s records and accomplishments are too numerous to record here. However, it should be stated that he has held almost every important racing and commercial aircraft record in the United States at one time or another. Also, he was the first pilot to lower a plane by parachute successfully, although it had been attempted before. The German wartime Gotha which was used in the filming of the motion picture, “Hell’s Angels,” was flown and owned by Turner. For a time, he always carried with him in his plane a lion which he had acquired when it was a cub and had trained himself. However, the lion had to be dispensed with when it became too big.

And so it can be seen that up until October 20, 1934, Colonel Roscoe Turner was merely another one of the numerous well-known American aviators. But fate had decreed that he was to accomplish something bigger and bettor than the average airman can claim.

The rest is written into aviation history and is common knowledge to everyone who reads the newspapers. Turner and Pangborn finished third in the MacRobertson Trophy Race, and copped third-place prize money amounting to $7,500. Their time was 93 hours, 5 minutes, 15 seconds.

And so to Colonel Roscoe Turner we say, “Congratulations and happy landings!” And we know that his feats in the future will equal, if not surpass, his accomplishments of the past several years.

The Story of The Cover
“Roscoe Turner—Speed Flyer” by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Birds, August 1935

“Rickenbacker: Ace in War and Peace” by C.B. Mayshark

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

THIS May we are once again 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. Mayshaerk changed things up for the final four covers. Sky Birds last four covers each featured a different aviation legend. For the first of these covers on the July 1935 issue, Mayshark goes right for the top, featuring America’s greatest Ace of the Great War—Eddie Rickenbacker!

Rickenbacker: Ace in War and Peace
The Story Behind This Month’s Cover

th_SB_3507ON THE cover this month, you see Eddie Rickenbacker, one of aviation’s greatest aces—both in war and peace. The premier airman of America’s war-time fighting pilots practically dropped out of sight for twelve years after the World War. He was nothing but a mysterious legendary hero until President Hoover pinned the Congressional Medal of Honor on his civilian coat in 1930, but since then, he has leaped into the aviation spotlight as the new guiding spirit of commercial aviation.

The hand that guided a speeding Spad in 1918 directs the destinies of one of America’s greatest aviation organizations from behind a chairman’s desk and, upon demand, climbs into a 200-mile-an-hour Douglas and pilots it across the United States in twelve hours.

Americans had almost forgotten about Captain Rickenbacker in 1930. They had forgotten about many such heroes of the war days. The first thud of the great depression had left the country reeling, unable to think of anything so romantic as a knight of the air. Minds were on banks, stock markets and ticker tape.

It is significant that the man who came to the aid of his country in 1918 with his skill as an auto driver, his knowledge of engines and, later, with his ability as a pursuit pilot, should be the first to take up the gauntlet again in the defense of commercial aviation.

The depression hit first at the infant industry of air travel. Aeronautical stocks fell, factories had to close up that had been organized during the boom following the surge of interest when a young air mail pilot named Charles A. Lindbergh flew solo from New York to Paris in 1927. Many air lines, enjoying their first profits in a legitimate transportation organization, felt the terrific shock of nationwide poverty. Some went under, others retrenched, and even those backed by plenty of money realized that something had to be done to prevent complete ruin and the wiping out of the gains that had been made in the aeronautical field. They began looking about for a MAN who could be a leader.

There were hundreds of pilots. There were scores of crack pilots. There were a few, a mere handful, who had won world renown for their flights. But none had business instinct along with their skill with tho joy stick.

Then the publicity resulting from the belated award of the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Hoover brought the almost forgotten Captain Eddie Rickenbacker back into the limelight. Here was the MAN for aviation!

The men who directed the financial destinies of our big commercial firms looked up Rickenbacker’s background. A few learned for the first time that he was America’s Ace of Aces. He had destroyed twenty-six enemy planes on the Western Front. They studied his war career and discovered that against the worst possible obstacles, he had climbed out of an easy berth as private chauffeur to General John J. Pershing and had worked his way up to be a flight commander in the top-ranking fighter squadron of the A.E.F.

They discovered that in this long climb, Rickenbacker had once been waylaid at a motor repair depot because of his knowledge of engines, and it looked as if he would have to stay there. But “Rick” proved that he was not indispensable by faking an illness and getting himself placed in hospital for two weeks. When he came out, he said, “You see, I’ve been away from the depot for fourteen days. During that time, things went on just as though I had been there. Now, why can’t I go up to the Front and fight?”

There was no argument to that, so Eddie went up to the Front.

Next, these financial wizards discovered that, once up at the Front, Rickenbacker did not go mad and try to win the war on his own. He took his time and studied the problems before him. He flew his daily patrols and developed his technique. He finally went into action—but after he had his battle plans laid hours before he left the ground.

He studied enemy ships in the air and checked captured ships for their blind spots and weaknesses. He was pretty colorless at first, but he plugged away, and before anyone knew just who this quiet, methodical young man was, he was top pilot of the A.E.F.—and he lived to come home to his reward.

“This is our man,” the aviation magnates said. “He’s the one to save commercial aviation. Let’s get him.”

They had a hard time finding Rickenbacker at first, for he had a very ordinary routine job with the old Fokker Aircraft Company, acting as a salesman for the ships of the man whose war-time products had given him so much trouble. Eddie also eked out his meager pay by writing sane and sound articles in a few of the aviation magazines. But the general public did not read those magazines in those days. They were still buying thrills, world flights, refuelling stunts and mad Roman Holiday air races that featured crazy acrobatics and lengthy death rolls.

They took him out of there when Fokker packed up and went back to Holland. They sent him to the General Aviation Corporation, the General Motors aviation branch, and let him go to work. For months, nothing much was heard of Rickenbacker, but he was working hard, building up a new and solid foundation for America’s commercial air program.

Gradually, Rickenbacker’s work began to tell, and he appeared in the headlines again. There was a sure climb in air line patronage, and demands came for faster and more comfortable ships. The big companies went to work and, with keen competition driving them on, they soon began to revolutionize the air liner. There were the new Boeings and the Vultees. Then came the Lockheeds, Stinsons and G.A. ships. But soon all these were to be outclassed by the Douglas that had a top speed of 234 m.p.h. With its showing in the great London-to-Melbourne race last year, when it finished second only to an out-and-out racing plane, America finally learned that it had the finest air transportation system in the world.

But there was one point to be cleared up, and this is where Captain Eddie Rickenbacker came in. America knew the Douglas had done well in the England-to-Australia flight, but then it had been flown by a team of Dutch pilots who knew that route like the lines in the palms of their hands. How would it fare in the hands of an American crew over the complete route from coast to coast in this country?

The air lines were asking this. The prospective passengers were asking this. The operators were asking the same question.

Rickenbacker, the Man, answered them.

On November 8th, 1934, a few weeks after the great Melbourne race, he directed the flight of a twin-motored Douglas from Los Angeles to New York in the commercial record time of twelve hours and four minutes. Again, he flew it from New York to New Orleans in record time, and he completed a round trip from New York to Miami within the limitations of breakfast and supper time.

America was satisfied. Rickenbacker, the Man, had showed them, just as he had showed them with his Hat-in-the-Ring Squadron in 1918. Within twenty-four hours of his record flight across the country, the air line offices were swamped with reservations for the Douglas-equipped lines all over the country.

But it will not end there. Rickenbacker is still at work, planning and plotting for the future. His pilots will get most of the credit, but commercial aviation will go on, a glorious monument to the man who quietly tackles his problems without benefit of publicity. Rickenbacker, the MAN—the ace of war and peace!

The Story of The Cover
“Rickenbacker: Ace in War and Peace” by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Birds, July 1935

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

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

THIS May we are once again 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 the June 1935 issue Mayshark gives us “Pilot-Gunner Cooperation!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
Pilot-Gunner Cooperation

th_SB_3506 SPOTTING suckers and crashing them was one of the things that most wartime pilots indulged in. Strictly speaking, a sucker is any enemy aircraft that is sure meat. But occasionally they turned the tables, and then the pilot of the attacking ship would find himself in a jam—sometimes a fatal one.

On this month’s cover, we see an Avro Spider in combat with an enemy two-seater. A few minutes before the scene which we are depicting takes place, the Spider had been winging its way cautiously back to its home tarmac, when suddenly, as it dropped out of a cloud, two German Rumplers were visible. The Spider pilot considered the situation for a moment and then decided to risk it. He ought to be able to bag at least one of those babies and, with good luck, maybe both of them. Rumplers weren’t considered exactly sucker bait, but they ought to be fairly easy for a Spider.

Coming down almost in a vertical dive and spraying lead as it came, the Spider had no trouble in separating the two Huns. As the British pilot thundered between the Germans, he could feel the impact of lead smacking against his fuselage and wings. He’d have to watch himself from now on. At least one of those Jerry ships was carrying a gunner who could do a few things with a machine gun. After pulling out of his dive, the Britisher determined which Hun ship had the good marksman—and decided to go after the other one first.

It was a cinch. The Hun pilot did not even seem to make an effort to shake the Spider off. He was panicky, and his gunner did not have a chance to fire a shot. And so the German two-seater went down a flamer.

The British pilot grinned. The first had been easy enough to warrant trying for the second. The British pilot had his score to think about too. His great ambition was to become an ace, and here was his big chance.

But the remaining German was going to be more trouble than the first one. Every time the British pilot jockeyed for position, he had to retreat. Those two Jerries knew their onions, there was no doubt about that. After practically exhausting his bag of tricks, the British pilot decided to have one more try.

After retreating to the rear of the German machine for a short distance, the Spider suddenly turned. Coming up at the enemy’s tail at terrific speed, the Englishman opened fire, but he wasn’t close enough to do much damage. He was coming within range now, and the Rumpler was still holding its position. What was the matter with these two? They had chased him off before.

Suddenly, however, the Spider pilot found that nothing was wrong with them. Banking sharply and skidding its tail around, the Rumpler suddenly loomed up broadside before the Spider. There was no tail assembly to obstruct the Hun gunner’s fire now, and he opened up with zest. The Spider banked smartly to the right, taking one last pot shot as it did so, and was gone in a flash. The British pilot was lucky, and he knew it. Those two Germans knew how to wage war in the air, and they weren’t taking any monkey business from anybody. Well, he’d be more careful next time, and not be so sure of the so-called suckers.

The Avro Spider was a high-performance single-seater fighter, and one of the best ships of its type put out during the war by the A.V. Roe Co. Its speed was 124 miles per hour and it was powered with a 110-horsepower Le Rhone engine.

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

Dare-Devil Aces, July 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 gives the spotlight to German aircraft, and to the Henschel aeroplane in particular.

th_DDA_3707THIS month’s cover, as your practiced eyes can probably see, gives the spotlight to German aircraft, and to the Henschel aeroplane in particular. The five black figures represent a variety of Henschels, but the Hawkers which appear on the cover itself, have not been included. This is because most of you fellows know enough about Hawkers, already, to fly them or draw them in your sleep.

It’s too bad that we haven’t more information on ship number one, the Henschel dive-bomber. It’s really quite a crate. The German authorities have been careful about this plane and there are no available figures. However, we do know this much: This ship can really dive vertically, nose pointed directly at the earth, at any speed the motor is able to attain. And it can be pulled out of the most furious of dives without danger of breaking apart.

Planes numbers two and three are the short Henschel patrol jobs, while number four is a general purpose Henschel. But we still have one ship left, number five, and on this one, at least, we have some fairly good dope. Here it is: This last Henschel is a two-sealer, general purpose monoplane with one Siemens SAM. 22 nine-cylinder, radial air-cooled engine, which gives it a speed of 167.6 at ground level and a cruising speed of 146 m.p.h. This job lands at 51 m.p.h. Its service ceiling is 21,648 ft. and it has a range of 373 miles. Later, if I discover anything new on Germany’s Henschels, I’ll be glad to pass it along.

Fred Blakeslee

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

“Sky Fighters, December 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 December 1936 cover, It’s a R.E.8 and the Siemens Halske Scout!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3612THE R.E.8 was used from the early war period until the armistice. The sturdy character of this plane was phenomenal.

The Siemens-Halske scout was a German single-seater whose bulky, fat outline was easily recognized. The curved fin only added to its stubby appearance. A Halske rotary engine of 200 h.p. spun the four-bladed prop.

Back in the old days when feudal wars and invading hordes from the north and northeast had Europe in a constant state of unrest, Paris was laid out. It was not just spotted because of the natural beauty of the surrounding rolling hills and the winding rivers. That city was planned to resist invaders. The ridges of hills and the winding rivers were natural barriers past which the foe must batter if he was to advance. The hills backed a series of concentric valleys spreading out and out like ripples in a pond. Those natural fortifications served well in the old days. Also, they were of help to the French in the World War.

“They Shall Not Pass!”

“They shall not pass!” was the hoarse cry of the French soldier as he threw himself at the mighty armies of the Kaiser. His battle cry was sincere. He fought wildly, clinging tenaciously to each inch of French soil. But relentlessly he was pushed back. “Replacements,” was the French cry. “More men, more cannons, more ammunition!”

The French were exhausted, their backs to the wall. And then replacements began to arrive. Swarms of Paris taxis and lorries poured out their precious loads and the line held. Back and forth swayed the front line always holding at one of the natural barriers, at a deep river, tiny rivulet or a rugged line of hills.

The war went on for months, years. The German command who had already renamed the streets of Paris on their own maps, who carried medals ready to emblazon the puffed bosoms of the troops in commemoration of the fall of Paris, were furious at the delay. They had underestimated the type of terrain they must conquer. The worst type of hazards were the rivers. Cannons and ammunition were shunted off on sidings. Trainload after trainload of special pontoon boats rattled over the captured French railroads. German shock troops staggered under the boats as they dumped them at the river’s edge. Engineers working methodically slid the boats into the water. Cables and ropes held them fast to the near shore. Planks were slapped down across the boats, foot soldiers swarmed forward. The defenders’ guns were red hot, Germans fell in piles, but others clambered over, advanced.

“They must not pass!” the grim defenders roared into the German’s teeth. But they were passing. Their sacrifice had been terrible. Their dead filled the river, reddened the blue water. Again the French held the advancing horde. Their battle cry was weaker, it became a groan, for they knew it was a matter of minutes before the Germans would swarm up the near slope of the river’s bank and enfilade them with withering fire. And then above the fierce roar of battle a faint droning sound was heard in the sky. It grew louder, shrieked down from above. A great shadow flashed across the far bank, over the bridge. Terrific geysers of water shot up. The first British R.E.8’s bombs had missed! Another shadow; a splintering upheaval of planks, boats and riddled bodies. The second R.E.8 had made a direct hit, smashing into atoms the last link of the German chain of advance.

A roar of thanks burst from the parched throats of the defenders. It was lost in the snarl of motors as the lumbering R.E.8s turned on a Siemens-Halske rushing in to attack them. The single seater staggered. Its nose fell off, it plunged down, a crumpled thing, into the floating debris and limp bodies of the German soldiers who would never flaunt medals on their tunics commemorating the capture of Paris.

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

“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

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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 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

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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

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