Looking to buy? See our books on amazon.com Get Reading Now! Age of Aces Presents - free pulp PDFs

The Story Behind The Cover


“Sky Fighters, January 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on September 28, 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 January 1937 cover, It’s the Morane-Saulnier Parasol type monoplane!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3701THE Morane-Saulnier Parasol type monoplane was used back in 1914 by the French Army for artillery spotting. As the war continued the Parasols were improved each year but they were still doing their work mainly on reconnaissance missions. These sleek little ships were too speedy targets for most opponents, very unlike the majority of two seaters. They could climb well but they had tricks to play on their own pilot if he didn’t know their temperamental shortcomings.

To be taken prisoner by the enemy was usually not such a harassing experience as would be expected. The airmen of both sides were usually gallant foes. If an opponent was knocked out of the skies he was in for a long siege in prison and concentration camps. If he was wounded he got good medical attention before being jailed. Even if he set fire to his crashed plane so that the enemy couldn’t salvage parts he still got a break. Both Germans and Allies did this so it was even Steven.

The New Prop-Firing Gun

Roland Garros, the famous French aviator who first rigged a machine-gun to fire through the whirling propeller arc, was ignominiously forced down behind the German lines. That was a calamity for the Allies, because on the Morane-Saulnier Garros was flying was fixed his new prop-firing gun. He tried desperately to destroy his plane and gun but the German foot soldiers swarmed down on him, put out the fire he had started and discovered his secret gun. The Germans were elated. They considered this prisoner one to be guarded with extra care. They confined him and insisted he sign a record book every half hour. Even with these precautions he escaped.

If an aviator was forced down and showed fight it was just too bad, for after all he was an enemy. Frank Luke, our famous balloon buster, didn’t know what the word surrender meant. He was in the war to fight. He didn’t expect to come out alive. He didn’t like his flying mates. They didn’t like him. His job was to kill Germans, which he did to his last gasping breath. After downing several balloons he was forced down in enemy territory where he was given a chance to give himself up peaceably. He scoffed at the idea, unlimbered his .45 and staged a running fight with infantry. He was killed.

Lieut. W.B. Wanamaker of the 27th Squadron was shot down by Ernst Udet, the now famous German stunt flyer. His plane was badly wrecked and he was badly injured. The German foot soldiers would not help him until Udet landed, took personal charge and saw that Wanamaker was given medical attention and treated like an honorable enemy.

It was not unusual on our side of the lines to bring in a captured Germany flying officer and give him a royal reception at the home tarmac before he was sent back to prison.

An enemy is dangerous as long as he is armed and on his own territory. When one lone opponent is surrounded by the other side and surrenders he ceases to be the foe you’ve been looking for. You’ve got him. Congress, the Kaiser, the King and other tops have made all officers gentlemen, therefore they usually acted as such,

Shrapnel Finds Its Mark

The Morane-Saulnier on the cover was ranging back and forth over German targets when the pilot was hit by a tiny pellet of shrapnel from a German A.A. gun. The Morane with an A-No.1 pilot at the stick was a temperamental gal at its best, but with a pilot badly wounded it took the shortest path to the ground and pancaked behind the German lines. The observer could not burn his plane because the pilot was still alive. He saw two German soldiers rushing towards him. He motioned that he was giving up without a fight by raising his hands. One German soldier came closer. Suddenly he yanked out a Luger and blazed away at the Allied Observer. Down came the Yank’s hands, the Lewis gun snapped to the right. It smashed the German to the ground, unconscious. Back swung the Lewis to the left. A stream of slugs whistled from it at the other German who had now opened fire. One of the slugs smashed the blazing Luger from the enemy’s hand. The Yank ceased firing and brought his sights to bear on an approaching German air officer. The German officer raised his hands and continued to advance. “You are right,” he informed the Yank, “I saw the whole thing. I will not trick you as the soldiers did.”

The Yank climbed out. The two airmen from different sides of the line lifted the unconscious Allied pilot from the front pit. The German officer ordered first aid treatment given to the Allied pilot before the German soldiers who had showed such poor sportsmanship could have their wounds dressed.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, January 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

The Lone Eagle, December 1938 by Eugene M. Frandzen

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

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when he would share duties with Rudolph Belarski. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers, shifting to covers featuring famous aces at the end of 1935. For the December 1938 issue, Frandzen gives us a throwback cover with the Pfalz D3 vs the Nieuport 17!

The Story of the Cover

SLEEK, lithe bodies shaped like th_LE_3812 bullets and colored with hues of the rainbow, ripped across the battle-scarred sky. New to each other, these strange creatures of prey flew at each other’s throats in an effort to find a vulnerable spot by which the destruction of either might be meted out to the other.

Cautious maneuvering; a burst of machine-gun spray to warm a death dealing firing arm; a loop; a roll in position; a burst of fire that achieved nothing for either; all these in an effort to prove that each new and strange sky bird was the master of the situation—the new hellkite that would clear the skies of the enemy.

Jerry in his new skyfighter, the Pfalz D3, has a job to perform. The Oberst is warned of French troop concentration in the sector and is ordered to send a man aloft to ascertain the exact position and extent of the movement.

A careful search over the camouflaged terrain five thousand feet below achieves his objective.

Ten kilometers behind the French lines he sees blue-uniformed troops massing to enter the Front lines. Fresh reinforcements are readied to relieve a much battered, half-starved, sleep-wearied line of men; men who are so tired and worn out from the ceaseless barrages of German gun-fire, that they have little left with which to fight back.

The Nieuport 17

Jerry is satisfied that he has the information German Intelligence requires. He turns toward his own lines—but finds his way cut off. The French had seen him, guessed his mission and sent their newest, sleekest contribution to Allied Air fighters into the sky, the Nieuport 17.

Carefully Frenchy maneuvers for he knows the ship under him. Desperately Jerry makes a bold dash for his lines for his orders are not to engage in combat but to bring his information back.

A burst of Vickers fire rips into the vitals of the Pfalz and it quivers frantically from the shock. Jerry is forced to fight to save himself—and his information. A lunge at the Pfalz and more Nieuport gun-slugs tear at the tail section of the German plane. This time the Jerry turns and fights. But too late. There is a blind spot in his dive. For a moment he cannot see the Nieuport just in front of him, but that moment spells eternity for the desperate man.

A right side slip brings the fast Nieuport into position; a pressure on the thumb grips, and both guns answer with a rocking, flaming spurt of steel that rips into the German plane—and the engine and pilot are silenced—forever. Slowly, in a flat spin, it drops to earth. Once again Nieuport has sent a victor into the skies—and the French troop movement remains a secret.

Light, Fast Planes

Both the Nieuport 17 and the German Pfalz D3 were light, fast, sturdy little planes that had what it takes to give any enemy a real fight. Born of a long line of grand fighting ships, the Nieuport 17 was a single-seater with the parasol idea of construction so sought after by French designers; large upper wing, with very little lower wing. It could out-maneuver many of the Allied and German ships used at the Front at that time.

Powered by a 120 horsepower Le Rhone, its straightaway speed was remarkable. It was similar in design to others of the Nieuport family in its V strut and general construction characteristic of earlier Nieuports.

The Pfalz D3 was a single-seater scout, meticulously streamlined, and sleek as a greyhound. It answered well to the controls, but a downward glide was bad for forward visibility as the top wing obstructed the view when the pilot sought to fire his Spandaus straight ahead.

The Mercedes 160 horsepower engine, gave it a speed of well over 100 miles an hour. German aces became attached to this plane and used it to advantage in their battles against Allied airmen.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, December 1938 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“The High Sign” by Colcord Heurlin

Link - Posted by David on August 17, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another cover by Colcord Heurlin! Heurlin worked in the pulps primarily over a ten year period from 1923 to 1933. His work appeared on Adventure, Aces, Complete Stories, Everybody’s Combined with Romance, North-West Stories, The Popular, Short Stories, Sky Birds, Sea Stories, Top-Notch, War Stories, Western Story, and here, the cover of the September 1931 Flying Aces!

The High Sign

th_FA_3109SURRENDER in the air! It often happened when some one got the breaks. And often it was planned for when the Allies wanted a special type of German machine.
On the occasion depicted on our cover this month, a German two-seater of new design has had its prop shattered and its crew is helpless over Allied territory. It would have been easy for the man in the Allied scout plane to shoot them down, but he preferred to take them whole.
He signaled to the enemy airmen to land and the observer indicated that he had seen, by holding his hands high and well away from his gun. The rest was easy—a complete German ship to study and a clear confirmation for the victorious pilot.
This cover is a reproduction of an actual incident. A photograph owned by one of our authors will confirm it.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The High Sign”
Flying Aces, September 1931 by Colcord Heurlin

“His Last Salute” by Colcord Heurlin

Link - Posted by David on August 3, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present a cover by Colcord Heurlin! Heurlin worked in the pulps primarily over a ten year period from 1923 to 1933. His work appeared on Adventure, Aces, Complete Stories, Everybody’s Combined with Romance, North-West Stories, The Popular, Short Stories, Sky Birds, Sea Stories, Top-Notch, War Stories, Western Story, and here, the cover of the August 1931 Flying Aces!

His Last Salute

th_FA_3108THE chivalry of the clouds—the code that persisted even in moments of grim tragedy—is depicted on this month’s cover. The German plane, riddled by Allied bullets, is going down—a flaming coffin. Its pilot, about to take the leap that means death, turns to make one last gesture—a salute to the Allied pilot who has sent him down—and his conqueror answers the salute. Fighting for different causes though they were, those two airmen, like all the true knights of the air, held one thing highest—Courage, in life or in death!

The Story Behind The Cover
“His Last Salute”
Flying Aces, August 1931 by Colcord Heurlin

“Creased!” by Arnold Lorne Hicks

Link - Posted by David on July 20, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present a cover by Arnold Lorne Hicks! Hicks worked in the pulps primarily from the late ’20’s to the mid 30’s, producing covers for such magazines as North-West Stories, Navy Stories, Police Stories, Detective Dragnet, Sky Birds, Golden West, Western Trails, Love Adventures, and a couple covers for Flying Aces!

Creased!

th_FA_3106THE deadliest wound possible to receive in the air, outside of a bullet through the heart, is the “creaser.” Many an airman has gone west in a crash as the result of a bullet wound across the head that stuns him long enough to allow the plane to get completely out of control. The same wound, received on the ground, would result in nothing more uncomfortable than a numbing headache after a surgeon had attended it. Hundreds of aviators have received serious wounds in the stomach, lungs or limbs and have been able to bring their ships down in safety, but a “creaser” leaves the pilot unconscious and unable to save himself. Captain Ball, who fell after winning the Victoria Cross, and Major Hawker, another British ace with a long list of victories, both went down to their deaths after receiving slight head wounds—wounds that, compared to their actual deaths, were mere pin scratches. Our cover this month shows us a war pilot in a similar difficulty.

The Ships on The Cover
“Creased!”
Flying Aces, June 1931 by Arnold Lorne Hicks

The Lone Eagle, November 1933 by Eugene M. Frandzen

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

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the November 1933 cover, Frandzen gives us the classic match-up—the Nieuport Type 27 vs. the Fokker D7!

The Story of the Cover

THE ships pictured on this th_LE_3311 month’s cover are the Nieuport Type 27 and the Fokker D7.

The Nieuport Type 27 was a single-seater biplane manufactured by Soc Anonyme des Etablissements Nieuport. The firm was established by Edouard de Nieuport in 1910.

When the War broke out they were ready with a fighting machine, the small two-seater Nieuport. The Type 27 was a real fighting craft of later war years, 1916 and 1917 to be exact. It had high speed and plenty of quickness in action compared to the early Nieuports, but it was closely patterned after the early machines.

The majority of Nieuports were the planes which were noted for their “V” strut design. The Germans swiped the “V” strut idea for two of their best fighting machines, the famous Albatros and Pfalz. The Nieuport 27 had a neat streamlined fuselage. It carried a Vickers synchronized with the airscrew. The ship was shot along at 105 m.p.h. by a 120 h.p. Le Rhone engine. Bishop, the British Ace flew Nieuports and swore by them. Lufbery, the American, was flying one when he fell in a spin to his death.

The Nieuport flashing into the cover to go to the assistance of his buddy in another Nieuport, is not alone. Behind him is his gang. He is waving them to follow him into the fight. In a few seconds hell will break loose around the Fokkers ganging the lone Allied plane.

Ganging was a great game in the Big War. Both sides did it, but the Germans deliberately waited for such situations and often shunned a sporting proposition of an equal scrap. The Yanks, French and English didn’t go out of their way to run down a lone foe. But, of course, if one happened to flounder into a mess of Allied planes he wasn’t handed a bouquet and told to run along home.

If a quick burst from the nearest Fokker doesn’t smash the zig-zagging Nieuport, its pilot has an even break of getting out with a whole skin. It’s a matter of seconds till it will be “Everybody for himself.”

The Fokker D7 was the most popular of Fokkcr’s many models. It deserved this popularity for its fine fighting qualities. Its unusual features were the entire metal inner construction of the fuselage and the interplane bracing members, the thick wings, and the absence of external bracing wires between the wings. These were radical changes in airplane design, but they worked. There were one hundred and sixty horses neighing in its ugly, blunt nose. They pulled it along at 110 m.p.h. at 10,000 feet. The big Mercedes engine was a heavy load so the D7 was a little nose heavy, but it had enormous power with the ability to hang on the prop in a position of 45 degrees while pushing forward. This was a life-saver for many German fliers.

The Nieuport and the Fokker both blasted themselves a niche in the Hall of Fame of World War ships. Both were husky war horses. They gave real speed, and they held together, which is more than can be said of many of the War’s flying coffins.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, November 1933 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“The Fairey Fantome” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on June 22, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. At this point in the magazine’s run, Mr. Blakeslee had started doing his “Planes by the Numbers” covers where he has so many planes on the cover, he had to explain which plane is what with a legend on the story behind the cover page. For the August issue we get a bit of a throwback where Mr. Blakeslee turns his attention to the Fairey Fantome!

th_DDA_3708THERE’S a real story behind this month’s cover, fellows. I’ll try to tell you not only of the planes you see depicted there, but about some of the troubles that confront me. You see, these covers are prepared far in advance, for there are a lot of pretty complex operations that must be performed before they are ready for the news stands. And therein lies our trouble.

Last month my friend Norman Witcomb had a feature in which he told you all about the Fairey “Fantome.” Well, I didn’t know about that until this cover bad been completed. I had planned to tell you all the details concerning this ship, but I now see that Norman has already completed that task. I’ll refresh your memory, anyway, and I don’t suppose you’ll mind seeing it in colors and in a battle scene.

The “Fantome” is ship number 2 and is now in production in Belgium, where it is known as the “Feroge.” It carts four machine guns about the clouds and one 20 m.m. cannon which fires through the airscrew boss. The crate is powered by an 860 h.p. engine and can do 250 m.p.h. at 12,000.

Ship number 1 is a Fairey “Gordan.” It’s a medium range two-seater day bomber. An Armstrong-Siddeley “Panther” drives it along. The engine develops 525 h.p., and the fourteen cylinder, radial job is air-cooled. Data on its performance is lacking.

Frederick Blakeslee.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Story Behind The Cover: The Fairey Fantome” by Frederick Blakeslee
(August 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

As an added bonus, we present Norman Witcomb’s breif write-up on the Fairey Fantome that Mr. Blakeslee references from the July 1937 issue of Dare-Devil Aces.

Fighting Faireys

THE Fairey firm is one of the oldest in the aircraft industry. It has furnished planes for the R.A.F. for as long as that service has existed. It also turns out the equipment for the Belgian Royal Air Service. For this purpose, Fairey has a factory in Belgium.

Shown above, are two of the latest products of this famous firm. One, the Fairey “Battle,” is a veritable masterpiece. It is designed as a medium bomber, the fastest of its kind in the world. The ship is pulled through the air at about 300 m.p.h.! This is done, of course, by another sweet job, the Rolls-Royce “Merlin” of 1,065 h.p. This motor was so successful that it caused the plane to perform beyond the fondest expectations of its designers. The “Battle” is metal-covered and is equipped with all latest devices, such as flaps, two-way radio, special high-flying equipment, and what not. The armament is secret, but two heavy guns can be seen in the wings. The British government, knowing a good thing when they see one, has ordered several hundred of these planes.

The single-seater fighter below, is the Fairey “Fantome” which has been adopted by the Belgian government as a highspeed fighter. It has a “Hisso” Cannon engine of 860 h.p. and the pilot can open her up to more than 250 m.p.h.! It is a sturdy biplane of rugged construction, and is also completely equipped with radio, etc.

The Belgian Air Force, while small, is well equipped with modern aircraft. No doubt she is anxious not to be caught defenseless again, should serious trouble break out around her borders.

“Out of Formation!” by Arnold Lorne Hicks

Link - Posted by David on June 8, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another cover by Arnold Lorne Hicks! Hicks worked in the pulps primarily from the late ’20’s to the mid 30’s, producing covers for such magazines as North-West Stories, Navy Stories, Police Stories, Detective Dragnet, Sky Birds, Golden West, Western Trails, Love Adventures, and a couple covers for Flying Aces!

Creased!

th_FA_3107AN ALLIED scout was struck by one of the bombs from the Allied machine it was escorting! It actually happened because the scout pilot, in fighting an enemy ship that was bent on destroying the bomber, got out of formation and flew into the danger zone below his own bombers. What really saved him was the fact that the bomb, set with a delayed-time detonation—so that it would fall well into the hangars before explosion—did not explode until it had fallen more than 600 feet below the battered scout. There was a time when seconds counted!

The Ships on The Cover
“Out of Formation!”
Flying Aces, July 1931 by Arnold Lorne Hicks

“Wiley Post: Ace of World-Girdlers” C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on June 1, 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. Wiley Post is the subject of Mayshark and Sky Bird’s final cover in December 1935!

Wiley Post: Ace of World-Girdlers
The Story Behind This Month’s Cover

th_SB_3512A MAN who rose from the depths of obscurity and poverty to world fame—a man whose iron courage and unwavering determination carried him to an undreamed of position in the spotlight of human interest—a man who conquered a physical handicap which undoubtedly would have quickly curbed others—but most of all a man who had true unflinching fortitude—a man who had what it takes! Such a man was Wiley Post, who was killed instantly with Will Rogers in a crash in the wilds of
 Alaska a few miles south of Point Barrow, on August 16.

Wiley was the type of fellow who believed unreservedly in himself. In his youth he was a worker in the oil fields of the West. He got his first taste for the air when a barnstorming pilot who was passing through town took him up for a spin for a fee of $25. It was money well spent, for Wiley quickly decided to become a pilot himself.

But at this point all his ambitions seemed doomed even before they had begun to be realized. An accident in the oil fields rendered Post’s left eye sightless, and it had to be removed. At first he despaired of ever becoming an airman; but upon application for flying lessons, he discovered that what he wanted to do was not impossible. All be needed was determination—and he had plenty of that! He passed his examination in short order, and with the compensation he received for his injury in the oil fields be bought his first plane—an antiquated “Jenny.”

From that time on, Wiley’s future was entirely in his own hands. Whatever he decided to do, he did without hesitation. Every activity in which he engaged added to the vast experience and knowledge which he finally brought to bear in his first record breaking flight around the world with Harold Gatty.

With that flight, Post first won worldwide acclaim. He and Gatty were accorded a royal reception when they landed back in New York on July 1, 1931 after circling the earth in 8 days, 15 hours, and 51 minutes. They bad accomplished one of the most difficult feats ever attempted in the history of aviation.

Post was destined to soar on to even greater heights. From June 23 to June 30, 1933, he covered, with the aid of a robot pilot, the same round-the-world course solo in the new time of 7 days, 8 hours and 49½ minutes.

By this time, the name of his ship, the “Winnie Mae,” was on the lips of the whole world. But Wiley didn’t get a swelled head. Instead, he again plugged on. He still had his eye on the future—living on his laurels was something he couldn’t do. “Accomplishment” was his slogan.

Between February 22 and June I5, 1935, Post made four attempts to span the continent in the sub-stratosphere. Four times he was forced to land his ship short of its mark. All the attempts were failures. But Wiley undoubtedly would have carried on to success had his life not been snatched from him. We picture him in his stratosphere suit.

THE memory of this great airman will live on in the hearts of mankind, for he was the type of individual whom every man wishes to emulate.

Following the news of Post’s death, the United States Senate passed a resolution which authorized the purchase, for $25,000, of Wiley’s plane, the “Winnie Mae,” for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington! And so, the ship which carried Wiley Post to the heights of human accomplishment will be preserved for posterity. Something material, however, is not required to keep the memory of Wiley with us. He shall live on in spirit forever.

The Story of The Cover
“Wiley Post: Ace of World-Girdlers” by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Birds, December 1935

“Lindbergh—the Lone Eagle” by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 25, 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 Lone Eagle” himself was the subject of the penultimate issue of Sky Birds—Charles Lindbergh!

Lindbergh—the Lone Eagle
The Story Behind This Month’s Cover

th_SB_3509A MAN who enjoys the admiration of a hundred and twenty million countrymen; a man whose name has filled the headlines from hemisphere to hemisphere for eight years; a man whose amazing feats of daring have thrilled a world which has long been used to thrills; a man whose unassuming modesty and genuine simplicity have caused his name to be written into the history of the world’s progress; and, most of all, a man who is unalterably a man in every sense of the word—that is Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh.

Lindbergh was born in 1902 without, of course, the slightest inkling of what fate had in store for him. But somehow, from the beginning, his career seemed to be guided by the unseen hand of destiny, and bit by bit the experience that was to be invaluable on that history-making day in May, 1927, was accumulated.

Lindbergh made his debut in aviation in February, 1922, when he enrolled in a flying school at Lincoln, Neb. After learning to fly and being unequivocally bitten by the aviation bug, which was pretty much on the rampage around that time, he purchased a U.S. Government Jenny for $500, and his fondest dream was a reality at last.

It seems that this modest young man had ideas in the back of his head and designs in his imagination of such ambitious scope that they needed prestige and a record to lead them along their difficult path. So Lindbergh became a military man by enrolling as a cadet in tho United States Air Service Reserve. He was afterwards commissioned a captain. A short time later, he joined the Missouri National Guard with the rank of first lieutenant, and he was eventually promoted to the rank of colonel.

Lindbergh was in aviation for a serious purpose, and so was not content to drift along, picking up odd jobs here and there and engaging himself in barnstorming trips, as so many other aviators were doing at that time. He wanted to do something which required skill, experience and a sense of responsibility. He made his first flight as an air mail pilot in April, 1926. The air mail service in those days was a pretty risky proposition, and any man who went in for it had to have courage—and plenty of it.

It was during this period that Lindbergh conceived the idea of making a solo trans-Atlantic flight. In the winter of 1927, he persuaded the Ryan Company to build him a ship—the now famous Spirit of St. Louis, and in April of that year, he made a record-breaking transcontinental run from California to New York.

On May 20th, Lindbergh took off on the flight that was to be one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments. Very few people realize the skill and courage and physical condition that were essential to the success of that flight, but whatever it took, Lindbergh had in abundance, and the most amazing part of the whole thing was that his modesty wouldn’t permit him to believe that he had done something which warranted all the congratulations and back-slapping that were showered upon him from the far corners of the earth. Regardless of what his realizations were, he came home in glory to the resounding acclaim of not only America, but of the whole world.

Upon landing in this country, he made arrangements to make a tour of America under the auspices of the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the promotion of aviation, and it is estimated that he visited seventy-five cities.

Lindbergh is the ranking member of the mythical Caterpillar Club, having upon four occasions resorted to the parachute to save his life. One of these is depicted on the cover, along with a scene from his famous transatlantic flight.

Lindbergh’s decorations include the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Chevalier of the Legion of honor (France), Order of Leopold (Belgium), and several others.

The Story of The Cover
“Lindbergh—the Lone Eagle” by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Birds, September 1935

“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

Link - Posted by David on April 27, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

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

Link - Posted by David on April 13, 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 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)

Next Page »