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My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Silvio Scaroni

Link - Posted by David on September 20, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have Italian Fighter Ace Lieutenant Silvio Scaroni’s most thrilling sky fight!

Lieutenant Silvio Scaroni was born at Brescia, Italy, and entered the aviation corps at the beginning of the war. As a bomber he was recognized as one of the best in the Italian Flying Corps and he was very adopt in handling big three-engined Capronis. But the big ships were too slow to satisfy Lieutenant Scaroni. He wanted to fly single Heaters and eventually managed to secure his transfer to a combat squadron on the morning of November 14, 1917.

That same day he registered his first victory. Within three months he had accounted for 18 enemy planes. His untimely end came in an accidental crash. He was decorated with all the honors Italy could confer, and in Brescia a magnificent monument has been erected to his memory. His story, below is one of the most remarkable of all war experiences.

 

THE FLAMING COFFIN

by Lieut. Silvio Scaroni • Sky Fighters, August 1935

I HAVE had many dangerous moments in the air, in observation, bombardment and combat planes. But there is no doubt in my mind as to the most dangerous I ever experienced. It was that night over the Adriatic when I was flying a big three-engined Caproni as part of a bombing formation headed for the Austrian coast. Night flying enemy planes attacked us when we were utterly unprepared.

The brigadier out front had just called for me to come up and take the forward guns as we were approaching the coast line, when I heard a rattle, like rolling thunder, above the roar of the engines. Then there was what seemed like a flash of lightning and I felt myself spinning in the forward nacelle under the impetus of a terrific blow on my shoulder. I picked myself up from the floor of the pit and staggered erect. The big plane was diving straight down, and two lurid streams of fiery tracers splashed on the gangway.

The night attacker was less than fifty meters off our tail. I yelled to the brigadier to pull back on the wheel and yank the ship out of its dive. Then in the phosphorous glare of the tracer I saw that was not possible. The pilot was dead at the wheel, his head almost severed from his body. As I groped toward the control pit, I wondered why Captain Ercle, in the back gunner’s pit, had not come up to take over the controls. The ship was spinning violently and surging downward abruptly now. The Austrian pilot remained fastened to the falling ship like a leech, pumping hundreds of rounds into us. The other planes had disappeared in the blackness.

I managed finally to gain the pit. I stumbled over something and almost fell. When I looked down I saw why Captain Ercle had not been able to take over from the brigadier. It was his dead body I had stumbled over. I yanked the wheel from the dead brigadier’s hand, pushed him from the seat and got his feet off the rudder bar. It was only then I realized that I had only one good hand. My right hung limply at my side.

I gave the wheel a twist and ruddered against pressure, looking overside as I did so. There was a bare, rocky headland beneath, a small black shadow jutting into the sea. The bursts from the attacking plane were still clattering into the Caproni. One engine went dead, then another. I had only one left. Luckily it was the one in the rear, for I would never have been able to maneuver the plane if it had been one of the wing motors. I was weak.

With the rough rock just beneath, I dropped a landing flare. It hit the ground and exploded all at once, blinding me in its dazzling light. The ensuing darkness was blacker than Hades. I could see absolutely nothing, not even the glow lights on my instrument board. But I heard the wheels crunch. I pulled up swiftly, staggered crazily, bumped and rolled still.

Oncoming soldiers shouted at me to throw my hands up. I laughed in their faces and carefully set fire to the big plane. The rifle shots did not get me. Two weeks later I stole across the border and regained our own lines.

“The Hawker Fury” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on September 18, 2017 @ 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. On Dare-Devil Aces’ September 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee presents a couple Hawker Furys escorting a flight of Hawker Demons on a bombing mission!

th_DDA_3610THIS black and white drawing which you see above, is the English ship, the Hawker “Fury.” It appears on the cover as an escort to the Hawker “Demons,” towards which we have given much space in the past. The “Demons” of course, are doing the actual bombing. The “Fury” happens to be a single-seater fighter with a maximum speed of 240 m.p.h. at 14,000 feet. It is naturally a very handy crate with which to protect the bombing ships.

Now, I believe, is as good a time as any in which to answer the frequent question, “Why don’t you paint more American ships?” The answer, I believe, should be obvious.

America, of all the nations of the world, should be about the last to be drawn in a major war. We are less secretive about our military plans and aviation developments than other nations, and any information regarding our ships is readily available to the readers.

However, across the seas, such, unhappily, is not the case. War clouds hover constantly above the threatened capitals of Europe. And while no nation there will admit to thoughts of aggression, we are well aware that it might come any minute. I have a natural interest in the ships of the English, feeling that they are naturally our friends and allies. We know too, that they are as peace loving as we, but by the very nature of their geographical situation, are more apt to become involved in war than ourselves. Feeling that your interest naturally runs that way, I have tried to give you as much information on British ships as I possibly can.

You will also note that I have from time to time, painted the German ships of war. We all know of Germany’s gigantic military preparations; we know very well that she may become the bombshell that will once again rock the earth. What then is her equipment in the sky? Next month I shall try to elaborate on the German air strength, giving you all the information I can possibly gather. It must be kept in mind however, that Mr. Hitler and his aides keep their activities pretty much under cover. Once in a while, though, I manage to get a peek. And when I do, you can be sure that I’ll pass the news along.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hawker Fury: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(October 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

Richard Knight in “Death Flies The Equator” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by David on September 15, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THE unstoppable Donald E. Keyhoe had a story in a majority of the issue of Flying Aces from his first in January 1930 until he returned to the Navy in 1942. Starting in August 1931, they were stories featuring the weird World War I stories of Philip Strange. But in November 1936, he began alternating these with sometime equally weird present day tales of espionage Ace Richard Knight—code name Agent Q. After an accident in the Great War, Knight developed the uncanny ability to see in the dark. Aided by his skirt-chasing partner Larry Doyle, Knights adventures ranged from your basic between the wars espionage to lost valley civilizations and dinosaurs. In this, his third adventure, Knight and Doyle come up against the mysterious Four Faces—a criminal cabal that seek to control all crime on the earth.

A haunted look came over the Admiral’s face. “That lost Wapiti,” he told Knight, “was found high on the beach at Crazy Day Atoll—that tiny mid-Pacific dot lying exactly at the point where East meets West, and North meets South. Underneath the island’s single palm tree sat the pilot and observer. Their bodies were stark as in death—yet they still lived! Their eyes were open—but they were eyes which only stared unseeing over the broad wastes of the sea.”

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 27: Major Edward Mannock” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on September 13, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have one of the RFC’s most famous Aces—Major Edward Mannock!

Edward Corringham “Mick” Mannock was a pioneer of fighter aircraft tactics in aerial warfare. A British flying ace in the Royal Flying Corps and in the Royal Air Force, Mannock was credited with 61 aerial victories, the fifth highest scoring pilot of the war. Pretty good for a man with poor eyesight.

Mannock was among the most decorated men in the British Armed Forces. He was honoured with the Military Cross twice, was one of the rare three-time recipients of the Distinguished Service Order, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

He was killed July 26th 1918. His posthumous Victoria Cross summed up the man quite nicely: “This highly distinguished officer during the whole of his career in the Royal Air Force, was an outstanding example of fearless courage, remarkable skill, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice, which has never been surpassed”.

As a bonus, check out Mannock’s entry in Eddie Rickenbacker’s Hall of Fame of The Air from 1935 at Stephen Sherman’s Acepilots.com!

“Ring Around The Sky” by Ralph Oppenheim

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THIS week we have a story from the one and only creator of The Three Mosquitoes—Ralph Oppenheim! Mickey Rand trained pilots to be Aces using his infallible techniques of air combat. That is until it seemed the German Ace Kemmerer had found a way to beat these tricks, downing three of Mickey’s star pupils and he wasn’t about to let his latest protege, Jim Conway be next!

“Never Look Back!” That Was the Iron-Bound Rule of Micky Rand, Maker of Aces!

For more by Ralph Oppenheim:

Pick up any of our collections of Ralph Oppenheim’s intrepid trio––The Three Mosquitoes! “LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.



The Wizard Ace


The Magic Inferno


The Thunderbolt Ace

Pick up your copy today at all the usual outlets—Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain William Erwin

Link - Posted by David on September 6, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have American Flyer Captain William Erwin’s most thrilling sky fight!

Captain William Erwin holds a unique record. He was the only accredited American observation ace, and piled up a string of 9 official victories while flying slow ungainly two-seaters. A Texan, William Erwin enlisted for training the day after war was declared. He received his commission as a Lieutenant after a bare forty hours of flight and was immediately sent overseas and assigned to the First Aero Squadron which he joined on its first day at the front. Before his first week he had downed an enemy plane and the French awarded him the Croix de Guerre. He was awarded additional recognition by the French and also received the American Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaves. Through the war safely, without ever having been wounded despite his rare courage and daring, he came to an untimely end while flying the Pacific in a futile search for the missing Dole flyers in 1923. Erwin, himself, recounted the following experience to the compiler of these records on a grey day in the Argonne many years ago.

 

ONE AGAINST THREE

by Captain William Erwin • Sky Fighters, July 1935

I HAVE had plenty of tough moments, but the toughest time I ever had was that day we (Erwin and his observer) were sent out to regulate fire on a Hun ‘77 emplacement that was holding up the advance of the whole 26th Division. Orders came through from G.H.Q. that that emplacement must be destroyed. Our squadron got the order, and the C.O. passed the job on to us. “Three Spads from the 95th will be waiting over Somme-Sous to pick you up and furnish protection.”

Well, we got over Somme-Sous all right. But instead of finding three Spads, we found a soupy sky chock full of wildly flying crates. The three Spads were all mixed up with about a dozen Fokkers, and I saw right away if we were going to regulate fire on that Hun target we would have to do it alone—without any protection.

I managed to duck the Huns in the soupy dripping sky and find the ‘77 emplacement. My observer reeled out his wireless antenna and got in contact with the battery. The first salvo came over—wide. Along with it came three Fokkers. I kept circling. The leader dived and sieved the turtleback behind me with a hot Spandau burst, then swept underneath and poked at my belly with snaky tracer. His mates up above were bent on making a mince-meat sandwich out of us. Bursts came from above and below.

Finally my observer got his corrections wirelessed to the battery and went to work with his Lewis on the top Huns. I split-haired and dived for the Fokker beneath. The second salvo came over—still wide! I could hear a sharp oath from the observer, even above the clatter of his guns. With one hand holding the Lewis, he pounded out corrections with the other. The Spandau pellets rattled like hail through my wings and fuselage.

A quick turn and abrupt stall gave me a chance for a burst at the leader of the Huns, who had zoomed up above when one of the others dived below. I pressed the trigger-trip, saw my tracer eat up the fuselage and bore into the pilot’s back. He maneuvered, cartwheeled into a cloud.

The battery meanwhile had got the range and the next salvo did plenty of damage, but a Hun coming head-on at me with both Spandaus flaming, took my mind off that matter. I replied in kind, without budging the stick, then closed my eyes waiting for the bullet with my name on it.

To my surprise, the other plane exploded in flames and went sliding down, leaving a black smoke trail behind. At the same moment a black shadow loomed above me. I glanced up, stick-handled my crate just in time to get out from underneath. The Fokker of the Hun leader was spinning erratically down. The pilot hung out of the cockpit, dead, held in the pit only by his safety belt. Whether he had died after taking that first burst of mine, or whether my observer had got him, I don’t know. That left only one Fokker. He dallied for a little while, until the battery had completely destroyed the ‘77 emplacement, then turned tail and beat it for safety.

Donald Keyhoe: To Tell The Truth

Link - Posted by David on September 4, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

IN 1956, Donald E. Keyhoe co-founded the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). He was one of several prominent professional, military or scientific figures on the board of directors, which lent the group a degree of legitimacy many of the other contemporary “flying saucer clubs” sorely lacked. With Keyhoe in the lead, NICAP pressed hard for Congressional hearings and investigation into UFOs. They scored some attention from the mass media, and the general public (NICAP’s membership peaked at about 15,000 during the early and mid-1960s) but only very limited interest from government officials.

Following a widely publicized wave of UFO reports in early 1966, the popular CBS panel show, To Tell The Truth featured UFO Investigator Major Donald Keyhoe as a guest on April 11th, 1966. Hosted by Bud Collyer, a panel of four celebrities—Tom Poston, Peggy Cass, Orson Bean, and Kitty Carlisle—question three people all claiming to be UFO Investigator Donald Keyhoe and must determine who is telling the truth.

As he states in his sworn affidavit:

I, Donald Keyhoe, am a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, a retired Marine Corps pilot and have been an aviation writer for many years. Currently I am working in Washington DC as director of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. NICAP is a scientific organization which was especially created 10 years ago to investigate the facts surrounding unidentified flying object known as ufos or flying saucers. Recently there’s been another rash of reports of strange things in the sky. in the past 20 years there have been over 10,000 such sightings of UFOs. While many of these flying objects have been satisfactorily explained as a result of natural phenomena, others so far defy logical explanation. It is the position of NICAP that there is nothing to be gained by secrecy and that a thorough and intensive scientific investigation of unidentified flying objects would give the subject the dignity and importance it deserves and quite possibly reveal some startling facts.

signed Major Donald Keyhoe.


Three men all claiming to be Major Donald Keyhoe on
TO TELL THE TRUTH from April 11, 1966.

Click on either image to enjoy the show. Unfortunately for the imposters, Keyhoe knows his facts cold.

As a bonus: See if you can spot Tony Goodstone, author of the seminal The Pulps as he and two imposters try to fool the panel!

And be sure to check out the latest volume of Donald E. Keyhoe’s Philip Strange—Captain Philip Strange: Strange Hell—The German Empire has unleased Hell on Earth! The dead are climbing out of their graves and giant skeletons attack the living. Heads are detonating and soldiers are turning to bronze. But flying to the rescue like an avenging angel is America’s own “Brain Devil,” Captain Philip Strange, the phantom ace of G-2 Intelligence. Whether it’s deadly bridges or killer broadcasts, when the Allies need a miracle they pray for Philip Strange! When World War I gets weird, only America’s own “Phantom Ace of G-2” has a ghost of a chance against the supernatural slaughter. Captain Philip Strange in his strangest cases yet from the pages of Flying Aces magazine!

Pick up your copy today at all the usual outlets—Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

“A Torch for the Damned” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on September 1, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

SKY DEVIL flew through the Hell Skies of 29 adventures in the pages of Dare-Devil Aces from 1932-1935. Cruickshank returned to the savior of the Western Front in six subsequent stories several years later. The first two were in the pages of Sky Devils (June 1939) and Fighting Aces (March 1940). The other four ran in Sky Fighters (1943-1946); and like Oppenheim had done with his Three Mosquitoes, so Cruickshank did with Sky Devil—he moved him to the Second World War where Bill Dawe changes his name to get into the air service and flys along side his son!

Here we have Sky Devil’s second appearance after his run in Dare-Devil Aces in the premiere issue of Popular’s new air anthology title Fighting Aces! In what is probably an unpublished story found in the files from the original run five years earlier, Bill Dawe—America’s Sky Devil—and his Brood had been ordered to Paris, to take part in a general allied army show that was being put on for the sole purpose of stepping up the morale of the French citizenry. Unfortunately, mock warfare turns into the real thing!

Captain Bill Dawe—you’ll like the guy—the way he fights in an open sky, the thrust of his jaw—the beat of his heart inside of his shirt! A fighting eagle brings his brood to rest, and lights the skies of the Western Front with a blazing torch for the damned!

For more great tales of Sky Devil and his Brood by Harold F. Cruickshank, check out our new volume of his collected adventures in Sky Devil: Ace of Devils—Nowhere along the Western Front could you find a more feared crew, both in their element and out. The Sky Devil and his Brood could always be counted on to whip Germany’s best Aces, out-scrap entire squadrons of Boche killers, or tackle not one, but two crazed Barons with an Egyptology fetish! But what happens when they find themselves up in a dirigible fighting a fleet of ghost zeppelins, or down in the English Channel battling ferocious deep water beasts, or even behind enemy lines dealing with a crazed Major Petrie? Plenty, and you can read it all here! Pick up your copy today at all the usual outlets—Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 25: Lt. Sumner Sewall” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on August 30, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have one of America’s most famous Aces—Lt. Sumner Sewall!

Sumner Sewall rose to be Flight Commander in the 95th Aero Squadron. He is credited with seven victories and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with oak leaf cluster, the French Legion of Honor, the Croix de guerre and the Order of the Crown of Belgium. Sewall was the first American aviator whose machine had been sent down in flames and lived to tell the tale!

After the war, he worked in a variety of jobs, including being an executive with Colonial Air Transport and a director of United Air Lines before becoming an alderman in Bath, Maine in 1933. From there he was elected to the state legislature as a representative in 1934; then senator in 1936 and being named President of the State Senate with his electoral win in 1938. All this culminated when he was elected govenor of the great state of Maine and served for two terms.

After stepping down as governor, Sewall became president of American Overseas Airlines for a year, then served as the military governor of Württemberg-Baden from 1946 to 1947. After trying for the state senate again in 1948 and finishing a distant third, Sewall moved into banking becoming the president of Bath National Bank in the 1960’s.

He passed away January 26th, 1965.

“Fallen Archies” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on August 25, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” That sound can only mean one thing—it’s time to ring out the old year and ring in the new with that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors—Phineas Pinkham.

“POWERFUL KATINKA” had been upsetting the Allied apple wagon for days. Powerful Katinka was the name of a Heinie gun battery which had been set up about a mile from Mont Sec. The Yanks had christened it thus. It was no ordinary Archie battery but one that was more efficient than it had any right to be in the year 1918. The brass hats at Chaumont suspected that the Krupps had uncovered a tow-headed Teuton prodigy who had passed trigonometry at Heidelberg with an average of one hundred and fifty per cent. When shrapnel could tag a Spad, flying top speed, two out of three bursts, then something had to be the matter. In three weeks time, Powerful Katinka had sent five Allied ships to the cleaners via the scrap iron route. Of course Chaumont could only think up one slogan. Get that blankety-blank gun! They had not thought up how. That was up to the Air Force.

And you just know Pinkham’s gonna stick his nose or something in it!

The brass hats decided their auto was running on gas—but they didn’t mean gasoline! And though Phineas always claimed his ghost would come back to haunt Major Garrity, what chance had the Boonetownite’s spectre in competition with the ghost of last month’s English breakfast?

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Charles Nungesser

Link - Posted by David on August 23, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have French Flyer Captain Charles Nungesser’s most thrilling sky fight!

Of all the great French Aces, none is more poignantly remembered than Charles Nungesser, who began his flaming war career as a Lieutenant of Hussars and was one of that famous lighting band of cavalrymen that stopped the German Uhlans at the gates of Paris. For his exploits in this heroic stand he was awarded the Medal Militaire, the highest combat award.

But horses were too slow for this daring, dashing young officer. He transferred to aviation and was trained as a bombardment pilot, after which he took part in thirty-eight bombing raids across the German lines, before his unusual flying ability was recognized and he was sent on to a chasse squadron—Nieuport 65.

Nungesser was wounded seventeen different times, but in between times in the hospital managed to run up a score of forty-one victories and was awarded every decoration possible.

Ten years after the war’s end, Nungesser, with a colleague, Major Coli, took off from Paris on an attempted non-stop flight to New York. His plane disappeared into the blue and no trace of either Nungesser, his colleague, or the wreckage of the plane has ever been found. Thus ended the flaming career of one of the greatest of all sky fighters. His own story of a thrilling battle as recorded by a French journalist, follows.

 

A STRANGE VICTORY

by Captain Charles Nungesser • Sky Fighters, June 1935

ALL duels du ciel are thrilling—some in one way, others in another. It is thrilling to down an enemy after pouring burst after burst into his avion. Many times I have done that, but I think it is even more thrilling, more exciting, and certainly more unique when one downs an enemy avion without firing a single shot. I have done that—in fact, I didn’t even have guns on my avion, let alone bullets. I shall tell you about that.

The motor of my avion had been acting up. The mechanic came to me when he had repaired it, and I said I would take it off for a test flight. I did, went way up into the blue above the clouds to 5,000 meters. The motor was splendid. I sailed around absent-mindedly enjoying the beautiful view, when lo and behold, a Boche avion breaks into the clear space beneath me.

Ready for Battle

It is a two-seater, less than thousand meters away. I dip and go for him, but he sees me before I reach firing range. The gunner in back stands up and swings his mitrailleuse on me. Tack-tack! He puffs a short burst. I slip under it and dive faster, my own fingers poised on the trigger trip—ready to give it to him when I get closer.

I get closer, close enough! The Boche is clear in my sight. I press the trigger— but nothing happens! Another burst from the Boche gunner flicks through my wings. My own gun is jammed, I think. I reach up to clear it, still holding on the Boche’s tail.

But Mon Dieu—I have no gun! The cradle is empty!

I am almost about to crash the other’s tail now. He has to dive to get away. I see the rear gunner standing up in his seat. He is fumbling with his gun. It has jammed. Terror is on his face. The Boche pilot dives and zig-zags to get out of my range. I keep pressing close on top, pushing him down in a long steep spiral.

Waiting for the End

The rear gunner gives up, folds his hands complacently and waits for my bursts to snuff his life out. Down and down we spiral, through the clouds, out underneath. The gunner fumbles at his mitrailleuse again, I decide to run my bluff, hoping that I can force them to land before the gunner clears.

Voila! I do. The Boche pilot spies a clear space and sets down. I circle and land beside them, but I am helpless when they set fire to their machine. I have no guns to prevent it.

Poilus surrounded the burning avion and took the two Boches prisoners. Both were very mad and swore profanely when they found out I had no guns on my avion. But it was another victory for me, the most unusual one! The armorer had removed my gun to clean, when my avion was laid up for repairs. I had neglected to see that it was in place before I took off.

“The Overstrand” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on August 21, 2017 @ 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. On Dare-Devil Aces’ September 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee gives us his two favorite things to paint—planes and trains—in this case a couple Boulton Paul Overstrands attacking a train depot!

th_DDA_3609I DON’T know whether it makes much sense or not to tell the story behind this month’s cover, because action speaks louder than words, and all but the blind can see that a perfectly good piece of railroad is being blasted all over the premises by the sky raiders. Still, maybe we could use a little information on just what sort of ships these giant bombers are.

The big crates, coming in low, are Boulton Paul “Overstrands.” From the damage apparent on the cover and the bombing to be inflicted by ships we were not able to show, you can well imagine what’s going to happen to the enemy’s railroad. Of course, it is a practical military tactic, as old as warfare itself, to cripple your enemy’s means of transportation.

If at this late date, War should come to us again, and God forbid that it ever should, I believe this cover should give you some idea of what would happen. We have, for purposes of illustration, placed the “Overstrands” at a much lower altitude than they would really attempt. Were they actually to fly at this altitude, the terrific concussion that would ensue from the bombardment, might well put them out of commission. War is no longer a pleasant pastime, and the bombs to be dropped today are not precisely baseballs.

But suppose they were actually at this height—suppose this illustrated scene were actually taking place. At that altitude the ship’s speed would be somewhere around 160 m.p.h.—somewhat faster than the speed attained by the fastest, single-seat combat crates of World War days. The “Overstrand” is a bomber, pure and simple, but it is carefully protected by three gun positions, bow, amidship and prone. It can carry a load of 2,196 pounds, and its service ceiling is 22,500 feet.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Overstrand: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(September 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“Heroes Die Hard” by Frederick C. Painton

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THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton. In “Heroes Die Hard” Painton crafts a story of an immoral politician trying to use his carefully created war record to sweep him in to office when the war is over. The only problem is a man he wronged in the past who now stands in the way of his future! From the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s “Heroes Die Hard!”

You’ll Thrill to this Gripping Drama of Fiendish Treachery and Grim Courage in the Air!

For more by Frederick C. Painton:

Pick up a copy of Squadron of the Dead! Eight classic Painton tales that ran in the pages of Sky Birds magazine in 1935! The Squadron of the Dead contained all the hellions of ten armies! Men without hope; men courting death; men who loved to kill; men who laughed and fought, drank and cursed, lived hard, and died harder. Americans, British, Russians—even Germans—made up their ranks, and only one bond held them together: Death lay ahead of them. They were assigned the grim missions no other squadron dared to take—for they had all been condemned to die!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 21: Willy Coppens” by Eugene Frandzen

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STARTING in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have Belgian balloon buster—Lt. Willy Coppens!

Willy Omer François Jean Coppens de Houthulst was the Belgian Ace of Aces. He got his initial training as a soldier and officer in the cavalry division of the army. He transferred later on to the Flying Corps and began immediately to compile the record of victories that gained him top ranking among sky fighters. (a YouTube video exists that shows footage of Coopens demonstrating downing a balloon and talking about it years later.)

Because the German armies had overrun all but a narrow strip of his own country, he did all of his flying from foreign bases, usually being stationed in the sectors in Flanders occupied by the British forces. Flying foreign machines from foreign bases, he nevertheless built up a remarkable record of successful combats. When his time on the front was ended, unhappily but gloriously, he was officially credited with 32 victories and awarded practically every medal under the sun, chiefly among there were the Order of Leopold II with swords, Order of the Crown, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 with 27 Palms and 13 Bronze Lions, French Legion d’Honneur, Serbian Order of the White Eagle, British Distinguished Service Order, British Military Cross, and French Croix de Guerre with 2 Palms!

After the war, Coppens served as a military attaché to France, Britain, Italy and Switzerland. He retired in 1940 to Switzerland, where he spent his time organising resistance work and marrying. His war memoirs, Days on the Wing was published in 1931 and was subsequently revised and re-issued in paperback forty years later in 1971 with the title Flying in Flanders.

In the late 1960s he returned to Belgium and lived his last five years with fellow Belgian ace Jan Olieslagers’s only daughter until his death in 1986. He was 94.

The Real Strange War: Capt. Fernand Jacquet

Link - Posted by David on August 14, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Donald E. Keyhoe’s Philip Strange battles all manner of strange and wild planes and their pilots. How many times has the ‘Brain-Devil of G-2′ come up against planes or pilots that seem to be skeletons floating in the inky darkness of night? Too many times. But maybe all that wasn’t just from the fertile imagination of Mr. Keyhoe. . .

Case in point: Captain Fernand Jacquet. Jacquet was Belgium’s first pilot to score an arial victory, and subsequently became that country’s first ace! And he did all of this primarily while flying a Farman F.40! Inspired by Roland Garros, who had equipped a Morane monoplane with a machine gun, Jacquet fitted one to his Farman pusher—a biplane used primarily for reconnaissance and observation. By mid-1916, he had painted the nose of his plane with a ghoulish insignia of a skull.

Jacquet survived the war with 7 credited victories (and 2 uncredited) and was the only Belgian awarded the British Distinguished Flying Cross. He left the Belgian military in 1921 and with his old gunner Louis Robin, he started a flying school near Charleroi, at Gosselies.

When the Germans once again invaded Belgium, at the start of World War II, Jacquet returned to his nation’s service—as an active member of the Belgian Resistance until he was imprisoned in Huy Fortress in 1942 where he was held until war’s end.

Fernand Jacquet died in Beaumont, Belgium, on October 12th, 1947.

You can read more of Donald E. Keyhoe’s Philip Strange tales in the latest volume of his collected adventures—Captain Philip Strange: Strange Hell—The German Empire has unleased Hell on Earth! The dead are climbing out of their graves and giant skeletons attack the living. Heads are detonating and soldiers are turning to bronze. But flying to the rescue like an avenging angel is America’s own “Brain Devil,” Captain Philip Strange, the phantom ace of G-2 Intelligence. Whether it’s deadly bridges or killer broadcasts, when the Allies need a miracle they pray for Philip Strange! When World War I gets weird, only America’s own “Phantom Ace of G-2” has a ghost of a chance against the supernatural slaughter. Captain Philip Strange in his strangest cases yet from the pages of Flying Aces magazine!

Pick up your copy today at all the usual outlets—Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

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