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Strange Staffels Now Available!

Link - Posted by David on August 24, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Yes! The fourth in our series of themed stories of Donald E. Keyhoe’s Captain Philip Strange is now available! The book premiered at PulpFest this month, and although we had copies there, our printer informed us there was a problem with the files and one of the spreads needed to be tweeked and resubmitted.

This time around Captain Philp Strange faces off against seven of Germany’s Strangest Staffels! America’s enemies have assembled squadrons of flying furies, exploding skeletons, and invisible airplanes to turn the tide of the First World War. From the backalleys of Paris to the skies over Germany, Strange finds high-flying fortresses above the clouds, cursed aerodromes, strafing skulls, and other wild weapons of mass destruction!

Strange Staffels, like all Age of Aces Books, can be order from Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books, and, of course, Amazon!

“The Death Disc” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on August 17, 2015 @ 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. This time Mr. Blakeslee brings us a story of a weapon that was made, but never used during the war. From the April 1935 issue of Dare-Devil Aces, we present “The Death Disc!”

th_DDA_3504SOME time ago we mentioned the fact that during the war people in all walks of life set their creative minds at work on inventions to “win the war.” Each inventor seemed to think that he had hit upon an original principle, or a new application of an old principle. The majority of these inventions were utterly useless. This month’s cover is based on the invention of a German who lived in a small village in East Prussia.

He had been a brilliant instructor of mathematics in a famous German university. Later on in life he retired and when war broke out he was too old to fight

There was no lack of courage in the old man for he tried in vain to find a place in the fighting forces of his country. But German officialdom at that time would have none of him.

Finding no place for himself he had retired to his village again and there devoted his time and his modest fortune to experimentation on explosives. None of his formula proved successful and after an accident that wrecked his laboratory, the towns people persuaded him to give up this dangerous occupation. Discouraged by his failures, he did stop dabbling in explosives and turned to commodities.

He figured, and rightly, that the war would last longer than people thought, and foresaw a shortage in some of the staple commodities. He received no backing whatever, although some of his ideas, conceived during this period, were later adopted.

Constant discouragement undermined his health and his mind broke under the strain, He kept on working, but his inventions were noted for their utter uselessness. Before this he had become interested in the airplane and had started the device that is pictured here. After his mind gave way he completed it in this form. Early in 1917 he died and whatever his intention was concerning this device died with him.

However, there is a model of it preserved in the village and from an examination of it, it would appear that part of its function is shown on the cover. We know it was to have been shot from a German two-seater by a sort of spring gun. The gun, they say, was actually built but there is no record that it worked.

The device itself is very light and consists of a bomb-like core around which revolved a driving propeller and cutting blades. There is nothing within the core now to indicate how the propeller was to have been revolved.

It was invented before the machine gun came into general use, when pilots were throwing bricks at each other’s prop or fighting with rifle and pistol. Assuming that the thing was workable, we have shown on the cover our idea of what it could do, What do you think it was?

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Death Disc: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(April 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

Premiering at PulpFest. . .

Link - Posted by David on August 11, 2015 @ 8:00 pm in

This year at PulpFest we’ll be premiering our latest two volumes. Both are from the pen of Donald E. Keyhoe, noted aviator, author, and ufologist. In 1931, Keyhoe created a number of long-running characters for as many aviation pulps. There was Philip Strange in Flying Aces; The Devil Dog Squadron in Sky Birds; and The Jailbird Flight for Popular Publication’s Battle Aces.

With The Jailbird Flight: Dead Man’s Drome, we reprint the first seven stories of Keyhoe’s condemed suicide squadron that ran in Battle Aces in 1931 and ‘32. Hand picked from the bowels of Blois, saved from a living death, outcasts—all of them—branded with the convict’s arrow. Braving danger with the recklessness of men who know they are doomed to die! They are dishonored war eagles who chose a chance to die in action rather than rot behind prison bars. Hot tempers, liquor, and the madness of war had brought them low—but beneath it all they still were men!

The Flight, at is core, is comprised of Bruce Kirby—Below the Rio Grande he had once been known as “The Killer,” now he flew through hell skies, leader of the strangest squadron that ever dared face death from flaming Spandaus; “Big” Durgin, the hugest Jailbird of all, a mountain of a man with pile-driver fists and a fierce, battered face that masked the gruff kindness beneath his hard exterior; “Tiger” Haight, whose dark eyes ever smoldered as at some hateful memory, perhaps of the day which had turned his hair to silver, though he was but thirty—no one knew his past—no questions were asked in the Jailbird Flight; Cartwright, the tall, urbane Englishman who looked like a British lord; the lanky Tinker with his drawling humor and comical, homely face; and last and by no means least—Kid Denison who reminded Kirby of his ill-fated young brother who had been brutally sacrificed by a drug-mad S.C.!

We also have our fourth collection of Captain Philip Strange—Strange Staffels! America’s enemies have assembled squadrons of flying furies, exploding skeletons, and invisible airplanes to turn the tide of the First World War. But when things get weird, we get Strange. Captain Philip Strange, that is—ace pilot and so-called “Brain-Devil” of G-2 Intelligence. His assignment? Journey from the backalleys of Paris to the skies over Germany, taking down flying fortresses, cursed aerodromes, strafing skulls, and other wild weapons of mass destruction!

In addition to these two volumes we’ll have all of our other titles that are still in print as well as our convention exclusive—Arch Whitehouse’s Coffin Kirk. So if you’re planning on coming to Columbus for PulpFest this year, stop by our table and say hi and pick up our latest releases!

“The B.E. Fighters” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on August 10, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: Every month the cover of BATTLE ACES depicts a scene from a real combat actually fought in the War and a real event in the life of a great ace. The series is being painted exclusively for this magazine by Frederick M. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft and was started especially for all of you readers who wrote in asking for photographs of war planes. In this way not only do you get pictures of the ships—authentic to the last detail—but you see them in color. Also you can follow famous airmen on many of their most amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you, want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3107IN THIS month’s cover a B.E. has penetrated deep into enemy territory on a reconnaissance trip. While harassing troops it is sighted by a patrol of Pfaltz Scouts. The Jerries dive immediately, surrounding the lone Allied ship in a trap of wings and spitting Spandaus. Valiantly the observer hammers away at his guns and has already succeeded in knocking one of the Boche out of control when fire breaks out in the front cockpit. Leaving the observer to stave off the attackers with his blazing Vickers, the pilot straddles out onto the lower wing and continues to fly the ship from there, controlling it from the side of the fuselage.

The incident is taken from an actual combat fought in the latter part of the war. The observer was Lieutenant H.W. Hammond, R.F.C., who was awarded a bar to his previously won Military Cross for his part in the fight.

With his pilot, Lieutenant Hammond had flown over the lines and was well into Boche territory when eight German fighting planes dived down on them. The unequal combat began with a savage burst of steel and flame. Knowing their only hope lay in getting back across the lines as swiftly as possible, the pilot held the nose of the ship toward home while the observer blazed away at the swarm of Jerries. By skillfully directed fire from his guns, Hammond succeeded in shooting three of the black-crossed wings down out of control. But he himself was wounded in half a dozen places and it looked as if the remaining Boches would be finishing them off any second.

Then that horror of all airmen—fire—broke out. The front cockpit became a blazing holacaust that threatened the lives of both men. Climbing over onto the lower wing, the pilot calmly continued to fly the ship from there, manipulating the joystick from the side of the fuselage! In a long turning side-slip to the right, which blew the flames away from the observer and himself, they started earthward.

They crashed in No-Man’s-Land, where they were rescued by infantry.

The B.E. was a reconnaissance plane which proved very successful, also, in destroying Zeppelins. The name, B.E., at first indicated Bleriot Experimental, Monsieur Bleriot being credited with having originated the “tractor” type machine. But later on it took the meaning of British Experimental. It was developed in several series. A later type was numbered B.E.2, B.E.2b, B.E.2d and B.E.2e, the two last being built in very large quantities. The general type was also made along different lines, as the B.E.3, B.E.4, etc., up to B.E.12.

The observer for a reconnissance plane had a two-fold job; to photograph, and, if necessary, to fight. The ship was not exactly the cold meat that one might expect; it was equal in combat to two Scouts but was always their prey if outnumbered.

The B.E. Fighters
“The B.E. Fighters” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (Battle Aces, July 1931)

 
Next month, the cover design illustrates another type of reconnaissance plane, the R.E. 8, in a stirring incident that commemorates a deed of outstanding daring.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 41: Lt. Frank L. Baylies” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on August 5, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Back with another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This time around we have the November 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of a American Ace credited with 12 victories—Lt. Frank L. Baylies!

Frank Leamon Baylies enlisted with the United States Ambulance Service in 1916 after hearing a returning minister speak of the work the ambulance service was doing on the Western Front. He was posted to France with the US Ambulance Section, seeing action at Verdun, the Somme, Argonne and a few months in Serbia.

In May 1917, Baylies waspresented with an opportunity to leave the rat-infested trenches and join the French Air Service. Needless to say he jumped at the chance. Initially assigned to Spa73 in Sptember 1917, he was transfered in October to Spa3—Les Cigognes—Guynemer’s famous Storks Group! (Guynemer had been killed in action in September of 1917).

Baylies achieved all his victories flying his lucky number 13 Stork emblazed yellow Spad. According to newpaper reports of the day, Baylies had adopted a Belgian police dog named Dick to counteract any possible hoodoo that may come his way due to the numbering on his plane. Dick sleeps under his bed every night and even goes onn occasional flights with his master! (Like Click in Steve Fisher’s Captain Babyface stories)

When America officially entered the war, Baylies was offered a commision, but declined, choosing to remain with the French Air Service. He eventually did transfer as a 2nd Lieutenant in May, but remained with The Storks.

Baylies is credited with 12 confirmed victories and is said to be responsible for six others. He was awarded Croix de Guerre, Medaille Militaire and the Legion d’Honneur.

He was killed in action when his patrol encountered the Fokker Triplanes of Jasta 19. He was shot and his Spad wet down in flames five miles behind the German lines. The Germans buried Baylies with full military honours befiting a war hero at Rollet. In 1927 his body was exhumed and reburied in Paris.

“The Dynamite Monster” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on August 3, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. This time Mr. Blakeslee looks into the possiblity of a giant bomb that needed to be carried aloft by two planes! From the March 1935 Dare-Devil Aces, it’s “The Dynamite Monster!”

th_DDA_3503I MET Ed in the Savoy Grill in London. We had not seen each other since I had been in England three years before, so naturally we sat down, ordered drinks and spent the rainy afternoon talking over old times.

Finally. “I suppose you’re over digging up ideas, what?” he asked.

“Among other things,” I answered. “Have you any ideas around loose?” and I explained what I was after.

“Inventions is it?” he said. “Well, I don’t know of any unless—”

“Unless what?” I urged.

“Oh nothing, I was just thinking of something I heard some time ago, but you’re after authentic material, aren’t you?”

I told him I was.

“There you are,” he returned. “I can’t prove it because Bill Totling told it and someone told Bill, or so he says, and you’d have to trace the story to the original source.”

“As long as the story had a source, that’s all the proof I require, so tell it.”

“All right,” he began, “but keep this in mind, personally I think Bill was pulling our legs. It was at the annual binge of the W.B.C. (I have called it the W B C (War Birds Club) which is not its real name.—Author.) Bill said that late in 1918 we were experimenting with a bomb to drop on Berlin that was to be carried by two airplanes. The bomb was to be slung between the ships by cables. At the proper place it was to be released by electricity from one of the ships.”

“I’d like to hear more of the details,” I said,

“Why don’t you look up Bill and ask him?”

I thanked Ed and we parted. I found that Bill lived on Taviton Street which was near my hotel so that very night I called on him. He remembered the story.

“Sid Stanley told it to me,” he said to my question, “Who told it to Sid I don’t know, it’s one of those yarns that has been told to so many people that without a doubt it has been changed in the telling, but I have reason to think that it has some foundation in fact.”

“That’s all the proof I need,” I said, “perhaps you can answer some questions. What kind of ships were to be used?”

“That I don’t know. They experimented with deHavilands.”

“Why deHavilands?”

“I suppose because they were easier to handle in the take-off. The idea was to train the pilots on the lighter ship before handling the heavier planes.”

“I see. Well, how did they take off?”

“The bomb was on a carriage. The ships took up position on either side of the bomb, dragged it between them, rose in the air and gradually took up the load of the bomb lifting it off the carriage and there you are. Sid said they actually got in the air with one too,”

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Dynamite Monster: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(March 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Sky Terrier” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on July 31, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Since we’re deep into the dog days of summer, we thought we’d give you a shaggy dog story from the pen of Joe Archibald. Instead of our usual Phineas Pinkham mirthquake we have the story of Muggins, a scottish Irish terrier, that finds himself taken in by a squadron fighting a loosing battle with the Germans and turns their luck around!

What a buddy for a fighting, daredevil pilot! Yet this dog was air-wise, every inch of him—and he proved it through the snarling menace of a thousand flaming Jerry tracers.

“The Fokker D-VII” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on July 27, 2015 @ 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. This time, we have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story if the Fokker D-VII on the cover of the February 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3502The contraption shown on the cover was supposed to have been invented just after our entry into the war. The idea was for a bomber to drop the net and then the combat ships were to lure the enemy into it, or else the combat ship was to carry the net itself. The story goes that the inventor offered it to the U.S. government, then to France and England and finally into German hands. (A similar device was employed in the Sky Devil story “The Haunted Fokker” (Dare-Devil Ace, April 1933))

Now let’s review the history of the Fokker D-VII, written by an authority on the subject.

THE FOKKER D-VII
by ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly Draughtsman, Fokker Aircraft Corp.

TO ANY one familiar with the fighting planes developed during the World War the Fokker D-VII is outstanding. It was superior to any other plane used by Germany and it was certainly the equal of any machine used by the Allies. Using the D-VII the German pilots were able to hold their own against a much larger force of Allied aircraft, and so great did the fear of these planes become that it was definitely stated in terms of the Armistice that all Fokker planes should be destroyed.

The D-VII was the result of the gradual development of the earlier Fokker Fighters. When it was found that the 110 H.P. Le Rhone powered Nieuport easily outmoded the 80 H.P. Gnome powered Fokker the design of the Fokker tri-plane was completed.

The triplane enabled the German pilots to gain a series of impressive victories and it was used by the great von Richthofen in many of his aerial duels. Although the speed of this plane was comparatively slow, its decided ease of maneuverability more than made up for the disadvantage.

But its flight range was limited by a small gasoline capacity and Allied pilots found that the best way to escape it was to out-distance it.

As it became apparent that the fighting planes of the Allies, and in particular the Sopwith Camels and Spads, were giving them the advantages of speed and flight range the design of the D Series Fokkers was started. The first of these was the D-I, a bi-plane powered with a 120 H.P. Mercedes, and like the rest of the series it was fast and efficient.

About this time the Albatros works (Albatros Werke) began production of the D Series Albatros machines. The Albatros D-II proved itself superior to the Fokker D-I and by 1917 the later developed D-III had surplanted the Fokkers at the Front. This Albatros was powered with a 175 H.P. Mercedes, weighed 1,470 lbs. and carried a useful load of 297 lbs.

These D Series Albatros planes were a bi-plane design, having a small lower wing (made of a single spar) connected to a larger upper wing with a V strut. Any combat advantages which the Albatros offered were offset by the fact that the plane was structurally weak and the wings could not stand torsions. Consequently, when fighting the Albatros, Allied pilots had but to put their planes into a steep dive to be safe.

Many German airmen were killed when their planes went to pieces in mid-air; the celebrated Captain Boelke met death when the wings of his Albatros pulled off while he was flying over his own lines. Several pilots deliberately wrecked their machines rather than take them into the air.

The father of the D-VII was a bi-plane of somewhat radical appearance. Its fabric-covered fuselage was made of wood covered welded tubing, making a clean and decidedly streamlined job. The wings were built up of wood in much the same manner as were the wings of the later Fokker commercial types.

Although this plane offered every advantage and was years ahead of its time in many ways it was refused by the German High Command. Realizing that little satisfaction could be had from the German government (politics meaning more to them than efficient fighting equipment) Mr. Fokker managed to contact the important pilots. He found that they were not satisfied with the planes and materials furnished them and they desired to select their own equipment.

After some difficulty and much red tape an open competition of the leading makes of military planes was held. For this competition Fokker redesigned his bi-plane and the D-VII was born.

The D-VII was characterized by its cantilever wings (made up of box spars). No wires or external braces were used and the wings were joined together at the tips with a single strut. The fuselage was of a rectangular cross section which feature made for simplified manufacturing and quantity production. By streamlining the landing gear axle with a tiny wing, speed was added to the plane.

The D-VII fast became a favorite of the pilots. Although the Rumpler climbed faster, it handled very badly, especially on the turns. So great was the demand for the new Fokker that the factories making other planes were required to stop production of their own types and concentrate on the building of the D-VIIs.

The following figures give an insight into the construction and performance of the plane.

Wing curve Fokker varying
Sweepback None
Dihedral, upper wing
Dihedral, lower wing 1° 20′
Stagger 2′ 1″
Total wing area, including ailerons 236 sq. ft.
 
Upper plane—
  Span 27′ 5½”
  Chord 5′ 3″
  Area, with ailerons 145 sq. ft
 
Lower plane—
  Span 22′ 11¼”
  Chord 3′ 11¼”
  Area 91 sq. ft.
  Incidence 1 to 1.5 degrees
  Gap 4′ 6¼”
 
Fuselage—
  Max. cross section shape Rectangular
  Max. cross section area 9.35 sq. ft.
  Max. cross section dimension 3′ 9½” by 2′ 5½”
 
General Dimensions—
  Overall span 27′ by 5½”
  Length 23′
  Height 9′ 3″
 
The weight of plane (empty, including water) 1,867 pounds
The weight of plane loaded 2,462 pounds

The endurance of the Fokker D-VII is, full throttle at 10,000 feet (including climb) 2 hrs. 13 minutes.

Minimum speed of the D-VII at sea level (lowest throttle) is 62 miles per hour.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Fokker D-VII” by Frederick Blakeslee (February 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

 

Mr. Blakeslee covered the Fokker D-VII himself with the story of Billy Bishop for the cover of the February 1932 number of Battle Aces.

“Sky Lines” by Raoul Whitfield

Link - Posted by David on July 24, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Raoul Falconia Whitfield (1896-1945) is probably best remembered for his hardboiled crime fiction published in Black Mask such as the Jo Gar stories about a Filipino detective in an inter-war Manila. But Whitfield also wrote fiction for titles like Adventure, Blue Book, Breezy Stories, Everybody’s Magazine, as well as Battle Stories, War Stories, Boy’s Life and Air Trails. Frequently his stories in Air Trails featured “Buck” Kent, an adventurous pilot for hire. The stories, although more in the juvenile fiction vein, do feature some elements of his harder prose.

The July 1929 issue of Air Trails featured two pieces by Whitfield. There was the monthly dose of the adventures of “Buck” Kent and in the back of the issue was a cheifly autobiographical piece from his time as an aviator in the first World War. The autobiographical article is presented below; while the “Buck” Kent story, “Sky Lines” can be downloaded at the bottom of the post.

 

Sky Seconds That Count

by Raoul Whitfield • Air Trails • July 1929 (vol.2 no.4)

Mr. Whitfield, famous pilot-writer, author of the “Buck” Kent stories, tells about some of his own exciting moments in the air.

THIS fellow Whitfield has had some sky seconds, that have counted—even if he has to interview himself in order to admit it. We have to go back a few years to the days when army pilots didn’t pack ‘chutes; when stabilizers and inertia starters were things to talk about and say: “Well, maybe. Ten years from now—maybe.”

We have to go back to the days when a lot of good chaps were getting into tail-spins and not getting out of them. Back to war days.

There was the time a De Haviland’s Liberty conked out, over the Gironde River in France. That wasn’t so good, even though Lieutenant Whitfield did stretch the ship’s glide and reach a sandy strip along the stream’s edge. There was the time a Nieuport got her nose down and went into a tight spin five hundred feet off the ground, near Issoudoun, France.

That wasn’t so good, even though she whipped out of it a hundred feet above the earth. And there was still another time when a gray wall of fog swept northward across Colombey-la-Belle, and sent the lieutenant down for a nose-over on a soggy stretch too close to the front for comfort. And there were the seconds when a J.N. 4’s wings scraped those of another Jenny—at Kelly Field, Texas.

But the sky seconds that counted most slipped by at St. Jean de Monts, on the Bay of Biscay, France. This fellow Whitfield was flying a dep-control S.A.E. She was a terrible crate, and he was testing her out for target towing.

In the rear cockpit of this two-place ship was a noncom who had never tossed out a wrapped target sleeve before. The lieutenant was flying over the beach, headed into the wind.

He got the ship’s nose up and nodded his head. The noncom stood up and the prop wash battered him off balance. Instead of tossing the packed silk out, he held it momentarily.

Whitfield shoved the wheel forward and the nose dropped. A down current dropped it a bit more. The noncom recovered his balance—and let the packed target sleeve go.

The tail assembly slanted up—and the silk lodged between the rudder and elevator fins. The wind pressure jambed it there, tight—very tight. The plane was going down with power on, her dive angle around thirty degrees. And the more Lieutenant Whitfield tugged on that wheel—the worse the silk sleeve jamb became!

Seconds were counting, and counting big!

THE lieutenant swore at the noncom, howled at him to jerk the pack loose. The lieutenant cut the throttle speed, and stared down at the white beach. The ship had less than two thousand feet, and her dive angle was just right for a sweet crash.

A crash in this particular plane meant that the pilot would rate the engine in his lap, and plenty of fire to top off. Whitfield was pretty scared.

But he worked the wheel forward and backward, perhaps an inch. That would have meant something in a Nieuport or a Sop. But this crate didn’t notice the movement. And the target sleeve stuck like Bishop on a Boche’s tail.

The noncom was pulling at the rope coil—methods were crude in those days—but it was no go. Five hundred feet above the sand, Lieutenant Whitfield cut the ignition switch and thought of a girl back in the States. (He married the other one later).

He was still tugging at the wheel control, a hundred feet off the sand. But the dive angle was still thirty degrees or better. It looked like he’d eaten his last Bay of Biscay lobster and partaken of his last bottle of Mumms’ champagne. Then the wheel pulled back an inch—two inches—three inches! That helped.

There was still plenty of crash. The undergear went first, then a wing ripped along and buckled. The plane nosed over and the prop splintered. The pilot and the sergeant crawled out of the wreckage. The ship didn’t burn. She sizzled, but she didn’t fry.

The silk sleeve was still lodged between the rudder and elevator fins, partially opened. As the lieutenant writes, he yawns and looks at a splinter of that ship’s prop, hanging on the wall.

A lot of seconds pass by in eleven years. But he didn’t yawn then—and every second counted when he tugged at that diving crate’s wheel.

 

 

AND now down to New Orleans where “Buck” Kent has been earning his keep with a little sky writting, and some favors on the side in Raoul Whitfield’s “Sky Lines.”

“Buck” Kent matches his airman’s wits with the snarling bullets of bandit guns.

“Death Lightning” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 20, 2015 @ 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. It’s another of Mr. Blakeslee’s future tech story covers—and it’s a cover you don’t see often because it’s a hard to find issue due to G-8 guest staring in Robert J. Hogan’s Red Falcon story that month—Dynamite Cargo! (available in our first volume of Red Falcon: The Dare-Devil Aces Years.) Another side note: Although Blakeslee did the cover, he did not do the interior illustrations aside from the interstitials Would You Believe it? and The Story Behind The Cover—Josef Katula handled the art honors this month. So feast your eyes on the January 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3501THE cover this month, as last month, is dedicated to war in the air as it might have been fought had inventors realized their dreams.

If you did not believe the story behind the cover last month you probably will not believe it this month. As a matter of fact we are a bit incredulous ourselves, yet we have it on authority that such an invention as this month’s cover shows was actually being worked on during the war.

As you see, the invention consisted of a device by which an electrical charge would be built up sufficient to jump the gap between two airplanes.

When we visualize the huge apparatus required to jump a spark across even a comparatively small gap, we wonder what the airplane that could carry such a machine would look like. So we selected the German Roland Walfische which was a queer looking ship for those days, a beauty however, and far in advance of its time as you can see by the above drawing of it.

We may laugh all we please at these “impossible” things, yet in this age who is to say what is impossible and what is possible? Imagine what would have happened to a man fifty years ago had he described the radio—a padded cell for him perhaps. So reserve your laugh to fifty years hence.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Death Lightning: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(January 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next time, Mr. Blakeslee brings us another fanciful invention—”Death Lightning” for the January 1935 cover. Be sure not to miss it.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 40: Major Francesco Baracca” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on July 15, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Back with another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This time around we have the October 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of Italy’s Ace of Aces—Major Francesco Baracca!

Major Francesco Baracca is Italy’s greatest Ace of WWI but started his millitary carrer in the cavalry before the war with the prestigious Piemonte Reale Cavalleria Regiment upon his commisioning in 1910. Baracca’s interests turned to Aviation a few years later when he was transfered from Rome to a small town in central Italy and learned to fly at Reims, France.

Son of a nobleman, Barraca is credited with 34 victories and emblazzened the fuselage of his plane with his personal emblem, a black prancing horse—the Cavallino Rampante—in tribute to his calvalry days. It is this emblem that his mother gave to Enzo Ferrari in later years to be the official symbol of the Scuderia Ferrari Racing team since 1929 and later Ferrari Automobiles.

He was killed while out on a straffing run in June 1918.

“The Flying Torpedo” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 13, 2015 @ 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. Blakeslee had three different formats for his stories behind his covers. First, there’s the straight story of the cover action; second, there was the ship on the cover where he told the specifics of the plane featured on said cover; and then there were future visions of air warfare. This week we have the first of these where he talks about the flying torpedo—or guided missle! From the December 1934 issue of Dare-Devil Aces

th_DDA_3412DOES this cover look fantastic? Perhaps it does, but it is based on actual fact.

During the war inventors were busy all over the nation. The butcher, the baker, the candle-stick maker, all turned their minds to contraptions calculated to win the war. Farmers who had never seen the sea went to work on unsinkable ships, clerks in the corner store who had never seen a big gun, invented marvelous shells.

Almost without exception the thousands of war inventions that flooded the patent office were useless and often fantastic. Without exception however the individual inventors were serious in their intentions and the government wisely treated even the fantastic inventions with the respect they deserved. The government realized that someone somewhere might turn in a workable idea.

Occasionally workable ideas were received from obscure inventors and in such a case government engineers were dispatched to the inventor to investigate, test and report. Many new and workable war inventions were acquired in this way but that was the exception and not the rule.

It was left to experts in the various fields to evolve new ideas and one was the aerial torpedo. How the torpedo was to have worked is pictured on this month’s cover.

Being an air magazine we have selected the Zep as the target, but the torpedo was meant primarily for operations against munition factories, ammunition dumps, ships, etc. We do not know what the torpedo looked like, but we do know that they were controlled by wireless. They were actually, and successfully tested near Dayton, Ohio.

A humorous incident occurred that might have proved tragic, during the test. One of the torpedoes got out of control and had the countryside thoroughly scared until it eventually landed in a wood with disastrous results—but only to the trees.

Our informant tells us that the torpedo was self-propelled and had a wing span of about six feet. Direction up, down, right or left was controlled by wireless. Although the torpedo had wings we have shown them on the cover as rockets.

The question naturally arises, why weren’t they used in the war ? We can’t answer that one so we will let you answer it and if anyone does know the answer we would be glad to hear it.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Flying Torpedo: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(December 1934, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next time, Mr. Blakeslee brings us another fanciful invention—”Death Lightning” for the January 1935 cover. Be sure not to miss it.

“The Breguet” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 6, 2015 @ 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. This time, Blakeslee presents us with more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover of the November 1934 cover for Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3411THE BREGUET pictured on the cover was one of the most successful bombers produced by France during the war. There are several types, the 14 A 2, 14 B 2, 16 B.N.2. and the three-motored machine. The ship here shown is a 14 B 2 and is from a Signal Corps photograph.

The BREGUET was designed by M. Louis Breguet, one of the great pioneers of French aviation. He was one of the first designers to produce a satisfactory tractor biplane.

The BREGUET was very strong and sturdy, being constructed almost exclusively of aluminum. Only the upper wings were provided with ailerons. The part of the lower plane lying behind the rear spar was hinged along its total length and was pulled downward by means of 12 rubber cords fixed on the under side of the ribs; the tension of these could be adjusted by means of screws, an automatic change of aerofoil corresponding with the load and speed thus resulting with an easier control of the airplane with and without a load of bombs. The ship was equipped with a complete dual control which could be removed from the observer’s cockpit. The engine was a 260 h.p. Renault stepped up to 300 h.p. by the use of aluminum pistons and a greater number of revolutions. To the left on the outside of the body a fixed machine gun for the pilot was mounted. The observer was armed with two machine guns clutched together and mounted on a raising and turning ring. As the ring was mounted high, the firing range forward was good. The characteristic features by which the ship could be recognized were beside the usual backward stagger to be found on other airplanes, the following; the high fuselage with the right-angled rudder and forward sharp rounded keel fin, the landing gear with three pairs of struts, the triangular-fixed tail plane, the divided elevator, with cornered balance, as well as the dihedral upper planes and horizontal lower ones.

We have discussed bombs and bomb dropping; this month we shall discuss machine guns. Of the three guns carried on the BREGUET, two arc Lewis and one a Vicker. These two types were used extensively by France and England. The Lewis machine gun was an air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine fed gun, weighing about 26 lbs. with the jacket, or 18 lbs. without. The gun was used almost entirely without the jacket, without any loss of efficiency. Its extreme mobility made it a most efficient gun for airplane work, being capable of operating in any position, firing straight up or straight down, or in any position. The speed of getting into action and the ability to function automatically in any position were due to the use of detachable, drum-shaped, rotating magazines, each magazine holding 47 or 97 cartridges. When a magazine is latched on the magazine post, it temporarily becomes part of the gun requiring no further attention until empty, when it is snatched off and another snapped on, as quickly as an empty magazine.

The Vickers is a water-cooled, recoil-operated, belt-fed machine gun. Like the Lewis gun, it is capable of being fired at the rate of 300 to 500 shots per minute. Its advantage over the Lewis gun is that it is capable of being fired continuously up to 500 shots, whereas the Lewis requires changing of magazine after 97 shots. On the other hand it has the disadvantage of being belt-fed, so it does not afford the mobility which the Lewis gun afforded. The water-cooling in the Vickers, like the air-cooling device in the Lewis, was dispensed with for aerial work, as unnecessary.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Breguet: The Ship on the Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(November 1934, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next time, Mr. Blakeslee brings us the fanciful tale of “The Flying Torpedo” for the December 1934 cover. Be sure not to miss it.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 39: Gabriel Guerin” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on July 1, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Back with another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This time around we have the September 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of the ninth ranking French Ace—Gabriel Guerin!

Sous Lieutenant Gabriel Fernand Charles Guerin was credited with 23 confirmed victories—including five of which he shared—and a reported 10 more unconfirmed. Most of these victories were while a pilot in SPA 15. As we said he was France’s ninth ranking Ace in the First World War and was awarded the Legion d’honneur, Médaille Millitaire and the Croix de Guerre with 15 palms and two bronze stars!

Sadly, Guerin died when the aircraft he was piloting, a SPAD VII, spun out of control and plunged to the ground soon after take-off near Mont l’Eveque on the 1st of August 1918. He was 26.

“T.N.T. Wings” by Eliot Todd

Link - Posted by David on June 29, 2015 @ 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. This time, Eliot Todd recounts the story behind Blakeslee’s October 1934 cover for Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3410THE Bristol Fighters on this month’s cover have dropped the last of their light demolition bombs on the blazing ammunition dump below and are now battling their way through a cordon of avenging Fokker D-VII’s. Will they make the lines? Well, the Bristol Fighter was so good that it was used right up to the close of the war with very few changes and could be trusted to give a good account of itself in any show.

Perhaps the most spectacular of all war sights was the explosion of an ammunition dump. Thousands upon thousands of shells and bombs of all types and sizes were stored in these dumps. And one well-placed hit was enough to transform them from orderly, harmless looking supply depots into white-hot infernos of death and destruction.

Such great concentrations of munitions as were to be found in 1918 were unheard of during the early days of the war. Open tactics prevailed for those first few weeks and not until the armies dug in did positions become comparatively permanent. Then the establishment of definite lines made supply centers necessary for the support of the armies.

The first dumps were just what the word means—piles of ammunition dumped on the ground, sometimes protected by canvas or some other rude shelter. No attempt was made to conceal the positions of the depots; secrecy was not considered necessary at that time.

But when aerial observation and photography developed from a curiosity into an important branch of the service, it became necessary to protect the depots from the prying eyes and tell-tale camera of the airmen.

Dumps were necessarily located near some road or railway. For that reason they were all the easier to spot from above when not camouflaged.

With the position of a dump located on a map or shown on a photograph, and with each section ranged, it was generally a simple enough matter to shell the target if within range of the artillery.

If not, planes were rolled out, courses set and bomb racks loaded.

Well aware of the vital importance of these dumps to the successful operation of their plans, the general staffs of each nation used every known device to protect their supplies. Camouflage was the answer. Roads were screened when it was necessary to bring up supplies by daylight in preparation for a big drive.

Some dumps were located underground, not only to mask their position but also to protect the ammunition in case of a raid. In some cases great tarpaulins were stretched and painted to resemble the ground.

As the art of camouflage advanced it became more and more difficult to recognize them. But in spite of all precautions, the dumps continued to be spotted and bombed by that new weapon which has done more than anything else to revolutionize modern warfare—the airplane.

The Story Behind The Cover
“T.N.T. Wings: The Story Behind The Cover” by Eliot Todd
(October 1934, Dare-Devil Aces)

Check back again. We will be presenting more Stories behind the Covers.

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