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“Parlez Voodoo!” by Joe Archibald

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“Haw-w-w-w-w!” You heard right! That marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back! And if things aren’t rough enough for Major Rufus Garritty with Pinkham about—imagine the horror if there were two Pinkhams! Say it ain’t so!

You’re going to laugh at what happens in this story—but Major Garrity and the boys of the Ninth Pursuit didn’t crack a smile. One Phineas Pinkham was enough for them—and two of him were—too much!

“A.E.G. Bomber” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on March 23, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the fourteenth of the actual war-combat pictures’ which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their 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_3207BECAUSE of a promise not to reveal his identity, the hero of this combat will be called Jim. He was a British war pilot and has a great fund of experiences, some of which he has been good enough to relate for use in this magazine.

This month’s cover story is a most unusual one. Of the seven men involved in the fight only one survived and he, as a result of the battle, spent long months in the hospitals in both France and England. As for the three planes, all were totally wrecked; in fact only portions of the German ships were ever found.

The combat took place toward the end of the war, not long after the exploit of Jim’s which was related in last month’s issue of Battle Aces. On this occasion Jim started out with his patrol early one morning and flew toward the German lines. As the planes advanced the weather suddenly changed. The earth disappeared and the sun burned red through the haze which rapidly gathered. Flying conditions fast became impossible in the face of the gathering storm, so Jim, who was leading the patrol, gave the signal to turn about for home.

The weather changed from bad to worse and soon Jim discovered that he was flying alone. He knew that his patrol had been forced to separate and to fly each man for himself. He decided to head due south in the hope of flying out of the storm, for he could not find his own field and it was suicide to land where he was. Suddenly the form of an immense bomber loomed up ahead, rushing directly at him out of the haze.

It was not until nearly a year later that Jim was able to recall what happened from that moment on.

Let me tell you the story from the ground.

At about 11:30 A.M. two dark objects whirled out of the haze. One landed in a street and proved to be the body of a man, his clothes in shreds and too mutilated for identification. The other object hit the roof of a building in Châlons-sur-Marne, and was followed by splinters of wood, metal and scraps of red fabric. When dug out of the basement this proved to be the wreck of a Mercedes engine.

A few moments later the tip of an airplane wing fell in the outskirts of the same town, preceded by several explosions. It was also reported that at about the same time two Mercedes engines, with separate bits of metal and parts of the wings of an airplane, fell near the road between Châlon and Chepy. Then reports came in of a rain of wreckage falling all over the district. To cap the climax, another Mercedes engine, with more wreckage, fell at Marson, three and a half miles from Chepy. What could be the cause of this deluge of Mercedes engines? All came down at approximately the same time at widely separated points. The bodies of five more men and wreckage were found near Châlon and Chepy.

To add to the interest of the day, at Sommesons, nearly twenty miles from Châlons, an S.E.-5 suddenly shot out of the haze, barely missed a farm house, and spread itself out over the adjacent landscape. The pilot was sent to a hospital unconscious, where he stayed in that condition for several clays. As he was the only one who seemed at all connected with the affair, the matter remained a mystery until a year later when his memory had fully returned. The following is what happened.

As the bomber loomed up ahead, Jim recognized it as a German A.E.G. Contrary to general practice, it was not camouflaged but was painted a bright red. Jim pulled up to pass over. As he zoomed up he saw another bomber almost directly overhead. The nose of his ship pointed directly at it and with an instinctive movement, he pulled his trigger. Almost instantly there was a terrific explosion. The wreckage of the bomber was thrown in all directions. Jim was so close that parts of the Boche ship shattered his propeller and damaged his right wing. The bomber dropped, shearing off the left wing of the A.E.G. underneath close to the fuselage. Jim does not yet know how he escaped the tangle of flying wreckage and ships. The next moment they had vanished and Jim began a long glide earthward; because of the thick haze, his ship crashed, as has been related. (For purposes of design the scene on the cover has been painted in bright sunlight, but in reality the haze was extremely dense.)

The A.E.G. bomber was powered by two 260 h.p. Mercedes engines and carried two guns. At 5,000 feet its speed was 90 m.p.h. and its landing speed about 75 m.p.h. It had one fault. Its elevators did not function well when landing. It was also found advisable not to fly the machine without a passenger in the front seat.

A.E.G. Bomber
“A.E.G. Bomber” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (July 1932)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 33: Lieut. Scaroni” by Eugene Frandzen

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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 March 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of Italy’s First-Ranking Living Ace (at the time of publication (second over-all for Italy during WWI)—Lieutenant Silvio Scaroni!

Scaroni is credited with 26 victories and an additional six unconfirmed! He is beat by the great Francesco Baracca who is credited with 34 victories, but Baracca did not survive the war. Scaroni did and went on to help establish a flying school for the Chinese Air Force at Loyang and set up an aircraft plant to produce Fiat fighters and Savoia-Marchetti bombers under license.

When WWII came along, it was General Scaroni who commanded the Italian air forces against France at the outset of Italy’s involvement and later transfered to Sicily in charge of units fighting against Malta. On September 8th, 1943 Scaroni decided to stop his war and hid in a small town near Garda lake until the end of the war. He entered the reserve after the war ending his career in 1958 with the rank of “Generale di Squadra Aerea.”

He passed away on 16 February 1977. He was 83 years old.

“Kondor E 111a” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the thirteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their 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_3206JIM, like most of the men who fought in the World War, refused to talk on the subject. He was an English ace and I knew he had done some worthwhile things. Finally, just to get rid of me, he agreed to tell me his story on the condition that, should I repeat it, his name would be withheld. Luck was with me after he once started and by questioning and egging him on I persuaded him to tell me of several other of his exploits. You’ll hear of them in later issues. This month the cover is based on one of his stories which he told very modestly, so I shall retell it in my own way.

A British hospital had been bombed by three German flyers. They had wrecked one wing of it, killing several of the wounded. As soon as the news reached the nearest airdrome, planes took off in pursuit of the marauders, but they had disappeared and as night was setting in the ships had to return.

The three Boche flyers had flown monoplanes with green camouflaged bodies, brick-red rudders and blue wings, so they were marked men. The Allies determined to avenge the outrage and early next morning the patrol took the air together with all ships in that sector. They ranged the sky all without coming in contact with the enemy. On the way home they flew under the clouds, shooting up everything in sight on the ground. When they returned to the drome, Jim’s patrol learned that in their absence the three Jerries had again bombed the hospital, fortunately without any fatal results. The three had lurked in the clouds until the patrols had gone and then proceeded to drop their eggs.

Orders were issued to get these Jerries at all costs. This time the British forces were to fly singly or in pairs, in order to cover more territory. With rage in their hearts the British pilots took the air.

Jim was flying alone and very high when he saw three specks skudding along close to a layer of clouds; they were coming from the direction of Germany. Sure these were the wanted planes, he tilted his machine down to investigate and noticed that one ship was flying high above the other two, probably as a lookout. On coming closer he recognized the plane as one of the bombers of the day before. He pulled his throttle wide open and dove for him.

Too late the Boche heard the scream of the plane behind him. He turned with a startled look as Jim let go a savage burst straight into him at point-blank range. The Boche was probably killed instantly, for he fell forward, his monoplane tipped up and Jim’s smoking bullets smashed through the entire length of the body. The other two ships streaked down one behind the other. All at once Jim realized that he was in a trail of heat and smoke. In his blind fury he had kept a fast hold on his trigger and was pouring a steady stream of lead into the ship ahead.

The smoke brought him to himself and he pulled to one side just in time to see the enemy ship burst into roaring flames. In its dive the burning plane had headed straight for the other two and an instant later had plunged into the leading Boche. There was a blinding flash, followed by a cloud of smoke, suspended for an instant, and when Jim gathered his wits, he and the third Boche were flying alone.

Instantly he brought his nose in line with him and pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. He had used up his ammunition in that wild dive. He thought of his center section gun, but before he could maneuver into position, the German had gone into a dive. Jim determined to get him or die in the attempt. He set off in pursuit, but when the Jerry whirled into the clouds. Jim thought he had seen the last of this particular enemy. He cut in after him, however, and as he came out, saw the Boche still diving towards the earth. A moment later, the Jerry plane flattened out and crashed into a field. The pilot extracted himself from the wreck, ran a few steps and dropped.

Jim landed near him and found that the German was not badly hurt but that his mind had been temporarily deranged. He was removed to a hospital and several weeks later, when his mind and nerves were rested and back to normal, he explained the reason for the bombing of the hospital. The Germans had been informed that the hospital was an ammunition factory in disguise, for the demolition of which they would be highly rewarded.

Jim did not recognize the type of the German ship, but was sure it was neither a Fokker nor a Junker. From his meager description it sounds like a Kondor E 111a or E 111. At any rate I have shown these two ships on the cover. There is no information available on this machine except that it had a 200 h.p. Goebel rotary motor.

Kondor E111a
“Kondor E 111a” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (June 1932)

“The Westland Wagtail” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the twelfth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war plwves in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their 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_3205THE PAINTING on the cover this month lacks two things—movement and noise. The only way to show movement is by the speed lines which stream out behind the planes. As for the noise, you will just have to imagine it. The three diving Germans with motors wide open are sending forth a deafening roar which gives the effect of a musical note when heard at a distance. The American ship, upside down as it zooms over, is emitting a high-pitched, reverberating and ear-splitting shriek. It drowns the bark of two Vicker machine guns which are pouring a stream of hot lead into the nearest Boche. Now that you have stuffed cotton in your ears we’ll go on with the story.

The action took place near Chateau-Thierry on July 2, 1918. The pilot of the American ship was First Lieutenant Alfred A. Grant of the 27th aero squadron. He was out on a patrol with several other officers when he encountered an enemy formation of nine planes. During the combat which followed, Lt. Grant became separated from the others and was immediately set upon by three of the Jerries.

He led these three Boches all over the sky, his comrades having vanished. Whenever opportunity presented itself he would turn and pour hot fire into a German ship. By skilful maneuvering he managed to keep out of serious trouble.

He kept the three Germans on the qui-vive however, and they found it impossible to corner him. Suddenly Lt. Grant broke off the fight and started on a bee-line for home. This was what the Germans wanted and hoped for. They gathered together in a group and dove after him.

On the other hand this was what Lt. Grant had hoped they would do. He allowed them to approach to within range and then zooming up and over he let go a withering blast of machine-gun fire straight into the Jerry ships as they streaked by under him.
One Boche continued his dive into eternity and the others turned and fled for home. For this action Lt. Grant was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

At first glance you may th_BA_3109think the German ships are Pfalz scouts of the type shown on the cover last September. If you have that cover compare the two and you will see how and where they differ. The machines illustrated on this cover are Albatros D.V.’s.

The Albatros biplanes were largely used in the War, at first as rather slow two-seater fighting machines, and as reconnaissance types. At the end of 1916 there came a very small Albatros single-seater with a Benz or Mercedes engine of some 175 h.p. This little ship did much damage to the Allies’ airplanes, until it was met and defeated by still faster British and French machines.

The speed of this ship was between 120 and 130 m.p.h. at its best height. This was the type known as the DIII. The DV was essentially the same as the DIII with no outward difference in appearance. There was, however, an improvement in speed and maneuverability. The DIII and DV were speedy looking ships and beautifully stream-lined. They have two Spandau machine guns firing through the propellers.

There was also an Albatros DXI, quite radical in design. The body instead of being rounded was box-shaped and for no apparent reason the rudder and fin were advanced. Between the wings it had a single instead of the V strut. As the bottom wing was much shorter than the upper, this strut inclined outward, and did away with all wiring. There was also a two-seater Albatros and a two-engined bomber.

But this month we concern ourselves with the blue ship flown by the American which is a new and seldom heard of type, the Westland “Wagtail.”

It was designed in answer to a general demand for a fast, quick-climbing single-seater fighter, and its purpose was for high altitude fighting. It met the demand, for it could climb to its service ceiling of 17,000 ft. in 17 minutes—a thousand feet a minute, which was fast climbing in those days and hardly surpassed even today.

The pilot’s view upward and downward, was very good, as more than half the center section was left open. The engine cowling differs from the accepted type of the day and has more or less of a modern appearance. It had a span of 23′ 2″ and an overall length of 18′ 11″.

The Westland Wagtail
“The Westland Wagtail” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (May 1932)

 

“Jinxed Joysticks” by Harold F. Cruickshank

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Today we a have a high-flying tale through war skies by Harold F. Cruickshank. Captain Bill Kelly tries to break the grip a jinx has on his best fighter ace by taking him on a trip straight down into Hell and back (hopefully). It’s “Jinxed Joysticks” from the March 1934 number of Flying Aces Magazine!

On any other day Tom Dillon would have thrilled at the yammer of those Spandaus—would have leaped to his guns as the pair of green-trimmed Fokkers dived by. But on this one day, when death came nearer than ever before, his hands froze on the Lewis grips—and he could not fire.

“Handley-Page Bomber” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the eleventh of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables yon to follow famous airmen on many of their 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_3204THE COVER this month shows a Handley-Page bomber being attacked by a flock of Fokkers. The true story behind this daring scene was related to me by the hero of the incident, a former R.A.F. flyer, who was flying one of the first bombers of this make to appear at the Front.

The pilot—who wishes his name withheld—was returning from a mission over Germany about ten o’clock in the morning. He was several kilometers the wrong-side of the lines and flying as high as possible above a sea of clouds, when he noticed some specks approaching from the left. They rapidly overtook him and proved to be a flight of five gaily painted Fokkers. For a time the Fokkers flew alongside but out of range of theliandley, while they looked it over, for this was the first ship of the type they had seen. The lone Handley continued on its way, with its gunners on the alert. When it neared the lines and it appeared that their prize was to escape unmolested, the Boches decided to chance an attack.

They made the mistake of closing together instead of separating and coming in from five different directions. As they approached, the rear gunner let go in their general direction, more to warm his gun than with any thought of doing damage. Much to everyone’s surprise a Fokker, painted all blue, turned on its back and dove for the ground in flames.

Only one of the staffel appeared to be at all experienced. He flew a bright red ship and at first the men in the Handley thought he might be Richthofen. This Fokker dove and zoomed with terrific speed. After several exciting attacks, at last he came so close at such a fast pace that he was unable to stall underneath, so started a loop. He came out from under the Handley on his back very near to the bow of the big ship. The front gunner, quick to grab the opportunity, poured a hot fire of blazing tracers into the enemy at close range. The Fokker completed its loop, but instead of recovering, plunged down, whirling through the clouds at a tremendous speed. The others, disheartened, turned about and sped toward Germany. A short while later the Handley-Page landed at its airdrome unharmed.

The machine pictured is the four-engined type V/1500. It was developed from the two-engined Handley-Page and was used principally for night bombing. Its most spectacular mission was to have been the bombing of Berlin—a mission which was only forestalled by the signing of the Armistice.

The fuselage is the same as in the two-engined ship (0/400). The four engines are carried two tandemwise on either side of the fuselage. They are not enclosed in any cowling. The upper and lower main planes are of equal span, the upper plane being flat and the lower having a dihedral.

Big as these ships were, they were smaller than a giant German Zeppelin bomber. The span was 126 feet—8 feet shorter than the Zeppelin. The overall length was 62 feet—10 feet shorter than the Zeppelin. Empty, it weighed 15,000 lbs. It could stay aloft fourteen hours carrying 1,000 gallons of gas. Its speed was 103 miles per hour at a low altitude and 95 miles per hour at 10,000 feet. Its landing speed was 50 miles per hour. It could climb to 10,000 feet in twenty-one minutes. Loaded it weighed 30,000 lbs. The power plant had four 375 horse power Rolls Royce “Eagle” VIII engines.

Handley-Page Bomber
“Handley-Page Bomber” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (April 1932)

 

“Tattle Tailwind” by Joe Archibald

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Even the lowly angle worm, according to the old maxim, will turn and put up its dukes when sorely beset. The lowly worms of this story, of course, are the buzzards of Major Rufus Garrity’s Ninth Pursuit Squadron. Their tormenter, Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham, born on April Fool’s day, cradled in conjury and reared in raillery, perhaps had never heard about the deceptiveness of the proverbial worm. A worm had never kicked back at the amazing, freckle-faced, buck-toothed pilot from Boonetown when he was attaching it to the end of a fishhook. Nevertheless, Phineas should have known that he who lives by the sword will sooner or later get a taste of cutlery.

Major Garrity had chased Phineas off the drome. The Royal Flying Corps buzzards had sworn a vendetta against him. And over in Germany, the wily Rittmeister von Schnoutz was scheming. Aside from these, Phineas didn’t have an enemy in the world!

The Man Behind The Mosquitoes Pt3

Link - Posted by David on February 26, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

By 1975, Ralph Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World had been going strong in the Poconos. One thing leads to another, and as with most things in his life, Ralph had veered off in a new direction—furniture making.

Magic Puppet World turning to furniture world, too

The Pocono Record, The Stroudsburgs, PA • 2 August 1975


Ralph Oppenheim finishes handmade chair in his barn workshop.

SCIOTA – Always at work on another project. Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim have patience.

They have a reputation for creating fascinating mechanized puppet shows but they have turned their talents lo making hand-tooled furniture, including luxurious dog beds.

They always seem to get involved in time-consuming projects. First it was puppet shows that take months of delicate adjustments and modifications before the figures act flawlessly. The latest is the construction by hand of a 26-piece dog bed wilh a modern art design. The project took three weeks.

The Oppenheims are asking $1,000 for the bed. They have beds of several designs on sale at the Animal Gourmet, a restaurant for dogs in New York City.

The furniture for humans appeals to people of more modest means. They are making tables, stools and chairs just as they were made in early America. No power tools are used to shape the wood and neither nails nor screws are used to piece it together.

All of the furniture is made with pine, either clear, knotty or Southern. It is fitted together with blind pegs. Like the other work the Oppenheims do, they design the furniture together. Ralph does the carpentry and Shirley does the finishing.

“You rarely see furniture that someone puts any artistry into.” Shirley said.

The furniture-making started after people saw their dog beds and suggested they make furniture for people too. Oppenheim, 68, has been a skilled carpenter and tinkerer with machines for years.

After World War II, Oppenheim gave up a career writing Fiction for pulp magazines to put together puppet shows, the thing that really interested him.

Mrs. Oppenheim helped out and 11 years ago they opened the Magic Puppet World. The attraction, on Bus. Rte. 209 between Snydersville and Sciota, was oriented toward children until a few years ago.

Then, the Oppenheims started working on a series of displays of modern sculptures in motion. To their surprise, their original art-in-molion creations appealed to children as well as adults.


Hand-carved statue of modern design.

Because of the changes, the place was renamed the Oppenheim Gallery and Puppet World. Oppenheim describes the new sculptures as expressionistic studies in motion. They are much more abstract and sophisticated than the earlier more conventional pieces.

“We feel we haven’t completely developed it even now,” Oppenheim said. They will continue to make mechanized pieces when their attention is diverted from the furniture they are making now.

“Whatever we are doing at the time seems the most important.” Oppenheim said.

The early pieces are miniature shows. Lasting about a minute, the two- and three-inch high figures move and interact on a stage, their movements guided by an intricate network of fine silk threads.

Five of the shows are circus acts. The rest are children’s storybook scenes. An aerobatic act and an assembly line of a sausage factory are among the shows. A half dozen figures guided by 25 or 30 strings, each with a specific purpose, comprise each show.

The first one made was an animal circus act. It uses a motor-driven rotating cylinder with cams that push levers connected strings that manipulate the figures. The cylinder rotates once, taking about a minute, to create all of the movement of the figures.

To design such a piece, it is necessary lo plan the motion of several figures at once and prevent all of the strings from becoming tangled.

“By the time you get finished, you have to go back and do it over again, usually,” Oppenheim said. He slowly became experienced in selecting motors and other parts for the displays, accepting advice from parts dealers.

Oppenheim began the work without any mechanical training. Computer experts vacationing in the area who stopped to see the show told Oppenheim that the cam design is similar to cam designs used in some modern computers, Oppenheim said. They assumed he had some background in engineering, which he does not have, Oppenheim said.

“When it came to these things, I didn’t even know about gears, how they work,” Oppenheim said. “It was all trial and error up to a point.”

In one of the shows, a lion tamer sticks his head in a lion’s mouth. In another, a balerina walks down stairs and her partners dance. All are coordinated to music, accomplished originally with use of a stop watch.

“It took three months to get her to walk down the stairs to the tune of the music,” Oppenheim said. “The entire piece took over a year to make” working off and on, he said.

Major industries, including the Ford Motor Company, AT&T and Westinghouse, several years ago contracted with the Oppenheims to custom make puppet shows for display at trade conferences, museums and at the New York World’s Fair in 1964-65.

Always, they would work together, sometimes day and night for weeks, to complete the projects on time, they said.

“Both of us tear each other’s work apart and it really becomes a collaboration.” Mrs. Oppenheim said. She attended Cooper Union, a New York City art school, majoring in design.

Recently, the Oppenheims discontinued making ceramic and copper jewelry. They had no time for that project along with all of the others they have going.

 

With Ralph’s death in August 1978, Shirley closed up the Oppenheim Gallery and Puppet World and moved back to New York City to be near family. She passed away in 2006.

The Man Behind The Mosquitoes Pt2

Link - Posted by David on February 25, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

All three of these articles from The Pocono Record cover essentially the same ground. (Today’s and tomorrow’s have pictures of the man himself included.) Here it’s been six years since the first article, and the Oppenheims—Ralph and his wife Shirley—have expanded upon The Magic Puppet World, now adding The Jewelry Fair with handcrafted jewelry; The Luck-Lore Center where patrons can buy amulets and other objects of luck from age-old beliefs; The Humorosity Mart which featured the Oppenheim’s own line of hilarious souvenirs and gift-novelties; and The Trinketorium—exciting jewlry, puppets and novelties for children.

Puppetry reaches zenith at Oppenheim’s

By BILL ZELLERS (The Pocono Record, The Stroudsburgs, PA • 22 July 1972)

SNYDERSVILLE – Puppetry, which can be traced back as far as Greece in 300 B.C., has reached its culmination in the animated figures of Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World.

Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim have devoted 15 years of their lives to developing this form of entertainment and they have been running their automated show in the poconos for eight years now.

Oppenheim is not sure just what to call the shows he puts on since some of the figures are moved by strings like marionettes, but the fingers pulling the strings are automated and are moved by cams on a drumb.

He takes a couple of months to set up just one of these shows, Oppenheim says. First he has to think up a story for the little figures to act out. After this he must program the figures for each of their moves, each movement of the figures requiring weeks of work.

The intricate moves of each of the puppets has to be gone over time and time again to get them right, he says.


Ballerinas twirl in mini-theater.

One of his creations, a ballet with seven ballerinas, took a year to create. It look him three months just to get one ballerina to move down a set of stairs.

The staging is also important in these shows. Oppenheim likes the small three-inch puppets better, because they can be moved more easily and can act out a more detailed story on the small stage and are more impressionistic.


Fearsome Gulliver, four-and-a-half-foot marionette, glares down from stand along Lilliput Road at Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World—one of many puppets moved by automated mechanisms.

The larger puppels such as a four-foot Gulliver and a shoemaker and elves are controlled by wires from underneath. This allows for more fluid movement, he says.

Seventeen shows make up the program at the puppet world. Lilliput road goes by the stages of the three-inch puppets, which act out shows that run for one minute each.

All the stories for the shows are ones that Oppenheim has thought up or that come from fairy tales. Other are acts, such as the lion tamer act, and some acrobats.

Oppenheim carves all his figures himself and has put on industrial shows for companies such as Bell Telephone and Westinghouse.

His shows are not only for children, but interest adults as well.


Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim take in the sun in front of the Magic Puppet World and a board bearing examples of good luck charms sold in the World adjunct, Luck Lore Center. (Staff photos by Bill Zellers)

In front of the barn which holds the automated puppetry is the Jewelry Fair and the Luck Lore Center. The Jewelry Fair contains ceramics and wood earrings, pins, rings and Bobos for string ties made especially for children.

The Luck Lore center is a new feature at the puppet world. Here are replicas of all sorts of amulets and good luck charms based on ancient beliefs.

There are signs of the zodiac, African fetish charms, South American and Middle Eastern amulets, a tranquility amulet and a Teraphim with divining stones which is supposed to help people make important decisions.

“I don’t guarantee that they will work,” Oppenheim says, “but the psychological effect of believing in one might leave you with a better feeling.”

Magic Puppet World is on business Route 209 between Snydersville and Sciota. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from May 30 until Labor Day.


An ad for Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World from 1972 showing the diversification that the Oppenheims had expanded to.

The Man Behind The Mosquitoes Pt1

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

In researching the life of Ralph Oppenheim, the elusive creator of The Three Mosquitoes, the first bit of information I found on my road to finding the man was an article in The Pocono Record (Stroudsburg, PA) from 1975 (which is part three of this series of articles) which made reference to his pulp writing career. That article was the key to finding the man behind The Three Mosquitoes. There was enough information to trace him back ultimately to his birth on March 29th, 1907!

While we’re working on a more detailed biography of Mr Oppenheim, here’s a bit of a preview. We have a series of three articles over the next few days that covers what he was doing after he left writing behind with the demise of the pulps during the last couple decades of his life—running a Magical Puppet World featuring 17 different annimated vingettes. Using a process Ralph Oppenheim had developed and patented!

In 1965 he moved with his wife Shirley to the Poconos in Pennsylvania, where he set up his varrious puppet shows in an old stone barn and christened it Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World!


Early ad from 1965.

Pair creates magic world

The Pocono Record, The Stroudsburgs, PA • 25 March 1966

Editor’s note: In keeping with Pennsylvania’s Tourist Preparation Month this March, when residents are urged to become familiar with attractions In their area, The Pocono Record is presenting this series on Pocono attractions. It has been prepared by the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau.

Take the age-old art of puppetry, harness it to the modern science of automation, put this unique combination in a beautiful old barn in the scenic Poconos—and you have Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World.

Here, to absorb and delight the visitor, are the results of 15 years of creative work by Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim, originators of Automatic Puppetry, a new entertainment medium wherein marionettes perform without puppeteers—their strings pulled by automatic precision “fingers.”

In the past, the Oppenheims have won national recognition for their Automatic Puppetry in special projects commissioned by some of the country’s leading industrial companies.

One such project has run for several years at Chicago’s famous Museum of Science and Industry; another was featured at the recent New York World’s Fair.

However, the Oppenheims always had as their goal a full entertainment presentation that could truly offer all the unique aspects of this new medium. For this they worked over a period of many years to create the 17 automatic puppet shows at the Magic Puppet World.

Visitors walk along a rustic “road” in the barn to see these shows arrayed in gem-like stages. Each has its own colorful setting, costumes, and lighting effects. All depict pantomime stories with whimsy, humor, and absorbing action.

The road winds through Lilliput, “The Littlest World in the World,” where a four-foot Gulliver introduces the Lilliputian marionettes—less than three inches high—performing in original stories: “The Cannonball Clowns,” “Rival Romeos,” “Rookie in the Royal Guard”—to name only a few.

Then there is Old Story Road, where favorite classics—Miss Muffet, Cinderella, and others come to life in this new medium of puppet story-telling.


This scene is from the “Doll Ballet” at the Magic Puppet Theater run by the Oppenheims between Sciota and Snydersville. The dolls and puppets move by automatic machinery that the Oppenheims have built over 15 years. It is one of the newest attractions in the Poconos.

And, in Ballet Square, the “Doll Ballet” is performed by eight-inch marionettes in true ballet technique. As part of this performance, the audience is invited “backstage” to see the automation machinery actually controlling the little dancers.

In harmony with this unique puppet entertainment is the new Puppet and Gift Shop which has its opening this season.

Set up in the “barn lobby.” this shop features a fantastic variety of puppets, decorative figures, and unusual souvenirs-all designed and handcrafted in the Oppenheims’ burn workshop.

Located six-miles west of Stroudsburg, on Business Route 209 between Snydersville and Sciota, the Magic Puppet World—in keeping with Governor Seranton’s proclaimed Tourist Preparation Month—is busily preparing to open its 1966 season on May 28.

At this time, the automation machinery will begin pulling the strings that will bring to life in continuous performances all the marionettes at the Magic Puppet World.

“Richthofen’s Last Flight” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on February 23, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the tenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started In give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their 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_3203THE COVER painting this month depicts the essential elements that combined to cause the death of Baron von Richthofen. All of the planes involved are shown.

Baron von Richthofen was the greatest ace Germany ever produced. He was a cool daring fighter who fought to kill or be killed, and the more skillful his adversaries were the better he liked them. To match wits with a clever opponent brought him the utmost pleasure. He fought like a demon, quickly and surely, taking advantage of every fortune of combat. His
deadly aim accounted for the crashing of eighty Allied planes.

An analysis of his combats show that of his eighty victories, forty-six of the vanquished were two seaters and thirty-four were single-seater scouts. He killed eighty-eight men in these combats, seventeen of whom were unidentified. His record of eighty may be disputed, however, for there are no British casualty records to account for three of the ships which were reported by von Richthofen. If we give him the benefit of the doubt—and there is no evidence that he did not bring down these three—eighty is an imposing” record. He was the terror of the Front and in his all-red ship he blazed his way through the sky from September 17, 1916, until the day of his death, April 21, 1918.

Von Richthofen’s circus became a byword at the Front. The ships composing this staffel resembled a sinister rainbow. They were painted in every color imaginable, no two ships being alike and every one having a different combination. Only one of his circus had a single color scheme. This ship—a Fokker triplane—painted a brilliant red except for the black maltese cross on its white background.

It fell to the lot of Captain Roy Brown to put an end to “The Red Knight of Germany. This he accomplished on April 21, 1918, in the vicinity of Hamel. Four triplanes led by von Richthofen had dived on some old R.E.’s which were engaged on a photographic mission. Captain Roy Brown, with his flight of seven Camels, was two miles above. His attention was directed to the plight of the R.E.’s by the English anti-aircraft calling for help. Down he came in a two-mile dive with his flight screaming in his wake.

The triplanes had been joined by additional Fokkers and Albatrosses, so that they numbered about twenty-two. With guns blazing, the eight Camels plunged into the fight. It developed into one of the most desperate dogfights of the War.

The R.E.’s relieved of their pursuers, streaked for home and escaped.

In Captain Brown’s flight was Lieut. W.R. May, a newcomer and out for the first time. Nevertheless he joined the melee. After downing a Boche he remembered his orders to stay out of a combat, so with great difficulty he disengaged himself and started for home. Death, however, in the form of an all-red triplane, rode on his tail. Do what he could, side, slip, loop and turn, May could not shake the cool and determined fighter who pursued him. His ship was being-shot to pieces and he was painfully wounded. But fortunately death showed no partiality and also road on the tail of the red triplane. Brown had seen the unequal combat and diving in from the right his tracers tucked a seam up the body of the Fokker until they reached the cockpit. The triplane faultered, then glided to the earth, making a nearly perfect landing. It settled between the lines. The pilot did not move. An Australian crawled over the top, attached a rope to the undcr-carriage and drew it to the shelter of a rise in the ground. The pilot was taken out. Baron von Richthofen was dead.

The triplane was another creation of Anthony Fokker, It was speedy and a machine to be avoided in a scrap. Some authorities contend that it had one fatal fault—its tendency to tear itself apart in the air. For this reason the Germans finally abandoned it.

The Fokker triplane had a 110 h.p. engine and its speed was approximately 125 m.p.h. It was 19 feet, 1 inch in length over all and had a top wing span of 25 feet including the balancing fins on the aileron. The span of the center wing was 21 feet and that of the bottom wing was 19 feet. It carried two fixed machine guns on the cowl, syncronized through the propeller.

Richthofen's Last Flight
“Richthofen’s Last Flight” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (March 1932)

“Deliver or Destroy!” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on February 20, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

“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.

Were back with the third of three Three Mosquitoes stories we’re presenting this month. This week Kirby is hand-picked to to currier valuble war plans from Paris to Colonel Drake at his own drome. Sounds easy enough—but nothing is ever easy when there are more spys from imperial inteligence than frenchmen on the route. And Kirby is told he must either deliver the plans or make sure they are utterly destroyed if they fall into enemy hands! It’s another exciting tale of Ralph Oppenheim’s The Three Mosquitoes that originally ran in the February 1929 number of War Birds magazine!


That simple mission that Kirby was on suddenly turned into a seething cauldron of intrigue and mystery. Death and the sinister shadows of the Imperial Intelligence crossed his path, and there was the wily von Hertz who always did the unexpected.

“The Fokker D-7″ by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on February 16, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the ninth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and fell 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_3202THE HERO of the exploit featured this month is Lieutenant-colonel William Avery Bishop, the ace of aces. In his many combats, numbering over two hundred, he made an official score of seventy-two enemy planes, destroyed. Seventy-five percent of these combats were undertaken alone and the majority were against great odds. In a single day, his last in France, he brought up his score from sixty-seven to seventy-two, by destroying, unaided, five enemy ships in less than two hours.

Here is the story of the action which is illustrated on the cover. It will give an insight into the daring of this fighter. The combat took place on August 11, 1917. Colonel Bishop went out that day to work independently, as was his custom. Finding the air clear of patrols, he flew to an enemy airdrome only to find it deserted. He then flew on, going at least twelve miles beyond the lines into German territory, until he discovered another airdrome. Here there was great activity. Seven planes, some with their engines running, were lined up in front of the hangars, preparing to ascend. This was just what he had hoped to find.

With throttle wide open, Bishop dove to within fifty feet of the ground, sending a stream of lead into the group of men and planes. He noticed one casualty as the pilots and mechanics scattered in all directions. The Boches manned the ground guns and raked the sky, while the pilots worked frantically to take off. They knew whom they were up against. There was no mistaking “Blue Nose,” which was the name of Bishop’s machine. Furthermore, who but Bishop would come so far into their territory, and have the audacity to attack an airdrome all by himself?

Here, right in their midst, was the man most feared and most “wanted” by the Germans. It meant promotion and an Iron Cross for the pilot who downed him. However he was not easily downed.

At last one Jerry left the ground. Bishop was on his tail like a hawk and before the Jerry could gain maneuvering altitude, Bishop gave him fifteen rounds of hot fire, crashing him to the ground. During this brief action another plane took off but Bishop was too quick for him. He swung around and in a flash was on his tail. Thirty rounds sent this Boche crashing into a tree. In the meantime two more enemy ships had taken off and had gained enough altitude for a serious scrap. These Bishop engaged at once. He attacked the first ship, his guns ripping out one of those short bursts at close range, which were his specialty. The enemy ship went spinning to earth, crashing three hundred yards from the airdrome. He then emptied a full drum into the second hostile machine, doing more moral than material damage, for this plane took to its heels.

Then Captain Bishop flew back to his airdrome, pursued for over a mile by four enemy scouts, who were too discouraged to do any harm. When Bishop left the Front he had won the M.C., the D.F.C., the D.S.O. and bar, the Legion of Honor, the Croix de Guerre, and Briton’s highest award, the V.C. For the action here illustrated he was awarded the D.S.O.

You will recognize the enemy machine as a Fokker D-7, “The Wolf of the Air.” In the hands of a good pilot it was a terror to the Allied forces. It was designed by Anthony Fokker who was not a German, but a subject of Holland. He is now a citizen of the United States.

This remarkable ship might have been on the Allied side, if it had not been for the short-sightedness of official England; for Fokker offered his services to England and was rejected. He then went to Germany where his value was recognized and where he was immediately employed. England, realizing her mistake, offered Fokker two million pounds to leave Germany. Since Fokker was virtually a prisoner there—but that is another story.

At any rate Fokker built the Germans a ship which filled the Allied pilots with wonder and consternation when it first appeared over the lines. This ship was the D-7. It could out-speed, out-dive, and out-fight any thing then at the Front. Later the Allies produced ships that possessed certain advantages over the Fokker—notably, the Spad that could turn on a dime, the Camel and the S.E.5. However the Fokker remained the most deadly ship that the Germans had to offer, until the end of the war.

The characteristics of the Fokker include an extreme depth of wing, lack of dihedral, and the absence of external bracing. It was truly a wireless ship. It had a span of 29′ 3½” and an overall length of 22′ 11½”, while its speed was about 116 miles per hour.

The Fokker D-7
“The Fokker D-7″ by Frederick M. Blakeslee (February 1932)

You will see a Fokker triplane on the cover next month. It is Baron von Richthofen’s machine, so don’t miss it!

“Passengers of Death” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on February 13, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Their familiar war cry rings out—“Let’s Go!” The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Captain Kirby, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Travis.

Were back with the second of three Three Mosquitoes stories we’re presenting this month. This week Kirby is tasked with flying a spy over the lines who as is usually the case, actually a german spy masquerading as a G-2 agent. When Shorty Carn and Travis realize what has happened, will they be able to reach Kirby in time? Find out in Ralph Oppenheim’s “Passengers of Death” originally published in the September 27th, 1928 issue of War Stories!

Up in the air headed Kirby’s Bristol, bound on that ticklish job of reconnoitering with an Intelligence man in the rear cockpit. Straight for enemy territory they streaked. And little did Kirby know that his two companions of that invincible trio, the Three Mosquitoes, were following madly behind to warn him of— Would they make it? There was something queer about that Intelligence man.

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