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“The Kid from Hell” by Steve Fisher

Link - Posted by David on March 24, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

STEVE FISHER is best known for his hardboiled work in Black Mask Magazine and in novels like “I Wake Up Screaming”. In 1936, Fisher had a story in each issue—save December—of Popular Publications long-running aviation pulp Dare-Devil Aces. Ten of these tales featured Captain Babyface and can be read in our published collection—Captain Babyface: The Complete Adventures. To mark it’s tenth anniversary, we have Fisher’s “The Kid from Hell” which ran in the October 1936 issue of Dare-Devil Aces sandwiched between the final two Babyface tales.

Bill Baxter was tired of being a stooge for the famous Mart Morrel, a guy who specialized in glory and let the War take care of itself—whose head was swollen twice as large as the Army’s best balloon! Still nobody doubted Morrel’s nerve or the fact that he could fly—it’s just that Baxter was well convinced that wind bags must come down!

For more great tales by Steve Fisher, check out Captain Babyface: The Complete Adventures—For Jed Garrett, “Captain Babyface” of the American Special Agent’s Corps, his orders are simple: Kill Mr. Death! But who is Mr. Death? One of Germany’s brightest chemists and inventors, he had grown weary of life and entered a monastery near Alsace-Lorraine. But war came and the monastery was bombed. Severely injured, German surgeons patched him back together, though he was left horribly disfigured. And now, sworn to vengeance against the Americans, he uses his evil genius for Germany in the “War to End All War!”

It’s Our 10th Anniversary!

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

IT’S HARD to believe it’s already been ten years since we introduced you to Jed Garrett, aka Captian Babyface, and his faithful dog Click, the hell-hound, but it has. It was ten years ago today Age of Aces Books published it’s first—Captain Babyface: The Complete Adventures, gathering together all 10 of Steve Fisher’s tales of Captain Babyface and his battles against the skull-visaged Mr. Death that ran in the pages of Dare-Devil Aces in 1936.

Over the past ten years we’ve published the best names in weird World War I fiction from the tattered pages of the old pulp magazines. In addition to Steve Fisher, we’ve published work from the illustrious likes of Robert J. Hogan (The Red Falcon and Smoke Wade), Donald E. Keyhoe (Captain Philip Strange, The Vanished Legion and The Jailbird Flight); C.M. Miller (Chinese Brady), Ralph Oppenheim (The Three Mosquitoes), William E. Barrett (The Iron Ace), Robert M. Burtt (Battling Grogan), O.B. Myers (The Blacksheep of Belogue), Arch Whitehouse (Coffin Kirk), Harold F. Cruickshank (Sky Devil), William Hartley (Molloy & McNamara), and Frederick C. Painton (The Squadron of the Dead). That’s quite a list and we’ve got more to come!

We’ve tried to make our website a place to help you Journey back to an Age of Aces by not only featuring content about our books—the authors we’ve published and artist we’ve printed, but also other aspects of the old air pulps that don’t make it into our books as well—The pulp covers and the stories behind them, the lives of the aces in pictures, and their most thrilling sky fights!

And there’s free fiction Fridays when we frequently post stories that can be downloaded and read! Since it’s our tenth year we’re trying to have more frequent content up on the site and more stories—trying to increase from one or two a month to practically every Friday—and from the authors we’ve published as well as recurring website favorites—Joe Archibald’s Phineas Pinkham and Lt. Frank Johnson’s Silent Orth.

So stop back often to journey back and here’s hoping for 10 more great years bringing you the best of old air pulps in a new package!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major Giuseppe Barracca

Link - Posted by David on March 22, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

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

Quite in contrast with Alan McLeod of the Royal Flying Corps, who was one of the youngest of the famous flying aces. Major Giuseppe Barracca, Ace of Aces of the Italian Flying Corps, was one of the oldest, being 34 years of age when he was killed in the desperate air fighting above the Piave. Like Captain Ritter von Schleich, he entered the war a cavalry officer, but soon was transferred to the more romantic, yet more hazardous branch of the army, the flying corps.

He took part in more than 1,000 flights over the enemy lines, 70 of which were long distance bombing raids. He disappeared during a night flight when he took to the air to fight off German and Austrian bombers which had been reported bombing Red Cross hospitals. His body and the crashed ship was found two days later when the heroic Italians won back the ground the Austrians and Germans had taken from them six months before. A single stray bullet had snuffed out the life of this greatest of Italian aces, who, like von Schleich, had disappeared after running his score to 36 victories. The account below is taken from his diary.

 

TWO IN THE NIGHT

by Major Giuseppe Barracca • Sky Fighters, August 1934

JUMPING into my single-seater, I took off immediately. Not waiting for the rest of the squadron to form I headed for the front to intercept the enemy without circling for ceiling.

The night was bright with much moonlight bathing the scraggy battlefield beneath in an eerie, silvery glow. “What an ideal night for raiding!” I thought, but, “I must stop them before they reach their objective!”

I had my little single-seater climbing steeply. All the time I was peering ahead, trying to pierce the starry skies and spy my enemies. Finally they showed, an extended line of blinking red lights—the flames from their exhausts.

As I was above them, I throttled my own motor, so my own exhausts would not show and give my location away. Then down I went in a steady glide, headed directly for the leader, aiming directly between the fluttering exhausts of the two motors on either side of the pilot’s pit. At two hundred yards I pressed my triggers. Two livid streaks of flame marked the path of my tracers in the sky—but they were high!

I lowered my nose, pressed the trigger again. I saw my tracer cut luminous paths through the wings of the leading bomber. I ruddered back and forth, spraying the lead in a slow traverse.

Then all Hades bloomed in the night sky. Every gunner in the formation must have turned his guns on me at once. Tracers stream spewed from everywhere. Still, I held my own gun steady.

But the big bomber did not fall. We were approaching head-on at terrific speed, bullets still splattering. I had to dive under to keep from being rammed. I pulled up in a loop behind, half rolled, dived at it again, let go with my guns when in range. This time my shots were good. My explosive bullets must have penetrated the petrol tank.

Red flames shot out, fanwise, lighting the whole sky.

In the glare of light from the burning plane, I got my sights on the bomber at the left of the falling funeral torch. Bullets clattered into my little ship, but hit nothing vital. I let go with a burst at very close range, then dived underneath. The upper gunner swung his tracer on me, but I side-slipped, went into a dive, then zoomed up under another. It was just a vague black shape above me. But my tracer etched flaming holes in it. It slid off on one wing, went flailing down, to burst in fire when it crashed.

By this time my squadron mates had got up to help me.

I did not knock down any more, but the bombing armada was turned from its course. They never reached the cities. Their bombs exploded harmlessly in the open fields.

A very successful fight. I have heard of no other pilot who has brought down two enemy planea in a single night flight. Naturally, I am elated, but I wish it had been two more.

“Revenge Bombs” by Frederick Blakeslee

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

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time we present “Revenge Bombs,” the story behind Mr. Blakeslee’s cover for the very first issue of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3202

NEAR Dunkirk there was a large air-drome where several squadrons were located, among them a bombing outfit using Handley-Pages. This airdrome was bombed regularly every clear night by the Germans, who would always reserve a few bombs to drop there after giving Dunkirk a salute. The men got used to it and became rather bored.

One night, however, the usual force flew over and to the surprise of all gave the airdrome a bombing it never forgot. The Boches first dropped a parachute flare that lit up the place like day, and then proceeded to drop thirty-two bombs. Hangars caught fire, the landing field was ploughed up, and the Jerries scored a direct hit on a so called bomb-proof dugout, killing forty officers and men. Fortunately the Handley-Pages were out on a straff of their own, or the damage would have been greater. When they returned they found the field ripped up to such an extent that they were unable to land and had to either fly around for the rest of the night or make a landing on the beach three miles away.

A hangar more or less blown to pieces and a torn-up landing field were to be
expected, but forty men gone West at one blow was not to be born. The men determined to wipe out the particular nest that had caused the damage.

They got under way the very next night and on being joined by a fleet of D.H.9’s, set a circular course that would bring them onto the enemy from behind.

The D.H.9’s took the lead. With a roar, they streaked over the Boche drome, letting go a storm of bombs.

As more than fifty bombs struck there was a flash and a stunning report that could be seen and heard for miles. By the time the dust settled and the smoke cleared away the D.H.9’s had gone.

The startled Germans were just coming to, when the huge Handley-Pages swept in on them, dropping tons of high explosives. The blast shook the ground and blew ships, supplies, men and hangars skyward in a mass of smoke and dust.

On the cover the Handley-Pages are shown bombing the undamaged portion of the airdrome. Looking back from the departing bomber the scene was horrible, the destruction complete, the Boche squadron practically annihilated and the forty British flyers revenged.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Revenge Bombs: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(February 1932, Dare-Devil Aces)

The Three Mosquitoes in “Dark Skies” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 17, 2017 @ 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. Every night at 11pm the Boche have been raining down bombs from seemingly nowhere with ever increasing accuracy—slowly getting closer to the Allies big supply dump in Remiens! Kirby, Shorty and Trav race to find out where the bombs are coming from and stopping them before the Boche finally hit their target! From the December 1930 number of War Birds, the Three Mosquitoes fly into Dark Skies!

Each day those death-dealing bombs came winging down out of space. Every ship on the Front rammed its nose into the skies on the vengeance trail, but their eager guns found nothing. Then came that mysterious light to taunt the Three Mosquitoes into the greatest mystery of their career.

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 19: Captain Heurtaux” by Eugene Frandzen

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

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

Captain Alfred Marie-Joseph Heurtaux was one of France’s Aces in the First World War—credited with 21 victories (and an additional 13 unconfirmed or probables). He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion d’Honneur and the Croix de Guerre with 15 palms and two bronze stars.

The son of an artillery officer, he entered officer training before the outbreak of the war in 1912. He started his military career in the 4e Regiment d’Hussards before working his way up and being transferred to aerial service. There he would eventually find himself commanding the Stork Escadrille—Les Cigognes!

After the war he toured America lecturing on fighter tactics and held down a management position with the Ford Motor Company in its American operations. From there he moved to General Motors in Europe before finally settling with Renault. He was also active in the Association of the Reserve Officers of the Air Force—even being appointed its president from 1934 to 1937.

At the start of the Second World War, Heurtaux was still Inspector of Flight Aviation for the French Air Forces. However, he joined the French Resistance after France fell to the Germans. He used his connections and influence to recruit fellow veterans into espionage resulting in the Hector network in Northern France. Unfortunately, the Gestapo caught up with him and he spent over three years in a succession of German jails and camps ending up in Buchenwald just a month before the US Army’s 6th Armored Division liberated it and him on 11 April 1945.

After the Second World War he worked as a consulting engineer. Heurtaux passed away 30 December 1985, at Chantilly, Oise and was buried in Paris.

(Editor’s Note: Although Flying Aces has gone to a bedsheet sized publication with this issue, the feature is still being done in the two page format of the pulp-sized issues. As such, we have reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

The Three Mosquitoes vs. “The Riderless Plane” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 10, 2017 @ 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 the inseparable trio tangle with the menace of the western front—the riderless plane! The mere thought of it sent a cold chill coursing up Kirby’s spine. It was all right to pit your skill and wits against an enemy pilot who, after all, was just a human being like yourself. But to face a freak plane which flew of its own accord, with its cockpit utterly empty—that was asking too much of any man. It seemed incredible, preposterous, this horrible machine without a pilot, shooting through the air like a streak, doing its deadly work, and then mysteriously vanishing. And yet, incredible as it was, it had taken its hold on the entire Allied air force and was slowly but surely breaking down their morale. From the February 1930 issue of War Birds, it’s “The Riderless Plane!”

Here, gang, is one of the great mysteries of the late war revealed at last! The hair seemed to rise beneath Kirby’s helmet, while a chill sensation of horror drove needles into his spine. He almost stalled the Spad as he kept staring, looking at that incredible sight—expecting to find his eyes deceiving him. The cockpit of that all-red plane was empty. It was the riderless plane!

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page! And come back next Friday or another exciting tale.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Alan McLeod, R.F.C.

Link - Posted by David on March 8, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

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

Alan McLeod was one of the three Canadian airmen winning the coveted award of the Victoria Cross, the highest honor bestowed on its fighting heroes by the British Empire, He was the youngest flyer ever to receive the honor, having it pinned on his chest in appropriate ceremonies at Buckingham Palace a few months before his nineteenth birthday.

Whereas most of the other British airmen who received this coveted honor accomplished their deeds of heroic valor in fast, single-seater fighting machines, young McLeod used a heavy, unwieldy, Armstrong-Whitworth two-seater which was poorly equipped for air combat. But Alan McLeod used it just as though it were a pursuit ship, never running from a possible chance lo shoot it out with enemy planes in the air, no matter how heavy the odds were against him. The fight he tells about below is one of the great epics of the air. McLeod was wounded six times, but recovered, only to succumb to influenza five days before the armistice was signed.

 

DOWN IN FLAMES

by Lieut. Alan McLeod, R.F.C. • Sky Fighters, June 1934

WHEN zooming up after dropping my last bomb, I saw a Hun Fokker, coming at me from the rear. I swung my machine up on one wing, gave my observer, Hammond, in the back seat, a chance at it. His first burst of Lewis fire was effective. It went fluttering down like a falling leaf, swaying from side to side.

I climbed for altitude then. At 5,000 feet the sun broke through the clouds. A flight of eight scarlet-painted Fokker tripes burst through with the sun. One dived, then zoomed up under my tail. I banked steeply. Hammond got his guns on it just as the Hun let go with a burst that crackled through the lower wing just beyond my head. It went spiralling down, a black smoke trail pluming behind it.

The seven other Fokker tripes dived in with a vengeance then, attacking from all sides, and simultaneously! The air was full of German tracer. My wings were sieved. Flying wires snapped, coiled up like watch springs. I felt something like a hot knife slide across my stomach. A red shape flashed down in front of me. I pressed my gun triggers, sent in a withering burst of lead that seemed to splatter like a pinwheel as it hit. More struts on my plane cracked, shattered, sheared in two from Spandau bursts. A sharp pain stabbed me in the groin. But the red Fokker went to pieces in the air, tumbled down beneath me.

I glanced back. Tracer streams from two Fokkers were pouring at Hammond. One of his arms was hanging limply. Blood saturated his mitten. He was aiming his Lewis’ with the other hand. I went around in a sweeping, climbing turn, to get him above the attackers. Our plane groaned, crackled some more. More holes appeared like lightning in the upper wing, the lower. Another sharp pain stabbed through my lower right leg. A burst of German tracer found my petrol tank, it puffed into flames. I got in a final shot at a red Hun who swept across my path. He went down, out of control.

The heat from the burning tank lashed back in my face. Flames, choking smoke swirled in the cockpit. I loosened my belt, stepped out on the lower left wing. Holding on with my left hand, moving the stick with my right, I threw the machine into a steep side-slip, blowing the flames and smoke away from us.

Two Fokkers slid down with us, firing as they came.

Hammond, weak and reeling in the back pit, got one of them just before we hit the ground, then climbed up on the top wing. The machine crashed, thudded, bounced, throwing me off. Hammond was swept back into his pit. Flames and smoke enveloped him, the whole machine.

I raced back, pulled him out, carried him away from the fire. Bullets thudded around us, machine-gun and rifle bullets from the Huns in their trenches, not two hundred yards away,

I kept going away from them until a deep blackness descended. That is all I remember.

“Death Eggs” by Frederick Blakeslee

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

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time Mr. Blakeslee brings us a story of what seemed to be an unnecessary bombing mission, that turned into a great success! From the June 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces, we present “Death Eggs!”

th_DDA_3206IN JULY, 1918, a British bombing outfit was given what was believed to be an unimportant mission. It had been reported by spies that there was an unusual movement in and out of a certain German town which was located opposite a sector that had been quiet for a week. As there were no railway yards or anything of military importance in the village—which was partly in ruins and apparently deserted—the bombing orders were indefinite. One Handley-Page was assigned to the mission and the pilot was ordered simply to bomb anything that looked suspicious. It was probably this nonchalant attitude that made the raid such a success.

As a matter of fact, the trains were bringing fresh troops. An entire German regiment—with supplies, machine guns and artillery outfit—had already been moved in under cover of night and plans were being rapidly completed for a major push, intended to take the Allies by surprise.

Things might have gone as scheduled if the German general had not felt the need of exhorting his troops before sending them into battle. He ordered them one morning to parade in the market square, and after the maneuvers proceeded to address them. The troops were standing at attention, listening to their commander, when with a roar a huge Handley-Page bomber streaked low overhead.

The pilot of the Handley-Page had come to a low altitude to better observe the supposedly deserted village and as he flew over the market place was startled to see it packed with Germans.

Too late the Germans recognized the British insignia. The bombs landed right in among the massed ranks. The results can better be imagined than described.

The bomber had been escorted by a squadron of Neiuports, which now came down and joined in, finishing the business with machine guns at close range. It was slaughter—but it was also War!

That same day, alive to the importance of the town, a large scale bombing raid was planned and executed, completing the ruin of what was to have been an important Boche victory.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Death Eggs: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(June 1932, Dare-Devil Aces)

The Three Mosquitoes in “Devils of the Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 3, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

Yes! The Three Mosquitoes—the unseasonably warm weather has brought the Mosquitoes out of hibernation to help get through the cold winter months, at Age of Aces dot net it’s our third anualMosquito Month! We’ll be featuring that wiley trio in three early tales from the Western Front. This week we have their third tale—the classic “Devil in the Air” in which Kirby is determined to take on the Boche’s new Fokker all by himself to prove it can be done only to realize there’s no beating the Inseparable trio!

Here again is Kirby, the great leader of the “Three Mosquitoes.” The pilot of the new Fokker knew every trick, and Kirby matched him—then went into straight fighting. A brilliant air story—and one that is totally different.

If you enjoyed this tale of our intrepid trio, check out some of the other stories of The Three Mosquitoes we have posted by clicking the Three Mosquitoes tag or check out one of the three volumes we’ve published on our books page! And come back next Friday or another exciting tale.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 18: Lieut. Alan McLeod” by Eugene Frandzen

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

Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have one of only three Canadian Aces to be awarded the Victoria Cross in WWI—Lieutenant Alan McLeod!

Alan Arnett McLeod was born near Winnipeg in Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada to Scottish emigrant parents on April 20th, 1899. Although he was only fifteen when England declared war, he tried to enlist every year until he was finally accepted by the R.F.C. in April 1917. He won his wings quickly—soloing after only three hours flying time. Graduating after completing 50 hours flying experience, McLeod shipped overseas in August 1917.

Alan McLeod was a very tall man with a boyish appearance which soon earned him the nickname, ‘Babe’. He was allocated to B-Flight piloting an Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 two-seater biplane and soon demonstrated he was a skilled pilot who was not afraid to take risks. Indeed, within a month of being in the Squadron he downed a Fokker Dr.1 and subsequently an Observation Balloon which earned him the honour of being mentioned in dispatches.

But it was his most thrilling sky fight on March 27th 1918 when he and observer Lt. Arthur Hammond had just downed an enemy triplane when they were set upon by eight more planes. They were able to down three more before a bullet pieced their gas tank and flames erupted. Although he and Hammond were badly injured, McLeod managed to keep the flames off of them by steeply side slipping the plane to a crash landing in No-Man’s-Land where he managed to carry Hammond to comparative safety before collapsing.

Lt.x Alan McLeod was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions, but sadly passed away several months later when he contracted Spanish Influenza while recuperating.

(Editor’s Note: Although Flying Aces has gone to a bedsheet sized publication with this issue, the feature is still being done in the two page format of the pulp-sized issues. As such, we have reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

“Dog Flight!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on February 24, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” That sound can only mean one thing—that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors is back! The men of the Ninth had taken to an aged pooch of doubtful lineage that had wondered into camp. They had named him Rollo and even built him a diminutive Nissen hut in which to rest his weary bone. Sadly, Rollo’s days were coming to an end and it was Phineas who drew the duty of making sure Rollo went West.

Major Garrity wasn’t having a very good time. The Brass Hats were yelling at him so loud that he could have heard them if he’d been in the Sahara Desert without a phone. And Phineas Pinkham had taken to boiling black thread and hanging it up on the trees to dry. Yes, the whole war looked nuttier than a squirrel’s commissary.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major Charles J. Biddle

Link - Posted by David on February 22, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

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

Major Biddle was one of that small number of American aviators who had actually had front line battle experience when his own country entered the war. Even before there were any indication* of his own country taking part, he sailed for France and enlisted in the French Army, where he was eventually transferred for aviation tralning. When the La Fayette Escadrille was formed, he wan invited to become a member. In that organization he won his commission as a Lieutenant in recognition of his ability and courage.

When General Pershing formed the American Air Service and put Colonel William Mitchell in command of the air squadrons on the front, the able Colonel promoted Biddle to major and save him command of the 13th Pursuit Squadron, which he formed, organized and took to the front to make a distinguished record.

Though not supposed to lead his men in battle, he always did so. Just before the armistice, he left the 13th Squadron to become commander of the 4th Pursuit Group. The account below is taken from one of his letters when he was in command of the 13th Squadron at Toul.

 

MY FOURTH VICTORY

by Major Charles J. Biddle • Sky Fighters, May 1934

A GERMAN plane had been coming over our airdrome every morning just about daybreak. I decided to set a trap for him one night.

I took off at 3:30 A.M. I had cruised around idly for almost an hour and a half before I saw my friend, Mr. Boche.

I circled around behind him. He was flying at about 4,500 meters and I had plenty of ceiling on him.

I let him go until he got almost over Toul. Then with the sun at my back, my plane intervening between his and the sun, I went at him in a long power dive. Getting closer I saw it was a two-place Rumpler, so I dived under his tail and came up beneath, letting go with a burst, then pulling off to one side to see what happened. The observer swung his guns around, aimed them at me. I dived again, got my guns on him from beneath, withheld my fire until I was at a 10 yard range and let go. My tracer tore through the bottom of the pit.

The pilot dived for some seconds, went down to 2,000 meters, then straightened out, headed for home. I headed him off, trying to get in a burst from in front, but the Boche fooled me, giving me a burst, then banking out of my range, and diving again. I renversed and got behind him, my guns leveled on his back. I sent in a burst that splintered through his upper wing. He ducked. We were down to a thousand meters now. He tried once more to shake me off, but didn’t succeed. I sent out another burst, purposely high. I didn’t want to kill him, now, I wanted to force him down, and capture his plane. Finally a green field alongside a river showed beneath and he dipped down.

I kept close on his tail, fearing a trick. But he drifted down nicely, landing light as a feather alongside the river. I circled around him and fired my guns some more to attract attention in a near-by village. French poilus came running out and surrounded the plane. I set down then in a field next to him, hit the only rough place in it, and nosed over in a crash. I ran over, however, and captured my prisoner. He seemed glad it was all over, smiling when I shook his hand. Blood soaked one of his sleeves. One of my bullets had nicked him in the shoulder. The observer was Fatally wounded by bullets through his chest. He died as we were laying him out on the ground. I tell you at such moments, when you see your opponent die before your eyes, war becomes far from a glorious thing. It is different in the air.

It was my fourth victory. We got much information from both plane and pilot.

“Sky Fighters, March 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the March 1935 cover, It’s a battle of the French Deperdussin vs. the German D.F.W.!

The Ships on the Cover

FOR the gunner in the th_SF_3502front pit of the French Deperdussin of 1914-15, take off your hat and cheer lustily. Because that gentleman teetering behind the swirling prop makes the man on the flying trapeze look like a grandmother in a broadbeamed rocking chair.

For the German in the D.F.W. (Deutsche Flugzeug Werke) you can send out a powerful thought wave of sympathy. Possibly he has a Luger on his person, but it would be mighty ineffective against the barrage being sprayed from the muzzle of the Deperdussin’s Lewis gun.

The War Lords Snorted!

In the early war days when airmen of opposing sides waved friendly greetings to each other, machine-guns shooting in the direction in which the plane traveled were not thought of, at least not seriously. In fact the airplane was not taken very seriously. It staggered off the ground with its feeble motor churning the prop. It managed to stay up in the air for a fair length of time, but it was a fragile thing, given to falling apart at most inopportune moments. The war lords snorted when the air enthusiasts suggested that the airplane might some day become a major arm of defense and offense.

Not Exactly the McCoy, But—

“We’ll not live to see that day,” pompously said the brass hats. And they brushed aside all thoughts of these newfangled air toys. They concentrated on the cavalry, deeper dugouts and plain and fancy trenches. Then along came a few planes with machine-guns in the back pit, a pusher or two lumbered along with a front gun. Those planes with the most effective armament were capable of conquering or evading the opponents’ airmen and flew right over those brand new trenches and fancy dugouts. They were able to direct their artillery fire so effectively that the trenches and dugouts were very quickly obliterated.

About this time the reversal of feeling towards aircraft was complete. Any and all kinds of planes were thrown together and flung into the air. One way and another was tried to shoot forward. The Deperdussin system was one of France’s early efforts, and although it was not exactly the McCoy it was, for its time, a real step forward.

Although the D.F.W. has no front gun it has features of stability, speed and power which the French monoplane lacks. This type of D.F.W. at the beginning of the war had shattered all existing cross country flights. It was designed by Cecil Kny and was Germany’s first full streamlined plane. The strut bracing between the fuselage and the upper wing is practically the same as the famous Sopwith one and one-half strutter. The covering of the in-terplane struts and the undercarriage struts were helpful evidently in appearance only, because later models of this ship left the struts exposed.

Aviation in War Is Established!

The wing bracing of the Deperdussin seems complicated but today some of the small monoplane jobs use about the same stunt. Lateral control of the Deperdussin was obtained by warping the wing tips, which, of course is not as effective as aileron control.

Being speedier than the Deperdussin, the German D.F.W.’s pilot flipped his ailerons and barged out of the Frenchman’s range. He took home a riddled plane and a report which drove the German designers of front gun fire ahead at fever pitch. Nothing stood still during the war and it was not long before other ways of lead spraying appeared. Aviation in war was definitely established; a thing of power and effectiveness with which future wars will not only be fought, but be won.

“The Sky Fool” by Frank Richardson Pierce

Link - Posted by David on February 17, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Frank Richardson Pierce is probably best remembered for his prolific career in the Western Pulps. Writing under his own name as well as two pen names—Erle Stanly Pierce and Seth Ranger—Pierce’s career spanned fifty years and produced over 1,500 short stories, with over a thousand of these appearing in the pages of Argosy and the Saturday Evening Post.

Pierce was born in 1881 in Greenfield, Massachusetts but raised on the west coast. A graduate of the University of Washington, he served for a year and a half in the US Navy as a boatswain’s mate and worked for the city of Seattle as a clerk stenographer. He began writing travel articles about the northwest for various motorcycle trade journals and later progressed to short story writing.

Pierce draws upon his knowledge of the Pacific Northwest from his reported fourteen different motorcycle trips to and through the Alaska territory for his story of rival news-reels services covering the first woman to fly over the North Pole. The story features Rusty Wade, Pierce’s rough and tumble red-headed pilot for hire looking for his big financial break.

A story of daring pilots and news-reel men on the far sky trails of the Northland.

 

And as a bonus, here’s an article from Mr. Pierce’s former home town paper, The San Bernardino Daily Sun, about his successful career in the pulps!

 

Graduate of Redlands School 25 Years Ago Now Writes Scores of Stories Yearly for Magazines

Thousands of Readers Know Frank Richardson Pierce Under Two Names; Spends Week-End Visiting Foothill City Home
By MAURICE S. SULLIVAN
San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, CA • 10 May 1932

When Frank Richardson Pierce graduated from Redlands’ old Kingsbury school, about 25 years ago, he didn’t know that some day he should have two names.

Thousands of readers of the so-called pulps—magazines printed on rough paper—know a writer named Seth Ranger, and eagerly follow his stories of the frontier days, the logging country, Alaska and the Orient. Some of them also know a writer named Frank Richardson Pierce, but the latter has his own distinct following, who watch for his stories Just as do the devotees of Seth Ranger.

Frank Richardson Pierce and Seth Ranger are the same writer. He lives now in Seattle, but he spent his boyhood in Redlands. Whenever—in one of his stories—he needs a small city setting, or a town just over the mountains from the desert, his mind goes back to the Redlands of his youth and under another name Redlands goes into the story.

He spent the last week-end here, at the home of his father, Martin F. Pierce, 24 East Fern avenue. He was taking a brief vacation after having completed “Timber War.”

Frank Pierce is one of those talented persons who turn out stories for the pulps In a seemingly endless stream, while at the same time producing an occasional yarn for the slicks—smooth paper magazines. Howard Marsh, a Redlands resident; Fred McIsaac and H. Redford Jones are others who have the faculty.

To those persons who spend months trying to fashion a readable story, revising and rewriting, the skill of Mr. Pierce and his co-workers is amazing. In one year this writer sold 121 stories, at the rate of about 10 each month: short stories, novelettes and serials of novel length.

Conversing with Mr. Pierce one learns that this extraordinary success, as in the case of most writers, has a basis of hard work and study. He had to learn his trade by practice and by examining the technique of those who were publishing their output.

“The first nine or 10 stories I wrote didn’t click,” said Mr. Pierce. “Then I received a lucky break.

“I had been in the naval reserve during the war, so that I know a good deal of naval procedure and the language of the navy. One day I picked up a magazine In which there was a sea story with the navy as a setting.

“As I read it, I said to myself that here was something right down my alley, and if that was the kind of thing the editors of that particular magazine wanted, I could write it. I turned out a story and sent It to New York.

“It happened that as the editor of the magazine was reading my manuscript a naval officer, a friend of his, came into the office. The editor tossed the script to this officer and asked him his opinion.

“Men in certain trades and professions are very critical of stories dealing with their crafts, and the writer who tries to draw on his imagination for facts and atmosphere is likely to bring down on his head a storm of derisive letters. But when the naval officer read this story of mine he was pleased.

“It might not have been a particularly good story, but he was reading it with an eye for flaws in detail. When he found the language of the characters was authentic navy talk, and the method of abandoning ship, which I had described, was accurately detailed, he thought It was a great yarn. He told the editor so. The story sold, and I was able to turn out a series of them along the same lines.”

Seattle is a very advantageous place in which to live, for one who writes. To that city come the ships of the Orient, men from far places in the North, returning to civilization. There is a cattle country and a mountain country nearby. Fisheries, canneries, logging camps and timber locales all are available. The city is the home of persons who have lived through the Klondike days of Alaska.

When the writer is balked by some perilous piece of detail or atmosphere, he knows where he can get assistance, if he had made friends with the old-timers.

Mr. Pierce wrote a story in which a character was found frozen stiff squatting on his haunches in front of a fireplace, with his hands extended as if warming them at a blaze.

This scene brought a flood of letters, starting with one from a man who sarcastically averred that a freezing man would relax and fall over; that it was sheer impossibility that he should be frozen in the squatting position.

A loyal fan of Seth Ranger came to his rescue with an even more sarcastic letter. He enclosed a photograph of a man frozen while standing upright, and suggested to the writer that he “show this to that so-and-so who thinks he knows so much.” A Seattle friend of Mr. Pierce settled the matter for him. Jake the Musher, veteran of many trails, not only vouched for the accuracy of the frozen man detail, but also related similar instances out of his vast fund of experiences in the North.

The stumbling writer who fashions a line, then pauses to improve it, would be amazed to see Mr. Pierce at work. He usually makes but one draft of a story, turning it out at high speed, and shooting it, without revision, at the magazine for which it was “slanted.” There was a time, during an illness, when he talked his stories into a dictating machine, and depended upon a typist to transcribe them. It was difficult and discouraging, but because he had to do it, he kept at it until he could dictate as well as he could write.

Writing for the pulps is Mr. Pierce’s livelihood, but he is not content only to do that. He studies meanwhile, constantly striving for improvement; not trying to write literature, because the boundaries of literature are very vague and nobody living can say certainly what of the present day writing shall be called literature 100 years from now; but so long as folk are entertained by what he writes, striving to give them the best in the field.

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