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“Spy Larking” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on May 29, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” You heard right! That marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back and there is a spy in their midst—surely it’s not the latest recruit to the 9th Pursuit Squadron—Lt. Harold Bartholomew Cheeves, the one man on the base that truely gets Pinkham!

Haul out the solid ivory and strike off the International Crack-Brain Medal for Lieut. Harold Bartholomew Cheeves, newcomer with the Fighting 9th. For here’s a man who APPRECIATES Phineas! In fact, the more cockleburs he finds in his hash, the more he admires the Boonetown Barbarian.

“Bombing of Oberndorf” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on May 18, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. Every one of those covers told a story, and Blakeslee had a page inside the issue with which to do so. We present Blakeslee’s second cover for Dare-Devil Aces—the March 1932 issue—and The Bombing of Oberndorf!”

th_DDA_3203THE night raid on Oberndof, Germany, home of the Mauser gun and ammunition works, was perhaps one of the most daring—and effective—feats of its kind during the early part of the War. Forty French and British planes took part in this expedition—and thirty-three returned. The picture on the cover shows the bombing at its height.

During part of the journey to Oberndorf, the Allied bombers were without protection, as the combat ships scheduled to guard them could not carry fuel enough for the entire trip. The ships left them at a certain point, therefore, and met them again on the way back.

Immediately before the raid, the Allies had staged offensive operations all along the lines in order to draw as many Boche squadrons as possible from the route to be taken by the bombers. The ruse was successful, and on October 12th, 1916, the bombers took off into skies that were practically clear of enemy planes. It wasn’t long, however before the Germans realized what was going on. Hurriedly they mustered enough combat ships to give resistance. So, not long after the bombers had left their protection behind, they flew into a running fight. But, keeping in tight formations, which made it difficult for the Jerries to get at them, they eventually reached Oberndorf. Here they were met by everything the Germans had—archies, machine guns, anti-aircraft, etc. Despite this, the raid was highly successful and the Intelligence Department later reported that effective work in slowing down productions of German munitions of war had been accomplished.

After dropping their bombs, the ships streaked for home, harassed by the enemy. The protection, on meeting them, took over the battle and changed the tune, driving the Boches off with heavy casualties. And on the night of the 12th, thirty-three of the original forty bombers landed at their airdromes.

Bombing of Oberndorf
“Bombing of Oberndorf” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (Dare-Devil Aces, March 1932)

“How The War Planes Flew” by Robert Sidney Bowen

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

From the pages of the June 1933 number of Sky Fighters:

Editor’s Note: We feel that this magazine has been exceedingly fortunate in securing R. Sidney Bowen to conduct a technical department each month. It is Mr. Bowen’s idea to tell us the underlying principles and facts concerning expressions and ideas of air-war terminology. Each month he will enlarge upon some particular statement in the stories of this magazine. Mr. Bowen is qualified for this work, not only because he was a war pilot of the Royal Air Force, but also because he has been the editor of one of the foremost technical journals of aviation.

FORMATION FLYING

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters, June 1933)

WELL, maybe I’m getting good, or maybe you buzzards have ganged up together and decided to kid your old Uncle Wash-out. But anyway, I’m certainly getting a flock of letters asking me all sorts of questions. And would you believe it?—most of them are real sensible. They almost make me believe that you apes keep your ears buttoned back when I start to talk. As I said, maybe I’m getting good, and then again maybe I’m—! Oh, well, we’ll let that one go this time.

However, it all leads up to the fact that I’ve just received a note from Tony Battagalia out in Chicago. Now there is a buzzard who does his sleeping in the night time only. He keeps his eyes open while the sun is shining—and even on rainy days, too. In his note he tells me what a wonderful war eagle I must have been (which of course is quite correct), and then he asks me to get in a few words about formation flying.

Well, I was going to speak about knitting woolen helmets for high altitude flying, but in view of the fact that Tony wants to hear about formation flying then that’s what he’s going to hear about. Of course some of you other buzzards may think that you know all about that sort of thing. If you do just stick your chins in your vests and don’t snore too loud. Tony and the other lads crave information, so take a tip and shut up.

FORMATION flying is, of course, just what the two words signify—flying together in a group in a definitely arranged group. And why? Of course you can guess. When soldiers march they don’t go along the street in mob fashion, half of them in the gutter and the other half shuffling across peoples’ front lawns. No, they march in closed order. And the main idea is so that the whole group will execute an order as though they were one man. The same idea holds true for cavalry, gun batteries, tanks, etc. Formation is maintained so that the group will act as a solid unit.

Now, that is great stuff for the fighting forces on the ground. They can march into battle in formation positions, and in some cases they can fight a battle and still keep their formation. In the case of infantry going over the top, they go over in what are known as waves. The first wave is a line of soldiers spaced so many feet apart. In some cases it may be two lines. Then comes the second wave, and if necessary a third wave. But what I’m trying to bring out is that the soldiers advance upon the enemy in formation. When they meet the enemy and it becomes a case of hand to hand conflict, their original formation is of course broken up. But up to that point, the soldiers that were not killed while advancing across no man’s land kept an advancing formation that made it possible for their officers to maneuver them as a solid group.

THAT is exactly what happens in the air—planes fly in formation not because it looks pretty, but so that all of them will maneuver as a fixed body when the signal comes from the pilot in command. Troops on the ground march behind their commanding officer. The reasons for that are, first; an officer leads his men. That’s why he’s an officer. Second, so that they will be able to see or hear his commands and execute them as a unit.

So naturally, it follows that the commanding air officer leads his pilots through the air. And the best way to lead them is when they are flying behind him in formation position. When in formation they can see his signals, and by looking back he can see them.

Now, that brings us up to the matter of the various types of aerial formations, their names, and their uses.

The first is, of course, the most common one of all. It is called the V formation. (Fig. 1) A V formation can be made up of any number of planes, from three to six billion, if you want that many. The officer in command flies at the peak of the V. On his left and on his right, just behind him, are usually two experienced pilots. And then behind each of them is a new or inexperienced pilot. And behind each of them is a veteran. Now, because of prop wash (which is simply air churned up and disturbed by the revolving propeller) it is impossible for one plane to fly directly behind another and at the same altitude. Believe it or not, the air just back of the first plane is like a greased pole. You just can’t stay on it. Your plane will slide off to the right or the left. Therefore, in order that the plane behind will maintain its position, it flies a few feet above the level of the plane ahead, and a bit to the right or left such as the case may be. And the plane behind that flies a bit high. And so forth, right back to the last plane. In other words the planes on both sides form a flight of steps that slant outward and upward from the leading plane.

WHEN you speak of the left and right side of a formation you speak of them in reference to the right or left side of the leading plane. And the left or right side of a plane is its pilot’s left or right when facing forward. Therefore No 1 plane on the right is the first plane on the leader’s right. No. 2 plane is the next one back, and so forth. And the same numbering holds true for the left side. So by checking back on what I said about the two inexperienced pilots, you will note that in that seven plane flight one inexperienced pilot, was No. 2 plane on the right. And the other was No. 2 on the left.

Now, don’t rush me. I’m going to tell you why.

It’s simply for this reason. The greenhorns are protected in front and in the rear. In other words in case the flight is attacked from either the front or the rear, the attackers will smack into veterans first. They won’t be able to slip down and take a crack at the greenhorns when veterans aren’t looking.

AND as an added precaution against that, there is sometimes a veteran who flies what is called Top-cover position. You will note that that position is shown in Fig. 1. He flies in the center of the V, but at an altitude higher than any of the others. And so, in that particular formation you have the leader and two veterans keeping a weather eye on the air above and in front. You have two more veterans doing the same thing behind and above. And you have a lone veteran riding herd above the center of them all.

Now, before I go on with other formations just let me mouth a few last words about the V. That is the way a flight would go over the lines. However, maneuvering in formation is a rather ticklish job because each plane is so sensitive on the controls, and because of varying air currents. Naturally, planes used in the war were not as stabilized as the ships of the present time, and therefore any idea of fancy flying in formation was OUT. The formation could climb and dive together. It could bank to the left or the right. But looping together or rolling together wasn’t tried—and for two reasons. First, it was too risky. And second, it wasn’t of any value. However, banking to the right or the left was of value, for the simple reason that the formation had to turn some time. They didn’t go across the lines flying straight and then go right on around the world until they hit their own field. And so, of course, a way was doped out how to turn around to the left or the right and still maintain the V formation.

It was done in two ways—not both at the same time!

Once the leader signaled a bank to the right, the pilots flying ships on the inside of the turn (ships on the leader’s right in this case) would throttle their engines and more or less stall around. And the pilots flying planes on the outside of the turn (the leader’s left in this case) would speed up their engines and go fast. Naturally the reason for that was that to make the turn, they had to fly a greater distance than the ships on the inside of the turn. And then, of course, when the formation was headed straight again the pilots on the right would speed up their engines again, and the pilots on the left would slow up their engines—’and thus everybody would keep formation position.

The second way was really the most effective, because it did not necessitate the trouble of throttling or goosing the engine. And also it made it possible for the V formation to turn quicker and in a much smaller area.

It was executed this way. Again we’ll have the leader signal a turn to the right. (He’d signal by wabbling his wings and pointing his right arm to the right. Or he might just dip his right wings, and then start to turn.) But anyway, let us say that he has signaled a right turn.

As he started to turn, the planes on the inside (his right) would dip down to the left then up and over to form position on his left. At the same time the planes on the outside of the turn (his left) would climb up to the right and then down to form position on his right. In other words the right and left planes would simply change places. The ones on the inside of the turn going down to the left and up. And the planes on the outside of the turn going up to the right and then down. Of course a turn to the left was made in the opposite manner.

So much for that. Nope. One more word. The flight would cross the lines in formation but once they were attacked, or did the attacking themselves, the formation would soon break up. Because no matter how much you may slice it, a dogfight in the air is an individual against individual affair. Once a fight starts its just the same idea as when the advancing wave of soldiers reaches the enemy line. A general free-for-all with the best man winning. You can advance, attack, and retreat in formation—but during the scrap the formation goes by-by.

NOW, by squinting at Fig. 2, you will see what a V of Vs formation looks like. As in an ordinary V formation there can be as many planes as you want in each V. But in a squadron there are usually three flights; A, B, and C. Therefore, on a squadron patrol the formation flown is by individual flights, with the flight leader heading each group. And we call it a V of Vs because each group is in the form of a V, and all three groups form a large V. Maneuvering is, of course, just the same as with one V only on a larger scale.

And Fig. 3 is what is called line formation. It can start across the lines that way, or it can be formed by both sides of a V formation moving up into line with the leader in the middle. That type of formation was used for ground strafe work over a wide area. The line of ships would simply sweep forward dropping their small twenty pound Cooper bombs (usually four to each scout plane) and firing their guns at the troops below. To reverse and come back each plane simply half rolled and pulled up out of its resulting dive. (Naturally the ships flew far enough, apart to make reversing possible without tangling wings.)

Fig. 4 is a formation that was seldom used during the late mix-up on the other side of the big pond. It’s called, “line formation in echelon.” As you will note it’s simply a V formation with one-half of the V missing. The planes are like a flight of steps. And that type of formation was for ground strafing a small area. The ships came down, one after the other, and let drive with guns and bombs just before zooming up for altitude.

From echelon formation it was but a simple matter to form what was known as the Lufbery Circle, Fig. 5. (So called because it was used extensively by the great Lafayette Escadrillo ace, Raoul Lufbery.) As you can figure out for yourselves, regardless of its name, it is simply a follow-the-leader formation, or a ring-around-the-rosey affair. But its uses and its advantages were most helpful. It was used not only for trench straffing, but also for air attack defense. A pilot in a pursuit ship doesn’t have to worry much about what is in front of him, for the simple reason that he can see forward and shoot his guns forward. But, behind him it is another question. He can look behind, but he can’t shoot behind unless he turns around.

SO that makes the line formation in echelon and the Lufbery Circle, or follow the leader formation, a great help to each man’s tail. In other words you dive down on a trench, spray it with your guns, and zoom up without worrying much whether a load of nickel jacketed steel is going to crease the seat of your pants. And you don’t worry much because the pilot behind you is taking his turn at spraying the troops in the trench, with the result that they are too occupied with getting out of his way to turn around and blaze away at you as you zoom up.

And in the case of the Lufbery Circle, it wouldn’t be healthy for a Hun to try and drop down on the tail of the ship in front of you because you would simply pull up your nose a bit and chew off the soles of his field boots with your bursts. Incidentally, line formation in echelon, or follow the leader formation, was good for bombing work or photographic work. It enabled the pilots to bomb or snap, one at a time, the same spot on the ground, and while doing it be more or less protected from the rear. That is, each plane covered the ship ahead, with the exception, of course, of the last ship. But the pilot flying that ship was the only one who had to pray to Lady Luck to keep Spandaus lead away from him. And even he was protected if the planes formed the Lufbery Circle.

And so there you are, a few words of wisdom (?) on formation flying. In general, formation flying- was okay before and after the scrap. In fact, as you can figure out yourselves, if you’ve kept your ears open, formation flying or flying in formation was absolutely essential to effective patroling. BUT, in a scrap?—nuts to formations! Pick your man, and go get him. That was the idea. And when it was all over but the shouting, if you were still in the air, gather around your leader and reform your formation.

“The Vickers “Vimy” Bomber” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on May 11, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the fifteenth 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_3208THE bombing expedition on which this cover is based is pictured in two parts. The actual raid is shown on the cover of the August issue of DAREDEVIL ACES. This month the adventure of one of the bombers on that mission is pictured.

I shall not repeat the story of the raid here, for that has been told in DAREDEVIL ACES.

Three big British bombers took off late one afternoon to bomb the reported position of a long-range gun implacement. They were flown by British pilots but were to operate in conjunction with an American outfit of fighting ships.

The bombers met the Americans high over Dun and started for the scene of operation. They flew in a tight formation and saw no enemy craft, although they were being followed by several Boches who did not dare attack such a formidable group.

The flight was deep in enemy territory when one of the bombers developed engine trouble in the right-hand motor. It fell behind and unfortunately, at this moment the top patrol was hidden by a cloud so did not observe the accident.

The pilot of the bomber, finding his trouble was getting serious, turned about and started for home, looking for a target for his load of bombs. Through an opening in the ground fog he saw what he took for a supply depot and ordered his men to let go their “eggs.” They were later to be informed that they had fired an ammunition dump.

It was not long before more serious trouble than a “sick” motor arrived. It came with a roar and blazing guns. It was a German Hannoveraner biplane (the bright red ship in the foreground); almost at the same time another ship arrived to add to the difficulties of the bomber. This was a Roland single-seater biplane (the blue and yellow plane diving in from the left).

The bomber, due to its crippled condition, was unable to maneuver and had to fight off the Boches as best it could. The Englishmen were in an uncomfortable position but not hard-pressed until the fight was joined by a Fokker D-VII and a Fokker monoplane. Then things got more serious.

The big ship flew steadily on but was sustaining a deadly fire from every direction. The motor still functioned and seemed to get no worse, but every moment increased the hazard. It was being slowly cut to pieces. Already one rudder was out of commission and a stream of bullets had cut through the center of the fuselage and weakened it. The wings looked like a sieve and many of the wires were cut, also weakening the wings. Tt was remarkable that the ship did not collapse then and there.

They shot down one Boche with their last drum of ammunition. Both gunners and pilot were wounded and they had given themselves up as lost, when help arrived in the form of a patrol of S.E-S’s, who scattered the Germans right and left in short order.

The pilot, faint from a wound in the abdomen, landed his ship on his own airdrome but cracked up in doing so, completing the wreck of an already half ruined ship. All survived, however, and they are living today, proud of their D.S.C. awarded by the American government.

The bombing ship shown on the cover is a very famous one, although most of its fame was gained in peace time persuits. It was designed as a long-distance bomber. It carried two engines in “power eggs” one each side of the fuselage. There were three types of engines used, the Fiat, Hispano-Suiza and Rolls Royce. The bomber here shown is a Vickers Vimy Rolls, which is 1 ft. 6½ in. longer than the other two, otherwise they are the same in appearance. They carried two gunners and a pilot. To prevent the machine from standing on its nose after too fast a landing, a skid was fitted under the nose of the fuselage. Span 67 ft. 2 in., gap 10 ft., overall length 44 ft., speed low down 103 m.p.h., speed at 5,000 ft. 98 m.p.h., landing speed 56 m.p.h.

The Vickers
“The Vickers “Vimy” Bomber” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (August 1932)

Now we come to its peace time fame. It was in a Vickers Vimy Rolls-Royce airplane that Captain J. Alcock and Lt. Whitten Brown, both afterwards knighted, made the first direct flight across the Atlantic from St. Johns, Newfoundland to Clifden, Galway. They traveled 1,880 miles in 15 hours 57 minutes at an average speed of 118 m.p.h., May 18th-19th, 1919.

Captain Ross Smith and three companions, in the same year, and in the same type of ship, flew from England to Australia in 30 days, flying a total of 11,294 miles. They landed at Port Darwin, North Australia and later crossed the continent to Melbourne.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 36: Lt. Col. Harold E Hartney” by Eugene Frandzen

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

Back with another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This time around we have the June 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of Rickenbacker’s Commander—Lt. Col. Harold E. Hartney!

Harold Evans Hartney was born in Ontario, Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Militia serving with the Saskatoon 105th Fusiliers before requesting a transfer to the Royal Flying Corp after a chance meeting with William Bishop. He flew with No. 20 Squadron RFC and scored six confirmed victories before being shot down in February of 1917—he claims by Manfred von Richtofen. After he recovered he ws promoted to the rank of Major and assumed the command of the American 27th Aero Squadron.

Hartney became an American citizen in 1923 and penned a number of books, foremost of which was the autobiographical Up and At ‘Em.

He passed away from heart disease October 5th, 1947 in Washington, DC. at the age of 57. Lt. Col. Harold E. Hartney is buried in Arlington National Cemetary.

“The Big Gun Bombers” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on May 4, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. Starting with the June 1931 cover of Battle Aces, he started running actual war-combat paintings by Blakeslee on their covers. In a happy cross-over, in August 1932, Mr. Blakeslee had two covers from the same incident. This week we have the Dare-Devil Aces cover which has the main action, while next week we’ll have the Battle Aces cover from that month that covers a side incident concerning a missing bomber. Look for it next week.

th_DDA_3208AN IMPORTANT concentration point in the American sector had been shelled for days by long-range guns. Yank airplanes had combed enemy territory trying to find their location, but the gunners were canny. They fired in the early morning and at sundown when there was a ground mist. On days when flying was impossible they fired continuously. On good days they were silent.

By noting the direction from which the shells came the line of fire was determined. According to mathematical calculation the guns should have been in the center of a torn-up forest; but all that met the eye there were stumps of trees and water-filled shell holes. However, something
was queer about those shell holes. Only an area of a few acres was filled with water, while, outside that the shell holes were just holes. One pilot, diving as low as fifty feet, gave the ground a searching look. Suddenly he zoomed and streaked for home.

Late that afternoon a bombing expedition consisting of three Vickers “Vimy” bombers and a fighting squadron of Sopwith Camels left their dromes. On the way, one bomber dropped behind and when the rest discovered him missing, it was too late to stop and find him. The account of his adventure is in the August issue of BATTLE ACES.

There was a ground mist, but it suddenly cleared and just at sundown the expedition arrived over the forest to see the flashes of many guns, where in the morning not a gun had been visible.

Streaking for the flashes, they found what you see on the cover. They bombed and shot up the position and after using up their ammunition, started for home—and just in time, too, for an overwhelming force of Boche planes was coming up from behind. Late that night a large-scale bombing expedition annihilated the position. The pilot who discovered the guns, noted that many of the supposed water-filled holes were only patches of canvas, which, from a height, gave the appearance of water.

The Big Gun Bombers
“The Big Gun Bombers” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (Dare-Devil Aces, August 1932)

Find out what happened to the lost Vickers “Vimy” Bomber next week!

“The French Breguet” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on April 27, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the nineteenth 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 enabled you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt.

th_BA_3212THE story behind this month’s cover —which shows an exploit of two brothers, Captains Jean and Charles Ranconcour—had its origin five years before the beginning of the War, when the Frenchmen were visiting Berlin. One evening, while they were dining in a crowded restaurant with a friend, a Prussian officer approached their table and without warning flung a glass of wine into Jean’s face. The three leaped to their feet; Charles demanded an explanation in behalf of his brother. The Prussian turned to him, surveyed him from head to foot, then slashed him across the face with a pair of heavy gloves. Jean promptly knocked him down.

By this time, of course, a large crowd had gathered and it was with considerable difficulty that order was restored. First Jean, then Charles, challenged him to a duel and the Prussian accepted, telling them to await his seconds. They waited for two hours, only to learn then that their strange enemy had been seen leaving the city—hurriedly; he had heard, no doubt, that both brothers had a reputation as expert duellists.

From that moment the two brothers swore to obtain satisfaction for this cowardly assault—but their opportunity did not come until nine years later high above the battlefields of France.

The outbreak of the War found Jean and Charles officers in infantry regiments. Late in 1917 they received word that the Prussian officer was in a certain Boche aviation squadron. The brothers immediately transferred to aviation and through influence they were both attached to the same French squadron—Jean as pilot and Charles as his gunner.

They got the reputation of being careful fighters. Although they never avoided a combat, neither did they go out of their way to get into one. But as they did their work and were popular no one accused them of cowardice. The more astute among the squadron guessed the truth. From the name they had christened their Breguet and the fact that Charles scrutinized all enemy planes with binoculars, they guessed the brothers were hunting a particular enemy.

One day early in 1918, the brothers were returning from a mission with two other bombers when they sighted a group of enemy ships escorted by battle planes. Charles examined the flight through his field glasses, as usual; then suddenly he dropped the binoculars, spoke rapidly to his brother. Much to the astonishment of their fellow flyers, Jean’s plane turned and with throttle wide open, hurtled straight for the enemy.

The two other French pilots, realizing something unusual was about to happen, and knowing also that Jean was helplessly out-numbered and had need of every possible gun, turned and followed.

In the scrap that ensued the Frenchmen shot down a two-seater L.V.G. and routed the rest, then looked around for the brothers. They were engaged in a fight to the finish with an L.V.G. that turned, sideslipped and looped but could not shake this French terror on its tall. If Jean and Charles had been careful before, their tactics now were completely changed. They fought like fiends.

In trying to escape, the Boche ship turned and came screaming back just as Jean’s plane dove across it. There was a crash as the landing gear carried away the tip of the L.C.G.’s wing. At the same moment Charles poured a murderous— and fatal—fire into the cockpit.

The L.V.G. dove and crashed. When he had seen it hit the earth, Charles cooly climbed down onto the landing gear and disentangled the wreckage. A few minutes later all three French ships landed near the shattered Boche plane. The body of the German was dragged from the wreckage; Jean and Charles bent over it, looked closely, then straightened and shook hands. The duel to which they had challenged this enemy 9 years ago, had been waged—and won.

The brothers transferred to a combat squadron soon after and both piled up a formidable score before the war ended.

The German ship shown on the cover is an L.V.G. type D single-seater scout.

The French ship is a Breguet type 14B-2 with a 300 h.p. Renault engine. It was designed as a day bomber, but carried one gun in front (synchronized) and two guns aft. Only the upper planes were provided with ailerons. The part of the lower plane lying behind the rear spar was hinged along its total length and pulled downward by means of twelve rubber cords fixed on the under side of the ribs. An automatic change of aerofoil corresponding with the load and speed thus results with an easier control of the airplane with and without a load of bombs. Its span was 14.364 meters; length 9 m; speed low down 185 kms per hour. It climbed to 5,000 m. in 47 m. 30 sec. Ceiling was 5,750 m.

The French Breguet
“The French Breguet” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (December 1932)

“Good Haunting!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on April 24, 2015 @ 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 to vex not only the Germans, but the Americans—the Ninth Pursuit Squadron in particular—as well. Yes it’s the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa himself—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham!

Do you believe in ghosts? They asked that question of Major Garrity, and he said no, but he didn’t like ‘em. They asked Phineas Pinkham, and he said yes, and he liked ‘em. Here’s a ghost story guaranteed to make you laugh—not shudder.

“The Junkers Biplane” by Frederick Blakeslee

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

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the eighteenth 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.

th_BA_3211THIS is the story of a combat in which three German ships were brought down by one American flyer, without a shot being fired by either side. The cover shows how it was done.

A few days before this combat occurred, the American had lost his closest friend. The two men had grown up together in the same town, had enlisted together and had managed to stick together until the day one of them had been killed. His life had come to an end under particularly tragic circumstances, for he had given it for his friend. That friend had sworn vengeance.

On the morning after the funeral, this pilot took the air on an independent patrol, looking for trouble. He encountered no enemy ships and returned. After breakfast he again took off with the same result. That afternoon he resolved to go into Germany and bomb the airdrome of the squadron that had killed his chum.

He arrived over it without opposition except for the inevitable Archie over the lines. There was no ship in sight on the field. He dropped his bombs, doing considerable damage to two hangars and receiving in reply a hot ground fire which did no damage to him whatever. He turned to go back to his airdrome just in time to meet the charge of a Pfalz scout which had approached unobserved. The Boche proved to be as skilled as the American, so that neither gained an advantage over the other in the five or more minutes that the combat lasted. They had both, however, exhausted their ammunition. Finally they waved to one another and departed.

Fortune favored the Yank, for the fight had not attracted any roving Boche. He was no doubt saved by the fact that the squadron of the field over which he had been, was away on some devilment of its own. On his way back, near the lines, he sighted three dots which rapidly approached and soon resolved themselves into two Junkers, escorted by a member of the squadron for which the American had been searching.

This squadron was noted for its savage and ruthless mode of fighting. No quarter was expected of them and no quarter was given. All the Allied outfits in this sector had sworn to exterminate them, but as every man of them was a skillful pilot it proved no easy matter. As a matter of fact the event that finally put an end to this squadron was the death of its leader. True to type, the escort of the Junkers flew ahead to meet the helpless American. On seeing that he had at last met his enemy, the Yank forgot that his ammunition was gone. His only thought was to down this Boche or to die in the attempt.

With rage in his heart he kept on and the two planes came at each other with tremendous speed. As they approached, the American pressed his trigger. Nothing happened, and he remembered with despair his helplessness. It was too late. He could not turn back now.

Strangely, no shots came from the German who dipped just in time to avoid a collision. Then began a series of maneuvers that carried them all over the sky. The American could do nothing but avoid the fire of the German. Both men were evenly matched as to skill and both maneuvered successfully in order to keep out of one another’s range. Had the German known the helpless condition of the American, the fight would have been ended long ago. This, of course, he did not suspect. It was later found that the German’s gun was hopelessly jammed, which explained his failure to fire on the first onslaught.

In the meantime the Junkers had approached and passed. Neither had fired a shot nor made any attempt to join the battle. No explanation has ever been made of their failure to do so. The climax came swiftly. In fact the entire incident happened in less time than it takes to tell it. The two ships, the S.E-5 and the Fokker, got into the maneuver called “chasing tails.” They went round and round, one behind the other, each thinking the other could fire. This tactic of chasing tails by two ships of equal speed and by two pilots of equal skill, could be continued indefinitely unless the circle was broken by another ship. It was effective in preventing one from getting on the other’s tail. Sometimes pilots in this maneuver broke by mutual agreement, by use of signals, each going his own way.

The whirling ships had overtaken the Junkers and had approached dangerously close. In an attempt to break the vicious circle, the Boche dove his ship. As his head was turned, he did not see the leading Junker and crashed at full speed into it. Both fell in a flaming streak, but not before some flying wreckage had shattered the propeller of the following Junker. This ship landed safely in Germany. So three ships were downed without a single shot!

The Junkers Biplane
“The Junkers Biplane” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (November 1932)

 

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 35: René Dorme” by Eugene Frandzen

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

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

Sous Lieutenant René Pierre Marie Dorme has been credited with 23 victories although officially noted with a probable 43. He had started his service as an artilary man in North Africa before becoming a pilot and managing to get injured in a crash before even seeing action. But that didn’t stop him—He got into combat in March of 1916 and achieved his first credited victory in July shooting down an L.V.G.

The French called him “the beloved” and even the great Guynemer called him France’s greatest air fighter. His plane was only hit twice in all his fights earning him the name “unpuncturable.” Dorme was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, the Médaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre (with 11 palms!).

While flying on May 25th 1917, Dorme dissapeared over German territory after downing a plane. Two weeks later the enemy reported he was killed in combat, but nothing more than that was ever heard of him—no trace ever found!

“Lt. Carr and the De H-5″ by Frederick Blakeslee

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

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 scries 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.

th_BA_3210IN JUNE, 1918, there arrived at a certain American airdrome in France a group of replacements who had been trained in England. Among them was a lad by the name of Carr. To use a remark of one of his instructors, he was “the world’s worst pilot but a damn fine lad.” He had wrecked more ships than any man in camp. Why he was not thrown out of aviation, or at best sent to an observation group, he did not know. The fact remains that in the final test he passed, and was sent with five others to a fighting squadron. This squadron was proud of its toughness and its record for victories. The squadron leader looked the replacements over critically and approved, for they were just the type he wanted.

Carr was tall, with broad shoulders and an infectious smile—the sort of fellow one likes instantly. He was selected to be the first to go over the lines. Accordingly, next morning he was one of five to line up and take off. However, only four actually did take off. Carr’s ship went wobbling across the field and came up standing in a hedge. The mechanics looked it over for defects and, fortunately for Carr, found one that might have caused the crack-up. Carr, much surprised, thanked his lucky stars for that. Naturally he did not mention that the accident was due to his own stupidity. He was congratulated on his escape and wished better luck.

His next chance arrived and this time he managed to get into the air. His orders were strict; should a fight occur or if he were to loose the others, he was to return immediately. He was back in ten minutes—the time it took him to get lost and return to the airdrome. It did not help his reputation when he crashed in landing.

There followed a painful series of mishaps by which he became known as the “lovable ole dub.” It took them less than a week to discover that Carr would make a far better cab driver than a pilot. On the other hand he was the leader of all their binges. His smile carried him through all his troubles and with the willing help of the rest of the squadron his mistakes were smoothed over. However he was a great responsibility to flight leaders, who dreaded to have him in their patrol. At last, after a bit of particularly stupid flying, the C. O. decided that he would have to return to England. Carr was broken-hearted; he would rather die than be sent back. Rage against his own inability to fly determined him to try one last flight on which he would cither kill or be killed.

Early on the day he was to leave he took out his ship, gave it the gun and swept into the air. Although he did not realize it at the time, he was flying as he should have flown long ago. For the first time, instead of putting his ship into the air by sheer nervous will power, he forgot flying and thought only of fighting.

He had not gone far when he saw a patrol of Jerries beneath him. Without an instant’s hesitation he dove with such fury that he scattered the German ships right and left. Before they had become organized, he had shot down two of them. He dove head-on at another, intending to crash and end his life; but the panic-stricken Boche pulled up and fled with the others who had had enough of this mad American. Carr turned his De H-5 about just in time to see a green Pfalz diving at him. He plunged at him head-on, ripping out a savage burst. The Jerry, badly hit, looped but Carr looped after him.

Just at this point a Fokker Tripe joined the fight. Both planes came out of the loop with Carr on the German’s tail and his tracers crashing into the ship ahead. The Fokker zoomed and his wheel smashed through the left wing of the Pfalz, which went down out of control and crashed behind our lines. In a moment the pilot of the Fokker discovered that he had made a mistake in thinking that he or anyone could withstand such reckless and savage fury. He gave up in panic, raised his hands in token of surrender and followed Carr meekly back.

Carr returned to an overjoyed squadron, as confirmation of his victories had traveled ahead. He did not return to England. Instead he rose to be flight leader, then C.O., and finally became one of America’s aces.

The De H-5 was produced late in 1916 and was extensively used at the front. It was so constructed that the pilot’s view upward and foreward was not entirely blanketed by the top wing. For this reason the top wing was staggered backward and the pilot’s cockpit put beneath the leading edge of that wing. Despite loss of efficiency which resulted from this backward stagger, by careful attention to the reduction of head resistance, a ship was produced with very good all-round performance. Its span was 25′-8″; length 22′; engine 110 h.p., Le Rhone; speed at 10,000 ft. 102 m.p.h.; landing speed 50 m.p.h.; approximate ceiling 15,000 ft.

Lt. Carr and the De H-5
“Lt. Carr and the De H-5″ by Frederick M. Blakeslee (October 1932)

“The Blue Ghost Patrol” by Lester Dent

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

Lester Dent is best known as the man behind Doc Savage. But he wrote all number of other stories before he started chronicling the adventures of everyone’s favorite bronze giant. Here we have an intriging tale which seems to be the start of a character he never got back to—The Black Bat. From the October 1932 issue of Flying Aces we present “The Blue Ghost Patrol!”

Hot on the trail of those two traitor ships from his own base flew the Black Bat, famous Allied secret agent whose face no man had ever seen. Suddenly five Albatrosses swooped down and sent him crashing into the sea. But in the next second they had gone on—and their Spandaus were hammering at the two traitor ships!

 

If you enjoyed this story, Black Dog Books has put out an excellent volume collecting 11 of Lester Dent’s early air stories set against the backdrop of World War !. The book includes this story as well as others from the pages of War Birds, War Aces, Flying Aces, Sky Birds and The Lone Eagle. It’s The Skull Squadron! Check it out.

And as a bonus, here’s a plucky article from Lester’s home town paper, The LaPlata Home Press, about his early success selling stories to the pulps while working as a telegraph opperator in Tulsa, Oklahoma!

 

LaPlata Man Known As A Writer

Lester Dent Sells Stories Written In Liesure Hours
The LaPlata Home Press, LaPlata, MO • 12 June 1930

Lester Dent, a graduate with the Plata high school class of 1923, is building a name for himself in Oklahoma as a writer of adventure fiction.

Mr. Dent is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bern Dent, who live three quarters of a mile north of the Santa Fe lake. After finishing high school here, Mr. Dent attended Chillicothe Business College, taking a course in telegraphy. Recently he has made talks on short story writing before the journalism extension class of Oklahoma University, and the Claremore, Okla., writers club.

Lester Dent

Part of a feature article which appears in the Sunday World, Tulsa, Okla., reads:

Lester Dent, who writes air, action, adventure and mystery stories for the all-fiction magazines, is a press telegraph operator on the “Hoot Owl” trick—midnight until 8 o’clock in the morning—in the wire room of the Tulsa World. In his spare time, Mr. Dent manages to write and sell several hundred dollars’ worth of short stories and novelettes a month. Since January 1, he has placed featured novelettes in Popular, Air Stories, Top Notch, etc.

Besides having “pounded brass” as a telegraph operator in a dozen middle west cities for oil companies, the Western Union and the Associated Press, Mr. Dent has apprenticed as a horse wrangler, cowboy and sheep-herder in Wyoming during which period he contributed materially to the success of a number of pulp paper magazine publishers by reading all of their thrillers he could buy, borrow, or get hold of otherwise: has been a pipeline roustabout, trapper, stenographer, punched a “Mux” tele-graphtypewriter, and “put in a number of summers working like the devil on a farm near LaPlata, Mo., for no visible purpose but to raise enough corn to feed a span of voracious Jack and Jinn mules through the ensuing winter.”

He attended Tulsa University law school long enough to discover there was hard work entailed in the business of being a lawyer, and declares he lost interest. In addition, he says he is a radio operator, although “rather rusty,” and “a terrible flier, one eye being off the job and the other showing a peculiar brand of judgment when it comes to distances.”

Mr. Dent is 24 years old, is something over six feet tall, and weighs around 225. He started writing fiction slightly more than a year ago when, he says, he “suddenly discovered it was the racket for any nitwit who wants an easy living.”

“Lt. Reed and the L.V.G.” by Frederick Blakeslee

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

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the sixteenth 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.

th_BA_3209AN AMERICAN observation group was assigned a very important photographic mission. The objective was far in German territory and heavily guarded both by airplanes and anti-aircraft. Heretofore although several attempts had been made to photograph the position, all had failed. It had been decided, therefore, as a last chance, to send several observation ships, with a huge group of pursuit planes as protection. It was hoped that with this strong-force, one ship at least would be able to go through with the work.

As a matter of fact only one ship, of the twenty-seven that took the air, arrived over the objective.

How six of the observation ships dropped out and how they missed their top protection at the rendezvous, is another story. Suffice it to say that only three of the photographic ships, which were brand-new R.E.8’s, reached the rendezvous; when they did not see the fighting group, they separated and started alone into Germany, for they carried only enough gas to get them there and back and so could not wait. Two of the three were forced to return by strong Boche patrols. One ship was left. Let us follow him into Germany.

The pilot of this ship was not sorry to be alone, for in all the previous attempts there had been eight or nine planes and Lt. Reed felt confident that where many ships had failed, one might do the trick. He flew as high as he could and arrived over his objective unchallenged. On the ground the Germans had observed the lone flyer, but as it was a mere dot in the sky and only one where they had been looking for many, the observers were puzzled. They could not determine whether it was one of their own ships or not. Soon it began to spiral down, but since there was a German airdrome in the neighborhood this was not unusual. It was only when Lt. Reed came within view of the binoculars which were trained on him, that he was recognized as an Allied plane.

Reed came down faster than the gunners could adjust their fuses and in a minute he was at the desired level. He flattened out so that his observer was able to calmly click his camera. While he was thus employed the anti-aircraft suddenly became quiet. No wonder, for eighteen Boche fighting ships were diving on this dauntless American.

He was surrounded in a second by a milling crowd of roaring planes. Almost instantly he was out of action, with his observer seriously wounded and his own legs shot through. The storm of lead stopped as suddenly as it had come. Here was a prize—an R.E.8, a machine the Germans badly wanted intact. The Germans saw that the American was helpless, so they surrounded him in a boxlike formation and headed him toward G.H.Q., or so Lt. Reed supposed.

They had not gone far when two L.V.G.’s took up a position on either side of him, and the rest flew away. Lt. Reed was growing weak from loss of blood. He knew that he could never escape in his condition, for aside from being faint he found that his legs were stiffening so that it was barely possible to steer. He was headed into Germany, so he supposed, and could never be able to turn his ship.

Suddenly the ship on his left dove; at the same moment the L.V.G. on his right burst into flames. Then an S.E.5 with British insignias flashed in front of Lt. Reed, to hurtle down at the other Boche. The next instant Reed found himself flying alone again.

The action had revived him somewhat, but when he tried to turn toward France he found his legs were useless. He could do nothing but fly straight on. He was headed toward the south and had been all along, though he had been unaware of it. Believing that he was going deeper into Germany he flew on until he grew blind from faintness. Then he landed and learned that he was in France. He asked to have his observer and photographs looked after and collapsed.

For their devotion to duty both the observer and the pilot received a high award.

The Luft Verkehrs Gesellschaft, better known as the L.V.G., G.V., was a well-known fighter. It was a two-seater biplane, carrying one Spandau on the right of the motor and firing through the propeller, and one Parabellum gun fired from the observer’s seat. There were several types of L.V.G.’s. One was a C.IV, an improvement over the C.V. Another was a single-seater scout, the D.VI, produced toward the end of the war. It was a queer looking ship. A third was also weird in appearance and called the D.V., a single seater. A big brother to the L.V.G. family was a twin-engined tractor triplane. The cream of the lot however was a little single-seater scout of the D class, one of the speediest looking ships ever made. The span of the L.V.G., C.V. was 44′-8½”; overall length, 42′-2½”, with a speed of 150 km. per hour at 4,000 meters.

Lt. Reed and the L.V.G.
“Lt. Reed and the L.V.G.” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (September 1932)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 34: Lt. Rudolph von Eschwege” by Eugene Frandzen

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

Back with another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This time around we have the April 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of the “German Eagle” himself—Lieutenant Rudolph von Eschwege!

Rudolph von Eschwege, known as the Eagle of the Aegean, was a German Ace who fought on the lesser known Balkan front and based at Drama, Greece. However, von Eschwege had been enlisted in the army before the war, and first saw combat with the 3rd Mounted Jaeger Regiment on the Western Front. It was several months later that he would take pilot training and transfer to aviation. First with a reconnaissance unit until he was commissioned in the Autumn of 1916 and tranfered to the Macedonian Front.

Unlike on the Western Front, German aircraft in Macedonia were greatly outnumbered. And young von Eschwege was given a tall order. He was responsible for protecting all German aircraft as well as intercepting any identified Allied aircraft along 37 miles of the Struma River and 62 miles of the Aegean coast—and he was also supposed to protect the Bulgarian 10th Division from aerial attacks. All this essentially on his own. With the odds against him—where Allied craft outnumbered Central Powers 10 to 1—Eschwege managed to carve out a fierce reputaion in the air. He is credited with 20 confirmed and 6 unconfirmed victories.

He was killed in action on the 21st of November 1917 when he attacked a British observation balloon that had been fitted with a dummy observer and 500 pounds of high explosives.

“Parlez Voodoo!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on March 27, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

“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!

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