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“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.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 17: Captain Hamilton Coolidge” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 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 American Ace—Capitain Hamilton Coolidge!

Hamilton Coolidge was born on September 1st, 1895, in Brookline, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in July 1916, and began flight training at the School of Military Aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June the following year.

Sailing to France in July 1917, Coolidge was commissioned a 1st Lt on the 29th of September, 1917 and was assigned to the Third Aviation Instruction Center at Issoudun, France, from October 1917 to June 1918 when he then joined the 94th Aero Squadron of the 1st Pursuit Group. He is credited with 8 victories over enemy aircraft in aerial combat and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Coolidge was killed in action on October 27, 1918 when his SPAD S.XIII took a direct hit from a German anti-aircraft shell near Grandpré, Ardennes.

His letters home were collected and privately published in 1919 as Letters of An American Airman: Being The War Record of Capt. Hamilton Coolidge, U.S.A. 1917-1918

    by The Plimpton Press. Google Books has digitized it and it can be read or downloaded in various formats from the Internet Archive. This book has also been published by several Print On Demand Publishers.

    (Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

“Falling Leaf” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on February 10, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

This time around we have a tale from the anonymous pen of Lt. Frank Johnson—a house pseudonym. Sky Fighters ran a series of stories by Johnson featuring a pilot who who was God’s gift to the Ninth Pursuit Fighter Squadron and although he says he’s a doer and not a talker, he wasn’t to shy to tell them all about it. Which earned him the nickname “Silent” Orth. This time Silent Orth goes after Baron Rapunzel—a Boche Ace who’s already claimed 51 victories—and Orth doesn’t plan to be the 52nd!

Baron Rapunzel Was the Mystery Man of German Air—And A Tough Bird to Tackle in Combat!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major J.T. McCudden, R.F.C.

Link - Posted by David on February 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 Major J.T. McCudden’s most thrilling sky fight!

MAJOR James T. McCudden was one of the most modest and unassuming of the great flying aces. When the war began he was an engine mechanic with the then recently formed Royal Flying Corps. After flying training he became a Sergeant pilot, and began, piling up the string of victories which eventually placed him at the top of all the British aces. He was progressively promoted to Lieutenant, Captain and Major, and won every medal possible, including the Victoria Cross.

In the air he was absolutely fearless and could handle a plane as well as the best of his fellows. But his ability in using the machine-gun made him superior to all others. He was a crack gunner. He was killed in an accident when taking off to fly back to the front after one of his infrequent leaves. The account below is taken from his book, “Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps.”

 

ONE AGAINST FIVE

by Major J. T. McCudden, R.F.C. • Sky Fighters, January 1934

I WAS out stalking alone at a 19,000 foot level over Cambrai when I caught sight of five Hun scouts over Bourlon Wood. They were cruising several thousand feet below me. I sized up the situation for a moment, then went down swiftly in a screeching dive, aiming right through the middle of the formation.

After driving through the formation, I pulled up abruptly directly behind and beneath the leader, in his blind spot. I withheld my fire as long as possible, then let go with a short burst at very close range. His ship, an Albatross, went streaking down with plywood strips shredding and crackling from the fuselage. My tracers had almost ripped his fuselage in two. I didn’t have time to watch him crash for the four other scouts jumped me from behind.

I maneuvered quickly, however, and managed to get behind one of them, a Pfalz. One short burst took care of him. He went down in a spiral dive. The other three now began to show signs of alarm. They spread in all directions. I got my guns on an Albatross, pumped a long burst at him, but he spun and got away. I had been so intent firing at him, I didn’t notice the Albatross that slid in behind me pumping lead, until I heard the bullets crackling through the fuselage at my back.

I reversed more quickly than I ever had. Got my sights in line again, and was feeding him a lovely burst from Vickers and Lewis when both my guns stopped. On looking, I saw that the Lewis drum on the top gun was empty, the Vickers belt below was broken.

So there I was with no guns. But my two quick victories had given me confidence. I felt awfully brave, so went chasing after them with no guns. The two Albatross pilots weren’t very lively on either the stick or trigger, and I almost ran into the tail of the remaining Pfalz. I got so close that I could have popped the pilot in the eye with a rotten egg—if I had had any.

I chased those two fellows as far in as Cambrai, then growing cautious because of my failing petrol supply, I turned back and left them. I had got two of the formation and chased the other three away without any bullets. Of course, if the Huns had known that, it wouldn’t have been so easy, the three of them might have ganged on me.

When I got home and made my report my flying mates kidded me about not having a ready supply of rotten eggs handy in the pit.

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

Link - Posted by David on February 6, 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 February 1935 cover, It’s a battle of the Bristol Fighter F2B and the Siemens Halske D4!

The Ships on the Cover

THE Bristol Fighter F2B th_SF_3502was a plane which any Englishman can remember with justifiable pride. It was a two-seater fighter brought out during 1917 and some of them were still flying a few years back. As a war bus this square fuselage job was in a class by itself. One man could take it into a mixup and outfly most of the enemy scouts.

With the rear gunner in the Bristol Fighter it was about the most dangerous thing slicing through the skies. It mowed down its enemies in such great numbers that the German flyers gave it the right of way whenever possible.

The British and Colonial Aeroplane Co., manufacturers of the Bristol was formed in 1910 by the late Sir George White, Bart, who incidentally was the pioneer of electric tramways in Great Britain.

The Bristol Fighter was the first ship of any country which could match single-seater scouts in speed, maneuverability and ease of handling.

Four-Bladed Propeller

The sleek little red plane zooming underneath the Bristol on the cover is a Siemens-Halske D-4 pursuit ship. It was made by one of the many branches of the great Siemens Electrical Company of Germany, comparable to our own General Electric Co. The motor was a 200 h.p. Halske rotary. To get greater efficiency with the geared down motor a four-bladed propeller was used. The ailerons were actuated by torque tubes. The Siemens firm also produced those multi-engined giant bombers, the Siemens-Schuckert and Siemens-Steffen.

The Bristol Fighter was made by the firm that had been founded by a pioneer of the electric street car; the Siemens-Halske by the electric moguls of Germany. Therefore it was fitting and interesting that these two ships should be pitted and allowed to scratch and tear at each other as war planes are in the habit of doing.

The Battle Opens!

With the Siemens having a slight edge in speed the battle opened. The Bristol back gunner was a menace to the German who used his slight extra speed finally to maneuver so that he placed his streamlined little job under the tail of the larger Bristol. Two spitting streams of bullets poured from his Spandaus. One of those tiny pellets tore through the British observer’s body.

He slumped in his pit, out. Down dove the Siemens, came back from under and in front of the Bristol. Slugs spattered through the two-seater’s floorboards. The Bristol pilot quickly lashed his controls, turned, and holding his buddy from slipping overboard brought the twin Lewis guns over the side. The Siemens, a streak of red, flashed by so close that the left elevator of the Bristol and the left wing tip of the Siemens nearly brushed together.

A Short-Lived Grin

The German looked up, grinned. The grin didn’t last a shaved part of a split second. A single Lewis gun churned slugs at point-blank range into the German ship. One smashed the pilot’s left shoulder.

Rapidly the ships flew in opposite directions. They had fought a draw. Each carried a wounded man to be patched up and flung again into the arena where knockouts are daily events and draws are few and far between.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters,February 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the French Deperdussin vs. the German D.F.W.!

“Sky-High Nerve” by Frederick L. Nebel

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

Frederick L. Nebel, a member of the Black Mask school of pulpsters, penned a popular series about the vagabond pilots Gales and McGill—free-lances of the air, birdmen of fortune, the wildest brace of adventurers that ever came out of America. They were notorious on the coast, known from Shanghai to Surabaya for a brace of wild, reckless adventurers, ripe at all times for anything short of murder.

Frederick L. Nebel, author of the Gales and McGill stories, says of his partners of the skies:

“Gales and McGill have flown before in Air Stories, and I know they’ll fly some more. I like Gales and McGill. They’ve sort of become friends of mine.

“I don’t have to tell you that McGill is a pretty hard-boiled egg. Nor is Gales particularly soft-boiled. But what one lacks, the other has, and, taking them together, they’re no boobs.

“McGill has no tact. He’s a wild hombre and will haul off and pop a fellow on the slightest provocation. Gales, on the other hand, has tact. He can sock, too, but he has a level head and a lot of canny stuff inside of it. And, of course, a lot of his time is spent getting McGill out of trouble.

“However, the main thing is that they play the game. They’re soldiers of fortune out to make the money and take the chances. But they play the game. There’s no double-crossing, and they don’t hire out as murderers.

“And so they zoom in “Sky-High Nerve,” an episode of their fortune hunting in the East. In all their flights they’re Gales and McGill; McGill reckless, Gales planning, both fighting. That motive is behind “Sky-High Nerve” and behind every flight they make. At least I try to make it that.

“Surely you’ve met guys like ‘em somewhere, some time.”

From the pages of the February 1928 number of Air Stories, it’s Gales & McGill in “Sky-High Nerve!”

Gales and McGill, free lances of the air, seek adventure—and get rapid-fire action as Gales plays out his hand against the sinister menace of the Tong. Another smashing Gales-McGill yarn!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 16: Georges Madon” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 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 French flying Ace—Capitaine Georges Madon!

Capitaine Georges Madon was one of the most famous of the French flying aces. Along with Guynemer, Navarro and Nungesser, he furnished the spectacular flying news that filled the newspapers in the early days of the World War. He was credited with forty-one victories—only the great Guynemer topped him in the list of French aces during his time on the battle front—and awarded the Legion d’Honneur, Medaile Militaire, and Croix de Guerre.

Cool, courageous and audacious, he kited the battle skies, making short shrift of all the enemy flyers who were unfortunate enough to encounter his specially gunned Nieuport fighter.

Unlike the great Guynemer, Capitaine Madon survived the war. Sadly, he died in a plane crash on 11 November 1924—the sixth anniversary of the end of the First World War—while flying in tribute to the deceased French aviation legend Roland Garros. His aircraft having malfunctioned he deliberately crashed his aircraft into the roof of a villa rather than hit watching spectators. He was 32.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

“Rice and Shine” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on January 27, 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 and this time the marvel from Boonetown is suffering from “yeller jaundice” as he puts it and makes the most of his condition by assuming the coolie guise of Flew Man Hooey in order to bring down RIttmeister von Beerbohm and his Flying Circus.

It was a red-letter day for Garrity. The Ninth Pursuit had bagged a Gotha, and Phineas had been shipped off to the hospital. The major lit a cigar and relaxed—but he should have known better. You would, wouldn’t you?

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Max Immelmann

Link - Posted by David on January 25, 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 Lieutenant Max Immelmann’s most thrilling sky fight!

LIEUTENANT Max Franz Immelmann was the first of the great German Aces. Immelmann scored victory after victory over the Allied flyers until his total score mounted higher than that of any of the Allied Aces.

He was an excellent gunner and as a flyer had no peer during his time. He was the first to use the quick Climbing reverse turn, which was the fastest method of changing direction while in full flight. The maneuver first demonstrated by Immelmann in his sky battles over the Western front has since been named after him, the Immelmann turn. It was a very effective maneuver and enabled him to gain many victories. He and Oswald Boelke served in the same Squadron. When he was killed Boelke went on to surpass his records, only to be surpassed himself after he was killed, by Baron von Richthofen.

None of the American flyers, except those flying with the French, ever encountered Immelmann in the air. He was killed in 1918 before America entered the war. The account below was told to a newspaper correspondent.

 

TWO OUT OF THREE

by Lieutenant Max Immelmann • Sky Fighters, January 1934

AIR fighting is like any other kind of fighting. Victory goes usually to the strongest and best prepared. The French have tried to make it more romantic, like the fighting of the knights of old, man to man in bold, open fighting on mounted chargers. That is spectacular and picturesque. I do not believe it the best method. The object in war is to down as many of the enemy planes as is possible without losing any of your own. Thus you may obtain the mastery of the air, which is necessary in this modern war, if the ground troops are going to win success.

For that reason I have adopted tactics which seem on the surface prudent. I aim to destroy the enemy without letting them destroy me. My methods are best explained by giving an example. Three days ago, I was out cruising the lines with my patrol. We were in layer formation. One was far below, leading. Two others were further back of him and higher up, one on either side. I brought up the rear, directly behind the leader, and higher up than any of them.

While flying in that formation, the leader encountered a patrol of three Frenchmen. His instructions were to fly on until attacked, which he did. My patrol never even let on that they saw the approaching formation. They flew along parallel with the lines in steady flight without changing elevation. I throttled down my machine and dropped back, until the rest of my patrol was just mere specks. Then I shoved on full throttle and climbed for the sun.

The Frenchmen drove in for the attack on the three German planes below. My men kept their formation until the bullets began to get too close, then they returned the fire and adopted defensive tactics. At the same time, they retreated back over our lines, to draw the enemy over our territory. They were making a running fight of it, according to instructions, diverting the attackers’ intentions all to themselves; but knowing all the time that I would be diving down unawares from the disc of the sun behind to pounce upon the enemy in surprise.

And I did. I dived straight down from the well of the sun, my fingers poised over the gun trips. At one hundred yards I opened up on the first Frenchman. My tracers bored through his cockpit and he went spinning down. But not before I had dived underneath him to zoom up again with my guns pointed at his nearest comrade.

I opened up on him, saw my tracers eating into his belly. One plane was down now. I had the position on the second, and the first shots in. My comrades then, all banked and raced in for attack on the third Frenchman. He fought them bravely, I must admit, returning burst for burst. But he was doomed from the first with three against one.

My opponent slipped from my tracer stream, and nosed down towards his own lines. I zoomed up, half-rolled (Immelmanned—Ed.), changed direction and went streaking after him, still pouring tracer. Glancing back over my shoulder I saw the second enemy break apart beneath the guns of my mates. His plane fell to pieces and went fluttering down.

When I looked forward again, my opponent had dived and won away from me. I nosed down and went after him, but he went even faster for a forced landing just on the other side of his own lines where his ship upended in a shell crater and smashed one wing.

That was the end of the fight. Two French ships had been destroyed in our own territory. The other had been forced down to a crash landing just out of our reach. That was poor strategy on my part. I should have headed him off, making him land on our side. However, my patrol was still intact. Next time, I vowed I would not make such a slip. With perfect strategy and tactics properly executed, we would have accounted for all three enemy ships over our own territory.

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

Link - Posted by David on January 23, 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 January 1935 cover, It’s a battle of the experimental Morane-Saulnier up against the mighty Fokker Tri-Plane!

The Ships on the Cover

A FLYER who goes out th_SF_3501of his way to tackle three enemy ships and down the bunch in one fight is called a “Three in One.” Meaning, of course, three in one fight. But that said flyer, before barging into a seemingly hopeless scrap, must have more than mere courage. My guess would be: courage, exceptional flying ability and nerves of steel.

Andrew McKeever and Francis Quigley and James McCudden were “three in one” Aces. McKeever, a Canadian, made three kills in one fight. The odds against him were nine to one and just to make it more interesting, the fight occurred far behind the German lines. The Cannuck charged into the mass of attacking Germans and tore their morale to pieces by blasting three of them out of the skies. The remaining six Hun pilots were so dazed by McKeever’s audacity that they allowed him to slip away from them and he returned home without a scratch.

Tangling Them Into Knots

McCudden, whose score was high at the time, hopped a squadron of German ships. He tangled them into knots with his brilliant flying and marksmanship. Four of the German ships crashed to earth under his guns. Dozens of German slugs tore through McCudden’s plane but he was unharmed and landed safely.

That gives you a look-see at a couple of the famous aces of the war whose official records are now history. Now take a look at the cover to see a Frenchman qualifying for the “Three in One” club.

The Fokker triplane was a ship which stood out boldly on the German roster of famous ships. Some of the Fokker tri-planes were slow. Fokker built these tripes originally around the 100 h.p. Oberursel rotary motors and had to be content with the speed this engine delivered. Later when more powerful motors were installed his tripes climbed well into the first division for speed. What they lacked in miles per hour they made up in maneuverability. They could “turn on a dime.”

This super-maneuverability was due to the shortness of the fuselage bringing the tail close up to the wings and also to the short span of the wings. The experimental Morane-Saulnier is the exact opposite to the triplane design and cannot get into a change of direction as quickly as the tripe. It is built more for slashing attack. Having a single wing against the three of the German ship makes the scrap all the more interesting.

Under the Guns!

One of the quick darting Fokkers has already fallen under the guns of the Morane pilot. Another is taking its death potion from the blazing guns of the French plane as it zooms up under its nose. The third Fokker pilot is so rattled that he is firing more at his colleague in the foremost Fokker then at the Morane-Saulnier. It’s finis for him as soon as the speedy Morane-Saulnier can swing it’s guns in his direction.

Flyers didn’t go out every day or two and engage superior numbers of enemy ships just to show how the trick was done. It was rather a once-in-a-lifetime stunt for a very few of the best. To zoom into sky conflict with a single enemy plane takes courage. But to tangle with a gang of your foes, down three or more of them and come through the show with colors flying, takes courage PLUS.

Plus what? I’ve already made my guess. What’s yours?

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, January 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Bristol Fighter F2B and the Siemens Halske D4!

“Jinx Peelot” by Harold F. Cruickshank

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

WE’RE back with another exciting air adventure from the pages of the pulp magazines of the 1930’s. This week we have a tale from the pen of that Canadian stalwart—Harold F. Cruickshank. Cruickshank was a prolific writer. He wrote all manner os stories for the pulps—war, aviation, westerns, even animal stories!

Cruickshank gives us a tale of Sam Tenby, a young Peelot with a jinx that may be sending him back to Issoudun unless he can break it.

Every Time Sam Tenby Went Up in the Air to Chase the Boche, Something Went Wrong— Until. . . .

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 15: Major Vaughn” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 18, 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 American Ace—Major George Vaughn!

Major George A. Vaughn is credited with 13 victories—12 German planes and one balloon—and awarded the American Distinguished Service Cross, the British Distinguished Flying Cross and Silver Star with two citations. He was shot down twice, but managed to escape uninjured both times.

A student at Princeton when the war broke out, Vaughn returned and finished his degree after the war. He became a reearch engineer for Western Electric and later a slea engineer for Westinghouse.

Vaughn was asked by the Governor of New York, Franklin Roosevelt, to help organize the New York Air National Guard—the 102nd Observation Squadron—in the early 1920s. He served as it’s commander for nine years. In 1933 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned to the 27th Division Staff as Air Officer until he retired in 1939.

Vaughn was on of the organizers of the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics along with Lee D. Warrender and Casey Jones in 1932. The School, based at La Guardia Airport, would become the College of Aeronautics. In 2004, the name was changed to the Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology.

George Vaughn passed away in 1989 at the age of 92 of a brain tumor.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

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