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“The Devil on Wings” by Edgar A. Manley

Link - Posted by David on December 9, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY, for our twelve stories of Christmas 1931, we have an excellent tale by Edgar A. Manley from the pages of the December 1931 Sky Birds magazine!

Destiny had linked Chuck Bland strangely with that mysterious pair on the train from Paris. One a French artillery officer, the other a French flyer—one a murderer, the other a murdered man. And Chuck Bland did not know which was which—until one night, weeks later, in the messroom of a French drome!

From the pages of Sky Birds, it’s “The Devil on Wings” by Edgar A. Manley!

You may recognize the art for this story—it was also used for the Philip Strange story “Hell’s Gateway” (Flying Aces, April 1932)

“Torpedoes for Trouble” by Colcord Heurlin

Link - Posted by David on December 7, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present a cover by Colcord Heurlin! Heurlin worked in the pulps primarily over a ten year period from 1923 to 1933. His work appeared on Adventure, Aces, Complete Stories, Everybody’s Combined with Romance, North-West Stories, The Popular, Short Stories, Flying Aces, Sea Stories, Top-Notch, War Stories, Western Story, and here, the cover of the December 1931 Sky Birds!

Torpedoes for Trouble

th_SB_3112IT WAS a far cry from the early days of the war, when aviators were asked to drop bombs on hurriedly constructed Zeppelin hangars in northern Belgium, to the 1918 bomber with its aerial torpedo. In the early days airmen often made their own bombs of petrol cans wrapped with tarred rope which was designed to blast out hangars and then set fire to the remains. From those days bombing went through the 20-pounder stage, automatic racks, and eventually blossomed out with ships carrying single 550-pound missiles designed to fang their way through many feet of solid concrete before exploding. These were known as delayed detonation bombs.

On this month’s cover we show a two-seater bomber of this type. It has just released a 550-pound torpedo over a German airdrome. As in this picture, the pilot usually dived his ship on the target as though he were going to fire his fixed guns, and then released the torpedo-bomb. The spinning projectile did the rest.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Torpedoes for Trouble”
Sky Birds, December 1931 by Colcord Heurlin

“Had-Boiled and Handsome” by James Perley Hughes

Link - Posted by David on December 4, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author James Perley Hughes! Hughes was a frequent contributor to various genres of pulps, but he seemed to gravitate toward the air-war spy type stories.

Skag, Dinty and Mugs Miller liked to “groom” the fresh recruits to the Game-Cock Squadron. They were case-hardened comedians and had given Major Crossley all kinds of trouble by their weird ideas of what made a joke. The quiet, bashful fledgling was usually let off with a short hazing, but the fresh fish were tormented until the three were satiated. Orders against this hazing had been issued time and again, but they were difficult to enforce. It was time someone taught them a lesson, and who better than someone straight from the school at Issoudun!

If you didn’t like somebody in the Game-Cock Squadron, you just arranged for him to fight a duel with von Steuben, famous German ace. It sounded easy—until those three tough boys from South Boston tried it on a certain replacement!

“Dual Control” by E.W. Chess

Link - Posted by David on December 2, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

TO START off our twelve stories of Christmas 1931, we have an excellent tale by E.W. Chess from the pages of the December 1931 Aces magazine!

Martin Hale became a man without a country—He had been found guilty of desertion and insubordination. Rather than leave the war, Hale assumes the identity of an American pilot who has been presumed dead after his plane crashes and burns. But just who is Jerrald Hammond? What starts out as a way to stay in the war turns into a tale of espionage and intrigue.

One pilot passed to the tune of tapping drums, another fell with crimson flame to mark his end. But behind the Front was a strange rendezvous for the ghosts that walked the war night.

From the pages of Aces, it’s “Dual Control” by E.W. Chess!

Pulpflakes posted an excellent post about the life of “Elliot Chess—Fighter pilot, Author” last year. You can check it out here!

The Aces of Christmas 1931

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

WHILE browsing through eBay a couple months ago, I came upon these two snapshots from a family’s Christmas in Memphis 1931. What caught my eye was the little boy all dressed up as a WWI ace with leather jacket, aviator’s cap with goggles, and some sort of tall leather boots(?)! It got me thinking about what stories that boy could have been reading that rather mild, snowless December in Memphis.

So this month we’ll be featuring stories published in the December 1931 issues of Aces, Sky Birds, War Aces and War Birds, by some of our favorite authors—Arch Whitehouse, O.B. Myers, Frederick C. Painton, Frederick C. Davis, Donald E. Keyhoe, and George Bruce—as well as a couple new or seldom seen authors to our site—Elliot W. Chess, Edgar L. Cooper, and Robert Sidney Bowen.

Looking at that impressive list, you may be wondering where a few of our most often posted authors are. Authors like Ralph Oppenheim, Harold F. Cruickshank, Lester Dent and Joe Archibald. That’s a bit of good news/bad news. The good news, we’ve already posted the stories Ralph Oppenheim (“Lazy Wings”) and Lester Dent (“Bat Trap”) had in the December 1931 War Aces; the bad, I don’t have the December 1931 issues of Wings featuring George Bruce, F.E. Rechnitzer and Edwin C. Parsons or Flying Aces with Keyhoe, Archibald, George Fielding Eliot, Alexis Rossoff, and William E. Poindexter. And as for Cruickshank—he didn’t have a story in any of the air pulps that month.

With that in mind—and since it’s Monday, let’s get the ball rolling with the covers of Christmas 1931!


ACES by Redolph Belarski


BATTLE ACES by Frederick Blakeslee


FLYING ACES by Paul J. Bissell


SKY BIRDS by Colcord Heurlin


WAR ACES by Eugene Frandzen


WAR BIRDS by Redolph Belarski


WINGS by Redolph Belarski

Come back on Wednesdays and Fridays this month for some of the great fiction from these issues!

“Cat’s Spad-Jamas!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on November 27, 2020 @ 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!

All the Allied Brass Hats were frantic. For Hauptmann von Heinz—the “Owl of the Ozone”—was raising fifty-seven varieties of Cain along the Western Front, and something had to be done before he perpetrated the fifty-eighth. Yes, it was a job for the famed Pinkham. But when the Boonetown Bam tried to snare the Kraut killer into a dog fight, somebody let the cat out of the bag. And from then on it was cats-as-cats-can!

 

As a bonus, here’s a great article on author/artist Joe Archibald from April 24th 1927 edition of the The Brooklyn Citizen!

 

Joe Archibald Sees, Comes and Conquers,
Ascending Ladder of Fame as an Artist

by Murray Rosenberg • The Brooklyn Citizen, Brooklyn, NY • 24 April 1927


To show he’s a good sport and a cartoonist Joe Archibald drew this picture of himself—without the use of a mirror. He knows himself too well for that.

Red fire of determination in his eyes, grit in his heart and with very little money in his pockets, young Joe Archibald, cartooning pride of a rural, somewhat obscure town in the New Hampshire hills, fared the whole wide-cold-and seemingly unfeeling world, fully determined to set that chily sphere on fire.

His pen, grit and perseverance were his only weapons but artist Joe was young and he felt that they were match enough for any universe.

It took him four years to get a drawing in print.

Year after year of earnest endeavor in contributing to all types of publications failed utterly. Joe began to suspect that he was the only person who knew he was good.

The art editors, cold bloodily refused him interviews, the papers went to press just as well without his work, the magazines returned his efforts without comment, without the checks he so fondly hoped to find. But Joe gamely contained his persevering struggle for recognition, and then the events of a single day wiped out all the heartaches and bitterness of four long years. One of his cartoons was in print.

It was the “Judge” magazine that suffered. It might be reportod here that Joe, claims the distinction of having more rejection slips than any other cartoonist—sufficient to paper the entire ceiling of the museum of Natural History. But his motto is “keep feeding them pictures until they accept one in self-dense.”

The King of Sports

To-day Joe Archibald, who a decade and some odd years ago was a happy go-lucky country schoolboy, obscured from fame in a hinky-dinky rural village in New England, is recognized as a cartoonist de luxe and a national medium in the sports realm, for, as you probably know, Joe makes it his specialty to draw sport cartoons. Yes, he now sits up on the throne of success to look upon the public with a contented smile, for, like every scout, he does his daily good turn by brightening up sport pages with his peppy drawings and offering the fans intimate glimpses into the lives and records of their favorite athletes.

Following the first purchase of his sketch, the rocky road to success grew a bit smoother and life took on a brighter aspect. Other periodicals accepted his contributions and then he sent a cartoon of a prominent sport event of the day to a daily paper. To his surprise and joy the drawing was accepted and published, and thus Joe embarked on the trail that has finally led him to national fame as a sports cartoonist.

From the position of irregular sports department artist on a junk-town paper Joe emigrated to the big city and began again the routine of presenting his drawings to editors, “big-time” men this time. They were accepted from time to time and soon his work attracted the attention of William J. Granger, sports editor of “The Brooklyn Citizen.” He quickly came to the conclusion that young Joe would be a worthy addition to the cartooning staff of the “Citizen,” following which the machinery began functioning to secure his services. Joe finally consented to pen his “John Hancock” to a contract; and now cartoonist Joe, who through his own relentless efforts and unswerving and set ideals has surmounted the steps to success, provides the many thousands of “Citizen” readers each day with vivid picture descriptions of the latest doings in sports.

Backward, Time in Thy Flight!

Let us look back a bit upon some of the past history of Joe Archibald at the time he began his career—a career fraught with thrills and excitement. He first awakened to the content of his latent talent when be completed a picture with chalk on the blackboard of the little red schoolhouse in New Hampshire. It was a drawing of Lincoln and a startling likeness. It was exhibited in the town and made him famous in the “400.” That was the population of the hamlet.

Then came the ascension of the second rung of the ladder to fame when one of his drawings was selected as the best among many competitors by the famous Homer Davenport. This consequently brought him much fame as a cartoonist in the neighboring counties. When 17 years of age he left the Academy of Arts in Chicago to enlist in the navy. While at Newport, R.I., he joined the staff of the “Newport Recruit,” a famous war time publication and it was here that he labored until the kaiser cried “quits.” Then he landed in New York.

There are few sports cartoonists today better equipped to portray athletic events in cartoons than Joe Archibald, who far back as he can recall has been a keen observer and close follower of every phase of sports. His activities as a sports scribe and artist bring him into close touch with some of the brightest luminaries in athletic competition and it usually is Joe Archibald who much wanted interview. This together with the draftsmanship that seems to make his characters actually “live” on the sport pages, have all served to make his reputation an envied on envied among the brotherhood of cartoonists. joe’s cartoons and articles have been syndicated in close to 100 cities from coast to coast. He was at various times affiliated with the Portland, Me., Press Herald, Boston Advertiser and Telegram.

An Artist Athlete

To cap all that has been said, Joe is himself a finished athlete which accounts partly for his deep and sincere interest in each and every one of his cartoons, in an effort to bring it up to the acme of perfection both in the way of reality and mechanical exactness. And together with aforementioned sufficient humor is injected into his drawings to give the reader a reaL moment of enjoyment.

Cartoonist Joe made a serious study of every star whose name is a byword among sport fans and in the vernacular of the modern slangsters. “He knows his onions.” His lot was success for he saw—he came—he conquered.

“Famous Firsts” November 1933 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 25, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Famous Firsts” which ran frequently in the pages of War Aces. “Famous Firsts” was an illustrated feature much along the lines of Barrett’s “Is That a Fact?” that was running in War Birds, only here the facts were all statements of firsts. And like “Is That a Fact?” in War Birds, this feature was also taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The November 1933 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features President Taft, Parachute flares, the first fatal crash and Aileen Vollick—Canada’s first woman pilot!

“Sky Fighters, March 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 23, 2020 @ 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 1937 cover, It’s the S.I.A. Type 9B!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3703ANY Italian or Austrian soldier who served during the World War on the Italian front could, without any trouble at all, pass the scaling ladder tests of any fire department in the world. Those combatants climbed perpendicular, glacial surfaces which, at first glance, seemed insurmountable. Metal hooks, somewhat resembling half of an iceman’s tongs, were heaved up against the icy sides of snowladen cliffs or ice formations.

When the hook held, the climbers inched their way up knotted ropes or ropes with loops for footholds. Sometimes they left an anchored rope hanging for others to follow, sometimes they pulled up the rope and pitched the hook farther up.

“Get there,” was the command. It was up to the soldier to climb till he reached his objective. There, exhausted, with aching muscles shrieking for relief, he probably was met by the foe with a fixed bayonet, or the defenders might cut his rope far above, sending him tumbling grotesquely into space.

An All Purpose Job

The S.I.A. (Societa Italiana Aviazione) Type 9B two seater fighter was one of those ships that was called an all purpose job. It hung up records in climbing, speed, lifting power and endurance. Its engine was the 700 h.p. Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino).

This ship was used extensively by the Italians. Their aviators liked its reliable engine and its sure fire reaction to the stick. It became the eyes of the Italian army. Spotting for the artillery attacking enemy positions and even rescuing Italian troops from surprise Austrian attacks.

A mountain has two major sides. That side facing the enemy which is watched continually for any advances. The other side behind the defenders, that side up which they have come, down which they may possibly have to retreat. It is so safe from enemy attack that its defense is completely neglected, for what enemy can come in from the rear without being annihilated?

But in the picture on the cover just this situation has occurred. An Austrian commander with vision and initiative penetrated the rear lines at night, sentries were captured without firing a shot. The way was clear. The Austrians commenced climbing before dawn. As the sun threw its yellow glaze over the cold sky the icy cliffs were alive with silent climbing figures in pot helmets. Nearer and nearer they approached their goal where the small group of Italian Alpinis manned mountain guns facing the enemy.

In ten minutes the Austrian climbers could annihilate that group of defenders, pull the guns back, swing them around and blast the Italians below from their positions, allowing the Austrian hordes to sweep through passes and on to a major victory.

A Speck in the Sky

Far in the distance a speck stood out in dark silhouette against the brightening sky. It gained size, its wings glinted as it banked and swooped down toward the cliff. The rear gunner stood in his pit tense with huge binoculars pressed to his unbelieving eyes. He looked a second time and then yelled to his pilot. The throttle was jammed full ahead, the motor roared an ominous shriek as the husky S.I.A. dove and leveled off.

The front guns spattered two long bursts into the Austrians. Ropes were severed, bodies jerked and twisted as men screamed and clawed for a footing. Like a landslide the figures above toppled, they caught others below in their death plunge. Only a few remaining pot-helmeted figures rocked in terror on the slippery ice surfaces of the ragged mountain side. The rear gun of the S.I.A. took up the attack as the front guns ceased to find a target. More Austrians fell from their icy footholds.

Above, the Italian mountain troops looked down, amazed and jittery from the realization of their close call. Far in the distance the receding S.I.A. dipped its wings in friendly salute to the massed group of Alpini troops on the lofty mountain peak who screamed their cheering thanks across the bleak crags of the perpendicular battlefields.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, March 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Black Flight” by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 20, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday with one of his pulp stories each Friday.

Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

On Easter Sunday, April 9 , 1917, the greatest British offensive of the war got under way. A blazing line of steel whipped across France and into Belgium; from Croiselles to Loos, from Ypres to the Nieuport Canal and to the sea. Under the greatest artillery barrage in the history of the world a grim horde of muddy infantry hit the Hindenburg Line.

April ninth was also the day on which Second Lieutenant Teddy Campbell, R.F.C., reported for duty to the headquarters of Fifth Wing at Albert. He came up jauntily with the pinkest breeches in the entire, air force, with his monkey hat at the correct angle and with the glow of training-camp victories still upon him. His heart raced madly but he strove to capture in his expression an attitude of casual indifference to everything. Like all of his breed he succeeded merely in looking like a raw kid.

However, by the next day he was a veteran and suspected of murdering his flight leader! From the August 1931 War Aces, it’s William E. Barrett’s “Black Flight!”

Every man but one in that flight hated their commander. When they pulled a murderous blade from his heart all were forced to shoulder the guilt, until the Reaper’s Scythe hacked the secret from one man’s wings.

Editor’s Note: The story is referred to as “The Raiders” on the cover which does not seem to be applicable to this story at all. A more apt title than “Black Flight” would have been “The Murder Flight!”

“Sky Writers, November 1936″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on November 18, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

FREQUENT visitors to this site know that we’ve been featuring Terry Gilkison’s Famous Sky Fighters feature from the pages of Sky Fighters. Gilkison had a number of these features in various pulp magazines—Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Starting in the February 1936 issue of Lone Eagle, Gilkison started the war-air quiz feature Sky Writers. Each month there would be four questions based on the Aces and events of The Great War. If you’ve been following his Famous Sky Fighters, these questions should be a snap!

Here’s the quiz from the November 1936 issue of Lone Eagle.

If you get stumped or just want to check your answers, click here!

“Synthetic Ace” by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 13, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday with one of his pulp stories each Friday.

Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

“Memphis” Mason is a synthetic ace, probably the only one of his kind in existence. Accidental aces there were aplenty in that big he war, but there was nothing accidental about Memphis Mason’s accomplishment. It was planned with an attention to detail that would do credit to a brigadier and it was attested by five of the finest fighters in the R.A.F. Those signatures are at the root of Mason’s secret sorrow to-day. At the foot of a square sheet of note-paper they bear flourishing witness to the fact that the signers witnessed the bringing down of five German planes by one Memphis Mason. Not one of those signers would have lied for anyone. They were officers and gentlemen and they saw what they said they saw. Yet, strangely enough, Memphis Mason never reached France. Therein lies a tale; one of the oddest tales to come out of the war and one that has never been told until this telling.

There was a new breed of angel in the sky one that used Vickers instead of a flaming sword; and the tracer stream of his vengeance spelled death to Prussians!

From the February 1931 War Aces, it’s William E. Barrett’s “Synthetic Ace!”

“Famous Firsts” January 1932 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 11, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Famous Firsts” which ran frequently in the pages of War Aces. “Famous Firsts” was an illustrated feature much along the lines of Barrett’s “Is That a Fact?” that was running in War Birds, only here the facts were all statements of firsts. And like “Is That a Fact?” in War Birds, this feature was also taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The January 1932 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features Bert Hall, the first successful attempt to land an agent behind the lines, and the first biplane equipped with a Lewis gun!

“Sky Fighters, February 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 9, 2020 @ 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 1937 cover, It’s the Pfalz D13 attacking a balloon!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3702THE elongated type of captive balloons were of French origin but the Germans were the first to put them to practical use in the World War. They called them “drachens,” or kite balloons. They are flown in exactly the same way as a boy’s kite, the force of the wind holding them aloft. In the earlier spherical-shaped balloons the wind spun them and had a tendency to force them down.

Theoretically any balloon was obsolete on account of the airplane, dirigible and anti-aircraft gun, but the big bags usually stayed up, did their work, were hawled down and tucked in for the night and sent aloft the next day to act as the eyes for our artillery.

Of course lots of balloons were eventually shot down, but so were airplanes and dirigibles. The number of balloons lost by the U.S. in action was forty-eight and our airmen flattened seventy-three of the Kaiser’s drachens.

A Poor Risk

To service one of these cumbersome bags took the combined muscle and brains of a considerable group of men; even motorcycle messengers, a furrier, shoemaker, tailor, barber, orderlies, etc., were necessary. Around the bag on the ground was spotted a ring of machine-guns and antiaircraft guns. That ring of shooting irons kept most airplanes away. When an ambitious airman did attack a balloon his greeting from the ground took on the aspect of a major attack. His chance of coming out of the scrap the victor and in one piece was so low that any insurance company would consider him a poor risk.

The Pfalz D 13 was one of the last ships put out by the German manufacturer of that name. Its design seems to have been influenced by the Bristol Fighter, one of Britain’s finest fighting ships. Both have the fuselage suspended between the upper and lower wings and the bracing from the fuselage to the lower wing and the undercarriage is very similar. This D 13 was a fast, maneuverable job with a powerful water-cooled motor to pull it. It had to be fast to hop an Allied balloon and down it.

The pilot in the Pfalz was not just a prowler who happened to spot the balloon and look a long chance in attacking. That Pfalz in downing the balloon hoped to save his side a major calamity. The balloon observer has for days been up in his basket with his glasses glued to his eyes; his face to the east and his mouth close to the small telephone transmitter. His words have been actuating receiving diaphrams on the portable receiving station on the ground. Concise information has then been transmitted to battery commanders stationed behind their smoking heavy guns. Those guns have been sighted on enemy troops rushing up to reenforce Hun front line positions. In sighting the guns dozens of artillery officers have used only one pair of eyes, those keen, searching eyes of the balloon observers high in the air whose only life line is a steel cable hooked to a drum winch on the ground.

Stern Orders

Therefore to silence dozens of batteries tearing German troops to pieces it is necessary to blind the Allies lookout. The order the German pilot got was: “Do not come back unless you explode the balloon.” The Pfalz pilot dove on his quarry. Incendiary bullets from his Spandaus ripped into highly explosive hydrogen gas. Poof, the balloon is through! Out bails the observer. The Pfalz pilot yanks at his stick, there is no response from his elevators. Shrapnel from the ground batteries has made a sieve of his plane. All control wires are gone; so is the Pfalz and its pilot.

As the Pfalz tore head on into the ground a second reserve balloon slowly eased itself out of a fake group of trees. A figure disentangled itself from a jumble of ropes, sped toward the anchored basket of the new balloon. He tore away pieces of scorched clothing, leaped into the basket, yelled, “Up ship!” and was slithering up into sky again.

A battery commander miles distant saw the new balloon mounting. He smiled grimly, “I thought they had blinded us, but it was just a cinder in our eye.”

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, February 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Phantom Eagle” by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 6, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday with one of his pulp stories each Friday.

Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

From the Tarmac letters column in the January 1932 War Aces—”Unless we misjudge the reading taste of our readers we feel that “Phantom Eagle,” by W. E. Barrett is about the ideal story. It has that balance of action, mystery and fantasy that gives you a new set of thrills. Obviously, it was too bizarre to be entirely fiction, so we asked the author about it. As is the case with most of Barrett’s fiction, it is based on some true incident. Here is his letter:

    You’ve guessed it. There was a great deal of truth behind that yarn. We were up at Ayr, Scotland, getting the finishing touches on acrobatics. In my flight there was a young English lad of the aristocratic type so commonly turned out by Oxford. He was about the best on the field when he felt like it or thought he had an appreciative gallery watching him. He didn’t have a great deal of stomach, though.

    He wiped his landing gear off one day making a stall landing and it was a week before he got over the resultant ground loops. Most of the chaps passed him by—the white feather was a bit obvious. We were all in a little pub one night imbibing a bit when our hero got into a brawl with a sour old Scotsman. He was getting the worst of it and was looking for a way to quit when the son of the heather knocked him cold.

    A big, burly, slow-moving chap got up out of the corner and came over. He faced the Scotsman and methodically assumed a fighting pose.

    “What a Lauterman starts, a Lauterman finishes.” Those were the only words he uttered, but he gave the Scotsman an unmerciful beating. By inquiring around a bit I found the history of those brothers who were so utterly dissimilar. I learned the history of that German father and English mother—the proud loyalty to anything that a Lauterman did held by that elder brother.

    We went out to France and young Lauterman went with us. He didn’t hold up on the line in combat work and was transferred to a bombing outfit. He turned up missing in action one day and we never heard from him after that.

    The rest of the story is pure fiction. I simply pictured what would happen if those two brothers met on the lines. In the last analysis I believe the elder Lauterman would have acted just as I have him do in the story.

— W.E. Barrett.

Hell’s hinges sealed the lips of that Unteroffizier in the pilotless Spad. None could tell how that phantom transfer had been made in shell-torn skies, or the meaning of that dying speech, “What a Lauterman starts, a Lauterman finishes”

From the January 1932 War Aces, it’s a story you won’t soon forget—William E. Barrett’s “Phantom Eagle!”

“Famous Sky Fighters, March 1938″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on November 4, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The March 1938 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Col. William A. Bishop, Lt. Elliott Cowden, Captaincies. J.A. Bellinger, Lt. Kiffen Rockwell and the Zeppelin L59!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Georges Thenault, Lt. Jimmy Bach, Mario Galderara, and Captain John H. Towers! Don’t miss it!

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