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“The Secret of QX-31″ by James Perley Hughes

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THIS week 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. And this week’s tale is a prime example—two excellent combat pilots, Sandy Patton and his wingman George Bridges, find themselves transferred to the NIght Owls, a bat patrol that ferries spies over the lines, after a drunken boast. They soon find trouble and intrigue on both sides of the lines from their very first mission when they must fly to QX-31 to extract some agents—a location from which few pilots have ever returned! From the August 1931 issue of Sky Birds, it’s James Perley Hughes’ “The Secret of QX-31!”

Up to the hangars of the Night Owls, that squadron whose history was as dark as the night skies through which they winged, came those two Yanks, leaving behind them the free reckless battles with the Boche in sun-flooded skies. For there, shadowy ships swept through the night to strange and unknown destinations, and the muffled figures in their cockpits sometimes did not return. There, men had numbers instead of names—and victory meant to a pilot only that he and his ship came back.

“Lazy Wings” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 31, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

TO ROUND off Mosquito Month we have a non-Mosquitoes story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. It’s a humerous tale of Lieutenant Sleepy Miller—so named because he could fall asleep anywhere at anytime—even in the middle of a war with bombs going off all around him. From the December 1931 issue of War Aces it’s “Lazy Wings.”

Dogfights meant nothing to him—sleep was the thing. But when he went to sleep behind the German lines he learned that soft pillows have a way of being mighty hard.

“Bat Trap” by Lester Dent

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Lester Dent is best remembered 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 action-packed tale of the air whose hero—Major Hercules Gade—bares a striking resemblance everyone’s favorite chemist, Monk Mayfair: “He was pint size, this Yank buzzard. His ears were tufts of gristle. Somebody had once broken his nose. There was long hair on his wrists and the tendons on the backs of his knotty hands stood out like twisted ropes. His face was something to scare babies with. But just now an infectious grin cracked it from ear to ear.”

Herk is sent to the Groupe de Chasse 71 to get an unruly flight in line by any means necessary—which in this case means his fists—and take care of the Baron von Gruppe’s jagdstaffel and a German backed Sinn Fein plot!

They were fighting hounds from Devil’s Island and no man could tame them, but that was before a half-pint major named Hercules blasted them through the sky-trail that had no return.

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 another 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!


At 25, Lester Dent Makes Hit As Writer

Will Visit Parents Here Enronte To New York Position
The LaPlata Home Press, LaPlata, MO • 25 December 1930

Lester Dent will leave Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first of January to spend the remainder of the winter in New York City, writing magazine adventure fiction. Mr. Dent is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bern Dent, of north of LaPlata. and graduated from LaPlata high school in 1923. In going to New York, he is accepting flattering offers made by an eastern publishing house. Mr. Dent expects to visit his parents here enroute east.

Newspaper work usually leads to nothing but more newspaper work but once in a while there are exceptions to that rule. As in the case of Lester Dent, who is now the recipient of flattering offers from New York because of his yarn-spinning in magazine columns as well as daily news sheets.

Lester Dent

For more than four years Mr. Dent has been an Associated Press operator and Maintenance man, allied with The Tulsa Tribune. Less than two years ago he commenced to try his hand at fiction writing. He turned out, 13 stories, all of which were rejected, wrote, the fourteenth and found a market. That encouraged him to go on and he has been going better and faster ever since. His marker has included “Popular Stories,” “Air Stories,” ”Top-Notcoh,” “Action Stories” and “Sky Riders.”

Some of the earlier titles were ”Pirate Cay,” “Death Zone,” “Bucaneers of the Midnight Sun” and “The Thirteenth Million Dollar Robbery.”

Later Mr. Dent’s name appeared over stories called “Vulture Coast,” “The Devil’s Derelict,” “The Skeleton From Moon Cay” and, most recently, “Hell Hop.” The last-named tale attracted the attention of one of the editors of “Sky Riders” in which it is
to appear. Soon after the author received a night letter suggesting that the New York publishing field had a place for writers of his imagination.

Mr. Dent is 25 years old and has been in Tulsa nearly five years, most of that time employed by the Associated Press. He once enrolled in the law school at the University of Tulsa but gave it up, because, he says some what laconically, “it was too much work.” Planning thirteen million-dollar robberies and tales of buccaneers for the delight of the American public that likes its action swift and daring seems easier work, evidently. Now he has the choice of continuing to write the news as it does happen or as it might but probably would not happen.

“The B.E. Fighters” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: Every month the cover of BATTLE ACES depicts a scene from a real combat actually fought in the War and a real event in the life of a great ace. The series is being painted exclusively for this magazine by Frederick M. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft and was started especially for all of you readers who wrote in asking for photographs of war planes. In this way not only do you get pictures of the ships—authentic to the last detail—but you see them in color. Also you can follow famous airmen on many of their most 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_3107IN THIS month’s cover a B.E. has penetrated deep into enemy territory on a reconnaissance trip. While harassing troops it is sighted by a patrol of Pfaltz Scouts. The Jerries dive immediately, surrounding the lone Allied ship in a trap of wings and spitting Spandaus. Valiantly the observer hammers away at his guns and has already succeeded in knocking one of the Boche out of control when fire breaks out in the front cockpit. Leaving the observer to stave off the attackers with his blazing Vickers, the pilot straddles out onto the lower wing and continues to fly the ship from there, controlling it from the side of the fuselage.

The incident is taken from an actual combat fought in the latter part of the war. The observer was Lieutenant H.W. Hammond, R.F.C., who was awarded a bar to his previously won Military Cross for his part in the fight.

With his pilot, Lieutenant Hammond had flown over the lines and was well into Boche territory when eight German fighting planes dived down on them. The unequal combat began with a savage burst of steel and flame. Knowing their only hope lay in getting back across the lines as swiftly as possible, the pilot held the nose of the ship toward home while the observer blazed away at the swarm of Jerries. By skillfully directed fire from his guns, Hammond succeeded in shooting three of the black-crossed wings down out of control. But he himself was wounded in half a dozen places and it looked as if the remaining Boches would be finishing them off any second.

Then that horror of all airmen—fire—broke out. The front cockpit became a blazing holacaust that threatened the lives of both men. Climbing over onto the lower wing, the pilot calmly continued to fly the ship from there, manipulating the joystick from the side of the fuselage! In a long turning side-slip to the right, which blew the flames away from the observer and himself, they started earthward.

They crashed in No-Man’s-Land, where they were rescued by infantry.

The B.E. was a reconnaissance plane which proved very successful, also, in destroying Zeppelins. The name, B.E., at first indicated Bleriot Experimental, Monsieur Bleriot being credited with having originated the “tractor” type machine. But later on it took the meaning of British Experimental. It was developed in several series. A later type was numbered B.E.2, B.E.2b, B.E.2d and B.E.2e, the two last being built in very large quantities. The general type was also made along different lines, as the B.E.3, B.E.4, etc., up to B.E.12.

The observer for a reconnissance plane had a two-fold job; to photograph, and, if necessary, to fight. The ship was not exactly the cold meat that one might expect; it was equal in combat to two Scouts but was always their prey if outnumbered.

The B.E. Fighters
“The B.E. Fighters” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (Battle Aces, July 1931)

Next month, the cover design illustrates another type of reconnaissance plane, the R.E. 8, in a stirring incident that commemorates a deed of outstanding daring.

“Friedrichshafen Bomber” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: Every month the cover of BATTLE ACES depicts a scene from a real combat actually fought in the War and a real event in the life of a, great ace. The series is being painted exclusively for this magazine by Frederick M. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft and was started especially for all of you readers who wrote us requesting photographs of war planes. In this way you not only get pictures of the ships—authentic to the last detail—but you see them in color. Also you can follow famous airmen on many of their most 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.

Friedrichshafen G.III Bomber
The Friedrichshafen G.III Bomber

th_BA_3112THE cover this month shows how a Friedrichshafen bomber was brought down by a Frenchman near Verdun. It was a big brute such as this that spelled the doom of Lufbury, America’s most spectacular ace.

The huge ship appeared back of the American sector near Loul. Four fighting ships took the air to give it combat, but returned after expending their ammunition, reporting that it seemed impossible to damage it. The big bomber loafed along as unconcernedly as if it were an elephant with a swarm of mosquitoes at its heels. Then Lufbury obtained permission to try his hand. He took off and mounted above the dragon of the air, then swept down upon it. His machine gun is believed to have become jammed, for when nearly upon the German he swerved off. Almost at once he came back again, flashing by the Boche with his guns blazing. But still the German lumbered on unhurt. Again Lufbury returned to the attack. Suddenly the watchers below saw a line of fire burst from his machine, and the ship began to plunge earthward.

We all know the manner of Lufbury’s death. He had a horror of being burned, and always said that in the event of his machine catching fire he would jump. He was true to his word, for that is exactly what he did, from a height of about two thousand feet. However, this is a digression; let us return to the Friedrichshafen.

These machines were in the air what the battleship is in the sea, and about as dangerous to tackle. There was no blind spot except on the under part of the fuselage toward the bow, and it was extremely hard to maneuver for this position, due to the fact that in the bottom of the floor, just aft of the bomb racks, was a trap door from which a machine gun commanded a view downward and backward.

The weak point in all big planes had been the inability of the gunners to protect the ship from an attack underneath. The secret of the invulnerability of the Friedrichshafen was that, due to this trap door, the gunner could now protect the blind spot, making the accepted mode of an attack on a bomber not only very dangerous but almost useless. The guns aboard these planes commanded a field of fire that almost completely surrounded the ship.

The big red devil pictured on this month’s cover, however, was unlucky. It was returning from a bombing mission at early dawn. A French flyer on morning patrol spotted it and speeding along in the gloom that hung close to the earth, slowly mounted until directly behind the tail. Then with throttle wide open he dove, gaining tremendous speed. He zoomed up and in a flash was directly underneath, his guns blazing forth a deadly hail of lead. Then he stalled, fell away, and dived out of range.

What circumstances accounted for the fact that he was allowed to approach within range, is not known. It is presumed that the crew, for some reason, had lapsed their vigil and were feeling safe either because of the early hour of the morning, or because they thought themselves over Germany. At any rate, that one burst was enough. The big crate came down back of the lines near Verdun, very slightly damaged, and was hailed with much joy by the powers that he.

It would serve no purpose to give an exhaustive technical description of the Friedrichshafen. A few facts will suffice. Big ships as they were, they were considerably smaller than the Gotha, being 36 feet in length with a wing span of 66 feet. They were powered by two 225 h.p. Benz motors, one each side of the center and inclosed in ovoid bonnets. The ship weighed when loaded 6,960 lbs. Beside machine guns they each carried twelve high explosive bombs and seven incendiary bombs.

The cover and the drawing below will give you a very accurate idea of how the plane looked.

Friedrichshafen Bomber
“Friedrichshafen Bomber” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (December 1931)

Next month’s cover will feature a CAMEL in deadly combat with a FOKKER. If you have been wanting an authentic picture in colors of a Camel machine, you will find it on the cover of the January issue. Not only that, but there is a real, gripping story behind the fight in which the ship is portrayed—the story of a valiant flyer who was willing to crash nose on into an enemy plane, willing to meet a flaming death, in order that he might save the life of his buddy. This will be the 8th in the series of actual war combat covers which Mr. Blakeslee is painting for you. If you do not have all of these pictures and would like them so that your series will be complete, send twenty cents for each magazine to Battle Aces, 205 E. 42nd St., New York City, and specify which issue or issues you desire. The planes illustrated so far have been: S.E.5; B.E. Fighter; R.E.8; Pfaltz Scout; Spad.

“O. B. Myers: Flying Hero” by Kenneth L. Porter

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Editor’s note: Here you are gang, a real surprise for you this month. You have all read and enjoyed the ceiling-smashing stories that O.B. Myers writes for you every month. But did you know that he had won the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in one of the toughest scraps of the war? That almost single-handed he engaged a powerful German squadron and made monkey meat out of them? Yes, sir, and below you will read this amazing true story. It’s told for you by one of Obie’s best friends, Kenneth L. Porter, who was along on that eventful day as Flight Commander, and what he tells you, he saw with his own eyes.

1Lt Kenneth Lee Porter of the 147th Aero Squadron stands before Nieuport 28 N6256 ‘15′ in which he shared in the downing of a Pfalz D Ilia with five squadronmates on 2 July 1918.

Ken Porter is himself one of America’s sixty-six accredited aces, with five enemy planes to his string of victories. On the cover, this month, is the actual picture of O.B. Myers in the act of downing the German observation plane. Obie is one swell guy whom you would all like to know personally. He’s also a modest cuss, and if he had any inkling that this was being printed, he’d probably land on our necks with a ton of T.N.T.

O.B. Myers: Flying Hero

By Kenneth L. Porter • Battle Aces, November 1931

FOLLOWING is O.B. Myer’s citation: Extract from General Orders No. 1, War Department, 1919.

“Myers, Oscar B., Near Cierges, France, September 28, 1918. First Lieutenant, 147th Aero Squadron, Air Service. Sent on a particularly hazardous mission, he harassed and routed enemy troops. He then climbed higher to look for German planes. With two other officers, he encountered 9 Fokkers protecting a reconnaissance machine flying in one of the most effective formations used by the enemy. Outmaneuvering the hostile planes, the three officers succeeded in routing them. After a quick turn he dived at the reconnaissance machine and crashed it to the ground in flames.”

th_BA_3111DURING the latter part of September, 1918, the start of the big Argonne push was getting under way. At the time, we of the 147th aero squadron, 1st pursuit group, A.E.F., were stationed at Rembercourt almost due west of St. Mihiel and south of Grand Pre. The first pursuit group was called upon to carry out a great variety of special assignments in collaboration with the movement of ground troops. Some of these assignments were balloon strafing, troop strafing, contact patrol and escort work of various kinds.

Our troops were attempting to straighten out the line and in doing so encountered very strenuous resistance from both the German artillery and infantry.

On the morning of September 28th, the operation officer called me into his office and advised that our troops were experiencing difficulty in straightening out the line near Cierges, France. He advised that I was to take a patrol out and strafe the German front-line troops. At the same time he ordered me to be on the lookout for enemy two-seaters which might be regulating artillery fire in that specific sector.

After receiving the orders I walked out onto the line to ascertain how many ships I had available for patrol duty. I found that, including my own, we had only three serviceable ships—those of Lt. O.B. Myers and Lt. L.C. Simon, Jr. I immediately rounded up “Obie” Myers and “Red” Simon and informed them of the somewhat difficult mission.

We accordingly took off and proceeded immediately to the Front, Obie flying on my immediate left and Red on my immediate right. We easily located the particular portion of the line which was causing the difficulty by the great concentration of artillery fire, machine-gun activities, etc. After carefully sizing up the situation, we realized the reason for our inability to displace the German position. The front line of the enemy was immediately back of the crest of a small ridge, making it easy for the Boches to keep up a scathing fire without undue exposure to themselves.

Hastily glancing at the sky to see that there were no enemy Fokkers lurking around, I swung my formation into an attacking position and raked the entire crest of the ridge with machine-gun fire. Immediately the Germans let loose with their anti-aircraft defense. Upon pulling away after the first attack I noticed that our anti-aircraft guns were sending shells into our vicinity, which caused me to more carefully survey the skies. Immediately I discovered a patrol of nine enemy Fokkers rapidly approaching. I decided to make one more hasty attack at the troops on the ground and then attempt to better our own defensive position from the attack of the nine Fokkers.

After completing the ground attack I rapidly climbed the patrol and at the same time signaled both Obie and Red to close in. We had gained about 500 meters when I discovered the reason for the presence of the nine Fokkers. A German Hanoverian two-seater was regulating artillery on our ground-line troops which were attempting to take the ridge that we had just strafed. I swung my patrol over toward the Hanoverian and the Fokkers made immediate plans to attack us.

As we crossed over the position of the Hanoverian, Obie dived out of formation and coming up under the tail of the Hanoverian raked it with devastating fire from his machine gun. The Hanoverian fell off almost immediately and burst into flames, crashing right near the town of Cierges. Meanwhile the Fokkers had jumped us and were making things very interesting for Red and me. We were seriously outnumbered and were making a running fight of it all the time working our way toward home, when Obie climbed back into position and flew straight into the middle of the fight, shooting at everything that came in his way. This diversion put the Fokkers on the defensive and we immediately drove them back toward their line. Out of the group we shot down one Fokker and badly disorganized the rest.

Upon returning to the airdrome we discovered that all of our ships had been pretty badly shot up in the engagement, but no serious damage done. The first thing that Red said on landing was “Oh boy, did you see that Boche burn!” Obie replied that he had not seen the ship go down in flames but he was sure that he had gotten it from the way it fell out of control. Both Red and myself saw the two-seater burst into flames. The victory was later confirmed by our own ground troops. While Obie always claimed that it was a bit of luck on his part to have gotten the two-seater so quickly, I always claimed that it was very pretty flying.

The ships used at this time by our squadron were Spad’s, type 13, and the ship flown by Obie bore the squadron number 28. These ships were equipped with 220 H.P. Hispano motor with geared-down propeller. This was one of the earliest types of service machine to use a motor with a gear reduction. The Spad was a small biplane of about 30 feet wing-spread, the wings having neither stagger nor dihedral. The armament consisted of two Vickers machine guns mounted and synchronized to shoot through the propeller. In order to aim the guns the ship had to be aimed, in other words flown into firing position. This type of Spad was capable of a top speed of 135 miles per hour and up to that time, with the exception of the Fokker D-7, was about the best ship on the front.

O.B. Myers: Flying Hero
“O.B. Myers: Flying Hero” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (November 1931)

You have just read in the foregoing story how O.B. Myers won his Distinguished Service Cross. All of the authors in BATTLE ACES are real flyers and fighting aces, and believing that you would like to know a bit about them personally as well as to read the stories they write, we got Ken Porter to tell you the interesting story about Obie’s first flight across the lines. Usually, when a green peelot took his first trip over, he missed his landmarks, got jumpy under anti-aircraft barrage, and couldn’t even see enemy planes if he was attacked. But did Obie beat it at the first sign of trouble? Wow—we’ll tell the cockeyed flying world he didn’t! Ken Porter, who was assigned to break him in, tells this unusual story here for the first time.

Obie’s First Flight

By Kenneth L. Porter • Battle Aces, November 1931

EARLY in September, just after the completion of the St. Mihiel push, we were located at Rembercourt which was almost due south of Souilly and approximately sixty or seventy kilometers from Bar-le-Duc. For quarters we had tents which were pitched in a small clump of trees on the side of a hill just across the road from our airdrome. Whenever it rained the water succeeded in flooding our tent and making us very uncomfortable.

The St. Mihiel Drive had thinned our ranks considerably and we were expecting several replacements at any time. One evening, just after mess, we returned to our tent and discovered that five or six new pilots were temporarily housed in C Flight tent. It was customary, upon the arrival of new pilots, for the boys to look them over and decide in their own minds just who they wanted attached to their particular flights.

Among the new arrivals was one Lt. O.B. Myers and Lt. Hayward Cutting. “Whitie,” who was flight commander at that time, drew me aside and asked me what I thought about the new arrivals. I told him that if possible we should get Myers and Cutting attached to our flight. Whitie accordingly called on the C.O. that evening and requested that the two boys in question be attached immediately.

It is a rather peculiar situation when new pilots arrive on the Front as they are more or less under a tension and as a rule don’t act naturally. They seem to think that they have to throw some kind of a bluff to impress the boys who are already there. One of the outstanding characteristics of Obie was that he seemed perfectly natural and entirely unperturbed as to what the future held. Of course, all new pilots, upon arrival, immediately want to have a ship assigned to them and participate in regular patrols.

A few days after his arrival, Obie sought me out one morning and asked me when he could expect to participate in regular patrols. I pointed out to him that we were rather short on planes at the time, but I would see what I could do about the situation and try to get him a joy hop anyway. I had a talk with “Whitie” and we decided that we would let Obie use Lt. Bronson’s ship for a little joy ride, as Lt. Bronson was away on leave. I took Obie over to the airdrome and told him to take Bronson’s ship up for half or three-quarters of an hour to familiarize himself with a new type of plane and that after he felt that he was satisfied with the handling of the ship, he could go over to a nearby lake and practice shooting at the flying target which we had anchored there.

Obie went through these preliminary tests very satisfactorily and upon his return to the ground he collared me and pleaded with me to take him out for a look at the lines. I told him that if the weather improved a little, we would take an observation tour on the next morning.

When we awoke the following day, the weather looked none too good. There was considerable haze on the ground and the clouds were not over 1,200 meters high. Not only that, but it had been raining slightly during the night. I requested information of headquarters as to weather conditions on the Front and found they were about the same as those prevailing at our own airdrome. Accordingly, about ten o’clock, we decided to make a tour of the Front with a view to familiarizing Obie with the landmarks and conditions as they existed up there. Taking him into the operations tent where there was a map of our entire sector, I carefully pointed out the exact route we were to follow.

Now, among other things that are lacking when a pilot arrives on the Front is his ability to see things from the air. Some pilots acquire it very quickly, while others take time, but as a rule when they do acquire it, it happens all of a sudden. I told Obie that we would fly due east to St. Mihiel and from there to the north over the ridge of hills to Verdun. From Verdun we would swing west along our front line over Montfaucon to the river which goes through the middle of the Argonne forest.

It is a rather ticklish situation to have a new pilot with you on his first trip over the lines, so I was very explicit in requesting Obie not to pay too much attention to landmarks, but to stick close to me, and that above all, if we got into any trouble, to stay close on my tail and that I would lead him home. I further advised him that if we met any Germans he was to stay out of the fight and watch me, as he probably could learn more from watching my tactics than he could from getting himself shot up.

As it was immediately after the St. Mihiel Drive and just prior to the final Argonne push, there were practically no aerial activities and I felt fairly safe. In fact I didn’t expect to see anything more than a good anti-aircraft barrage. Finally feeling that Obie fully understood the instructions, we took off and made our way leisurely to the Front by way of St. Mihiel. We were flying pretty close up under the clouds at about a thousand meters altitude when we reached St. Mihiel. From time to time, I glanced back to see just where Obie was. Each time I looked back, it seemed that he was closer to me; in fact he was riding so close to my tail that it was a little bit uncomfortable.

Consequently when we arrived at St. Mihiel, the Boches let loose with their anti-aircraft guns and we received a very nice dose of it. I expected, after the barrage, to find Obie at a considerable distance away from me, but upon looking back I discovered that he was in his usual position—right on my tail. This was somewhat unusual, as most new pilots, upon experiencing their first heavy barrage, go through all sorts of aerial acrobatics and stunts and find themselves a considerable distance away from where they should be. I began to feel a little less worried about Obie and proceeded more confidently to Verdun.

We had almost reached Montfaucon when I noticed that the Germans were putting up one of their balloons just to the east. Everything had been going so smoothly that I decided to show Obie how a balloon was shot down. As we approached the Boches apparently divined my purpose, because they immediately started to pull the drachen down.

Prior to leaving the ground I had told Obie that in the event of attacking any balloons or going close to the ground he was to remain up above and watch. I therefore signaled him that I was going to dive and without looking around, did so. The balloon was about halfway down when I opened fire, raking it from end to end with machine-gun fire. Incidentally, I didn’t have any incendiary ammunition in my guns, as we were not supposed to carry it unless specifically ordered to strafe balloons. The air being damp and the envelope of the balloon covered with moisture, there was no apparent effect of burning as a result of my shots. I pulled off and climbed back up a short distance to attack the balloon once more, when to my astonishment I saw Obie giving the sausage a dose of the same medicine.

He pulled up from his attack and dove in again. By this time the balloon was pretty close to the ground. As I opened fire the second time, they let loose at me from the ground with everything they had—machine guns, flaming onions, rockets and what have you. Following my example, Obie also came in for a second dose, and was treated to the same display of fireworks. While we didn’t burn the balloon, we put enough holes in it to keep it on the ground for a couple of days while it was being patched. As I pulled up from my second attack and circled over, Obie climbed up and got into his usual position on my tail. By this time, I was beginning to feel that he was almost a passenger in my own plane and had no more fears that I would lose him, or could even shake him loose if I wanted to.

We had hardly reached our lines before I noticed a barrage of our own antiaircraft. This barrage was in front of me—or in other words, between me and home and would indicate that there were German airplanes in that vicinity. I felt that I would probably run into some kind of a fight before we had proceeded much further. Almost immediately I saw what the cause of the excitement was—a two-seater Halberstadt, which was regulating artillery fire on our troops, The clouds were so low that I didn’t like the looks of the situation because I felt that the two-seater would probably have some chasse protection. However, I couldn’t seem to find them and decided that the two-seater must be done away with. We already had him blocked off from home and so I now endeavored to force him still further back into our lines where the advantage would be much more in my favor. However, the Jerry seemed to think otherwise and headed straight for home. Consequently, I again signaled to Obie to stay up above, and dove in to attack.

Then I put the ship into a steep dive and came up under the tail of the two-seater, slightly from one side. I got in about ten rounds before I fell off, and was swinging around to make another attack when, to my astonishment, again Obie was attacking the two-seater from above. I immediately turned sharply and gave him another burst from below, with the result that the two-seater went down out of control. Meantime, Obie had climbed back up and I was probably 400 meters below him, when two German Fokkers dropped down from the clouds. For a few minutes I was so busily engaged that I had no more than a passing moment to think of Obie. I was hoping that there were no more than two of them, and that he had not been surprised by the attack. I finally got on the tail of one of the Fokkers and was giving him the works when I heard guns and was aware of bullets going by my head and realized that another Boche was immediately on my tail.

It was necessary for me to pull over in order to protect myself. As I did so, I heard the sound of some more guns, and both the Jerry and Obie dove past me hell-bent. We now had the two Dutchmen below us and I swung back to renew hostilities, but by this time I discovered that we had drifted considerably into German territory, and as we had been out about an hour and a half, we only had about enough gas to get us home. Consequently, I dove in front of Obie and signaled him to follow me. Then we turned back home. We arrived without any uneventful happenings other than my mixed feelings and amazement at the show this new pilot had put up.

After each patrol it is customary for a pilot to make out a combat report. I was interested to see what kind of one Obie was going to make of his first flight. While we were in the operations tent preparing to make out these reports, the flight sergeant came in and reported that Lieutenant Myers had eight bullet holes in his plane and that the tail of my ship had so many in it he couldn’t count them. I told Myers to go ahead and make out his report. He advised me that I had better make mine out first, as, while he knew we had shot at a balloon, engaged a two-seater and two Fokkers in combat, he had no idea where the action occurred. This, of course, was no more than was to be expected from a man who is unfamiliar with the territory over which he has flown. I therefore wrote out my report and Obie practically wrote “ditto.”

Later we received confirmation of the victory over the two-Seater, and the fact was also mentioned that we had succeeded in forcing the Germans to pull down one of their balloons. While we didn’t claim a victory over either of the Fokkers, one of them was reported to have crashed just inside the German lines. Obie, in his first show, had proved himself to be decidedly an exception to the average both as to attitude and results.

The 147th
The 147th Aero Squadron They are, standing, from left to right, 1Lt Oscar B Meyers, 2Lt Arthur H Jones, 2Lt Edward H Clouser (adjutant), 2Lt Ralph A O’Neill (five victories), ILt James A Healy (five victories), 2Lt Charles P Porter, Maj Harold E Hartney, commander 1st Pursuit Group (seven victories), Capt James A Meissner, commander 147th Aero Squadron (eight victories), 1Lt Heywood E Cutting, 1Lt James P Herron, 2Lt Francis M Simonds (five victories), 1Lt George H Brew, 2Lt G Gale Willard, 2Lt Cleveland W McDermott and 1Lt Collier C Olive. Squatting, from left to right, ILt Walter P Muther, 2Lt Frank C Ennis, 2Lt Louis C Simon Jr, 1Lt G A S Robertson, 2Lt Stuart T Purcell, 2Lt Thomas J Abernethy, 1Lt Horace A Anderson (supply officer), 1Lt Josiah P Rowe Jr, 2Lt James C McEvoy and 2Lt John W Havey (armament officer)

Both of these stories are featured in our collection of stories by O.B. Myers—The Black Sheep of Belogue: The Best of O.B. Myers which collects his Black Sheep of Belogue stories featuring Yank Ace Dynamite Pike and his trusted mechanic Splicer Teale and The Mongol Ace stories which pits American pilot Clipper Stark against the seemingly invincible “Mongol Ace”—Janghiz Kaidu, a descendant of Genghis Kahn who has joined the German army. Some great stories!

“The S.E.5 and Lt. Lindsay” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on January 19, 2015 @ 12:00 pm in

Editor’s Note: Every month the cover of BATTLE ACES depicts a scene from a real combat actually fought in the War and a real event in the life of a great ace. The series is being painted exclusively for this magazine by Frederick M. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft and was started especially for all of you readers who wrote us requesting photographs of war planes. In this way you not only get pictures of the ships—authentic to the last detail—but you see them in color. Also you can follow famous airmen on many of their most 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_3110THE COVER this month might be called “Turn, Turn Who’s Going to Turn.” Of course you know the answer, but just a second before the scene depicted occurred it was a toss-up whether the leading Boche would turn or whether the American ship would be flattened on its nose. However, the Jerry did the turning and all the others did likewise. This tactic of rushing head-on at each other was used by both sides. There were pilots who said that no German could stand up under the terrific strain of an impending collision. Of course this is not true. There must have been Boches who refused to turn, but since no one survived to tell of it, we only hear of the ones who did.

Such a battle of nerves happened to First Lieutenant Robert O. Lindsay of the 139th aero squadron near Bantheville on October 27th, 1918. While on a patrol in company with two others, he met three Jerries with the usual exchange of compliments. The combat took place at three thousand meters and after a sharp combat Lieutenant Lindsay shot down one. While he was maneuvering for position on the tail of another Jerry, he noticed a flock of eight Fokkers coming at him. Without a moment’s hesitation, he turned, and sped straight at the startled Boches.

The German leader held to his course until he saw that Lindsay was not going to turn and then he veered aside at the last moment. The others got out of the way as best they could. In a flash Lindsay was through the formation. Then he whirled around and dove on the last Fokker which, after the first burst, rolled on its back and started the long but swift plunge into eternity. Lindsay then streaked for home as the others in his patrol had done long before. The Jerries got themselves organized and searched an empty sky for the nervy Yank.

On the cover you see Lindsay halfway through the formation and seeing this you are inclined to say that the chances of a collision were remote. But there is an element you might not have taken into consideration—speed. We’ll say Lieutenant Lindsay was traveling over 125 m.p.h. and the Boches at the same speed. That would mean the Jerries were approaching Lindsay at well over 250 m.p.h. At that rate, it doesn’t take long for an object to pass a given point; and so, although the farthest planes from Lindsay seem a long way off, he actually grazed them in passing, for it took only the wink of an eye to close the distance between them.

For this exploit Lieutenant Lindsay won the Distinguished Service Order.

No doubt you will recognize the plane in the foreground as an S.E.5. This was not the type of plane flown by the 139th squadron at that time. In our series, we don’t always show the machines that we actually used in the incidents pictured, because frequently they were the same type, and one of our aims is to give you pictures of every one of the machines. We have used the S.E.5. before in a cover, but have not shown a drawing of it, therefore we include the drawing this month. The Fokker D.7 will be a feature on the December issue.

The S.E.5 and Lt. Lindsay
“The S.E.5 and Lt. Lindsay” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (October 1931)

“The Pfaltz Scouts and Lieutenant Alexander” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on January 12, 2015 @ 12:00 pm in

Editor’s Note: Every month the cover of BATTLE ACES depicts a scene from a real combat actually fought in the War and a real event in the life of a great ace. The series is being painted exclusively for this magazine by Frederick M. Blakeslee, well known artist and authority on aircraft and was started especially for all of you readers who wrote in asking for photographs of war planes. In this way not only do you get pictures of the ships—authentic to the last detail—but you see them in color. Also you can follow famous airmen on many of their most 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_3109THE BEST way to tell the story of this month’s cover is in the words of the citation. The pilot was First Lieutenant Stirling C. Alexander of the 99th air squadron and the incident pictured happened in the region of Landres-et-St. Georges, on October 6th, 1918. Here it is.

“He, with Lieutenant Atwater, observer, while on a photographic mission, was forced back by seven enemy pursuit planes. A few minutes later he returned over the lines and while deep in enemy territory was cut off by twelve enemy planes (Pfaltz scouts). He maneuvered his plane to give battle and so effectively managed the machine that he, with his observer, was able to destroy one and force the others to withdraw. With his observer severely wounded, he managed to bring his plane safely back to his own aerodrome with his mission completed.”

Read over the last four words of the citation, and remember—he had twelve Boches to fight! Not three or four, which would have been plenty, but twelve swift pursuit ships that could fly circles around the, comparatively speaking, lumbering reconnaissance ship. With those odds against him he completed his mission. A real pilot!

It is hard to say who had the most important job, the combat pilot, or the reconnaissance pilot, but without any question the reconnaissance pilot had the hardest job. Where the combat pilot could pull out of a fight if anything went wrong, and, due to the speed of his ship, have a fair chance of getting away, the reconnaissance pilot in his slower ship had to rely on his observer’s aim. For him it was a case of fighting it out as best he could. If his observer was shot, or his guns jammed—well, it was just too bad.

The reconnaissance pilot’s work consisted of observing troop movements, often deep in enemy territory; photographing, sometimes at low altitudes; special missions or spy planting (a job no one wanted); artillery direction and, when necessity arose, of fighting his way home.

To fly on such a mission against such overwhelming odds was no mean feat.

The combat pilots of both sides were always on the lookout for the two-place ships, as they were considered cold meat for two or more fighting planes. There is only one case on record where a reconnaissance ship was unmolested. Even archie ignored this particular plane. Combat pilots would sight it from a distance and dive in to attack, but upon recognizing it, would veer off with a smile and look for victims elsewhere.

The ship was a German and was called “The Flying Pig.” It used to come out over the lines every afternoon in the same place, fly up and down and then go home. It never did any harm as far as could be observed and from the lumbering and clumsy way it was flown it derived its name. It was believed to be piloted by an old woman. When a combat ship approached too near, its attempts to escape were pathetic. It was a point of honor among Allied pilots never to harm it. One day, however, a new pilot spied it and dove to the attack. He had heard of this particular ship, and on coming close recognized it and zoomed away. No combat ship had ever come as close as this and the poor “Pig” nearly turned itself inside out getting to safety. Since it never appeared again, it was assumed that the pilot died of fright.

Now let us consider the Boche ship pictured on the cover. It is a Pfaltz scout DIII. Lieutenant Bert Hall of the French army had several battles with Pfaltz scouts and has this to say about them. “The new German Pfaltz single-place ships are damned good. They are as fast as hell and maneuver beautifully.”

The first ship of this type landed in the British lines near Bonnieul, on February 26th, 1918. It is first cousin to the Albatros and is like that ship in many ways. To quote from the report of the first machine captured—”It is light in construction and clean-cut in design, and from the great amount of care that has been taken to keep the fuselage of very good streamline shape, and so free from irregularities, it appears to be the result of a serious attempt to produce a scout machine with good performance. It is powered with a 160 h.p. Mercédés engine. Two Spandau guns fire through the propeller. Its speed at ten thousand feet is 102½ m.p.h. and at fifteen thousand feet, 91½ m.p.h. The estimated absolute ceiling is seventeen thousand feet.

“The machine is stable laterally and un-stable directionally and longitudinally. It tends to turn to the left in flight, is not tiring to fly and is normally easy to land.”

The Germans succeeded in producing a beautiful ship at all events, and one that did a great deal of damage. The faults of the DIII were corrected in a new modle, but it never appeared at the Front as the war ended before it could be brought up. Those who saw it after the Armistice said it was beter looking that the DIII, and if looks meant anything, a ship not to pick a fight wit.

The Pfaltz Scouts and Lieutenant Alexander
“The Pfaltz Scouts and Lieutenant Alexander” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (September 1931)

The original painting for this month’s cover was up for auction in 2012 by Heritage Auctions. They listed it as “The Jailbird Flight, Battle Aces pulp cover, September 1931.” Oil on canvas, it measures 30¼” by 21¼” and was initialed—fmb—by Blakeslee in the lower left. It’s condition reported as: “In-painting from previous frame abrasions visble along the right extreme edge; very light surface grime in the white painted areas; stretcher creases on the upper and right edges faintly visible; area of craquelure in the upper right corner; otherwise in very good condition. Framed to an overall size of 36¾ x 28 inches.” They estimated it would sell for between $3,000 and $5,000, but in the end sold for $2,250.

“The R.E.8’s and Lieutenant Potter” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on January 5, 2015 @ 12:00 pm in

Editor’s Note: Every month the cover of BATTLE ACES depicts a scene from a real combat actually fought in the War and a real event in the life of a great ace. The series is being painted exclusively for this magazine by Frederick M. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft and was started especially for all of you readers who wrote us requesting photographs of war planes. In this way you not only get pictures of the ships—authentic to the last detail—but you see them in color. Also you can follow famous airmen on many of their most 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_3108THE COVER this month tells one of the best stories of the War, and that’s saying a lot, because it’s hard to find one that isn’t good. It shows First Lieutenant William C. Potter winning his Distinguished Service Cross—a decoration well earned, as you shall see.

A formation of eight reconnaissance machines, when on a daylight bombing mission in the vicinity of Dun-sur-Meuse, on September 26th, 1918, was attacked by a force of enemy planes three times its number. Now twenty-four Jerries in one formation is a whale of a formation, believe me. Go out some nice clear morning, point your finger at twenty-four places in the sky, and you’ll get some idea of the amount of ammunition floating about that September day.

All hell broke loose when the two formations met. Potter, with his observer, was in the thick of it, and the Jerries had good cause to remember him that day. The fight had been on only a few moments when Potter noticed that his leader’s plane was pulling away from the battle toward Germany, and that the pilot was making desperate efforts to control the machine. The observer’s guns were inactive. Here was a bit of cold meat for the Boche flyers. They weren’t long in realizing it. A half dozen or more left the dogfight and tore in to finish the Yank off, but they hadn’t reckoned with Potter. He also left the fight, and, “under conditions demanding greatest courage and determination flew in close so as to protect him from the rear.”

He beat off the immediate attack on his leader, but by this time they were both well over Germany. The Allied ships had disappeared, and the disabled plane showed no indication of turning. Potter of course knew that something was desperately wrong. The observer was invisible—gone overboard perhaps—but why didn’t the pilot turn? Was he lost? Couldn’t he turn? That was it! The meaning of the pilot’s frantic signaling at last became clear. He couldn’t turn! For some reason the controls were jammed.

Well, he couldn’t leave a helpless comrade to the mercy of the Fokkers, so with renewed energy he fought on, determined to protect his leader to the last drop of blood or gas. By now they were deep in enemy territory and getting deeper every second. Chances of regaining their own airdrome were fast decreasing. The fight raged furiously, the only advantage on the side of the Americans being the Jerries’ inability to separate them, and the great number of German ships which had to watch each other to avoid collision.

Conditions were getting desperate, when suddenly, to Potter’s relief, the leader made a turn about, headed at last for home. Lieutenant Potter turned with him. Regaining his position he started to fight his way toward Allied territory, now miles ahead.

They had a long distance to go, gas was getting low and the ships were badly shot. But the planes continued to fly, and as long as the ammunition held out, the Yanks knew they now had a chance.

The frustrated Boche buzzed after them like a swarm of angry bees. Soon the two speeding planes were back over the lines where the Jerries decided to depart, helped in their decision by the presence of a few Allied wasps. The two tired pilots landed their riddled machines on their own airdrome on the last drop of gas.

It was found that the leader had been unable to turn because his observer had been killed early in the fight, and in falling had jammed the controls. It was only due to the skilled protection afforded by Lieutenant Potter that he had been given an opportunity to clear the jam.

The two ships pictured are not the machines that figured in this experience; we show these because they are more famous than the ones actually used. They are R.E.8’s, also known as the Harry Tate, a British experimental machine, hence the letters R.E.

First produced in 1912, the R.E. had a Beardmore 120 h.p. engine. It gave some good climbs, but being somewhat troublesome to land, was not built in quantities and was more or less obsolete during 1918. Later developments of the type produced in 1914-15-16, showed greater speed and were used in active service for certain specific purposes. The R.E.8, being the eighth in the series, was used during the later period of the war. It resembled somewhat the B.E.’s, known as “Quirks”—two guns fired through the propeller, that was very often four-bladed, and one gun on a swivel in the observer’s cockpit. It had an R.A.F. 4A, 150 h.p. engine; its weight was 2,680 lbs.; speed at 5,000 feet, 103 m.p.h., and at 10,000 feet, 96 m.p.h. It could climb to 5,000 ft. in 11 minutes, 25 seconds, and to 10,000 ft. in 29 minutes, 5 seconds. It’s absolute ceiling was 17,000 ft. Besides reconnaissance work, it could give a very good account of itself in a fight.

The R.E.8's and Lieutenant Potter
“The R.E.8’s and Lieutenant Potter” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (August 1931)

Next week the cover of BATTLE ACES will show a Pfaltz, attacking a D.H.9 which First Lieutenant S.C. Alexander of the 99th Aero Squadron is piloting. The OCTOBER number will show First Lieutenant R.O. Linsay in an S.E.5 fighting a flock of Fokkers. Others in the series will be announced later. The present cover is the third in the series. Last month we featured the B.E. Fighter, and the cover of the June issue showed a flight of S.E.’s attacking a Boche balloon.

“The Hanger of Hate” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by David on September 1, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

In honor of the release of Strange Operators, this time we’re featuring a novelette by Donald Keyhoe that appeared in the pages of Flying Aces the month before the first Philip Strange story. Keyhoe gives us a precursor of sorts to his Brain-Devil in Arnold Trent—a former Broadway female impersonator who took jibes and enmity from his squadron mates until at the end he flew into Germany and, posing as a countess, rescued a captured fellow pilot. Enjoy!

Ahead of trent lay the 77th—and escape from the mocking fate that pursued him. But one man who knew his secret waited on the tarmac.

“Fly ‘Em Cowboy” by Robert J Hogan

Link - Posted by David on August 17, 2014 @ 2:44 pm in

With the publication of volume two of The Adventures of Smoke Wade, we thought now would be as good a time as any to release the last of the pre-Popular Smoke Wade stories. This is the second of the Street & Smith stories to appear in Air Trails, following Smoke debut in the previous issues’ “Wager Flight”.

In “Fly ‘Em Cowboy” we find Quinn has just been sent up from Insoudon—just another green replacement with visions of taking down the best German ace on the Western Front, and Smoke Wade concocts his wildest plan yet to help Quinn and win a bet in the process. (Quinn would later become leader of C flight at the 66th Pursuit Squadron)

With the wings of a plane, or the bullets of a six-gun, Smoke Wade could cut circles around his enemy.

“The Sky Devil’s Son” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by Bill on May 26, 2010 @ 2:16 pm in

Lieutenant Dan Marsh was a flying hellion, but he had a problem to solve that demanded more than flaming victories over master pilots of the Hun. He was the son of the Sky Devil, the famous Hellcat from number 10 Squadron, and the old man had made it clear that the Sky Devil’s son was not welcome there. While this is a Sky Devil story by Harold F. Cruickshank, it has no connection to Cruickshank’s stories featured in our Age of Aces book “The Sky Devil: Hell’s Skipper”.

“The Squadron in Scarlet” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by Bill on October 28, 2009 @ 9:22 am in

Here is another high flying adventure of “Cyclone” Bill Garrity and The Devildog Squadron. For months the grim spectre of that German staffel had stalked up and down the Front, dropping its sinister messages of death upon British and French squadrons. And now at last it struck at the flying Marines. For out of the cloud mists over that Devildog drome a white-winged German plane swooped low, and from it came the threat of doom—a black coffin holding the body of a Devildog pilot.

“Don’t Shoot” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by Bill on September 16, 2009 @ 11:16 pm in

Sammy Stein joined the grease-monkey squad to be safe; but after the first bombing raid, he struck a bargain with the C.O. and hocked his safety for his life, collecting a net profit of Spandau lead and glory.

“The Squadron Without a Name” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by Bill on September 9, 2009 @ 9:54 pm in

Once again the Devildog Squadron is roaring into action!

Under guard in his hut—on a double charge of treason and murder! He had led two men out on a secret mission and they had not returned—but he had brought straight to his hidden drome a flock of Boche. And that night he was found beside the body of the man who had called him a spy—and the man was dead, shot through the heart! Yet for Larry Brent, one of those twenty loyal hellions the Boche had named Devildogs, there was always a way out—even though it led to the Squadron Without a Name.

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