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“The French Breguet” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the nineteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enabled you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Junkers Biplane” by Frederick Blakeslee

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

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the eighteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the eleventh of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The scries was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Blue Ghost Patrol” by Lester Dent

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

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

 

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

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

 

LaPlata Man Known As A Writer

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

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

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

Lester Dent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the sixteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A.E.G. Bomber” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on March 23, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the fourteenth of the actual war-combat pictures’ which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of, this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3207BECAUSE of a promise not to reveal his identity, the hero of this combat will be called Jim. He was a British war pilot and has a great fund of experiences, some of which he has been good enough to relate for use in this magazine.

This month’s cover story is a most unusual one. Of the seven men involved in the fight only one survived and he, as a result of the battle, spent long months in the hospitals in both France and England. As for the three planes, all were totally wrecked; in fact only portions of the German ships were ever found.

The combat took place toward the end of the war, not long after the exploit of Jim’s which was related in last month’s issue of Battle Aces. On this occasion Jim started out with his patrol early one morning and flew toward the German lines. As the planes advanced the weather suddenly changed. The earth disappeared and the sun burned red through the haze which rapidly gathered. Flying conditions fast became impossible in the face of the gathering storm, so Jim, who was leading the patrol, gave the signal to turn about for home.

The weather changed from bad to worse and soon Jim discovered that he was flying alone. He knew that his patrol had been forced to separate and to fly each man for himself. He decided to head due south in the hope of flying out of the storm, for he could not find his own field and it was suicide to land where he was. Suddenly the form of an immense bomber loomed up ahead, rushing directly at him out of the haze.

It was not until nearly a year later that Jim was able to recall what happened from that moment on.

Let me tell you the story from the ground.

At about 11:30 A.M. two dark objects whirled out of the haze. One landed in a street and proved to be the body of a man, his clothes in shreds and too mutilated for identification. The other object hit the roof of a building in Châlons-sur-Marne, and was followed by splinters of wood, metal and scraps of red fabric. When dug out of the basement this proved to be the wreck of a Mercedes engine.

A few moments later the tip of an airplane wing fell in the outskirts of the same town, preceded by several explosions. It was also reported that at about the same time two Mercedes engines, with separate bits of metal and parts of the wings of an airplane, fell near the road between Châlon and Chepy. Then reports came in of a rain of wreckage falling all over the district. To cap the climax, another Mercedes engine, with more wreckage, fell at Marson, three and a half miles from Chepy. What could be the cause of this deluge of Mercedes engines? All came down at approximately the same time at widely separated points. The bodies of five more men and wreckage were found near Châlon and Chepy.

To add to the interest of the day, at Sommesons, nearly twenty miles from Châlons, an S.E.-5 suddenly shot out of the haze, barely missed a farm house, and spread itself out over the adjacent landscape. The pilot was sent to a hospital unconscious, where he stayed in that condition for several clays. As he was the only one who seemed at all connected with the affair, the matter remained a mystery until a year later when his memory had fully returned. The following is what happened.

As the bomber loomed up ahead, Jim recognized it as a German A.E.G. Contrary to general practice, it was not camouflaged but was painted a bright red. Jim pulled up to pass over. As he zoomed up he saw another bomber almost directly overhead. The nose of his ship pointed directly at it and with an instinctive movement, he pulled his trigger. Almost instantly there was a terrific explosion. The wreckage of the bomber was thrown in all directions. Jim was so close that parts of the Boche ship shattered his propeller and damaged his right wing. The bomber dropped, shearing off the left wing of the A.E.G. underneath close to the fuselage. Jim does not yet know how he escaped the tangle of flying wreckage and ships. The next moment they had vanished and Jim began a long glide earthward; because of the thick haze, his ship crashed, as has been related. (For purposes of design the scene on the cover has been painted in bright sunlight, but in reality the haze was extremely dense.)

The A.E.G. bomber was powered by two 260 h.p. Mercedes engines and carried two guns. At 5,000 feet its speed was 90 m.p.h. and its landing speed about 75 m.p.h. It had one fault. Its elevators did not function well when landing. It was also found advisable not to fly the machine without a passenger in the front seat.

A.E.G. Bomber
“A.E.G. Bomber” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (July 1932)

“Kondor E 111a” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on March 16, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the thirteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3206JIM, like most of the men who fought in the World War, refused to talk on the subject. He was an English ace and I knew he had done some worthwhile things. Finally, just to get rid of me, he agreed to tell me his story on the condition that, should I repeat it, his name would be withheld. Luck was with me after he once started and by questioning and egging him on I persuaded him to tell me of several other of his exploits. You’ll hear of them in later issues. This month the cover is based on one of his stories which he told very modestly, so I shall retell it in my own way.

A British hospital had been bombed by three German flyers. They had wrecked one wing of it, killing several of the wounded. As soon as the news reached the nearest airdrome, planes took off in pursuit of the marauders, but they had disappeared and as night was setting in the ships had to return.

The three Boche flyers had flown monoplanes with green camouflaged bodies, brick-red rudders and blue wings, so they were marked men. The Allies determined to avenge the outrage and early next morning the patrol took the air together with all ships in that sector. They ranged the sky all without coming in contact with the enemy. On the way home they flew under the clouds, shooting up everything in sight on the ground. When they returned to the drome, Jim’s patrol learned that in their absence the three Jerries had again bombed the hospital, fortunately without any fatal results. The three had lurked in the clouds until the patrols had gone and then proceeded to drop their eggs.

Orders were issued to get these Jerries at all costs. This time the British forces were to fly singly or in pairs, in order to cover more territory. With rage in their hearts the British pilots took the air.

Jim was flying alone and very high when he saw three specks skudding along close to a layer of clouds; they were coming from the direction of Germany. Sure these were the wanted planes, he tilted his machine down to investigate and noticed that one ship was flying high above the other two, probably as a lookout. On coming closer he recognized the plane as one of the bombers of the day before. He pulled his throttle wide open and dove for him.

Too late the Boche heard the scream of the plane behind him. He turned with a startled look as Jim let go a savage burst straight into him at point-blank range. The Boche was probably killed instantly, for he fell forward, his monoplane tipped up and Jim’s smoking bullets smashed through the entire length of the body. The other two ships streaked down one behind the other. All at once Jim realized that he was in a trail of heat and smoke. In his blind fury he had kept a fast hold on his trigger and was pouring a steady stream of lead into the ship ahead.

The smoke brought him to himself and he pulled to one side just in time to see the enemy ship burst into roaring flames. In its dive the burning plane had headed straight for the other two and an instant later had plunged into the leading Boche. There was a blinding flash, followed by a cloud of smoke, suspended for an instant, and when Jim gathered his wits, he and the third Boche were flying alone.

Instantly he brought his nose in line with him and pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. He had used up his ammunition in that wild dive. He thought of his center section gun, but before he could maneuver into position, the German had gone into a dive. Jim determined to get him or die in the attempt. He set off in pursuit, but when the Jerry whirled into the clouds. Jim thought he had seen the last of this particular enemy. He cut in after him, however, and as he came out, saw the Boche still diving towards the earth. A moment later, the Jerry plane flattened out and crashed into a field. The pilot extracted himself from the wreck, ran a few steps and dropped.

Jim landed near him and found that the German was not badly hurt but that his mind had been temporarily deranged. He was removed to a hospital and several weeks later, when his mind and nerves were rested and back to normal, he explained the reason for the bombing of the hospital. The Germans had been informed that the hospital was an ammunition factory in disguise, for the demolition of which they would be highly rewarded.

Jim did not recognize the type of the German ship, but was sure it was neither a Fokker nor a Junker. From his meager description it sounds like a Kondor E 111a or E 111. At any rate I have shown these two ships on the cover. There is no information available on this machine except that it had a 200 h.p. Goebel rotary motor.

Kondor E111a
“Kondor E 111a” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (June 1932)

“The Westland Wagtail” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the twelfth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war plwves in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3205THE PAINTING on the cover this month lacks two things—movement and noise. The only way to show movement is by the speed lines which stream out behind the planes. As for the noise, you will just have to imagine it. The three diving Germans with motors wide open are sending forth a deafening roar which gives the effect of a musical note when heard at a distance. The American ship, upside down as it zooms over, is emitting a high-pitched, reverberating and ear-splitting shriek. It drowns the bark of two Vicker machine guns which are pouring a stream of hot lead into the nearest Boche. Now that you have stuffed cotton in your ears we’ll go on with the story.

The action took place near Chateau-Thierry on July 2, 1918. The pilot of the American ship was First Lieutenant Alfred A. Grant of the 27th aero squadron. He was out on a patrol with several other officers when he encountered an enemy formation of nine planes. During the combat which followed, Lt. Grant became separated from the others and was immediately set upon by three of the Jerries.

He led these three Boches all over the sky, his comrades having vanished. Whenever opportunity presented itself he would turn and pour hot fire into a German ship. By skilful maneuvering he managed to keep out of serious trouble.

He kept the three Germans on the qui-vive however, and they found it impossible to corner him. Suddenly Lt. Grant broke off the fight and started on a bee-line for home. This was what the Germans wanted and hoped for. They gathered together in a group and dove after him.

On the other hand this was what Lt. Grant had hoped they would do. He allowed them to approach to within range and then zooming up and over he let go a withering blast of machine-gun fire straight into the Jerry ships as they streaked by under him.
One Boche continued his dive into eternity and the others turned and fled for home. For this action Lt. Grant was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

At first glance you may th_BA_3109think the German ships are Pfalz scouts of the type shown on the cover last September. If you have that cover compare the two and you will see how and where they differ. The machines illustrated on this cover are Albatros D.V.’s.

The Albatros biplanes were largely used in the War, at first as rather slow two-seater fighting machines, and as reconnaissance types. At the end of 1916 there came a very small Albatros single-seater with a Benz or Mercedes engine of some 175 h.p. This little ship did much damage to the Allies’ airplanes, until it was met and defeated by still faster British and French machines.

The speed of this ship was between 120 and 130 m.p.h. at its best height. This was the type known as the DIII. The DV was essentially the same as the DIII with no outward difference in appearance. There was, however, an improvement in speed and maneuverability. The DIII and DV were speedy looking ships and beautifully stream-lined. They have two Spandau machine guns firing through the propellers.

There was also an Albatros DXI, quite radical in design. The body instead of being rounded was box-shaped and for no apparent reason the rudder and fin were advanced. Between the wings it had a single instead of the V strut. As the bottom wing was much shorter than the upper, this strut inclined outward, and did away with all wiring. There was also a two-seater Albatros and a two-engined bomber.

But this month we concern ourselves with the blue ship flown by the American which is a new and seldom heard of type, the Westland “Wagtail.”

It was designed in answer to a general demand for a fast, quick-climbing single-seater fighter, and its purpose was for high altitude fighting. It met the demand, for it could climb to its service ceiling of 17,000 ft. in 17 minutes—a thousand feet a minute, which was fast climbing in those days and hardly surpassed even today.

The pilot’s view upward and downward, was very good, as more than half the center section was left open. The engine cowling differs from the accepted type of the day and has more or less of a modern appearance. It had a span of 23′ 2″ and an overall length of 18′ 11″.

The Westland Wagtail
“The Westland Wagtail” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (May 1932)

 

“Richthofen’s Last Flight” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the tenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started In give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3203THE COVER painting this month depicts the essential elements that combined to cause the death of Baron von Richthofen. All of the planes involved are shown.

Baron von Richthofen was the greatest ace Germany ever produced. He was a cool daring fighter who fought to kill or be killed, and the more skillful his adversaries were the better he liked them. To match wits with a clever opponent brought him the utmost pleasure. He fought like a demon, quickly and surely, taking advantage of every fortune of combat. His
deadly aim accounted for the crashing of eighty Allied planes.

An analysis of his combats show that of his eighty victories, forty-six of the vanquished were two seaters and thirty-four were single-seater scouts. He killed eighty-eight men in these combats, seventeen of whom were unidentified. His record of eighty may be disputed, however, for there are no British casualty records to account for three of the ships which were reported by von Richthofen. If we give him the benefit of the doubt—and there is no evidence that he did not bring down these three—eighty is an imposing” record. He was the terror of the Front and in his all-red ship he blazed his way through the sky from September 17, 1916, until the day of his death, April 21, 1918.

Von Richthofen’s circus became a byword at the Front. The ships composing this staffel resembled a sinister rainbow. They were painted in every color imaginable, no two ships being alike and every one having a different combination. Only one of his circus had a single color scheme. This ship—a Fokker triplane—painted a brilliant red except for the black maltese cross on its white background.

It fell to the lot of Captain Roy Brown to put an end to “The Red Knight of Germany. This he accomplished on April 21, 1918, in the vicinity of Hamel. Four triplanes led by von Richthofen had dived on some old R.E.’s which were engaged on a photographic mission. Captain Roy Brown, with his flight of seven Camels, was two miles above. His attention was directed to the plight of the R.E.’s by the English anti-aircraft calling for help. Down he came in a two-mile dive with his flight screaming in his wake.

The triplanes had been joined by additional Fokkers and Albatrosses, so that they numbered about twenty-two. With guns blazing, the eight Camels plunged into the fight. It developed into one of the most desperate dogfights of the War.

The R.E.’s relieved of their pursuers, streaked for home and escaped.

In Captain Brown’s flight was Lieut. W.R. May, a newcomer and out for the first time. Nevertheless he joined the melee. After downing a Boche he remembered his orders to stay out of a combat, so with great difficulty he disengaged himself and started for home. Death, however, in the form of an all-red triplane, rode on his tail. Do what he could, side, slip, loop and turn, May could not shake the cool and determined fighter who pursued him. His ship was being-shot to pieces and he was painfully wounded. But fortunately death showed no partiality and also road on the tail of the red triplane. Brown had seen the unequal combat and diving in from the right his tracers tucked a seam up the body of the Fokker until they reached the cockpit. The triplane faultered, then glided to the earth, making a nearly perfect landing. It settled between the lines. The pilot did not move. An Australian crawled over the top, attached a rope to the undcr-carriage and drew it to the shelter of a rise in the ground. The pilot was taken out. Baron von Richthofen was dead.

The triplane was another creation of Anthony Fokker, It was speedy and a machine to be avoided in a scrap. Some authorities contend that it had one fatal fault—its tendency to tear itself apart in the air. For this reason the Germans finally abandoned it.

The Fokker triplane had a 110 h.p. engine and its speed was approximately 125 m.p.h. It was 19 feet, 1 inch in length over all and had a top wing span of 25 feet including the balancing fins on the aileron. The span of the center wing was 21 feet and that of the bottom wing was 19 feet. It carried two fixed machine guns on the cowl, syncronized through the propeller.

Richthofen's Last Flight
“Richthofen’s Last Flight” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (March 1932)

“The Fokker D-7″ by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the ninth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and fell 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_3202THE HERO of the exploit featured this month is Lieutenant-colonel William Avery Bishop, the ace of aces. In his many combats, numbering over two hundred, he made an official score of seventy-two enemy planes, destroyed. Seventy-five percent of these combats were undertaken alone and the majority were against great odds. In a single day, his last in France, he brought up his score from sixty-seven to seventy-two, by destroying, unaided, five enemy ships in less than two hours.

Here is the story of the action which is illustrated on the cover. It will give an insight into the daring of this fighter. The combat took place on August 11, 1917. Colonel Bishop went out that day to work independently, as was his custom. Finding the air clear of patrols, he flew to an enemy airdrome only to find it deserted. He then flew on, going at least twelve miles beyond the lines into German territory, until he discovered another airdrome. Here there was great activity. Seven planes, some with their engines running, were lined up in front of the hangars, preparing to ascend. This was just what he had hoped to find.

With throttle wide open, Bishop dove to within fifty feet of the ground, sending a stream of lead into the group of men and planes. He noticed one casualty as the pilots and mechanics scattered in all directions. The Boches manned the ground guns and raked the sky, while the pilots worked frantically to take off. They knew whom they were up against. There was no mistaking “Blue Nose,” which was the name of Bishop’s machine. Furthermore, who but Bishop would come so far into their territory, and have the audacity to attack an airdrome all by himself?

Here, right in their midst, was the man most feared and most “wanted” by the Germans. It meant promotion and an Iron Cross for the pilot who downed him. However he was not easily downed.

At last one Jerry left the ground. Bishop was on his tail like a hawk and before the Jerry could gain maneuvering altitude, Bishop gave him fifteen rounds of hot fire, crashing him to the ground. During this brief action another plane took off but Bishop was too quick for him. He swung around and in a flash was on his tail. Thirty rounds sent this Boche crashing into a tree. In the meantime two more enemy ships had taken off and had gained enough altitude for a serious scrap. These Bishop engaged at once. He attacked the first ship, his guns ripping out one of those short bursts at close range, which were his specialty. The enemy ship went spinning to earth, crashing three hundred yards from the airdrome. He then emptied a full drum into the second hostile machine, doing more moral than material damage, for this plane took to its heels.

Then Captain Bishop flew back to his airdrome, pursued for over a mile by four enemy scouts, who were too discouraged to do any harm. When Bishop left the Front he had won the M.C., the D.F.C., the D.S.O. and bar, the Legion of Honor, the Croix de Guerre, and Briton’s highest award, the V.C. For the action here illustrated he was awarded the D.S.O.

You will recognize the enemy machine as a Fokker D-7, “The Wolf of the Air.” In the hands of a good pilot it was a terror to the Allied forces. It was designed by Anthony Fokker who was not a German, but a subject of Holland. He is now a citizen of the United States.

This remarkable ship might have been on the Allied side, if it had not been for the short-sightedness of official England; for Fokker offered his services to England and was rejected. He then went to Germany where his value was recognized and where he was immediately employed. England, realizing her mistake, offered Fokker two million pounds to leave Germany. Since Fokker was virtually a prisoner there—but that is another story.

At any rate Fokker built the Germans a ship which filled the Allied pilots with wonder and consternation when it first appeared over the lines. This ship was the D-7. It could out-speed, out-dive, and out-fight any thing then at the Front. Later the Allies produced ships that possessed certain advantages over the Fokker—notably, the Spad that could turn on a dime, the Camel and the S.E.5. However the Fokker remained the most deadly ship that the Germans had to offer, until the end of the war.

The characteristics of the Fokker include an extreme depth of wing, lack of dihedral, and the absence of external bracing. It was truly a wireless ship. It had a span of 29′ 3½” and an overall length of 22′ 11½”, while its speed was about 116 miles per hour.

The Fokker D-7
“The Fokker D-7″ by Frederick M. Blakeslee (February 1932)

You will see a Fokker triplane on the cover next month. It is Baron von Richthofen’s machine, so don’t miss it!

“The Camel and Lt. White” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the eighth of the actual war-combat, pictures which Mr Blakeslee well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrill of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

Lt. Wilbert Wallace White
Lt. Wilbert Wallace White, 147th Aero Squadron. He was a Flight Commander for the Squadron and gained 8 victories during his service.

th_BA_3201ON SEPTEMBER 14, 1918, three reconnaissance machines took the air on a mission of observation. They had for protection Second-lieutenant Wilbert W. White. While Lt. White was cruising about above the ships he was attacked by three Halberstadt fighters. He succeeded in fighting them off and leading them away from the observation ships, which were permitted to carry on their work unmolested. On his way home he sighted an enemy balloon near Chambley. He dove through a cloud to the attack, and before the ground crew knew what had happened, the drachen had come down about their ears in flames. The Yank was instantly attacked by two Fokker Scouts.

Although he was alone, with intrepid courage he attacked the first plane head-on, shooting until it went into a vertical dive out of control. Pulling sharply about, he fired a long burst at the second Fokker as it went over him. The Boche didn’t stop to argue, but streaked for the Vaterland as fast as his prop would drive him. For this thrilling exploit Lieutenant White was awarded the D.S.C.

The very next month he paid the supreme price in a way that was heroic in the extreme. He sacrificed his life that a buddy might live.

It was on October 10th that Lieutenant White, while in command of a patrol of four planes, met a flight of five Fokkers. In his patrol was a new member who was taking his first trip over the lines. One of the Boche pilots, perhaps sensing that he was a novice, or just by chances of combat, attacked him and obtained an advantageous position on his tail. The new pilot dodged and turned but was unable to shake off the Fokker, who followed his every move and was rapidly gaining on him. Lieutenant White saw that his friend was in dire trouble. Turning, he sped into position to attack the Boche. The Jerry was intent on his intended victim and was sending short bursts at close range whenever he could get him in line with his gun-sights. The situation looked black for the new pilot, but still blacker when Lieutenant White’s guns jammed hopelessly. Sooner or later a burst from the Fokker would hit a vital spot.

There was only one thing Lieutenant White could do to save his buddy, but it meant a horrible death. Without an instant’s hesitation he swung around and streaked full speed, head-on, into the startled and horrified enemy. The impact was terrific, the results devastating. For this act of extraordinary heroism the oak leaf cluster was awarded. The scene on the cover is just before the impact.

Lieutenant White belonged to the 147th squadron which used Spads. Since there was a picture of a 147th squadron Spad on last month’s cover, I have painted Lieutenant White’s machine as a Sophwith Camel to prevent repetition in plane types.

Much can be said for and against the Camel. It was an enlarged and modified “Pup” and was designed specially for high performances and extreme maneuverability. To obtain these ends some of the qualities of the Pup were necessarily sacrificed, and the machine had a reputation for being uncomfortable to fly. In fact I know of no pilot who went into a Camel squadron voluntarily.

Due to the torque of the motor it was extremely difficult to make a right-hand turn. This one fault caused a great many deaths to the men in training.

The Camel was also prone to catch fire in landing. The reason for this was because the engine, a 9-cylinder Gnome Monosoupape rotary, had no carbureter and therefore no throttle. It was necessary to slow down by means of a selector on the ignition system which cut out various cylinders. For example, the engine could run on 9-7-5-3 or one cylinder.

The mixture in the cylinders not used was sent through the exhaust manifold unburnt and might be ignited by the exhaust from an active cylinder. The ship landed with a long flame streaming from the exhaust which very often ignited the fabric.

On the other hand, it was the best ship for maneuvering ever brought out by the Allies, and was a great success in combat.

The Camel could climb to 5,000 feet in 5 minutes and to 10,000 feet in 12 minutes, at which height its speed was 113 m.p.h. It had a span of 28 feet; an overall length of 18 feet, 9 inches; a maximum gap of 5 feet and a minimum gap of 4 feet, F/io inches. A distinctive feature of this machine is the great dihedral of the bottom plane, combined with a flat top plane.

The ship received its name partly because of the appearance of a hump when seen from the side, and partly because the elevators were so sensitive that unless the pilot had a great deal of experience he flew in humps.

The Camel and Lt. White
“The Camel and Lt. White” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (January 1931)

Happy Anniversary!

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No, not of Age of Aces Books, but of Popular Publication’s Dare-Devil Aces magazine! It was 83 years ago today that the first issue of Dare-Devil Aces hit the stands.

Popular Publications had been publishing for a few months over a year, and their Battle Aces magazine was doing well. Steeger had been able to get some of the best aviation writers out there for Battle Aces, so why not start up a sister mag—or in this case, a big brother magazine.

he First Issue Ad
Ad for the first issue of Dare-Devil Aces from the February 1932 issue of Battle Aces.

The Three Mosquitoes led off the issue with “The Night Monster.” Steeger had just rustled Oppenheim into the Popular fold, with the Three Mosquitoes first appearance being the previous month’s issue of Battle Aces! Here the Mosquitoes take on a dragon-like menace that has been terrorizing the Allied front lines. Entire armies fell before it—this dragonlike horror with flame-pointed breath and glimmering eyes. But there were three who dared challenge it—dared follow it down a sky trail of blood.

Next up is a short story by the incomparable O.B. Myers, “The Suicide Ace”—Those Fokkers gloated as they buzzed around their prey; they didn’t know he was of the already lost—that he fought not to escape but to hold them off for 14 minutes—14 minutes of living death.

Coming in next was “The Sky Killers” by Harold F. Cruickshank. Straight into that poison-gas barrage those two gutty Spads plunged, braving a hideous death in a mad scheme that meant victory or defeat for the Allies.

Steuart M. Emery was next to the deadline with “The Devil’s Flying Armada.” “Rescue Major Revel from the Boche prison camp!” That was the order that sent Joe and his buddy into peril skies on the most amazing adventure a pair of fighting fools ever tackled.”

“The Skeleton Flight” by William E. Poindexter was fifth in the flight. For weeks the ghost ship had patroled Allied skies. Now two Yanks were taking up the trail—determined to answer the grizly challenge with their life’s blood.

And flying in the safety position was Frederick M. Blakeslee with his Story Behind the Cover of a gallant British squadron that staged one of the most daring air raids of the war—”Revenge Bombs.”

Dare-Devil Aces would go on to be Popular’s longest running aviation title. In the early years of publication Steeger packed each issue full of every 14 year old boy’s favorite authors and series characters. There was Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes, Robert J. Hogan’s Red Falcon and later Smoke Wade, Harold Cruickshank’s Sky Devil, Donald E. Keyhoe’s Vanished Legion and The Jailbird Flight, Steve Fisher’s Captain Babface, C.M. Miller’s The Rattlesnake Patrol and Chinese Brady, as well as O.B. Myers and R. Sidney Bowen!

Airman’s Code

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Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. Every one of those covers told a story, and Blakeslee had a page with which to do so. We present Blakeslee’s cover for the December 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces—”Airman’s Code”…

th_DDA_3212AT THE outbreak of the War a certain German who had been educated in England answered the call of his country. In 1917 he entered the air service and the next year found him in Richthofen’s Circus. He was a clean fighter and preferred to wage combat alone where he could follow his own tactics. Once when he was engaged in a lone battle with an Englishman, his opponent’s guns jammed. Instead of pressing his advantage, the German stopped firing and waited until the jam had been cleared. The combat was started again, and again the Englishman’s guns jammed, this time hopelessly. He motioned to that effect, whereupon the German saluted and flew away.

He soon became famous for his chivalry and in return was accorded the same treatment by the English and Americans with whom he came in contact. However, when he flew with the Circus, no quarter was asked or given and he fought as hard and as viciously as everyone else did. The exciting scrap shown on the cover can perhaps be best described in his own words.

“Soon after Richthofen’s death,” he said, “I was transferred to another squadron. I used my same old ship with a different color scheme and a large number 3 painted on the side. One day on patrol we sighted a lone British machine scudding along beneath the clouds toward Germany. Our leader dove on it and we followed. The British ship was called a Bristol Fighter and lived up to its name. As we approached, the gunner coolly took aim and raked our leader with flaming tracers.

“Here was a worthy foe and I swooped across to dive in from the other side, while my remaining companion took him on the left. When I turned I was face to face with a deadly S.E.-5—and we were alone. I was so astonished that before I could recover, the S.E. had sent in a burst that put my port gun out of commission and a bullet grazed my head, knocking my goggles down over my nose. By the time I had cleared away the goggles and wiped the blood out of my eyes, the S.E.-S was on my tail. In a few seconds my instrument board was shattered to bits. Not once was I able to get the S.E. within my sight. He was everywhere at once.

“Acknowledging myself licked, I fled, not knowing or caring in what direction. My vision was blurred—and I crashed. When I awoke I was on a cot and khaki-clad men were standing about. I realized that I was a prisoner!

“I will add that I was treated royally. That evening I met a former classmate and dined at his mess. The next morning I left for the prison camp.”

The Story Behind The Cover
“Airman’s Code: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee (December 1932)

Check back again. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations.

Frederick Blakeslee’s “The Giant Bomber”

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Back with another of Frederick Blakeslee’s “The Story Behind The Cover.” Each issue of Popular Publication’s Dare-Devil Aces had a fantastic scene of air combat gracing its cover. Frederick Blakeslee painted all 135 covers—and each had a story behind it. This is the story behind the cover of the October 1932 issue—”The Giant Bomber”…

th_DDA_3210BRITISH Intelligence reported a contemplated raid on London by a large force of bombers. A certain squadron near Dunkirk was asked to intercept these ships and to destroy as many as possible. Consequently the air was filled with British craft patroling the coast. As the weather became unsafe for flying, most of the patrols returned to their bases, but several, which had become separated, did not return for some time. Let us follow one of these, an S.E.-5 flown by Lt. Allen Archer.

Archer was returning to his drome when suddenly a huge bomber hove into sight, escorted by three Fokker triplanes flying high above and ahead. Archer was sure that this was the vanguard of the raid and looked anxiously about for help. Not an Allied plane was in sight however, so it was up to him to do something by himself. To attack this huge monster with his comparatively tiny S.E.-5 seemed futile. However, he realized the number of women and children who might not see tomorrow should this ship arrive over London; so despite the heavy odds he decided to attack. He had no sooner made his decision than he found himself in a savage combat with two of the Fokkers. He shot one of them down and, with the other on his tail, headed for the lumbering giant.

As he drew near he let go a burst, but as far as he could see it did no damage. Yet to his utter surprise the bomber gave a lurch, a man fell or jumped overboard and the engines on the left burst into flames. The bomber tipped up and dove into the clouds. Archer was so occupied with the two remaining Fokkers that he was unable to follow the bomber down. After a short combat he drove them off and returned to his field. The bomber landed in Germany, so what happened was never known by the Allies.

The bomber was a Zeppelin Five-engined “Giant.” Even today it would be accounted a mammoth ship. An idea of its size may be had from the fact that it weighed a little over fourteen tons, with a span of about 136 ft. and a length of 72 ft. It carried a crew of nine or ten men. Compare its size with the men in the drawing below. One man has his hand on the propeller, two more are sitting on the fuselage.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Giant Bomber: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee (October 1932)

Check back again. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations.

Frederick Blakeslee’s “Bombing of Zeebrugge”

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Back with another of Frederick Blakeslee’s “The Story Behind The Cover.” This time we’re featuring Blakeslee’s cover for the September 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces. It’s a great battle scene depicting a squdron of French Caudron bombers going about thier business. Here’s Frederick Blakeslee himself to tell you about the “Bombing of Zeebrugge,” The Story Behind the Cover…

th_DDA_3209ZEEBRUGGE developed into an important naval base early in the War. The submarine had its home there; warships, torpedo boats and transports were here also. From 1915 until it was liberated by the Allies in October, 1918, Zeebrugge was the target for raid after raid by Allied aircraft. Here was fought the famous naval battle—the blocking of the Mole on April 23rd, 1918—which was made possible by aircraft. The raids were too numerous to mention in detail. The one shown on the cover occured on March 20, 1916.

Early that day a combined force of approximately fifty British, French and Belgian airplanes and seaplanes, accompanied by fifteen fighting ships, left various bases and attacked the military establishment, docks, submarines, ships, etc. This was the largest air-raid as far as the numbers of machines engaged were concerned, that had been reported up to that time. All the planes returned safely after dropping approximately ten thousand pounds of high explosives. Ships were simply bombed out of Zeebrugge, for several were found at sea later in the day.

The cover shows the French section of the raid. The machines used were Caudrons. This machine was one of the most successful bombers ever made by the French because of its great weight-lifting capacity and imperviousness to bad weather. The ship in the foreground is an R-ll, the one underneath a C-23.

The two machines looked very much alike, the only difference being in span and shape of cowling over the engines. The R-ll had triangular power eggs housing the 200 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engines. The C-23, with a longer span, had rounded power eggs housing two Salmson engines of 250 h.p. each. After the armistice this machine was transformed into a passenger carrier.

Another Caudron of the tail-boom or open framework type, was known as the G-6 and was altogether different in appearance.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Bombing of Zeebrugge: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee (September 1932)

Check back again. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations.

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