Looking to buy? See our books on amazon.com Get Reading Now! Age of Aces Presents - free pulp PDFs

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Capitaine Georges Madon

Link - Posted by David on November 16, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This week we have Capitaine Georges Madon, another great French Ace, telling of his most thrilling sky fight!

Capitaine Georges Madon was one of the most famous of the French flying aces. Along with Guynemer, Navarro and Nungesser, he furnished the spectacular flying news that filled the newspapers in the early days of the World War. He was credited with over forty victories and only the great Guynemer topped him in the list of French aces during his time on the battle front.

Cool, courageous and audacious, he kited the battle skies, making short shrift of all the enemy flyers who were unfortunate enough to encounter his specially gunned Nieuport fighter. Yet, when asked to describe his most thrilling air battle, he hesitated some moments before giving an account of the air collision described below. Such a collision three miles above the earth was something that was feared by every front line pilot.

 

AN EIGHTEEN THOUSAND FOOT FALL

by Capitaine Georges Madon • Sky Fighters, November 1933

I was flying high over the front lines. The altimeter showed 6,000 meters to be exact. I looked down over one side of my lower left wing and saw a Boche. I dived down to attack him immediately. He didn’t see me until my tracer began to crackle through his fuselage. Then he maneuvered quickly to avoid my charge. But he must have been a new pilot for he did the wrong thing. He zoomed right up into the path of my Nieuport.

There was a thunderous crash, then all went still as death. My right lower wing was torn off. The enemy plane was completely pulverized. In some manner we fell apart as we started to drop. The minutes that followed gave me some thrills, I tell you. I looked at my sick plane. The propeller was broken. Struts were torn out. Guy wires fluttered back in the growing air stream. The wing that had torn off fluttered down beside me. All was in ruins, I saw that.

But it was the atrocious, horrid thought of the fall, which was bound to end soon with a smash on the ground, that set my nerves tingling and put my mind to work.

The wreck of my plane dropped nose down for several hundred meters. Then it went into a slow spin that lasted for about 4,000 meters.

I moved my control stick, convulsively, frantically, but uselessly. The control wires had sheared away. A sickening sensation gripped me. My mind went aflame with multiple thoughts. In turn, I seemed to review in my memory, scenes of my family, of my duty in the chasse squadrons, of my captivity in Germany, of my escape, and a thousand other things. One’s memory works fast at such moments. But what was co-existent with these scenes and towered above all else was my fear of falling among the Boches.

Suddenly, by some miracle of fate, the spinning ceased. I had done nothing with my controls. Nevertheless, my sick plane slowly but surely righted itself. And miracle of miracles! It headed right toward our own lines.

I ponder with my heart still in my chest. Perhaps I shall escape death? I’ll fracture my legs! I’ll break my back! I shall surely become an invalid—but I shall live!

I shall live! Words of hope, divine words that often were, alas, the last ones faintly uttered by so many of my comrades. A shadow crosses my vision. I look, barely see some poplar trees. I try to steer through them, hit them in order to break the impact of my fall. But the stick dangles loosely in my grip. The rudder bar is pressureless beneath my feet.
I shoot beyond the poplar trees. A darker shadow looms. It is the ground!

There is a terrific crackling. A sinister thud. Flying debris. A rude jolt and jar. It is the end!

But no! From the tangled heap I succeed in extricating myself. And I had only broken my finger!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Gabrielle d’Annunzio

Link - Posted by David on November 2, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it the Italian Ace, Captain Gabrielle d’Annunzio.

Captain Gabrielle d’Annunzio, famous Italian poet and dramatist and enthusiastic patriot, was one of the most colorful and forceful of Italian flyers in the early days of the World War. He enlisted early in the most spectacular branch of the army, the Italian Air Corps. Soon after completing his training he was assigned to a bombardment squadron which was charged with harassing the then fast-advancing Austro-German armies, which threatened to overwhelm the brave Italian defenders and take the capitol at Home. By exerting superhuman efforts the Italians prevented that.

The following is taken from reports of newspaper correspondents at the scene of battle.

 

MY FIRST NIGHT FLIGHT

by Captain Gabrielle d’Annunzio • Sky Fighters, October 1933

I was nervous on that night. It was to be my first night bombardment flight. I was detailed to blow up an ammunition dump. It was necessary that this dump be destroyed to halt the advance of the victorious Austro-German armies. I was not sure of myself, but my heart bled for my country. I must succeed, I vowed. It was not fear of death that made me nervous, but fear of not being able to accomplish my mission.

We took off shortly after midnight. The moon was shining brilliantly on the beautiful Italian hill country over which we were flying. Soon we were across the lines, and the Austrian anti-aircraft batteries opened up. I thought I was high enough to be out of range, but a dazzling red mushroom flare that burst above me made me realize I was mistaken.

I tried to climb, then, and nosed up. But my bomber was too heavily loaded and the controls wouldn’t answer. For an instant I was panicky, I swung right and left when the shell began to burst nearer and nearer to me.

After a few minutes of that, I saw that I could dodge the shrapnel. The feeling of panic left me. I grew confident and headed directly for my target, which was easily recognized in the shower of moonlight. I sent the bomber down low, through a hail of shrapnel and machine-gun bullets. But I didn’t worry about them. I was over the dump and knew I could destroy it the moment I dropped my bombs.

I went down lower and lower to make sure I wouldn’t miss. Finally I let go and zoomed up. There was a brilliant flare that filled the whole sky. Then a terrific concussion that shook my bomber like it was fragile cardboard. But I didn’t care. I was happy. I had accomplished my mission. Whether I returned or not was inconsequential.

But I did get back, and safely. I knew then that I could handle a night bomber. I was never nervous about night bombardment any more and I hadn’t failed my country.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 14: Lieutenant Werner Voss” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on October 26, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we one of Germany’s greatest Aces—Lieutenant Werner Voss!


Voss infront of his prototype Fokker DR.I Triplane with a face painted on the engine cowling.

Werner Voss began his military career as a Hussar in November 1914 while still 17 years old. Turning to aviation, he proved to be a natural pilot and after flight school he spent six months in a bomber unit. Moving on he joined a newly formed fighter squadron—Jagdstaffel 2 on 21 November 1916. It was here he became friends with Manfred von Richthofen.

Voss was chalking up the victories one after another until that fateful day in September 1917. On the 23rd, Leutnant Werner Voss, commanding officer of Jagdstaffel 10 and flying his prototype Fokker DR.I Triplane, encountered the renowned ‘B’ Flight of British 56 Squadron in the skies north of Frezenberg. B Flight was comprised of some of britain’s finest Aces—James McCudden and Arthur Rhys Davids among them.

The odds stacked against him—Voss managed to hold his own against the seven S.E.5s of B Flight. Somehow hitting each plane in a dogfight that lasted ten minutes before his own was hit by fire from at least two of the British airplanes. Voss himself, was struck by three bullets. His plane went into a steep dive and crashed north of Frezenberg, Belgium. Voss was killed. He was 20 years old.

In the ten short months Voss was in the air he was confirmed to have 48 victories (which practically matched the great von Richtofen plane for plane during the same time) and was awarded the Pour le Mérite, House Order of Hohenzollern and the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class.

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

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Frank Luke

Link - Posted by David on October 19, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! The man considered America’s second greatest Ace, Frank Luke tells us about his most thrilling sky fight.

Frank Luke! How much the name means to those few who knew how he fought and died. His front line career was short, hectic and dynamic. He blazed across the war-torn skies of France like a flaming meteor. Very few people ever heard of Luke during his short but Sensational career on the Western Front. His fame and name came after he died. He is recognized now as the most courageous, the most audacious war bird that ever handled a control stick and pressed the Bowden triggers mounted on it. Only Eddie Rickenbacker topped him in the final list of American Aces after the War was ended. Rickenbacker was officially credited with 26 victories. Frank Luke had 21. But the comparison is hardly fair to Luke, for Rickenbacker was on the front for almost six months, while Luke’s front line career lasted only a little over two weeks. Even in that short space of time he had worked up to the top and was the American Ace of Aces when he died. There is no telling what, score he would have run up, if fortune had been more in his favor. The story below he told to Sergeant John Monroe, who was a favorite of his.

 

VENGEANCE FLIGHT

by Lieutenant Frank Luke • Sky Fighters, October 1933

Which was my most satisfactory fight? Well, all of them that ended with the other fellow going down to his death were pretty satisfactory. But there is one that stands out above all my victories so far.

That’s the fight in which I got the Hun who knocked down the Englishmen in the crippled De Haviland. I didn’t like the way that Hun waited for the Limey’s motor to go bad before pouncing on them. They didn’t have a chance. One burst was all the Hun needed. Being on the ground myself at the time, I didn’t think I had time to get in my ship and get up there in time to get in on the fight.

But when I saw the D.H.’s wing fall off and the ship go down in a spin, I felt a peculiar feeling inside me. My Spad was ready on the line. I hopped into it and took off. By the time I had gained altitude the Hun was streaking for home. But I was determined to get him. It was a long rear-end chase and getting dark fast.

No matter, I caught the bird about five kilometers inside his own lines and piqued down on his tail with blood in my eye. I held my fire until I was about a hundred meters behind his streaking Fokker, then I let go with both guns.

But the Hun had been watching me, I guess. He jerked up in a screaming zoom and my shots went low. I got mad, threw my Spad into an abrupt chandelle right on his tail. He Immelmanned away. I followed. We went round and round.

He didn’t shoot at me, but was damn successful in keeping away from my bursts. I was getting madder and madder every second, and threw a lot of slugs, uselessly. After a few moments of that going round and round, I got wise to myself. The Hun was making a monkey of me, just playing me out.

Understand, I was plenty far back in the enemy lines and it was getting dark fast. He knew he would get me if he just strung out the fight a little. Within a few more minutes there was bound to be a whole sky full of his mates come to his assistance. He knew that and was just marking time. I sensed that after a while.

It made me mad again, to think I had been such a fool. But I didn’t go off my nut. I kept my head, and circled round and round with him some more, watching from the corner of my eye for other Huns, and keeping my thumbs off the Bowden trips. I didn’t intend wasting any more slugs until I had a sure shot.

That chance came before I expected it. He showed his tail surfaces just momentarily. I pressed the trips. The tracer bored through the fuselage behind his back. That was all there was to it. The Fokker plunged over in an abrupt dive and went roaring into the earth with the motor full on.

I beat it for our advance landing field then with my motor wide open. And good thing they had thrown some gasoline in the sand barrels and lighted it. With the light from those flares I was able to sit down without cracking up.

I won’t get any credit for that victory, though. There weren’t any observers. But what the h—! I got him after he got the crippled Englishmen. That’s reward enough!

It was my most satisfactory fight.

“Sky Fighters, December 1933″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on October 17, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the December 1933 cover, It’s a Westland N.17 Seaplane hunting for German submarines!

The Ships on the Cover

THE planes on this month’s cover th_SF_3312 are all of one type, the Westland N.17 Seaplane. It was a shipboard plane which could be stowed away below decks by folding the wings back along the sides of the fuselage.

The British had plenty of work for these little sea scouts. The North Sea and other near-by waters were the favorite lurking places for German submarines. To spot a sub with only its periscope above the surface or completely submerged could be efficiently accomplished only by a plane above. Then it was the seaplane pilot’s job to go into action with his bombs or to wireless the position of the enemy to the nearest sub-chaser.

The three Westlands pictured on the cover have caught the German submarine above water. Before it could submerge they have attacked it with machine-gun fire and with bombs. The sub’s commander has no choice but to fight back. Up comes his hidden gun which is below the deck plates in its own water-tight compartment when the sub is submerged.

Twenty seconds is all the time needed before the gun goes into action. A shell whistles by the Westland in the foreground. Machine-gun bullets from the Westlands slash through the air. Two German!! are down. Another leaps to the breach of the gun. Another shell screams at the attackers. Just at this moment the plane directly over the sub has released • bomb. The pilot’s aim is perfect. In less than a second it will hit—a twisted mass of steel plates will sink to the bottom.

Possibly in less than an hour a huge transport with thousands of our troops Aboard will steam over this very spot In the distance one of our doughboys may spot the three Westlands flying low over the water. Ten to one he’ll think, “Now, that’s the kind of a soft job to have. Nothing to do but roost up there and put in a couple of hours doing nothing to help us Yanks win the war.”

The Westland N.17 was powered by a Bentley Rotary motor. It could skim above the water at about 108 miles per hour. It’s landing speed was forty-five miles per hour when fitted with trailing edge flaps. This ship was the answer to the British Admiralty’s demand for a stable, fast single-seater scout which could be used from seaplane carriers as a fighter, sub spotter and light bomber. It came up to all specifications and was in service up to the end of the war.

Just before the battle of Jutland it was a seaplane that warned Admiral Jellicoe that German submarines were directly ahead. Possibly a different outcome to the greatest naval engagement of the World War would have been written in our history books if It had not been for the alertness of those sturdy little planes roaring back and forth across the path of British dreadnaughts.

Seaplanes directed the fire of the battleships shelling the entrance to the Dardanelles, making possible direct hits at a range of 12,000 yards.

For those who care to shed their parachutes and don a diver’s suit we are including a self-explanatory diagram-drawing of a German sub. These undersea engines of destruction accounted for a loss In merchant tonnage to the Allies amounting to nearly 13,000,000 tons.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, December 1933 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Sopwith Camel and Albatross D.V.!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 12: Major MacClaren” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on October 12, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have Canadian Ace—Major Donald MacClaren!

Donald MacLaren joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 and quickly accrued 54 victories, making him the highest scoring ace to fly a Sopwith Camel. He was awarded the Military Cross & Bar, Distinguished Service Order, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion d’Honneur and Croix de Guerre. MacLaren recorded his last victory on October 9, 1918—as his combat career came to an end the next day when he broke his leg while wrestling with a friend.

Following the Armistice, he helped form the Royal Canadian Air Force before retiring to begin a career in civil aviation where he formed Pacific Airways which was eventually acquired by Western Canada Airways.

He died on 4 July 1988, aged 95.

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

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Georges Guynemer

Link - Posted by David on October 5, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it’s Georges Guynemer, France’s national treasure!

Captain Guynemer, French flier, was the moat spectacular and colorful of all the flying Aces. Young, tall, slender, but in very poor physical health, he was a veritable demon in the air, He had absolutely no regard for his own personal safety. Time after time be attacked single-handed whole squadrons of enemy planes. On the ground he was shy, reserved, and spoke very few words to anyone. Whenever he came to Paris on his very infrequent leaves from the front to secure medical aid, the whole city was decorated in festive attire in his honor. He was the toast of the boulevards, the darling of the French populace. And the whole world mourned his passing when he died, shot down by a comparatively obscure German pilot, who got in a chance shot from exceedingly long range. The German pilot, Wisseman, never knew until afterward that it was the great Guynemer that he had shot down. When Guynemer passed mysteriously into the blue, he was officially credited with 57 enemy aircraft and universally recognized as the Ace of Aces of all the armies.

When asked by a newspaper correspondent to tell of his most thrilling air battle, he brought out a little black notebook from his tunic pocket and translated from it very matter-of-factly the account that follows below.

 

FOUR VICTORIES IN A SINGLE DAY

by Captain Georges Guynemer • Sky Fighters, October 1933

My most thrilling air battle! Let me think. Ah, I have it! It was the day I won four victories, a spring day in May, 1917. Two days before my closest rival, Lieutenant Nungesser, had downed three Boches. I was determined to beat his record.

I went out alone on solo patrol early in the morning. While cruising high behind the Boche lines, I see a lone enemy plane and make for it. A good start, I say to myself, I must not fail. I throw my Spad down in a power dive and approach very close. The enemy pilot does not see me. I press my gun trips and get in a burst. It is a good one. A wing shears from the other plane and it crashes in the woods near Corbeny. That was at 8:30 in the morning. I am elated. It was so easy. But I was foolish. I forgot to watch out of the corner of my eye.

A moment later I bank around lazily and run smack into the tracer of another Boche who has piqued down from the clouds to avenge the death of his comrade. The bullets crackle through my wings. I maneuver swiftly and escape the pilot’s hail of fire. But then the gunner in the rear seat has his guns on me. I remain calm, though, I slip off on one wing, go into a dive, then zoom up beneath. On my back I see that I have the other plane lined. I press the trips for a quick burst. It is enough. The two-seater goes down in flames toward Jusancourt.

Captain Auger comes along then, and we fly together towards another two-seater about a kilometer off, behind the enemy trenches. The enemy sees us and flees for home. I speed up and catch him, press my trips again. But sad thing! Nothing happens. My cartridge bandolier is empty. Then I realize my first flight must not have been so easy. I expended more cartridges than I thought. I turn and fly back to my own airdrome.

At 2 o’clock in the afternoon I go out again, hunting around by myself, I encounter soon a D.F.W. Ah, another chance, I say. I leap in with pulses throbbing, The other pilot shoots first, at long range. I dodge his bullets and press in closer. At close range I open up with both guns at a vital spot. I am rewarded for my patience. The D.F.W. bursts into flames. I watch it until it crashes, then go cruising around again.

I meet up with another two-seater between Guignicourt and Condesur-Snippes. If I make a record, I must get him, I think. So I am wary. I do not attack immediately. I pretend I do not see him and circle back behind the enemy lines, getting his machine between me and my own lines. Then I race back to attack from the rear. He wiggles out of my burst, and shoots back at me. We exchange bursts tit for tat. I vow I will press in with guns flaming until he falls. I do not fear he will get me first. I have confidence. My next bursts are effective. The pilot wilts in his seat. His plane goes spinning down.

Voila! I am happy.

It was my best day, four victories.

At 3:40, when my gas is low, I turn about and fly home.

“Sky Fighters, November 1933″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on October 3, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the November 1933 cover, It’s the S.E.5 vs the Phalz D-3!

THE ships pictured on this month’s th_SF_3311 cover are the S.E.5 and the Pfalz D-3.

The Pfalz was a single-seater chaser manufactured by the Flugzeugwerke firm founded by two famous pioneers of the German aviation industry, the Everbusch Brothers.

Germany built many types of planes during the World War. The Pfalz was one of her outstanding successes. Its motor was a 160 h.p. Mercedes, capable of swinging the plane through the air at 102½ m.p.h. when at a height of 10,000 feet. Low down its 160 horses could pull it along at a slightly increased speed. It was stable laterally, but unstable directionally and longitudinally. It answered to its controls obediently, but always had a tendency to keep turning to the left in flight.

The pilot from his office gets a good view of all that’s going on in all directions except where the top wing interferes with his vision.

The heavy Mercedes made this ship nose-heavy and many an ambitious German pilot got into plenty of trouble in putting his Pfalz into a dive and keeping it there too long. He had a difficult job in yanking the front end of his sky steed into level flight. He also had to watch his step when landing or he was likely to roll up in a ball.

The single-bay “V” struts were probably adopted from the early Nieuport design. The Germans, instead of connecting the lower part of the “V” placed a short member against the lower wing, hoping to get additional strength and to be able to anchor the bracing wires somewhat apart.

Two ships coming together in the air usually means curtains for both. Boelke, the famous German Ace, was killed when his plane was barely grazed by a ship being flown by one of his pupils. Many other airmen have cracked up in this way.

In the picture on the cover it is a toss up whether the Allied pilot will get his ship down safely. His undercarriage has snapped clear of its moorings. If he can keep control of his ship for a split second, he will be able to clear the tail of the German ship and possibly bring his own plane down for a pancake landing. If he can find two trees with a gap between them of about twenty feet he can sheer off his wings and slow up his smash. In the case of the German in his wing-wrecked Pfalz there is not a doubt of his end. He is through.

The S.E.5 single-seater scout (the S.E. stands for Scouting Experimental) was about the smoothest job in its class }hat the British turned out. It was a product of the Royal Aircraft establishment. It was powered by a Hispano-Suiza 220 h.p. motor. It could do around 120 miles an hour. The downward visibility was improved by cutting away a portion of the lower plane close to the body. A Lewis Vickers gun was parked on the left side of the hood in front of the pilot. A Lewis gun was mounted on a track arrangement above the top wing. The pilot was able to pull the butt end of his gun down till he could shoot at a vertical angle at any ship which got above him. This gave him a decided advantage over the single seaters of the enemy’s ships.

The dihedral of the wings was noticeably greater than any other British ship of its time. Landing, the pilot had to be mighty careful, as did the Pfalz pilot in his ship—both ships were nose-heavy.

Major Jimmie McCudden, the British Ace, who downed fifty-three enemy planes before a Spandau bullet carrying his initials snuffed out his glorious career, swore by the S.E.5s. He claimed, as did other of his brother pilots, that it was the finest ship produced during the war. It could hold its own in any maneuver that a Boche ship might force it into and nine times out of ten come out top dog.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, November 1933 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Westland N-17 Seaplane and a German submarine!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 11: Ernst Udet” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on September 28, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have German Ace—Ernst Udet!

Ernst Udet was one of the highest scoring Aces in the German airforce—second only to the great Manfred von Richtofen with 62 victories to his 80! He entered the German Army in 1914 before becoming a fighter pilot serving in Jastas 4, 11, 15, 37 and eventually commanding the 37th and 4th fighter squadrons. However, injuries he had sustained forced the Ace out of active combat in late September 1918—which may have helped him survive the war, unlike Richtofen.

Udet was a young man of 22 at the end of the war. Following Germany’s defeat, Udet post-war career in the 1920s and early 1930s saw him work as a stunt pilot and in movies, international barnstormer, light aircraft manufacturer, and all around playboy before joining the Nazi party in 1933 and working to recreate the Luftwaffe that would play such a pivotal role in the coming Second World War.

Udet’s wartime success came to an abrupt end however in 1941. Accused by General Erhard Milch of bringing about the Luftwaffe’s shortcomings as demonstrated during the Battle of Britain, and under fire from Goring himself, Udet—who had become critical of the Nazi regime—’chose’ to commit suicide. His suicide was concealed from the public at the time and he was lauded a hero who had died in flight while testing a new weapon. Udet was buried next to Richtofen. He was 45.

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

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Oswald Boelke

Link - Posted by David on September 21, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it’s one of Germany’s greatest air fighters—Captain Oswald Boelke!

All the heroes of the flying forces were not on the Allied side. The enemy also had its heroic figures.

Captain Boelke was among the greatest of the enemy air fighters. He reigned supreme until his death; then Baron von Richtofen came along to carry on where Boelke left off.

The German air fighting tactics varied somewhat from those of the Allies, tending more towards mass attack, emulating in that respect the German system of arms to attack in force with superior number, For that reason accounts of German air fights are not usually as spectacular or glamorous as accounts of Allied fights. Boelke’s account of his fight with a dead pilot, however, borders on the realms of fiction, and could hardly he believed if it did not come from such a practical-minded, stolid figure as was the German flying Captain.

 

THE PHANTOM PILOT

by Captain Oswald Boelke • Sky Fighters, November 1933

ON THE 27th of September (1916) I attacked with my patrol a flight of six English single-seaters. I knocked down one of them, and immediately picked on another. But as I whirled into the second attack, the first machine, whose pilot I thought I had killed, having seen my tracer stream right into his face, made for me. I tried to escape the charge, but nothing I did seemed to avail. The enemy plane glued right on my tail. I was very much surprised at his tenacity.

After all, I was certain that I had killed the English pilot minutes before, yet here he was, still flying around in a circle stubbornly. The fact was mysterious indeed. I flew over very close to the enemy machine to investigate, and saw that the pilot was prostrate over the gunwales of his cockpit. He certainly seemed dead.

Sure, then, that the plane could do me no harm, I left it and banked off, to tackle another Englishman whom my comrades had rounded up for me. I got him without difficulty, sending him down in a slow spin.

Then the mysterious plane with the dead pilot at the controls veered around and headed toward me.

And what a strange thing! It crept up to within fifty meters of my plane. Next thing I knew, a stream of tracer spewed from its nose. The bullets rattled through my fuselage. I nosed down to escape the slugs. The plane shot overhead, so I banked around and slid down after the spinning Englishman. When the Englishman crashed in a shell crater, the other plane seemed suddenly to straighten out and scoot for its own lines.

I followed and watched, saw it land easily in an open space behind its own lines. When it stopped rolling, soldiers from the trenches came out and pulled the pilot from the pit. They laid him out on the ground and covered him with a blanket, face and all. One of the soldiers crossed himself. I knew then my own conclusions were confirmed. The pilot was really dead. But the way that plane maneuvered with a dead hand on the control stick was positively uncanny.

It had me in a cold sweat. I finally figured out that the plane was rigged so perfectly that it really flew itself.

That it seemed to tail me was pure coincidence. As for the slugs that poured from its nose, they were merely the result of a last convulsive muscular movement of the dying pilot. But I tell you, one experience like that is enough! I would rather fight ten daring, darting Englishmen all at once, than do solitary battle with a ghost plane with dead hands at the controls.

“Sky Fighters, October 1933″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on September 19, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the October 1933 cover, It’s a battle of a lone Salmson being harassed by some Fokker D-7s!

The Ships on the Cover

THE SHIPS pictured on this month’s th_SF_3310cover are Fokker D-7s and a lone Salmson.

The Salmson was manufactured by the French firm Societe des Moteurs Salmson. It was one of the most reliable observation ships used during the World War and was flown extensively by the French. The Americans and Italians also used it to good advantage.

Its engine was a Salmson 260 h.p. radial turning over 1500 revolutions per minute. The cylinders arranged radially like the modern Wrights were mounted around a two part crankcase. Nine tubes brought the exhaust to a collector, formed as a ring and arranged in front of the cylinders. This is the outer rim of the nose of the ship.

The cylindrical shape of the nose with its numerous ventilating slits is distinctive. In fact it can be mistaken for no other war-time ship.

The span of the Salmson on the cover is 39 ft. The length 27½ ft. Its top speed was just under 120 m.p.h. It could climb to 10,000 ft. in 18 minutes.

Although this ship was far ahead of its time in streamlining, it had a certain bulky appearance that suggested it might be a stubborn brute when answering to its controls. Just the reverse was true. It could be taken up carrying a pilot and an observer and made to do things and go places.

Therefore the predicament in the picture may not be as serious for the Allied airmen as one would think at the first glance. The pilot has rolled his ship so that his gunner can blast the Fokker zooming up from below at the rate of 800 feet per minute. The pilot’s front gun is lined up on the tail of a second Fokker hammering out a stream of Vicker’s slugs.

Downing these two “N” strutted German planes will cut down the odds tremendously. But as long as even one of these blunt-snouted German pursuit ships remain in the sky the Allied flyers have plenty to worry about.

The Fokker was considered Germany’s best fighting plane produced during the war. It was a radical change from her ships which followed the sweep-back design of the Taube wing construction. There were no graceful sweeping lines on Tony Fokker’s bus; just a business-like ruggedly constructed engine of destruction. It could match any maneuver of an Allied ship except in diving.

In a dive it had a tendency to pull up. Many of its opponents, getting in a tight fix with a D-7 and seeing Spandau slugs lacing fabric to ribbons got away from seemingly certain death by opening wide their throttles and diving toward the earth.

The Fokker was powered by the famous Mercedes 160 h.p. motor, the most efficient of many fine power plants produced by German engineers. This engine had such stamina and dependability that some Allied pilots removed them from captured German planes and placed them in their own ships.

The entire fuselage assembly of the Fokker was constructed of steel, even including members where wood is almost universally used. The wings, reversing the steel construction principally used in the fuselage, were made entirely of wood.

External bracing wires are not used between the wings. Both upper and lower wings are without dihedral.

Salmson and Fokker ships were highlights of ingenious designers’ skill. Radically different in design, but both capable of doing their allotted jobs in a businesslike manner.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, October 1933 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the S.E.5 and Phalz D-3!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Albert Ball

Link - Posted by David on May 18, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it’s British Captain Albert Ball’s Most Thrilling Sky Fight!

Captain Albert Ball was the first of the Royal Flying Corps pilots to make a distinguished record. Unlike the French, the British made no mention of their air pilot’s victories. One day Ball wrote home that he had just counted his 22nd victory. His mother proudly showed this letter to her friends. Ball was disbelieved.

It was beyond belief at that time that any single pilot could have shot down so many enemy planes. Ball was finally vindicated. From that time on the British publicized the exploits of flying aces. Ball shot down 43 enemy planes and one balloon, being at the time of his death the Ace of Aces of all the armies.

He received every decoration the British Army could give him, including the Victoria Cross. He was killed in a new British triplane by the younger von Richthofen the day after America entered the War.

The account below is taken from a letter to his family in Nottingham.

 

AN ENGLISH ACE’S BEST FIGHT

by Captain Albert Ball • Sky Fighters, December 1933

WHILE cruising high over my own lines I spotted a formation of eight enemy machines about 5 kilometers away. They were well within their own lines, so I circled around slowly, watching, waiting for them to come after me. But they did not.

I decided then to do the attacking myself. The Hun formation let me come on without any apparent effort to scatter. I had my thumbs on the trigger trips, but I was determined not to fire until I got within deadshot range. I knew I had to knock down my first target to shatter their morale. Down, down I went, expecting Hun fire all the time. But oddly none came. They usually fire at very long range. But in another hundred yards I saw why they withheld fire. All at once they opened up simultaneously with a steady stream of slugs.

I was diving so fast and so steep that I couldn’t swerve off from that hail of lead. I had to go through run the gauntlet. I did, diving even steeper, trusting my life to the hands of Fate. The slugs sieved through my ship. I held my breath, shoved on my cockpit, ducked my head, won through without getting nicked in a vital spot.

Before the gunners could swing their muzzles and center me, I pulled up in a climbing zoom, nosing right into the blind belly of the nearest Hun. At fifteen meters I pressed my triggers. The pilot crumpled over. The ship went spinning down. I went over on my back, straightened out, lined another. It burst into flames with my second salvo of fire.

The German formation was completely disorganized now. They turned and fled in all directions. I chased one, centered my fire from directly behind. My bursts were effective. A wing crumpled, collapsed. It went down. I banked, and took after another, caught up with him, gave him the same dose. The ship went spinning down. Four in one fight! It was a record for me.

I banked and chased the other three far into Germany. But had to give up before I caught them. My petrol was running short, and I have an unholy fear of being forced down in enemy territory.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Navarre

Link - Posted by David on May 4, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it’s French Lieutenant Navarre’s Most Thrilling Sky Fight!

The year before America entered the War, there was one name that was consistently emblazoned in the papers along with Marshal Joffre, Earl Kitchner, and the other high ranking generals. It was the name of Navarre, the “Sentinel of Verdun.” Navarre was the first Ace, the first man to destroy live enemy aircraft in plane to plane combat. At the first battle of Verdun he did yeoman duty. It was his reports brought in after solo patrols far in the rear of the German lines that enabled Marshal Joffre to so dispose his defense troops at Verdun that the attacking armies under the command of the German Crown Prince were never able to take the city.

Alone, of all the French fortifications, it stood impregnable through the entire War. To Navarre, as much as to anybody else, belongs the credit for this victory. It was only during Navarre’s last days on the front that his plane was equipped with a machine-gun.

Despite that fact, he rolled up a record of 12 enemy planes brought down and destroyed before he was wounded and permanently disabled. His account below is from the records of a French journalist.

 

AN UNUSUAL VICTORY

by Lieutenant Navarre • Sky Fighters, December 1933

THE AIR FIGHT which I believe the most remarkable is one which took place far beyond Verdun. A German photo plane had come down out of the clouds unexpectedly right over the fortress, had circled around undisturbed and taken pictures. I got the call at my airdrome just as I had landed from a flight.

Without taking time to fill with gasoline or load up with more ammunition, I hopped in my ship and took off again. When the enemy ship saw me coming, it banked off and headed for home. I poured on all juice and raced after it.

The distance between us narrowed very slowly. My heart was in my mouth. I was sad. I knew I must get that ship before it landed with its pictures. I goosed my throttle and spark, stuck the nose of my ship down until I was just skimming the ground. Boche rifles shot at me.

Stitches of little round holes appeared like magic in my wings. But I raced on with greater speed because I was close to the ground. The Boche photo ship was still high up, but beginning to circle. I prayed for time to wait! Pushed on my controls, did everything! Just managed to get beneath the Boche as he was coming down for a landing on his own drome. The Boches on the ground saw me. They hustled out other ships. I nosed up to meet the down coming Boche with my hand tense on the trigger of my Lewis gun. At fifty yards I gave a burst. It missed.

The Boche answered with two bursts. I banked and slipped away. The Boche nosed after me, sending out bullets all the while. Two other planes were taxiing across the ground. They would be up soon!

I had to do something swiftly, or not at all. I banked around, headed towards the photo plane, got it sighted and pressed my trigger again. But nothing happened! I had run through the last of my ammunition with the previous burst. I stuck my nose down. The Boche photo plane came after me, right on my tail. I stood up. in my seat, looked at my gun hopelessly. Looked back over my shoulder. The Boche plane was almost on me. The pilot was grinning. His propeller was almost gnawing at my tail surfaces. But there were no shots.

A sudden idea hit me. I reached up, wrenched the empty ammunition drum from my Lewis. Without waiting I hurled it back over my head. The propeller blast carried it straight back. I heard a chattering thud, then a hissing plop. I looked back over my shoulder. The drum had shattered the Boche’s prop. One blade had broken. The engine was wobbling in its frame. I swung out of my dive, banked up. The Boche hurtled past out of control, plunged into the earth, burst into flames.

The other Boche got up, raced me all the way to Verdun. But I beat them back. They didn’t come across after me. They turned back at the lines. That without question is my most remarkable flight.

“Night Eagle” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on April 22, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

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

Here we have a story from the December 1933 issue of Sky Fighters. In Night Eagle Cruickshank tells a tale of Squadron Twenty tasked with taking out a German ammo dump and meeting with little success.

Johnny Blair was all set to smash the german ammo dump to smithereens—but his bombs proved to he duds!

For more great tales by Harold F. Cruickshank, check out Sky Devil: Hell’s Skipper—All along the Western front, everyone was out to get The Sky Devil’s Brood! There was no better flight in France. Led by Captain Bill Dawe, the famous Yank ace known to all of France as the Sky Devil, the brood consisted of Chuck Verne, Mart Bevin, Slim Skitch and Slug Walton. The crimson devil insignia on their silver Spads brought fear to any German pilot unlucky enough to meet them in the air. But the Sky Devil’s greatest enemy might just be his own C.O., Major Petrie, who had been railroaded into command of 120 Squadron over Dawe’s head. Jealous of Dawe’s popularity, Petrie will do anything to bring down “The Sky Devil’s Brood!”

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major Raoul Lufbery

Link - Posted by David on April 20, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it’s the inimitable Major Raoul Lufbery’s Most Thrilling Sky Fight!

Raoul Lufbery was already famous when America entered the War. For some time he was the mechanic of Marc Pourpe, famous French flyer. Pourpe was killed in aerial combat. Lufbery who was with the Foreign Legion, asked to take his place in order to avenge his death. The French army, defying usual procedure sent him to join Escadrille de Bombardmente V. 102, where he made a distinguished record.

When the La Fayette Escadrille was formed, he became one of the seven original members of that famous air squadron—and, as it proved ultimately, became the most distinguished, winning his commission as a sous-lieutenant.

When America entered the War he was transferred to the American Air Service and made a major, refusing, however, to take command of a squadron. When he was killed at Toul. Lufbery was officially credited with 17 victories. The story below was told to a Chicago newspaper correspondent a few days before his death at Toul airdrome

 

THREE AVIATIKS (?) WITH ONE SHOT

by Major Raoul Lufbery • Sky Fighters, December 1933

YOU ASK me my most memorable flight? Let me think a minute. Ah, I have it! It was the day at Luxeuil soon after we got our new Nieuports, the day the great air armada bombed Karlsruhe on the Rhine.

With Prince, De Laage, Masson, I took off from the drome at Luxeuil. We climbed all the time. Below us was the formation of French and British bombers we were to escort. Above were great masses of clouds. We went up through them, looking for Boche on top. But, there were none. That is, I saw none, but I felt that I was being watched.

I glanced up suddenly. Just in time! A three-seater Aviatik was diving on me. My companions had gone ahead. I turned back quickly, making believe I had not seen the Aviatik. I wanted the pilot to come closer before I started shooting.

The Boche tracer screamed over my head. I moved the stick, sent my Nieuport into a screeching chandelle. The black Aviatik whirled past me, tracer streams spouting like fountains. I straightened out, my fingers going tight on the gun trips. I dived, got the Aviatik in range, let go with a long burst while I feathered the controls, making my tracer stream weave. But the Boche pilot was no amateur. He slipped away.

His bullets shattered my compass. The alcohol in the bowl spurted, clouding my goggle glasses. I shoved them up on my forehead. The alcohol sprayed in my eyes, burned. I blinked. All I could see was red. I was blind! But I heard the Boche tracer ripping through my wings. I dived, then maneuvered crazily. I shook my head, threw off one mitten, wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. All the time I was weaving my stick, diving and zooming alternately, to give an erratic target. My eyes began to clear and I looked out overside.

I saw three Aviatiks then. All black, all shooting at me. I maneuvered some more, managed to get my guns lined on one of them. I pressed the gun trips quickly. My tracer streamed out in a blue haze. All three Aviatiks tumbled over in the sky and fell down at once. I banked, went circling after them to see that they crashed. It was only when I was almost to the ground, that I saw it was only one Aviatik that had crashed.

My eyes, blurred by compass alcohol, had tricked me. There was only one Aviatik where I had seen three. I got only one when I thought I had three. But I was happy enough,
anyway.

That one Aviatik might have got me if—I had not been so lucky.

« Previous PageNext Page »