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“Famous Sky Fighters, January 1934″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on March 14, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

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

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

The January 1934 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features America’s first Ace Lt. Douglas Campbell of the 94th Aero Squadron, observer Captain J.H. Hedley, and the incomparable Baron Manfred von Richthofen!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features American Ace Major George Vaughn, the R.F.C.’s Lt. Malloch, and the great Major Oswald Boelcke. Don’t miss it!

“The Other Cockpit” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by David on February 23, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the prolific pen of Mr. Robert J. Hogan—the author of The Red Falcon and Smoke Wade as well as G-8 and his Battle Aces! In fact, all three of those characters had a published story the same month this tale was published in The Lone Eagle—March 1934. In “The Other Cockpit”, Hogan gives us the story of Bat Benson, a blow-hard observer pilot that blames all his short comings on his observer. That is until he comes up against his latest observer who sets him straight!

Bat Benson, Flight Leader, Always Panned His Observers—But Lieutenant Nash Just Wouldn’t Take It!

“The Lone Eagle, February 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 17, 2018 @ 10:21 pm in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the February 1934 issue, Frandzen has a British Bristol monoplane taking on a cornered German L.V.G.!

The Story of the Cover

THE planes pictured on this th_LE_3402month’s cover are the Bristol monoplane, one of the prettiest little jobs turned out by the famous British and Colonial Aeroplane Co. The German ship is an L.V.G. type C.V.

High above the ground, against a background of blue, these two planes have met. The German pilot was heading back into German territory when the prowling Bristol pilot hopped the German. The Bristol, only rating one gun, was outclassed in armament at the start of the scrap by the L.V.G. which had two guns in perfect working order; one Spandau up front and a Parabellum at the back pit.

For ten or fifteen minutes the two guns on the L.V.G. have kept the Bristol at bay, but the L.V.G. being the slower and bulkier of the two has been more or less driven into maneuvers by the Bristol. And after each maneuver the German has found himself closer to the Allied lines. Also he has been forced to allow his ship to lose considerable altitude.

Over No Man’s Land

They have passed over No Man’s Land with its writhing lines of battered trenches and shell-torn fields. The Allied pilot signals the German to land—gives him to understand that he will be given a safe passage to the ground. The reply from Fritz and his observer is an assorted spray of slugs.

“O.K.,” the Allied pilot yells. And slamming the gas into the hungry carburetor he starts to really do his stuff.

The Bristol slashes back and forth across the back of the L.V.G. like a fighting shepherd dog ripping the hide from a bulldog’s back. In and out of ring-sights— short bursts—few of them, but effective. The German observer shudders, claws at his chest and stiffens, then slumps against the ring of his pit, mortally wounded.

Little Chance of Escape

The German pilot knows now that his tail is unprotected; his chances of escape amount to very little. Still, that small chance is better than nothing. He kicks his ship around and blasts at his enemy, his Spandau hammering out sizzling slugs.

Far below, carefully hidden from keen-eyed Boche airmen, a battery of Yank anti-aircraft guns have been trained on the aerial combatants.

Suddenly the commanding officer sees the Bristol dive away from the spurting gun of the German plane.

“Fire!” barks the artillery officer.

The drone and roar of the fighting planes is drowned by the sharp bark of the “75s.”

The Bristol pilot coming out at the top of a loop sees two blossoms suddenly burst on either side of the L.V.G. He pours a steady stream of lead into the German plane.

An Exciting Moment

That is the spot in the fight pictured on the cover; just that one moment when the unlucky German is beautifully bracketed by a couple of archie bursts and is getting a broadside from the Allied Vickers gun. One second later the German raises his hands above his head. The Bristol closes in on his tail. The anti-aircraft guns cease firing.

“Just in time for lunch, Fritz,” chuckles the victor. He points toward a cleared space flanked by tent hangars far below. The German nods solemnly, shrugs his shoulders—and obeys orders.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, February 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“The Lone Eagle, January 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 5, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the fourth issue from January 1934, Frandzen has a German Halberstadt smashing into the undercarriage of a French Breguet—with dire consequences.

The Story of the Cover

SMASH! A crackup in the air! th_LE_3401 That is the picture on this month’s cover.

A shaved second before the collision there were two trim ships battling each other high above the war-torn fields—two ships piloted by airmen intent on blasting each other into oblivion. Vickers, Lewis, and Spandau slugs have slashed back and forth across the heavens.

The big Breguet with its wing span of forty-seven feet is not as maneuverable as the small Halberstadt scout with a span of only twenty-eight feet. But the Breguet’s handicap is offset by its rear gunner, who has an office unequalled for visibility. On either side of his pit he has Cellon windows.

There is a hole in the floor that he can see through and fire through if necessary. Therefore the blind spot under his tail is not as vulnerable as in ordinary two-seaters.

A Dangerous Opponent

The small Halberstadt has had a taste of the observer’s fire when sneaking in from behind to make the hoped for kill. The ship the German pilot thought was an easy victim has turned out to be a dangerous opponent.

Twice the German pilot has barged in from in front. Each time a stream of Vickers’ slugs drenched his ship. One of those hot, whistling messengers of death has slashed into his shoulder. Not a fatal wound, but a painful one. A wound that causes his flying to become jerky and erratic.

Another Angle of Attack

Mad clear through from being bested in a sky duel with a lumbering two-seater the German pushes the nose of his ship down. He starts to slither out of the fight, then he suddenly changes his mind. There is one angle of attack he has not tried; that one is coming up under the blunt nose of the Breguet. Coming up with a brace of Spandaus churning out hot steel.

His Halberstadt shudders as he pulls it out of its dive into a loop. Up swings the nose. He presses his gun trips. A short stutter from one gun, then it jams.

The other gun is silent—its ammo exhausted. Then directly in front of his blazing eyes looms the undercarriage of the Breguet; six husky steel members holding the axle and wheels—the strongest under construction of any Allied two-seater. Too late the German yanks on the stick to pull out of danger.

And This Is What Happens

Smash—his prop chews into the tough steel struts. His top left wing snaps—rips off—his prop flies to pieces, as does the undercarriage of the Breguet.

Both ships will get to earth; but one will be a wingless fuselage holding a doomed German pilot. The Breguet, minus wheels, can come down under its own power, flatten out and take the ground on its chest. It will be a rough landing but it is a ten to one chance that those two Yanks will be in the air again in a few days. They will be on the job—looking for trouble and overconfident Boche pilots.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, January 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

Silent Orth returns in “Shooting Star” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on January 12, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

ORTH is back! Silent Orth—ironically named for his penchant to boast, but blessed with the skills to carry out his promises—takes on four of Germany’s greatest Aces! Hauptmann Kruger, Weisskopf, Buchstabe and Braunstein. Their insignia are, in the order named, a crimson splash on the sides of the fuselage, representing blood; a hooded figure carrying an enemy’s head in his hands; the opened Book of Life with blank lines, presumably to hold the names of condemned enemies; and a comet with a tail of fire! From the pages of the September 1934 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s Silent Orth in “Shooting Star!”

One man against four—and those four among the mightiest Aces of Germany—in a rip-roaring sky yarn that packs a mighty punch!

“Talons of the “Dove”" by Harold F. Cruickshank

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THIS week we have a story by another of our favorite authors—Harold F. Cruickshank! Cruickshank is popular in these parts for the thrilling exploits of The Sky Devil from the pages of Dare-Devil Aces, as well as those of The Sky Wolf in Battle Aces and The Red Eagle in Battle Birds. He wrote innumerable stories of war both on the ground and in the air. Here we have a tale of Lt. Harcourt Bryson Dovely, recently sent up to “C” flight at 78th Pursuit Squadron where he has become Captain Dave Dillon’s problem For Lt. Dovely seems more interested in the plants on the ground than the Huns chasing him in the sky. But maybe he’ll surprise them all and sho him that this dove is really an eagle! From the October 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Talons of the “Dove”"—

Dovely was the queer egg of “C” Flight—But he sure knew his botany!

“The Jerry Cracker” by C.M. Miller

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THIS week we have a story from the pen of C.M. Miller! Miller is known to Age of Aces readers as the author behind Chinese Brady, aa old war horse who’s fought in most every scrap there’s been. Here he presents a tale of a green pilot, Emmett Ralston, just up from training who can’t wait to get at the Huns! Problem is, circumstances seem to be conspiring against him.

You Can’t Graft Wings On A Prison Bunk, Or Bars Won’t Make A Fuselage—But Ralston Wanted A Crack At The Huns And No Prison Built Will Hold An-Ace-To-Be.

“Orth’s Flight Against Time” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on October 13, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

ORTH is back! Silent Orth—ironically named for his penchant to boast, but blessed with the skills to carry out his promises—takes on a perilous mission to bomb a German ammunition dump. Using all the tricks and flying skills up his sleeve, Orth races to drop his bombs before the entire German Air force comes down on his neck. From the pages of the August 1934 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s “Orth’s Flight Against Time!”

Follow An Intrepid Fighting Pilot Over the German Lines on a Perilous Mission in this Exciting Story of the War-Torn Heavens!

“Flaming Death” by Frederick C. Painton

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THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton. In “Flaming Death” Painton gives us a pulse-stirring war-air novelette—”B” Flight’s mascot, Babe Norwood, the squadron’s youngest flyer, is shot down with incendiary bullets! All of the fighting nations had agreed to ban their use—so rigidly were they banned that any flyer caught using them was instantly stood against the wall with barely the mockery of a drum-head court-martial. The squadron uses all avenues of the services to hunt down the culprit and bring him to justice! From the November 1934 Sky Fighters it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “Flaming Death!”

Follow a Mad Race Through Roaring Skies on the Trail of a Sinister Hun Whose Guns Spout Outlawed Bullets!

And look for a brief appearance by the squadron’s operations officer named Willie the Ink, Painton uses a similarly named character—Willie the Web—as operations officer in his Squadron of the Dead tales.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 27: Major Edward Mannock” by Eugene Frandzen

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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 one of the RFC’s most famous Aces—Major Edward Mannock!

Edward Corringham “Mick” Mannock was a pioneer of fighter aircraft tactics in aerial warfare. A British flying ace in the Royal Flying Corps and in the Royal Air Force, Mannock was credited with 61 aerial victories, the fifth highest scoring pilot of the war. Pretty good for a man with poor eyesight.

Mannock was among the most decorated men in the British Armed Forces. He was honoured with the Military Cross twice, was one of the rare three-time recipients of the Distinguished Service Order, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

He was killed July 26th 1918. His posthumous Victoria Cross summed up the man quite nicely: “This highly distinguished officer during the whole of his career in the Royal Air Force, was an outstanding example of fearless courage, remarkable skill, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice, which has never been surpassed”.

As a bonus, check out Mannock’s entry in Eddie Rickenbacker’s Hall of Fame of The Air from 1935 at Stephen Sherman’s Acepilots.com!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 25: Lt. Sumner Sewall” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on August 30, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

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

Sumner Sewall rose to be Flight Commander in the 95th Aero Squadron. He is credited with seven victories and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with oak leaf cluster, the French Legion of Honor, the Croix de guerre and the Order of the Crown of Belgium. Sewall was the first American aviator whose machine had been sent down in flames and lived to tell the tale!

After the war, he worked in a variety of jobs, including being an executive with Colonial Air Transport and a director of United Air Lines before becoming an alderman in Bath, Maine in 1933. From there he was elected to the state legislature as a representative in 1934; then senator in 1936 and being named President of the State Senate with his electoral win in 1938. All this culminated when he was elected govenor of the great state of Maine and served for two terms.

After stepping down as governor, Sewall became president of American Overseas Airlines for a year, then served as the military governor of Württemberg-Baden from 1946 to 1947. After trying for the state senate again in 1948 and finishing a distant third, Sewall moved into banking becoming the president of Bath National Bank in the 1960’s.

He passed away January 26th, 1965.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 21: Willy Coppens” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on August 16, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

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

Willy Omer François Jean Coppens de Houthulst was the Belgian Ace of Aces. He got his initial training as a soldier and officer in the cavalry division of the army. He transferred later on to the Flying Corps and began immediately to compile the record of victories that gained him top ranking among sky fighters. (a YouTube video exists that shows footage of Coopens demonstrating downing a balloon and talking about it years later.)

Because the German armies had overrun all but a narrow strip of his own country, he did all of his flying from foreign bases, usually being stationed in the sectors in Flanders occupied by the British forces. Flying foreign machines from foreign bases, he nevertheless built up a remarkable record of successful combats. When his time on the front was ended, unhappily but gloriously, he was officially credited with 32 victories and awarded practically every medal under the sun, chiefly among there were the Order of Leopold II with swords, Order of the Crown, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 with 27 Palms and 13 Bronze Lions, French Legion d’Honneur, Serbian Order of the White Eagle, British Distinguished Service Order, British Military Cross, and French Croix de Guerre with 2 Palms!

After the war, Coppens served as a military attaché to France, Britain, Italy and Switzerland. He retired in 1940 to Switzerland, where he spent his time organising resistance work and marrying. His war memoirs, Days on the Wing was published in 1931 and was subsequently revised and re-issued in paperback forty years later in 1971 with the title Flying in Flanders.

In the late 1960s he returned to Belgium and lived his last five years with fellow Belgian ace Jan Olieslagers’s only daughter until his death in 1986. He was 94.

Silent Orth Returns in “Single Action” by Lt. Frank Johnson

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IT’S been a few months, but Silent Orth is back! Silent Orth—ironically named for his penchant to boast, but blessed with the skills to carry out his promises—comes up against a trio of deadly marksmen who manage to take down their victims with but a single bullet! Orth must take down all three before fresh new recruits arrive the next day—The problem is, Orth has vowed to take each of them out with a single shot. From the July 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s Silent Orth in “Single Action!”

Silent Orth Goes Gunning for Three German Flyers Whose Diabolical Tactics Call for Quick Reprisal!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 20: Captain Elliot White Springs” by Eugene Frandzen

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

Captain Elliot White Springs was one of the first to enlist in the flying school established at Princeton when the United States entered the World War. He was sent to England, where he had varied training in British aviation schools. And on to France in May 1918 in Billy Bishop’s 85 Squadron, RFC! After recoving from wounds recieved at the end of June 1918 he was reassigned to the 148th Aero Squadron—although an American Squadron, it was still under the operational control of the RFC.

Springs is credited with 16 victories and was awarded both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Cross. After the war, Springs returned home to work in the family textile mill—Springs Cotton Mills and wrote nine books that were mainly on his flying and war experiences. Most notable among them are Warbirds: The Diary of an Unknown Aviator, Nocturne Militaire and Warbirds and Ladybirds.

His post war life is excellently covered at Mike Culpepper’s The Shrine of Dreams.

Springs returned to service in the U.S. Army Air Corp during the Second World War, after which he came home and continued to run Springs Cotton Mills until shortly before his death of pancreatic cancer in August 1959. Springs was 63.

(Editor’s Note: Although Flying Aces has gone to a bedsheet sized publication with this issue, the feature is still being done in the two page format of the pulp-sized issues. As such, we have reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Ritter von Schleich

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Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have German Flyer Ritter von Schleich’s most thrilling sky fight!

Hauptmann Ritter von Schleich was one of the least known, but nevertheless, one of the greatest and most successful of the German war birds. A nobleman by birth, he was educated for service in the army beginning with his early childhood. When the war broke out he was an officer in the Uhlans, the most aristocratic branch of the German Army. After transferring to the flying corps, he served some time as an observer, before learning to become a pilot himself; paralleling in that respect the career of Baron Manfred von Richthofen, who preceeded him as an officer of Uhlans.

War has its humorous moments as well as its many tragic ones. At least it would seem so after reading the account of the German flying captain, who took a captured Allied plane and rode the battle skies in company with an enemy patrol, the only instance upon record when it was known to be done.



by Captain Ritter von Schleich, Imperial Flying Corps • Sky Fighters, July 1934

THE DAY before this, my most thrilling day in the air took place. My staffel had forced a young, inexperienced French pilot to land his latest model Spad pursuit plane intact behind our own lines.

After painting a black cross on it in the place of the circular cocarde of the Allies I decided it would be great fun to take it on a flight over the enemy lines. Fortunately, my staffel had forced it to land with almost a full supply of ammunition, so I had plenty of bullets for the Vickers guns. I phoned our anti-aircraft batteries and informed them of my plans so they would not bother me.

After taking off, I headed for Verdun. Our own Archies let me pass unmolested. When I slid across the lines, the Allied Archies did the same thing. I encountered a single enemy aircraft on patrol over Verdun, but he waved at me and passed on. I laughed and waved back, then swung about and headed for the Argonne. Over the Argonne I ran into the tail end of a formation of five Spads who were sweeping along parallel with the lines at 10,000 feet.

I goosed up my engine and took my place at their rear, flying along behind them and following the leader’s signals as well as I could. Suddenly they banked and flew over my own lines. I went in with them, still keeping my place in the formation.

As I flew along I wondered what would have happened if the leader really knew who it was tailing along at the rear of his flight. It was a sad thought, though. It certainly would have been curtains for me if those Spad pilots had suddenly turned and charged me.

We had gone about five miles behind our own lines when I decided that I was not
giving our Archie gunners any breaks at all. They had been directed not to fire at my plane, hence could not fire at the others in the formation without danger of getting me.

I banked off suddenly, went into a half roll, then dived to 6,000 feet. Our Archie gunners opened up then with a terrific barrage. The Spad pilots maneuvered then to escape it. The leader wheeled, saw me going down, caught sight of the black cross on my Spad for the first time, I guess, and came tearing down after me.

At 3,000 feet he let me have it—a heavy burst that forced me to duck swiftly. Now, that he had attacked me, I felt that I would not be taking advantage of my trick, so I maneuvered into shooting position and fired back.

We went at it hammer and tongs. I swept by him so close one time that I could see the angry expression on his face. We went round and round. Bullets nicked my Spad, but they did not come close to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his mates up above come streaking down to join the fun. I knew I had to do something quick or be in an awful pickle. I zoomed, half rolled, came down at my opponent with both Vickers blazing. The burst was effective. He sagged in his pit. The Spad went floating down in an uneven spiral.

I followed down until it crashed, then went hedge hopping over the field for my staffel drome, with all of the speed I could get from my captured Spad. Our Archie gunners kept my pursuers so high they could not reach me.

It was my twentieth victory. I got official credit for it later. Yes, under the circumstances I am sure it was my most thrilling sky fight.

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