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“Fish and Gyps” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on August 24, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” That sound can only mean one thing—that marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back causing more trouble than he’s worth! That miscreant of Calamity brings down a well-known Von and the higher-ups feel he should be sent Stateside to go on the lecture circuit to drum up enlistees. Problem is, he only makes it as far as Jolly Ol’ England where he comes upon a Boche Zeppelin. It’s “Fish and Gyps” with a “flying cigar” for dessert! It’s another Phineas Pinkham laugh panic from the pages of the September 1936 Flying Aces!

“Hail, the Conquering Hero Comes!” To those rousing strains, the Brass Hats paraded Phineas back to the States. And so, Garrity rejoiced as peace finally reigned once more on the drome of the 9th. But how was the Major to know which way the Pinkham parade was headed? And who’d have expected the von Sputzes to supply that parade with its main “float”?

“Sky Fighters, February 1936″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on August 6, 2018 @ 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. Mr. Frandzen features a battle between a De Haviland Pusher and aGerman D.F.W. C4 on the February 1936 cover!

The Ships on the Cover

THE De Haviland planes will always th_SF_3602 be remembered in the United States by the number of D.H.s this country ordered on such a grand scale when we entered the war. The early D.H.s are not given the credit they deserve because Capt. Geoffrey De Haviland might never have had a chance to build later models if his early one had not been so good. It combatted the Fokker menace back in 1916 when the Germans had things their own way in the air. When these D.H. Pusher biplanes came along the Allied airmen began to take heart. At last they had a machine that could outfly the Fokker which was the scourge of the Front. The D.H. Pusher was similar to the earlier F.E.s but much superior in speed. They had only two bays of struts and were simplified considerably in the tail boom construction.

The British airmen in the bucket seat of the D.H. Pusher on the cover had confidence in their machine when it proudly paraded its course through the skies. They had a speedy ship with a front gun to blaze the Germans from the air when those hitherto superior, overconfident airmen darted across Allied territory for a looksee at all the preparations being made on the ground.

On this occasion they met not one of Mr. Fokker’s products but a German D.F.W. C4 (Deutsche Flugzeug Werke). This two-seater carried a 200 h.p. Benz motor. The C4 had radiators on the sides of the fuselage directly in the slipstream which made it possible to use a small radiator to run a big engine, by which trick the Germans gained efficiency. The wings were not swept back but had dihedral.

Funny-Looking, But—

Funny-looking crates, those old flying bird cages, but some pilots who flew them still brag about them and swear that it was a wonderful sensation to fly a pusher. Of course, there was the uncomfortable feeling of having a heavy engine nestling behind your seat to squash you flatter than a pancake in a crackup.

When the tractors replaced the pushers all but a few aviation experts predicted that pushers would never more waddle through the air. But along toward the end of the war the British Vickers Co. came out with a single-seater Pusher with two front guns. It was powered with a better engine than the old Pushers used and could tick off over 120 miles per hour low down; and low down was the place it did its job, right over the German trenches. It was built for ground strafing and it was a honey to fly. Again the anti-pusher crowd said “It’s a freak, a last try using an obsolete principle. There ain’t no such thing as a good pusher.”

That old Vickers Vampire was just about 
the swan song of the pushers for many 
years. And then, nearly fifteen years after
 the end of the World War the French 
Hanriot Company brought out one of the
speediest, slickest-looking fighters of the
 year, the Hanriot H-110-C1. And believe it
 or not, it was a PUSHER that could slice
 through the air at the very nice speed of
 220 m.p.h.

Lightning-Quick Action

The German D.F.W. on the cover had a pilot who had knocked down several of the earlier slower moving pushers. He saw an easy kill and got careless. One moment the D.H. Pusher was in front of him. The next it had pulled a lightning-like maneuver which no ship other than a tractor had hitherto been capable of Lewis slugs cracked and rattled into the German ship, knocking the front gun’s firing mechanism cock-eyed. Then the stream of lead slid back and ripped a section of canvas from the observer’s pit. That worthy never got in a shot, his hands were too high in the air clawing at the clouds.

The British gunner pointed towards the Allied rear lines. The German pilot nodded his head and slanted his ship down, swearing solemnly that if he ever escaped and got into the air again he’d be mighty careful to keep out of the way of pushers.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, February 1936 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Blois, Blois, Black Sheep” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on July 27, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

“HAW-W-W-W-W!” You heard right! That marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back! This time the skull-duggerian of the Ninth Pursuit Squadron, U.S. Air Force runs afoul of some brass hats and gets busted and sent to Blois—provided they can find him! It’s another sky-high Phineas mirthquake! From the August 1936 Flying Aces, it’s “Blois, Blois, Black Sheep.”

Phineas hadn’t figured on a flight from the back of a mule instead of from the drome of the 9th. And the gallant Garrity hadn’t figured on getting stuck when he put adhesive tape on his francs. Anyhow, they called out the guard. But what’s the good of jailing a Jekyll if you haven’t hamstrung the Hyde?

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Maurice Boyau

Link - Posted by David on July 25, 2018 @ 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 we have French flyer—Lieut. Maurice Boyau!

Maurice Boyau was France’s fifth ranking ace. Fonck, Guynemyer, Nungesser and Madon, all ranked above him in actual victories scored. Maurice Boyau combined all the best qualities of these four aces and wan in addition the most ingenious. If death had not cut short his flaming career long before the war ended, it is very possible that he might have attained the honor of being France’s ace of aces, for he had every qualification for that distinction. He was struck down when he had run his 35 victories, but not before he had won every medal within the power of his native country to bestow. These Included the Legion d’Honneur, Medaille Militaire and the Croix da Guerre, with numerous stars and palms. The following story taken from his diary gives a striking and vivid example of his ingenuity. The translator has made no attempt to polish the language of Boyau’s script, feeling that to do so would take away from the charming simplicity of the document.

 

THE BALLOON SLASHER

by Lieutenant Maurice Boyau • Sky Fighters, September 1936

DOWNING enemy avions is one thing. It requires a certain technique that one learns only by experience. I have much experience in such fighting up to date with considerable luck thrown in. But until today I had never challenged any Boche Drachens or the anti-aircraft crews ordered to guard them. In order to augment my battle experience I decided to tackle one of those big rubber cows which are much like a youngster’s carnival gas balloon of grotesque shape held with a string.

I went out on a solitary balloon hunting expedition behind the Boche lines. But as was my usual habit before taking off I filled the side pocket of my petite Spad with hand grenades. These were mainly, of course, to destroy my own machine if I should be forced to land behind the enemy lines. Today I used them for a much different purpose, a most unusual purpose….

Allons! It is of no interest what I am writing. I should be specific, otherwise there is no point in keeping a diary. I proceed to the action.

A Dot in the Sky

I flew for almost a full hour before finding what I set out for. Finally I spied one, just a grey, elongated dot in the blue and white sky, maybe ten kilometers ahead and to my right.

I swing up on each wing alternately to search the sky lanes for hidden enemy aircraft. But I see none, so I straighten out and make for the area behind the Drachen. I hope to surprise by attacking from the rear in the glow of the sun. My strategy is successful, for I almost reach it in a silent dive with throttled motor before the crew sees me.

The archies start firing and the puffs blow around me. I have my sights on the balloon though, and press my triggers. Sacre! My mitrailleuse! It jams with the first shot. I chandelle and try to clear, but it is useless. The breech is plugged tight. The archie shells puff like corn in a popper! Only the kernels are black instead of white. I struggle vainly.

The Drachen begins to descend in swift, jerky movements. The winch on the ground is hauling it in. The archie fire intensifies, and I hear the flutter of machine-gun bullets from the ground as they sift through the fabric of my wings.

Defeat is Unthinkable

I have come many kilometers into enemy skies and have spent a whole hour in search of this Drachen. To return in full defeat is unthinkable. Suddenly I think of my little souvenirs in the side pocket. The grenades! I pull one from the pocket and dive again through the hail of fire. Pinching the stick between my knees I pull the firing pin with one hand and toss the grenade with the other.

But I miss by many meters! Two, three times I climb off, only to return and dive with the same trick. But each time I miss. And then I have only one grenade left. The Drachen is almost to the ground, and the gunfire is terrific. My poor petite Spad has been riddled like a sieve.

Ah! A sudden thought strikes me. “Why not?” I say. “The tail skid is like a knife. It’s a steel shoe. . . .”

I chandelle again, dive down for another attempt. But this time I hold my dive until my avion almost touches its nose to the quivering Drachen. At the last moment I pull back swiftly, kicking my tail down and hear nothing, feel nothing. But when I look back over my shoulder I see that I have slashed the Drachen with my tail skid. Some of the balloon netting is dangling from my skid and whipping backwards.

I renverse swiftly, take my last grenade. As I sweep over the sliced balloon, it spreads apart like a cleaved sausage. I toss the grenade into the yawning chasm. Over my shoulder I see a burst of orange-red flame, then a blanket of smoke. The huge envelope fails over lazily in the sky and goes streaking down.

It is my first balloon victory. And to think that I win it with jammed guns. C’est un miracle!

“Sky Fighters, January 1936″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on July 9, 2018 @ 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. Mr. Frandzen features the trusty Sopwith 1½ Strutter whose pilot has been injured in a battle with a couple of German Rumpler C1’s on the January 1936 cover!

The Ships on the Cover

THE British Sopwith 1½ Strutter was th_SF_3601 one of those ships that rated so high early in the war that all the Allied governments were scrambling to get them for their own air forces. T.O.M. Sopwith began making planes that did things back in 1912. His seaplane scout won the Schneider Cup at Monoca. His “Bat boat” was so good that the Germans bought them before the war.

The amphibian “bat boat” had wheels which could be raised or lowered long before the days of modern retractable landing gear. Then came the Sop Tabloid which so revolutionized airplane design in 1913 that it became the grandpa of all fighting scout machines of the war. All the best features of former Sopwith models had been incorporated in the Tabloid.

In 1915 the Sop 1½ Strutters came out with the goods. They carried a synchronized gun firing through the propeller. The gun and the plane were a Sopwith team as the Sopwith Aviation Co. developed the synchronization gear which made the teamwork possible. The 1½ Strutter was a two-seater, although they manufactured a singe seat version later.

The name 1½ Strutter came from the peculiar bracing job. The top wing was in two parts joined to a center section. To support these, short struts ran from the top of the fuselage at an angle to quite a distance out on the top wing.

Another Two-Seater

The Rumpler C1 was a two-seater also. It wasn’t much of an original idea in design as it was so directly related to the old Taube which the Rumpler Co. had manufactured under license from its originator, the Austrian Etrich. The C1 had the backswept fish-like tail of the Taube monoplanes. An exposed radiator hung in the breezes at the center part of the leading edge of the top wing.

One day back in 1916 these two-seaters, the Sop and the Rumpler got in a scrap. That is where we find them on the cover. Two Rumplers have ganged up on the Sop, which wouldn’t place the 1½ Strutter in such a bad position as it was a much superior ship and welcomed a chance to show off to the challenging Germans. The Britishers were cocky and allowed the German observer to get in a burst.

The pilot of the land 1½ Strutter suddenly groaned in an agonized breath. The observer busy swinging his Lewis on the German ship couldn’t hear the startled cry from the front pit. The ship lurched and nearly threw the amazed gunner from his cockpit. He turned his head. “What the—” he shouted and was suddenly silent. The pilot was bent over the instrument panel. With no dual controls the ship seemed doomed. There was only one thing to do.

“Hold Her Steady!”

The observer shouted “Hold her steady!” He swung out of his pit and muscled slowly up over the turtleback and grabbed a center section strut as the ship shuddered from the enemy’s fire. It rocked and swayed dangerously. Holding onto the fuselage the observer got on the left wing and inched his way to his comrade’s side. German bullets had put both the plucky pilot’s arms out of commission. He was trying to fly the plane with his legs and feet alone. His face was chalk-like, his teeth clamped tight in pain. The observer grabbed the stick and pulled up the nose. Then, as the Rumplers came in for the kill, their guns churning a drizzle of slugs into the Allied ship, he shoved the slick against the firewall. The Sop nosed over.

As the gap widened between the diving Sop and the surprised German pilots, the British anti-aircraft gunners on the ground below who had been waiting for just such a break smacked upward a curtain of screaming steel. The Rumplers’ pilots quickly turned back across their own lines.

The 1½ Strutter pulled drunkenly out 
of her dive, wobbled and did a bellyflop 
in an abandoned potato patch behind the 
lines. It took two to land her, a pilot and 
a backseat driver who said little but did
much.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, January 1936 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Scratch-as-Scratch-Can” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on June 29, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

“HAW-W-W-W-W!” That sound can only mean one thing—it’s time to ring out the old year and ring in the new with that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors—Phineas Pinkham.

According to Hoyle, the old authority on the pasteboards of ruination, there should only be one joker in a deck. But the fickle femme known as Fate does not deal her cards according to Mr. Hoyle. She sent the Rittmeister Gottfried von Bull over to Bar-Le-Duc one early morning in June 1918 with a particularly insulting missive for Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham. Phineas, Public Joker Number One, sat in front of his hut, after a blistering early patrol, striving to teach a certain canine named Rollo to say its prayers. In view of Rollo’s apparent age it was fitting that the Boonetown Spad pusher should prepare the subject for dog heaven. Add one Monk Flannigan—the Boonetown miracle man’s nemesis—to the mix and you’re holding a hand with little chance of winning. No holds are barred in another rollicking Phineas Pinkham Roar! From the July 1933 Flying Aces, it’s “Scratch-as-Scratch-Can!”

A flank movement by Flanagan started it. Then von Bull horned in. But Phineas knew that a man’s best friend is his pooch. And though it isn’t news when a dog bites a man, it certainly was when Napoleon, Josephine, Danton, and Dubarry sunk their incisors in poor Rollo.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Linke Crawford

Link - Posted by David on June 27, 2018 @ 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 we have Austrian flyer—Captain Linke Crawford!

Captain Crawford was one of the most brilliant and scintillating of all the flying aces. Most everyone knows that Captains Brumoninski and Linke were the ranking Austrian flyers and carried on a duel for top honors all through the war with first one, then the other, on top. But what most informed people do not know, is that Captain Crawford and Captain Linke were one and the same person! Son of an English father and an Austrian mother, Linke Crawford was born and raised in gay Vienna. When he began to win fame as a fighting pilot he had dropped the Crawford part of his name and was known as Captain Linke. although he was listed on the army rolls as Captain Crawford. He fell victim finally under the guns of Colonel Barker, famous Canadian ace. Up to that time, however, he had scored 27 victories and won all the awards possible from his country. The story below is taken from the archives of the Austrian Imperial Air Corps in Vienna.

 

BRINGING THEM DOWN ALIVE

by Captain Linke Crawford • Sky Fighters, July 1936

OUR Intelligence had given us word that a crack British squadron under command of one of the most famous Canadian aces was being sent overland to Italy to operate against the Austrian Imperial Air Corps.

“Very well,” I said to the high staff officer who so informed me. “I shall watch for them and try for the initial victory. It might take some of the stiffness out of their British necks to see one of their ace pilots get it in the neck the first crack out of the box.”

The Chance Soon Comes

My chance came very soon afterwards. While on patrol with my staffel we encountered the British formation flying over a narrow defile in the mountains. They were just under a bank of overhanging clouds. I sized up the situation immediately. One enemy flyer was straggling somewhat, slightly beneath and behind the others. Before their squadron leader had caught sight of me I had dived from the sun and cut off the straggler from his mates. My first burst was wide of the mark, but I zoomed up again quickly, Immelmanned, and went at him again, both guns blazing.

The enemy pilot turned and dived to get away from my fire. I laughed. I knew that narrow defile, every twist and turn of it. My quarry had dived right into it. I followed behind him, keeping just on top. My mates up above engaged with the rest or the enemy formation. I kept herding and pressing my quarry down.

Forced Landing

When he was down to 100 meters I knew I had him. Steep mountains hemmed him in on three sides. I guarded the only exit. The Britisher decided to run for it. I held steady and pressed my triggers. The fusillade of machine-gun bullets poured into his nose. I saw debris slash off and whip back in his slipstream. He banked. His motor stopped. Down he went to a forced landing.

I set down behind him and stalked over to capture pilot and machine intact. The poor fellow looked scared, then I noted he was just a boy. “Well, I guess you got me, old chappie,” he said and smiled wanly, hopelessly. Holding both hands in the air he stepped down on the ground and came toward me. The next thing I knew his machine burst out in flames. The youngster had completely disarmed me with his sickly smile and presuming salutation. I cursed myself for being tricked by him.

But first blood was ours. The initial victory was mine. I made up my mind then to tackle the British leader next time and make up for my dereliction in allowing the youngster to fire his plane.

(Editor’s note: He did—but came out second best. Barker shot him down in flames two days after this initial victory.)

“Sky Finance” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on May 25, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” That sound can only mean one thing—that marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back causing more trouble than he’s worth! That miscreant of Calamity manages believes he has a sure thing goin’, but overplays his hand andgets not only himself in hick, but practiaclly the whole of the Ninth including the Old Man! It’s a case of “cash-and-miscarry” ala Carbuncle in “Sky Finance” from the pages of the June 1936 Flying Aces!

Battling Casey, the Ninth’s famed ackemma, needed a fight trainer, so Phineas assumed the role—and he figured on assuming the roll of a couple of Limeys into the bargain. But when the leather pushers squared off, the Iowa Impresario found his man entered in the weight-lifting events. Moral: It’s easy to don the leather, but you can’t always push it.

“The Camera Kid” by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 18, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

AS PART of our Mayshark Month posts we have a rare story C.B. Mayshark had in the May 1936 issue of Dare-Devil Aces! Known for his great covers and interior illustrations, Mayshark was apparently jut as adept with the typewriter. He gives us a crackin’ yarn of hell skies. A young observation photographer that’s a whiz with the camera unfortunately freezes when the bullets start flying by. His pilot has been able to successfully cover for the kid, until a figure from the kid’s past gets wind of his affliction and sets about to bring him down!

The Kid had an eye like a hungry eagle, and could snap a picture of a mosquito doing handsprings. But alone in the clouds with the Spandaus whistling past, the Kid’s guts froze in a lump. “Yellow I am,” he cursed himself. “And I wish that I could die.” Still one man keeps his faith with the Kid and vows to bring him through—leads him on to a smashing show down, as a boy becomes a man!

“Smells, Spells, and Shells” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on April 27, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” That sound can only mean one thing—that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors is back to vex not only the Germans, but the Americans—the Ninth Pursuit Squadron in particular—as well. Yes it’s the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa himself—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham!

Wing made a whopper in 1918! They sent America’s leading ace into the same sector with Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham, who certainly had not been a shrinking violet in the fight to save the Democrats. Morever, the war correspondents were instructed to ballyhoo the aforementioned ace at the slightest provocation. He was to be built up as the foremost Boche obliterator wearing the colors of Uncle Sam, despite the fact that Phineas Pinkham had snagged a flock of honest-to-goodness aces out of the hostile pack with the finesse of a gambler in a gold rush mining camp. Something had to happen. When two champion mauling bull elks find themselves in the same woods, all the lesser wild life move out until the battle is over!

The Yank Brass Hats made a great mistake in leading an Ace when the Boonetown Joker was still in the deck. And matters got worse when the Krauts opened up with a mile-high variety of the old shell game. Only on that last play, the Heinies forgot to look under the shell!

“The Batty Patrol” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on March 30, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” That sound can only mean one thing—that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity, born on April Fool’s day and reared in raillery, an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors is back and this time the marvel from Boonetown runs for the looney bin rather than face the German’s latest and greatest invention—a bullet that can destroy a plane in one shot!

Once he got a taste of von Kruller, Phineas would be finished—according to the way the Krauts figured. But the Boonetown Prankster’s interest was in nuts, not doughnuts. And you can’t beat a combination like Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Disraeli, and Columbus when you’ve got Marshal “Carbuncle” Ney on the board of directors.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Capt. Allan R. Kingsford

Link - Posted by David on March 7, 2018 @ 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 we Australian flyer—Capt. Allan R. Kingsford!

Captain Kingsford enlisted as a simple private in the Australian Army. The troop ship carrying his contingent was torpedoed by a German submarine and he was cast adrift in a heaving sea at midnight with only a frail spar to buoy him up. He served for over a year as a Lance Corporal of Infantry in Mesopotamia, he determined upon obtaining a transfer to the Hying corps, and after many setbacks he finally was ordered for flight training and sent to England, He became pilot of the Zeppelin night patrol guarding London, later joining that strange organization, the British Independent Air Force, as a bombing pilot attached to 100 Squadron. As a member of that group which served under no army, but roved about from point to point, he took part in 270 night bombing raids and became known as the Ace of night bombers. This account of his most thrilling flight is taken from his private memoirs.

 

DESTROYING THE BOULAY AIRDROME

by Captain Allan R. Kingsford • Sky Fighters, November 1936

BOULAY! That is a name to conjure up grim thoughts. Boulay Airdrome … the home nest of the Hun Gothas that rained so much terror on Paris and London! When our C.O. told us Intelligence had discovered that the Hun Gothas were planning to put on a massive parade over Paris that bright August night and that 100 Bombing Squadron had been ordered to forestall their show, Bourdegay (my observer) and I danced with glee.

We had tried to destroy Boulay before but something had always been against us . . . bad weather, tricky engines, faulty bombs or too many enemy planes and archies for protection, that we had failed in our efforts. Still Bourdegay and I thought it could be done.

Loaded with sixteen bombs I took off with my flight at midnight and flew over the valley of the Moselle River toward Boulay 90 kilometers behind the front lines. Because of the great distance there and back (180 kilometers) I knew it would have to be a short show on a hot spot. We would have no time to waste when we got there, and we would have to go down through hell fire and brimstone to lay our iron eggs.

Lights Flash on!

Flying at a great height, masked by a convenient layer of clouds that hid our approach from the enemy, I managed to guide the formation intact right over Boulay. Our “Fees” (slang for F.F. 2B’s, the type of bomber they flew) were running perfectly that night.

Just as we appeared over the airdrome the take-off lights on the field flashed on. There were the flights of Gothas running across the field in take-off just below us! And all lit up conveniently like churches for us to pepper at!

Bourdegay hooped and yelled at me to dive down on the nearest one. I threw the Fee into a steep dive. A searchlight flashed on, another and another. The landing field went suddenly dark! The wind whined through the brace wires and struts of my diving plane like shrieking demons, A searchlight beam caught us full. Archie puffs blazed clear as Christmas lights around us. I slipped the Fee, tried to get out of that dazzling light, but the searchlight crew held us in their beam. “I’m going for them!” Bourdegay yelled, swinging his Lewis around and spewing out a long burst.

There was a dazzling flash. The searchlight seemed to explode, spread apart like a pinwheel in a million dazzling fragments. The Gotha ahead of us showed its red exhausts. I was down to three hundred feet now and almost over it. Other “Fees” were following behind me. I could hear the snort of the motors above the roar of my own. Machine-guns on the ground opened up in murderous volley, their tracer streams shooting up like light rays from a setting sun. “Pull her up!” Bourdegay yelled, bending over his bomb sights while his fingers tensed on the trips. I pulled back and he let go. A direct hit! The Gotha exploded in red flames.

I zoomed for the ceiling with all the sauce I had, managed to get up to a thousand feet before another probing finger of light caught up. Bourdegay had dropped two more pills on the way up. One set a hangar on fire. Another exploded on the field and hurled up a geyser of earth which a running Gotha tore into and up-ended on its nose.

Crashing Bullets

I slid the Fee again, but couldn’t escape the beam. Bullets crashed through my wings. Archie blasts rocked us mercilessly. I banked and zig-zagged, stood on my wingtips and dropped three hundred feet, but I couldn’t shake that light; so I determined on a ruse. I dropped a landing flare through the tube, cutting my engines at the same time. It exploded in flame beneath the plane. The Hun gunners thought they had made a direct hit on my ship. They ceased firing and the searchlight beam swung away seeking my mates.

All was bedlam now below on the earth and in the skies above. Boulay Airdrome was in flames. Fed by a fitful wind the flames leaped this way and that, igniting one hangar after another. Several of the Gothas, however, had succeeded in getting into the air.

Bourdegay spied one of these and yelled at me to go for it. He still had two bombs left.

A Fountain of Flame

I sent the Fee around in a split air turn, straightened out and streaked for the running Gotha. Just as I got over it a fountain of flame blossomed under my wings—flaming onions! Up they came like luminous dumbbells in their crazy, erratic trajectory. I lifted the nose and leaped over them, then piqued for the Gotha. Bourdegay tripped his first bomb. It missed.

But the second made a direct hit. The Gotha fell apart in the flame-ridden sky. And just in time—for a formation of night flying enemy fighters thundered in from the east, swarming around my flight like bees and attempting to cut off our return.

Boulay was destroyed, however! We had accomplished our mission. Not a Gotha reached Paris that night, nor any night thereafter. We had scotched that last parade before it began.

How Bourdegay and me got back, I don’t know. I guess we were just lucky, for most of the boys with us did not return.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell

Link - Posted by David on February 21, 2018 @ 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 we have member of the LaFayette Escadrille—Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell!

Kiffin Rockwell was a true soldier of fortune. Born and raised In Aaheville, N. Carolina, young Rockwell got the wanderlust soon after graduating from the University of Virginia. When the Germans made their surprise move on the forts of Liege, Rockwell was serving in the ranks of the Foreign Legion. For a heroic exploit in hand to hand bayonet fighting, he was awarded the Medaille Militaire. For a whole year he served with the Foreign Legion in the trenches, then transferred to the aviation and went into training at Avord. When Norman Prince formed the first American Flying Squadron in Paris, Rockwell was one of those invited to join. He proved out to be one of the best and most daring pilots of that original band. His career was cut short by his untimely death on September 23rd, 1916.

Rockwell ran up a score of three official victories before being killed in action and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with additional citation for his Medaille Militaire. The following is taken from a letter to his brother in Asheville.

 

WHY WE CALL THEM LES BOCHES

by Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell • Sky Fighters, August 1936

YOU asked why we call the Germans les Boches, or butchers, in our language. There are many reasons. I shall relate a recent experience so you can determine for yourself.

Captain Thenault, Prince and I had taken young Balsley out for his second trip over the front. We were cruising along behind the Boche lines when we suddenly found ourselves face to face with about 40 Boches. They were grouped together in a close formation but at different altitudes. On our level there were about 12 or 15 Aviatiks.

These Aviatiks had about the same speed as our Nieuports, but they carried a gunner behind the pilot. The pilot shoots as we do, but the gunner has a movable gun which enables him to fire in all directions.

A Mêlée of Battle

We were but four and on the German side of the lines, but none of us turned and ran away. For ten or fifteen minutes we flew over and around the Aviatiks, being fired at constantly, some of their bursts being at very close range. Finally we saw an opening. One of their machines raced toward our lines. The rest were behind us.

We plunged after this isolated Boche. A general mêlée resulted, for the whole swarm of Boches pounced on us, coming from above and all sides.

One of our planes dived and fell as though streaking to death. I wondered if it were Prince or Balsley. Tough in either case, I thought. Then in the mêlée I lost sight of another of our little Nieuports. Now both Prince and Balsley were gone. Only Captain Thenault and myself remained and the Boches were giving us plenty.

Thenault signalled to draw away and we ran for our lines, confident that both Balsley and Prince had been shot down.

An Exploding Bullet

We managed to run the gauntlet. Later Prince showed up. He had followed down after Balsley when he saw the youngster falling. It appeared that poor Balsley had darted in on a Boche and just as he pressed his Bowden to fire his gun, it jammed.

He swerved off to clear and just at that instant a bullet struck him in the stomach and exploded against his backbone!

Balsley’s machine went into a dive as he fainted over the stick. But the rush of air in the dive revived him. And as he had kept his feet on the rudder he was enabled to redress and land right side up. The machine, however, smashed to bits. Prince got Balsley out. Twelve pieces of the exploded bullet were removed from Balsley’s interior. Balsley will live but he will never fly again.

So, you see why they are called les Boches? This is the second time we have run into explosive bullets. First it was me, and I am not entirely recovered yet, now it is poor Balsley.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Col. William Barker

Link - Posted by David on February 7, 2018 @ 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 we have Canadian Flyer with the R.C.F.—Lieutenant Colonel William Barker’s most thrilling sky fight!

The plain unvarnished truth of William Barker’s career on two flying fronts reads more like fiction than fact. Born in the prairie province of Manitoba in 1894, he enlisted as a Private in the Canadian Army at the age of 19. He served in the cavalry before transferring to the flying corps. Barker began as a simple private. But he skyrocketed swiftly through all the grades to that of Lieut. Colonel. His training for a pilot was limited to two flights with an instructor. After that he was turned loose to begin piling up an amazing record. On October 27, 1918, he crowned this amazing record with the most astounding aerial feat of the whole war . . . fighting and escaping from a surrounding net of 6O enemy planes at the dizzy altitude of 20,000 feet.

With one leg useless, shattered by an explosive bullet, one elbow torn away by another, and two bullet wounds in his abdomen, he nevertheless maneuvered his plane in such a masterful manner that he downed 4 enemy aircraft and managed to escape to his own side of the lines. For this, his last and most terrific fight against stupendous odds, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. When he departed from the front he ranked fifth among the British Aces with 50 official victories. He was killed in an airplane accident 12 years after the war. Barker picked the following encounter as the most thrilling of his experiences.

 

WHIPPING THE FLYING CIRCUS

by Lieut. Col. William Barker• Sky Fighters, September 1935

WHEN I was assigned to the 28th Squadron, I was made a flight commander. I decided on an immediate test to prove my right to the assignment. Richthofen’s Flying Circus was operating in our area, the Hauptmann himself was away on leave, but those remaining to carry on were crack air fighters. I called my boys together for a foray over their lines.

It was late afternoon and the ceiling was less than 1,000 feet, but I picked my way across the lines by following the Memi road, vaguely discerned below by the twin rows of tall poplars on either side. Malloch, a high caste Indian, who always insisted on wearing his colorful turban with his regulation uniform, flew at my right. Fenton was at my left. Three other boys filled in the rear, 6 of us in all.

For almost an hour we dodged back and forth among clouds behind the Hun lines without having any luck. Our Sop Camels were ticking along smoothly but somewhat futilely . . . when suddenly it happened! We had slid from a cloud only to run smack into the whole Flying Circus. Malloch was closest and drew fire first, three Fokkers of dazzling hue pouncing in on him simultaneously. I split-aired to his assistance and cleaved the Hun attackers in two. But another Hun arrowed from nowhere, fastened on my tail and began pumping hot lead.

Diving for the Earth

I kicked rudder abruptly, glanced swiftly at the sky and ground, came to a sudden decision. I could spin or turn my light-engined Sop Camel on a half penny. The Fokker with its weighty Mercedes motor in the blunt nose was heavier and faster. The ceiling was low. I decided on a new adaptation of an old trick. Pushing the stick forward I dived for the all too close earth with full sauce. The Hun peppered away at my tail and I let him have it. When my lower wingtips almost touched the topmost leaves of the waving poplars I tugged the stick abruptly and went into a tight loop.

An old trick, yes. And easily countered—usually! It had been worn thin since Ball first used it two years before. But this was a new adaptation at an ungodly low altitude! The heavier Fokker couldn’t follow me. I came out sitting smack on his tail with my sights on the back of the pilot’s helmet. One Vickers burst was enough. The pilot crumpled over the controls and the Fokker fell.

I zoomed up again, just missed being hit by a tumbling Fokker coming down in flames. Fenton was going at it with two Huns. I lured one of them away by flashing my tail in his face. We went around and ’round in an ever tightening circle. The Spandau bursts swept harmlessly beneath my trucks. The Hun pilot was not able to bend his Fokker far enough to get my range. That was where our Camels were superior to the Fokkers. While circling that way I slid off on a wing nearer and nearer to the ground. When I could descend no farther I straightened out and let my antagonist line me in his sights. With his first burst I pulled up and went over in a loop to come out on the Fokker’s tail. Two bursts accounted for it. It exploded in flames. The pilot was a victim of the same trick I had pulled on the first Hun.

Four Missing Men

It was too dark now for further fighting and my squadron mates had swept away through the clouds, I could see neither friend nor enemy anywhere, so I turned homeward. Malloch was there when I landed. He reported getting one Hun. I had downed two. But four of my mates were missing! It was a sad and bitter ending to my first encounter with the Circus.

Later on, however, Fenton phoned in from a nearby field where he had been forced to land in the darkness and reported a victory. Two others had landed with him, but one of my men would never return. Fenton had seen him fall in flames behind the German lines. But I had won my first joust as a single-seater flight commander. The final score was 4 to 1 in our favor. But what pleased me most was the working out of my new tactic.

“Doin’s in the Dunes” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on January 26, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” You heard right! That marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back! And this time we find that Knight of Calamity finds himself shrieking amongst the sheiks in “Doin’s in the Dunes” from the pages of the March 1936 Flying Aces.

Foreign Legionnaires, it was true, swallowed corosive cognac without batting an eye. But they choked when the Kraut Intelligence agents added Abd-el-Fizz to their diet. It was then that the action in Morocco got fast. And it got even faster when Phineas met Beni Hazzit—and let him have it!

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