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“Famous Firsts” April 1932 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 13, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Famous Firsts” which ran frequently in the pages of War Aces. “Famous Firsts” was an illustrated feature much along the lines of Barrett’s “Is That a Fact?” that was running in War Birds, only here the facts were all statements of firsts. And like “Is That a Fact?” in War Birds, this feature was also taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The April 1932 installment, from the pages of War Aces, features Lt. Alan McLeod, The Sopwith Tabloid, and the Number One Battle Squadron!

Next Wednesday Barrett features George Washington (who witnessed the first Air Journey in America—really), The 94th Squadron, the 185th Pursuit Squadron and The Second Balloon Company!

“Bombing Richthofen’s Drome” by Paul J. Bissell

Link - Posted by David on August 19, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present “Bombing Richthofen’s Drome”—The story behind the cover of Paul Bissell’s April 1932 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the April 1932 cover Bissell put us right in the action as the planes of Squadron 100 circle over Richthofen’s drome, bombs exploding down below!

Bombing Richthofen’s Drome

th_FA_3204IT IS April of ‘17. Above, a full moon shines from an almost cloudless sky. Below, the landscape spreads away to the east—dark, except where a faint glimmer traces the twisting course of a river. To the west, against the horizon, continuous flashes show the progress of the battle of Arras, raging in its full fury.

There men lie in trenches, waiting in mud and slime for the signal which, at dawn, will send them from their meagre protection into that hail of bullets sweeping across No-Man’s-Land. Here, high in the air, all seems peaceful. Only the droning of many motors tells that death is on the wing. Death in the form of a dozen or more planes, each bearing the blue, white and red circles of the British Air Service on its wings; each carrying its little bunch of “bouquets” slung carefully in their racks underneath—”bouquets” to be presented to Richthofen’s Jagdstaffel II at its home airdrome at Izel le Hameau.

Suddenly the squadron leader, sensing rather than actually seeing what he knows to be his objective, cuts his motor and, tipping up one wing, descends in a wide, easy spiral so that he may more carefully check against his map the few faintly visible landmarks below. The other pilots, too, have cut their motors, hoping that there is a chance of getting down a bit before their singing wires will give them away. They do not know that already word of their approach has been given, that the searchlights and defenses are already manned by tense and eager foes waiting for that signal which will turn the quiet night into an inferno.

ONE thousand—two thousand—three thousand feet the leader drops, spiraling slowly. His companions, maintaining a much flatter glide, circle about the airdrome, holding their elevation until the leader can find his objective and drop his phosphorus bombs to light up their target.

Now, when he is scarcely a thousand feet up, a siren screams from the ground; a brilliant beam of light stabs the night—another, then still others, all sweeping the sky searchingly until one, finding its prey, stops suddenly, and the others quickly focus with it on the old British F.E. 2B. Instantly the sharp bark of archies shatters the stillness. On the ground, men dash from barracks and hangars. Hoarse orders are sharply given, and though the range is still too great, machine guns are already rattling nervously.

On, with never a waver, comes the old British crate—slowly gliding in, as surely and quietly as if she were coming down to land in her own airdrome. Down, down—five hundred feet. Now she is directly over the airdrome. The observer can be seen clearly in the white, merciless gleam of the searchlights, peering over the side—awaiting his moment.

They level off, one hundred and fifty feet up, and from the under wing of the plane comes a dark rush earthward. Men dive for shelter, and an instant later all hell breaks loose. The whole field is lighted up with the flaming brilliance of the burning bomb. Two hangars are ablaze. Shrapnel and flaming onions scream through the night. Other bombs crash, and the machine-gun fire is incessant.

NOW the other planes can be seen, diving straight in, or swinging in a wide circle to take their places in the parade of terror and death. One after another they come through the terrific barrage, and with deadly aim drop their bombs into the German quarters. One terrific explosion follows another. Hoarse screams echo as some poor devil is blown to bits.

Above, the motors are roaring full on, as the planes circle again and again to drop the last of their deadly missiles.

After all, it is only a matter of minutes. Destruction has come and passed, leaving in its wake burning hangars, dead and maimed bodies, and huge gaping holes in the formerly smooth carpet of the airdrome.

Already the hum of the motors can scarce be heard, as the squadron wings its way back home. Back over the front line, through another baptism of shell-fire, and then to their own field. Dawn is just graying the east as the last plane glides in safely. Not a machine but is torn by shrapnel. Wings are riddled with bullet holes. But Squadron 100, of the R.F.C., has bombed Richthofen and come back without the loss of a ship or a man!

The Ships on The Cover
“Bombing Richthofen’s Drome”
Flying Aces, April 1932 by Paul Bissell

“F.O.B. Berlin” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by David on January 18, 2019 @ 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, Smoke Wade and G-8 and his Battle Aces!

Colonel Brant leaves orders to not touch the new D.H.s while he’s gone—problem is he left that order with Captain MacRay who neglects to tell Major Nelson Wellington Van Parker Jones, who’s desire is to be the first to fly a D.H. over the lines. Unfortunately it’s right into the path of von Strohm’s Fokkers! From the pages of the April 1932 Flying Aces, it’s Robert J. Hogan’s “F.O.B. Berlin!”

One D.H., complete with brand-new Liberty motor, and one American major in good condition—delivered by hand at Germany’s door! Who says there isn’t such a thing as being too generous?

The Bridge Bombers

Link - Posted by David on August 18, 2013 @ 3:02 pm in

Back with another of Frederick Blakeslee’s “The Story Behind The Cover.” This time we’re featuring Blakeslee’s cover for the April 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces. Another of his nighttime covers that are so striking and only seem to appear in the first year of Dare-Devil Aces’ 15 year run. So, without further ado, “The Bridge Bombers” The Story Behind the Cover by Federick Blakeslee…

th_DDA_3204THERE is a river in northern France which a certain German army corps will never forget. Every bridge had been blown up and the French had made a strong resistance from the south bank for two days. German intelligence discovered a weak spot in the defense, however, and here they determined to cross at night.

Soon after dark Boche engineers began their work. Huge guns came out of concealment and were hurried to the riverside. The bridges, which were being built six at once, seemed to fairly leap across and as quickly as they were completed the troops started to march over them. It was then that things began to happen. The Germans became conscious of a pulsation which quickly became a rumble, then a roar, as two squadrons of fighting Scouts swept down upon them, spraying the bridges with lead and dropping small bombs. The Jerries broke and ran in both directions.

Then came the bombers, dropping high explosives, blowing men and bridges to kingdom come. In the meantime a hot ground fire started to drive back those Germans who had succeeded in reaching the south bank. As soon as the low-flying planes had gone, French artillery opened on the enemy who remained on the north bank. The damage by infantry, artillery and planes was terrific and all but annihilated a complete army corps.

The Germans eventually crossed the river, but at a tremendous price. Later they were to return to that river, as eager to get to the north bank as they had been to get to the south.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Bridge Bombers: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee (April 1932)

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