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“War’s Youngest Ace Downs Voss” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on January 18, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers 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 October 1932 cover Bissell put us right in the action as Rhys-Davids downs Werner Voss!

War’s Youngest Ace Downs Voss

th_FA_3210YOUTH, winged youth. Youth, flying to meet death.

In all the strange chapters that came from the war there is nothing more incredible than the youthfulness of its air heroes.

23 years old—a major. Officially credited with seventy-five victories in individual combat.

22 years old—a captain. Internationally known for aggressive bravery, the idol of his nation, and a price on his head, dead or alive.

21 years old—a lieutenant. With more than twoscore victories to his credit. Decorated by nations and feted by kings.

And so it went, on down—20 years—19 years—18 years—and there it stops—officially! But listen:

“And you,” said the recruiting sergeant to a glad-faced youngster who stood, bright-eyed, in front of him. “What do you wish?”

“I’ve come to enlist, sir,” replied the boy.

“Enlist, is it? And do you think it’s a kindergarten in France we be asending the lads to?”

“No, sir. I mean to fight,” was the quiet answer.

For an instant the sergeant studied the serious eyes before him. “And your age, my boy?”

“Fift—I mean eighteen, sir.”

“Eighteen, eh,” growled the sergeant, shaking his head as he reached for an enlistment blank. “Do you know what you’re doing, sonny?”

“Righto, sir.”

“Righto, it is then. And eighteen years ye be, though if you’re eighteen, Mister Methusaleh is my name. What’s your name, youngster?”

“Rhys-Davids, sir,” he replied, and a school lad had started on the road to glory, death and fame.

It was early autumn of seventeen, and the 56th Squadron, R.F.C., was in the thick of it. This famous squadron almost daily battled Richthofen and the best of his “gentlemen.” Fought them through the entire war to a credit of 411 planes downed—but not without themselves adding many famous names to the already long list of those who died for England. Included in this list was the name of their famous commander, McCudden, with fifty-eight victories to his personal credit.

Here, with this outfit, was the lad who had come to France “meaning to fight.” And fight he had. Never was there a pilot more willing or eager for a scrap. He would attack recklessly, even though outnumbered, and in a dogfight he became a madman—a madman dealing death to the enemy. And then he would return to his drome to become all boy again. A happy boy, with pets—birds that sang to him—pups that “Waited each day for his return—and tame rabbits that nipped off the shoots in the little garden behind his shack and nibbled greens, from his hand.

Already more than a score of German. had fallen before his fire. Schaffer, of “Richthofen’s Own,” had fought his last fight against this youngster. But it was on September 23, 1917, that he gained his most famous victory.

THE squadron was on patrol, protecting some bombers, when off to one side were seen two German planes. It did not seem likely that they would attack, as the English squadron numbered more than a dozen of Bristols, Camels and S.E.Ss. That is, it did not seem likely until, by the black-and-white-checkered fuselage it was seen that one of the Germans was Lieutenant Werner Voss.

This was one adversary that the Allies held in the greatest respect. Already both his plane and name were known all up and down the Front. He was always looking for combats, and fought generally over Allied territory, which could not be said of Richthofen. And with forty-eight victories over the Allies, Voss, himself of most humble origin, was a serious rival of the noble-born baron.

Indeed, records seem to show that Voss, feeling himself in every way the equal of his rival as an ace, had refused to be the tail protector to Richthofen and, on at least one occasion, when the victories of Voss had reached a number almost equal to those of the Rittmeister himself, the High Command had seen fit to transfer the mere “Lieutenant” to a less active sector, where opportunities for combat were fewer.

With such an opponent as this, the Britishers knew that attack might be expected, and when, a moment later, a patrol of Albatrosses appeared, no one was surprised to see the checkered triplane dive in headlong. Voss’ companion, flying to one side and slightly behind, was almost immediately shot down. And when the Albatrosses refused to accept battle, Voss was left to his fate.

It was an unequal fight, though after the German had winged his way through the first terrific rain of fire from all the other ships, it was Rhys-Davids who engaged him in a duel. Around and around they tore, with Voss, hemmed in on all sides, hoping only to sell his life as dearly as possible. The Fokker tripe, with its German pilot, had met its equal in the little S.E.5 flown by the English boy!

The British plane turned and twisted, meeting maneuver with maneuver, until at last the looked-for opening came and the checkered fuselage for a moment was full in the sights. Just for an instant—but an instant that was filled with spitting lead, an instant that began that mad, twisting dive that ended near Poelcapelle for the triplane with the black crosses on its wings, and ended in eternity for the brave German ace.

Rhys-Davids followed him down to the ground. It was the game—there must be no slip. Then, with motor full on, himself untouched, he raced back to his pets.

The lad—his comrades thought he must be now almost seventeen years old—had thirty-two unofficial victories to his credit, and those gods that be must have laughed as they wrote his name on a shell. No German airman carried it. But an Archie battery, a month later, shot it from the ground. Ten thousand feet up it found him.

Back in his shack the birds still sang in their cages and the rabbits still nibbled in the garden. But the puppies waited the return of their boy master in vain, for the war’s youngest ace had gone West.

The Ships on The Cover
“War’s Youngest Ace Downs Voss”
Flying Aces, October 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“How The Aces Went West: Werner Voss” by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 16, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we’re celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Along with his cover duties for Sky Birds and Flying Aces in the mid-thirties, Mayshark also contributed some interior illustrations including a series he started in the April issue of Sky Birds that would run until the final issue that December—How The Aces Went West! It was an informative feature that spotlighted how famous Aces died. For the July 1935 issue of Sky Birds, Mayshark gives us “How Werner Voss Went West!”

How The Aces Went West
“How The Aces Went West: Werner Voss

by C.B. Mayshark (Sky Birds, July 1935)

“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.)