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“Baracca Leads Raid on Austrians” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on October 26, 2020 @ 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 August 1932 cover Bissell put us right in the cockpit with Baracca as his squadron bombs the Austrian Naval at Pola!

Baracca Leads Raid on Austrians

th_FA_3208“ALL ships are on the line, sir. Bombs are in racks, and they are ready to take off.” The general’s aide saluted smartly, and the general turned ^o a major at his side, who wore his boots like a cavalryman, but whose silver wings showed him to be an aviator.

“You know your orders, major. You will lead the squadron and be guided across by the boats. The planes will follow you at four-minute intervals. When you have found your objective, you will drop your bombs. Captain Barrechi will release his parachute light on the target you designate. After dropping their explosives, all ships will return directly to this airdrome. That is all.”

And instead of the usual salute he held out his hand, which was eagerly grasped by the major.

The field was an Italian airdrome on the west coast of the Adriatic. The major, unlike most aviators of the war, was not a young man. He had entered the Italian army almost fifteen years before, serving in the cavalry, and rising to the rank of captain. In the first days after Italy had cast her fate with that of the Allies and it became necessary to build up an Italian air force, he had, in spite of his “advanced age,” obtained a transfer to this branch of the service, and had quickly become an ace.

Now he was Major Baracca, the Italian ace of aces. All up and down. the entire front he was known not only as a great pilot, but as one of the great air fighters of the world. With a more matured mind than the younger men, he, though ever searching and participating in personal battles with the enemy, was constantly planning and scheming larger offensive movements—movements using whole groups and squadrons, and inflicting severe damage along the Austrian front. More than seventy successful bombing raids were under his personal leadership. More than a thousand times he crossed the enemy line, seeking battle. In thirty-six of these individual combats he had come away victorious, before finally, on June 21, 1918, fighting against tremendous odds, the bullet bearing his name found its mark, and he fell from the skies, a flaming sacrifice to war.

Tonight, in the late summer of 1917, he was leading one of the largest and most daring of his raids. Over to the east the Austrians, in their naval base at Pola, felt themselves safe from attack in the knowledge that the broad Adriatic lay between them and their Italian foes.

At nine-thirty sharp, the first huge ship took the air. One thousand pounds of high explosives were fastened beneath its wings. Below, stretched out across the Adriatic, was a fleet of power boats, speeding across the dark waters, a hooded light shining from each stern to guide the big planes to their destination. Four minutes later, with huge engines roaring, the second plane took off, and so on at four-minute intervals until the entire force was in the air. Twenty planes were in the first squadron, and twenty-six in the second. Long before the last ship had left the field, the first ship had already dropped its missiles and was on its way back home.

The night was deathly still. Not even a light breeze fanned the smooth surface of the sea below. From three thousand feet up Major Baracca could see the tiny light guiding him—a light which he soon overtook, only to pick up another immediately a few miles farther along and speeding in the same direction. And so he passed from one to another of these moving beacons, until he made out the lights of a city on the dim horizon.

Now the tiny light he had been following flashed brightly twice, then swung out in a wide circle and vanished. It was the signal. In front and below him lay the naval base and arsenal of Pola. The moment had arrived. Carefully he made his calculations and peered searchingly into the darkness below. His must be a direct hit. The naval base itself must be spotted, so that Captain Barrechi might drop his parachute flare directly over their objective.

He signaled to his pilot, who nosed the big plane over into an easy glide, motors throttled down and wires singing. He had made almost a complete circle over the town when his eyes picked up the marks he was looking for. A quick order to the pilot, and the plane flattened out, gliding squarely over the target. The bomber leaned tensely over the side, his arm raised, his eyes carefully lining through the sights on the lights below. A quick signal, a click of levers, a slight waver, and two dark masses detached themselves from below the wings and hurtled downward.

One tense instant, and then, far below, two blinding flashes followed by the sharp, terrific intonation of high explosives. Immediately the night was stabbed by beams of light. Major Baracca gazed, eagerly over the sides to mark his hit. The blinding light of one of the beams caught his ship full in its glare, and shells began to burst around him. But below a sudden burst of flame, as a small store of munitions went off, showed that his bombs had landed in the arsenal area.

THE archies were now bombing him heavily. Machine guns spattered, and flaming onions swept through the night. His motors roared as the pilot gave her the gun, and with a wild feeling of exultation Baracca signaled to swing in a wide circle so as to give Barrechi a chance to drop his light, and give himself the benefit of this light, in dropping his other bombs.

As Barrechi glided down and dropped his flare, there was a sharp explosion, followed by a bright downward rush as of a falling meteor. Then a sharp snap as the parachute opened, and the light floated easily in space, swaying gently and lighting up the scene below. With no breeze, the light hung in the air as if anchored.

This came as a complete surprise to the Austrians, and for some minutes there was panic. Men could be seen dashing madly around; the guns actually ceased firing, and even the searchlights snapped off as if trying to hide from the merciless glare above.

Quickly Baracca saw his advantage, and undisturbed by fire from below, he calmly glided his plane lower and directly over a spot marked with a red X on the map held on his knees. Leisurely and with deadly certainty the bomber sighted; his arm flashed downward, and the levers clicked. Tensely they waited, leaning over the side to watch the two bombs drop straight down, their white fins clearly seen in the brilliant light.

For a split second they seemed to disappear as they landed. Then there was a terrific upheaval. A whole section of the surface below seemed to lift itself up in an attempt to reach the plane above—then, giving up its vain effort, to split into a thousand weird shapes and tongues of flame. Explosion after explosion followed, as one building set off another. Again Baracca’s lever worked, and the giant plane dealt another hand of death from the sky.

Now Barrechi was also releasing his bombs. And plane number three was just entering the circle of light. The archies had commenced their fire again, but their aim was wild, for terror had struck the hearts of the Austrians.

For five hours this bombardment continued. One after another the big Capronis, heedless of the shell-fire from below, coolly dropped their eggs. Forty-six ships came over, carrying death and destruction to the Austrians, and forty-six ships returned safely to Italy, with their bomb-racks empty.

The Ships on The Cover
“Baracca Leads Raid on Austrians”
Flying Aces, August 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 4: Manfred von Richthofen” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 28, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Back with the final of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This time around we have the August 1932 installment featuring arguably the most famous Ace of WWI—Baron Manfred von Richthofen!

Widely known as the “Red Baron”, Richthofen is considered the ace-of-aces, officially credited with 80 air combat victories! He was awarded the Pour le Mérite, Order of the Red Eagle, House Order of Hohenzollern and the Iron Cross.

Wikipedia summarizes his rise to greatness thusly: Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of fighter squadron Jagdstaffel 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became leader of Jasta 11 and then the larger fighter wing unit Jagdgeschwader 1, better known as “The Flying Circus” or “Richthofen’s Circus” because of the bright colours of its aircraft, and perhaps also because of the way the unit was transferred from one area of allied air activity to another—moving like a travelling circus, and frequently setting up in tents on improvised airfields. By 1918, Richthofen was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and respected by his enemies.

Richthofen was shot down and killed near Vaux-sur-Somme on 21 April 1918.

As a bonus, here are links to all 45 “Live of the Aces in Pictures” that we’ve posted over the years:

Lives of the Aces in Pictures Index

“The Vickers “Vimy” Bomber” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on May 11, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the fifteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your’ collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3208THE bombing expedition on which this cover is based is pictured in two parts. The actual raid is shown on the cover of the August issue of DAREDEVIL ACES. This month the adventure of one of the bombers on that mission is pictured.

I shall not repeat the story of the raid here, for that has been told in DAREDEVIL ACES.

Three big British bombers took off late one afternoon to bomb the reported position of a long-range gun implacement. They were flown by British pilots but were to operate in conjunction with an American outfit of fighting ships.

The bombers met the Americans high over Dun and started for the scene of operation. They flew in a tight formation and saw no enemy craft, although they were being followed by several Boches who did not dare attack such a formidable group.

The flight was deep in enemy territory when one of the bombers developed engine trouble in the right-hand motor. It fell behind and unfortunately, at this moment the top patrol was hidden by a cloud so did not observe the accident.

The pilot of the bomber, finding his trouble was getting serious, turned about and started for home, looking for a target for his load of bombs. Through an opening in the ground fog he saw what he took for a supply depot and ordered his men to let go their “eggs.” They were later to be informed that they had fired an ammunition dump.

It was not long before more serious trouble than a “sick” motor arrived. It came with a roar and blazing guns. It was a German Hannoveraner biplane (the bright red ship in the foreground); almost at the same time another ship arrived to add to the difficulties of the bomber. This was a Roland single-seater biplane (the blue and yellow plane diving in from the left).

The bomber, due to its crippled condition, was unable to maneuver and had to fight off the Boches as best it could. The Englishmen were in an uncomfortable position but not hard-pressed until the fight was joined by a Fokker D-VII and a Fokker monoplane. Then things got more serious.

The big ship flew steadily on but was sustaining a deadly fire from every direction. The motor still functioned and seemed to get no worse, but every moment increased the hazard. It was being slowly cut to pieces. Already one rudder was out of commission and a stream of bullets had cut through the center of the fuselage and weakened it. The wings looked like a sieve and many of the wires were cut, also weakening the wings. Tt was remarkable that the ship did not collapse then and there.

They shot down one Boche with their last drum of ammunition. Both gunners and pilot were wounded and they had given themselves up as lost, when help arrived in the form of a patrol of S.E-S’s, who scattered the Germans right and left in short order.

The pilot, faint from a wound in the abdomen, landed his ship on his own airdrome but cracked up in doing so, completing the wreck of an already half ruined ship. All survived, however, and they are living today, proud of their D.S.C. awarded by the American government.

The bombing ship shown on the cover is a very famous one, although most of its fame was gained in peace time persuits. It was designed as a long-distance bomber. It carried two engines in “power eggs” one each side of the fuselage. There were three types of engines used, the Fiat, Hispano-Suiza and Rolls Royce. The bomber here shown is a Vickers Vimy Rolls, which is 1 ft. 6½ in. longer than the other two, otherwise they are the same in appearance. They carried two gunners and a pilot. To prevent the machine from standing on its nose after too fast a landing, a skid was fitted under the nose of the fuselage. Span 67 ft. 2 in., gap 10 ft., overall length 44 ft., speed low down 103 m.p.h., speed at 5,000 ft. 98 m.p.h., landing speed 56 m.p.h.

The Vickers
“The Vickers “Vimy” Bomber” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (August 1932)

Now we come to its peace time fame. It was in a Vickers Vimy Rolls-Royce airplane that Captain J. Alcock and Lt. Whitten Brown, both afterwards knighted, made the first direct flight across the Atlantic from St. Johns, Newfoundland to Clifden, Galway. They traveled 1,880 miles in 15 hours 57 minutes at an average speed of 118 m.p.h., May 18th-19th, 1919.

Captain Ross Smith and three companions, in the same year, and in the same type of ship, flew from England to Australia in 30 days, flying a total of 11,294 miles. They landed at Port Darwin, North Australia and later crossed the continent to Melbourne.

“The Big Gun Bombers” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on May 4, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. Starting with the June 1931 cover of Battle Aces, he started running actual war-combat paintings by Blakeslee on their covers. In a happy cross-over, in August 1932, Mr. Blakeslee had two covers from the same incident. This week we have the Dare-Devil Aces cover which has the main action, while next week we’ll have the Battle Aces cover from that month that covers a side incident concerning a missing bomber. Look for it next week.

th_DDA_3208AN IMPORTANT concentration point in the American sector had been shelled for days by long-range guns. Yank airplanes had combed enemy territory trying to find their location, but the gunners were canny. They fired in the early morning and at sundown when there was a ground mist. On days when flying was impossible they fired continuously. On good days they were silent.

By noting the direction from which the shells came the line of fire was determined. According to mathematical calculation the guns should have been in the center of a torn-up forest; but all that met the eye there were stumps of trees and water-filled shell holes. However, something
was queer about those shell holes. Only an area of a few acres was filled with water, while, outside that the shell holes were just holes. One pilot, diving as low as fifty feet, gave the ground a searching look. Suddenly he zoomed and streaked for home.

Late that afternoon a bombing expedition consisting of three Vickers “Vimy” bombers and a fighting squadron of Sopwith Camels left their dromes. On the way, one bomber dropped behind and when the rest discovered him missing, it was too late to stop and find him. The account of his adventure is in the August issue of BATTLE ACES.

There was a ground mist, but it suddenly cleared and just at sundown the expedition arrived over the forest to see the flashes of many guns, where in the morning not a gun had been visible.

Streaking for the flashes, they found what you see on the cover. They bombed and shot up the position and after using up their ammunition, started for home—and just in time, too, for an overwhelming force of Boche planes was coming up from behind. Late that night a large-scale bombing expedition annihilated the position. The pilot who discovered the guns, noted that many of the supposed water-filled holes were only patches of canvas, which, from a height, gave the appearance of water.

The Big Gun Bombers
“The Big Gun Bombers” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (Dare-Devil Aces, August 1932)

Find out what happened to the lost Vickers “Vimy” Bomber next week!

“Lucky’s Day” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by Bill on March 16, 2008 @ 6:37 pm in

And now an exciting tale of The Devildog Squadron!
Lucky Lane swore as he realized he had lost his formation in the billowing gray clouds. He leveled off between two layers of leaden mist and peered about him. The other three of the “Four Lunatics” had been behind his Spad not thirty seconds past. But now he was alone. Not only that, but his gas was running low and he was not even sure of his location.
The bullet-scarred Spad ripped on through the cloud. Lucky eased back on the stick as he saw the mists begin to thin. He was down to three thousand feet—and there was a good chance that he was still over German soil…

“Nippon Nemesis” by Arch Whitehouse

Link - Posted by Bill on @ 6:28 pm in

An exciting Buzz Benson Adventure!
“There’s something devilish going on. They intend to bomb an important point somewhere on the western coast of the United States. Don’t ask me how they intend to do it. I‟ve seen enough of these Japs to know that they can do anything once they set their minds to it. I don‟t believe in ghosts, spirits or the black art, but I‟ve seen some queer things happen out here in the Orient. If we got a wire this minute, saying that San Francisco had been raided or bombed by Japanese planes, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised…

“Duck Soup for Elmer” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by Bill on @ 11:31 am in

Rittmeister von Gluck was making things so tough on the tarmac where Elmer of the Air Corps parked his Spad that G.H.Q. threatened to move the whole drome back. But there was a very special reason why Elmer didn’t want that to happen—a reason named Gwendolyn. Now don’t get us wrong—Gwendolyn was no lady!