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“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!

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

Link - Posted by David on September 13, 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 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!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major Giuseppe Barracca

Link - Posted by David on March 22, 2017 @ 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 Italian Ace of Aces Major Giuseppe Barracca’s most thrilling sky fight!

Quite in contrast with Alan McLeod of the Royal Flying Corps, who was one of the youngest of the famous flying aces. Major Giuseppe Barracca, Ace of Aces of the Italian Flying Corps, was one of the oldest, being 34 years of age when he was killed in the desperate air fighting above the Piave. Like Captain Ritter von Schleich, he entered the war a cavalry officer, but soon was transferred to the more romantic, yet more hazardous branch of the army, the flying corps.

He took part in more than 1,000 flights over the enemy lines, 70 of which were long distance bombing raids. He disappeared during a night flight when he took to the air to fight off German and Austrian bombers which had been reported bombing Red Cross hospitals. His body and the crashed ship was found two days later when the heroic Italians won back the ground the Austrians and Germans had taken from them six months before. A single stray bullet had snuffed out the life of this greatest of Italian aces, who, like von Schleich, had disappeared after running his score to 36 victories. The account below is taken from his diary.

 

TWO IN THE NIGHT

by Major Giuseppe Barracca • Sky Fighters, August 1934

JUMPING into my single-seater, I took off immediately. Not waiting for the rest of the squadron to form I headed for the front to intercept the enemy without circling for ceiling.

The night was bright with much moonlight bathing the scraggy battlefield beneath in an eerie, silvery glow. “What an ideal night for raiding!” I thought, but, “I must stop them before they reach their objective!”

I had my little single-seater climbing steeply. All the time I was peering ahead, trying to pierce the starry skies and spy my enemies. Finally they showed, an extended line of blinking red lights—the flames from their exhausts.

As I was above them, I throttled my own motor, so my own exhausts would not show and give my location away. Then down I went in a steady glide, headed directly for the leader, aiming directly between the fluttering exhausts of the two motors on either side of the pilot’s pit. At two hundred yards I pressed my triggers. Two livid streaks of flame marked the path of my tracers in the sky—but they were high!

I lowered my nose, pressed the trigger again. I saw my tracer cut luminous paths through the wings of the leading bomber. I ruddered back and forth, spraying the lead in a slow traverse.

Then all Hades bloomed in the night sky. Every gunner in the formation must have turned his guns on me at once. Tracers stream spewed from everywhere. Still, I held my own gun steady.

But the big bomber did not fall. We were approaching head-on at terrific speed, bullets still splattering. I had to dive under to keep from being rammed. I pulled up in a loop behind, half rolled, dived at it again, let go with my guns when in range. This time my shots were good. My explosive bullets must have penetrated the petrol tank.

Red flames shot out, fanwise, lighting the whole sky.

In the glare of light from the burning plane, I got my sights on the bomber at the left of the falling funeral torch. Bullets clattered into my little ship, but hit nothing vital. I let go with a burst at very close range, then dived underneath. The upper gunner swung his tracer on me, but I side-slipped, went into a dive, then zoomed up under another. It was just a vague black shape above me. But my tracer etched flaming holes in it. It slid off on one wing, went flailing down, to burst in fire when it crashed.

By this time my squadron mates had got up to help me.

I did not knock down any more, but the bombing armada was turned from its course. They never reached the cities. Their bombs exploded harmlessly in the open fields.

A very successful fight. I have heard of no other pilot who has brought down two enemy planea in a single night flight. Naturally, I am elated, but I wish it had been two more.

“Sky Fighters, August 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on April 4, 2016 @ 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. On the August 1934 cover, It’s the Roland D-2 vs a Renault “Chars d’Assaut” baby tank!

The Ships on the Cover

THIS month’s cover th_SF_3408_CN brings us right down to earth. In fact we are dug into a trench with our hob-nailed shoes clawing at the slippery duck boards.

Tin helmets were not much protection for our hard-working doughboys when a raiding German plane came screeching down from the clouds with a couple of synchronized Spandaus tossing hot lead up and down the length of their private trench.

The Roland D-2 with the dazzle painted upper wings was one of Germany’s trickiest looking ships. The peculiarly shaped forward part of the fuselage sweeping up to form a sturdy center brace for the top wings gives the job a certain streamlined effect that is pleasing to the eye. But consider the poor forward visibility of the pilot. He had about as much visibility as a taxi driver with a tin windshield. The two machine-guns are housed in this built-up part of the fuselage, their muzzles barely protruding over the partly hidden Mercedes engine.

A Mere Seven Tons!

The tank in the picture is the famous Renault “Chars d’Assaut.” It was a “Baby tank” weighing a mere seven tons and could crawl along the shell torn fields at from four to six miles an hour (we have baby tanks now which click off ten times this speed).

The first tank was a British invention and first went into action near Cambrai during 1916, smashing the German lines.

From the first the tanks were a success and were made in all conceivable shapes. The outstanding all around success was the baby Renault tank.

The lone Roland D-2 with the swept-back wings has shot down an Allied plane, the only one visible in the sector. Two lines of trenches are just below. Pot-helmeted German troops filled one line of trencher. Flat tin derbies of Americans filled the other. The Roland pilot giggled his head back and forth, tipped his plane down and roared down on the American trenches. His guns blazed and Spandau bullets kicked up mud. Rifles barked back, a ground machine-gun swung up to fire at the attacker, smashed out a spray of lead. Several Yanks went down under the fire, others sought cover. It was a helpless situation.

A ground straffing plane is a dangerous opponent but not as effective as might at first glance be supposed. When it is within range of the trench it is attacking, it lets loose a hail of bullets but it must immediately pull up and dive again to get the correct angle of fire and to keep from crashing.

The Boche Blasts Away

The German pilot leap-frogged his plane up and down the trench, blasting away with both guns. Each time he zoomed, he swept his eyes across all sections of the sky. Still safe from Allied planes he returned to his slaughter.

A small dark shape, so much the color of the ground that it nearly reached the back of the Yank trenches before the German pilot spotted it, crawled slowly forward.

“Verdammte tank!” growled the German and swooped down to show his disdain for this slow-crawling iron beetle. A tattoo of lead spattered the “Baby Renault.” The tank driver stopped his machine. His gunner squinted along the barrel of his 37 millimeter gun. The Roland raced across his sights.

Blam! A 37 millimeter shell smashed through the belly of the plane, tore its way through the German’s body. One well-aimed shell from the lowly mud-spattered iron beetle has clipped the wings of the dazzle-colored Roland.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters (Canadian Edition), August 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Pfalz Triplane and the indomitable S.E.5!

“Intelligence Pest” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on January 30, 2015 @ 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!

Phineas Pinkham was so pleased with his particular prisoner that he even offered him a cigar that wasn’t loaded. Yes, they call that fraternizing with the enemy!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 26: Lt. Thomas Hitchcock, Jr.” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 4, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Here’s another 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 week we have the August 1934 installment which pictorialized the life of Lt. Thomas Hitchcock, Jr., Yank flyer!!

Hitchcock, rejected by the American forces due to his age, enlisted with the Lafayette Esquadrille where he was decorated for bringing down two German flyers. Captured in March of 1918 when he fell behind enemy lines while in a tangle with three Boche planes, he managed to escape by jumping from a train near Ulm and walked 80 miles through hostil territory to reach the Swiss border.

Hitchcock was a whiz on the polo field as well as in the air—leading the U.S. team to victory in the 1921 International Polo Cup. He carried a 10-goal handicap from 1922 to 1940 and led four teams to U.S. National Open Championships. In 1990 he was inducted posthumously into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.

It is said that F. Scott Fitzgerald even based two characters on Thomas in two of his novels. He turned all his virtues to vices in The Great Gatsby for the character of Tom Buchanan in 1925 and later used him as inspiration for Tommy Barban in Tender is the Night (1934).

Hitchcock served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II and was assignedas an assistant air attache to the US Embassy in London. In this capacity he was instrumental in the development of the P-51 Mustang fighter plane. Sadly he lost his life while test piloting the plane near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England in 1944. He was 44.