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“The Hawker Demon” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on December 28, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. Last time Mr. Blakeslee gave us the first in a new series of mismatched time images with planes from the Great War along side present day planes from 1935! This time he returns with another in the series, from the cover of the December 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces—where a Fokker DVII finds itself pitted against “The Hawker Demon!”

th_DDA_3512THIS is another scrambled time cover so that you can compare the modern airplane with the war-time ship. Just a werd about the two British ships. The one in the foreground is a Hawker “Audax”, a ship possessing all the qualities required for Army Co-operation work, a good climb and a high top speed. The ship an its left is a Hawker “Demon”. The Hawker “Demon” is a day and night fighter. It has a supercharged Rolls-Royce “Kestrel” engine which gives it a top speed of 160 m.p.h. at 12,000 ft. This ship is the first two-scatcr fighter since the famous Bristol Fighter went into the discard, as a matter of fact, the “Demon” is a modern version of the Bristol.

The entire Hawker series are beautiful ships and the two pictured here together with the Hawker “Fury” are probably the most beautiful airplanes in the world. For sheer gracefulness and clean-cut speedy lines, they have no equal. But don’t let their beauty deceive you. They are like some poisonous flowers, beautiful but deadly.

Except for the heavy bombers, the service ships of Great Britain are silver.

Now let us imagine a Fokker DVII in combat with one of these ships. Let us look at an imaginary combat report of an imaginary German pilot. . . .

  July 7th. I took off with my staffel from Douai at 7:15 P.M. As the morning was exceptionally clear, I climbed as high as I could get, about 16,000 ft. My speed at this height was 95 m.p.h. I saw something white, which rapidly resolved itself into two airplanes flying side by side. The remarkable thing about them was that they were all white and although they were going in the same direction as myself, they rapidly overhauled me. I thought at first I was being blown backward in a head wind while the two ships were in a tail wind. I thought these two ships were Dolphins, for they were some five or six thousand feet above me. However, they overtook me so rapidly, I didn’t know what they could be. Then I saw them dive toward me. I executed a quick turn, and as I came around, one flashed in front of me, going at such a tremendous speed that I could not identify the type. There I saw for the first time that it was a two-seater and of a type unknown to me. Although I was going 116 m.p.h., it passed me as though I were standing still, twin jets of tracers coming from invisible guns. There was no use fighting such a ship, and I therefore fled as best I could. I don’t know how I ever escaped.
  I dove and landed just back of our lines.

That, you may imagine is the report.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hawker Demon: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(December 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next month we will paint a modern Handly-Page on the cover.

“The Sopwith Salamander” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on December 14, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. Although this looks like it should be in his new series of scrambled time covers, instead we get Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for Fokker Aircraft Corp, telling the story of the last of the Sopwith war-time machines—The Sopwith Salamander—from the cover of the November 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3511THE SALAMANDER, the last of the Sopwith war-time machines, was one of the most interesting and efficient types used in the World War. Although the design of the Salamander followed that of the earlier developed Sopwith Snipe, the plane was not intended for use as a scout or fighter—as were the Camel, Pup, Dolphin, and Snipe. It was designed primarily as a trench fighter, and in official circles it was known as the T.F.2.

The rudder of the Salamander was larger than those on the majority of the Sopwith designs. The pilot’s head, owing to the extremely deep fuselage and comparatively small wing gap, was on a level with the top plane, the center of which was partly slotted and partly cut away, to insure a better vision.

Due to the rather large diameter of the engine used, a B.R.2., the rectangularity of the fuselage was apparent toward the tail only, with the result that the fuselage was of a more circular cross-section than was the case in the other Sopwith ships.

Perhaps the mast interesting feature of the Salamander was the manner in which it was armored. Light steel plating formed the front of the fuselage from a point immediately in the rear of the engine, and extended to a point slightly to the rear of the cockpit. This armor, instead of being added to an existing fuselage frame, was a definite structual part of the frame work, and in itself formed the front portion of the fuselage. Thus, the armor plating served a structual, as well as a protective function.

Another variation from the usual Sopwith designs was incorporated in a tapering spine which served to taper off the pilot’s head and at the same time act as a head rest. This spine, being bulletproof, gave the pilot considerable protection against a rear attack.

The total weight of the armor in the Salamander totaled to some 650 pounds, and in addition to this weight, more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition was carried. In all, the ship weighed 2,945 pounds, as compared to the 1,959 pounds of the Dolphin, which was considered a rather heavy plane.

The following figures will give some idea of the performance and construction of the Salamander:


GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS
    Type Tractor Bi-plane
    Purpose Trench fighter
    Engine B.R.2, 230 h.p.
    Weights
        Loaded 2,945 lbs.
        Empty 1,844 lbs.
 
PERFORMANCE
    Speed (High—at 6,500 ft.) 123 m.p.h.
              (High—at 10,000 ft.) 117 m.p.h.
    Climb 10,000 ft. in 17 min.
    Landing speed 60 m.p.h.
    Ceiling 14,000 ft.
 
DIMENSIONS
    Length, over all 19 ft. 6 in.
    Stagger 1 ft. 5 in.
    Sweepback None
    Top Wing
        Span 31 ft 2⅝ in.
        Chord 5 ft.
        Area, not including ailerons 139 sq.ft.
        Incidence 1.8 deg.
        Dihedral 4.0 deg.
    Bottom Wing
        Span 30 ft. 2½ in.
        Chord 5 ft.
        Area, not including ailerons 123 sq.ft.
        Incidence 1.8 deg.
        Dihedral 4.0 deg.
 
AREAS
    Total wing area, not including ailerons
    Total wing, not inch ailerons 272 sq. ft.
    Tailplane 15 sq. ft.
    Elevators 11 sq. ft.
    Fin 2.75 sq. ft.
    Rudder 9 sq. ft.
    Total aileron area 51 sq. ft.

 

With the weights carried, the machine had a loading of 11 pounds per horse power, or 9.4 pounds per square foot.

As originally designed, the Salamander was armed with two fixed machine guns, but with its development into a general ground strafer, and later into a contact-patrol ship, the armament was increased, first to four guns, and later to six guns. In this later type there were two Lewis guns mounted on the top wing in such a manner that they could be easily drawn back and reloaded by the pilot from the cockpit.

Then, two Vickers were fixed on the top of the cowling, synchronized to fire through the propeller arc, while two Lewis guns, intended for trench strafing work were mounted on the bottom of the cockpit in such a way as to fire through the floor of the fuselage at an angle of about forty-five degrees.

The Salamander was passed by the experimental board of the Sopwith concern in April, 1918, but it was not until considerably later on in the year that the plane reached a production stage. Consequently few of them were in service over the lines.

In the short time that they were in action they showed such a performance record that it is quite probable, had the conflict lasted longer, the Salamander would have been one of the outstanding planes.

It is interesting to note, in connection with the Salamander, that the armored airplane has always been generally accepted as a logical step in the evolution of military planes by aeronautical engineers and designers. In actuality, however, there have been very few armored ships produced, and in fact, it was not until late in the war that any machines of the armored classification appeared.

For the most part, the greater number of the so-called armored planes produced were most inefficient, and in most instances the protective plating was added to the fuselage frame work of a regular pursuit or observation ship, with the result that the total weight of the machine was increased to a point where, powered with the engines then in use, they were sadly underpowered.

The Salamander, however, was designed from the first as an armored fighter, and inasmuch as the armor plating was made an integral part of the structural framework, the weight problem was done away with. This particular Sopwith offered a definite advance over the designs then in use, and it will be interesting to note in just what ways the modern armored pursuits will follow this pioneer model.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Sopwith Salamander: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(November 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 3: Georges Guynemer” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on December 9, 2015 @ 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 the third installment featuring France’s greatest flying Ace—Georges Guynemer!

That name may sound familiar to you if your a frequent visitor to this site. He’s been mentioned a few times in the past in conjunction with the lives of other Aces, and his demise was the subject of Frederick Blakeslee’s cover for the July 1933 issue of Dare-Devil Aces. Guynemer was France’s most beloved ace. He entered the French Air Service in November 1914 and served as a mechanic before receiving a Pilot’s Brevet in April 1915. Assigned to Spa3—Les Cigognes or Storks Squadron—Guynemer used his skills as an excellent pilot and marksman to quickly pile up the victories eventually being promoted to captain and commander of the Storks squadron.

By the time of his disappearance he had accrued 53 victories.

On 11 September 1917, Guynemer was last seen attacking a two-seater Aviatik near Poelcapelle, northwest of Ypres. Almost a week later, it was publicly announced in a London paper that he was missing in action. Shortly thereafter, a German newspaper reported Guynemer had been shot down by Kurt Wissemann of Jasta 3. For many months, the French population refused to believe he was dead. Guynemer’s body was never found.

(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.)

“The Yellow Monsters” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. Last time Mr. Blakeslee gave us the first in a new series of mismatched time images with planes from the Great War along side present day planes from 1935! This time he returns with he second in the series, from the cover of the October 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces—”The Yellow Monsters!”

th_DDA_3510ABOVE is the drawing of a Pterodactyl, a pre-historic flying reptile that lived thousands of years ago. Today the Pterodactyl flies again, but this time it is man-made—in short, a modern fighting airplane. Before we go ahead with our story, let us explain why you find a modern ship in combat with a wartime airplane.

The World War is long past, yet many are still interested in the war-time ship; but an equal number are interested in the modern craft too. In thinking it over we wondered what a war-time pilot would do, had he in war days, met a ship of today. The problem was solved. Why not mix time? Take 1918 and 1935 and just scramble them?

The result certainly isn’t the World War, in fact it isn’t any war; it isn’t even real and not being real we can let our imagination roam. By scrambling time this way we can not only show you a war-time ship, but a modern one as well both on the same cover thus giving you an easy way of comparing the fighting ship of today with the fighting ship of yesterday.

So now, let us enter the realms of imagination. Let us see what Otto, a German pilot of 1918 would do had he met the Pterodactyl.

Otto was a crack pilot; he was leader of his staffel and was in the habit of going off on bis own occasionally to look for trouble. He was on one of these trips when he saw a speck way off on his right. Being over the French lines he guessed it was an Allied plane. His big Mercedes engine soon had him high above the other ship. As he crossed its path he looked down and saw the British insignia on the wing-tips. Something about the plane seemed queer, but not giving it a second thought he dove.

He suddenly pulled out of his dive and rubbed his eyes. He looked again. His first impression had been right after all. Something was definately queer about the British ship. Mein Gott, what was it? Was it an airplane? If so it was like nothing he had ever seen.

But he could see the flash of propellers and the crew—that was real anyway, so it must be an airplane. Dunner und blit-sen, what a crazy thing it was! Why it looked as though it would fall apart if a wind hit it. Where was the tail? Well, thought Otto, this will be cold turkey.

He was about to dive again when the strange ship put on a burst of speed. To Otto’s surprise he discovered that he had had his throttle wide open to keep up with the yellow monster.

Well it certainly could fly, he decided, as the Britisher pulled rapidly away from him. Then he saw several others of the strange ships join the first and turn toward him. Otto thought he better return to his drome and get help.

Otto assembled his pilots and recounted what he had seen. The assembled pilots looked at each other but said nothing. Otto was their superior officer so what could they say? A tailless ship indeed, bosh!

Otto led his staffel back and soon spotted the strange ships.

He made a wide circle and gave the signal to dive. The scene on the cover shows the beginning of the fight.

Here we might consider what chance Otto and his men flying Fokker DVII’s would have against the Pterodactyl. We do not hesitate to say that they don’t stand a ghost of a chance.

At the time of writing this, no data on the performance of the Pterodactyl is available. The speed is very high; the exact figure we do not know. Note the wonderful unobstructed field of fire of the rear gunner. It would be impossible for an attacker to hide under the tail. It can deliver a steady stream of lead from its fixed guns and as it dives on an enemy another dose from the free gun as it zooms away. The rear gunner by the way is fully protected from the wind. The pilot can look either under or over the center section too.

Some think that the Pterodactyl may prove to be the most formidable fighter yet produced. Others wonder if it will not become extinct as the bird-lizard from which the new ship gets its name.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Yellow Monsters: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(October 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

The Pterodactyl is manufactured by Westland Aircraft Co., England, and was first produced last year.

 BBAA_3501
Editor’s Note: The Westland Pterodactyl was featured much more prominently earlier in 1935 on the January cover of Street & Smith’s Bill Barnes Air Adventurer. Here Frank Tinsley has place the Pterodactyl front and center with the tailless tailgunner blasting away at the pursuing biplanes!

“The Tailless Ship” By Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 16, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time Mr. Blakeslee gives the first in a new series of mismatched time images with planes from the Great War along side present day planes from 1935! Without further Ado, Mr. Blakeslee gives us the story of “The Tailless Ship!”

th_DDA_3509AFTER looking at the cover this month you have probably turned to this story quickly to find out what it is all about. You probably think you have missed something in German war-time ships. But you haven’t. Its this way.

Recently we were wondering what a war-time pilot would think and do, had he, in 1918, met a ship of today. So we took 1918 and 1935, mixed them thoroughly and what have we? Well, the result certainly isn’t the World War. As a matter of fact it isn’t any war. It isn’t even real, and that is just the result we were after. Not being real we can let our imaginations roam. Therefore, this cover is No. 1 of a brand-new series. To
keep them in order we will number them. You will find the number in the lower left-hand corner on the blue band.

Now let us suppose that a French pilot, in 1918 meets a ship of 1935. This opens a fascinating field. We can keep abreast with the very latest in modern fighting aircraft design on these covers as well as present the war-time ship. And more, you will then have an easy way of comparing the fighting ship of today with the fighting ship of yesterday.

To start off, we have selected a tailless ship. It is not strictly speaking, a fighter. It was designed by a young German inventor in 1933 and he startled the aeronautical world by actually flying it.

It was, therefore, the forerunner of the modern tailless type. Designers seized on the tailless idea and a recent ship of this type, produced by Great Britain, may prove to be the most formidable fighting craft yet made. That ship is the Pterodactyl, which we shall show next month.

As we said above, the tailless ship was not designed as a fighter. But for the purposes of this cover and to give the Spad a break, we have made it into a fighter by merely making the passenger cockpit into a gun nacelle.

Granted it is a fighter, let us see what Pierre, our French pilot of 1918, would think of it. When he first sighted it he probably thought it was a bat, but as it approached and grew in size, and although it still looked to him like a bat, he knew it for what it was, for he caught the flash of propellers.

And then he sat fascinated as the strange ship circled him. His eyes told him it zvas an airplane, but his mind refused to accept it as such. He probably said to himself, in French of course, “There ain’t no such animal, there couldn’t be! Why, it hasn’t even got a tail and where the tail should be is a propeller! There’s a propeller at the bow too. Good grief, it’s a pusher and a tractor at the same time, impossible! And what are those green things at the end of the wings, if they are wings?”

Just then the bat-like ship banked. “Are they rudders? How could rudders be there? No, I’m seeing things, no more cognac for me!”

Of course we must assume all this went through Pierre’s head in a flash. As the ship banked, Pierre was startled to see smoking white tracers flash past. He then saw what had escaped him at first, the bat ship carried German crosses. Pierre looped and although he didn’t think the thing was really there, went to work.

Now what chance would Pierre have against this ship? A very good chance indeed. Pierre, with his 300 h.p. Hispano could do 130 m.p.h. on the straight-away. The tailless ship with only 150 h.p. could do 160, no use trying to run for it. Maybe he could out-climb it? No, the German could climb a thousand feet a minute. Well maybe he could out-dive it? Not that either, the German ship could dive like a bat out of hell.

He could out-maneuver it however, but what good would that do? The gunner had an unrestricted field of fire, back, ahead, up and to the sides. Well, maybe the thing has a blind spot. Ah! There we have him; underneath Pierre was as safe as a church. Now just tip up and let him have it.

Yes, we’re sure Pierre would win this fight, but next month the tailless ship tells a different story.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Tailless Ship: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(September 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Green Death” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on October 5, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time, we have Mr. Blakeslee’s cover for the August 1935 number on which he depicts the story of The Green Death!

th_DDA_3508I HEARD this story at a club for ex-service men in London. The conversation had been on gasses used in the war.

“You were lucky, Bill,” someone said. “You flyers didn’t have to worry about gas.”

Bill Norman nodded. “You’re right, Frank. But nevertheless we were gassed once out of our drome. To this day no one knows what kind of gas it was.”

He looked around the room and spied a man standing by the fireplace. “Pip, come here, will you?” he called. (”Pip,” or Captain Larry Skidmore, was in the chemical warfare division.) “Pip was sent to our drome after the event, ask him.”

“Bill’s right,” said Pip, “the gas was something new in our experience and so far as I know has never been duplicated. We were never able to get a sample. But let Bill tell the story.”

“Well,” continued Bill, “it was in early March, 1918. We were stationed about sixteen miles west of Paris. One morning a farm cart drove up to the field. A guard stopped the old man who was driving the cart and looked with astonishment at the load. In the cart was a metal ball about seven feet in diameter. The guard brought the old man to the C.O.’s office. Lt. Read and myself were in the office at the time but the skipper told us to stay. The C.O. could speak French like a native and as the old man could speak no English it was just as well. To our amazement the conversation lasted almost half an hour and at last the C.O. turned to us.

” ‘Whew!’ he said, ‘This man looks like a peasant but talks like a college professor. He says he has developed a new gas that he wants us to drop on a German city. He promises that not one person will go near the city for a month afterward. Further, he says the gas will not kill, but he is mighty mysterious as to what it will do. Personally, I think we had better humor him,’ and he tapped his forehead.

“Well, to make a long story short, we promised to do as the old man said and stored the metal gas ball in a hangar. The chemical warfare division was notified. Pip was sent up.

“But before he arrived some curious mechanics managed to shatter the sphere and ran screaming from the hangar, a poisonous looking green smoke creeping out after them.

“It was a gas all right and for the next half hour the place was in an uproar. Whoever got a whif of that gas let out a terrible yell and ran. They actually saw horrible phantoms chasing them. We had to abandon the place altogether. More curious still, the gas remained in a circular area of about a half mile; even the road that passed our field had to be re-routed. It remained, despite rain and wind, for about a month, then suddenly vanished.”

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Green Death” by Frederick Blakeslee (August 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Sopwith Triplane” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on September 28, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time, we have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story of the Sopwith Triplane—featured on the cover of the July 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3507Editor’s Note: This month’s cover shows what would happen if a certain invention, had been perfected during the War. The rear-pit man in the all metal Junkers is operating a huge, highly magnified tense, so constructed as to concentrate a powerful percentage of the sun’s rays. When focused on the fabric covering of an airplane, this sunlight beam would cause a tiny burn. It is based on the same principle as that of lighting a fire by focusing sunlight on a small glass dial. The Allied ships on the cover are Sopwith triplanes.

The Sopwith Triplane
By ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly draughtsman, Fokker Aircraft Corporation

OF THE various Sopwith planes, all of which attained great fame, none is more interesting and characteristic than the Triplane—or as it was better known by the German and British pursuit pilots, the “Tripe” or “Tripe-hound.”

The Triplane was the ninth type produced by the Sopwith works, being accepted by the Experimental Board about four months after the Sopwith Pup. The principal object aimed at in the design of the Triplane was the attainment of an extra high degree of visibility, or in other words, the reduction to minimum of the pilot’s blind angle.

With his eyes on a level with the intermediate plane the pilot had practically an junrestricted arc of vision through some 120 degrees, while a section cut out of the intermediate wing enabled him to have a rather good view of the ground while landing the ship, the position of the cockpit being such that the bottom wing had no restricting effect on the vision.

The narrowness of the chord made possible by the use of three main planes also enabled the pilot to have an exceptional view upward and to either side—a most important consideration in any pursuit ship. Another object aimed at in the “Tripehound” was an increase in maneuverbility.

It will be seen that due to the narrow; chord the shifts in the center of pressure with varying angles of incidence is smaller than in a biplane, and consequently a much shorter fuselage can be used to suport the tail surfaces. In addition to this, the small span of the triplane reduces the moments of inertia in the horizontal plane and an airplane is thus obtained which is very sensitive to its controls, which fact adds to its ability to dodge to various strategic positions in a fight.

The factor of the movement of the center of pressure enabled single I-struts to be used instead of the usual pairs, one springing from each spar. This simplified construction by permitting a simplification of inter-plane wire bracing system. Ailerons of the unbalanced type were fitted to each of the three wings.

The “Tripehound” was armed with a single machine gun mounted on the forward top side of the fuselage. In the hands of experienced pilots the ship gave a splendid account of itself and coped favorably with the Fokkers then in use on the Western Front.

The dimensions of the Triplane follow:

Sweepback None
Stagger 1 ft. 6 in.
Dihedral (same for each wing) 2.5 degrees
Total wing area 231 sq.ft.
Length over all 18 ft. 10 in.
Overall span 26 ft. 6 in.
Wing span (same for each wing) 26 ft. 6 in.
Chord (same for each wing) 3 ft. 3in.
Wing areas—
    Top 84 sq. ft.
    Intermediate 72 sq. ft.
    Bottom 75 sq. ft.
    Gap 3 ft.
Areas—
    Aileron 34 sq. ft.
    Tail plane 14.0 sq. ft.
    Elevators 9.6 sq. ft.
    Total 23.6 sq.ft.
    Fin 2.5 sq. ft.
    Rudder 4.5 sq. ft.
    Total 6.5 sq. ft.

 

Powered with a 130 h.p. Clerget engine the Sopwith Triplane had a high speed of 112.5 miles an hour (at 6,500 feet). The landing speed was 35 m.p.h. and it would climb to 6,500 feet in 6.5 minutes and to 15,000 feet in 22.3 minutes.

The plane had a fuel capacity of 180 pounds and a flight range of 310 miles. The ceiling was 20,500 feet. The “Tripehound” weighed 1,103 pounds empty and 1,543 pounds loaded which made a loading of 6 pounds per square foot or 12.4 pounds per horse power.

Although judged by present standards the Triplane was low-powered and rather slow, its speed, ease of handling and general performance were outstanding at the time of its introduction into the Royal Flying Corps.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Sopwith Triplane” by Frederick Blakeslee (July 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Fokker Triplane” By Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on September 21, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time, we have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story of the most recognized plane of the era—the Fokker Triplane—featured on the cover of the June 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3506AFTER one look at the cover this month you would probably think that the American and German pilot were doomed. However, both escaped, the American with minor burns and the German with a bad fright.
  As a matter of fact, the fire on the Spad was not quite as bad as we have shown; just bad enough to make the pilot think that he was due for an awful death. He decided to crash one of the Fokker tripes, bringing it down with him. But the pilot of the Fokker got ont of the way just in the nick of time.
  The American discovered in that dive that if he side-slipped the blast of wind would keep the fire away from the cockpit. He managed to reach the ground by side-slipping. As he later said—”Given my choice of crashing or being burned to a cinder, I’ll crash every time.” And crash he did.

Now let’s hear from an expert the inside dope on the Fokker triplane.

The Fokker Triplane
By ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly Draftsman, Fokker Aircraft Corporation

DURING the early part of the year 1916 the German High Command realized that the war had developed into a bitter struggle which would be prolonged much longer than had at first been expected.

With this fact in mind, Germany at once redoubled her efforts to gain undisputed supremacy of the skies and Anthony Fokker was asked to design and produce a new combat ship which would enable her to gain the upper hand. Fokker set to work at once and in the early fall of 1916 this plane was placed in the hands of the fighting pilots. It was the Fokker D.R.-I, or as it was perhaps better known, the Fokker triplane.

At first the performance of the triplane was not viewed seriously by the Allies. But within a short time they learned to have a high regard for the new Fokker pursuit. Although this unique ship was slower than the Nieuports, Sopwiths and Spads, its ability to climb and maneuver gave it a decided advantage over any ship then in use and the series of impressive victories for which it was responsible gave the entire world notice that it was a most important factor in aerial warfare.

In general outline the Fokker D.R.-I was of the orthodox triplane type. However, unlike the Sopwith triplane the span of the wings were unequal.

The span for the top wing was 23 feet, 7 inches, the span for the middle wing was 20 feet, 6 inches, while the span of the bottom wing was 18 feet, 9 inches. The chord was the same for all three wings. The top wing alone was provided with ailerons, and these were of the balanced type.

One of the outstanding features of the Fokker was the wing spar construction. The main point of interest is that the twin spars were built up of two box section tapering spars, these being joined by transverse plywood. The front and rear shear strength of this built-up member was supplied by one right and one left plywood bulkhead in each wing.

Structurally the main wing frame could be regarded as consisting of three pairs of cantilevers tied by pseudo-struts near the wing-tips. The function of this structure was to distribute the load evenly from wing to wing.

The use of the triplane design gave the advantage of a larger ratio of lifting power. Of course, there was some increase in head resistance caused by the use of the extra set of inter-plane struts. But by bracing the wings internally, Fokker eliminated all brace wires, thus reducing the total head resistance to some extent.

It is interesting to note in connection with this that Fokker was the first designer to completely do away with inter-plane bracing.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Model No.14 – Fokker Triplane” by Frederick Blakeslee (January 1934, Battle Birds)

The fuselage of the triplane was built up of welded tubular steel and was covered with linen fabric. It was rather well streamlined, and like most of the Fokker war-time designs it compared closely to modern aeronautical practice.

The empennage or tail of the ship was a fabric covered steel tubing framework. There was no vertical fin, there being only the characteristic Fokker rudder. The tail plane or stabilizer was comparatively large and was fitted with the usual type elevators.

The landing gear axle was inclosed by a wing, a feature which was incorporated on all of the later Fokker fighting models. This wing was two pieces and these were attached to a central casting which housed the shock absorbing agents and the axle. The covering for this wing was plywood.

The triplane or D.R.-I was equipped with a 110 h.p. 9 cylinder Oberursel rotary motor. This motor was mounted on a plate which was stamped from sheet steel. The plate was attached, of course, to the front ends of the fuselage longerons.

For armament the plane was fitted with twin Spandau machine guns, these being mounted on the top side of the fuselage directly in front of the cockpit. Directly behind the engine was the synchronizing gear for the guns, and behind this gear was located the fuel tank. This tank was of a rather small capacity and as a result the flight range of the machine was greatly limited.

The triplane answered very well to the controls and as far as climb and general maneuverability are concerned it was equaled by but very few of the later war time designs.

German pilots have told the writer that they were greatly impressed with the ship and if the speed of the plane could have been increased they would have preferred it to any other plane, with the possible exception of the D-VTI. Certainly it was the choice of many of the German pilots.

The great von Richthofen, who could select any ship he desired, favored it above them all; and his series of victories indicate the famous flyer made no mistake in his choice of a pursuit.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Fokker Triplane” by Frederick Blakeslee (June 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

 

Mr. Blakeslee covered the Fokker Triplane himself with the story of the great von Richthofen last flight for the cover of the March 1932 number of Battle Aces.

“Sopwith 1½ Strutter” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on September 14, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time, we have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story of the Sopwith 1½ Strutter on the cover of the May 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3505
Editor’s Note: This is a surprise cover. In painting it, Frederick Blakeslee attempted to tell no story, but simply painted a ship for your collection. The color and every detail on the ship is exactly as it is on the original. We are very anxious to know how you like this cover. Write to Frederick Blakeslee in care of this magazine and tell him what type of cover you like best.

Sopwith 1½ Strutter
by ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly Draughtsman, Fokker Aircraft Corporation

WITH the exception of Fokkers, the Sopwiths were in all probability the best-known fighting ships used during the World War. The Sopwith Camels did more to repulse the German attempts at aerial supremacy than any other type or make of plane, while the Sopwith Pups and Triplanes made themselves almost equally as famous.

Although not as well-known as the other Sopwith models, the 1½ Strutter has a definite claim to historical distinction, not only because it was a great fighter, but because it was the first British plane to be fitted with a gun synchronized to shoot through the propeller.

The Sopwith-Kauper synchronization gear which made this possible was developed at the Sopwith factory and was as much a product of that firm as was the ship to which it was fitted.

The 1½ Strutter was originally designed as a high-performance two-seater fighter powered with the 100 h.p. Clerget engine. As such it gave a very good account of its self, showing an excellent performance and a decided ease of maneuverability.

In view of its worth as a fighter, many 1½ Strutters were built to the order of the governments of Roumania, Russia, Belgium, and the United States. In addition to this, the French government, under license, built more than 4,500 of these machines.

Structurally the 1½ Strutter was interesting in several ways. The wing bracing, which gave the ship its name, was rather unusual, for the top plane was in two halves, bolted to the top of a central cabane, while the wing spars were provided with an extra support in the shape of shorter struts running from the top fuselage longerons to the top plane spars some distance out.

In the single-seater pursuits which followed the 1½ Strutter, this bracing of the top wing was generally adopted, with the exception that the central cabane was done away with, the outer struts of the W formation having a slightly less pronounced slope, and supporting a separate top wing centersection.

Aerodynamically the machine is of interest because of the air-brakes with which it was fitted. These were in the form of adjustable flaps in the trailing edge of the lower wings. These flaps could be rotated by the pilot until they were normal to the wind, thus helping to pull the plane up as it was about to land.

Another innovation incorporated in the 1½ Strutter was the trimming gear by means of which the angle of incidence of the tail plane could be altered in flight. This allowed the tail to be adjusted for speed, climbing, etc.

Although designed originally to be used as a two-seater fighter only, the 1½ Strutter was later successfully adopted as a single-seater bomber, and as such it was used in bombing such German towns as Essen, Munich, and Frankfort. For bombing service the machine was equipped with the 130 h.p. Clerget.

Later this higher-powered engine was used in the standard two-seater fighters. After the war a number of these fighters were fitted with dual controls and powered with 80 h.p. Le Rhone engines for use as training planes.

A study of the following figures will give some idea of the characteristics of the 1½ Strutter:

TOP PLANE
   
Span 33 ft. 6 in.
Chord S ft. 6 in.
Area 183 sq. ft.
Incidence in degrees 2.45
Dihedral 2.45
Gap 5 ft. 5 in.
   
BOTTOM PLANE
   
All dimensions the same as for the top plane.
   
GENERAL DIMENSIONS
   
Total wing area 373 sq. ft.
Length over all 25 ft. 4 in.
Stagger 2 ft. 0 in.
Sweepback 0 ft. 0 in.
Aileron area 52 sq. ft.
Tail plane area 35.5 sq. ft.
Elevator area 21.5 sq. ft.
Fin area 3.5 sq. ft.
Rudder area 7.25 sq. ft.

 

Powered with the 110 h.p. Clerget engine, the two-seater fighter weighed 1,281 pounds empty, had a high speed of 130 m.p.h. and climbed 6,500 feet in 10½ minutes. The ceiling was 16,000 feet, the military load 160 pounds, and the landing speed 35 m.p.h. In addition to the fixed gun, the fighter carried a Scarfe ring and gun for the use of the man in the rear pit.

As a bomber, powered with the 130 h.p. Clerget, the ship weighed 1,316 pounds empty, showed a high speed of 102 m.p.h., and climbed to 6,500 feet in 12.7 minutes. The ceiling was 13,000 feet, the military load was 344 pounds, and the landing speed 35 m.p.h.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Sopwith 1½ Strutter” by Frederick Blakeslee (May 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

The Jailbird Flight—Resurrecting the Dead Man’s Drome

Link - Posted by David on September 7, 2015 @ 12:54 pm in

WHEN you’re collecting pulps after the fact rather than buying them off the newsstands you rarely acquire issues in their publication order. As such when you find a character or series, you don’t often read those stories in sequence. For some characters that is not essential, for other series you realize after reading two or three stories that you need to collect all the stories and then read them in order to appreciate the continuity that runs throughout the series. Such is the case with Donald Keyhoe’s Jailbird Flight.

I discovered Keyhoe and his Jailbird Flight stories in Dare-Devil Aces. Here was a band of convicts who chose to die flying suicide missions and fighting for their country—the very country that condemned them to life in prison—rather than rot in said prison. They were a rough and tumble bunch assembled by Colonel Rand from the bowels of Blois:

The Flight, at is core, is comprised of Bruce Kirby—Below the Rio Grande he had once been known as “The Killer,” now he flew through hell skies, leader of the strangest squadron that ever dared face death from flaming Spandaus; “Big” Durgin, the hugest Jailbird of all, a mountain of a man with pile-driver fists and a fierce, battered face that masked the gruff kindness beneath his hard exterior; “Tiger” Haight, whose dark eyes ever smoldered as at some hateful memory, perhaps of the day which had turned his hair to silver, though he was but thirty—no one knew his past—no questions were asked in the Jailbird Flight; Cartwright, the tall, urbane Englishman who looked like a British lord; the lanky Tinker with his drawling humor and comical, homely face; and last and by no means least—Kid Denison who reminded Kirby of his ill-fated young brother who had been brutally sacrificed by a drug-mad S.C.! All bore the notorious brand—the sign of the Jailbird Flight—a broad arrow burned on the back of their right hand—but they made it stand for courage!

Dare-Devil Aces was my entry into air war pulps—they were plentiful and relatively cheaply priced at the time (this is like 15 or 20 years ago we’re talking). Finding most issues was relatively easy save for a few—the January 1935 issue which has G-8 appearing in Hogan’s Red Falcon story that month; a couple of 1934 issues—February and July; and the first year of issues from 1932. Condition was not really a concern at the time—I just wanted to read the stories. The initial core of my collection was a lot of 17 issues that Editor Emeritus Bill Mann sold me at PulpCon one year for $100!

The Cyclone Patrol
THE OPENING SPREAD of “The Cyclone Patrol” by Frederick Blakeslee (February 1933, Dare-Devil Aces). This is not the original copy I had read, but an upgraded issue with the cover still attached. The previous owner, J.B., felt so strongly about this story that he printed his succinct review in the margin—”This story is NUTZ, , and so is KIRBY.”

Being familiar with Robert J. Hogan and G-8 and his Battle Aces, I initially read the Red Falcon stories in the issues. But my attention started to wander to the other stories in the wealth of issues as it does and that’s when I came upon the February 1932 issue and its lead story—”The Cyclone Patrol” by Donald E. Keyhoe. Frederick Blakeslee’s two page illustration for the story was shear pandemonium! At first glance, it appears to be two arrow emblazoned planes zooming down to strafe a bunch of armor-clad knights with rifles! Kooky. But as you study it more as you do—you start to notice that there are a bunch of much smaller figures running in fear and that Blakeslee’s perspective is not off and these knights are giants(!) and the smaller figures are normal-sized men! Reading the blurb at the bottom of the picture hooked me—

Pilots twelve feet tall—mammoth planes—rifles big as cannons—this was the squadron of giants, Bocheland’s newest sky horror. Armies fled in terror before them—until Killer Kirby took up their awful challenge, dared defy the strength of these super-aces with the gutty courage of his Jailbird Brood!

I had to read it! And I did—it was an electric story of a mad German Scientist, von Horde, who had appropriated another’s invention—the Q ray—to turn normal people into twelve foot tall giants which he planed on using to defeat the Allies once and for all. While trying to get into von Horde’s castle, Kirby comes across the Q-ray’s creator Kauben who wants to rescue his girl from von Horde’s clutches. They team up to break into his castle, smash the device, get the girl and put an end to von Horde’s mad schemes! It’s a great story—Kirby even comes upon one of his own Brood in von Horde’s dungeons that has been transformed into one of his giants—showing Kirby the enlarged scar on the back of his hand when he doesn’t believe it possible.

After finishing that story, I looked through my other issues to see if I had any more stories of this Jailbird Flight. At the time I had one other story—”The Red Lightning Ace”—as the blurb puts it: “For the Fourth time the Terror had struck What was this new War weapon—this terrible wheel of flame that roared out of the night skies to bring destruction—death—to all it touched? Grimly Kirby followed that fire sky trail, straight into the most hell-bent adventure he or his dare-devil Brood ever tackled.” More wacky WWI super-science action as only Keyhoe could write it!

In looking for The Jailbird Flight in indexes I found there were only two more stories in Dare-Devil Aces in issues I didn’t own at that time as well as one in the first issue of Battle Birds which would precede the four Dare-Devil Aces stories, and seven earlier tales in the even harder to find Battle Aces. A whole wealth of stories—12 in all—I just had to find them.

So I would haunt eBay and AbeBooks and similar places and do websearches and such and over the years I was able to get the other two stories in Dare-Devil Aces and the last two Battle Aces stories—for some reason, the later 1932 issues of Battle Aces seemed to be easier to find that the 1931 or earlier ’32’s.

When we started Age of Aces Books in 2007, I always had a goal of getting all the Jailbird stories so we could collect them into a book. As it turns out—two books. We discussed printing them out of order or maybe just the Dare-Devil Aces stories just to get them out there, but in the end we decided we should do them in order in two volumes. As it worked out, the story in the first issue of Battle Birds—”The Jailbird Patrol”—works as a great introduction to the series and so it and the four Dare-Devil Aces stories could be one book while the seven stories from Battle Aces of various lengths would be the first volume.

I was finally able to track down the first five Jailbird stories through eBay—the hardest to obtain being the March 1932 issue with a Red Baron cover! When I finally got the first Jailbird story from the September 1931 Battle Aces around Thanksgiving 2013 I read it with excitement! I wasn’t sure what to expect—if it would contain the oft mentioned incident that landed Kirby in Blois—the killing of his drug-addled S.C. who had sent his green-pilot of a younger brother on a suicide mission—or maybe the formation of the Brood—or would it just start already in existence. “The Jailbird Flight”—the first story—was a present. It contained everything! The first chapter is one of the best aviation tales I’ve read—there we meet Bruce Kirby coming back from patrol when he comes upon an obviously inexperience flight of Allied pilots being attacked by von Falke’s Hate Staffel! Amongst the besieged is Kirby’s own little brother! whom he see’s gunned down before his eyes! Crazed he returns to his base and confronts the S.C. only to find him hopped up on drugs unable to handle his job. Kirby offers him a fair chance to defend himself as he had done in his life before the war south of the Rio Grande.

    Killer Kirby stood like a statue, facing him. His hands hung at his sides, but the fingers were curled like talons. When he spoke his voice was strange and unnatural.
    “Better take that drink, Dorsey,” he said. “It’s the last drink you’ll get this side of hell.”
    An awful pallor crept into Dorsey’s face under the jaundiced skin.
    “What do you mean?” he whispered. His right hand crept toward the desk.
    “Jimmy—my brother.” A strange film came over Kirby’s eyes. The pupils had become mere pin points, black, menacing. “He’s dead, and it was you who killed him!”
Dorsey sank back before the look in Kirby’s face.
    “No, no,” he cried. “I swear to God I didn’t mean to do it! You can’t—”
    “Draw your gun!” rasped Kirby. “It’s there in your desk. Draw it—or I’ll burn you down!”
    “It’s murder!” Dorsey shrieked. “You’re mad—”
    “Murder! Yes, and you murdered him! Draw!”
    With a crazy scream, Dorsey jerked his pistol from the drawer. His hand threw the weapon upward. Instantly, Kirby’s hand flashed down. The gun seemed to leap into his clutching fingers. There was a crash as two shots came at once. Dorsey’s face turned a hideous gray as he staggered back. His gun fell from his hand. Suddenly he crumpled up and fell like a log.
    Startled voices sounded outside. Men burst into the squadron office. Kirby turned and faced them. He held out his pistol butt foremost, while a red stream trickled from his left arm.
    “Here’s my gun,” said Kirby slowly. His face was black as granite. “You needn’t call the surgeon. I shot him through the heart.”

Chapter two picks up as Kirby sits a dank cell in Blois awaiting eventual transfer to the Federal Prison at Leavenworth, Kansas to be imprisoned for the rest of his life. That is until Colonel Rand shows up and makes Kirby an offer—one he initially turns down until he hears their first mission will be a suicide flight against von Falke and his Hate Staffel!

And that’s just the beginning!

Our new book The Jailbird Flight: Dead Man’s Drome collects those seven hard to find stories from the pages of Popular Publication’s Battle Aces. As a Labour Day Special to whet your appetite, here are the first two chapters of the first story to get you hooked!

The Jailbird Flight: Dead Man’s Drome, like all Age of Aces Books, can be order from Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books, and, of course, Amazon!

“The Death Disc” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on August 17, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time Mr. Blakeslee brings us a story of a weapon that was made, but never used during the war. From the April 1935 issue of Dare-Devil Aces, we present “The Death Disc!”

th_DDA_3504SOME time ago we mentioned the fact that during the war people in all walks of life set their creative minds at work on inventions to “win the war.” Each inventor seemed to think that he had hit upon an original principle, or a new application of an old principle. The majority of these inventions were utterly useless. This month’s cover is based on the invention of a German who lived in a small village in East Prussia.

He had been a brilliant instructor of mathematics in a famous German university. Later on in life he retired and when war broke out he was too old to fight

There was no lack of courage in the old man for he tried in vain to find a place in the fighting forces of his country. But German officialdom at that time would have none of him.

Finding no place for himself he had retired to his village again and there devoted his time and his modest fortune to experimentation on explosives. None of his formula proved successful and after an accident that wrecked his laboratory, the towns people persuaded him to give up this dangerous occupation. Discouraged by his failures, he did stop dabbling in explosives and turned to commodities.

He figured, and rightly, that the war would last longer than people thought, and foresaw a shortage in some of the staple commodities. He received no backing whatever, although some of his ideas, conceived during this period, were later adopted.

Constant discouragement undermined his health and his mind broke under the strain, He kept on working, but his inventions were noted for their utter uselessness. Before this he had become interested in the airplane and had started the device that is pictured here. After his mind gave way he completed it in this form. Early in 1917 he died and whatever his intention was concerning this device died with him.

However, there is a model of it preserved in the village and from an examination of it, it would appear that part of its function is shown on the cover. We know it was to have been shot from a German two-seater by a sort of spring gun. The gun, they say, was actually built but there is no record that it worked.

The device itself is very light and consists of a bomb-like core around which revolved a driving propeller and cutting blades. There is nothing within the core now to indicate how the propeller was to have been revolved.

It was invented before the machine gun came into general use, when pilots were throwing bricks at each other’s prop or fighting with rifle and pistol. Assuming that the thing was workable, we have shown on the cover our idea of what it could do, What do you think it was?

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Death Disc: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(April 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Dynamite Monster” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on August 3, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. This time Mr. Blakeslee looks into the possiblity of a giant bomb that needed to be carried aloft by two planes! From the March 1935 Dare-Devil Aces, it’s “The Dynamite Monster!”

th_DDA_3503I MET Ed in the Savoy Grill in London. We had not seen each other since I had been in England three years before, so naturally we sat down, ordered drinks and spent the rainy afternoon talking over old times.

Finally. “I suppose you’re over digging up ideas, what?” he asked.

“Among other things,” I answered. “Have you any ideas around loose?” and I explained what I was after.

“Inventions is it?” he said. “Well, I don’t know of any unless—”

“Unless what?” I urged.

“Oh nothing, I was just thinking of something I heard some time ago, but you’re after authentic material, aren’t you?”

I told him I was.

“There you are,” he returned. “I can’t prove it because Bill Totling told it and someone told Bill, or so he says, and you’d have to trace the story to the original source.”

“As long as the story had a source, that’s all the proof I require, so tell it.”

“All right,” he began, “but keep this in mind, personally I think Bill was pulling our legs. It was at the annual binge of the W.B.C. (I have called it the W B C (War Birds Club) which is not its real name.—Author.) Bill said that late in 1918 we were experimenting with a bomb to drop on Berlin that was to be carried by two airplanes. The bomb was to be slung between the ships by cables. At the proper place it was to be released by electricity from one of the ships.”

“I’d like to hear more of the details,” I said,

“Why don’t you look up Bill and ask him?”

I thanked Ed and we parted. I found that Bill lived on Taviton Street which was near my hotel so that very night I called on him. He remembered the story.

“Sid Stanley told it to me,” he said to my question, “Who told it to Sid I don’t know, it’s one of those yarns that has been told to so many people that without a doubt it has been changed in the telling, but I have reason to think that it has some foundation in fact.”

“That’s all the proof I need,” I said, “perhaps you can answer some questions. What kind of ships were to be used?”

“That I don’t know. They experimented with deHavilands.”

“Why deHavilands?”

“I suppose because they were easier to handle in the take-off. The idea was to train the pilots on the lighter ship before handling the heavier planes.”

“I see. Well, how did they take off?”

“The bomb was on a carriage. The ships took up position on either side of the bomb, dragged it between them, rose in the air and gradually took up the load of the bomb lifting it off the carriage and there you are. Sid said they actually got in the air with one too,”

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Dynamite Monster: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(March 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Fokker D-VII” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on July 27, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time, we have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story of the Fokker D-VII on the cover of the February 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3502The contraption shown on the cover was supposed to have been invented just after our entry into the war. The idea was for a bomber to drop the net and then the combat ships were to lure the enemy into it, or else the combat ship was to carry the net itself. The story goes that the inventor offered it to the U.S. government, then to France and England and finally into German hands. (A similar device was employed in the Sky Devil story “The Haunted Fokker” (Dare-Devil Ace, April 1933))

Now let’s review the history of the Fokker D-VII, written by an authority on the subject.

THE FOKKER D-VII
by ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly Draughtsman, Fokker Aircraft Corp.

TO ANY one familiar with the fighting planes developed during the World War the Fokker D-VII is outstanding. It was superior to any other plane used by Germany and it was certainly the equal of any machine used by the Allies. Using the D-VII the German pilots were able to hold their own against a much larger force of Allied aircraft, and so great did the fear of these planes become that it was definitely stated in terms of the Armistice that all Fokker planes should be destroyed.

The D-VII was the result of the gradual development of the earlier Fokker Fighters. When it was found that the 110 H.P. Le Rhone powered Nieuport easily outmoded the 80 H.P. Gnome powered Fokker the design of the Fokker tri-plane was completed.

The triplane enabled the German pilots to gain a series of impressive victories and it was used by the great von Richthofen in many of his aerial duels. Although the speed of this plane was comparatively slow, its decided ease of maneuverability more than made up for the disadvantage.

But its flight range was limited by a small gasoline capacity and Allied pilots found that the best way to escape it was to out-distance it.

As it became apparent that the fighting planes of the Allies, and in particular the Sopwith Camels and Spads, were giving them the advantages of speed and flight range the design of the D Series Fokkers was started. The first of these was the D-I, a bi-plane powered with a 120 H.P. Mercedes, and like the rest of the series it was fast and efficient.

About this time the Albatros works (Albatros Werke) began production of the D Series Albatros machines. The Albatros D-II proved itself superior to the Fokker D-I and by 1917 the later developed D-III had surplanted the Fokkers at the Front. This Albatros was powered with a 175 H.P. Mercedes, weighed 1,470 lbs. and carried a useful load of 297 lbs.

These D Series Albatros planes were a bi-plane design, having a small lower wing (made of a single spar) connected to a larger upper wing with a V strut. Any combat advantages which the Albatros offered were offset by the fact that the plane was structurally weak and the wings could not stand torsions. Consequently, when fighting the Albatros, Allied pilots had but to put their planes into a steep dive to be safe.

Many German airmen were killed when their planes went to pieces in mid-air; the celebrated Captain Boelke met death when the wings of his Albatros pulled off while he was flying over his own lines. Several pilots deliberately wrecked their machines rather than take them into the air.

The father of the D-VII was a bi-plane of somewhat radical appearance. Its fabric-covered fuselage was made of wood covered welded tubing, making a clean and decidedly streamlined job. The wings were built up of wood in much the same manner as were the wings of the later Fokker commercial types.

Although this plane offered every advantage and was years ahead of its time in many ways it was refused by the German High Command. Realizing that little satisfaction could be had from the German government (politics meaning more to them than efficient fighting equipment) Mr. Fokker managed to contact the important pilots. He found that they were not satisfied with the planes and materials furnished them and they desired to select their own equipment.

After some difficulty and much red tape an open competition of the leading makes of military planes was held. For this competition Fokker redesigned his bi-plane and the D-VII was born.

The D-VII was characterized by its cantilever wings (made up of box spars). No wires or external braces were used and the wings were joined together at the tips with a single strut. The fuselage was of a rectangular cross section which feature made for simplified manufacturing and quantity production. By streamlining the landing gear axle with a tiny wing, speed was added to the plane.

The D-VII fast became a favorite of the pilots. Although the Rumpler climbed faster, it handled very badly, especially on the turns. So great was the demand for the new Fokker that the factories making other planes were required to stop production of their own types and concentrate on the building of the D-VIIs.

The following figures give an insight into the construction and performance of the plane.

Wing curve Fokker varying
Sweepback None
Dihedral, upper wing
Dihedral, lower wing 1° 20′
Stagger 2′ 1″
Total wing area, including ailerons 236 sq. ft.
 
Upper plane—
  Span 27′ 5½”
  Chord 5′ 3″
  Area, with ailerons 145 sq. ft
 
Lower plane—
  Span 22′ 11¼”
  Chord 3′ 11¼”
  Area 91 sq. ft.
  Incidence 1 to 1.5 degrees
  Gap 4′ 6¼”
 
Fuselage—
  Max. cross section shape Rectangular
  Max. cross section area 9.35 sq. ft.
  Max. cross section dimension 3′ 9½” by 2′ 5½”
 
General Dimensions—
  Overall span 27′ by 5½”
  Length 23′
  Height 9′ 3″
 
The weight of plane (empty, including water) 1,867 pounds
The weight of plane loaded 2,462 pounds

The endurance of the Fokker D-VII is, full throttle at 10,000 feet (including climb) 2 hrs. 13 minutes.

Minimum speed of the D-VII at sea level (lowest throttle) is 62 miles per hour.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Fokker D-VII” by Frederick Blakeslee (February 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

 

Mr. Blakeslee covered the Fokker D-VII himself with the story of Billy Bishop for the cover of the February 1932 number of Battle Aces.

“Death Lightning” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 20, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. It’s another of Mr. Blakeslee’s future tech story covers—and it’s a cover you don’t see often because it’s a hard to find issue due to G-8 guest staring in Robert J. Hogan’s Red Falcon story that month—Dynamite Cargo! (available in our first volume of Red Falcon: The Dare-Devil Aces Years.) Another side note: Although Blakeslee did the cover, he did not do the interior illustrations aside from the interstitials Would You Believe it? and The Story Behind The Cover—Josef Katula handled the art honors this month. So feast your eyes on the January 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3501THE cover this month, as last month, is dedicated to war in the air as it might have been fought had inventors realized their dreams.

If you did not believe the story behind the cover last month you probably will not believe it this month. As a matter of fact we are a bit incredulous ourselves, yet we have it on authority that such an invention as this month’s cover shows was actually being worked on during the war.

As you see, the invention consisted of a device by which an electrical charge would be built up sufficient to jump the gap between two airplanes.

When we visualize the huge apparatus required to jump a spark across even a comparatively small gap, we wonder what the airplane that could carry such a machine would look like. So we selected the German Roland Walfische which was a queer looking ship for those days, a beauty however, and far in advance of its time as you can see by the above drawing of it.

We may laugh all we please at these “impossible” things, yet in this age who is to say what is impossible and what is possible? Imagine what would have happened to a man fifty years ago had he described the radio—a padded cell for him perhaps. So reserve your laugh to fifty years hence.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Death Lightning: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(January 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next time, Mr. Blakeslee brings us another fanciful invention—”Death Lightning” for the January 1935 cover. Be sure not to miss it.

“The Flying Torpedo” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 13, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. Blakeslee had three different formats for his stories behind his covers. First, there’s the straight story of the cover action; second, there was the ship on the cover where he told the specifics of the plane featured on said cover; and then there were future visions of air warfare. This week we have the first of these where he talks about the flying torpedo—or guided missle! From the December 1934 issue of Dare-Devil Aces

th_DDA_3412DOES this cover look fantastic? Perhaps it does, but it is based on actual fact.

During the war inventors were busy all over the nation. The butcher, the baker, the candle-stick maker, all turned their minds to contraptions calculated to win the war. Farmers who had never seen the sea went to work on unsinkable ships, clerks in the corner store who had never seen a big gun, invented marvelous shells.

Almost without exception the thousands of war inventions that flooded the patent office were useless and often fantastic. Without exception however the individual inventors were serious in their intentions and the government wisely treated even the fantastic inventions with the respect they deserved. The government realized that someone somewhere might turn in a workable idea.

Occasionally workable ideas were received from obscure inventors and in such a case government engineers were dispatched to the inventor to investigate, test and report. Many new and workable war inventions were acquired in this way but that was the exception and not the rule.

It was left to experts in the various fields to evolve new ideas and one was the aerial torpedo. How the torpedo was to have worked is pictured on this month’s cover.

Being an air magazine we have selected the Zep as the target, but the torpedo was meant primarily for operations against munition factories, ammunition dumps, ships, etc. We do not know what the torpedo looked like, but we do know that they were controlled by wireless. They were actually, and successfully tested near Dayton, Ohio.

A humorous incident occurred that might have proved tragic, during the test. One of the torpedoes got out of control and had the countryside thoroughly scared until it eventually landed in a wood with disastrous results—but only to the trees.

Our informant tells us that the torpedo was self-propelled and had a wing span of about six feet. Direction up, down, right or left was controlled by wireless. Although the torpedo had wings we have shown them on the cover as rockets.

The question naturally arises, why weren’t they used in the war ? We can’t answer that one so we will let you answer it and if anyone does know the answer we would be glad to hear it.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Flying Torpedo: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(December 1934, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next time, Mr. Blakeslee brings us another fanciful invention—”Death Lightning” for the January 1935 cover. Be sure not to miss it.

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