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“The French Breguet” by Frederick Blakeslee

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

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the nineteenth 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 enabled you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt.

th_BA_3212THE story behind this month’s cover —which shows an exploit of two brothers, Captains Jean and Charles Ranconcour—had its origin five years before the beginning of the War, when the Frenchmen were visiting Berlin. One evening, while they were dining in a crowded restaurant with a friend, a Prussian officer approached their table and without warning flung a glass of wine into Jean’s face. The three leaped to their feet; Charles demanded an explanation in behalf of his brother. The Prussian turned to him, surveyed him from head to foot, then slashed him across the face with a pair of heavy gloves. Jean promptly knocked him down.

By this time, of course, a large crowd had gathered and it was with considerable difficulty that order was restored. First Jean, then Charles, challenged him to a duel and the Prussian accepted, telling them to await his seconds. They waited for two hours, only to learn then that their strange enemy had been seen leaving the city—hurriedly; he had heard, no doubt, that both brothers had a reputation as expert duellists.

From that moment the two brothers swore to obtain satisfaction for this cowardly assault—but their opportunity did not come until nine years later high above the battlefields of France.

The outbreak of the War found Jean and Charles officers in infantry regiments. Late in 1917 they received word that the Prussian officer was in a certain Boche aviation squadron. The brothers immediately transferred to aviation and through influence they were both attached to the same French squadron—Jean as pilot and Charles as his gunner.

They got the reputation of being careful fighters. Although they never avoided a combat, neither did they go out of their way to get into one. But as they did their work and were popular no one accused them of cowardice. The more astute among the squadron guessed the truth. From the name they had christened their Breguet and the fact that Charles scrutinized all enemy planes with binoculars, they guessed the brothers were hunting a particular enemy.

One day early in 1918, the brothers were returning from a mission with two other bombers when they sighted a group of enemy ships escorted by battle planes. Charles examined the flight through his field glasses, as usual; then suddenly he dropped the binoculars, spoke rapidly to his brother. Much to the astonishment of their fellow flyers, Jean’s plane turned and with throttle wide open, hurtled straight for the enemy.

The two other French pilots, realizing something unusual was about to happen, and knowing also that Jean was helplessly out-numbered and had need of every possible gun, turned and followed.

In the scrap that ensued the Frenchmen shot down a two-seater L.V.G. and routed the rest, then looked around for the brothers. They were engaged in a fight to the finish with an L.V.G. that turned, sideslipped and looped but could not shake this French terror on its tall. If Jean and Charles had been careful before, their tactics now were completely changed. They fought like fiends.

In trying to escape, the Boche ship turned and came screaming back just as Jean’s plane dove across it. There was a crash as the landing gear carried away the tip of the L.C.G.’s wing. At the same moment Charles poured a murderous— and fatal—fire into the cockpit.

The L.V.G. dove and crashed. When he had seen it hit the earth, Charles cooly climbed down onto the landing gear and disentangled the wreckage. A few minutes later all three French ships landed near the shattered Boche plane. The body of the German was dragged from the wreckage; Jean and Charles bent over it, looked closely, then straightened and shook hands. The duel to which they had challenged this enemy 9 years ago, had been waged—and won.

The brothers transferred to a combat squadron soon after and both piled up a formidable score before the war ended.

The German ship shown on the cover is an L.V.G. type D single-seater scout.

The French ship is a Breguet type 14B-2 with a 300 h.p. Renault engine. It was designed as a day bomber, but carried one gun in front (synchronized) and two guns aft. Only the upper planes were provided with ailerons. The part of the lower plane lying behind the rear spar was hinged along its total length and pulled downward by means of twelve rubber cords fixed on the under side of the ribs. An automatic change of aerofoil corresponding with the load and speed thus results with an easier control of the airplane with and without a load of bombs. Its span was 14.364 meters; length 9 m; speed low down 185 kms per hour. It climbed to 5,000 m. in 47 m. 30 sec. Ceiling was 5,750 m.

The French Breguet
“The French Breguet” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (December 1932)

“Good Haunting!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on April 24, 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!

Do you believe in ghosts? They asked that question of Major Garrity, and he said no, but he didn’t like ‘em. They asked Phineas Pinkham, and he said yes, and he liked ‘em. Here’s a ghost story guaranteed to make you laugh—not shudder.

Airman’s Code

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

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. Every one of those covers told a story, and Blakeslee had a page with which to do so. We present Blakeslee’s cover for the December 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces—”Airman’s Code”…

th_DDA_3212AT THE outbreak of the War a certain German who had been educated in England answered the call of his country. In 1917 he entered the air service and the next year found him in Richthofen’s Circus. He was a clean fighter and preferred to wage combat alone where he could follow his own tactics. Once when he was engaged in a lone battle with an Englishman, his opponent’s guns jammed. Instead of pressing his advantage, the German stopped firing and waited until the jam had been cleared. The combat was started again, and again the Englishman’s guns jammed, this time hopelessly. He motioned to that effect, whereupon the German saluted and flew away.

He soon became famous for his chivalry and in return was accorded the same treatment by the English and Americans with whom he came in contact. However, when he flew with the Circus, no quarter was asked or given and he fought as hard and as viciously as everyone else did. The exciting scrap shown on the cover can perhaps be best described in his own words.

“Soon after Richthofen’s death,” he said, “I was transferred to another squadron. I used my same old ship with a different color scheme and a large number 3 painted on the side. One day on patrol we sighted a lone British machine scudding along beneath the clouds toward Germany. Our leader dove on it and we followed. The British ship was called a Bristol Fighter and lived up to its name. As we approached, the gunner coolly took aim and raked our leader with flaming tracers.

“Here was a worthy foe and I swooped across to dive in from the other side, while my remaining companion took him on the left. When I turned I was face to face with a deadly S.E.-5—and we were alone. I was so astonished that before I could recover, the S.E. had sent in a burst that put my port gun out of commission and a bullet grazed my head, knocking my goggles down over my nose. By the time I had cleared away the goggles and wiped the blood out of my eyes, the S.E.-S was on my tail. In a few seconds my instrument board was shattered to bits. Not once was I able to get the S.E. within my sight. He was everywhere at once.

“Acknowledging myself licked, I fled, not knowing or caring in what direction. My vision was blurred—and I crashed. When I awoke I was on a cot and khaki-clad men were standing about. I realized that I was a prisoner!

“I will add that I was treated royally. That evening I met a former classmate and dined at his mess. The next morning I left for the prison camp.”

The Story Behind The Cover
“Airman’s Code: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee (December 1932)

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

“Soft Thunder” by Frederick C Painton

Link - Posted by David on August 31, 2012 @ 8:00 am in

The Strange Enemy of our new book Captain Philip Strange: Strange Enemies, Fraulein Doktor, pops up in the oddest places. Here she is causing trouble in Frederick C Painton’s “Soft Thunder” a year and a half before her first appearance in Donald Keyhoe’s Philip Strange stories.

We’ve posted a number of Frederick C. Painton’s stories in this space already including a few of his Dirty Dozen-esque Squadron of the Dead stories. He’s a great writer with a background in newspapers as this short autobiography from the April 1942 issue of Blue Book Magazine attests:

Click to enlarge in a new window.

Unfortunately he died of a heart attack on a Guam airfield while covering the Pacific war.

He was just a kid who played Tennis to those two hard-boiled soldiers—but there was stuff in his make-up that kept him battling in the flaming skies. It was a grim game they played—they stuck to the rules and played like sports, but they knew that the loser would find flying death. And then into their game kited a kid who seemed soft—but there is lightning with even soft thunder.

“Double Death” by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on July 4, 2011 @ 12:58 pm in

Here is a smashing complete novelette of strange wings over the Italian front!
Ships were being blown to shambles in pairs—two or four at time, never three or five or just one—and none knew why. Until Jack Lannigan came. Find out why in William E. Barrett’s intriguing novelette “Double Death.”

William E. Barrett wrote a number of aviation themed stories for the air pulps in the 1930s. His nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s have been collected in one volume and available from our books page. Barrett would later become famous as the author of “Lilies of the Field” and “The Left Hand of God” amung other books.