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