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“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 19: Captain Heurtaux” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on March 15, 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 that Ace of the Stork Escadrille—Captain Heurtaux!

Captain Alfred Marie-Joseph Heurtaux was one of France’s Aces in the First World War—credited with 21 victories (and an additional 13 unconfirmed or probables). He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion d’Honneur and the Croix de Guerre with 15 palms and two bronze stars.

The son of an artillery officer, he entered officer training before the outbreak of the war in 1912. He started his military career in the 4e Regiment d’Hussards before working his way up and being transferred to aerial service. There he would eventually find himself commanding the Stork Escadrille—Les Cigognes!

After the war he toured America lecturing on fighter tactics and held down a management position with the Ford Motor Company in its American operations. From there he moved to General Motors in Europe before finally settling with Renault. He was also active in the Association of the Reserve Officers of the Air Force—even being appointed its president from 1934 to 1937.

At the start of the Second World War, Heurtaux was still Inspector of Flight Aviation for the French Air Forces. However, he joined the French Resistance after France fell to the Germans. He used his connections and influence to recruit fellow veterans into espionage resulting in the Hector network in Northern France. Unfortunately, the Gestapo caught up with him and he spent over three years in a succession of German jails and camps ending up in Buchenwald just a month before the US Army’s 6th Armored Division liberated it and him on 11 April 1945.

After the Second World War he worked as a consulting engineer. Heurtaux passed away 30 December 1985, at Chantilly, Oise and was buried in Paris.

(Editor’s Note: Although Flying Aces has gone to a bedsheet sized publication with this issue, the feature is still being done in the two page format of the pulp-sized issues. As such, we have reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

“Sky Fighters, December 1933″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on October 17, 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 December 1933 cover, It’s a Westland N.17 Seaplane hunting for German submarines!

The Ships on the Cover

THE planes on this month’s cover th_SF_3312 are all of one type, the Westland N.17 Seaplane. It was a shipboard plane which could be stowed away below decks by folding the wings back along the sides of the fuselage.

The British had plenty of work for these little sea scouts. The North Sea and other near-by waters were the favorite lurking places for German submarines. To spot a sub with only its periscope above the surface or completely submerged could be efficiently accomplished only by a plane above. Then it was the seaplane pilot’s job to go into action with his bombs or to wireless the position of the enemy to the nearest sub-chaser.

The three Westlands pictured on the cover have caught the German submarine above water. Before it could submerge they have attacked it with machine-gun fire and with bombs. The sub’s commander has no choice but to fight back. Up comes his hidden gun which is below the deck plates in its own water-tight compartment when the sub is submerged.

Twenty seconds is all the time needed before the gun goes into action. A shell whistles by the Westland in the foreground. Machine-gun bullets from the Westlands slash through the air. Two German!! are down. Another leaps to the breach of the gun. Another shell screams at the attackers. Just at this moment the plane directly over the sub has released • bomb. The pilot’s aim is perfect. In less than a second it will hit—a twisted mass of steel plates will sink to the bottom.

Possibly in less than an hour a huge transport with thousands of our troops Aboard will steam over this very spot In the distance one of our doughboys may spot the three Westlands flying low over the water. Ten to one he’ll think, “Now, that’s the kind of a soft job to have. Nothing to do but roost up there and put in a couple of hours doing nothing to help us Yanks win the war.”

The Westland N.17 was powered by a Bentley Rotary motor. It could skim above the water at about 108 miles per hour. It’s landing speed was forty-five miles per hour when fitted with trailing edge flaps. This ship was the answer to the British Admiralty’s demand for a stable, fast single-seater scout which could be used from seaplane carriers as a fighter, sub spotter and light bomber. It came up to all specifications and was in service up to the end of the war.

Just before the battle of Jutland it was a seaplane that warned Admiral Jellicoe that German submarines were directly ahead. Possibly a different outcome to the greatest naval engagement of the World War would have been written in our history books if It had not been for the alertness of those sturdy little planes roaring back and forth across the path of British dreadnaughts.

Seaplanes directed the fire of the battleships shelling the entrance to the Dardanelles, making possible direct hits at a range of 12,000 yards.

For those who care to shed their parachutes and don a diver’s suit we are including a self-explanatory diagram-drawing of a German sub. These undersea engines of destruction accounted for a loss In merchant tonnage to the Allies amounting to nearly 13,000,000 tons.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, December 1933 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Sopwith Camel and Albatross D.V.!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Albert Ball

Link - Posted by David on May 18, 2016 @ 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 it’s British Captain Albert Ball’s Most Thrilling Sky Fight!

Captain Albert Ball was the first of the Royal Flying Corps pilots to make a distinguished record. Unlike the French, the British made no mention of their air pilot’s victories. One day Ball wrote home that he had just counted his 22nd victory. His mother proudly showed this letter to her friends. Ball was disbelieved.

It was beyond belief at that time that any single pilot could have shot down so many enemy planes. Ball was finally vindicated. From that time on the British publicized the exploits of flying aces. Ball shot down 43 enemy planes and one balloon, being at the time of his death the Ace of Aces of all the armies.

He received every decoration the British Army could give him, including the Victoria Cross. He was killed in a new British triplane by the younger von Richthofen the day after America entered the War.

The account below is taken from a letter to his family in Nottingham.

 

AN ENGLISH ACE’S BEST FIGHT

by Captain Albert Ball • Sky Fighters, December 1933

WHILE cruising high over my own lines I spotted a formation of eight enemy machines about 5 kilometers away. They were well within their own lines, so I circled around slowly, watching, waiting for them to come after me. But they did not.

I decided then to do the attacking myself. The Hun formation let me come on without any apparent effort to scatter. I had my thumbs on the trigger trips, but I was determined not to fire until I got within deadshot range. I knew I had to knock down my first target to shatter their morale. Down, down I went, expecting Hun fire all the time. But oddly none came. They usually fire at very long range. But in another hundred yards I saw why they withheld fire. All at once they opened up simultaneously with a steady stream of slugs.

I was diving so fast and so steep that I couldn’t swerve off from that hail of lead. I had to go through run the gauntlet. I did, diving even steeper, trusting my life to the hands of Fate. The slugs sieved through my ship. I held my breath, shoved on my cockpit, ducked my head, won through without getting nicked in a vital spot.

Before the gunners could swing their muzzles and center me, I pulled up in a climbing zoom, nosing right into the blind belly of the nearest Hun. At fifteen meters I pressed my triggers. The pilot crumpled over. The ship went spinning down. I went over on my back, straightened out, lined another. It burst into flames with my second salvo of fire.

The German formation was completely disorganized now. They turned and fled in all directions. I chased one, centered my fire from directly behind. My bursts were effective. A wing crumpled, collapsed. It went down. I banked, and took after another, caught up with him, gave him the same dose. The ship went spinning down. Four in one fight! It was a record for me.

I banked and chased the other three far into Germany. But had to give up before I caught them. My petrol was running short, and I have an unholy fear of being forced down in enemy territory.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Navarre

Link - Posted by David on May 4, 2016 @ 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 it’s French Lieutenant Navarre’s Most Thrilling Sky Fight!

The year before America entered the War, there was one name that was consistently emblazoned in the papers along with Marshal Joffre, Earl Kitchner, and the other high ranking generals. It was the name of Navarre, the “Sentinel of Verdun.” Navarre was the first Ace, the first man to destroy live enemy aircraft in plane to plane combat. At the first battle of Verdun he did yeoman duty. It was his reports brought in after solo patrols far in the rear of the German lines that enabled Marshal Joffre to so dispose his defense troops at Verdun that the attacking armies under the command of the German Crown Prince were never able to take the city.

Alone, of all the French fortifications, it stood impregnable through the entire War. To Navarre, as much as to anybody else, belongs the credit for this victory. It was only during Navarre’s last days on the front that his plane was equipped with a machine-gun.

Despite that fact, he rolled up a record of 12 enemy planes brought down and destroyed before he was wounded and permanently disabled. His account below is from the records of a French journalist.

 

AN UNUSUAL VICTORY

by Lieutenant Navarre • Sky Fighters, December 1933

THE AIR FIGHT which I believe the most remarkable is one which took place far beyond Verdun. A German photo plane had come down out of the clouds unexpectedly right over the fortress, had circled around undisturbed and taken pictures. I got the call at my airdrome just as I had landed from a flight.

Without taking time to fill with gasoline or load up with more ammunition, I hopped in my ship and took off again. When the enemy ship saw me coming, it banked off and headed for home. I poured on all juice and raced after it.

The distance between us narrowed very slowly. My heart was in my mouth. I was sad. I knew I must get that ship before it landed with its pictures. I goosed my throttle and spark, stuck the nose of my ship down until I was just skimming the ground. Boche rifles shot at me.

Stitches of little round holes appeared like magic in my wings. But I raced on with greater speed because I was close to the ground. The Boche photo ship was still high up, but beginning to circle. I prayed for time to wait! Pushed on my controls, did everything! Just managed to get beneath the Boche as he was coming down for a landing on his own drome. The Boches on the ground saw me. They hustled out other ships. I nosed up to meet the down coming Boche with my hand tense on the trigger of my Lewis gun. At fifty yards I gave a burst. It missed.

The Boche answered with two bursts. I banked and slipped away. The Boche nosed after me, sending out bullets all the while. Two other planes were taxiing across the ground. They would be up soon!

I had to do something swiftly, or not at all. I banked around, headed towards the photo plane, got it sighted and pressed my trigger again. But nothing happened! I had run through the last of my ammunition with the previous burst. I stuck my nose down. The Boche photo plane came after me, right on my tail. I stood up. in my seat, looked at my gun hopelessly. Looked back over my shoulder. The Boche plane was almost on me. The pilot was grinning. His propeller was almost gnawing at my tail surfaces. But there were no shots.

A sudden idea hit me. I reached up, wrenched the empty ammunition drum from my Lewis. Without waiting I hurled it back over my head. The propeller blast carried it straight back. I heard a chattering thud, then a hissing plop. I looked back over my shoulder. The drum had shattered the Boche’s prop. One blade had broken. The engine was wobbling in its frame. I swung out of my dive, banked up. The Boche hurtled past out of control, plunged into the earth, burst into flames.

The other Boche got up, raced me all the way to Verdun. But I beat them back. They didn’t come across after me. They turned back at the lines. That without question is my most remarkable flight.

“Night Eagle” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on April 22, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

WE’RE back with another exciting air adventure from the pages of the pulp magazines of the 1930’s. This week we have a tale from the pen of that Canadian stalwart—Harold F. Cruickshank. Cruickshank was a prolific writer. He wrote all manner os stories for the pulps—war, aviation, westerns, even animal stories!

Here we have a story from the December 1933 issue of Sky Fighters. In Night Eagle Cruickshank tells a tale of Squadron Twenty tasked with taking out a German ammo dump and meeting with little success.

Johnny Blair was all set to smash the german ammo dump to smithereens—but his bombs proved to he duds!

For more great tales by Harold F. Cruickshank, check out Sky Devil: Hell’s Skipper—All along the Western front, everyone was out to get The Sky Devil’s Brood! There was no better flight in France. Led by Captain Bill Dawe, the famous Yank ace known to all of France as the Sky Devil, the brood consisted of Chuck Verne, Mart Bevin, Slim Skitch and Slug Walton. The crimson devil insignia on their silver Spads brought fear to any German pilot unlucky enough to meet them in the air. But the Sky Devil’s greatest enemy might just be his own C.O., Major Petrie, who had been railroaded into command of 120 Squadron over Dawe’s head. Jealous of Dawe’s popularity, Petrie will do anything to bring down “The Sky Devil’s Brood!”

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major Raoul Lufbery

Link - Posted by David on April 20, 2016 @ 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 it’s the inimitable Major Raoul Lufbery’s Most Thrilling Sky Fight!

Raoul Lufbery was already famous when America entered the War. For some time he was the mechanic of Marc Pourpe, famous French flyer. Pourpe was killed in aerial combat. Lufbery who was with the Foreign Legion, asked to take his place in order to avenge his death. The French army, defying usual procedure sent him to join Escadrille de Bombardmente V. 102, where he made a distinguished record.

When the La Fayette Escadrille was formed, he became one of the seven original members of that famous air squadron—and, as it proved ultimately, became the most distinguished, winning his commission as a sous-lieutenant.

When America entered the War he was transferred to the American Air Service and made a major, refusing, however, to take command of a squadron. When he was killed at Toul. Lufbery was officially credited with 17 victories. The story below was told to a Chicago newspaper correspondent a few days before his death at Toul airdrome

 

THREE AVIATIKS (?) WITH ONE SHOT

by Major Raoul Lufbery • Sky Fighters, December 1933

YOU ASK me my most memorable flight? Let me think a minute. Ah, I have it! It was the day at Luxeuil soon after we got our new Nieuports, the day the great air armada bombed Karlsruhe on the Rhine.

With Prince, De Laage, Masson, I took off from the drome at Luxeuil. We climbed all the time. Below us was the formation of French and British bombers we were to escort. Above were great masses of clouds. We went up through them, looking for Boche on top. But, there were none. That is, I saw none, but I felt that I was being watched.

I glanced up suddenly. Just in time! A three-seater Aviatik was diving on me. My companions had gone ahead. I turned back quickly, making believe I had not seen the Aviatik. I wanted the pilot to come closer before I started shooting.

The Boche tracer screamed over my head. I moved the stick, sent my Nieuport into a screeching chandelle. The black Aviatik whirled past me, tracer streams spouting like fountains. I straightened out, my fingers going tight on the gun trips. I dived, got the Aviatik in range, let go with a long burst while I feathered the controls, making my tracer stream weave. But the Boche pilot was no amateur. He slipped away.

His bullets shattered my compass. The alcohol in the bowl spurted, clouding my goggle glasses. I shoved them up on my forehead. The alcohol sprayed in my eyes, burned. I blinked. All I could see was red. I was blind! But I heard the Boche tracer ripping through my wings. I dived, then maneuvered crazily. I shook my head, threw off one mitten, wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. All the time I was weaving my stick, diving and zooming alternately, to give an erratic target. My eyes began to clear and I looked out overside.

I saw three Aviatiks then. All black, all shooting at me. I maneuvered some more, managed to get my guns lined on one of them. I pressed the gun trips quickly. My tracer streamed out in a blue haze. All three Aviatiks tumbled over in the sky and fell down at once. I banked, went circling after them to see that they crashed. It was only when I was almost to the ground, that I saw it was only one Aviatik that had crashed.

My eyes, blurred by compass alcohol, had tricked me. There was only one Aviatik where I had seen three. I got only one when I thought I had three. But I was happy enough,
anyway.

That one Aviatik might have got me if—I had not been so lucky.

“The Tail Buster” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 27, 2014 @ 12:00 pm 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. For the December 1933 issue Blakeslee paints the tail of a premeditated crash between a French Herriot and a German Fokker and L.V.G. in “The Tail Buster”…

th_DDA_3312THE COVER painting this month shows, not an accident but a premeditated crash. The Frenchmen—pilot and gunner—had left their drome to put a new Herriot through its paces. As a precaution, however, they loaded up with ammunition—and were glad they did. For as they stunted about over France, two L.V.G.’s attacked them.

A Fokker, flying higher, did not join the attack until one of the L.V.G.’s burst into flames, the victim of French guns. The Fokker then dove, passed under and looped to get on the Frenchman’s tail. By a quick skid, the French pilot brought his ship broadside on and the gunner poured a devastating fire into the Boche.

In the meantime, the second L.V.G. had maneuvered directly under the Frenchman. At the moment the French gunner sent his flaming slugs into the Fokker, tracers came up through the floor of the French machine right between the pilots legs, cutting one of the elevator wires. In a split second the pilot shoved his stick forward and dove.

The pilot of the L.V.G. saw the other ship begin its dive and whipped his tail down, too late. With a crack his rudder disappeared in a cloud of flying fabric and propeller splinters.

The French gunner coolly climbed out on the fuselage and righted the Herriot. Then he and the pilot took stock of the situation. The Germans were headed for the only cleared space dead ahead—and the Frenchman headed for it too. They just made the plowed field.

In the resulting crash the pilot of the Herriot was buried in wreckage; the gunner was hurled clear and perhaps it was fortunate that the field was plowed for he had a comparatively soft landing. He rushed over to the wreckage and began frantically to dig out the pilot, whom he could hear groaning. Presently he was conscious of having help. Two French flyers had joined him. Between them they soon had the unconscious pilot extracted, and right there and then they all got busy and set his dislocated shoulder.

After it was all over and the pilot was conscious and resting, the gunner thought of the German machine. He looked around and saw its wreckage about a hundred yards away but no signs of its crew. Startled, he looked more closely at the two rescuers who were now conversing in perfect French to the pilot. They were dressed in French flying clothes all right. But the gunner put two and two together—and realized that they were the pilot and gunner of the German ship!

When the Boches politely bade farewell and walked away, he made no move. Five minutes later the field was swarming with people. In answer to questions as to where the Germans were all the Frenchman said was—”They have escaped.”

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Tail Buster: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (December 1933)

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

“The Frying Suit” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by Bill on February 24, 2010 @ 10:14 pm in

Phineas Pinkham had given Major Rufus Garrity two cigars in a week—and they’d both been good! What was behind this sudden bout of good behavior? Something was very wrong at the drome of the Ninth Pursuit.

“Fat Cance” by Major George Fielding Eliot

Link - Posted by Bill on June 10, 2008 @ 1:44 pm in

Everyone likes a fat guy, unless they have to fly with him. “Tubby” Gorkin could barely fit into the rear observer’s cockpit and no pilot wanted him as their observer. Now, with a new hard edged C.O. coming on, it looked like the end of Tubby’s dream of becoming a pilot.