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My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Corporal Edmond C. Genet

Link - Posted by David on May 17, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have American Flyer Corporal Edmond C. Genet’s most thrilling sky fight!

The great-great-grandson of Citizen Genet, who served as the revolutionary ambassador from France during George Washington’s term as president, Edmond C. Genet had a distinguished heritage. Mild-mannered and handsome he was a typical soldier of fortune at heart, possessing an astonishing courage. At 10 he missed an appointment to Annapolis and immediately enlisted in the navy where he participated in the taking of Vera Cruz. A year later he was in battle in Haiti. Later on after the war in Europe broke out, he sailed for France to enlist in the Foreign Legion. He served for some years in the trenches as a simple poilu, then was transferred to aviation and assigned to Escadrille N-124, better known as the Lafayette, where he was the youngest American in a company of famous men. Genet’s flying time on the front was short. He was one of the few airplane pilots to be killed in the air by enemy shrapnel. He was the first American to die in action under the stars and stripes, his death occurring just ten days after America entered the war. The account below is from one of his letters home.

 

HOLDING THE HUNS AT BAY

by Corporal Edmond C. Genet • Sky Fighters, December 1934

I WAS flying along with McConnell at a very low altitude behind the German lines. Mac and I were making a survey of the enemy troop concentration. Intelligence had brought word that the Germans were preparing for a push in our area. We were to check on this, and as the country was hilly and wooded, we had to fly low to make the proper observations.

Being so engrossed with our ground work, both of us had neglected to watch the sky lanes. Suddenly we were jumped by a whole flight of Huns who took us completely by surprise! A burst of Spandau lead crackled through my plane from the rear! I glanced back, saw three Huns on me, throwing lead! At the same instant my right cheek began to sting and something scorched across my hip.

I swept up on one wing tip, whirled around. Two other Hun planes confronted me there. Their Spandaus were smoking. I looked over at McConnell, waved at him to go on with the mission while I attempted to hold off the Huns. I thought I could hold them off by making a bold, dashing frontal attack at first one, then the other. Mac banked off and swept down lower toward the ground.

I charged my first Hun with Vickers chattering. He turned aside and I plunged for the next. The second Hun clung to me and we began going round and round ineffectively. But a third Hun from above dived down, raked my turtleback with tracer. I was forced to pull out, but did not run away. I sneaked further inside the German lines drawing the Hun planes with me.

They had apparently forgotten Mac. Our strategy had been successful so far, but I wasn’t so sure that I was going to figure in the picture much longer. For the Huns had the speed on me and it was only a matter of minutes before I was entirely surrounded again. Bullets came from all directions at once. I was cornered. There was nothing to do but fight my way out boldly.

I dived for speed, then zoomed at my nearest antagonist. My tracer raked across his nose, puffed holes in his upper wing. He rolled off to one side to let me pass, for I was determined I would not turn out for him. That gave me an opening and I streaked through with the whole flight of Huns after me.

Presently I was rejoined by Mac, and what a relief! He was smiling, so I knew he had finished his mission successfully. We fought clear back to our lines where the Huns left us. I had just enough strength left to set down on the squadron drome safely, but my squadron mates had to lift me from my seat. It was a hot fight, but Mac and I got what we went out after—information that enabled our corps commander to forestall the German push!

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

Link - Posted by David on May 30, 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 1934 cover, It’s a battle of the Sea as the Phönix Seaplane is attacked by an Austrian Sea Tank!

The Ships on the Cover

TANKS, bristling with machine-guns th_SF_3412 and one pounders, crawled on to the muck and mud of the British front near Cambrai during 1916. Slowly these squat engines of destruction inched closer to the German hordes. Relentlessly they smashed the Boche lines, literally buried them in their supposedly impregnable trenches.

Tanks from that day on held a major position in the War’s spotlight. Not only on land did the tanks crush the enemy, they did things on the water.

A Slick Stunt!

About 400 miles southeast of Cambrai on the Adriatic is the fortified port of Pola. During the war the Austrians were top men of this strategic spot. In 1916 the Italians barged in with a flock of torpedo boats and raised hell with things in general, but it was not until 1918 that they pulled one of the slickest stunts of the whole war. They rigged up a small speed boat with geared cables running along each side just as a tank’s tractor treads are placed. Steel claws on this tractor cable made this boat literally a sea tank. It could do anything on the water that its famous iron brother could do on land.

Across the mouth of the harbor of Pola the Austrians had constructed stout obstructions which would frustrate any more raids from the Italian mosquito fleet. But they had not figured on the gnat fleet. That fleet consisted of two boats shown on the cover. Each boat carried two torpedoes, one swung on either side, two men and a machine-gun.

Bottled up in the harbor was the Austrian fleet. Vigilance had somewhat relaxed, the Austrians felt their position to be impregnable from sea raids.

And then out of the Adriatic two small strange-looking craft pounded across the choppy waves straight up to the harbor barriers. They slowed down, eased their noses against the wall, gears were meshed and the endless chain of iron claws scratched at the wall, dug in, held and the prows of the tiny raiders eased over the top. Slowly the boats were heaved over the first barrier. Down splashed their noses. One eased over the second obstruction and tore through the inner harbor toward the Austrian fleet.

Sirens screamed, land batteries roared. The battleships brought their guns into position and blazed away. Two Phönix seaplanes careened off the water, clawed their way into the air and dove on the brazen raiders. Down swooped one of the planes, front guns lacing the sea tank just pulling itself over the second obstruction. The after machine-gun on the sea tank bucked and jerked as its gunner arced it to meet his diving foe. The observer in the rear of the Phönix pushed his gun over the side, blasted slugs down. One bullet hit a vital part of the sea tank’s mechanism. Its engine sputtered, went half dead. Score one for the Austrians.

Two Famous Firsts

But the second sea tank miraculously raced safely through the gauntlet of falling shells and the fire of the second Phönix. The machine-gun went into action on the second sea tank and the pursuing seaplane’s propeller sprayed into a thousand bits. Score one for the tanks.

On went the tiny boat until at blank broadside range it released its two torpedoes at the 20,000 ton dreadnaught. A terrific concussion shook the harbor. Slowly the majestic fighting ship listed, shuddered, and sank.

One tiny, battered sea tank clawed its way out of the harbor and limped slowly across the choppy surface of the Adriatic toward home. Two famous firsts for the tanks; 1916 at Cambrai—1918 at Pola.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Fokker E.1 and the F.E.2!

“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.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 30: Captain Frederick McCall” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 21, 2015 @ 12:00 pm in

Here’s another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This week we have his illustrated biography from the December 1934 issue featuring that famous Canadian Ace—Captain Frederick McCall!

By the end of the great war, McCall had become Canda’s fifth most successful flying aces with 35 confirmed and two unconfirmed victories. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross & Bar and the Distinguished Flying Cross!

After the war he went into civil aviation, trying his hand at Barnstorming and stunt flying as well as founding a pair of aviation companies. In 1920 he founded McCall Aero Corporation Limited which flew commercial freight and passengers and opened up regions of Canada that had previously been hard to reach. He later founded Great Western Airways in the late ’20’s once again flying cargo hither and yon. Including flying 200 quarts of nitroglycerin from Shelby, Montana to Calgary! On another occasion, he ignored all bad weather reports to fly a much needed doctor to the Skiff oil fields to treat two seriously injured workers. All the while, McCall worked to encourage the formation of Canadian flying clubs!

With the arrival of the Second World War McCall was recalled to service with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Squadron Leader, based at numerous western Canadian bases.

McCall passed away in Calgary, Alberta on the 22nd of January 1949. He was 52.