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My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Jules Vedrines

Link - Posted by David on November 15, 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 French Flyer Lieutenant Jules Vedrines’ most thrilling sky fight!

In the year before the great war broke out Jules Vcdrines was the most famous flyer of France. He had twice won the Gordon Bennett speed trophy, and held both distance and altitude records. It was through his efforts that France wrested supremacy of the air from the United States and Great Britain. Along with Garros, Pegoud, Marechal, Le Blanc, Audemars, and other famous French flyers of his day, he enlisted in the French Flying Corps the day after war was declared.

The war was in its last stages before the nature of Vedrine’s work was revealed to his admirers. He had been engaged in doing special missions, and had established his reputation as being the Ace of Aces in that specialty, which consisted in leaving and picking up French spies behind the enemy lines. He received every decoration possible . . . but had to wait until the war’s end before he could bask in the glory of his achievements, for only then were his many honors divulged. The account below is from an interview with Jacques Mortane, great French war correspondent and flyer extraordinary himself.

 

SPECIAL AIR MISSIONS

by Lieut. Jules Vedrines • Sky Fighters, December 1935

THESE special missions are sometimes exciting. There was that time when I flew behind the enemy lines to pick up Sous-Lieutenant Huard. Three times before I had landed in this same meadow and picked up agents of the intelligence in full daylight. I thought our secret field was safe from German eyes. But I was to be surprised! I crossed the lines at a great altitude, over 6,000 meters. Then high over the meadow I cut the motor and sneaked down silently. I circled the meadow once at low altitude. Everything looked all right, so I volplaned in.

It was only when I got down to ten feet above the grass that I saw what the Germans had done. They intended to trap me. They had stretched wires across the meadow just high enough above the ground to make my avion nose over when the wheels touched earth. But I saw the wires just in time. I fed all essence to the motor and jerked the stick, zooming upwards.

At the same instant machine-guns hidden in the woods surrounding the meadow opened up at me at point blank range. Bullets splattered into my avion like hail from two sides, and German soldiers came from the woods firing rifles!

In another meadow several hundred yards away, I saw a man garbed in peasant attire running and waving his arms over his head. I looked close, saw that it was Huard waving me in to land on the next meadow. It appeared like certain suicide for both of us, but what was I to do? I cut off and nosed down. Bullets still hailed all around me, and I could see them kicking up patches of turf at Huard’s feet.

My wheels touched the meadow. Huard stumbled and fell on his face. When he struggled up, his leg folded beneath him and he fell again. He had been wounded. I shouted to Huard to grab the outer wing strut as I passed over him. He struggled up on his knees, reached out his hands. I could see his face. It was white and contorted with pain.

But he succeeded in grabbing the wing edge with one hand, and the forward strut with the other. I shot on the motor then and coursed along the ground to get away from the German bullets. Huard was dragging by the heels. A barb wire fence loomed ahead. I had to cut the motor. Before the avion stopped rolling, I leaped out and grabbed the strut Huard was holding. Together we swung the avion around in the opposite direction.

We would run into the fire again, I knew. But Huard only smiled when I mentioned that to him as I helped him in the rear seat. “C’est la guerre!” he replied lightly.

We escaped through that gauntlet of German fire. Neither of us even got scratched. An exciting mission, yes, but I wouldn’t say my job was one half as hazardous as Huard’s.

A brave man, Huard. And isn’t it preposterous? For that flight I was awarded the Medal Militaire. And Sous-Lieutenant Huard, he was not even mentioned in the day’s orders.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 42: Capt. Armand Pinsard” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on September 27, 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 one of the great Aces from Les Cigognes—Capt. Armand Pinsard!

Armand Pinsard was already a decorated hero by the time war began in 1914—his army service, which took him to Africa, began in 1906. Pinsard was one of relatively few servicemen who made the transfer to the French Air Service prior to 1914—in his case he took to the skies in 1912 and was serving with unit MS23 in August 1914.

Pinsard was France’s eighth highest-scoring air Ace of the First World War, scoring 27 confirmed victories in total—nine of these were enemy observation balloons. He was the recipient of the Legion d’Honneur (Chevalier and Officier) in 1916 and 1917 respectively as well as Croix de Guerre with 19 palms, Medaille militaire, British Military Cross, Italian Military Medal, and the Moroccan Medal.

Pinsard was taken prisoner in early February 1915 after his aircraft was forced to land behind enemy lines. He launched a series of escape attempts in an effort to cross the Allied line and return home. Undeterred after several failed attempts, Pinsard finally escaped with a fellow prisoner by digging a tunnel underneath a 12-foot prison wall after a year of imprisonment.

Finally reaching Allied lines Pinsard was given a promotion to Lieutenant and underwent pilot re-training in order to be able to fly the current breed of fighter aircraft. He was then assigned to France’s foremost fighter squadron, Les Cigognes, and later N78 and Spa73.

Pinsard went on to serve with distinction during the Second World War, losing a leg during air combat in 1940.

He died during a dinner in Paris that he was attending that was sponsored by a group of flying veterans. He was 65.

“Fallen Archies” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on August 25, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” That sound can only mean one thing—it’s time to ring out the old year and ring in the new with that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors—Phineas Pinkham.

“POWERFUL KATINKA” had been upsetting the Allied apple wagon for days. Powerful Katinka was the name of a Heinie gun battery which had been set up about a mile from Mont Sec. The Yanks had christened it thus. It was no ordinary Archie battery but one that was more efficient than it had any right to be in the year 1918. The brass hats at Chaumont suspected that the Krupps had uncovered a tow-headed Teuton prodigy who had passed trigonometry at Heidelberg with an average of one hundred and fifty per cent. When shrapnel could tag a Spad, flying top speed, two out of three bursts, then something had to be the matter. In three weeks time, Powerful Katinka had sent five Allied ships to the cleaners via the scrap iron route. Of course Chaumont could only think up one slogan. Get that blankety-blank gun! They had not thought up how. That was up to the Air Force.

And you just know Pinkham’s gonna stick his nose or something in it!

The brass hats decided their auto was running on gas—but they didn’t mean gasoline! And though Phineas always claimed his ghost would come back to haunt Major Garrity, what chance had the Boonetownite’s spectre in competition with the ghost of last month’s English breakfast?

“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.

“Aces and Boses” by C.M. Miller

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

This week we have a story by C.M. Miller, author of Chinese Brady: The Complete Adventures! A short story of a green recruit who challenges his commanding officer’s orders in a way that yields surprising results! From the December 1935 number of Sky Birds, it’s C.M. Miller’s “Aces and Bosses”—

No Vandyke-bearded, college-prof cadet was going to tell Bull McGrady which way his propeller was turning—for Bull was head man of the Peppermints, and no mistake! “Those whiskers,” he told the tall newcomer, “will have to come off!” And they finally did—but not the way Bull expected . . . .