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“Sky Fighters, February 1936″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on August 6, 2018 @ 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. Mr. Frandzen features a battle between a De Haviland Pusher and aGerman D.F.W. C4 on the February 1936 cover!

The Ships on the Cover

THE De Haviland planes will always th_SF_3602 be remembered in the United States by the number of D.H.s this country ordered on such a grand scale when we entered the war. The early D.H.s are not given the credit they deserve because Capt. Geoffrey De Haviland might never have had a chance to build later models if his early one had not been so good. It combatted the Fokker menace back in 1916 when the Germans had things their own way in the air. When these D.H. Pusher biplanes came along the Allied airmen began to take heart. At last they had a machine that could outfly the Fokker which was the scourge of the Front. The D.H. Pusher was similar to the earlier F.E.s but much superior in speed. They had only two bays of struts and were simplified considerably in the tail boom construction.

The British airmen in the bucket seat of the D.H. Pusher on the cover had confidence in their machine when it proudly paraded its course through the skies. They had a speedy ship with a front gun to blaze the Germans from the air when those hitherto superior, overconfident airmen darted across Allied territory for a looksee at all the preparations being made on the ground.

On this occasion they met not one of Mr. Fokker’s products but a German D.F.W. C4 (Deutsche Flugzeug Werke). This two-seater carried a 200 h.p. Benz motor. The C4 had radiators on the sides of the fuselage directly in the slipstream which made it possible to use a small radiator to run a big engine, by which trick the Germans gained efficiency. The wings were not swept back but had dihedral.

Funny-Looking, But—

Funny-looking crates, those old flying bird cages, but some pilots who flew them still brag about them and swear that it was a wonderful sensation to fly a pusher. Of course, there was the uncomfortable feeling of having a heavy engine nestling behind your seat to squash you flatter than a pancake in a crackup.

When the tractors replaced the pushers all but a few aviation experts predicted that pushers would never more waddle through the air. But along toward the end of the war the British Vickers Co. came out with a single-seater Pusher with two front guns. It was powered with a better engine than the old Pushers used and could tick off over 120 miles per hour low down; and low down was the place it did its job, right over the German trenches. It was built for ground strafing and it was a honey to fly. Again the anti-pusher crowd said “It’s a freak, a last try using an obsolete principle. There ain’t no such thing as a good pusher.”

That old Vickers Vampire was just about 
the swan song of the pushers for many 
years. And then, nearly fifteen years after
 the end of the World War the French 
Hanriot Company brought out one of the
speediest, slickest-looking fighters of the
 year, the Hanriot H-110-C1. And believe it
 or not, it was a PUSHER that could slice
 through the air at the very nice speed of
 220 m.p.h.

Lightning-Quick Action

The German D.F.W. on the cover had a pilot who had knocked down several of the earlier slower moving pushers. He saw an easy kill and got careless. One moment the D.H. Pusher was in front of him. The next it had pulled a lightning-like maneuver which no ship other than a tractor had hitherto been capable of Lewis slugs cracked and rattled into the German ship, knocking the front gun’s firing mechanism cock-eyed. Then the stream of lead slid back and ripped a section of canvas from the observer’s pit. That worthy never got in a shot, his hands were too high in the air clawing at the clouds.

The British gunner pointed towards the Allied rear lines. The German pilot nodded his head and slanted his ship down, swearing solemnly that if he ever escaped and got into the air again he’d be mighty careful to keep out of the way of pushers.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, February 1936 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“The Lone Eagle, May 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on July 23, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the May 1934 cover, Frandzen has a couple British S.E.5As in a battle of wits with a pair of German Fokker D.8s!

The Story of the Cover

FEATURED on this month’s cover are two th_LE_3405 types of ships that were swapping lead during the last year of the war. The ship in the foreground and the one in the background losing its right wing are Fokker D.8s. The British planes, the one skidding over the Fokker with the cracked wing and the one coming up to attack the leading Fokker, are S.E.5As.

The Fokker D.8 was Mr. Fokker’s last contribution to the numerous fighting and experimental line of ships he designed for the Central Powers during the little argument “Over There.” This parasol monoplane was a sleek stream-lined Job of pretty proportions. In its flying tests it went through every stunting maneuver with speed and precision. It outflew all competitive planes submitted by other manufacturers and the Aces from the front who tried out the plane all clamored for one to use against the Allies.

Why They Shed Their Wings

As the D.8 had withstood all the flying tests and sand bag tests Fokker knew that he had a good plane: but the German scientific testing organization discovered that Fokker had omitted certain bracing of the rear spar near the wing tirs which they always specified for a biplane. Fokker argued that the monoplane wing did not need this bracing. The scientific boys were not to be swayed from their decision so the extra bracing was installed, and thereby lies the reason for several of these speedy ships which actually saw service at the front shedding their wings in a dogfight. It caused the wing to take more load at its wing tips than in the middle part, torsion causing the wing to collapse when unduly strained.

Although the D.8 didn’t show up at the front till 1918 you would have heard plenty about it if the ships had not been grounded during the controversy between Fokker and the Big Bugs of the German testing division. When Fokker was finally allowed to build the wing as in his original design the plane withstood all strains, but by the time delivery was made at the front the war was over.

The British S.E.5A was also a product of the last year of the World War, It was speedy and could be depended on to give a good account of itself against any of the German scouts, including the Fokker D.8.

Those two S.E.5’s on the cover have tangled with two D.8’s that have attacked two Allied sausage balloons, successfully igniting one. The archie guns opened up from the ground but the flitting monoplanes seem to anticipate the arrival of the bursting shells and are not harmed. The shells from the ground did not get them, but two prowling S.E.5A’s swooped down and the fight was on. The British pilots had never swapped lead with the fleet little monoplanes of this type and were at a disadvantage as the German pilots knew most of the S.E.5A’s tricks.

A Burst of Vickers Lead

The planes howl down the sky lanes, twisting, writhing in and out of each others ring-sights. Suddenly a burst of Vickers lead laces the foremost Fokker.

The German pilot stiffens, slumps. His stick is pulled back and his left foot shoved forward on the rudder bar, A dead man is driving his plane up into the heavens on his last ride. Unnerved at seeing his partner killed the second German pilot goes haywire with his sticks, skids under an S.E.5A and touches his wing tip against a speeding wheel. The Englishman’s axle sheers off the pi op on the sleek monoplane. Horrified the Allied pilot sees his left wings buckling, cracking. If that back strut holds till he can nurse his ship into a favorable glide he may get down. But the Fokker D.8 is doomed. Its ticket reads: One way. To earth. No stopovers.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, May 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“The Lone Eagle, April 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on June 25, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the April 1934 cover, Frandzen has a Salmson 2-A 2 in a backseat battle with a Hannover!

The Story of the Cover

THE planes pictured on this month’s cover th_LE_3404 are the Salmson 2-A 2 and the Hannover (or Hannoveraner). The Salmson was manufactured by the French firm Societe des Moteurs Salmson. It was one of the most reliable observation ships used during the war by the Allies. It was flown extensively by the French and the Americans, and the Italians also used it to good advantage. Its power plant was a Salmson Z9 radial motor developing about 1S00 r.p.ms.

The Hannover was used extensively by the Germans and did its stuff in a reliable manner. It wasn’t as fast as the Salmson zipping by on its back and pouring hot slugs through the muzzles of its twin Lewis guns, but this is one fight where there are no odds in favor of the fastest ship.

How come? Well, this is a back seat battle. Both pilots, the Heinie and the gentleman flipping the rudder and ailerons on the Salmson have run out of ammunition. Therefore it isn’t a matter of getting on the opponent’s tail. It is an even break for the back gunners unless one happens to be the prize trap-shooter of his home town.

At the start of the fight it looked like curtains for the Hannover when the faster Salmson hopped it and another Hannover which can be seen far in the background swirling crazily, a flaming coffin for its two occupants, straight for the hills far below. When both pilots ran out of ammunition the German waved his hand at his foes and kicked his plane around toward home. As far as he was concerned the battle was over and no hard feelings.

The Fight Goes On

But not to be done out of a kill the Salmson pilot tailed the German, being careful to keep out of range of the Parabellum gun in the rear pit of the German ship. Then suddenly the cylinders in the Salmson throbbed, pounded flaming exhaust through nine tubes into the collector ring on the nose of the ship; a streak of flame spurted out of the exhaust stack and the Allied ship dove underneath the German.
Up flipped the two Lewis guns, gloved fingers pressed the triggers. A ragged line of bullet holes appeared just back of the observer in the German ship. The belly fabric was in a shaved part of a split second perforated all the way back to the tail.

The Hannover whipped around—no more hand waving, no more thoughts of running for home. There was only one chance to get out of a difficult situation and that was to stage a back seat fight.

In Opposite Directions

The Salmson pilot kept herding the German toward the Allied lines as much as he could without giving his opponents any chance for a sure shot. Time and again the two planes whipped past each other going in opposite directions. Gun muzzles blasted a few bullets wildly at fleeting shadows of the other ship. A thousand to one chance of doing any damage this way for the combined speed of the planes was over two hundred miles per hour. That is the reason there were so few casualties in the early years of the war when the boys blasted away at each other with shot guns and rifles over the cockpit edges.

And then when there was only a few more rounds of ammunition in his pancake drums the Salmson pilot flipped his ship over on its back and barged straight at the Hannover which dipped quickly underneath. That is the point illustrated on the cover. It is the last blazing exchange of shots between a couple of brave back seat gunners who will be mighty thankful when their respective pilots turn the noses of their ships toward home—and keep them there.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, April 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“Sky Fighters, December 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on June 11, 2018 @ 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. For the December 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Italian S.V.A. bringing loaves of bread to the troops high in the mountain passes!

The Ships on the Cover

BREAD! The mainstay of mankind. th_SF_3512 And when the army is the mainstay of nations, bread for the army ranks higher than Roman Emperors.

Who said an army fights on its stomach? Someone who did plenty of fighting in the old days and knew his armies. Of what importance were guns, bombs, and shells piled up ready for combat when the human bodies to man these weapons of war have no fuel to stoke the human engine!

The chuck wagon was greeted by loud cheers when it put in its appearance in “any man’s army.” Runners with food supplies strapped to their backs dodged bullets through a maze of communication trenches to get to the front line doughboys. Dogs pulling small carts of food got through to scattered outposts.

The Alpine Heights

Italy has a wonderful northern barrier which nature has seemingly bestowed upon that sunny boot projecting into the Mediterranean. When Italy declared war on the Austrian Empire in May, 1915, she looked hopefully at those lofty Alpine heights to keep her enemy in check.

The Italian advance of early days was halted. The Austrian counter-attack regained their positions but in 1917 when Italy finally declared war on Germany also, the Italians resumed their offensive and captured fourteen fortified mountains.

It is a different problem to fight on mountain sides than on the fields of the lowlands. The ordinary labor of warfare is made a hundredfold more difficult. Dragging heavy guns up rocky mountain sides by sheer nerve-racking will power—pulling shells on sleds over icy passes—stringing communication lines from crag to crag, where one well-placed shell would damage the patient work of days of laying the wires.

The contact, broken in some out of the way pass, impossible to mend without disastrous delay. All these had to be done on the ground. The only savior of these lonely mountain outposts was the new weapon of the world war—the airplane.

Italy, from poor beginnings, progressed Steadily forward in the aviation branch of her service despite her ground army’s advances or retreats. Planes could fly from their bases on flat ground to the besieged mountain country to drop messages keeping the army in touch with headquarters no matter how many communication lines on the ground were destroyed.

Flying high over such a wide expanse of territory they observed the enemy positions, often saving their own forces from being bottled up by enemy flanking movements.

But as important as any message to the morale of these men high in snow-covered fastnesses was the sight which is shown on the cover picture. Planes bringing the white-clad figures on the mountain side that which they could obtain by no other means—Bread! Big round, crispy loaves of the life-giving food.

The pass through which the guns and ammunition have been hauled was later completely buried under an avalanche, tons of snow and rock blocked the narrow road.

When Men Hunger

Days, weeks, months might elapse before that impassable barrier could be surmounted to transport food to the men cut off from their fellows. But four planes received their orders and cargo. They were in sight of the desperate little group in a few hours time. Sleek S.V.A.’s that could climb high above the loftiest peaks, their powerful Ansaldo engines overcoming the barrier that nature had created against the Italians as well as in their favor.

Shouts of “Bravo” from the snow. Shouts that would warm the heart of an opera star at the Milan Opera House. These cheers were for something better than music when men are hungry. They were for contents of the rope bags falling from the planes, the golden brown loaves of bread.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, Deecmber 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Sky Fighters, November 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on April 16, 2018 @ 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. For the November 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Kondor E3 and Salmson 7A-2!

The Ships on the Cover

SKY battles were fought for the th_SF_3511defense of the reconnaissance arm of the air service. The all important function of airplanes in warfare from the beginning was reconnaissance. More good was done to protect the lives of millions of men on the ground by the slow reconnaissance ships plodding their daily round of the skyways than many of the glorious dog-fights of crack squadrons. Commanders of divisions were desperate in carrying out their strategy. They stamped up and down at headquarters waiting for the word that would mean success or failure for their planned maneuvers. Word of what was happening “out there” after the men had gone “over the top.”

Telegraph wire was laid over miles of territory. At great risk it was buried deep to protect it. Despite this care it was often uprooted by the continuous barrage of shells tearing into the earth. It was torn to a mass of useless shredded copper fibres. Then runners were dispatched back through the lines with the precious messages which gave the position of the troops. Often those runners, despite the sacrifice of their lives, were never able to deliver the message which would mean so much to their buddies. Sometimes those who were lucky got through, but took so long to get back that the news was too old to be of help to the men directing the action. Even more difficulty was experienced in getting directions from the men behind the scenes to the front line troops. Contact with those out there was often impossible.

Motorcycles on Planes

An American had an idea that two fast moving inventions of man could be combined to overcome such a bad situation. He said, why not carry a motorcycle on a plane? A two-seater could carry a motorcycle rider in the back pit. He could be landed as close to the front line as possible and make a dash on his cycle to the isolated units separated from their reserve support. He could bring them directions for concerted action. The motorcycle dispatch rider had the speed to get the message where it would do most good in the shortest time. His two-wheeled vehicle without wings carried him at 60 m.p.h. over shell-torn roads to the farthest outpost.

The Salmson 7A.2 on the cover was in the midst of just such a job. It had flown as close to the front lines as it could to observe the ever shifting American troops. Intent on picking a landing spot, the Salmson pilot was suddenly aware that the sky held more planes than his own by a yell from his observer in the rear of the one long cockpit.

Two Monoplanes Buzz By

Two small monoplanes buzzed close by. Their 140 h.p. Oberursels brought them closer at the rate of 120 m.p.h. They were Kondor E 3 parasols whose pilots thought it would be easy to polish off the two-seater. But the Salmson’s observer wasn’t chosen for the hazardous work he did merely for his ability in scooting over rough roads on his motorcycle. He was as expert with the Lewis trigger as the handlebars. One Kondor misjudged the big ship’s maneuvers and the observer blasted straight at the German pilot. The second Kondor coming up under the forty feet wing spread of the Salmson had a big target, but the men in the observation ship had too much valuable information to deliver to sell their lives cheaply in a sky duel. The Kondor was literally blanketed with Vicker’s slugs. The Boche pilot decided he wouldn’t bother a ship with such a good marksman at the rear gun. He nosed over and limped for home. The Salmson sought the ground to land the motorcycle. The observer changed roles quickly and became the dispatch rider.

As the pilot took off again to return to his home tarmac he saw the motorcycle and helmeted rider fused together as one streak of lightning along the road toward Allied outposts, even as flashing a rider of fearlessness as Jove’s thunderbolt insignia painted on the side of the Salmson.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, November 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“The Lone Eagle, March 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on April 2, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the March 1934 cover, Frandzen has a D.H.5 being attacked by a Pfalz D.12!

The Story of the Cover

THE planes pictured on this th_LE_3403month’s cover are the De Haviland 5 (D.H.5), an unusual back staggered job giving the pilot exceptionally good visibility, and the Pfalz D.12. The De Haviland name is taken from the chief designer of the Aircraft Manufacturing Co., a British company formed in 1912. The Pfalz D.12 was the successor to a long line of Pfalz ships, some of them—pusher—manufactured before the World War.

The usual V struts ordinarily appearing on the Pfalz ships have been discarded in this later model for twin bays of N struts on either side of the fuselage.

The D.H.5 pictured on the cover had been brought back into the war in 1918. It did its duty during 1917 nnd sent many German ships crashing to earth.

But those enemy planes were about equal in speed to the D.H.5. The Pfalz can outdistance the back-staggered British job about twenty miles per hour—some handicap. But don’t overlook the second D.H. coming into the fracas from above.

The pilots of the Allied ships are two Yank pilots, who, thinking the war in the air had become too tame, thought up a scheme to lure the Jerries into a real scrap. “We’ll give ‘em odds,” said one to the other.

“We’ll borrow those two old D.H.5s over in the Limey’s barn and go out and beg the Boche to come and play with us. Lately they’ve been hiding out way behind their own lines. We’ll sorta tie one hand behind the back and put a chip on our shoulder.” And so it came to pass that early one morning, helped by a British mechanic who was glad to get the relics out of his crowded hangar, they “borrowed” the two crates.

Back and forth above the lines the two Yanks drove their ships, ships which but a year before had been the last screech when it came to speed and maneuverability, but now pushed to the sidelines to make room for faster jobs. In the distance and in the direction of the German dromes they saw a single ship winging toward them at about one hundred and twenty-five miles per hour. The D.H.5s continued to saunter along at their hundred and five mile clip.

Evidently the Hun pilot knew that he was being bated because he became cagey when within striking distance. He shaded his eyes and looked carefully toward the sun. No lurking Allied ships could he spot, neither could he see any in any other direction. He licked his lips and cleared his guns.

Wham, he gave the Pfalz the gun and roared in to annihilate the brazen Yanks.

They let him blast them, let him get his bullets dangerously close to their skins before they lammed out of range. But those two were buddies, air buddies who worked together on enemy ships. Timing was their favorite stunt when flying their Spads. All they had to do in the slower crates was to wait a few seconds longer before opening up and letting the attacking ship slide through between them.

They did exactly this and then as the Hun was about to swing his fast ship around and barge back at the Yanks he found twin streams of lead boring into his ship, one stream from each single gun mounted on the front of the two D.Hs. A couple of those slugs got the gas tank. The engine sputtered, a tiny whisp of flame swept back, then suddenly the whole front of the engine cowling belched flames. One D.H. flashed by the German, whose ship was now slowed down under the speed of his enemy. The German yanked at his stick. If he could only climb his ship enough he’d ram the Yank with his flaming crate, take him with him on his death dive. But don’t worry, he didn’t do it because his opponents were only giving him a last salute before starting for home, giving him a chance for a last crack at them, but in doing it they didn’t take any chances of being shot down.

The Yank in the foreground didn’t flip into the Boche’s ring-sight till only the tail of his ancient crate would be available for the Spandau bullets to perforate. Again our friend had used—TIMING.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, March 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“Sky Fighters, October 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on March 19, 2018 @ 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. For the October 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the classic age old battle of Spad 13 C1 vs Fokker D7!

The Ships on the Cover

THE first Spad made its debut in 1916. th_SF_3510It was a heavier ship than the French manufacturers usually turned out. They were prone to seek speed by making engine, wings and fuselage all as light as possible.

Then up popped the first Spad with its heavy Hispano-Suiza motor and its rigidly braced body and all around husky construction. It knocked the spots out of the lighter type of machines. Each succeeding model got heavier and each engine had more power.

Aviators put these husky Spads into prolonged power dives that other machines could not possibly make.

The Finest Fighting Plane

The Lafayette Escadrille swung over from Nieuports to Spads and any French squadron that could beg, borrow or steal them parked themselves in Spads and went up into the skies confident that they had the finest fighting plane in existence.

Of course there was a difference of opinion over on the German side of the line. The Fokker D7 made its appearance and the Heinie flyers just knew that they had the finest machine that ever sprouted wings. Therefore when the confident opposing war flyers, one in a Spad 13 C1 and the other in a Fokker D7 decided to smack each other with a few well placed slugs, it was an interesting show. And doubly interesting if two men happened to be aboard a one-place Spad.

Story of the Cover

Fifteen minutes before the action depicted on the cover, the Spad pilot set his ship down on German territory at a prearranged spot. A figure crawled from a clump of brush, raced to the Spad and shinned onto the right wing. Up zoomed the Spad with its precious wing passenger, an A1Iied intelligence operator who had documents that were important enough to cause three generals to be waiting at that moment at the Spad’s drome.

At a thousand feet the German archies started bursting in profusion. One lucky she11 sheared the undercarriage nearly off the Spad. It lurched and staggered with the swaying encumbrance. The wing passenger inched his way to the cockpit the pilot handed out a small hunk of iron.

Bullet Hemstitching

The passenger went to work just as a Fokker went into action. Three minutes of scientific prying on the shattered undercarriage released it and the Spad leaped forward with ten miles extra speed. It turned on the Fokker and hemstitched it from stem to stem.

The German with two minor wounds admitted the Spad, if it didn’t carry wheels, was the better ship.

He dove out of the fight cursing the anti-aircraft gunners who had ruined a sure kill for him. His only consolation was that his foe’s landing would be about as soft as a racing locomotive hitting the rear end of a cement train.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, October 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Sky Fighters, September 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 19, 2018 @ 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. For the September 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Nieuport 17 taking on a Albatross D1!

The Ships on the Cover

PLANES kicked through the air at th_SF_3509 the first of the war and were laughed at by the ground troops and their commanders. Toys, things to wonder at and possibly admire; but to be taken seriously as an offensive weapon. Never!

Weapon? That’s exactly the right word that keys the whole advance of the airplane from a trick war sideline to a major cog in the wheels of war. On the Nieuport in the foreground the weapon blazing from the top wing is the Lewis gun with a revolving metal drum which fed shells into the gun breech. But let’s slide back to the first part of the war when machine-guns were not thought possible. In August, 1914, cavalry carbines were occasionally tucked into a cockpit and the observer or even a pilot of a single seater optimistically pushed the snout out over the side of the fuselage and took a pot shot at a Boche flying parallel to his plane. With the vibration from the engine, the bumpy air and the back pressure from the slipstream it was all the would-be assassin could do to hold the rifle from jerking out of his hands and barging back into the empennage, let alone draw a bead on the enemy who had ideas of his own about remaining in focus.

Bags of Bricks

Finding this method useless the sharpshooters of the air dragged out, believe it or not, good old bags of bricks. The trick was to get above your opponent, mentally calculate the trajectory of a brick from your shaking hand to the whirling prop of the enemy plane. Of course there was always the chance of ringing the bell by a super-lucky throw if the falling brick made direct contact with the enemy’s head. About the only casualty from this duck on the rock technique was a direct hit on a high official’s private cow. Orders went out immediately: No more bricks.

Small steel darts, diminutive bombs and hand grenades were hurled down at ground troops and supply trains but the damage was small. Then came the machine-gun firing from the back pit or from the front nacelle of the pusher type.

In January, 1915, the Lewis gun was first mounted on the top wing of a Nieuport firing over the top of the propeller in the line of flight. A few months later the Roland Garros gun appeared, shooting through the propeller arc, but not synchronized. Triangular steel plates deflected bullets that would otherwise have shattered the wooden propeller.

Finally the Fokker synchronized guns blazed a devastating hail of bullets through the prop arc. The Allied airmen were battered and smashed from the skies. Fast pusher type planes were thrown against the German’s super gun. And then a German plane crashed behind the Allied lines. The interrupter gear secret was out. Synchronized Vickers guns were mounted on Allied cowlings. The Germans’ advantage had been lost. The war in the skies blazed forth with accelerated tempo. Toy ships of a few months past had blossomed into major weapons of war.

An Old Stunt

However, the top gun firing forward was not discarded by many Allied aviators. Nieuports and S.E.5s used it, up until the Armistice. The Nieuport on the cover has its top gun and a synchronized Vickers which has jammed hopelessly. Only a few shells remain in the pancake drum above. The French pilot is wounded and attacked by two German Albatross D1s. He knows he cannot get them with front gun fire, but he remembers an old trick. Painfully he reaches up, yanks back the Lewis butt, jams the Bowden wire on the trigger as he zips under the belly of one German plane. A direct engine hit. Down goes the enemy. The remaining German sees the tricky gun work of the wounded Frenchman and feels the wind from the bullets of a second Nieuport coming to the rescue. He veers off and streaks for home allowing the Frenchman to get away, land and become a confirmed booster for the old top gun Lewis.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, September 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“The Lone Eagle, February 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 17, 2018 @ 10:21 pm in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the February 1934 issue, Frandzen has a British Bristol monoplane taking on a cornered German L.V.G.!

The Story of the Cover

THE planes pictured on this th_LE_3402month’s cover are the Bristol monoplane, one of the prettiest little jobs turned out by the famous British and Colonial Aeroplane Co. The German ship is an L.V.G. type C.V.

High above the ground, against a background of blue, these two planes have met. The German pilot was heading back into German territory when the prowling Bristol pilot hopped the German. The Bristol, only rating one gun, was outclassed in armament at the start of the scrap by the L.V.G. which had two guns in perfect working order; one Spandau up front and a Parabellum at the back pit.

For ten or fifteen minutes the two guns on the L.V.G. have kept the Bristol at bay, but the L.V.G. being the slower and bulkier of the two has been more or less driven into maneuvers by the Bristol. And after each maneuver the German has found himself closer to the Allied lines. Also he has been forced to allow his ship to lose considerable altitude.

Over No Man’s Land

They have passed over No Man’s Land with its writhing lines of battered trenches and shell-torn fields. The Allied pilot signals the German to land—gives him to understand that he will be given a safe passage to the ground. The reply from Fritz and his observer is an assorted spray of slugs.

“O.K.,” the Allied pilot yells. And slamming the gas into the hungry carburetor he starts to really do his stuff.

The Bristol slashes back and forth across the back of the L.V.G. like a fighting shepherd dog ripping the hide from a bulldog’s back. In and out of ring-sights— short bursts—few of them, but effective. The German observer shudders, claws at his chest and stiffens, then slumps against the ring of his pit, mortally wounded.

Little Chance of Escape

The German pilot knows now that his tail is unprotected; his chances of escape amount to very little. Still, that small chance is better than nothing. He kicks his ship around and blasts at his enemy, his Spandau hammering out sizzling slugs.

Far below, carefully hidden from keen-eyed Boche airmen, a battery of Yank anti-aircraft guns have been trained on the aerial combatants.

Suddenly the commanding officer sees the Bristol dive away from the spurting gun of the German plane.

“Fire!” barks the artillery officer.

The drone and roar of the fighting planes is drowned by the sharp bark of the “75s.”

The Bristol pilot coming out at the top of a loop sees two blossoms suddenly burst on either side of the L.V.G. He pours a steady stream of lead into the German plane.

An Exciting Moment

That is the spot in the fight pictured on the cover; just that one moment when the unlucky German is beautifully bracketed by a couple of archie bursts and is getting a broadside from the Allied Vickers gun. One second later the German raises his hands above his head. The Bristol closes in on his tail. The anti-aircraft guns cease firing.

“Just in time for lunch, Fritz,” chuckles the victor. He points toward a cleared space flanked by tent hangars far below. The German nods solemnly, shrugs his shoulders—and obeys orders.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, February 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“The Lone Eagle, January 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 5, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the fourth issue from January 1934, Frandzen has a German Halberstadt smashing into the undercarriage of a French Breguet—with dire consequences.

The Story of the Cover

SMASH! A crackup in the air! th_LE_3401 That is the picture on this month’s cover.

A shaved second before the collision there were two trim ships battling each other high above the war-torn fields—two ships piloted by airmen intent on blasting each other into oblivion. Vickers, Lewis, and Spandau slugs have slashed back and forth across the heavens.

The big Breguet with its wing span of forty-seven feet is not as maneuverable as the small Halberstadt scout with a span of only twenty-eight feet. But the Breguet’s handicap is offset by its rear gunner, who has an office unequalled for visibility. On either side of his pit he has Cellon windows.

There is a hole in the floor that he can see through and fire through if necessary. Therefore the blind spot under his tail is not as vulnerable as in ordinary two-seaters.

A Dangerous Opponent

The small Halberstadt has had a taste of the observer’s fire when sneaking in from behind to make the hoped for kill. The ship the German pilot thought was an easy victim has turned out to be a dangerous opponent.

Twice the German pilot has barged in from in front. Each time a stream of Vickers’ slugs drenched his ship. One of those hot, whistling messengers of death has slashed into his shoulder. Not a fatal wound, but a painful one. A wound that causes his flying to become jerky and erratic.

Another Angle of Attack

Mad clear through from being bested in a sky duel with a lumbering two-seater the German pushes the nose of his ship down. He starts to slither out of the fight, then he suddenly changes his mind. There is one angle of attack he has not tried; that one is coming up under the blunt nose of the Breguet. Coming up with a brace of Spandaus churning out hot steel.

His Halberstadt shudders as he pulls it out of its dive into a loop. Up swings the nose. He presses his gun trips. A short stutter from one gun, then it jams.

The other gun is silent—its ammo exhausted. Then directly in front of his blazing eyes looms the undercarriage of the Breguet; six husky steel members holding the axle and wheels—the strongest under construction of any Allied two-seater. Too late the German yanks on the stick to pull out of danger.

And This Is What Happens

Smash—his prop chews into the tough steel struts. His top left wing snaps—rips off—his prop flies to pieces, as does the undercarriage of the Breguet.

Both ships will get to earth; but one will be a wingless fuselage holding a doomed German pilot. The Breguet, minus wheels, can come down under its own power, flatten out and take the ground on its chest. It will be a rough landing but it is a ten to one chance that those two Yanks will be in the air again in a few days. They will be on the job—looking for trouble and overconfident Boche pilots.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, January 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“Sky Fighters, August 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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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. For the August 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the a couple of Junkers C.L.1 Seaplanes taking on a Neieuport 27!

The Ships on the Cover

ALL metal low-wing monoplanes th_SF_3508 are not a new wrinkle in sky ships. Back in the World War days, Professor Hugo Junkers sat before a drafting table littered with plains, blueprints and bits of corrugated metal. His simple stream-lined designs were far ahead of his day, therefore they were scoffed at by the heads of the German Flying Corps.

Anthony Fokker had a welded steel frame in the fuselage of his planes at the time. But this welding job was an exception. Fokker liked the looks of the Junkers design and saw to it that certain strings were pulled along the political line and it came to pass that those who had turned down the Junkers all metal planes swung into a snappy about-face in their beliefs. Fokker linked his name definitely with Hugo Junker’s. If those shiny metal jobs load been adequately powered with engines which were not too heavy, they would have revolutionized airplane design.

Finest of ‘em All

The C.L.1 All Metal monoplane in the foreground on the cover, powered by a Mercedes engine, was probably the finest ship turned out by Junkers in 1918. The wings had considerable dihedral and were very thick at the leading edge. Junkers who was an authority on Diesel engines which his firm manufactured, insisted that the Mercedes engine be used in his planes. Car type radiators were used in the nose. Ailerons on most of the Junkers craft were balanced, similar to the Fokker D7. But on this particular version of the C.L.1 they were unbalanced as was the elevator. The rudder was anchored by a single post which in rotating swung it to left or right. Corrugated aluminum was used throughout, which did not by any means make the ship bullet proof but it did minimize the fire hazard and give added strength to the ship that allowed inner structural bracing to be lightened.

Professor Junkers, who died only a few months ago at the age of seventy-six, predicted when he made his first all metal airplane that some day planes would be armor-plated. But with heavy motors developing less than 300 h.p., he was limited to aluminum which is about one-third the weight of steel. Had he been able to armor plate the Junkers planes, a different story could be told of the cover picture.

Zeebrugge, the submarine lair of the German navy, was bottled up by the British navy on April 23, 1918, by sinking ships filled with concrete across the mouth of the harbor.

Blazing Red Skies

A lone French Nieuport roared along the coast toward the heavily fortified submarine basin. A final observation from the air was necessary to the British. Two shining German Junkers seaplanes skidded off the water and flashed into the skies. The Nieuport looked like a butterfly attacked by two bats. But the thundering Vickers guns in the French plane’s nose blasted a rain of slugs through the thin-gauge aluminum of the Junkers into a vital spot. One down! The back gunner on the foremost Junkers blazed at the Nieuport. The tiny French ship flipped under the German plane. One volley sent it reeling towards the sea. The Nieuport circled twice over Zeebrugge, streaked for home.

A telegraph key clattered in a British seaport. An admiral smiled grimly as he read the dispatch from the French pilot.

That night the skies blazed red above Zeebrugge in the most spectacular naval-land battle of the whole war. The engagement mounted to an unbelievable pitch, then slowly died out as the British ships, battered, decks blasted away and superstructure listing, limped into the darkness toward home.

A terse message flashed through the ether from the Admiral’s flagship to British headquarters: “Mission accomplished satisfactorily.”

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, August 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Sky Fighters, July 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 8, 2018 @ 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. For the June 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Spad 22 and Spad 13 C1!

The Ships on the Cover

THE cannon ship used during th_SF_3507 the World War did not necessarily have to be one type of plane. Any ship having a “V” type engine with a geared propeller could do the trick. The geared prop was above the crank shaft at the front of the engine, therefore above the center of the round radiator in the Spad. The hub of the propeller was made hollow just large enough to clear the sides of the muzzle of the 37 millimeter cannon which protruded about two inches. In the accompanying drawing this is clearly shown.

The ship with the complicated bracing in the foreground of the cover is the Spad 22, one of the little known crates of the war. It rated a 220 h.p. Hispano-Suiza motor with a geared prop which could accommodate the cannon. The Spad zooming up in the lower background is the Spad 13 C1 with geared prop. There were plenty of these “cannon ships” tried out from time to time and words flew hot and heavy from pilots who used this new gun arrangement for and against the stunt.

The Original Cannon

The original 37 millimeter cannon, the type the great French ace Guynemer used to down his forty-ninth to fifty-second victims, had to be fed by hand. Each seven-inch shell weighing about one pound had to be dropped into the breach of the gun. This took about three seconds in which time a pair of Vickers guns could churn out around fifty slugs, one of which might find a vulnerable spot in the enemy or his ship. But said enemy ship in three seconds could vary its position about 600 feet which is about equal to a shooting gallery target being reduced from the size of a wash tub to an aspirin tablet, a comparison which you fans with air guns or .22 caliber rifles Will appreciate.

On the other hand a Vickers slug might smack into a strut longeron, engine or even the gas tank, if it was rubber housed and not cause any serious damage; but let one of the one-pounder shells which explodes on impact connect with about any part of the enemy plane and the fight is over. The non-explosive one-pounder shell will knock a plane down in from one to three hits. Then there was a “fireworks” shell which was designed to set the target on fire, also a shell similar to a shotgun shell, which when loaded with buckshot would tear a wing to pieces.

A versatile gun, that cannon, and one which certainly did plenty of damage to the Germans.

Later Models Weighed More

The later cannon was semi-automatic, using the recoil, which was eight inches or more, depending on the muzzle velocity, to eject the used shell and slide a new one into the gun chamber. Guynemer’s cannon weighed about 100 pounds. The later models, 150 pounds or more. So put this added weight into a plane with a given speed and load, is to cut down its speed and put it at a disadvantage in a fight. To overcome this, the ammunition supply was limited or the fuel supply cut down which naturally decreased the cruising range. There were plenty of arguments for this weapon but also a few plain and fancy arguments against it.

Those two Albatross D5s zipping down on the foremost Spad are churning out four streams of slugs at a range which only amateurs would fire. The Spad 13 C1 coming up under them has a better range at a good angle. Not only are the bets on the Spads to come out with flying colors but when those explosive shells from the one pounder connect with the German ships, only one shell is necessary for blasting each one, where dozens of Spandau bullets may whistle through the Spads without harming them.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, July 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Nieuport 27 and Junkers C.L.1!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 43: Capt. John Mitchell” by Eugene Frandzen

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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 American Ace—Captain John Mitchell!

John Mitchell, a Harvard graduate, enlisted on March 1, 1917 and trained at Miami, Fla., Essington, Pa., and at M.I.T. He was commissioned 1st Lieut. June 27, 1917, and went overseas Sept. 1, 1917, continuing his training at Issoudun and Cazaux, France, and joined the 95th Squadron.

At Toul he was credited with helping members of his squadron to bring down two Boches, and at Chateau-Thierry he did excellent work in patrolling and strafing infantry formations. He tangled with Richthofen’s circus—dividing the honors with Lieut. Heinrichs in bringing down one of the circus.

On Aug. 1, 1918, Lieut. Mitchell was commissioned Captain, and on Oct. 13, 1918, he was placed in command of the 95th Squadron.

The Squadron was demobilized Dec. 10. Mitchell arrived back in the U.S. Feb. 14, and was discharged Feb. 16, 1919. He received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, and the American Distinguished Service Cross–both for engagement in the Toul sector in May 1918. Mitchell is credited with the destruction of four enemy planes in combat according to official credits in the A.E.F. at the close of the war.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 45: Adolph Pegoud” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on December 20, 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 French Aces—Lt. Adolphe Pegoud!

Adolphe Célestin Pégoud was born 13 June 1889 in Montferrat, France.[1] Pégoud served in the French Army from 1907 to 1913. Discharged on 13 February 1913, he immediately began flying, and earned his pilot’s certificate 1 March 1913.

Pegoud was in the aviation service in Morocco before the war—and already world famous. Pegoud’s renown came from his feat of being the first Frenchman to loop the loop. He was also first to attempt a drop from a plane by parachute!

At the outbreak of war, Pegoud immediately joined the gallant band of experienced airmen who undertook to get information for their army by use of planes. Frequently sent on dangerous reconnaissance trip far back of the German lines—he gathered data that was invaluable tot the harassed French ground forces in the fall of 1914.

Pegoud is credited with six victories and was awarded the Knight of the Legion d’Honneur, Medaille Militaire, and Croiux de Guerre!

On 31 August 1915, Pégoud was shot down and killed by one of his pre-war German students, Unteroffizier Walter Kandulski, while intercepting a German reconnaissance aircraft. He was 26 years old.

“Sky Fighters, June 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on December 11, 2017 @ 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. For the June 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Sopwith Dolphin and the Fokker D VIII!

The Ships on the Cover

TWO of the last ships to th_SF_3506 get into the air to swap lead in the World War were the Fokker D8 and the Sopwith Dolphin. The Dolphin had four exposed machine-guns, two Vickers shooting through the propeller arc and two Lewis guns shooting over the top of the arc at 45 degrees. The Dolphin’s pilot had good visibility with his top wing cut away and his office parked directly beneath this opening. His vision depended only on how far he could swivel his neck without putting it out of joint.

The Fokker D8, also known as the “Flying Razor,” was Fokker’s last contribution to Germany’s air fleet. He built it around an Oberursel motor because he could not depend on delivery of the Mercedes motors which he had used in his famous D7.

These Oberursel engines had been kicking around for months before Fokker finally in desperation figuratively jacked them up and built planes around them. Not many of these planes got to the front, but those that did, were used to good advantage. Udet, the famous German Ace flew the D8, and liked it. It was not as fast as Fokker would have liked because of the limited power of the rotary in its nose. But its ability to maneuver like a streak of greased lightning got it places where it could do things quicker than some planes with greater power which answered to their controls sluggishly.

Many Balloon Victories

Balloon busting was not confined to such sharpshooters as our own Frank Luke or Belgium’s Willy Coppens. Scattered through the official records of the Allies are scores of balloon victories chalked up to the credit of its flyers. Each of those downed bags represented a drain on the Kaiser’s money bags up to as high as $100,000. Therefore, the balloon falling in flames put a dent equal to from three to six war planes in the German finances.

As the Germans entered the last year of the war their supplies for making their kite balloons, or drachens, was at a premium. Where, in the early war stages, a half dozen of the cumbersome observation bags could be seen strung along four to six miles behind their lines, now only an occasional balloon floated.

“Blind the German’s observation,” was the terse order issued to all Allied armies.

By telephone, wireless, and despatches, this command raced along the lines. Long range guns poured streams of whistling shells into the skies. Their hits were few and far between. The ammunition wasted could have flattened mountains. The gunners gave up and watched tiny specks far up in the skies darting past, fading into the smoky war haze and disappearing over German territory.

Racing Through the Blue

Spads, Nieuports, Bristols, Moranes, Sop Camels, S.E.5’s raced through the heavens. Then the new Sopwith Dolphins flashed their black-staggered wings against an orange sky. Hisso motors yanked them toward a mountainous section where a German balloon had been floating unharmed for months. The massive gas bag was swaying swiftly down to its retreat between rocky crags as the Sopwith tipped their stubby noses down and blazed incendiaries into it. Smoke, then flame belched forth as the porcine mass writhed, collapsed and sank.

Two small monoplanes, one climbing rapidly. Another, diving, bracketed the Dolphins. Incendiary bullets were in the Sops’ Vickers belts, bullets that are outlawed for warfare against man. Down tipped the nose of one Dolphin, up went the prop of the other. Lewis guns bucked in their mounts, streams of orthodox bullets connected the enemy plane with the Dolphins. Two black-crossed monoplanes, “Flying Razors,” staggered in their flight. Blunted and dulled, they fluttered like discarded razor blades pitched from a roof, down into the purple haze of oblivion.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, June 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Spad 22 and 13 C1!

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