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“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 15: Major Vaughn” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 18, 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 American Ace—Major George Vaughn!

Major George A. Vaughn is credited with 13 victories—12 German planes and one balloon—and awarded the American Distinguished Service Cross, the British Distinguished Flying Cross and Silver Star with two citations. He was shot down twice, but managed to escape uninjured both times.

A student at Princeton when the war broke out, Vaughn returned and finished his degree after the war. He became a reearch engineer for Western Electric and later a slea engineer for Westinghouse.

Vaughn was asked by the Governor of New York, Franklin Roosevelt, to help organize the New York Air National Guard—the 102nd Observation Squadron—in the early 1920s. He served as it’s commander for nine years. In 1933 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned to the 27th Division Staff as Air Officer until he retired in 1939.

Vaughn was on of the organizers of the Casey Jones School of Aeronautics along with Lee D. Warrender and Casey Jones in 1932. The School, based at La Guardia Airport, would become the College of Aeronautics. In 2004, the name was changed to the Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology.

George Vaughn passed away in 1989 at the age of 92 of a brain tumor.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

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

Link - Posted by David on January 9, 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. On the July 1934 cover, It’s a battle of David and Goliath—a Belgian Hanriot 3 C.2 going after a L70 Class Zeppelin!

The Ships on the Cover

THIS month on the cover th_SF_3407 is shown one of the type of planes used during the World War by Belgium, that tiny country sandwiched in between France, Germany and Holland.

The plane with the Belgian insignia (red, yellow and blue) is the Hanriot 3 C.2, a French job powered by a Salmson radial motor.

Belgium’s refusal to let the German hordes pass through her country is probably the most important single event of the whole scrap. And while the ground troops of the plucky little country were holding back the rolling waves of German shock troops the Belgian airmen were doing things up in the clouds.

Real Fighting Spirit

The Belgians had observation machines spotting strategic points behind the German lines. But as the war progressed and machine-guns appeared on airplanes Belgium’s air fighters drove their machines, usually of French construction, into the teeth of the Boche ships. Odds seemed nothing to them. The fighting spirit of their beloved king and leader, King Albert, seemed to burn in the breast of every Belgian flyer.

The Belgians repeatedly bombed the Boche Zeppelin hangars. The hangars were moved beyond the range of the Belgian planes. But the Belgian flyers continued to hunt the Zeppelins slipping through the high clouds on raiding expeditions.

On the cover the Hanriot prowling alone in search of trouble roars through the scudding clouds thousands of feet above the crash of artillery fire and the rattle of rifles. Two guns with cartridge-filled belts poke wickedly from under the top wing. The rear gunner is ready for action with his Lewis gun. At one moment the sky is deserted except for the Hanriot. Then a great shape, with straining engines forcing its ominous bulk forward, breaks through the clouds. It is heading eastward, returning from a bomb dropping raid on the English seacoast towns; returning after releasing an avalanche of death and destruction.

A Matter of Seconds

A flip of the rudder and the Hanriot tears in at the bloated raider like an angry wasp. Vickers blasting sizzling incendiaries at the hydrogen-filled airship. The range shortens, the Hanriot’s Salmson motor labors as it climbs. The Zeppelin points its nose up fighting for altitude; altitude which means safety. The Hanriot’s greater speed shortens the gap. The Belgian rear gunner swings his Lewis into position. They are not to be denied—it is only a matter of seconds.

A roaring blue meteor slams down out of the clouds with guns spitting. It is between the climbing Zeppelin and the attacking Hanriot. Its wings are black-crossed. It is a matter of minutes before the Zeppelin will be above the altitude the Hanriot is capable of reaching. It will escape.

The Hanriot’s pilot opens fire on the German plane as Spandau bullets tear past his ears. Behind him the Lewis gun jerks on its scarf mounting. Incendiary bullets scream into the side of the Zeppelin. A thin tongue of flame licks at the torn fabric; a tiny spot of flame which will spread rapidly from bow to stern and will send the Goliath of the skies hurtling down toward the poppy fields of Flanders.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Morane-Saulnier and Fokker Triplane!

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

Link - Posted by David on October 31, 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 January 1934 cover, It’s a battle of the Allied piloted Sopwith Camels against the German Albatross DVs!

The Ships on the Cover

THE SHIPS on this th_SF_3401 month’s cover are the Sopwith Camel and the Albatross D.V. Both were outstanding in their class during the World War.

The Sopwith Camel was a single-seater tractor biplane which had such fine fighting qualities that the pilots of the Royal Air Force gave this ship credit for the successful end of the war in the air. Many of the best known British aces flew Camels at some time in their careers.

A Tricky Little Scout

Collishaw alone brought down over twenty enemy aircraft in this ship out of his sixty confirmed victories. Barker flew a Camel over the Alps at the head of a British squadron which utterly routed the Austrian air forces. Many American squadrons were equipped with Sop Camels. George Vaughn and Elliott White Springs ran up their victories in them. Despite the effectual qualities this little scout possessed, it had plenty of tricks. It was the doom of many novices, but in the hands of an experienced pilot its trickiness could be turned to an advantage.

It had a tendency to rotate the plane instead of the propeller. However, there wasn’t a ship at the front which could out-maneuver it below ten thousand feet. At that height it made 113 m.p.h. It was equipped with a Clerget motor of 130 h.p. The maximum height was 9 feet, length 18 feet 9 inches and the span 28 feet. It could climb to 10,000 feet in twelve minutes.

Two Albatross D-5’s pitted against two Sopwith Camels is a fight in which either side may win. Much depends on the pilot.

An Exciting Fight

In the fight pictured on this month’s cover the Albatross scouts are in a bad way. One is a smoker trying vainly to shed the persistent Camel on his tail. The other has his guns blazing down at an enemy machine-gun nest. The broadside he is receiving from the Camel barging in from his side is dangerously close. Theoretically those two Albatross’ should have the bulge on the slower Camels. But the Boche ships are heavier, harder to jerk around. Those little Camels have been flashing in and out, lashing the Germans with Vickers slugs; completing a dangerous maneuver and being set for another before the foe could get organized.

Family Tree of the Albatross

The Albatross D-5 brought to the front in 1918 had a long line of ancestors. The beginning of its family tree was in the dim past—the days of the “Taube” school of airplane design in 1911. From those Taube-like types of monoplanes through the slow moving biplanes of early war days, mostly two-seaters, to the trim ship on the cover was a big jump. The Albatross scout of 1915 had a speed of 80 m.p.h. with its Mercedes 130 h.p. engine. The Albatross D-5 pushed along at from 135 to 140 m.p.h. without any trouble at all. Its Mercedes motor was stepped up to 220 h.p. by that time.

When any of these husky German ships were attacked the Allied aviators treated them with plenty of respect.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Hanriot 3 C.2 and the giant L70 Class Zeppelin!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 14: Lieutenant Werner Voss” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on October 26, 2016 @ 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 one of Germany’s greatest Aces—Lieutenant Werner Voss!


Voss infront of his prototype Fokker DR.I Triplane with a face painted on the engine cowling.

Werner Voss began his military career as a Hussar in November 1914 while still 17 years old. Turning to aviation, he proved to be a natural pilot and after flight school he spent six months in a bomber unit. Moving on he joined a newly formed fighter squadron—Jagdstaffel 2 on 21 November 1916. It was here he became friends with Manfred von Richthofen.

Voss was chalking up the victories one after another until that fateful day in September 1917. On the 23rd, Leutnant Werner Voss, commanding officer of Jagdstaffel 10 and flying his prototype Fokker DR.I Triplane, encountered the renowned ‘B’ Flight of British 56 Squadron in the skies north of Frezenberg. B Flight was comprised of some of britain’s finest Aces—James McCudden and Arthur Rhys Davids among them.

The odds stacked against him—Voss managed to hold his own against the seven S.E.5s of B Flight. Somehow hitting each plane in a dogfight that lasted ten minutes before his own was hit by fire from at least two of the British airplanes. Voss himself, was struck by three bullets. His plane went into a steep dive and crashed north of Frezenberg, Belgium. Voss was killed. He was 20 years old.

In the ten short months Voss was in the air he was confirmed to have 48 victories (which practically matched the great von Richtofen plane for plane during the same time) and was awarded the Pour le Mérite, House Order of Hohenzollern and the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been 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.!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 12: Major MacClaren” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on October 12, 2016 @ 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 Canadian Ace—Major Donald MacClaren!

Donald MacLaren joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 and quickly accrued 54 victories, making him the highest scoring ace to fly a Sopwith Camel. He was awarded the Military Cross & Bar, Distinguished Service Order, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion d’Honneur and Croix de Guerre. MacLaren recorded his last victory on October 9, 1918—as his combat career came to an end the next day when he broke his leg while wrestling with a friend.

Following the Armistice, he helped form the Royal Canadian Air Force before retiring to begin a career in civil aviation where he formed Pacific Airways which was eventually acquired by Western Canada Airways.

He died on 4 July 1988, aged 95.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

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

Link - Posted by David on October 3, 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 November 1933 cover, It’s the S.E.5 vs the Phalz D-3!

THE ships pictured on this month’s th_SF_3311 cover are the S.E.5 and the Pfalz D-3.

The Pfalz was a single-seater chaser manufactured by the Flugzeugwerke firm founded by two famous pioneers of the German aviation industry, the Everbusch Brothers.

Germany built many types of planes during the World War. The Pfalz was one of her outstanding successes. Its motor was a 160 h.p. Mercedes, capable of swinging the plane through the air at 102½ m.p.h. when at a height of 10,000 feet. Low down its 160 horses could pull it along at a slightly increased speed. It was stable laterally, but unstable directionally and longitudinally. It answered to its controls obediently, but always had a tendency to keep turning to the left in flight.

The pilot from his office gets a good view of all that’s going on in all directions except where the top wing interferes with his vision.

The heavy Mercedes made this ship nose-heavy and many an ambitious German pilot got into plenty of trouble in putting his Pfalz into a dive and keeping it there too long. He had a difficult job in yanking the front end of his sky steed into level flight. He also had to watch his step when landing or he was likely to roll up in a ball.

The single-bay “V” struts were probably adopted from the early Nieuport design. The Germans, instead of connecting the lower part of the “V” placed a short member against the lower wing, hoping to get additional strength and to be able to anchor the bracing wires somewhat apart.

Two ships coming together in the air usually means curtains for both. Boelke, the famous German Ace, was killed when his plane was barely grazed by a ship being flown by one of his pupils. Many other airmen have cracked up in this way.

In the picture on the cover it is a toss up whether the Allied pilot will get his ship down safely. His undercarriage has snapped clear of its moorings. If he can keep control of his ship for a split second, he will be able to clear the tail of the German ship and possibly bring his own plane down for a pancake landing. If he can find two trees with a gap between them of about twenty feet he can sheer off his wings and slow up his smash. In the case of the German in his wing-wrecked Pfalz there is not a doubt of his end. He is through.

The S.E.5 single-seater scout (the S.E. stands for Scouting Experimental) was about the smoothest job in its class }hat the British turned out. It was a product of the Royal Aircraft establishment. It was powered by a Hispano-Suiza 220 h.p. motor. It could do around 120 miles an hour. The downward visibility was improved by cutting away a portion of the lower plane close to the body. A Lewis Vickers gun was parked on the left side of the hood in front of the pilot. A Lewis gun was mounted on a track arrangement above the top wing. The pilot was able to pull the butt end of his gun down till he could shoot at a vertical angle at any ship which got above him. This gave him a decided advantage over the single seaters of the enemy’s ships.

The dihedral of the wings was noticeably greater than any other British ship of its time. Landing, the pilot had to be mighty careful, as did the Pfalz pilot in his ship—both ships were nose-heavy.

Major Jimmie McCudden, the British Ace, who downed fifty-three enemy planes before a Spandau bullet carrying his initials snuffed out his glorious career, swore by the S.E.5s. He claimed, as did other of his brother pilots, that it was the finest ship produced during the war. It could hold its own in any maneuver that a Boche ship might force it into and nine times out of ten come out top dog.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Westland N-17 Seaplane and a German submarine!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 11: Ernst Udet” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on September 28, 2016 @ 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 German Ace—Ernst Udet!

Ernst Udet was one of the highest scoring Aces in the German airforce—second only to the great Manfred von Richtofen with 62 victories to his 80! He entered the German Army in 1914 before becoming a fighter pilot serving in Jastas 4, 11, 15, 37 and eventually commanding the 37th and 4th fighter squadrons. However, injuries he had sustained forced the Ace out of active combat in late September 1918—which may have helped him survive the war, unlike Richtofen.

Udet was a young man of 22 at the end of the war. Following Germany’s defeat, Udet post-war career in the 1920s and early 1930s saw him work as a stunt pilot and in movies, international barnstormer, light aircraft manufacturer, and all around playboy before joining the Nazi party in 1933 and working to recreate the Luftwaffe that would play such a pivotal role in the coming Second World War.

Udet’s wartime success came to an abrupt end however in 1941. Accused by General Erhard Milch of bringing about the Luftwaffe’s shortcomings as demonstrated during the Battle of Britain, and under fire from Goring himself, Udet—who had become critical of the Nazi regime—’chose’ to commit suicide. His suicide was concealed from the public at the time and he was lauded a hero who had died in flight while testing a new weapon. Udet was buried next to Richtofen. He was 45.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

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

Link - Posted by David on September 19, 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 October 1933 cover, It’s a battle of a lone Salmson being harassed by some Fokker D-7s!

The Ships on the Cover

THE SHIPS pictured on this month’s th_SF_3310cover are Fokker D-7s and a lone Salmson.

The Salmson was manufactured by the French firm Societe des Moteurs Salmson. It was one of the most reliable observation ships used during the World War and was flown extensively by the French. The Americans and Italians also used it to good advantage.

Its engine was a Salmson 260 h.p. radial turning over 1500 revolutions per minute. The cylinders arranged radially like the modern Wrights were mounted around a two part crankcase. Nine tubes brought the exhaust to a collector, formed as a ring and arranged in front of the cylinders. This is the outer rim of the nose of the ship.

The cylindrical shape of the nose with its numerous ventilating slits is distinctive. In fact it can be mistaken for no other war-time ship.

The span of the Salmson on the cover is 39 ft. The length 27½ ft. Its top speed was just under 120 m.p.h. It could climb to 10,000 ft. in 18 minutes.

Although this ship was far ahead of its time in streamlining, it had a certain bulky appearance that suggested it might be a stubborn brute when answering to its controls. Just the reverse was true. It could be taken up carrying a pilot and an observer and made to do things and go places.

Therefore the predicament in the picture may not be as serious for the Allied airmen as one would think at the first glance. The pilot has rolled his ship so that his gunner can blast the Fokker zooming up from below at the rate of 800 feet per minute. The pilot’s front gun is lined up on the tail of a second Fokker hammering out a stream of Vicker’s slugs.

Downing these two “N” strutted German planes will cut down the odds tremendously. But as long as even one of these blunt-snouted German pursuit ships remain in the sky the Allied flyers have plenty to worry about.

The Fokker was considered Germany’s best fighting plane produced during the war. It was a radical change from her ships which followed the sweep-back design of the Taube wing construction. There were no graceful sweeping lines on Tony Fokker’s bus; just a business-like ruggedly constructed engine of destruction. It could match any maneuver of an Allied ship except in diving.

In a dive it had a tendency to pull up. Many of its opponents, getting in a tight fix with a D-7 and seeing Spandau slugs lacing fabric to ribbons got away from seemingly certain death by opening wide their throttles and diving toward the earth.

The Fokker was powered by the famous Mercedes 160 h.p. motor, the most efficient of many fine power plants produced by German engineers. This engine had such stamina and dependability that some Allied pilots removed them from captured German planes and placed them in their own ships.

The entire fuselage assembly of the Fokker was constructed of steel, even including members where wood is almost universally used. The wings, reversing the steel construction principally used in the fuselage, were made entirely of wood.

External bracing wires are not used between the wings. Both upper and lower wings are without dihedral.

Salmson and Fokker ships were highlights of ingenious designers’ skill. Radically different in design, but both capable of doing their allotted jobs in a businesslike manner.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the S.E.5 and Phalz D-3!

Now Available!

Link - Posted by David on July 23, 2016 @ 9:34 am in

IF YOU can’t make it to PulpFest in Columbus this weekend, you can still get copies of our new books online from the usual outlets. Both of our new books—Frederick C. Painton’s Squadron of the Dead and Donald E. Keyhoe’s Captain Philip Strange: Strange Spectres—are now available to order online from Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

While you’re waiting for the books to arrive, why not check out some of the extras we’ve put on line for each book to whet your appetite. For Painton’s Squadron of the Dead we’ve posted the original pulp scans from Sky Birds magazine of the opening page art so you can see how it would have looked if you were reading the stories back in 1935 when they were originally published. You can also read the opening of the stories in the scans. Orignally we had posted a few of the Squadron of the Dead stories on our site—we had enjoyed them so much that we we had found all eight stories we decided to collect them into a book. The first one is still available here if you want to sample the book.

For the latest release of the weird World War I adventures of Donald E. Keyhoe’s Captain Philip Strange we have the original full page scans of the opening artwork for each of the six stories collected in Strange Spectres! For the last few volumes we’ve only been posting cropped artwork, this is the first time we’re posting the full page scan so you can read a bit of story and enjoy Eugene M. Frandzen’s art in all its glory from the pages of Flying Aces magazine. Painton’s Squadron also uses Frandzen’s art, but here in the bedsheet sized issues of Flying Aces you get those glorious painted images Frandzen would do—much better than his line art.

And the piece de resistance of any Strange book—Chris’ great cutout artwork he does for each of the stories! There are only six this time—but they’re all winners. You can check them out on the Strange Spectres Design page!

Both books are available for $16.99 wherever our books are sold, so pick up both today! You can order online from Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

“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!

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

Link - Posted by David on May 16, 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 November 1934 cover, It’s a battle of the wire jobs as the Fokker Eindecker 1 takes on the Farman Experimental 2!

The Ships on the Cover

THE airmen in the early th_SF_3411 months of the war were gallant knights who took their frail, slow-moving craft into the air for observation purposes only. Occasionally a bomb or two was pitched over the side just to make it interesting for the opposing ground troops. But when fliers from different sides of the line met each other above the war fields they usually nodded, waved their hands, or if they stirred up a little hate they thumbed their noses at each other.

Then one day a German pilot with a perverted sense of humor threw a few bricks down at an Allied aviator, which of course was unsportsmanlike. The next day the Allied flier took a shotgun into the clouds and blammed both barrels at a German plane. The handwaving and friendly nods ceased.

Next to break the peace of the sky lanes was Roland Garros, the French flier, who mounted a Hotchkiss machine-gun on the cowl of his fragile little Morane, put steel triangular plates on his propeller and let the Germans have the works. He did plenty of damage to the Germans until he had to make a forced landing in enemy territory with his precious gun. He was captured before he could destroy his gun and plane. The secret was out.

Fokker’s Synchronized Gun

Anthony Fokker got busy on a synchronized gun. He rigged up a system of mechanical gears connected to his prop shaft and was able to send a steady stream of lead through the propeller arc.

That invention really started the fireworks in the air. Garros’ gun was a makeshift arrangement worked with a hand-trigger not synchronized. The Fokker gun was synchronized and was a weapon of death and destruction.

Boelke and Immelmann were two of the first to flame through the skies with the new gun. Allied plane after plane went crashing to earth. The Germans were mopping up, blasting their opponents from the air.

And then when things looked the darkest, up soared the British pusher type planes. One of these, the F.E.2 (Farman Experimental) barged into the fight with a Lewis gun blazing from its front observer’s pit. And did those old flying bathtubs bust hell out of the Fokker menace? They certainly did!

Take a look at this month’s cover and you will get in on the last stanza of a fight between a Fokker E.1 and the famous old stick and wire job, the F.E.2.

Strange—But True!

Down below three British two-seaters are lumbering along. The Fokker Eindecker has been hidden above the clouds and spots the three foes. He carefully tests his one synchronized gun and tips his square-winged monoplane down. His Oberursel engine bellows as it yanks the plane down in a power dive. The German pilot suddenly glances to his right. Out of a cloud bank breaks an F.E.2. The German yanks his ship out of its dive, kicks it up to come around and down on this newest enemy before polishing off the two-seaters.

But an expert is behind the Lewis gun in the flying bathtub. The German’s body jerks in his pit as the British gunner’s slugs find their mark. A pained expression of surprise marks the German’s face. It is against all reason that such an awkward-looking contraption could fly, let alone down his sleek streamlined Fokker.

It might be against all reason, but facts fill the history books that tell us that it was the good old F.E.2’s that stopped the sky slaughter of the Fokker Eindeckers.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features a sea battle as Phönix seaplane is attacked by a Sea Tank!

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

Link - Posted by David on May 2, 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 October 1934 cover, It’s the Halberstadt C.L.2 vs the Avro “Spider”!

The Ships on the Cover

THE Halberstadt C.L.2 was, th_SF_3410 with its sister ship the C.L.4, a bright spot in Germany’s output of two-seater fighters. It was simpler in design than most of the German ships of this type; probably thereby lays the reason for its very good performance. Kicking over 1,385 r.p.m.’s at 10,000 feet, it could travel at around 100 m.p.h. It was not so hot on climbing, but was light on its controls and could be maneuvered with ease.

The other ship on the cover is the Avro “Spider,” a job turned out by the famous A.V. Roe & Co., Ltd. It had “It” when it came to speed, maneuverability, and climb. Its trick triangular system of inter-plane bracing obviated the use of flying or landing wires. And when it came to visibility that “one holer” in the top wing gave the pilot a look-see up and ahead. Even downward vision was good as the chord of the lower wing was very narrow.

Let’s slip back about half an hour before this crackup that’s pictured on the cover.

A Trophy of War

Consider yourself planked on an Allied tarmac. Out in front of number one hangar is a captured German ship; a Halberstadt. A group of British aviators are standing around admiring their trophy. Greaseballs have tuned her up, she is idling beautifully. One of them with three pots of colors is ready to paint the British cocardes on this German ship. There is darn good reason for this art work on captured machines. It’s to save the Allied test pilots who take up the captured ship back of the lines from getting popped down by some other Allied aviator who might think a German was at the stick.

Standing among the British aviators is a young man with a very dejected expression on his square face. His goggles are shoved back. His collar ornaments are German. To the Allied aviators, whose captive he is, he is just a flyer who happened to work for the wrong side. Much wine and spirits have trickled down all throats since the capture of the German. All hands are buddies, friends; in fact old pals. What if Fritz did pop at them from his Halberstadt? It was all in the game.

Just a Joy-Ride

“Let’s have a little ride in your old war chariot, Fritz,” suggested Lieutenant Mills, who had forced the German down.

So Fritz climbed in at the controls after it was certain his front and rear guns were harmless. Lt. Mills tucked a pistol into his pocket and heaved himself up on the side.

Smack!

Fritz fist clipped the Britisher on the button. The Mercedes roared. Dirt blasted into the other’s eyes on the ground.

An Avro roared throatily in the next hangar. Lt. Mills was in it in a jiffy, gunned the Bentley and blasted down the drag and up into the air. It took him twenty minutes to catch Fritz. Then came ten minutes of systematic sniping at engine and wings. Finally the Halberstadt’s engine sputtered, died. Down she came, flopping and shuddering. As her undercarriage hit the ground her wings folded and called it a day. Lt. Mills landed close by, rubbed his aching jaw and walked over to the wreck. Fritz crawled out, felt himself all over and indicated that he was not injured. He then shoved out his jaw and Lt. Mills carefully planked a beautiful right uppercut home. Fritz took it standing up and grinned.

Mills produced a flask—”Cheerio,” he grinned.

“Prosit,” replied Fritz.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, October 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!

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

Link - Posted by David on April 18, 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 September 1934 cover, It’s the Pfalz Triplane vs the indomitable S.E.5!

The Ships on the Cover

THE Pfalz Triplane was th_SF_3409 one of the neatest looking jobs among the number of multi-wing planes which all European countries experimented with during the late fracas Over There. The fuselage was exceptionally slick in proportion and line. If you can imagine the two top wings removed and the bottom wing having a much greater chord you will see a strong resemblance between this tripe of bygone war days and the Lockheed Sirius of modern times.

Those designers of a sixth of a century ago did some sweet visualizing far in advance of their time. If they’d have had engines as efficient as those of today to yank their stick and wire jobs through the clouds there’s no telling what the outcome of the air campaigns might have been.

Three Winged Crates

But we’re not as interested in the fuselage as in those three wings which make our Pfalz a Triplane or Dreideckcr. In building this type of ship the hope was for greater efficiency in all ways. They got it in some and lost it in others. In using three instead of one or two wings the chord and span could be reduced. Then the tail assembly could be pushed up closer to the wings, giving compactness and maneuverability. A single interplane strut could be used on each side, instead of the conventional double struts. The Pfalz used a combination of V strut and straight single strut. The top wing did most of the lifting work as the lower wings had a very narrow chord.

The Nieuport, Sopwith, Albatross and Fokker firms experimented with the triplane idea. Fokker undoubtedly was influenced by the Sopwith “tripe.” Some other manufacturers even went in for quadraplanes, and not to be outdone, one stuck on five planes which made the crate look like a flying stepladder.

On the cover the Pfalz tripe in the foreground with the red belly has been tearing in and out of the ring-sights of the S.E.5. That fight started down low and gained altitude as the two ships circled and sparred with left and right guns.

Even Steven

The famous S.E.5 of British origin, one of their outstanding successes, has the edge on the tripe in many of their in and out maneuvers, but a triplane has a much reduced period of inertia in the horizontal plane; so therefore is able to slip from one dodging tactic to another quicker than the S.E.5. So it was about “even Steven” in this climbing fight.

Suddenly another Pfalz tripe hove into the scrap with spitting Spandaus. Just about the time it looked like curtains for the S.E.5 her pilot flopped his ship into a trick skidding turn and sprayed a drizzle of slugs into the second ship. Down it went smoking, out of control. Not contented with his one victory he repeated his maneuver on the surprised Boche in the foreground Pfalz. One quick burst from the Vickers sent bullets thudding into the German pilot. He died instantly with his nerveless hands and feet still holding his plane in a climbing circle.

The S.E.5 pilot followed for a moment then eased his plane aside and headed for home. Once he turned, raised his right hand in salute as he watched the triplane, now a tiny speck far above, still gracefully climbing into the blue dome of heaven.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Halberstadt C.L.2 and the Avro Spider!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 12: Major Hawker” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on April 13, 2016 @ 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 English Ace—Major Lanoe G. Hawker!

Lanoe George Hawker joined the Royal Flying Corps and quickly developed a reputation as an aggressive pilot. In April 1915, armed with just a few bombs and some hand gernades, he successfully attacked a Zeppelin plant at Gontrobe while flying a BE-2. This earned him the Distinguished Service Order.

A few months later, on 25th July 1915 Hawker became the first fighter pilot to win the Victoria Cross for air combat. Flying a single-seater Bristol Scout and armed with a single-shot cavalry carbine mounted on the starboard side of the fuselage, Hawker attacked an enemy two-seater over Ypres. He managed to not only bring that plane down, but two others as well—and all three had been armed with machine guns!

Promoted to the rank of major, Hawker died after taking part in one of the longest dogfights of the war. Flying an Airco DH-2 over Bapaume on 23rd November, 1916, Hawker was eventually shot down and killed by Manfred von Richthofen.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

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