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“Revenge Bombs” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on March 20, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time we present “Revenge Bombs,” the story behind Mr. Blakeslee’s cover for the very first issue of Dare-Devil Aces!

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NEAR Dunkirk there was a large air-drome where several squadrons were located, among them a bombing outfit using Handley-Pages. This airdrome was bombed regularly every clear night by the Germans, who would always reserve a few bombs to drop there after giving Dunkirk a salute. The men got used to it and became rather bored.

One night, however, the usual force flew over and to the surprise of all gave the airdrome a bombing it never forgot. The Boches first dropped a parachute flare that lit up the place like day, and then proceeded to drop thirty-two bombs. Hangars caught fire, the landing field was ploughed up, and the Jerries scored a direct hit on a so called bomb-proof dugout, killing forty officers and men. Fortunately the Handley-Pages were out on a straff of their own, or the damage would have been greater. When they returned they found the field ripped up to such an extent that they were unable to land and had to either fly around for the rest of the night or make a landing on the beach three miles away.

A hangar more or less blown to pieces and a torn-up landing field were to be
expected, but forty men gone West at one blow was not to be born. The men determined to wipe out the particular nest that had caused the damage.

They got under way the very next night and on being joined by a fleet of D.H.9’s, set a circular course that would bring them onto the enemy from behind.

The D.H.9’s took the lead. With a roar, they streaked over the Boche drome, letting go a storm of bombs.

As more than fifty bombs struck there was a flash and a stunning report that could be seen and heard for miles. By the time the dust settled and the smoke cleared away the D.H.9’s had gone.

The startled Germans were just coming to, when the huge Handley-Pages swept in on them, dropping tons of high explosives. The blast shook the ground and blew ships, supplies, men and hangars skyward in a mass of smoke and dust.

On the cover the Handley-Pages are shown bombing the undamaged portion of the airdrome. Looking back from the departing bomber the scene was horrible, the destruction complete, the Boche squadron practically annihilated and the forty British flyers revenged.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Revenge Bombs: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(February 1932, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Fokker D-7″ by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on February 16, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the ninth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and fell the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3202THE HERO of the exploit featured this month is Lieutenant-colonel William Avery Bishop, the ace of aces. In his many combats, numbering over two hundred, he made an official score of seventy-two enemy planes, destroyed. Seventy-five percent of these combats were undertaken alone and the majority were against great odds. In a single day, his last in France, he brought up his score from sixty-seven to seventy-two, by destroying, unaided, five enemy ships in less than two hours.

Here is the story of the action which is illustrated on the cover. It will give an insight into the daring of this fighter. The combat took place on August 11, 1917. Colonel Bishop went out that day to work independently, as was his custom. Finding the air clear of patrols, he flew to an enemy airdrome only to find it deserted. He then flew on, going at least twelve miles beyond the lines into German territory, until he discovered another airdrome. Here there was great activity. Seven planes, some with their engines running, were lined up in front of the hangars, preparing to ascend. This was just what he had hoped to find.

With throttle wide open, Bishop dove to within fifty feet of the ground, sending a stream of lead into the group of men and planes. He noticed one casualty as the pilots and mechanics scattered in all directions. The Boches manned the ground guns and raked the sky, while the pilots worked frantically to take off. They knew whom they were up against. There was no mistaking “Blue Nose,” which was the name of Bishop’s machine. Furthermore, who but Bishop would come so far into their territory, and have the audacity to attack an airdrome all by himself?

Here, right in their midst, was the man most feared and most “wanted” by the Germans. It meant promotion and an Iron Cross for the pilot who downed him. However he was not easily downed.

At last one Jerry left the ground. Bishop was on his tail like a hawk and before the Jerry could gain maneuvering altitude, Bishop gave him fifteen rounds of hot fire, crashing him to the ground. During this brief action another plane took off but Bishop was too quick for him. He swung around and in a flash was on his tail. Thirty rounds sent this Boche crashing into a tree. In the meantime two more enemy ships had taken off and had gained enough altitude for a serious scrap. These Bishop engaged at once. He attacked the first ship, his guns ripping out one of those short bursts at close range, which were his specialty. The enemy ship went spinning to earth, crashing three hundred yards from the airdrome. He then emptied a full drum into the second hostile machine, doing more moral than material damage, for this plane took to its heels.

Then Captain Bishop flew back to his airdrome, pursued for over a mile by four enemy scouts, who were too discouraged to do any harm. When Bishop left the Front he had won the M.C., the D.F.C., the D.S.O. and bar, the Legion of Honor, the Croix de Guerre, and Briton’s highest award, the V.C. For the action here illustrated he was awarded the D.S.O.

You will recognize the enemy machine as a Fokker D-7, “The Wolf of the Air.” In the hands of a good pilot it was a terror to the Allied forces. It was designed by Anthony Fokker who was not a German, but a subject of Holland. He is now a citizen of the United States.

This remarkable ship might have been on the Allied side, if it had not been for the short-sightedness of official England; for Fokker offered his services to England and was rejected. He then went to Germany where his value was recognized and where he was immediately employed. England, realizing her mistake, offered Fokker two million pounds to leave Germany. Since Fokker was virtually a prisoner there—but that is another story.

At any rate Fokker built the Germans a ship which filled the Allied pilots with wonder and consternation when it first appeared over the lines. This ship was the D-7. It could out-speed, out-dive, and out-fight any thing then at the Front. Later the Allies produced ships that possessed certain advantages over the Fokker—notably, the Spad that could turn on a dime, the Camel and the S.E.5. However the Fokker remained the most deadly ship that the Germans had to offer, until the end of the war.

The characteristics of the Fokker include an extreme depth of wing, lack of dihedral, and the absence of external bracing. It was truly a wireless ship. It had a span of 29′ 3½” and an overall length of 22′ 11½”, while its speed was about 116 miles per hour.

The Fokker D-7
“The Fokker D-7″ by Frederick M. Blakeslee (February 1932)

You will see a Fokker triplane on the cover next month. It is Baron von Richthofen’s machine, so don’t miss it!

Happy Anniversary!

Link - Posted by David on January 15, 2015 @ 12:00 pm in

No, not of Age of Aces Books, but of Popular Publication’s Dare-Devil Aces magazine! It was 83 years ago today that the first issue of Dare-Devil Aces hit the stands.

Popular Publications had been publishing for a few months over a year, and their Battle Aces magazine was doing well. Steeger had been able to get some of the best aviation writers out there for Battle Aces, so why not start up a sister mag—or in this case, a big brother magazine.

he First Issue Ad
Ad for the first issue of Dare-Devil Aces from the February 1932 issue of Battle Aces.

The Three Mosquitoes led off the issue with “The Night Monster.” Steeger had just rustled Oppenheim into the Popular fold, with the Three Mosquitoes first appearance being the previous month’s issue of Battle Aces! Here the Mosquitoes take on a dragon-like menace that has been terrorizing the Allied front lines. Entire armies fell before it—this dragonlike horror with flame-pointed breath and glimmering eyes. But there were three who dared challenge it—dared follow it down a sky trail of blood.

Next up is a short story by the incomparable O.B. Myers, “The Suicide Ace”—Those Fokkers gloated as they buzzed around their prey; they didn’t know he was of the already lost—that he fought not to escape but to hold them off for 14 minutes—14 minutes of living death.

Coming in next was “The Sky Killers” by Harold F. Cruickshank. Straight into that poison-gas barrage those two gutty Spads plunged, braving a hideous death in a mad scheme that meant victory or defeat for the Allies.

Steuart M. Emery was next to the deadline with “The Devil’s Flying Armada.” “Rescue Major Revel from the Boche prison camp!” That was the order that sent Joe and his buddy into peril skies on the most amazing adventure a pair of fighting fools ever tackled.”

“The Skeleton Flight” by William E. Poindexter was fifth in the flight. For weeks the ghost ship had patroled Allied skies. Now two Yanks were taking up the trail—determined to answer the grizly challenge with their life’s blood.

And flying in the safety position was Frederick M. Blakeslee with his Story Behind the Cover of a gallant British squadron that staged one of the most daring air raids of the war—”Revenge Bombs.”

Dare-Devil Aces would go on to be Popular’s longest running aviation title. In the early years of publication Steeger packed each issue full of every 14 year old boy’s favorite authors and series characters. There was Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes, Robert J. Hogan’s Red Falcon and later Smoke Wade, Harold Cruickshank’s Sky Devil, Donald E. Keyhoe’s Vanished Legion and The Jailbird Flight, Steve Fisher’s Captain Babface, C.M. Miller’s The Rattlesnake Patrol and Chinese Brady, as well as O.B. Myers and R. Sidney Bowen!