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“Is That a Fact?” February 1932 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 11, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Is That a Fact?” which ran frequently in the pages of War Birds. It was an aviation themed version of a Ripley’s Believe It or Not kind of feature with hard to believe they’re true facts. Although written by Barrett, the feature was illustrated by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza.

The February 1932 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features the Sop Pup, Jimmy McCudden, The First Tanks and Richthofen’s eightieth and final victory!

Next Monday Barrett touches on the R.F.C.’s first casualty, the great Manfred von Richthofen and his Circus and the Monument at Neuilly!

“Famous Firsts” February 1932 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 6, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Famous Firsts” which ran frequently in the pages of War Aces. “Famous Firsts” was an illustrated feature much along the lines of Barrett’s “Is That a Fact?” that was running in War Birds, only here the facts were all statements of firsts. And like “Is That a Fact?” in War Birds, this feature was also taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The February 1932 installment, from the pages of War Aces, features Bill Thaw, Jimmy Bach and the real Captain Strange!

Next Wednesday Barrett features Lt. Alan McLeod, The Sopwith Tabloid, and the Number One Battle Squadron!

“Hell’s Seven Keys” by Lester Dent

Link - Posted by David on December 28, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

LESTER DENT is best remembered as the man behind Doc Savage. But he wrote all number of other stories before he started chronicling the adventures of everyone’s favorite bronze giant. Here we have an action-packed tale of the air from the pages of the February 1932 issue of War Birds—”Hell’s Seven Keys!”

Captain “Bustem Bill” Harn is sent to the Sixtieth Pursuit Squadron to help take care of a certain Ace that’s been plaguing them lately—but that’s just a cover story. He was given secret orders…

To Bustem Bill Harn:
    This is confidential. It accompanies orders you will receive to report to the Sixtieth, R.F.C., and fly a lone patrol in an effort to shoot down the German ace, Hauptmann Robart von Fleigg, whose circus is stationed in front of the Sixtieth. The orders have gone in duplicate to Major Geising, commanding the Sixtieth.
    Here’s some dope for you. During the early part of the war, the Sixtieth was stationed in Egypt. While there, a detachment of native soldiers reported witnessing seven planes of the Sixtieth shoot down a German bomber. The crew of the enemy ship were slain, according to the witnesses, and the bomber was then burned, demolished and the parts buried in the desert sand. A patrol of seven Sixtieth ships in the air at the time denied having encountered the bomber. The native soldiers could not locate the spot where they said the bomber was shot down, when asked to do so.
    Since then, five flyers of the Sixtieth have met mysterious and violent death, evidence in each case pointing to murder.
    The only thing we have discovered which might point to a solution of the murders is that all of these five were among the group of seven who denied shooting down the Boche bomber.
    The surviving two of the seven are lieutenant “Cockney Pete” Sauls and Captain “Devil” Leeds.
    You are joining the Sixtieth ostensibly to bag von Fleigg. Make every effort to do this. But you will also bend every effort to solving these murders. Use care. Military intelligence sent an agent to investigate these killings and he was murdered.
    This Sixtieth is a hard-boiled outfit and they have a cast-iron and brimstone skipper in the person of Major Geising. I can guess about how you two will get along. sending you there to get von Fleigg insulted him no little. He gave me a cussing over the telephone when I told him you were coming. unofficially, I hope you knock hell out of him. Officially, you had better bill and coo like a pair of doves.
    Bustem, I’m sorry to hand you a lemon like this. But you’re the man for the job. Go in there and stamp on everybody’s toes and you may learn something. I can smooth out anything short of a killing. and if you succeed in shooting down von Fleigg, I can promise the ranking of major which you recently lost, will be restored. And should you solve these murders, I can also promiss you command of any pursuit squadron on the Front.
                                Luck to you!
                                          General Sam H. Fitch,
                                          Officer Commanding.

A key around a dead man’s neck was the thing that sent that Devil’s spawn of seven into action. It took red skies and Spandau steel to end that bloody trail.

If you enjoyed this story, Black Dog Books has put out an excellent volume collecting 11 of Lester Dent’s early air stories set against the backdrop of World War !. The book includes this story as well as others from the pages of War Birds, War Aces, Flying Aces, Sky Birds and The Lone Eagle. It’s The Skull Squadron! Check it out!

 

And as a bonus, here’s another newspaper article about Lester Dent! This time it’s a biography of the writer as a young man, well, 30. From The Daily Oklahoman, it’s “Lester Dent, The Wizard of the Pulps!”

 

Lester Dent, The Wizard of the Pulps

by Jack E. Ray • The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, OK • 19 July 1936

Lester Dent

LESTER DENT is one of the most valid of cosmopolitans. He was born in Missouri. Was taken to and lived on a series of farms near Broken
Arrow (Oklahoma). Just In tjme to avoid having oil struck on his place. Dent’s father sold out and the family moved to a godforsaken cow ranch in the Wyoming sagebrush.

Then back to Missouri, in 1918 when Dent was 12 years old. Only 30 years old now. he has lived almost everywhere. Recently he returned from a treasure hunt in the Caribbean on his schooner, “The Albatross.” His home, he says, is wherever he happens to be sitting at his typewriter at the moment. Just at present, that is New York. However: “I guess I’m more Oklahoman than anything else, having lived there longer than anywhere else by about five years.”

Dent got to the fifth grade, moved to another place, and entered high-school. . There he flunked English for four consecutive years, after which a disgusted teacher asserted that he was hopeless along that line. Graduated from hlghschool in 1923, and took a course In telegraphy. Got a job at $45 a month, working nights for the Associated Press in Tulsa.

WHILE on that job, Dent started writing adventure stories. Sent one of them to George Delacorte of the Dell Publishing Co. Delacorte wired him to come to New York If he was making less than $100 a week. “But,” says Dent, “I thought he was nuts. I’m still not sure—” Anyway, after telegraphing friends in New York to inquire about the publisher’s sanity, he went to New York. He was given two magazines (”Scotland Yard” and “Sky Riders”) to fill. Dent cleaned up 4.000 bucks the first month, and as much monthly for three more magazines. Then both magazines went broke. That was in 1931—the depression had arrived. For the next six months he would sell a story to a magazine and before he could sell it another one, that magazine would fold up. Finally he found some that were on an even keel.

Dent’s work has been for the pulp magazines. He has sold to over 30 publications, of the cowboy, detective, adventure, air, and mystery types. Also to writers’ magazines. He uses a dozen pen names, including Kenneth Robeson. Maxwell Grant, H. O. Cash, Tim Ryan, and various others. Has long ago lost track of just how many yarns he has sold, although he knows the total is more than 1,000. For the last three years he has received not one rejection slip; in fact, the stories were contracted for in advance.

DENT is the second most prolific author in the world. For a year his output was an average of 200,000 words a month/all of which he sold. That, he says, Is not his limit. Here’s how he works: Out of bed at 11 a.m. works until about 4 p.m., reads the papers, takes a walk, naps for an hour; then works until 3 or 4 a.m. Does this five days a week. Biggest production for a day: On dictaphone, 32,000 words; on typewriter, 24,000 words. Most words turned out in a continuous session: 45,000 words (a book). This required a night, day, and part of night, from beginning of plotting. He never revises. His copy comes out of machine and goes in “as is.”

Under the nom de plume of Kenneth Robeson. Dent writes monthly a 60,000-word (book-length) “Doc Savage” story. The “Doc Savage Magazine” was the most successful pulp magazine in the world the second year of its existence. Dent claims his character. Doc Savage, is an unconscious composite of the physical qualities of Tarzan of the apes, the detective ability of Sherlock Holmes, the scientific sleuthing mastery of Craig Kennedy, and the morals of Jesus Christ. He has written perhaps 50 novels about his creation, at present being over a year ahead of the magazine which prints them.

THE following should encourage embryo writers. Dent swears it’s true: “Pulp magazines are more widely open than ever for new writers. Just send them a half-way printable story and they’ll buy it. . . . The pulps are an excellent training field. When I started writing for them, less than five years ago, T. S. Stribling was only a pulp hack.”

Dent regrets that he has written under so many pseudonyms, instead of building up one name—his own—in the pulps. This mistake was made partly because of the fact that editors don’t like to carry more than one story under the same name in a single issue of a magazine. So Dent would sign one with his real name, and others with noms de plume. Occasionally, he has written entire issues of magazines in this manner. Consequently, although his output ranks among the greatest, his name is not especially well known.

Asked if he entertained any unrealized literary ambitions. Dent replied, “One million of them, all made of silver, called dollars, and in banks, preferably several banks.” Everything considered, this is not a vain desire at all—for Mr. Dent.

“Revenge Bombs” by Frederick Blakeslee

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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!

th_DDA_3202

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

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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!