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“Wrong About Face!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on November 29, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

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

It was reported that plans vital to the Allied cause had been stolen from a certain general in a hotel in Bar-Le-Duc. Potsdam’s spies had been out-snooping the Allied slewfoots. Things were known on the German side that should not have been known—and wouldn’t have been unless there was skulduggery on the Democratic side of the lines. Washington, London, Rome, and Paris were getting inklings here and there anent a mysterious Teuton Intelligence Dynasty. The scions of a well-born family irrigated with blue Dutch blood were spread all over the Western Front. A lot of practical brass hats called it an Old Wives’ tale. They said that it was propaganda to irk the morale of the Allies. But when a certain concentration center or important dump was shellacked with deadly precision, the same brass hats began to bite their finger nails and believe in anything—even a pilot called Patrick Henry the Third!

From the pages of the May 1937 Flying Aces, it’s another sky-high “Phineas Pinkham” mirthquake from the Joe Archibald—It’s “Wrong About Face!”

When Patrick Henry the Third shoved his super-schnozzled pan into Major Rufus Garrity’s flight office, the ozone above the drome rang with the patriotic cry of “Give me a Liberty or give me a Hisso!” But before long someone started to play a game that called for an aunt instead of an ante. And Phineas? Well, he played a Pat face against a Pat hand.

“Suicide Struts” by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 8, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday with one of his pulp stories each Friday.

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!

Today we have the story of Jack Kane, a pilot with the 17th Squadron’s C Flight who’s in over his head. Turns out C Flight plays hand after hand of poker in between patrols and young Kane has been doling out I.O.U.s to cover his debts and the time to settle up those debts is fast approaching. Problem is, he doesn’t have the money to cover those I.O.U.s. Kane believes it would be better to perish in battle and die a hero than face disgrace when his debts come due!

Disgrace faced young Kane in twenty-four hours. And there ahead of him, with guns jammed—a Fokker’s cold meat—was the man from whose hands disgrace would come. Fate was giving Kane his chance—yet he could not take it!

From the October 1931 Flying Aces, it’s William E. Barrett’s “Suicide Struts!”

“Bombers Down!” by Colcord Heurlin

Link - Posted by David on October 28, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a cover by the great Colcord Heurlin! He provided covers throughout the 1920’s and early 30’s for various pulp magazines—most frequently for your Adventure type magazines. Here we present his cover for the March 1931 issue of Flying Aces—a dynamic cover that once again has a story to tell.

Bombers Down!

th_FA_3103NOT all the danger attending the life of a bombardment pilot was crammed into the few mad minutes he spent over his objective, dodging enemy anti-aircraft fire, intercepting aircraft or the betraying beams of searchlights while his observer pulled the toggles that released the grim eggs. There was the dangerous take-off with a loaded plane. There was the wild flight across the line through the barrage of steel that vomited up from anti-aircraft batteries, and then, above all, there was the flight back.

To carry high explosive was no cinch at the best of times, and many a pilot lost pounds in weight or added years to his age as he sat in the ship carrying the dangerous missiles. Once over the objective, they could get rid of the stuff and heave a sigh of relief. But—suppose the bomb rack jammed and left the bombs hanging by a lone loop. Suppose the observer yanked and pulled on the toggles in an effort to get it off, anyway and anywhere at all, with no success.

This has happened on several occasions, and generally speaking, the airmen are in a tight position. They cannot land with the bomb hanging in that manner. With the nose portion clear of the rack, as is shown in this month’s illustration, the wind vane has been released and the percussion pin has been wound into concussion position. All it requires is a slight jounce, and the 500-pound shell of T.N.T. is touched off. There is nothing to do but try and get the shell off somehow. Many an observer today is wearing a ribbon on his old flying tunic for getting out and releasing a bomb from a rack that has jammed. Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes the observer has had to get down on the landing gear and actually file the release pin off, or even shoot it away with an automatic.

There were times when it was done successfully. There were many when they were unable to release it before their gas supply ran out.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Bombers Down!”
Flying Aces, March 1931 by Colcord Heurlin

“Poosh ‘Em Up—Pinkham” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on October 25, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

“HAW-W-W-W-W!” That sound can only mean one thing—that marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back causing more trouble than he’s worth! During the last year of the colossal fuss the Italian board of strategy powwowed at Padua and came to the conclusion that something had to be done about the Austro threat across the Piave and sent out an S.O.S. to the western front calling for a triple threat airman who would be able to cope with one Baron von Zweibach who had become widely known from the Dardanelles to the Dover Straits as “The Caproni Crusher.” The only way to fight a triple treat is with a triple threat, so Wing sent that jinx to Jerries to Italy! It’s another Phineas Pinkham laugh panic from the pages of the April 1937 Flying Aces!

Things looked pretty dark on the Piave, and the Roman Brass Hats admitted it. For “The Caproni Crusher,” Baron von Zweibach, was loose—and they didn’t have a flyer good enough to dunk him. But the situation could have been worse—in fact, when Phineaseppi Pinkhamillo arrived on the scene it was worser!

“Smoke Scream” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on August 30, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

“HAW-W-W-W-W!” That sound can only mean one thing—that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors is back to vex not only the Germans, but the Americans—the Ninth Pursuit Squadron in particular—as well. Yes it’s the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa himself—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham!

It’s a simple formula. Take one Brigadier who’s lost important plans for the big push add to it the crafty Baron von Spieler. Multiply it by an elephant hopped up on arnica on a rampage. Throw in a hindu mystic and take all of it to the Phineas Pinkham power and you get “Smoke Scream,” Joe Archibald’s latest side-splitting Phineas laugh riot from the pages of the March 1937 Flying Aces!

Lost battle plans! That’s what worried the Brass Hats. But Lieutenant Pinkham, Boonetown’s gift to the 9th Pursuit, went out for bigger things—to be specific, something a couple of tons bigger which answered to the monicker of Hungha Tin. All of which led to a riddle which was still bigger, to wit: Which came first, the bruises or the arnica?

“Bombing Richthofen’s Drome” by Paul J. Bissell

Link - Posted by David on August 19, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present “Bombing Richthofen’s Drome”—The story behind the cover of Paul Bissell’s April 1932 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the April 1932 cover Bissell put us right in the action as the planes of Squadron 100 circle over Richthofen’s drome, bombs exploding down below!

Bombing Richthofen’s Drome

th_FA_3204IT IS April of ‘17. Above, a full moon shines from an almost cloudless sky. Below, the landscape spreads away to the east—dark, except where a faint glimmer traces the twisting course of a river. To the west, against the horizon, continuous flashes show the progress of the battle of Arras, raging in its full fury.

There men lie in trenches, waiting in mud and slime for the signal which, at dawn, will send them from their meagre protection into that hail of bullets sweeping across No-Man’s-Land. Here, high in the air, all seems peaceful. Only the droning of many motors tells that death is on the wing. Death in the form of a dozen or more planes, each bearing the blue, white and red circles of the British Air Service on its wings; each carrying its little bunch of “bouquets” slung carefully in their racks underneath—”bouquets” to be presented to Richthofen’s Jagdstaffel II at its home airdrome at Izel le Hameau.

Suddenly the squadron leader, sensing rather than actually seeing what he knows to be his objective, cuts his motor and, tipping up one wing, descends in a wide, easy spiral so that he may more carefully check against his map the few faintly visible landmarks below. The other pilots, too, have cut their motors, hoping that there is a chance of getting down a bit before their singing wires will give them away. They do not know that already word of their approach has been given, that the searchlights and defenses are already manned by tense and eager foes waiting for that signal which will turn the quiet night into an inferno.

ONE thousand—two thousand—three thousand feet the leader drops, spiraling slowly. His companions, maintaining a much flatter glide, circle about the airdrome, holding their elevation until the leader can find his objective and drop his phosphorus bombs to light up their target.

Now, when he is scarcely a thousand feet up, a siren screams from the ground; a brilliant beam of light stabs the night—another, then still others, all sweeping the sky searchingly until one, finding its prey, stops suddenly, and the others quickly focus with it on the old British F.E. 2B. Instantly the sharp bark of archies shatters the stillness. On the ground, men dash from barracks and hangars. Hoarse orders are sharply given, and though the range is still too great, machine guns are already rattling nervously.

On, with never a waver, comes the old British crate—slowly gliding in, as surely and quietly as if she were coming down to land in her own airdrome. Down, down—five hundred feet. Now she is directly over the airdrome. The observer can be seen clearly in the white, merciless gleam of the searchlights, peering over the side—awaiting his moment.

They level off, one hundred and fifty feet up, and from the under wing of the plane comes a dark rush earthward. Men dive for shelter, and an instant later all hell breaks loose. The whole field is lighted up with the flaming brilliance of the burning bomb. Two hangars are ablaze. Shrapnel and flaming onions scream through the night. Other bombs crash, and the machine-gun fire is incessant.

NOW the other planes can be seen, diving straight in, or swinging in a wide circle to take their places in the parade of terror and death. One after another they come through the terrific barrage, and with deadly aim drop their bombs into the German quarters. One terrific explosion follows another. Hoarse screams echo as some poor devil is blown to bits.

Above, the motors are roaring full on, as the planes circle again and again to drop the last of their deadly missiles.

After all, it is only a matter of minutes. Destruction has come and passed, leaving in its wake burning hangars, dead and maimed bodies, and huge gaping holes in the formerly smooth carpet of the airdrome.

Already the hum of the motors can scarce be heard, as the squadron wings its way back home. Back over the front line, through another baptism of shell-fire, and then to their own field. Dawn is just graying the east as the last plane glides in safely. Not a machine but is torn by shrapnel. Wings are riddled with bullet holes. But Squadron 100, of the R.F.C., has bombed Richthofen and come back without the loss of a ship or a man!

The Ships on The Cover
“Bombing Richthofen’s Drome”
Flying Aces, April 1932 by Paul Bissell

“The Night Bomber” by C. Heurlin

Link - Posted by David on April 15, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present a cover by Colcord Heurlin! From 1923 to 1933 Colcord Heurlin painted covers for a wide range of pulp magazines. His work appeared on the covers of Adventure, Aces, Complete Stories, Everybody’s Combined with Romance, North-West Stories, The Popular, Short Stories, Sky Birds, Sea Stories, Top-Notch, War Stories, Western Story, and Flying Aces!

The Night Bomber

th_FA_3102THE tense drama of night bombing is clearly shown in the cover of this month’s issue. Many stories of these Boche bombing raids have been told. First the ominous whir of enemy wings sounded through the night. In the drome below, lights were hastily put out, and helmeted figures scurried to their ships to take to the air and ward off the dreaded danger. Streaks of Archie fire felt futilely through the black night sky for the range—and then the bombs fell, hurtling downward through the darkness on the tarmac beneath.

Sometimes, as in our cover, an Allied ship took off in time to get above the bomber, and a powerful searchlight caught the German ship in its merciless glare. Then, though the Archie shells burst harmlessly about, death tracers from the sputtering Vickers above caught the German gunner. That was one ship that did not flee to Germany unscathed, leaving death and destruction behind.

The Ships on The Cover
“The Night Bomber”
Flying Aces, February 1931 by C. Heurlin

“P.D.Q-Boat” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on February 22, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

“HAW-W-W-W-W!” That sound can only mean one thing—that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors is back to vex not only the Germans, but the Americans—the Ninth Pursuit Squadron in particular—as well. Yes it’s the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa himself—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham!

Deeds of extraordinary valor had made Phineas Pinkham a colonel. But one potent punch to the proud proboscis of a brigadier had amended that over zealous act on the part of the high cockalorums of the A.E.F. Everybody on the jittery front from the Channel to the Italian border breathed easier. But Lieutenant Pinkham had not forgotten a certain von Spieler. He was one Von whom Phineas had not been able to wash up completely and the Heinie’s name was written on the intrepid Yank’s books under the heading of “Unfinished Business.” From the February 1937 issue of Flying Ace, it’s Phineas Pinkham in “P.D.Q-Boat!”

Old Lady Fate had put through a mixed grill order, and it looked like the Krauts would bring home the bacon. Allied marine moguls got their ships mixed, Garrity got his signals mixed, and Goomer got his bottles mixed. All of which boiled down to the fact that Phineas was on the spot—only the M.P.’s didn’t know which spot.

“Luke Downs Three Balloons” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on February 18, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present “Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”—The story behind Paul Bissell’s April 1933 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the January 1932 cover Bissell paints a tableau of Frank Luke in his trusty Spad 27 coming down on his third balloon in as many minutes on his last day in battle!

Luke Downs Three Balloons

th_FA_3201“MEIN GOTT! It is Herr Luke! Quick—down with the Drachen!”

In an instant all was confusion. Machine guns rattled and archies barked. Winches ground and turned as the Germans strove desperately to save their balloon, swaying gently in the dusk, two thousand feet above Milly.

The two balloon observers were already overboard. They knew that pilot! Thirteen balloons and five planes had fallen to Frank Luke’s attack in less than three weeks. Only ten days before, he had destroyed two balloons and three planes in less than fifteen minutes. And this afternoon, September 29, 1918, they had seen him destroy the balloon over Dun, fight his way through a squadron of Fokkers, destroy a second balloon over Briere Farm, and dive headlong at their own helpless bag—all in less than three minutes! Their bag was doomed—and overboard they went.

On came Luke’s Spad, through a hell of shrapnel and machine-gun fire,
 its motor wide open, and both guns spitting flame. Another instant and 
Luke would have crashed into the balloon, head on, but with a sudden zoom 
and bank, he pulled clear of the now fiercely burning Drachen. His third
 balloon was going down! That day—which proved to be his last, for a 
wound forced Luke down and he was found dead the next morning—was a
 fitting end to a glorious career, the career of one of America’s greatest 
airmen.

The Ships on The Cover
“Luke Downs Three Balloons”
Flying Aces, January 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“A Fighting Man” by William E. Poindexter

Link - Posted by David on February 15, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from William E. Poindexter. Poindexter’s work appeared frequently in the supporting pages of the air pulps of the 1930’s. Here, he gives us the tale of Little Ossie Timpkins—who asked nothing more than to be considered a fighting man. But due to his stature, found himself on terminal kitchen duty—until he thinks he found a way to prove to himself and the others that he truly is “A Fighting Man!” From the pages of the May 1932 Flying Aces.

Little Ossie Timpkins, K.P., asked for nothing more—to die in a blaze of glory—to ride flaming wings down the steep skies to a fiery grave! But they wouldn’t let him into the air—wouldn’t let him prove that he was even as every last one of them—a fighting man!

Richard Knight in “Hell Hammers Harbin” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by David on February 8, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THE prolific Donald E. Keyhoe had a story in a majority of the issue of Flying Aces from his first in January 1930 until he returned to the Navy in 1942. Starting in August 1931, they were stories featuring the weird World War I stories of Philip Strange. But in November 1936, he began alternating these with sometime equally weird present day tales of espionage Ace Richard Knight—code name Agent Q. After an accident in the Great War, Knight developed the uncanny ability to see in the dark. Aided by his skirt-chasing partner Larry Doyle, Knights adventures ranged from your basic between the wars espionage to lost valley civilizations and dinosaurs.

“Hell Hammers Harbin” from the pages of the March 1938 issue of Flying Aces is Keyhoe’s ninth story with the intrepid Q-Agent and his pal Larry Doyle.

North! North! And still farther northward over those bleak wastes of Asia flew Dick Knight. His course was uncharted—his destination unknown even to himself! Only a question mark—a cryptic crimson question mark emblazoned on a rough Manchurian map—offered a clue to the mystery of that mad flight. And that puny clue was destined to be his single weapon against—hideous meteors of murder!

“Flight Opera” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on January 25, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

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

History’s pages show us that very strange things have happened in wars. They tell us that Hannibal pushed a big herd of pachyderms over the Alps to stomp on the Roman legions. They tell us about the wooden hobby horse that the Greeks pushed through the gate of Troy and how the faces of the Trojan boys went red when they discovered that the jokers from Athens had not come in to open a restaurant. There is the tale about George Washington crossing the Delaware when it was filled with ice cakes and how his Continentals kicked the Hessians around because they had been drinking too much New Jersey corn. But the strangest thing that ever happened in any war took place in France in the year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Eighteen. Somebody made Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham a colonel!

From the pages of the January 1937 Flying Aces, it’s Joe Archibald’s “Flight Opera!”

That letter the War Department tossed across the Atlantic smack onto Garrity’s desk certainly had an innocent appearance. But when it was opened, the 9th Pursuit was turned upside down so fast that it looked like the 6th. For Phineas Pinkham had been made a COLONEL!

“F.O.B. Berlin” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by David on January 18, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the prolific pen of Mr. Robert J. Hogan—the author of The Red Falcon, Smoke Wade and G-8 and his Battle Aces!

Colonel Brant leaves orders to not touch the new D.H.s while he’s gone—problem is he left that order with Captain MacRay who neglects to tell Major Nelson Wellington Van Parker Jones, who’s desire is to be the first to fly a D.H. over the lines. Unfortunately it’s right into the path of von Strohm’s Fokkers! From the pages of the April 1932 Flying Aces, it’s Robert J. Hogan’s “F.O.B. Berlin!”

One D.H., complete with brand-new Liberty motor, and one American major in good condition—delivered by hand at Germany’s door! Who says there isn’t such a thing as being too generous?

“Lufbery Becomes an Ace” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on January 7, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present “Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”—The story behind Paul Bissell’s April 1933 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the May 1932 cover Bissell presents the moment in the battle of Mauser raid where Raoul Lufbery became an ace!

Lufbery Becomes an Ace

th_FA_3205“PROCEED to their objective, the Mauser Munition Works at Oberndorf; there drop their bombs at points most destructive to the enemy positions; and then return to their home airdromes.”

So read the orders for October 12, 1916, at all Allied airdromes located back of the front line and south of Verdun. Orders of Brass Hats, “—and then return”! What a chance! With the objective one hundred and fifty kilometers inside the enemy lines and the sky filled with Boche. Well, anyway, it would be a great show, and at least one pilot smiled, thinking that tomorrow might bring death, but most surely would bring the opportunity of becoming an Ace.

This was Sous-Lieutenant Raoul Lufbery, of the Lafayette Escadrille, with four official victories to his credit, who, with three companions, Lieutenants Masson, de Laage and Prince, had been ordered to fly guard patrol for the bombing planes and protect them from attack.

Arriving at the appointed rendezvous, they saw a sight then strange to any eye. Perhaps the largest concentration of air forces the world had yet seen was spread below them. Farnums, Breguets, Caudrons, Sopwiths and Nieuports, almost every type of plane yet developed by the Allies for work at the Front, was in this huge flying armada, which would strike desperately at one of the main centers of German munition supplies.

Turning east, the whole group passed through a terrific archie bombardment, but it was not until they neared Oberndorf that the real show began. Here the Germans seemed to come from all directions. A general alarm had been spread, and every available German ship had been pressed into service.” Single-seated scouts, double-seaters, and even big three-placers, planes seldom seen on the Front at that time, were massed ahead of the advancing bombers.

The larger enemy ships would charge in, boldly maneuvering to bring their swivel guns into play, only to find the sky suddenly raining lead as Nieuports and Sopwiths dived headlong from the blue, their guns blazing in defense of their bombers. Then flashes of crimson and black, as Albatrosses and Fokkers and Pfalzes attacked fiercely, striving to gain that deadly blind spot underneath the tail of the slow-moving bomber, or twisting and squirming to evade the fire of some Nieuport, and, by some quick renversement, bring the tri-colored cocarde full in their sights.

IT WAS from such a mêlée that Lufbery, pulling out for an instant to clear a jam of his gun, saw a German go down in flames before the withering fire of Norman Prince.

“Yeow! Number one for the Lafayettes! Good old Nimmie! Now for number two!” And he pushed his stick over. But that dive was never to be finished. At that instant a sudden impact in his cockpit told him that a German was on his tail. Instinctively he yanked his stick back hard against his chest. Up he zoomed, his head twisted around to find his enemy.

There it was, a huge three-place Aviatik, with three guns, and all of them’ blazing at him. A flip of his ailerons—a kick of his rudder—then down hard on his stick, and in an instant he was away from the fire of the Boche. A sharp climbing bank would, he thought, bring him back under the tail of the larger ship, but here the German pilot, an old hand at the game, was too crafty to be caught. Banking up sharply on his right wing he exposed Lufbery again to the open fire of his three gunners.

This was entirely too hot a spot to stay in, and Lufbery turned the nose of his little Nieuport sharply away, out of the line of fire, climbing rapidly to gain altitude, from which he might dive down on the larger machine. As he turned, a flash of red went by, followed by a streak of silver—de Laage on the tail of a Boche!

Now, below him, Lufbery could see the three-seated Aviatik, the gunners all set for his attack. Over he nosed his ship and hurled down at the enemy, but at the same instant the big plane banked around and he overshot his mark. In a fury he twisted back in a sharp renversement, this time approaching the plane from the most dangerous position, open to the fire of the gunners.

But the Germans were square in his sights, and straight on he flew, feeling a thrill as the pulsing guns answered to the squeeze of his hand on the stick. He could feel the German bullets spattering his plane. Another instant, and he turned to avoid a crash, just as the huge Aviatik, the pilot dead, slipped crazily off on one wing. A telltale whisper of smoke, and then a burst of flame as it headed down to where falling chimneys and bursting roofs showed that the Allied bombers had
found their objective with fearful accuracy.

THAT was one hundred and fifty kilometers inside the German lines, and it meant one hundred and fifty kilometers of scrapping to win their way back through. The Germans took their toll. However, it had been a great show, and very successful from the Allied viewpoint. Much havoc had been wrought to the munitions center, and the Allies, too, had taken their toll in German ships. Three more victories were to the credit of the Lafayette Escadrille, for de Laage had brought down his German also.

A happy reunion awaited them, had not Fate here taken a hand. The four pilots, blown slightly off their course, and running short of gasoline, were forced to land at the French field of Corcieux, a field strange to all of them. It was almost dark as they eased their ships down, and Prince, unaware of some high tension wires strung across one end of the field, crashed into them as he glided in. With characteristic courage he refused to have his comrades move him until flares had been lighted to prevent some other pilot crashing as he had done.

Two days later he died in the hospital. The famous Mauser raid was history. Lufbery was an Ace, and Norman Prince an international hero.

The Ships on The Cover
“Lufbery Becomes an Ace”
Flying Aces, May 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on December 24, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present “Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”—The story behind Paul Bissell’s April 1933 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the April 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action as Lt. Paul H. Niebling shoots his Colt .45 at an oncoming Fokker while parachuting to the ground!

Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat

th_FA_3304UNSWERVING and terrifying, like a messenger from hell, the red plane, its guns blazing, bore down on the hapless young American swinging dizzily in his parachute harness. He heard the whine of the German bullets as they whizzed by, cutting another of his shroud cords. He clutched desperately at one of the loose ends as the wind began to spill out of his chute, at the same time twisting in his leg straps to empty the rest of his magazine into the red machine as it roared by him in a wild zoom.

Five times the Colt .45 spoke sharply, and then the mechanism jammed . . . .

Less than two minutes before, this young American, Lieutenant Niebling, and his companion observer, Lieutenant Carroll, had been quietly watching the enemy positions from their basket, some two thousand feet above Maixc. Not a plane had bepn in sight. The clouds hung low. Then, without warning, nosing out of a cloud, its motor picking up with a full-throated roar, had come this red devil, spitting flaming bullets into the big silken bag above.

At Niebling’s command, Carroll had jumped. But Niebling, an old hand at the game, had decided to stick to the last minute. Three times before this, he had gone overboard as the balloon above him went up in flames. He was sick of just going over and putting up no fight. So this time he had swung out of the basket that he might be in the clear if he felt the whole balloon give suddenly, as it does when it finally explodes. He was determined to get in a few shots at the Boche before he let go.

So, as the red plane had banked up sharply and came back for another go at him, Niebling had freed his automatic. If only he could put a bullet in that damned red nose, that came on relentlessly, shooting flaming darts which bit into the silken folds above! Damn him! And Niebling’s automatic had pulsed as he squeezed the trigger. Like a trip-hammer he felt it kick in his hand. The plane, apparently untouched, had nosed up and put a last fierce burst into the big bag. “Great God, how futile!” had thought Niebling, and in anger almost threw the partly empty automatic at the German plane. A sudden return of caution, however, had warned him that he had hung on as long as he dared. He released his hold and dropped like a stone, turning over and over in his plunge down.

The first seconds of a jump, even to the most experienced old jumpers, are seconds in which life seems suspended. Whether or not it will go on depends on the chute. If it opens—good! If not—well, c’est la guerre. So with Niebling, for a few seconds life stopped.

He himself, when first at the Front, had seen a French lieutenant carefully tuck the parachute into its carrier, demonstrating just how it should be done, had seen the parachute attached to sand-bags placed in the balloon basket, had seen the balloon ascend three thousand feet. Then, from the ground, he had seen the bags pushed over the basket’s edge, drop and rip the chute from its container—had watched breathlessly and vainly for the chute to open, only to see those bags plunge three thousand feet down, to crash in a cloud of dust with the folded chute trailing hopelessly behind. Yes, sometimes it didn’t open.

But this time it did, and with a rush and a snap, life was on again for the young lieutenant, and he found himself floating gently earthward, still gripping his automatic. Above him, and to one side, his balloon, now a mass of flames, was falling slowly to pieces. The Fokker had swung off and was attacking the other balloons. Even as he watched, Niebling saw the second, third and fourth bag explode, and then the German banked up in a sharp turn and headed back toward him.

ONCE before when Niebling had been shot down, the enemy had returned to the attack and passed so close that the American had made some excellent snapshots of the German plane with a tiny vest-pocket kodak. This time, however, Niebling longed not for pictures, but for blood. So he had waited for the German to get closer. Already the fixed gun, shooting through the Fokker’s prop, flashed steadily. What a chance! Just a service .45 against a Spandau.

Yes, but if only he could get one bullet in the right place—one, just one! And Niebling’s teeth gritted as he squeezed the trigger and butt of his Colt. Five times the automatic spoke, square into the red body, so close now that Niebling could almost have touched it with a fishing pole.

That was the moment when the mechanism jammed. The plane, apparently untouched, turned and headed back toward Germany, while the American, cursing with rage, worked feverishly to clear his gun. Watching the fast-retreating Fokker, he saw something suddenly go wrong.

Slowly at first, then more rapidly, the plane headed downward. Quickly it was apparent that the headlong dive was uncontrolled, as if death’s hand were on the stick. The motor roared, pulling the ship into a tight spin from which it never came out. Twisting faster and faster, it finally crashed, burying its nose deep in a hillside.

Yes, Niebling got down. With the wind still spilling out of his chute, he landed fast but safely. Modest always, he says that he was never able to prove positively that his bullet brought down the German. But evidently America and France thought that he had done a good job, for First Lieutenant Paul H. Niebling, 1st Minnesota Field Artillery, A.E.F., attached to the 73rd Company, French Balloon Corps, today wears a D.S.C. and Croix de Guerre, with Palm for exceptional valor, and is, we believe, the only man of the war who, in a head-on duel in the air, with only a sendee automatic against a Spandau, came away the victor.

The Ships on The Cover
“Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”
Flying Aces,April 1933 by Paul Bissell

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