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“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!

“The Fokker D-VII” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on July 27, 2015 @ 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 have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story of the Fokker D-VII on the cover of the February 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3502The contraption shown on the cover was supposed to have been invented just after our entry into the war. The idea was for a bomber to drop the net and then the combat ships were to lure the enemy into it, or else the combat ship was to carry the net itself. The story goes that the inventor offered it to the U.S. government, then to France and England and finally into German hands. (A similar device was employed in the Sky Devil story “The Haunted Fokker” (Dare-Devil Ace, April 1933))

Now let’s review the history of the Fokker D-VII, written by an authority on the subject.

THE FOKKER D-VII
by ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly Draughtsman, Fokker Aircraft Corp.

TO ANY one familiar with the fighting planes developed during the World War the Fokker D-VII is outstanding. It was superior to any other plane used by Germany and it was certainly the equal of any machine used by the Allies. Using the D-VII the German pilots were able to hold their own against a much larger force of Allied aircraft, and so great did the fear of these planes become that it was definitely stated in terms of the Armistice that all Fokker planes should be destroyed.

The D-VII was the result of the gradual development of the earlier Fokker Fighters. When it was found that the 110 H.P. Le Rhone powered Nieuport easily outmoded the 80 H.P. Gnome powered Fokker the design of the Fokker tri-plane was completed.

The triplane enabled the German pilots to gain a series of impressive victories and it was used by the great von Richthofen in many of his aerial duels. Although the speed of this plane was comparatively slow, its decided ease of maneuverability more than made up for the disadvantage.

But its flight range was limited by a small gasoline capacity and Allied pilots found that the best way to escape it was to out-distance it.

As it became apparent that the fighting planes of the Allies, and in particular the Sopwith Camels and Spads, were giving them the advantages of speed and flight range the design of the D Series Fokkers was started. The first of these was the D-I, a bi-plane powered with a 120 H.P. Mercedes, and like the rest of the series it was fast and efficient.

About this time the Albatros works (Albatros Werke) began production of the D Series Albatros machines. The Albatros D-II proved itself superior to the Fokker D-I and by 1917 the later developed D-III had surplanted the Fokkers at the Front. This Albatros was powered with a 175 H.P. Mercedes, weighed 1,470 lbs. and carried a useful load of 297 lbs.

These D Series Albatros planes were a bi-plane design, having a small lower wing (made of a single spar) connected to a larger upper wing with a V strut. Any combat advantages which the Albatros offered were offset by the fact that the plane was structurally weak and the wings could not stand torsions. Consequently, when fighting the Albatros, Allied pilots had but to put their planes into a steep dive to be safe.

Many German airmen were killed when their planes went to pieces in mid-air; the celebrated Captain Boelke met death when the wings of his Albatros pulled off while he was flying over his own lines. Several pilots deliberately wrecked their machines rather than take them into the air.

The father of the D-VII was a bi-plane of somewhat radical appearance. Its fabric-covered fuselage was made of wood covered welded tubing, making a clean and decidedly streamlined job. The wings were built up of wood in much the same manner as were the wings of the later Fokker commercial types.

Although this plane offered every advantage and was years ahead of its time in many ways it was refused by the German High Command. Realizing that little satisfaction could be had from the German government (politics meaning more to them than efficient fighting equipment) Mr. Fokker managed to contact the important pilots. He found that they were not satisfied with the planes and materials furnished them and they desired to select their own equipment.

After some difficulty and much red tape an open competition of the leading makes of military planes was held. For this competition Fokker redesigned his bi-plane and the D-VII was born.

The D-VII was characterized by its cantilever wings (made up of box spars). No wires or external braces were used and the wings were joined together at the tips with a single strut. The fuselage was of a rectangular cross section which feature made for simplified manufacturing and quantity production. By streamlining the landing gear axle with a tiny wing, speed was added to the plane.

The D-VII fast became a favorite of the pilots. Although the Rumpler climbed faster, it handled very badly, especially on the turns. So great was the demand for the new Fokker that the factories making other planes were required to stop production of their own types and concentrate on the building of the D-VIIs.

The following figures give an insight into the construction and performance of the plane.

Wing curve Fokker varying
Sweepback None
Dihedral, upper wing
Dihedral, lower wing 1° 20′
Stagger 2′ 1″
Total wing area, including ailerons 236 sq. ft.
 
Upper plane—
  Span 27′ 5½”
  Chord 5′ 3″
  Area, with ailerons 145 sq. ft
 
Lower plane—
  Span 22′ 11¼”
  Chord 3′ 11¼”
  Area 91 sq. ft.
  Incidence 1 to 1.5 degrees
  Gap 4′ 6¼”
 
Fuselage—
  Max. cross section shape Rectangular
  Max. cross section area 9.35 sq. ft.
  Max. cross section dimension 3′ 9½” by 2′ 5½”
 
General Dimensions—
  Overall span 27′ by 5½”
  Length 23′
  Height 9′ 3″
 
The weight of plane (empty, including water) 1,867 pounds
The weight of plane loaded 2,462 pounds

The endurance of the Fokker D-VII is, full throttle at 10,000 feet (including climb) 2 hrs. 13 minutes.

Minimum speed of the D-VII at sea level (lowest throttle) is 62 miles per hour.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Fokker D-VII” by Frederick Blakeslee (February 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

 

Mr. Blakeslee covered the Fokker D-VII himself with the story of Billy Bishop for the cover of the February 1932 number of Battle 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!