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“Sky Fighters, January 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 23, 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 January 1935 cover, It’s a battle of the experimental Morane-Saulnier up against the mighty Fokker Tri-Plane!

The Ships on the Cover

A FLYER who goes out th_SF_3501of his way to tackle three enemy ships and down the bunch in one fight is called a “Three in One.” Meaning, of course, three in one fight. But that said flyer, before barging into a seemingly hopeless scrap, must have more than mere courage. My guess would be: courage, exceptional flying ability and nerves of steel.

Andrew McKeever and Francis Quigley and James McCudden were “three in one” Aces. McKeever, a Canadian, made three kills in one fight. The odds against him were nine to one and just to make it more interesting, the fight occurred far behind the German lines. The Cannuck charged into the mass of attacking Germans and tore their morale to pieces by blasting three of them out of the skies. The remaining six Hun pilots were so dazed by McKeever’s audacity that they allowed him to slip away from them and he returned home without a scratch.

Tangling Them Into Knots

McCudden, whose score was high at the time, hopped a squadron of German ships. He tangled them into knots with his brilliant flying and marksmanship. Four of the German ships crashed to earth under his guns. Dozens of German slugs tore through McCudden’s plane but he was unharmed and landed safely.

That gives you a look-see at a couple of the famous aces of the war whose official records are now history. Now take a look at the cover to see a Frenchman qualifying for the “Three in One” club.

The Fokker triplane was a ship which stood out boldly on the German roster of famous ships. Some of the Fokker tri-planes were slow. Fokker built these tripes originally around the 100 h.p. Oberursel rotary motors and had to be content with the speed this engine delivered. Later when more powerful motors were installed his tripes climbed well into the first division for speed. What they lacked in miles per hour they made up in maneuverability. They could “turn on a dime.”

This super-maneuverability was due to the shortness of the fuselage bringing the tail close up to the wings and also to the short span of the wings. The experimental Morane-Saulnier is the exact opposite to the triplane design and cannot get into a change of direction as quickly as the tripe. It is built more for slashing attack. Having a single wing against the three of the German ship makes the scrap all the more interesting.

Under the Guns!

One of the quick darting Fokkers has already fallen under the guns of the Morane pilot. Another is taking its death potion from the blazing guns of the French plane as it zooms up under its nose. The third Fokker pilot is so rattled that he is firing more at his colleague in the foremost Fokker then at the Morane-Saulnier. It’s finis for him as soon as the speedy Morane-Saulnier can swing it’s guns in his direction.

Flyers didn’t go out every day or two and engage superior numbers of enemy ships just to show how the trick was done. It was rather a once-in-a-lifetime stunt for a very few of the best. To zoom into sky conflict with a single enemy plane takes courage. But to tangle with a gang of your foes, down three or more of them and come through the show with colors flying, takes courage PLUS.

Plus what? I’ve already made my guess. What’s yours?

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, January 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Bristol Fighter F2B and the Siemens Halske D4!

“The Fokker Triplane” By Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on September 21, 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 most recognized plane of the era—the Fokker Triplane—featured on the cover of the June 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3506AFTER one look at the cover this month you would probably think that the American and German pilot were doomed. However, both escaped, the American with minor burns and the German with a bad fright.
  As a matter of fact, the fire on the Spad was not quite as bad as we have shown; just bad enough to make the pilot think that he was due for an awful death. He decided to crash one of the Fokker tripes, bringing it down with him. But the pilot of the Fokker got ont of the way just in the nick of time.
  The American discovered in that dive that if he side-slipped the blast of wind would keep the fire away from the cockpit. He managed to reach the ground by side-slipping. As he later said—”Given my choice of crashing or being burned to a cinder, I’ll crash every time.” And crash he did.

Now let’s hear from an expert the inside dope on the Fokker triplane.

The Fokker Triplane
By ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly Draftsman, Fokker Aircraft Corporation

DURING the early part of the year 1916 the German High Command realized that the war had developed into a bitter struggle which would be prolonged much longer than had at first been expected.

With this fact in mind, Germany at once redoubled her efforts to gain undisputed supremacy of the skies and Anthony Fokker was asked to design and produce a new combat ship which would enable her to gain the upper hand. Fokker set to work at once and in the early fall of 1916 this plane was placed in the hands of the fighting pilots. It was the Fokker D.R.-I, or as it was perhaps better known, the Fokker triplane.

At first the performance of the triplane was not viewed seriously by the Allies. But within a short time they learned to have a high regard for the new Fokker pursuit. Although this unique ship was slower than the Nieuports, Sopwiths and Spads, its ability to climb and maneuver gave it a decided advantage over any ship then in use and the series of impressive victories for which it was responsible gave the entire world notice that it was a most important factor in aerial warfare.

In general outline the Fokker D.R.-I was of the orthodox triplane type. However, unlike the Sopwith triplane the span of the wings were unequal.

The span for the top wing was 23 feet, 7 inches, the span for the middle wing was 20 feet, 6 inches, while the span of the bottom wing was 18 feet, 9 inches. The chord was the same for all three wings. The top wing alone was provided with ailerons, and these were of the balanced type.

One of the outstanding features of the Fokker was the wing spar construction. The main point of interest is that the twin spars were built up of two box section tapering spars, these being joined by transverse plywood. The front and rear shear strength of this built-up member was supplied by one right and one left plywood bulkhead in each wing.

Structurally the main wing frame could be regarded as consisting of three pairs of cantilevers tied by pseudo-struts near the wing-tips. The function of this structure was to distribute the load evenly from wing to wing.

The use of the triplane design gave the advantage of a larger ratio of lifting power. Of course, there was some increase in head resistance caused by the use of the extra set of inter-plane struts. But by bracing the wings internally, Fokker eliminated all brace wires, thus reducing the total head resistance to some extent.

It is interesting to note in connection with this that Fokker was the first designer to completely do away with inter-plane bracing.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Model No.14 – Fokker Triplane” by Frederick Blakeslee (January 1934, Battle Birds)

The fuselage of the triplane was built up of welded tubular steel and was covered with linen fabric. It was rather well streamlined, and like most of the Fokker war-time designs it compared closely to modern aeronautical practice.

The empennage or tail of the ship was a fabric covered steel tubing framework. There was no vertical fin, there being only the characteristic Fokker rudder. The tail plane or stabilizer was comparatively large and was fitted with the usual type elevators.

The landing gear axle was inclosed by a wing, a feature which was incorporated on all of the later Fokker fighting models. This wing was two pieces and these were attached to a central casting which housed the shock absorbing agents and the axle. The covering for this wing was plywood.

The triplane or D.R.-I was equipped with a 110 h.p. 9 cylinder Oberursel rotary motor. This motor was mounted on a plate which was stamped from sheet steel. The plate was attached, of course, to the front ends of the fuselage longerons.

For armament the plane was fitted with twin Spandau machine guns, these being mounted on the top side of the fuselage directly in front of the cockpit. Directly behind the engine was the synchronizing gear for the guns, and behind this gear was located the fuel tank. This tank was of a rather small capacity and as a result the flight range of the machine was greatly limited.

The triplane answered very well to the controls and as far as climb and general maneuverability are concerned it was equaled by but very few of the later war time designs.

German pilots have told the writer that they were greatly impressed with the ship and if the speed of the plane could have been increased they would have preferred it to any other plane, with the possible exception of the D-VTI. Certainly it was the choice of many of the German pilots.

The great von Richthofen, who could select any ship he desired, favored it above them all; and his series of victories indicate the famous flyer made no mistake in his choice of a pursuit.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Fokker Triplane” by Frederick Blakeslee (June 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

 

Mr. Blakeslee covered the Fokker Triplane himself with the story of the great von Richthofen last flight for the cover of the March 1932 number of Battle Aces.

“Richthofen’s Last Flight” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on February 23, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the tenth 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 In 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 feel 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_3203THE COVER painting this month depicts the essential elements that combined to cause the death of Baron von Richthofen. All of the planes involved are shown.

Baron von Richthofen was the greatest ace Germany ever produced. He was a cool daring fighter who fought to kill or be killed, and the more skillful his adversaries were the better he liked them. To match wits with a clever opponent brought him the utmost pleasure. He fought like a demon, quickly and surely, taking advantage of every fortune of combat. His
deadly aim accounted for the crashing of eighty Allied planes.

An analysis of his combats show that of his eighty victories, forty-six of the vanquished were two seaters and thirty-four were single-seater scouts. He killed eighty-eight men in these combats, seventeen of whom were unidentified. His record of eighty may be disputed, however, for there are no British casualty records to account for three of the ships which were reported by von Richthofen. If we give him the benefit of the doubt—and there is no evidence that he did not bring down these three—eighty is an imposing” record. He was the terror of the Front and in his all-red ship he blazed his way through the sky from September 17, 1916, until the day of his death, April 21, 1918.

Von Richthofen’s circus became a byword at the Front. The ships composing this staffel resembled a sinister rainbow. They were painted in every color imaginable, no two ships being alike and every one having a different combination. Only one of his circus had a single color scheme. This ship—a Fokker triplane—painted a brilliant red except for the black maltese cross on its white background.

It fell to the lot of Captain Roy Brown to put an end to “The Red Knight of Germany. This he accomplished on April 21, 1918, in the vicinity of Hamel. Four triplanes led by von Richthofen had dived on some old R.E.’s which were engaged on a photographic mission. Captain Roy Brown, with his flight of seven Camels, was two miles above. His attention was directed to the plight of the R.E.’s by the English anti-aircraft calling for help. Down he came in a two-mile dive with his flight screaming in his wake.

The triplanes had been joined by additional Fokkers and Albatrosses, so that they numbered about twenty-two. With guns blazing, the eight Camels plunged into the fight. It developed into one of the most desperate dogfights of the War.

The R.E.’s relieved of their pursuers, streaked for home and escaped.

In Captain Brown’s flight was Lieut. W.R. May, a newcomer and out for the first time. Nevertheless he joined the melee. After downing a Boche he remembered his orders to stay out of a combat, so with great difficulty he disengaged himself and started for home. Death, however, in the form of an all-red triplane, rode on his tail. Do what he could, side, slip, loop and turn, May could not shake the cool and determined fighter who pursued him. His ship was being-shot to pieces and he was painfully wounded. But fortunately death showed no partiality and also road on the tail of the red triplane. Brown had seen the unequal combat and diving in from the right his tracers tucked a seam up the body of the Fokker until they reached the cockpit. The triplane faultered, then glided to the earth, making a nearly perfect landing. It settled between the lines. The pilot did not move. An Australian crawled over the top, attached a rope to the undcr-carriage and drew it to the shelter of a rise in the ground. The pilot was taken out. Baron von Richthofen was dead.

The triplane was another creation of Anthony Fokker, It was speedy and a machine to be avoided in a scrap. Some authorities contend that it had one fatal fault—its tendency to tear itself apart in the air. For this reason the Germans finally abandoned it.

The Fokker triplane had a 110 h.p. engine and its speed was approximately 125 m.p.h. It was 19 feet, 1 inch in length over all and had a top wing span of 25 feet including the balancing fins on the aileron. The span of the center wing was 21 feet and that of the bottom wing was 19 feet. It carried two fixed machine guns on the cowl, syncronized through the propeller.

Richthofen's Last Flight
“Richthofen’s Last Flight” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (March 1932)