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“The Vickers Vampire” 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. On the February 1936 cover of Dare-Devil Aces, Mr. Blakeslee brings to our attention a plane that sounds like it’s straight out of the pages of G-8 and his Battle Aces or Captain Philip Strange—The Vickers Vampire!

th_DDA_3602NEARLY every reader has heard the merits of the Spad, Camel, S.E.5 and Fokker DVII drummed into their ears by fiction writers. Authors, of course, write about the ships with which they are most familiar. The authors of the stories in this magazine were war fliers, and as the United States did not have combat ships in France, the Americans used the French ships, mostly Spads. That is why, in the majority of stories, the Spad figures so prominently and since the Germans had practically washed out the Phalz and Albatross in favor of the Fokker DVII by the time the American aviators became effective at the Front, naturally the DVII figures largely in these stories, since they were the ships the authors fought against.

However, we have painted on this month’s cover a little ship that happens to be a pet of ours, and I think you will agree that she’s a beauty. We recommend to authors the Vickers “Vampire”, which is, by the way, rather a sinister name. This ship is rarely heard of in fiction. It was a trench strafer and the first ship to make a name for itself in France.

Its low altitude speed was 121 m.p.h., which made it a pretty speedy target for the dreaded ground machine guns. Machine guns on the ground, however, were more dreaded than those of enemy planes. It also took a high order of courage to attempt it.

The “Vampire” was a pusher, driven by a four-bladed propeller. It was an attempt to solve the forward field of fire. The pilot was out in front of the top wing with the motor behind and machine guns in front, a nasty bus to crash, but then, aren’t they all?

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Vickers Vampire: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(February 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Handly-Page Heyford” 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 Mr. Blakeslee brings another of his “scrambled time” covers pitting planes of the great war against modern day planes (those from the 1930’s), from the January 1936 issue of Dare-Devil Aces it’s The Handly-Page Heyford!

th_DDA_3601ANOTHER scrambled time cover. As you see, it is an impossible situation. We mean, a war-time Albatross and a modern bomber! But in order to show the comparison between the ship used during the World War and the ship of today, we have taken liberties with Father Time. The Albatross seems to be on the top of a loop, how he got there we’ll let you figure out. And of course, the Albatross could never have overtaken the bomber from the rear. Note the size of the pilot in the bomber, it is a huge ship, the little Albatross (big on the cover because it is nearer) could almost land on the wing of the bomber. Huge as this ship is, it could have flown circles around the Albatross. As a matter of fact, there are few pursuit ships even today that could overtake it, which fact, at the time of writing, seems to be worrying a few countries. If a modem pursuit ship cannot overtake a modern bomber, what chance would the war-time ship have? How can these big bombers be intercepted? Well, that remains to be seen, we may be finding out by the time this magazine is in your hands, what with all this war talk.

But to return to the cover, I suppose you have recognized the bomber, but who would ever guess that it is the offspring of the war-time Handly-Page? It no more resembles its “parent” then the first Handly-Page resembled the war-time Handly-Page. If you want a laugh some day, look up pictures of the first Handly-Page.

This ship is the Handly-Page “Heyford” previously known as type 38. It appeared on the scene in 1933 and is still being produced. Its most striking characteristic is the way the fuselage is slung immediately beneath the upper wing. This arrangement gives an unrestricted field of view to the pilot. Machine gunners are located in the nose of the ship and behind the top wing. To protect the ship underneath there is an ingenious device, a retractable and rotatable gun turret, directly under the rear gunner. The machine is thus completely protected and the chances are that should the Albatross be so unfortunate as to get within range, it would be just too bad.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Handly-Page Heyford: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(January 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Balloon Busters” 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 Mr. Blakeslee brings us a story of “The Balloon Busters” from the July 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3207THE cover shows a patrol of French Spads attacking a group of observation balloons. Helpless as these “sausages” were, it was dangerous business to attack even one of them. Many a good pilot met his Waterloo by so doing, and as a rule the Allies left them strictly alone, unless ordered otherwise.

German archie usually had the drachens ranged and an attacking pilot had to go through an explosive hell to get at them. A favorite trick of the Germans was to send up a decoy balloon which was not only ranged but instead of carrying an observer, had its basket filled with amanol. If a ship survived the barrage and came within range, the Boches exploded the amanol—and that was the end of the attacking ship. We can’t blame the Germans for using this trick, as the Canadians were the originators of it.

A similar ruse which the Allies played unsuccessfully was to surround Dunkirk at night with a dozen or more balloons which were attached to strong cables. Dunkirk suffered frequent bombing from the air and it was hoped that a raiding Boche would run into one of the cables. There is no official record, however, of such a thing ever having happened.

In spite of the danger of the observation balloons, Frank Luke, the American pilot, seemed to enjoy attacking them. He received the D.S.C. for bringing down eight of them in four days. Balloon bursting was Frank Lukes’ specialty.

Balloons were olive drab, camouflaged in green and brown or black and white checks. The large green balloon in the foreground of the cover is a German Ae. It is colored after a French war balloon which is now being kept as a war souvenir near Versailles. The green and brown balloon on the cover is a Luftchifftrupp 20.

A balcony runs around the inner court of Les Invalides in Paris. Hanging in one corner of it is a famous airplane which I have reproduced here from a color sketch I made last summer. The plane is the Spad used by Georges Guynemer. He called it “Vieux Charles” (Old Charles), and on the side, under the exhaust pipe, that name was printed. Back of that was the stork insignia of his squadron. You see this plane on the cover as it actually looks today.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Balloon Busters: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(July 1932, Dare-Devil Aces)

“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)

“Death Eggs” 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 Mr. Blakeslee brings us a story of what seemed to be an unnecessary bombing mission, that turned into a great success! From the June 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces, we present “Death Eggs!”

th_DDA_3206IN JULY, 1918, a British bombing outfit was given what was believed to be an unimportant mission. It had been reported by spies that there was an unusual movement in and out of a certain German town which was located opposite a sector that had been quiet for a week. As there were no railway yards or anything of military importance in the village—which was partly in ruins and apparently deserted—the bombing orders were indefinite. One Handley-Page was assigned to the mission and the pilot was ordered simply to bomb anything that looked suspicious. It was probably this nonchalant attitude that made the raid such a success.

As a matter of fact, the trains were bringing fresh troops. An entire German regiment—with supplies, machine guns and artillery outfit—had already been moved in under cover of night and plans were being rapidly completed for a major push, intended to take the Allies by surprise.

Things might have gone as scheduled if the German general had not felt the need of exhorting his troops before sending them into battle. He ordered them one morning to parade in the market square, and after the maneuvers proceeded to address them. The troops were standing at attention, listening to their commander, when with a roar a huge Handley-Page bomber streaked low overhead.

The pilot of the Handley-Page had come to a low altitude to better observe the supposedly deserted village and as he flew over the market place was startled to see it packed with Germans.

Too late the Germans recognized the British insignia. The bombs landed right in among the massed ranks. The results can better be imagined than described.

The bomber had been escorted by a squadron of Neiuports, which now came down and joined in, finishing the business with machine guns at close range. It was slaughter—but it was also War!

That same day, alive to the importance of the town, a large scale bombing raid was planned and executed, completing the ruin of what was to have been an important Boche victory.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Death Eggs: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(June 1932, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Hawker Demon” 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. Last time Mr. Blakeslee gave us the first in a new series of mismatched time images with planes from the Great War along side present day planes from 1935! This time he returns with another in the series, from the cover of the December 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces—where a Fokker DVII finds itself pitted against “The Hawker Demon!”

th_DDA_3512THIS is another scrambled time cover so that you can compare the modern airplane with the war-time ship. Just a werd about the two British ships. The one in the foreground is a Hawker “Audax”, a ship possessing all the qualities required for Army Co-operation work, a good climb and a high top speed. The ship an its left is a Hawker “Demon”. The Hawker “Demon” is a day and night fighter. It has a supercharged Rolls-Royce “Kestrel” engine which gives it a top speed of 160 m.p.h. at 12,000 ft. This ship is the first two-scatcr fighter since the famous Bristol Fighter went into the discard, as a matter of fact, the “Demon” is a modern version of the Bristol.

The entire Hawker series are beautiful ships and the two pictured here together with the Hawker “Fury” are probably the most beautiful airplanes in the world. For sheer gracefulness and clean-cut speedy lines, they have no equal. But don’t let their beauty deceive you. They are like some poisonous flowers, beautiful but deadly.

Except for the heavy bombers, the service ships of Great Britain are silver.

Now let us imagine a Fokker DVII in combat with one of these ships. Let us look at an imaginary combat report of an imaginary German pilot. . . .

  July 7th. I took off with my staffel from Douai at 7:15 P.M. As the morning was exceptionally clear, I climbed as high as I could get, about 16,000 ft. My speed at this height was 95 m.p.h. I saw something white, which rapidly resolved itself into two airplanes flying side by side. The remarkable thing about them was that they were all white and although they were going in the same direction as myself, they rapidly overhauled me. I thought at first I was being blown backward in a head wind while the two ships were in a tail wind. I thought these two ships were Dolphins, for they were some five or six thousand feet above me. However, they overtook me so rapidly, I didn’t know what they could be. Then I saw them dive toward me. I executed a quick turn, and as I came around, one flashed in front of me, going at such a tremendous speed that I could not identify the type. There I saw for the first time that it was a two-seater and of a type unknown to me. Although I was going 116 m.p.h., it passed me as though I were standing still, twin jets of tracers coming from invisible guns. There was no use fighting such a ship, and I therefore fled as best I could. I don’t know how I ever escaped.
  I dove and landed just back of our lines.

That, you may imagine is the report.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hawker Demon: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(December 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next month we will paint a modern Handly-Page on the cover.

“The Sopwith Salamander” by Robert H. Rankin

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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. Although this looks like it should be in his new series of scrambled time covers, instead we get Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for Fokker Aircraft Corp, telling the story of the last of the Sopwith war-time machines—The Sopwith Salamander—from the cover of the November 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3511THE SALAMANDER, the last of the Sopwith war-time machines, was one of the most interesting and efficient types used in the World War. Although the design of the Salamander followed that of the earlier developed Sopwith Snipe, the plane was not intended for use as a scout or fighter—as were the Camel, Pup, Dolphin, and Snipe. It was designed primarily as a trench fighter, and in official circles it was known as the T.F.2.

The rudder of the Salamander was larger than those on the majority of the Sopwith designs. The pilot’s head, owing to the extremely deep fuselage and comparatively small wing gap, was on a level with the top plane, the center of which was partly slotted and partly cut away, to insure a better vision.

Due to the rather large diameter of the engine used, a B.R.2., the rectangularity of the fuselage was apparent toward the tail only, with the result that the fuselage was of a more circular cross-section than was the case in the other Sopwith ships.

Perhaps the mast interesting feature of the Salamander was the manner in which it was armored. Light steel plating formed the front of the fuselage from a point immediately in the rear of the engine, and extended to a point slightly to the rear of the cockpit. This armor, instead of being added to an existing fuselage frame, was a definite structual part of the frame work, and in itself formed the front portion of the fuselage. Thus, the armor plating served a structual, as well as a protective function.

Another variation from the usual Sopwith designs was incorporated in a tapering spine which served to taper off the pilot’s head and at the same time act as a head rest. This spine, being bulletproof, gave the pilot considerable protection against a rear attack.

The total weight of the armor in the Salamander totaled to some 650 pounds, and in addition to this weight, more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition was carried. In all, the ship weighed 2,945 pounds, as compared to the 1,959 pounds of the Dolphin, which was considered a rather heavy plane.

The following figures will give some idea of the performance and construction of the Salamander:


GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS
    Type Tractor Bi-plane
    Purpose Trench fighter
    Engine B.R.2, 230 h.p.
    Weights
        Loaded 2,945 lbs.
        Empty 1,844 lbs.
 
PERFORMANCE
    Speed (High—at 6,500 ft.) 123 m.p.h.
              (High—at 10,000 ft.) 117 m.p.h.
    Climb 10,000 ft. in 17 min.
    Landing speed 60 m.p.h.
    Ceiling 14,000 ft.
 
DIMENSIONS
    Length, over all 19 ft. 6 in.
    Stagger 1 ft. 5 in.
    Sweepback None
    Top Wing
        Span 31 ft 2⅝ in.
        Chord 5 ft.
        Area, not including ailerons 139 sq.ft.
        Incidence 1.8 deg.
        Dihedral 4.0 deg.
    Bottom Wing
        Span 30 ft. 2½ in.
        Chord 5 ft.
        Area, not including ailerons 123 sq.ft.
        Incidence 1.8 deg.
        Dihedral 4.0 deg.
 
AREAS
    Total wing area, not including ailerons
    Total wing, not inch ailerons 272 sq. ft.
    Tailplane 15 sq. ft.
    Elevators 11 sq. ft.
    Fin 2.75 sq. ft.
    Rudder 9 sq. ft.
    Total aileron area 51 sq. ft.

 

With the weights carried, the machine had a loading of 11 pounds per horse power, or 9.4 pounds per square foot.

As originally designed, the Salamander was armed with two fixed machine guns, but with its development into a general ground strafer, and later into a contact-patrol ship, the armament was increased, first to four guns, and later to six guns. In this later type there were two Lewis guns mounted on the top wing in such a manner that they could be easily drawn back and reloaded by the pilot from the cockpit.

Then, two Vickers were fixed on the top of the cowling, synchronized to fire through the propeller arc, while two Lewis guns, intended for trench strafing work were mounted on the bottom of the cockpit in such a way as to fire through the floor of the fuselage at an angle of about forty-five degrees.

The Salamander was passed by the experimental board of the Sopwith concern in April, 1918, but it was not until considerably later on in the year that the plane reached a production stage. Consequently few of them were in service over the lines.

In the short time that they were in action they showed such a performance record that it is quite probable, had the conflict lasted longer, the Salamander would have been one of the outstanding planes.

It is interesting to note, in connection with the Salamander, that the armored airplane has always been generally accepted as a logical step in the evolution of military planes by aeronautical engineers and designers. In actuality, however, there have been very few armored ships produced, and in fact, it was not until late in the war that any machines of the armored classification appeared.

For the most part, the greater number of the so-called armored planes produced were most inefficient, and in most instances the protective plating was added to the fuselage frame work of a regular pursuit or observation ship, with the result that the total weight of the machine was increased to a point where, powered with the engines then in use, they were sadly underpowered.

The Salamander, however, was designed from the first as an armored fighter, and inasmuch as the armor plating was made an integral part of the structural framework, the weight problem was done away with. This particular Sopwith offered a definite advance over the designs then in use, and it will be interesting to note in just what ways the modern armored pursuits will follow this pioneer model.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Sopwith Salamander: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(November 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

An Ambrose Hooley Bibliography

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This month we’re celebrating the talents of that pulp stalwart—Joe Archibald. Archibald wrote hundreds of stories for the pulps, both dramatic and humorous. His bread and butter it would seem was the humorous tale. He had long running series in several pulp titles. In the detective titles there was Alvin Hinkey, the harness bull Hawkshaw, in 10 Story Detective; Scoops & Snooty, the Evening Star’s dizzy duo, in Ten Detective Aces; and the President of the Hawkeye Detective Agency himself—Willie Klump in Popular Detective. While in the aviation titles he had Elmer Hubbard and Pokey Cook in Sky Birds; the pride of Booneville—Phineas Pinkham in Flying Aces; and the one-two punch of Ambrose Hooley & Muley Spinks in The Lone Eagle, The American Eagle, Sky Fighters and War Birds!


Here the incomparable Dunc Coburn handles the illustration duties for
“They Had To Flee Paris” (April 1942, The American Eagle)

The Ambrose Hooley stories are written as if Muley Spinks were telling us the tale, describing Hooley as a sawed off little tomato who is a demon in a Spad and dynamite with his fists on the ground. Hooley is frequently working some angle at the 93 Pursuit Squadron and getting their C.O. Major Bertram Bagby’s Hackels up.

A listing of all Joe Archibald’s Ambrose Hooley & Muley Spinks tales.

title magazine date vol no
1936
A Fuel There Was War Birds aug 32 1
Hun and Dearie War Birds oct 32 2
1937
Doubling in Brass Hats Sky Fighters Jan 16 1
A Flyer in Cauliflowers Sky Fighters Jul 17 2
Jennies From Heaven The Lone Eagle oct 15 2
1938
Pfalz Teeth The Lone Eagle feb 16 1
Flying Fishy The Lone Eagle apr 16 2
Rumpler Stakes The Lone Eagle jun 16 3
Just Plane Nuts The Lone Eagle aug 17 1
Spandau Re Mi The Lone Eagle oct 17 2
1939
Goose Stepbrothers The Lone Eagle jun 18 3
Cockpit Cuckoos The Lone Eagle aug 19 1
Observation Bus Boys The Lone Eagle oct 19 2
1940
Filet of Solos The Lone Eagle jun 20 3
From Spad to Worse The Lone Eagle aug 21 1
Plane Jane The Lone Eagle oct 21 2
Chocks and Blondes The Lone Eagle dec 21 3
1941
Spook Spad The Lone Eagle feb 22 1
Reel Heroes The Lone Eagle apr 22 2
Flight Manager The Lone Eagle jun 22 3
Pastry Doughboys The American Eagle aug 23 1
1942
Dawn Patrol Wagon The American Eagle feb 24 1
They Had to Flee Paris The American Eagle apr 24 2
Prussian Patsies The American Eagle sum 24 3
A Bargain For Blois The American Eagle fal 25 1
1943
Sea Slick The American Eagle win 25 2
Francs and Sauerkraut American Eagles spr 25 3
Messup––1918 Sky Fighters Sep 29 3
1944
Cualiflower Alley Sky Fighters jan 30 2
Dough Dough Birds Sky Fighters sum 31 1
Uneasy Aces Sky Fighters fal 31 2
1945
Ambrose Hooley, C.O. Sky Fighters spr 32 1
Forever Ambrose Sky Fighters sum 32 2
1946
At ‘Em, Bums Sky Fighters sum 33 3
Errornautics Sky Fighters fal 34 1
Spy Crust Sky Fighters win 34 2
1948
Operation Hooley Sky Fighters win 35 3

 

We present as a bonus, Joe Archibald’s first tale of Ambrose Hooley. No Muley Spinks as yet, but all the other elements are there—the 93 Pursuit Squadron, Major Bagby and Ambrose shooting krauts out of the sky like ducks in a barrel while simultaneously working all the angles. The tale of assumed identity is illustrated by our old friend Frederick Blakeslee using a more cartoonish style! So, without further Adoo, “A Fuel There Was”—

He was washing out ships at fifteen thousand dollars a washout—but Ambrose was determined to win the war along with the heart of a girl in Kansas.

 

For Ambrose and Muley in action together, check out “Rumpler Stakes” previously posted on AgeofAces.net.

When this pair of wild aces get started, they ruin anybody’s old war!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 3: Georges Guynemer” by Eugene Frandzen

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Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have the third installment featuring France’s greatest flying Ace—Georges Guynemer!

That name may sound familiar to you if your a frequent visitor to this site. He’s been mentioned a few times in the past in conjunction with the lives of other Aces, and his demise was the subject of Frederick Blakeslee’s cover for the July 1933 issue of Dare-Devil Aces. Guynemer was France’s most beloved ace. He entered the French Air Service in November 1914 and served as a mechanic before receiving a Pilot’s Brevet in April 1915. Assigned to Spa3—Les Cigognes or Storks Squadron—Guynemer used his skills as an excellent pilot and marksman to quickly pile up the victories eventually being promoted to captain and commander of the Storks squadron.

By the time of his disappearance he had accrued 53 victories.

On 11 September 1917, Guynemer was last seen attacking a two-seater Aviatik near Poelcapelle, northwest of Ypres. Almost a week later, it was publicly announced in a London paper that he was missing in action. Shortly thereafter, a German newspaper reported Guynemer had been shot down by Kurt Wissemann of Jasta 3. For many months, the French population refused to believe he was dead. Guynemer’s body was never found.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

“The Yellow Monsters” 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. Last time Mr. Blakeslee gave us the first in a new series of mismatched time images with planes from the Great War along side present day planes from 1935! This time he returns with he second in the series, from the cover of the October 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces—”The Yellow Monsters!”

th_DDA_3510ABOVE is the drawing of a Pterodactyl, a pre-historic flying reptile that lived thousands of years ago. Today the Pterodactyl flies again, but this time it is man-made—in short, a modern fighting airplane. Before we go ahead with our story, let us explain why you find a modern ship in combat with a wartime airplane.

The World War is long past, yet many are still interested in the war-time ship; but an equal number are interested in the modern craft too. In thinking it over we wondered what a war-time pilot would do, had he in war days, met a ship of today. The problem was solved. Why not mix time? Take 1918 and 1935 and just scramble them?

The result certainly isn’t the World War, in fact it isn’t any war; it isn’t even real and not being real we can let our imagination roam. By scrambling time this way we can not only show you a war-time ship, but a modern one as well both on the same cover thus giving you an easy way of comparing the fighting ship of today with the fighting ship of yesterday.

So now, let us enter the realms of imagination. Let us see what Otto, a German pilot of 1918 would do had he met the Pterodactyl.

Otto was a crack pilot; he was leader of his staffel and was in the habit of going off on bis own occasionally to look for trouble. He was on one of these trips when he saw a speck way off on his right. Being over the French lines he guessed it was an Allied plane. His big Mercedes engine soon had him high above the other ship. As he crossed its path he looked down and saw the British insignia on the wing-tips. Something about the plane seemed queer, but not giving it a second thought he dove.

He suddenly pulled out of his dive and rubbed his eyes. He looked again. His first impression had been right after all. Something was definately queer about the British ship. Mein Gott, what was it? Was it an airplane? If so it was like nothing he had ever seen.

But he could see the flash of propellers and the crew—that was real anyway, so it must be an airplane. Dunner und blit-sen, what a crazy thing it was! Why it looked as though it would fall apart if a wind hit it. Where was the tail? Well, thought Otto, this will be cold turkey.

He was about to dive again when the strange ship put on a burst of speed. To Otto’s surprise he discovered that he had had his throttle wide open to keep up with the yellow monster.

Well it certainly could fly, he decided, as the Britisher pulled rapidly away from him. Then he saw several others of the strange ships join the first and turn toward him. Otto thought he better return to his drome and get help.

Otto assembled his pilots and recounted what he had seen. The assembled pilots looked at each other but said nothing. Otto was their superior officer so what could they say? A tailless ship indeed, bosh!

Otto led his staffel back and soon spotted the strange ships.

He made a wide circle and gave the signal to dive. The scene on the cover shows the beginning of the fight.

Here we might consider what chance Otto and his men flying Fokker DVII’s would have against the Pterodactyl. We do not hesitate to say that they don’t stand a ghost of a chance.

At the time of writing this, no data on the performance of the Pterodactyl is available. The speed is very high; the exact figure we do not know. Note the wonderful unobstructed field of fire of the rear gunner. It would be impossible for an attacker to hide under the tail. It can deliver a steady stream of lead from its fixed guns and as it dives on an enemy another dose from the free gun as it zooms away. The rear gunner by the way is fully protected from the wind. The pilot can look either under or over the center section too.

Some think that the Pterodactyl may prove to be the most formidable fighter yet produced. Others wonder if it will not become extinct as the bird-lizard from which the new ship gets its name.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Yellow Monsters: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(October 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

The Pterodactyl is manufactured by Westland Aircraft Co., England, and was first produced last year.

 BBAA_3501
Editor’s Note: The Westland Pterodactyl was featured much more prominently earlier in 1935 on the January cover of Street & Smith’s Bill Barnes Air Adventurer. Here Frank Tinsley has place the Pterodactyl front and center with the tailless tailgunner blasting away at the pursuing biplanes!

“The Tailless Ship” By Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 16, 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 Mr. Blakeslee gives the first in a new series of mismatched time images with planes from the Great War along side present day planes from 1935! Without further Ado, Mr. Blakeslee gives us the story of “The Tailless Ship!”

th_DDA_3509AFTER looking at the cover this month you have probably turned to this story quickly to find out what it is all about. You probably think you have missed something in German war-time ships. But you haven’t. Its this way.

Recently we were wondering what a war-time pilot would think and do, had he, in 1918, met a ship of today. So we took 1918 and 1935, mixed them thoroughly and what have we? Well, the result certainly isn’t the World War. As a matter of fact it isn’t any war. It isn’t even real, and that is just the result we were after. Not being real we can let our imaginations roam. Therefore, this cover is No. 1 of a brand-new series. To
keep them in order we will number them. You will find the number in the lower left-hand corner on the blue band.

Now let us suppose that a French pilot, in 1918 meets a ship of 1935. This opens a fascinating field. We can keep abreast with the very latest in modern fighting aircraft design on these covers as well as present the war-time ship. And more, you will then have an easy way of comparing the fighting ship of today with the fighting ship of yesterday.

To start off, we have selected a tailless ship. It is not strictly speaking, a fighter. It was designed by a young German inventor in 1933 and he startled the aeronautical world by actually flying it.

It was, therefore, the forerunner of the modern tailless type. Designers seized on the tailless idea and a recent ship of this type, produced by Great Britain, may prove to be the most formidable fighting craft yet made. That ship is the Pterodactyl, which we shall show next month.

As we said above, the tailless ship was not designed as a fighter. But for the purposes of this cover and to give the Spad a break, we have made it into a fighter by merely making the passenger cockpit into a gun nacelle.

Granted it is a fighter, let us see what Pierre, our French pilot of 1918, would think of it. When he first sighted it he probably thought it was a bat, but as it approached and grew in size, and although it still looked to him like a bat, he knew it for what it was, for he caught the flash of propellers.

And then he sat fascinated as the strange ship circled him. His eyes told him it zvas an airplane, but his mind refused to accept it as such. He probably said to himself, in French of course, “There ain’t no such animal, there couldn’t be! Why, it hasn’t even got a tail and where the tail should be is a propeller! There’s a propeller at the bow too. Good grief, it’s a pusher and a tractor at the same time, impossible! And what are those green things at the end of the wings, if they are wings?”

Just then the bat-like ship banked. “Are they rudders? How could rudders be there? No, I’m seeing things, no more cognac for me!”

Of course we must assume all this went through Pierre’s head in a flash. As the ship banked, Pierre was startled to see smoking white tracers flash past. He then saw what had escaped him at first, the bat ship carried German crosses. Pierre looped and although he didn’t think the thing was really there, went to work.

Now what chance would Pierre have against this ship? A very good chance indeed. Pierre, with his 300 h.p. Hispano could do 130 m.p.h. on the straight-away. The tailless ship with only 150 h.p. could do 160, no use trying to run for it. Maybe he could out-climb it? No, the German could climb a thousand feet a minute. Well maybe he could out-dive it? Not that either, the German ship could dive like a bat out of hell.

He could out-maneuver it however, but what good would that do? The gunner had an unrestricted field of fire, back, ahead, up and to the sides. Well, maybe the thing has a blind spot. Ah! There we have him; underneath Pierre was as safe as a church. Now just tip up and let him have it.

Yes, we’re sure Pierre would win this fight, but next month the tailless ship tells a different story.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Tailless Ship: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(September 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

Battle Aces Covers Gallery

Link - Posted by David on November 2, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve posted anything, but we’re back with a gallery of covers from Battle Aces magazine. Battle Aces was Popular Publication’s premiere aviation pulp debuting in October 1930 as one of Popular’s first four pulp magazines along with Gang World, Detective Action, and Western Rangers.

1930


October


November


December

Unlike other Popular Publications aviation titles, Frederick Blakeslee did not paint all the covers! Don Hewitt provides the first cover, October 1930; with Rudolph Belarski doing honors for two early issues––November 1930 and January 1931; and Sidney Risenberg applying his talents for the February 1931 number. The December 1930 issue is Blakeslee’s first Popular aviation cover and he would take over the honors with the March 1931 issue and from then on for all Popular aviation titles–Dare-Devil Aces, Battle Birds, G-8 and his Battle Aces, etc.

Stating with the June 1931 issue, an editorial decision was made to feature actual war-time events on the cover and artist Frederick Blakeslee would provide a story behind these covers. We’ve featured a number of those Battle Aces covers over the past year as part of the Story Behind the Cover feature. And we’ve provided links to those posts in the gallery so you can learn more about those covers we’ve featured.

While we’re still building our Dare-Devil Aces Cover Gallery, The Battle Aces Cover Gallery collects all 27 covers and includes links to those whose stories we’ve posted. Check it out!

“The Green Death” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on October 5, 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 Mr. Blakeslee’s cover for the August 1935 number on which he depicts the story of The Green Death!

th_DDA_3508I HEARD this story at a club for ex-service men in London. The conversation had been on gasses used in the war.

“You were lucky, Bill,” someone said. “You flyers didn’t have to worry about gas.”

Bill Norman nodded. “You’re right, Frank. But nevertheless we were gassed once out of our drome. To this day no one knows what kind of gas it was.”

He looked around the room and spied a man standing by the fireplace. “Pip, come here, will you?” he called. (”Pip,” or Captain Larry Skidmore, was in the chemical warfare division.) “Pip was sent to our drome after the event, ask him.”

“Bill’s right,” said Pip, “the gas was something new in our experience and so far as I know has never been duplicated. We were never able to get a sample. But let Bill tell the story.”

“Well,” continued Bill, “it was in early March, 1918. We were stationed about sixteen miles west of Paris. One morning a farm cart drove up to the field. A guard stopped the old man who was driving the cart and looked with astonishment at the load. In the cart was a metal ball about seven feet in diameter. The guard brought the old man to the C.O.’s office. Lt. Read and myself were in the office at the time but the skipper told us to stay. The C.O. could speak French like a native and as the old man could speak no English it was just as well. To our amazement the conversation lasted almost half an hour and at last the C.O. turned to us.

” ‘Whew!’ he said, ‘This man looks like a peasant but talks like a college professor. He says he has developed a new gas that he wants us to drop on a German city. He promises that not one person will go near the city for a month afterward. Further, he says the gas will not kill, but he is mighty mysterious as to what it will do. Personally, I think we had better humor him,’ and he tapped his forehead.

“Well, to make a long story short, we promised to do as the old man said and stored the metal gas ball in a hangar. The chemical warfare division was notified. Pip was sent up.

“But before he arrived some curious mechanics managed to shatter the sphere and ran screaming from the hangar, a poisonous looking green smoke creeping out after them.

“It was a gas all right and for the next half hour the place was in an uproar. Whoever got a whif of that gas let out a terrible yell and ran. They actually saw horrible phantoms chasing them. We had to abandon the place altogether. More curious still, the gas remained in a circular area of about a half mile; even the road that passed our field had to be re-routed. It remained, despite rain and wind, for about a month, then suddenly vanished.”

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Green Death” by Frederick Blakeslee (August 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Sopwith Triplane” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on September 28, 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 Sopwith Triplane—featured on the cover of the July 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3507Editor’s Note: This month’s cover shows what would happen if a certain invention, had been perfected during the War. The rear-pit man in the all metal Junkers is operating a huge, highly magnified tense, so constructed as to concentrate a powerful percentage of the sun’s rays. When focused on the fabric covering of an airplane, this sunlight beam would cause a tiny burn. It is based on the same principle as that of lighting a fire by focusing sunlight on a small glass dial. The Allied ships on the cover are Sopwith triplanes.

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

OF THE various Sopwith planes, all of which attained great fame, none is more interesting and characteristic than the Triplane—or as it was better known by the German and British pursuit pilots, the “Tripe” or “Tripe-hound.”

The Triplane was the ninth type produced by the Sopwith works, being accepted by the Experimental Board about four months after the Sopwith Pup. The principal object aimed at in the design of the Triplane was the attainment of an extra high degree of visibility, or in other words, the reduction to minimum of the pilot’s blind angle.

With his eyes on a level with the intermediate plane the pilot had practically an junrestricted arc of vision through some 120 degrees, while a section cut out of the intermediate wing enabled him to have a rather good view of the ground while landing the ship, the position of the cockpit being such that the bottom wing had no restricting effect on the vision.

The narrowness of the chord made possible by the use of three main planes also enabled the pilot to have an exceptional view upward and to either side—a most important consideration in any pursuit ship. Another object aimed at in the “Tripehound” was an increase in maneuverbility.

It will be seen that due to the narrow; chord the shifts in the center of pressure with varying angles of incidence is smaller than in a biplane, and consequently a much shorter fuselage can be used to suport the tail surfaces. In addition to this, the small span of the triplane reduces the moments of inertia in the horizontal plane and an airplane is thus obtained which is very sensitive to its controls, which fact adds to its ability to dodge to various strategic positions in a fight.

The factor of the movement of the center of pressure enabled single I-struts to be used instead of the usual pairs, one springing from each spar. This simplified construction by permitting a simplification of inter-plane wire bracing system. Ailerons of the unbalanced type were fitted to each of the three wings.

The “Tripehound” was armed with a single machine gun mounted on the forward top side of the fuselage. In the hands of experienced pilots the ship gave a splendid account of itself and coped favorably with the Fokkers then in use on the Western Front.

The dimensions of the Triplane follow:

Sweepback None
Stagger 1 ft. 6 in.
Dihedral (same for each wing) 2.5 degrees
Total wing area 231 sq.ft.
Length over all 18 ft. 10 in.
Overall span 26 ft. 6 in.
Wing span (same for each wing) 26 ft. 6 in.
Chord (same for each wing) 3 ft. 3in.
Wing areas—
    Top 84 sq. ft.
    Intermediate 72 sq. ft.
    Bottom 75 sq. ft.
    Gap 3 ft.
Areas—
    Aileron 34 sq. ft.
    Tail plane 14.0 sq. ft.
    Elevators 9.6 sq. ft.
    Total 23.6 sq.ft.
    Fin 2.5 sq. ft.
    Rudder 4.5 sq. ft.
    Total 6.5 sq. ft.

 

Powered with a 130 h.p. Clerget engine the Sopwith Triplane had a high speed of 112.5 miles an hour (at 6,500 feet). The landing speed was 35 m.p.h. and it would climb to 6,500 feet in 6.5 minutes and to 15,000 feet in 22.3 minutes.

The plane had a fuel capacity of 180 pounds and a flight range of 310 miles. The ceiling was 20,500 feet. The “Tripehound” weighed 1,103 pounds empty and 1,543 pounds loaded which made a loading of 6 pounds per square foot or 12.4 pounds per horse power.

Although judged by present standards the Triplane was low-powered and rather slow, its speed, ease of handling and general performance were outstanding at the time of its introduction into the Royal Flying Corps.

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

“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.

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