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“Famous Firsts” January 1932 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 11, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

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

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

The January 1932 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features Bert Hall, the first successful attempt to land an agent behind the lines, and the first biplane equipped with a Lewis gun!

“Phantom Eagle” by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 6, 2020 @ 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!

From the Tarmac letters column in the January 1932 War Aces—”Unless we misjudge the reading taste of our readers we feel that “Phantom Eagle,” by W. E. Barrett is about the ideal story. It has that balance of action, mystery and fantasy that gives you a new set of thrills. Obviously, it was too bizarre to be entirely fiction, so we asked the author about it. As is the case with most of Barrett’s fiction, it is based on some true incident. Here is his letter:

    You’ve guessed it. There was a great deal of truth behind that yarn. We were up at Ayr, Scotland, getting the finishing touches on acrobatics. In my flight there was a young English lad of the aristocratic type so commonly turned out by Oxford. He was about the best on the field when he felt like it or thought he had an appreciative gallery watching him. He didn’t have a great deal of stomach, though.

    He wiped his landing gear off one day making a stall landing and it was a week before he got over the resultant ground loops. Most of the chaps passed him by—the white feather was a bit obvious. We were all in a little pub one night imbibing a bit when our hero got into a brawl with a sour old Scotsman. He was getting the worst of it and was looking for a way to quit when the son of the heather knocked him cold.

    A big, burly, slow-moving chap got up out of the corner and came over. He faced the Scotsman and methodically assumed a fighting pose.

    “What a Lauterman starts, a Lauterman finishes.” Those were the only words he uttered, but he gave the Scotsman an unmerciful beating. By inquiring around a bit I found the history of those brothers who were so utterly dissimilar. I learned the history of that German father and English mother—the proud loyalty to anything that a Lauterman did held by that elder brother.

    We went out to France and young Lauterman went with us. He didn’t hold up on the line in combat work and was transferred to a bombing outfit. He turned up missing in action one day and we never heard from him after that.

    The rest of the story is pure fiction. I simply pictured what would happen if those two brothers met on the lines. In the last analysis I believe the elder Lauterman would have acted just as I have him do in the story.

— W.E. Barrett.

Hell’s hinges sealed the lips of that Unteroffizier in the pilotless Spad. None could tell how that phantom transfer had been made in shell-torn skies, or the meaning of that dying speech, “What a Lauterman starts, a Lauterman finishes”

From the January 1932 War Aces, it’s a story you won’t soon forget—William E. Barrett’s “Phantom Eagle!”

“The Singing Major” by Raoul Whitfield

Link - Posted by David on September 11, 2020 @ 9:28 pm in

THIS week we have a story by Raoul Whitfield! Whitfield is primarily known for his hardboiled crime fiction published in the pages of Black Mask, but he was equally adept at lighter fair that might run in the pages of Breezy Stories. We’ve posted a few of his Buck Kent stories from Air Trails. While the Buck Kent stories were contemporary (1930’s), “The Singing Major” from the January 1932 issue of War Aces is set in The Great War and, in fact, based on a real person. At the time of publication, Whitfield told the editors of War Aces that the legends of this major are still talked about among the peasants in one locality. His was a temperament they couldn’t understand, hence many are the wild stories about him.

One in particular they like to tell. A ranking colonel came to the major’s field for one of those everlasting inspections. The major smilingly met him and then, in front of the whole company and while humming Madelon, he knocked the colonel down. He did it to get the court-martial that would relieve him of his command, but the audacity of the act left him scot free. The colonel excused the act on the grounds of ragged nerves from overwork and war strain. His next effort was to knock a buck private kicking, but again it didn’t work. The major went through the war with something eating him inwardly and trying all sorts of things at the most unexpected moments to get himself in clink.

He looked mild, but he was rough, tough and nasty—that Singing Major, Up and down the Front he was famous for anything from arson to mayhem until he answered his third curtain call and found the Reaper himself blocking the wings.

“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

“The Camel and Lt. White” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on February 9, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the eighth 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 feel the same thrill of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

Lt. Wilbert Wallace White
Lt. Wilbert Wallace White, 147th Aero Squadron. He was a Flight Commander for the Squadron and gained 8 victories during his service.

th_BA_3201ON SEPTEMBER 14, 1918, three reconnaissance machines took the air on a mission of observation. They had for protection Second-lieutenant Wilbert W. White. While Lt. White was cruising about above the ships he was attacked by three Halberstadt fighters. He succeeded in fighting them off and leading them away from the observation ships, which were permitted to carry on their work unmolested. On his way home he sighted an enemy balloon near Chambley. He dove through a cloud to the attack, and before the ground crew knew what had happened, the drachen had come down about their ears in flames. The Yank was instantly attacked by two Fokker Scouts.

Although he was alone, with intrepid courage he attacked the first plane head-on, shooting until it went into a vertical dive out of control. Pulling sharply about, he fired a long burst at the second Fokker as it went over him. The Boche didn’t stop to argue, but streaked for the Vaterland as fast as his prop would drive him. For this thrilling exploit Lieutenant White was awarded the D.S.C.

The very next month he paid the supreme price in a way that was heroic in the extreme. He sacrificed his life that a buddy might live.

It was on October 10th that Lieutenant White, while in command of a patrol of four planes, met a flight of five Fokkers. In his patrol was a new member who was taking his first trip over the lines. One of the Boche pilots, perhaps sensing that he was a novice, or just by chances of combat, attacked him and obtained an advantageous position on his tail. The new pilot dodged and turned but was unable to shake off the Fokker, who followed his every move and was rapidly gaining on him. Lieutenant White saw that his friend was in dire trouble. Turning, he sped into position to attack the Boche. The Jerry was intent on his intended victim and was sending short bursts at close range whenever he could get him in line with his gun-sights. The situation looked black for the new pilot, but still blacker when Lieutenant White’s guns jammed hopelessly. Sooner or later a burst from the Fokker would hit a vital spot.

There was only one thing Lieutenant White could do to save his buddy, but it meant a horrible death. Without an instant’s hesitation he swung around and streaked full speed, head-on, into the startled and horrified enemy. The impact was terrific, the results devastating. For this act of extraordinary heroism the oak leaf cluster was awarded. The scene on the cover is just before the impact.

Lieutenant White belonged to the 147th squadron which used Spads. Since there was a picture of a 147th squadron Spad on last month’s cover, I have painted Lieutenant White’s machine as a Sophwith Camel to prevent repetition in plane types.

Much can be said for and against the Camel. It was an enlarged and modified “Pup” and was designed specially for high performances and extreme maneuverability. To obtain these ends some of the qualities of the Pup were necessarily sacrificed, and the machine had a reputation for being uncomfortable to fly. In fact I know of no pilot who went into a Camel squadron voluntarily.

Due to the torque of the motor it was extremely difficult to make a right-hand turn. This one fault caused a great many deaths to the men in training.

The Camel was also prone to catch fire in landing. The reason for this was because the engine, a 9-cylinder Gnome Monosoupape rotary, had no carbureter and therefore no throttle. It was necessary to slow down by means of a selector on the ignition system which cut out various cylinders. For example, the engine could run on 9-7-5-3 or one cylinder.

The mixture in the cylinders not used was sent through the exhaust manifold unburnt and might be ignited by the exhaust from an active cylinder. The ship landed with a long flame streaming from the exhaust which very often ignited the fabric.

On the other hand, it was the best ship for maneuvering ever brought out by the Allies, and was a great success in combat.

The Camel could climb to 5,000 feet in 5 minutes and to 10,000 feet in 12 minutes, at which height its speed was 113 m.p.h. It had a span of 28 feet; an overall length of 18 feet, 9 inches; a maximum gap of 5 feet and a minimum gap of 4 feet, F/io inches. A distinctive feature of this machine is the great dihedral of the bottom plane, combined with a flat top plane.

The ship received its name partly because of the appearance of a hump when seen from the side, and partly because the elevators were so sensitive that unless the pilot had a great deal of experience he flew in humps.

The Camel and Lt. White
“The Camel and Lt. White” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (January 1931)