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“An Itch In Time” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on November 24, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

“HAW-W-W-W-W!” You heard right! That marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back causing more trouble than he’s worth! That Knight of Calamity manages to find not only the Boche’s ammo train, but a former victim of the ol’ Pinkham charm from his hometown now glad to seek revenge! How can he stop the Boche ammo train, escape the butcher of Boonetown, and capture the Rittmeister von Schnoutz? He does it all with mirrors—Find out in “An Itch In Time” from the pages of the January 1935 Flying Aces.

Phineas Pinkham turns palmist and predicts a dark fate for a certain major. But Phineas should have read his own palm first. His fate line would have showed him a bright future— bright like the bottom of a vat of tar!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Ernst Mathy

Link - Posted by David on May 31, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have German Zeppelin Commander Captain Ernst Mathy’s most thrilling sky fight!

Very few stories of the Zeppelin raiders as told by the raiders themselves have come out of the Great War. Captain Ernst Mathy was one of the most famous of all wartime Zeppelin commanders, having made before he was killed in his final raid over London, six successful night raids over that well protected city, more than any other Zeppelin commander. It was Captain Mathy who developed and perfected most of the strategy of attack for the giant Zeppelins operated by the Imperial
 Flying Corps.

It is not generally known, but it was a fact that there were two divisions of Zeppelin raiders; those operated by the German navy and used for scouting of the British battle fleet on the North Sea, and those operated by the army and used for bombing raids on the capital cities of England and France. The last being, of course, the most spectacular and dangerous duty. Captain Mathy was the ace of aces of all Zeppelin commanders, and despite his army affiliation, his most thrilling fight in the air was with five submarines of the British navy. The story of this strange fight between the monsters of the sea and air as told in Captain Mathy’s own words, follow below.

 

SINKING A SUBMARINE

by Captain Ernst Mathy • Sky Fighters, January 1935

I HAD taken the L-31 over the North Sea, but was balked in my attempted raid on London by heavy rain and low-hanging storm clouds, so had to turn back. I did not want to return with a full load of bombs and without doing some damage, so I dropped down low and skirted the coast line in a northerly direction, looking for enemy surface craft as possible targets.

Upon coming out of a cloud I was surprised to spy a cluster of five enemy submarines floating on the surface. I circled back into the cloud and descended, coming out again at an altitude of about 2000 feet over the subs. They, of course, saw me then and went into immediate action with their deck guns. One shell put my forward starboard motor out of commission. I ruddered in against the window and dropped lower.

Shells were popping up now like spouting geysers and the subs were moving in ragged circles. I dropped a demolition bomb. It landed a hundred yards from the nearest sub. A shell exploded now in my port gas tanks, ripping the framework on that side to shreds, but happily causing no fire. I got still lower, then dropped another bomb. It missed, also, but only by a few yards.

The submarines began to submerge now and travel away from each other in tangential paths. I immediately loosed another bomb. There was a terrific explosion when it hit a huge fountain of water that hid the diving submarine from my vision temporarily. But when the cataract subsided, I saw the sub nosing slowly downward.

A few minutes later its stern lifted free from the water, a third of the hull exposed. In another minute it sank. Five minutes later it had disappeared completely, leaving nothing but an oily slick on the surface. The other subs by this time had managed to submerge and were rapidly running away. I could not pursue them because my gas balloonets were sieved full of holes and the L-31 was fast losing buoyancy.

I headed for home, just managed to make the German coast when I was forced to land with my badly crippled craft. There I discovered that one shell had missed severing my elevator and rudder controls by a single foot. If that one had been a foot closer, it would have been the submarine which would have been the victor. As it was, the L-31 had another successful mission to its credit.

“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!

“Death Lightning” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 20, 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. It’s another of Mr. Blakeslee’s future tech story covers—and it’s a cover you don’t see often because it’s a hard to find issue due to G-8 guest staring in Robert J. Hogan’s Red Falcon story that month—Dynamite Cargo! (available in our first volume of Red Falcon: The Dare-Devil Aces Years.) Another side note: Although Blakeslee did the cover, he did not do the interior illustrations aside from the interstitials Would You Believe it? and The Story Behind The Cover—Josef Katula handled the art honors this month. So feast your eyes on the January 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3501THE cover this month, as last month, is dedicated to war in the air as it might have been fought had inventors realized their dreams.

If you did not believe the story behind the cover last month you probably will not believe it this month. As a matter of fact we are a bit incredulous ourselves, yet we have it on authority that such an invention as this month’s cover shows was actually being worked on during the war.

As you see, the invention consisted of a device by which an electrical charge would be built up sufficient to jump the gap between two airplanes.

When we visualize the huge apparatus required to jump a spark across even a comparatively small gap, we wonder what the airplane that could carry such a machine would look like. So we selected the German Roland Walfische which was a queer looking ship for those days, a beauty however, and far in advance of its time as you can see by the above drawing of it.

We may laugh all we please at these “impossible” things, yet in this age who is to say what is impossible and what is possible? Imagine what would have happened to a man fifty years ago had he described the radio—a padded cell for him perhaps. So reserve your laugh to fifty years hence.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Death Lightning: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(January 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next time, Mr. Blakeslee brings us another fanciful invention—”Death Lightning” for the January 1935 cover. Be sure not to miss it.

“Spy Larking” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on May 29, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” You heard right! That marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back and there is a spy in their midst—surely it’s not the latest recruit to the 9th Pursuit Squadron—Lt. Harold Bartholomew Cheeves, the one man on the base that truely gets Pinkham!

Haul out the solid ivory and strike off the International Crack-Brain Medal for Lieut. Harold Bartholomew Cheeves, newcomer with the Fighting 9th. For here’s a man who APPRECIATES Phineas! In fact, the more cockleburs he finds in his hash, the more he admires the Boonetown Barbarian.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 31: Oswald Boelcke” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 4, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

boelckeBack with another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This time around we have the January 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke!

Boelcke is regarded by many as the father of air combat—he developed a series of rules known as the Dicta Boelcke that espoused fighter tactics based upon aircraft formation rather than upon the characteristics of any individual machine. By 1916 Boelcke had amassed more ‘kills’ than any other German pilot—40, many above the Verdun battlefield. And had a chest full of awards and honors. Sadly, it his death is a result of not following his own rules of engagement—which mandated never to close in on a single combatant when others are also pursuing it—as he crashed into one of his fellow ships while trying to avoid a French pilot.

“The Suicide Strafe” by Major George Fielding Eliot

Link - Posted by Bill on March 24, 2010 @ 7:45 am in

Those four victories to his credit meant nothing to Bob Sexton—now. At last he had gotten Gerhardt, the invincible German ace—had sent his famous Red-Wing plane crashing down to a fiery doom. Yet that fifth victory—the descendu that made him an ace—was the one he would never be able to claim.