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Silent Orth Returns in “Single Action” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on August 11, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

IT’S been a few months, but Silent Orth is back! Silent Orth—ironically named for his penchant to boast, but blessed with the skills to carry out his promises—comes up against a trio of deadly marksmen who manage to take down their victims with but a single bullet! Orth must take down all three before fresh new recruits arrive the next day—The problem is, Orth has vowed to take each of them out with a single shot. From the July 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s Silent Orth in “Single Action!”

Silent Orth Goes Gunning for Three German Flyers Whose Diabolical Tactics Call for Quick Reprisal!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Ritter von Schleich

Link - Posted by David on July 12, 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 Flyer Ritter von Schleich’s most thrilling sky fight!

Hauptmann Ritter von Schleich was one of the least known, but nevertheless, one of the greatest and most successful of the German war birds. A nobleman by birth, he was educated for service in the army beginning with his early childhood. When the war broke out he was an officer in the Uhlans, the most aristocratic branch of the German Army. After transferring to the flying corps, he served some time as an observer, before learning to become a pilot himself; paralleling in that respect the career of Baron Manfred von Richthofen, who preceeded him as an officer of Uhlans.

War has its humorous moments as well as its many tragic ones. At least it would seem so after reading the account of the German flying captain, who took a captured Allied plane and rode the battle skies in company with an enemy patrol, the only instance upon record when it was known to be done.

 

A SKY TRICK

by Captain Ritter von Schleich, Imperial Flying Corps • Sky Fighters, July 1934

THE DAY before this, my most thrilling day in the air took place. My staffel had forced a young, inexperienced French pilot to land his latest model Spad pursuit plane intact behind our own lines.

After painting a black cross on it in the place of the circular cocarde of the Allies I decided it would be great fun to take it on a flight over the enemy lines. Fortunately, my staffel had forced it to land with almost a full supply of ammunition, so I had plenty of bullets for the Vickers guns. I phoned our anti-aircraft batteries and informed them of my plans so they would not bother me.

After taking off, I headed for Verdun. Our own Archies let me pass unmolested. When I slid across the lines, the Allied Archies did the same thing. I encountered a single enemy aircraft on patrol over Verdun, but he waved at me and passed on. I laughed and waved back, then swung about and headed for the Argonne. Over the Argonne I ran into the tail end of a formation of five Spads who were sweeping along parallel with the lines at 10,000 feet.

I goosed up my engine and took my place at their rear, flying along behind them and following the leader’s signals as well as I could. Suddenly they banked and flew over my own lines. I went in with them, still keeping my place in the formation.

As I flew along I wondered what would have happened if the leader really knew who it was tailing along at the rear of his flight. It was a sad thought, though. It certainly would have been curtains for me if those Spad pilots had suddenly turned and charged me.

We had gone about five miles behind our own lines when I decided that I was not
giving our Archie gunners any breaks at all. They had been directed not to fire at my plane, hence could not fire at the others in the formation without danger of getting me.

I banked off suddenly, went into a half roll, then dived to 6,000 feet. Our Archie gunners opened up then with a terrific barrage. The Spad pilots maneuvered then to escape it. The leader wheeled, saw me going down, caught sight of the black cross on my Spad for the first time, I guess, and came tearing down after me.

At 3,000 feet he let me have it—a heavy burst that forced me to duck swiftly. Now, that he had attacked me, I felt that I would not be taking advantage of my trick, so I maneuvered into shooting position and fired back.

We went at it hammer and tongs. I swept by him so close one time that I could see the angry expression on his face. We went round and round. Bullets nicked my Spad, but they did not come close to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his mates up above come streaking down to join the fun. I knew I had to do something quick or be in an awful pickle. I zoomed, half rolled, came down at my opponent with both Vickers blazing. The burst was effective. He sagged in his pit. The Spad went floating down in an uneven spiral.

I followed down until it crashed, then went hedge hopping over the field for my staffel drome, with all of the speed I could get from my captured Spad. Our Archie gunners kept my pursuers so high they could not reach me.

It was my twentieth victory. I got official credit for it later. Yes, under the circumstances I am sure it was my most thrilling sky fight.

“Sky Fighters, July 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 9, 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 July 1934 cover, It’s a battle of David and Goliath—a Belgian Hanriot 3 C.2 going after a L70 Class Zeppelin!

The Ships on the Cover

THIS month on the cover th_SF_3407 is shown one of the type of planes used during the World War by Belgium, that tiny country sandwiched in between France, Germany and Holland.

The plane with the Belgian insignia (red, yellow and blue) is the Hanriot 3 C.2, a French job powered by a Salmson radial motor.

Belgium’s refusal to let the German hordes pass through her country is probably the most important single event of the whole scrap. And while the ground troops of the plucky little country were holding back the rolling waves of German shock troops the Belgian airmen were doing things up in the clouds.

Real Fighting Spirit

The Belgians had observation machines spotting strategic points behind the German lines. But as the war progressed and machine-guns appeared on airplanes Belgium’s air fighters drove their machines, usually of French construction, into the teeth of the Boche ships. Odds seemed nothing to them. The fighting spirit of their beloved king and leader, King Albert, seemed to burn in the breast of every Belgian flyer.

The Belgians repeatedly bombed the Boche Zeppelin hangars. The hangars were moved beyond the range of the Belgian planes. But the Belgian flyers continued to hunt the Zeppelins slipping through the high clouds on raiding expeditions.

On the cover the Hanriot prowling alone in search of trouble roars through the scudding clouds thousands of feet above the crash of artillery fire and the rattle of rifles. Two guns with cartridge-filled belts poke wickedly from under the top wing. The rear gunner is ready for action with his Lewis gun. At one moment the sky is deserted except for the Hanriot. Then a great shape, with straining engines forcing its ominous bulk forward, breaks through the clouds. It is heading eastward, returning from a bomb dropping raid on the English seacoast towns; returning after releasing an avalanche of death and destruction.

A Matter of Seconds

A flip of the rudder and the Hanriot tears in at the bloated raider like an angry wasp. Vickers blasting sizzling incendiaries at the hydrogen-filled airship. The range shortens, the Hanriot’s Salmson motor labors as it climbs. The Zeppelin points its nose up fighting for altitude; altitude which means safety. The Hanriot’s greater speed shortens the gap. The Belgian rear gunner swings his Lewis into position. They are not to be denied—it is only a matter of seconds.

A roaring blue meteor slams down out of the clouds with guns spitting. It is between the climbing Zeppelin and the attacking Hanriot. Its wings are black-crossed. It is a matter of minutes before the Zeppelin will be above the altitude the Hanriot is capable of reaching. It will escape.

The Hanriot’s pilot opens fire on the German plane as Spandau bullets tear past his ears. Behind him the Lewis gun jerks on its scarf mounting. Incendiary bullets scream into the side of the Zeppelin. A thin tongue of flame licks at the torn fabric; a tiny spot of flame which will spread rapidly from bow to stern and will send the Goliath of the skies hurtling down toward the poppy fields of Flanders.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, July 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Morane-Saulnier and Fokker Triplane!

“Hunbugs” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on January 29, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” That sound can only mean one thing—that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors is back and this time he’s fighting the war on two fronts—there’s a Boche Bat Patrol running riot in the Moselles and at the Ninth there’s a new recruit who wins every bet—that is until he comes up against the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa. From the July 1934 number of Flying Aces it’s “Hunbugs!”

Meet Lieutenant Ignatius Moots, newest member of the famous Ninth Pursuit. You may like him or you may not, but let us give you a tip—don’t ever bet with him. Phineas did!

“Suicide Buzzards” by Eliot Todd

Link - Posted by David on June 15, 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, Eliot Todd recounts the story behind Blakeslee’s July 1934 cover for Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3407MOTORS thundering, four giant Handley-Pages trundled across the 89th’s field at St. Contay. They were off to do the impossible—bomb the enemy rail center at Harvencourt.

For months a thorn in the side of G.H.Q., Harvencourt was now the mainspring in the Germans’ last stab at victory. Every other attempt to destroy it had ended in disaster. Now G.H.Q. was pinning their faith on a bold daylight raid.

Thirty minutes later the rail center slid into view. The air became charged with flying steel as German batteries came to life. Jagged chunks of shrapnel and Maxim slugs crashed through wings, shredding fabric, smashing struts and ribs to splinters. Grimly the H.P.’s held their course through the maelstrom of lead and steel, laying egg after egg.

By now the ground was a blazing inferno, the network of tracks a mass of twisted junk. But the dump, the all important store of ammunition, was untouched.

A gunner snatched the release and the last bomb spun true to its mark. Magically a solid sheet of flame leaped upward as hundreds of tons of H.E. ignited. When the smoke and debris cleared there was nothing to mark the dump but a tremendous crater.

During the early years of the war, bombing was more or less haphazard and unreliable. Equipment was crude. Bombs consisted mainly of hand grenades, and bomb sights were nothing more than a couple of nails and a few pieces of wire.

But with the rapid strides made in aviation during 1917-18, bombing leaped from the hit or miss, hope-we-get-there-stage, into a powerful weapon of offense. Very few things got more respect than the bombers as they droned overhead with a cargo of eggs along about two ack emma.

When objectives were deep in enemy territory, as happened in the story depicted on this month’s cover, the bombers were forced to leave their escorts after crossing the lines, and, because of the shorter cruising range of the smaller ships, penetrate miles behind the lines alone. As early as 1916 one R.F.C. outfit flew more than ninety miles to reach its objective.

And if the objective happened to be an important one they were usually met with a hot reception. Batteries of ground defences flung up shrapnel, flaming onions and Maxim slugs until the air was literally charged with flying steel. In many instances the crews were trapped in the pits of their lumbering busses and blasted out of the sky by Fokkers.

Even if they sucecded in reaching their objective, escaping anti-aircraft fire and the savage attacks of Fokkers, they were still faced with many minutes of flying over hostile territory that was by tins time fully aroused to their presence.

Crouched in the pits of their clumsy, sometimes crippled crates, the crews fought their way mile after mile back to the Front until they contacted their escort over the lines.

In that case the escort went into action, driving off the Boche planes. But when they missed the escort, as they sometimes did, the entire job was up to them.

The odds against them and the difficulties that faced them were all in the day’s—or night’s—work to the men who flew in those giant crates. They were real airmen and they did a real job.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Suicide Buzzards: The Story Behind The Cover” by Eliot Todd (July 1934)

Check back again. We will be presenting more Stories behind the Covers.

“Devildog Breed” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by Bill on August 19, 2009 @ 4:37 pm in

Here they are again—that bunch of flying, fighting Devildogs—Lucky Lane and the Three Lunatics, Cyclone Bill Garrity, and the rest of the mad Marines. And fighting against them is a silent, unseen menace—a strange, black shadow that shrouds whole formations in its sable cloak of death, and sends them reeling down—to doom.