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“Grapes Grabber” by Lester Dent

Link - Posted by David on September 7, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

LESTER DENT is best remembered as the man behind Doc Savage. But he wrote all number of other stories before he started chronicling the adventures of everyone’s favorite bronze giant. Here we have an action-packed tale of the air—Nobody likes a glory hog, and Pilot Shack March sets out to teach the company Grapes Grabber a thing or two and stop a Boche spy ring in the process! From the pages of the June 1934 The Lone Eagle it’s—”Grapes Grabber!”

The Boche have developed an even faster and better plane and Major Sam Flack has been called in to double bluff a captured Boche agent into taking him behind enemy lines to the prototype!

Pilot Shack March Shows a Glory Glutton a Thing or Two in this Zooming Yarn of Exciting Action in Hunland!

If you enjoyed this story, Black Dog Books has put out an excellent volume collecting 11 of Lester Dent’s early air stories set against the backdrop of World War !. The book includes this story as well as others from the pages of War Birds, War Aces, Flying Aces, Sky Birds and The Lone Eagle. It’s The Skull Squadron! Check it out!

 

And as a bonus, here’s another article from Lester’s home town paper, The LaPlata Home Press, this time with heads-up on Lester passing through town on his way to Mexico and California!

 

Lester Dent Is Now In The Big League

Visits Parents Here Enroute To Mexico and California
The LaPlata Home Press, LaPlata, MO • 4 August 1932

Lester Dent, writer of adventure fiction, arrived from New York City Monday, accompanied by his wife. They will spend the remainder of the week visiting Lester’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bern Dent, who live northeast of LaPlata. Lester will then depart on a two-month auto trip through old Mexico, visiting regions now being troubled by border bandits, leaving Mexico, he will take a gold prospecting jaunt into Death Valley, in California.

Mrs. Dent will remain in the meantime at Carrollton, Mo., her former home.

Lester Dent

Louis Madison, formerly of LaPlata, will go with Lester. Mr. Madison, who with his mother, now lives near Flint, Mich., joined Lester as he was enroute from New York to LaPlata via Canada. Lester and Mr. Madison graduated from LaPlata High School together.

During the western trip, Lester will gather color for use in the adventure stories he writes. He will return to LaPlata for a later visit, and spend the winter in New York City.

Mr. Dent is becoming widely known as a writer of western, detective and war-air fiction. He will have nine stories in magazines on the news stands during the month of August, six under his own name and three under pen names. A New York editor recently said of Lester Dent: “He is the most promising writer of bang-up action fiction who has loomed over the horizon in many a year.”

“The Lone Eagle, June 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on August 20, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the June 1934 cover, Frandzen has a couple Sopwith Camelss in a scrap with a D.F.W. Aviatik type C.V.!

The Story of the Cover

THE scrap depicted on the cover this th_LE_3406 month is between two Sopwith Camels and a D.F.W. Aviatik, type C.V. The initials “D.F.W.” stand for quite a mouthful; Deutsche Fregzeug Werke. This company, formed before the war, carried on with contracts from the government through the World War. This model of the D.F.W. is often confused with the L.V.G. It is an easy mistake to make, for they both have many of the same characteristics of construction. It carried a 228 h.p. Benz motor in its nose. It needed all this power for its forty-three foot wing span.

The Sopwith Camel was manufactured by the Sopwith Aviation Co., Ltd., founded in 1911 by Mr. T.O.M. Sopwith, a well-known aviator. Even before the war the Sopwith planes were famous, one of them, a seaplane, similar to the later Sopwith “Baby” seaplane which did such fine work for the R.N.A.S., having the distinction of winning the Schneider cup races.

It Delivered the Goods

The Camel was designed for extreme maneuverability and high performance. It made its appearance at the end of 1916, and during 1917 it was the outstanding single-seater of the British. Its high rate of climb made it particularly good for defense against Zeppelin raids. In the hands of a competent pilot it could out-maneuver any ship of its class on the front, but put a pilot used to a sluggish-controlled ship at the stick of a Camel and he was lost. The Camel was tricky to fly, but once used to the controls veritable wonders could be performed by a pilot who knew all the tricks of sailing the sky lanes.

This ship delivered the goods from the time it made its appearance right up to the end of the war, and that is something that cannot be said for many ships that were used during the Big scrap.

A Technique of Their Own

Two Anzacs who had done considerable cattle-herding in their beloved Australia had changed their mounts from shaggy ponies to “Camels.” But in the cockpits of their Camels their old habit of cutting out one animal from a herd was not forgotten. They developed a technique of their own of cutting an enemy plane from a flight and harassing it with cross-fire. Anticipating every move of the enemy plane they would gradually work it toward the Allied lines, then over the lines and finally force the unhappy German pilot, whom they had flattered with their undivided attention, to land on their own airdrome.

Now look at the picture on the cover again and you’ll get the drift of the situation. That D.F.W. Aviatik has been picked by our friends in the Camels as a hostage and they are herding him off the range into the corral. And it won’t be long now till all three planes will be making a landing. The back gunner of the D.F.W. is shy his Parabellum gun. He unhooked it from its swivel mount and pitched it overboard at the request of the Camel pilots delivered in sign language and punctuated with a drizzle of Vickers slugs that literally wrote their initials in the side of the Boche ship.

Following the Leader

As the home drome looms ahead the closest Camel pilot sends a short burst across the tail of the German ship. He points down, identifying the drome on which the unhappy Germans must land or be blasted out of the sky. As he flips his Camel under the bulky two-seater the German gunner raises bis hands high above his head, signifying his willingness to play follow the leader.

All three ships nose downward. The Anzacs have brought home the bacon again; just another stray cut out of the sky pastures and jriven private grazing ground for the duration of the emergency.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, June 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“Famous Sky Fighters, June 1934″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on August 1, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The June 1934 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, Features a couple of Aces—Britian’s Captain Albert Ball and Belgium’s Lieutenant Jan Thieffry!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Lt. Rene Fonck, Brigadier General William Mitchell, and Lt. Ernst Udet! Don’t miss it!

“Torture Drome” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on April 6, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story by another of our favorite authors—Harold F. Cruickshank! Cruickshank is popular in these parts for the thrilling exploits of The Sky Devil from the pages of Dare-Devil Aces, as well as those of The Sky Wolf in Battle Aces and The Red Eagle in Battle Birds. He wrote innumerable stories of war both on the ground and in the air. Here we have a story of brothers—half-brothers both assigned to 17 Drome. The younger brother, Cal, is posted as A.W.O.L., but Lew, the older of the two fears Cal was attempting to assist his older brother in his assignment to get the dreaded Baron von Hertzog and some awful fate has befallen him. Leading Lew to absent himself from his drome without authority to try and find the kid and save his hide. From the June 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Torture Drome”—

Captain Lew Vance Braves Boche Horror As He Flies Hell-Bent into Hunland to Vindicate the Honor of His Half-Brother!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 25: Lt. Sumner Sewall” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on August 30, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

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 one of America’s most famous Aces—Lt. Sumner Sewall!

Sumner Sewall rose to be Flight Commander in the 95th Aero Squadron. He is credited with seven victories and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with oak leaf cluster, the French Legion of Honor, the Croix de guerre and the Order of the Crown of Belgium. Sewall was the first American aviator whose machine had been sent down in flames and lived to tell the tale!

After the war, he worked in a variety of jobs, including being an executive with Colonial Air Transport and a director of United Air Lines before becoming an alderman in Bath, Maine in 1933. From there he was elected to the state legislature as a representative in 1934; then senator in 1936 and being named President of the State Senate with his electoral win in 1938. All this culminated when he was elected govenor of the great state of Maine and served for two terms.

After stepping down as governor, Sewall became president of American Overseas Airlines for a year, then served as the military governor of Württemberg-Baden from 1946 to 1947. After trying for the state senate again in 1948 and finishing a distant third, Sewall moved into banking becoming the president of Bath National Bank in the 1960’s.

He passed away January 26th, 1965.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Alan McLeod, R.F.C.

Link - Posted by David on March 8, 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 Canada’s Lieutenant Alan McLeod’s most thrilling sky fight!

Alan McLeod was one of the three Canadian airmen winning the coveted award of the Victoria Cross, the highest honor bestowed on its fighting heroes by the British Empire, He was the youngest flyer ever to receive the honor, having it pinned on his chest in appropriate ceremonies at Buckingham Palace a few months before his nineteenth birthday.

Whereas most of the other British airmen who received this coveted honor accomplished their deeds of heroic valor in fast, single-seater fighting machines, young McLeod used a heavy, unwieldy, Armstrong-Whitworth two-seater which was poorly equipped for air combat. But Alan McLeod used it just as though it were a pursuit ship, never running from a possible chance lo shoot it out with enemy planes in the air, no matter how heavy the odds were against him. The fight he tells about below is one of the great epics of the air. McLeod was wounded six times, but recovered, only to succumb to influenza five days before the armistice was signed.

 

DOWN IN FLAMES

by Lieut. Alan McLeod, R.F.C. • Sky Fighters, June 1934

WHEN zooming up after dropping my last bomb, I saw a Hun Fokker, coming at me from the rear. I swung my machine up on one wing, gave my observer, Hammond, in the back seat, a chance at it. His first burst of Lewis fire was effective. It went fluttering down like a falling leaf, swaying from side to side.

I climbed for altitude then. At 5,000 feet the sun broke through the clouds. A flight of eight scarlet-painted Fokker tripes burst through with the sun. One dived, then zoomed up under my tail. I banked steeply. Hammond got his guns on it just as the Hun let go with a burst that crackled through the lower wing just beyond my head. It went spiralling down, a black smoke trail pluming behind it.

The seven other Fokker tripes dived in with a vengeance then, attacking from all sides, and simultaneously! The air was full of German tracer. My wings were sieved. Flying wires snapped, coiled up like watch springs. I felt something like a hot knife slide across my stomach. A red shape flashed down in front of me. I pressed my gun triggers, sent in a withering burst of lead that seemed to splatter like a pinwheel as it hit. More struts on my plane cracked, shattered, sheared in two from Spandau bursts. A sharp pain stabbed me in the groin. But the red Fokker went to pieces in the air, tumbled down beneath me.

I glanced back. Tracer streams from two Fokkers were pouring at Hammond. One of his arms was hanging limply. Blood saturated his mitten. He was aiming his Lewis’ with the other hand. I went around in a sweeping, climbing turn, to get him above the attackers. Our plane groaned, crackled some more. More holes appeared like lightning in the upper wing, the lower. Another sharp pain stabbed through my lower right leg. A burst of German tracer found my petrol tank, it puffed into flames. I got in a final shot at a red Hun who swept across my path. He went down, out of control.

The heat from the burning tank lashed back in my face. Flames, choking smoke swirled in the cockpit. I loosened my belt, stepped out on the lower left wing. Holding on with my left hand, moving the stick with my right, I threw the machine into a steep side-slip, blowing the flames and smoke away from us.

Two Fokkers slid down with us, firing as they came.

Hammond, weak and reeling in the back pit, got one of them just before we hit the ground, then climbed up on the top wing. The machine crashed, thudded, bounced, throwing me off. Hammond was swept back into his pit. Flames and smoke enveloped him, the whole machine.

I raced back, pulled him out, carried him away from the fire. Bullets thudded around us, machine-gun and rifle bullets from the Huns in their trenches, not two hundred yards away,

I kept going away from them until a deep blackness descended. That is all I remember.

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

Link - Posted by David on March 7, 2016 @ 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 May 1934 cover, Frandzen featured the German Junkers and D.H.4!

ON THE cover this month th_SF_3405you will find the German Junkers biplane and the American Liberty-motored D.H.4. The D.H.4 was our one and only contribution to the front. That plane took nearly a year to produce.

It was designed after the famous British D.H., which earlier in the war; could stand up to any of the enemy planes. But the war moved fast. The Germans and the Allies changed and improved their planes so often that it was hard for this country to keep up with the advancement made on the other side of the pond.

A Difficult Task

We sent over commissions to nose around and pick out a few types of planes which could be put into mass production in this country, built around the bulky twelve-cylinder Liberty motor.

It took the boys on the commission several weeks to make up their minds as to which of the Allies* planes could be copied and be satisfactory. When they finally got back to Washington and got the designers busy it took three weeks of night and day work for them to complete their work.

They Were Obsolete

Just as the duplicate sets of plana were ready to go to the manufacturers word came from abroad that the planes the Americans planned to build were obsolete. Another commission hopped the ferry for Europe and went through the same stunt.

Again the designs were drawn; again they were pitched over because they were out-dated. Finally, after nearly a year of discouraging experimenting and disappointments the cumbersome American D. H. 4 started to roll off on the production line in an endless stream. In the first quarter of 1918 the first shipments were delivered to the Yanks at the front. They took ‘em, gritted their teeth and did what they could with a type of ship which the British had abandoned as obsolete some months before.

There were 23,000 screws holding that old D.H. crate of ours together, also 600 separate pieces of wood in a single wing; possibly that’s one of the reasons that delayed the boys back home from delivering the planes before they were listed in the antique class.

Well, the pilot and observer in the D.H. on the cover got a break when they got in a scrap with the German Junkers biplane. It was also a crate of earlier vintage, but a good one. The Junkers outfit was associated with the Fokker Company. This thick-winged job shows the Fokker influence.

The Fight Is On!

Returning from a reconnaissance expedition the D.H. ran across the Junkers. Both pilots decided that he could outsmart the other; the fight was on. The planes, evenly matched, tore in at each other like a couple of hungry wolves, ripped bullets through each other’s wings and squared off for another round. Again and again they tangled.

The D.H. was getting the worst of it. Suddenly a Fokker D.7 comes in from the distance. The Yank gunner spots it, points it out to his pilot. But a passing Frenchman in a Spad sees the set up and kicks his fleet plane into the show. He is in a position to pop the Fokker down. The Junkers zooms up under the D.H.’s tail.

It Looks Like Curtains

It looks like curtains for the Americans. The Yank pilot flips his tail down. The German tries to miss a collision. He succeeds, but the tip of his propeller blade grazes the aft part of the D.H.’s fuselage; just barely touches it, but that is all that is necessary.

Bingo, his prop flies to pieces. He is gone, through, licked. And the D.H., with its 23,000 screws, shakes its ruffled tail feathers and sails proudly for home—victorious.

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

“No Fuelin’!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on December 30, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” You heard right! That marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back to square off against the Mad Butcher of the German Air Corps—Hauptmann Heinz, but not before getting even with the guys at the Ninth for all the razzing he’s been getting lately.

Wilson found a green snake in his bed. Bump Gillis had an unhappy visit from a snapping turtle. And Captain Howell sat up until three a.m. digging iron filings out of the soles of his feet. The boys had been picking on Phineas—and the Pinkham revenge had begun. No foolin’!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 24: Captain Quigley” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on October 21, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Back with another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This time we have the June 1934 installment which pictorialized the life of that great Canadian Ace—Captain Francis Granger Quigley!

Private Quigley enlisted in December 1914 and served with the 5th Field Company of the Canadian Army Engineers on the Western Front. He transfered to the RFC in September of 1917 where he was assigned to the 70th Squadron RFC. By this time he had made the rank of Captain and flying a Sopwith Camel, he is credited with 33 victories! He earned the Distinguished Service Order, the Military Cross and the Military Cross with Bar!

Wounded in March of 1918 when a bullet shattered his ankle, he was sent to Le Touquet Hospital to recover. He finished his convalescence in Canada where he served as an instructor at Amour Heights. Requesting a return to action in France when his ankle had heeled, Guigley came down with the influenza on the way back to England. He died in a hospital two days after his ship docked in Liverpool.