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“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 10: Captain Ball, British V.C.” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on March 16, 2016 @ 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 English Ace—Captain Albert Ball!

Captain Albert Ball was the first of the Royal Flying Corps pilots to make a distinguished record. Unlike the French, the British made no mention of their air pilot’s victories. One day Ball wrote home that he had just counted his 22nd victory. His mother proudly showed this letter to her friends. Ball was disbelieved.

It was beyond belief at that time that any single pilot could have shot down so many enemy planes. Ball was finally vindicated. From that time on the British publicized the exploits of flying aces. Ball shot down 43 enemy planes and one balloon, being at the time of his death the Ace of Aces of all the armies.

He received every decoration the British Army could give him, including the Victoria Cross. He was killed in a new British triplane by the younger von Richthofen the day after America entered the War.

(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.)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 9: David Putnam” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on March 2, 2016 @ 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 American Ace—Lt. David Putnam!

David Endicott Putnam, a descendant of Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam, was a Harvard student before running off to join the French Foreign Legion in may 1917. From there he transferred to the air service. Putnam has thirteen confirmed victories, but his unconfirmed totals could range as high as twenty-six or thirty—he’s known for shooting down five planes in one day (although only three were confirmed).

Putnam was awarded the Croix de Guerre, with palms and stars, The Medaille militaire, the Cross of the Legion of Honor, the American Areo Club Medal and the Distinguished Service Cross—the last posthumously. Putnam was shot down in September 1918 by German Ace Georg von Hantelmann and laid to rest in Toul beside Luftbury, Blair and Thaw.

(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.)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 8: Edmond Thieffry” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 17, 2016 @ 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 Belgium’s favorite Ace—Lt. Edmond Thieffry!

Thieffry was Belgium’s daring ace who entered the war as an orderly and worked his way up to being King Albert’s leading sky fighter—preferring to fight alone, crashing at the enemy ships from high above. A strategy that worked well for him leaving him with 10 victories on his balance sheet by the end of the war.

After the war, Thieffry resumed his pre-war job as a lawyer, but kept his hand in aviation—helping to found Sabena (Societé Anonyme Belge d’Exploitation de la Navigation Adrienne) in 1923 which would remain Belgium’s national airline until 2001.

Thieffry was killed in a crash close to Lake Tanganyika during a test flight while trying to set up an internal air service in the Congo on April 11th, 1929. He was 36 years old.

(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.)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 7: René Fonck” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 3, 2016 @ 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 France’s Ace of Aces—Lt. René Fonck!

Lt. René Fonck is recognized as one of the greatest French air fighters since Captain Guynemer and is credited with bringing down no less than 75 enemy planes, out of a claimed 142—bringing down six in one day (twice)! As his fame grew, sadly, so did his ego and he never really gained the admiration and popularity of Guynemer.

After the war, Fonck returned to civilian life, but kept his hand in aviation even trying to win the Orteig prize by being the first person to fly across the atlantic—he unfortunately crashed on take-off, killing two of his three crew members. Charles Lindbergh would win the prize seven months later.

He return to military aviation and from 1937-39 he acted as Inspector of fighter aviation within the French Air Force. However his later record of working with the Vichy government following the fall of France in June 1940 later besmirched his reputation. A French police inquiry about his supposed collaboration with the Vichy regime completely cleared Fonck after the war. The conclusion was that his loyalty was proved by his close contacts with recognised resistance leaders such as Alfred Heurtaux during the war—and he was awarded the Certificate of Resistance in 1948.

Just five years later Fonck suffered a fatal stroke and died in 1953 at the age of 59.

(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.)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 6: Raoul Lufbery” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 20, 2016 @ 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 the leading Ace of the Lafayette Escadrille—Major Raoul Lufbery!


Lufbery playing with Whiskey.

Raoul Lufbery was already famous when America entered the War. For some time he was the mechanic of Marc Pourpe, famous French flyer. Pourpe was killed in aerial combat. Lufbery who was with the Foreign Legion, asked to take his place in order to avenge his death. The French army, defying usual procedure sent him to join Escadrille de Bombardmente V. 102, where he made a distinguished record.

When the La Fayette Escadrille was formed, he became one of the seven original members of that famous air squadron—and, as it proved ultimately, became the most distinguished, winning his commission as a sous-lieutenant.

When America entered the War he was transferred to the American Air Service and made a major, refusing, however, to take command of a squadron. When he was killed at Toul. Lufbery was officially credited with 17 victories.

(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.)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 5: Major McCudden” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 6, 2016 @ 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 Britain’s most famous Aces—Major James McCudden!

Major J B McCudden, VC, DSO, MC, MM
Major J B McCudden, VC, DSO, MC, MM 1918 William Orpen, Oil on Canvas 30×36″.
© IWM (Art.IWM ART 2979)

James Thomas Byford McCudden was born in 1895. He joined the Royal Engineers in 1910, becoming a qualified sapper by 1913—holding a grade Air Mechanic 2nd Class, No.892 and enlisted with the Royal Flying Corps as a mechanic in 1913—the year before the war broke out. He worked his way up through the ranks eventually training as a pilot only to find he was a natural in the air. He is credited with 57 victories and awarded the Victorian Cross, Distinguished Service Order & Bar, Military Cross & Bar, Military Medal and the French Croix de Guerre—becoming the most highly decorated British pilot of the war.

He was killed in July 1918 when his aircraft stalled after take off and crashed to the ground. Shortly before his death McCudden published a renowned memoir of his air war, Five Years in the RFC.

(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.)

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

Link - Posted by David on December 9, 2015 @ 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 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.)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 2: Bert Hall” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 25, 2015 @ 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 the second installment featuring America’s Flying Soldier of Fortune—Bert Hall!

Weston Birch “Bert” Hall was one of the seven original members of the Lafayette Escadrille. And was probably America’s most colorful Soldier of Fortune. Born in 1885, he began his storied carrer in the early 1900’s in the Balkan war. Later, he is reported to have dropped rocks on the sultan of Turkey’s enemies while flying for the Turks. He was a four-flusher, a liar, a deserter and a damn good poker player who was good at reading his opponents.

Hall wrote two books about his exploits in the Lafayette Escadrille, En L’air (1918) and One Man’s War (1929). The former was the basis of the 1918 film A Romance of the Air, in which he starred as himself.

He assisted the Chinese in the 1920’s when he headed the Chinese air force. However he was sentenced to 30 months in jail when a money for arms deal fell through and was accused of receiving money under false pretenses.

When he was released in 1936, he ended up moving around alot—to Seattle for a while and Hollywood where he worked for 20th Century Fox Studios. By 1940 he found himself in Dayton, Ohio—finally settling in Castalia, Ohio and starting the Sturdy Toy Factory.

He died of a massive heart attack while driving down the highway in 1948.

(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.)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 1: Eddie Rickenbacker” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 11, 2015 @ 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 the inaugral installment featuring America’s Ace of Aces—Eddie Rickenbacker!

Rickenbacker is credited with 26 victories—the most of any American flyer. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, Legion of Honor, Croix de Guerre and the Distinguished Service Cross with 8 oak leaf clusters (1 silver & 3 bronze).

Before the war, Rickenbacker had become one of the most successful race car drivers, and, with the war’s end, Rickenbacker went back to what he knew. He elected to leave the air service and established his own automotive company that ultimately went out of business. Not detoured, he bought the Indianapolis Speedway—turning it around and making it profitable. From there he went into General Motors. When GM aquired North American Aviation in 1935, RIckenbacker was asked to manage one of their holdongs—Eastern Air Transport which Rickenbacker merged with Florida Airways to form Eastern Air Lines—taking a little airline flying a few thousand miles a week to major airline!

(Somehow during all this he found the time to also script two popular comic strip from 1935 to 1940—Ace Drummond and Hall of Fame of the Air.)

The advent of World War II brought Rickenbacker back to service—but as a civilian Representative to the Secretary of War in the survey of aircraft installations. Resuming his role at Eastern Air Lines after the war. With Eastern’s financial losses in the 1950’s, Rickenbacker was forced out of his position as CEO in 1959 and resigned as Chairman of the Board on December 31st, 1963.

Rickenbacker spent his remaining years lecturing, writing his autobiography and traveling with his wife. He suffered a stroke while in Switzerland and contracted pneumonia—dying on July 23rd, 1972.

(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.)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 41: Lt. Frank L. Baylies” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on August 5, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Back 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 November 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of a American Ace credited with 12 victories—Lt. Frank L. Baylies!

Frank Leamon Baylies enlisted with the United States Ambulance Service in 1916 after hearing a returning minister speak of the work the ambulance service was doing on the Western Front. He was posted to France with the US Ambulance Section, seeing action at Verdun, the Somme, Argonne and a few months in Serbia.

In May 1917, Baylies waspresented with an opportunity to leave the rat-infested trenches and join the French Air Service. Needless to say he jumped at the chance. Initially assigned to Spa73 in Sptember 1917, he was transfered in October to Spa3—Les Cigognes—Guynemer’s famous Storks Group! (Guynemer had been killed in action in September of 1917).

Baylies achieved all his victories flying his lucky number 13 Stork emblazed yellow Spad. According to newpaper reports of the day, Baylies had adopted a Belgian police dog named Dick to counteract any possible hoodoo that may come his way due to the numbering on his plane. Dick sleeps under his bed every night and even goes onn occasional flights with his master! (Like Click in Steve Fisher’s Captain Babyface stories)

When America officially entered the war, Baylies was offered a commision, but declined, choosing to remain with the French Air Service. He eventually did transfer as a 2nd Lieutenant in May, but remained with The Storks.

Baylies is credited with 12 confirmed victories and is said to be responsible for six others. He was awarded Croix de Guerre, Medaille Militaire and the Legion d’Honneur.

He was killed in action when his patrol encountered the Fokker Triplanes of Jasta 19. He was shot and his Spad wet down in flames five miles behind the German lines. The Germans buried Baylies with full military honours befiting a war hero at Rollet. In 1927 his body was exhumed and reburied in Paris.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 40: Major Francesco Baracca” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on July 15, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Back 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 October 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of Italy’s Ace of Aces—Major Francesco Baracca!

Major Francesco Baracca is Italy’s greatest Ace of WWI but started his millitary carrer in the cavalry before the war with the prestigious Piemonte Reale Cavalleria Regiment upon his commisioning in 1910. Baracca’s interests turned to Aviation a few years later when he was transfered from Rome to a small town in central Italy and learned to fly at Reims, France.

Son of a nobleman, Barraca is credited with 34 victories and emblazzened the fuselage of his plane with his personal emblem, a black prancing horse—the Cavallino Rampante—in tribute to his calvalry days. It is this emblem that his mother gave to Enzo Ferrari in later years to be the official symbol of the Scuderia Ferrari Racing team since 1929 and later Ferrari Automobiles.

He was killed while out on a straffing run in June 1918.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 39: Gabriel Guerin” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on July 1, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Back 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 September 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of the ninth ranking French Ace—Gabriel Guerin!

Sous Lieutenant Gabriel Fernand Charles Guerin was credited with 23 confirmed victories—including five of which he shared—and a reported 10 more unconfirmed. Most of these victories were while a pilot in SPA 15. As we said he was France’s ninth ranking Ace in the First World War and was awarded the Legion d’honneur, Médaille Millitaire and the Croix de Guerre with 15 palms and two bronze stars!

Sadly, Guerin died when the aircraft he was piloting, a SPAD VII, spun out of control and plunged to the ground soon after take-off near Mont l’Eveque on the 1st of August 1918. He was 26.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 38: Carl Bolle” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on June 17, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Back 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 August 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of the last leader of the Jagdstaffel Boelcke—Carl Bolle!

Carl Bolle started his military career in the cavalry, later transfering to the air service. During his time in the air service he is credited with 36 victories rising to the rank of Oberleutnant and transfered to command Jasta 2—the very squadron Oswald Boelcke had commanded.

After the war, Bolle became a flying instructor and in the 1920’s director of German Air Transport School—the Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule. Subssequently helping in the covert training of pilots for the Luftwaffe with which he served as an advisor during the second World War, reporting to Hermann Goring himself!

Carl Bolle passed away on the 9th of October 1955 in his native city of Berlin.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 37: Lt. Col. Barker” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on June 3, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Back 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 July 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of the most decorated Canadian Ace—Lt. Col. William Barker, V.C., D.S.O. M.C.!

William George “Billy” Barker was a fighter pilot credited with 53 aerial victories during WWI, but is mostly remembered for the epic, single-handed combat on October 27th 1918 against some 60 German aircraft that won him the Victoria Cross.

After the war he joined Canada’s other Ace named Billy—William Bishop in an ill-conceived commercial aviation venture in Toronto, but in June 1922 he accepted a commission in the Canadian Air Force and was briefly the acting director of the RCAF.

Barker was fatally injured when his new two-seater Fairchild aircraft he was demonstrating crashed at Rockcliffe air station, Ottawa. He was 35.

As a bonus—here is the feature on Lt. Col. William Barker from Clayton Knight’s newspaper feature Hall of Fame of the Air which ran Sundays from 1935 to 1940. This strip is courtesy of Stephen Sherman’s acepilots.com which has a large collection of HFA strips that his father had clipped and saved at the time.

Great stuff!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 36: Lt. Col. Harold E Hartney” by Eugene Frandzen

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

Back 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 June 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of Rickenbacker’s Commander—Lt. Col. Harold E. Hartney!

Harold Evans Hartney was born in Ontario, Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Militia serving with the Saskatoon 105th Fusiliers before requesting a transfer to the Royal Flying Corp after a chance meeting with William Bishop. He flew with No. 20 Squadron RFC and scored six confirmed victories before being shot down in February of 1917—he claims by Manfred von Richtofen. After he recovered he ws promoted to the rank of Major and assumed the command of the American 27th Aero Squadron.

Hartney became an American citizen in 1923 and penned a number of books, foremost of which was the autobiographical Up and At ‘Em.

He passed away from heart disease October 5th, 1947 in Washington, DC. at the age of 57. Lt. Col. Harold E. Hartney is buried in Arlington National Cemetary.

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