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My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Ivan Kosakov

Link - Posted by David on June 28, 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 Russian Imperial Flying Corps Ace Captain Ivan Kosakov’s most thrilling sky fight!

Captain Ivan Kosakov was already a great war hero when lie transferred from the cavalry to the flying corps. After a short course of just two weeks in flying school, he was sent up to the front again as a bombardment pilot. But flying heavy, unwieldy bombers was too slow and tedious work for him. He was transferred to a single-seater fighting squadron after two months with the bombers. It was then that his remarkable record began to grow.

Kosakov never stayed on his side of the lines and waited for the enemy planes to attack him. He flew far behind the Austrian lines and stalked them. It was on one of those long solo patrols into Austria that he and his plane disappeared. Whether he was killed in battle, captured by the enemy, or died in some obscure prison, has never been officially determined. At the time of his disappearance he had run up a score 23 victories, and at one time was the Russian ace of aces. The account below is from his diary.

 

TWO VICTORIES WITH ONE BURST

by Captain Ivan Kosakov, Russian Imperial Flying Corps • Sky Fighters, March 1935

I FEEL good today. I have now to my credit 6 official victories over the enemy. Today I got two and expended the very minimum of ammunition—17 bullets. But one of those two was due to good luck, nothing else. Or maybe, possibly, because I said my prayers faithfully last night?

It happened like this. With three others of my squadron mates I encountered a flight of Austrians at 2000 meters. The Austrian flight spread when we attacked. Three of my mates went after those that banked off to the right. That left me alone to battle the three that banked my way. The enemy took immediate advantage of my predicament. One came at me head-on. Another dove underneath, and the third charged at my rear.

Another Enemy Plane!

I had no time to figure strategy, so plunged blindly for my frontal attacker, the nearest one. Leveling my guns on his radiator I let go with a burst, hoping to damage his engine and put him out of the flight. That is, I pressed my triggers for a burst. But there wasn’t a burst. Sly guns jammed without firing a single shot.

At the same time bullets came clattering through my ship from beneath. I banked steeply, then dived and zoomed. At the top of the zoom I leveled off and cleared my guns. It wasn’t a bad jam, luckily. The three Austrians were still clinging to me, and my mates and the other Austrians had disappeared. I tell you it wasn’t a sweet feeling, but now that my guns were in order I vowed to give my attackers all I had.

I dived to shed an Austrian on my tail whose bullets were spotting holes in ray wings, then zoomed up abruptly, half turned, and found an Austrian plane dead in my sights. I let him have it. Tac-tac! Tac-tac.

No Time for Strategy

Another of the enemy planes swept past behind the one I was firing on at the same instant.

I held my triggers down for a short second or so.

The first plane began to wobble. I released my triggers. It wobbled some more, then slid off sideways, and tumbled into a spin. Then, of all things! I ruddered to chase the other plane. But it had burst into flames! It too, went spinning down, leaving a weaving black smoke trail behind.

I had got both of them with that single burst, in that split second when they lined up together in front of my guns. When I got home I counted the empty loops in my bandoliers. I had used but 17 bullets!

“Sky Fighters, March 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on February 20, 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 March 1935 cover, It’s a battle of the French Deperdussin vs. the German D.F.W.!

The Ships on the Cover

FOR the gunner in the th_SF_3502front pit of the French Deperdussin of 1914-15, take off your hat and cheer lustily. Because that gentleman teetering behind the swirling prop makes the man on the flying trapeze look like a grandmother in a broadbeamed rocking chair.

For the German in the D.F.W. (Deutsche Flugzeug Werke) you can send out a powerful thought wave of sympathy. Possibly he has a Luger on his person, but it would be mighty ineffective against the barrage being sprayed from the muzzle of the Deperdussin’s Lewis gun.

The War Lords Snorted!

In the early war days when airmen of opposing sides waved friendly greetings to each other, machine-guns shooting in the direction in which the plane traveled were not thought of, at least not seriously. In fact the airplane was not taken very seriously. It staggered off the ground with its feeble motor churning the prop. It managed to stay up in the air for a fair length of time, but it was a fragile thing, given to falling apart at most inopportune moments. The war lords snorted when the air enthusiasts suggested that the airplane might some day become a major arm of defense and offense.

Not Exactly the McCoy, But—

“We’ll not live to see that day,” pompously said the brass hats. And they brushed aside all thoughts of these newfangled air toys. They concentrated on the cavalry, deeper dugouts and plain and fancy trenches. Then along came a few planes with machine-guns in the back pit, a pusher or two lumbered along with a front gun. Those planes with the most effective armament were capable of conquering or evading the opponents’ airmen and flew right over those brand new trenches and fancy dugouts. They were able to direct their artillery fire so effectively that the trenches and dugouts were very quickly obliterated.

About this time the reversal of feeling towards aircraft was complete. Any and all kinds of planes were thrown together and flung into the air. One way and another was tried to shoot forward. The Deperdussin system was one of France’s early efforts, and although it was not exactly the McCoy it was, for its time, a real step forward.

Although the D.F.W. has no front gun it has features of stability, speed and power which the French monoplane lacks. This type of D.F.W. at the beginning of the war had shattered all existing cross country flights. It was designed by Cecil Kny and was Germany’s first full streamlined plane. The strut bracing between the fuselage and the upper wing is practically the same as the famous Sopwith one and one-half strutter. The covering of the in-terplane struts and the undercarriage struts were helpful evidently in appearance only, because later models of this ship left the struts exposed.

Aviation in War Is Established!

The wing bracing of the Deperdussin seems complicated but today some of the small monoplane jobs use about the same stunt. Lateral control of the Deperdussin was obtained by warping the wing tips, which, of course is not as effective as aileron control.

Being speedier than the Deperdussin, the German D.F.W.’s pilot flipped his ailerons and barged out of the Frenchman’s range. He took home a riddled plane and a report which drove the German designers of front gun fire ahead at fever pitch. Nothing stood still during the war and it was not long before other ways of lead spraying appeared. Aviation in war was definitely established; a thing of power and effectiveness with which future wars will not only be fought, but be won.

“Horse Flyers” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on September 25, 2015 @ 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—Yes it’s the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa himself—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham! It was a strange chain of circumstances that pulled Phineas Pinkham right out of France, towed him across the Channel, and finally deposited him in a very bucolic spot in Merrie England.

Yoicks! Tallyho and tantivy! Here is Phineas Carbuncle Pinkham riding to ‘ounds—believe it or not—in plane! But, as Phineas says, “It’s more fun to be the fox!”

“The Dynamite Monster” by Frederick Blakeslee

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

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. This time Mr. Blakeslee looks into the possiblity of a giant bomb that needed to be carried aloft by two planes! From the March 1935 Dare-Devil Aces, it’s “The Dynamite Monster!”

th_DDA_3503I MET Ed in the Savoy Grill in London. We had not seen each other since I had been in England three years before, so naturally we sat down, ordered drinks and spent the rainy afternoon talking over old times.

Finally. “I suppose you’re over digging up ideas, what?” he asked.

“Among other things,” I answered. “Have you any ideas around loose?” and I explained what I was after.

“Inventions is it?” he said. “Well, I don’t know of any unless—”

“Unless what?” I urged.

“Oh nothing, I was just thinking of something I heard some time ago, but you’re after authentic material, aren’t you?”

I told him I was.

“There you are,” he returned. “I can’t prove it because Bill Totling told it and someone told Bill, or so he says, and you’d have to trace the story to the original source.”

“As long as the story had a source, that’s all the proof I require, so tell it.”

“All right,” he began, “but keep this in mind, personally I think Bill was pulling our legs. It was at the annual binge of the W.B.C. (I have called it the W B C (War Birds Club) which is not its real name.—Author.) Bill said that late in 1918 we were experimenting with a bomb to drop on Berlin that was to be carried by two airplanes. The bomb was to be slung between the ships by cables. At the proper place it was to be released by electricity from one of the ships.”

“I’d like to hear more of the details,” I said,

“Why don’t you look up Bill and ask him?”

I thanked Ed and we parted. I found that Bill lived on Taviton Street which was near my hotel so that very night I called on him. He remembered the story.

“Sid Stanley told it to me,” he said to my question, “Who told it to Sid I don’t know, it’s one of those yarns that has been told to so many people that without a doubt it has been changed in the telling, but I have reason to think that it has some foundation in fact.”

“That’s all the proof I need,” I said, “perhaps you can answer some questions. What kind of ships were to be used?”

“That I don’t know. They experimented with deHavilands.”

“Why deHavilands?”

“I suppose because they were easier to handle in the take-off. The idea was to train the pilots on the lighter ship before handling the heavier planes.”

“I see. Well, how did they take off?”

“The bomb was on a carriage. The ships took up position on either side of the bomb, dragged it between them, rose in the air and gradually took up the load of the bomb lifting it off the carriage and there you are. Sid said they actually got in the air with one too,”

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Dynamite Monster: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(March 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 33: Lieut. Scaroni” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on March 18, 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 March 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of Italy’s First-Ranking Living Ace (at the time of publication (second over-all for Italy during WWI)—Lieutenant Silvio Scaroni!

Scaroni is credited with 26 victories and an additional six unconfirmed! He is beat by the great Francesco Baracca who is credited with 34 victories, but Baracca did not survive the war. Scaroni did and went on to help establish a flying school for the Chinese Air Force at Loyang and set up an aircraft plant to produce Fiat fighters and Savoia-Marchetti bombers under license.

When WWII came along, it was General Scaroni who commanded the Italian air forces against France at the outset of Italy’s involvement and later transfered to Sicily in charge of units fighting against Malta. On September 8th, 1943 Scaroni decided to stop his war and hid in a small town near Garda lake until the end of the war. He entered the reserve after the war ending his career in 1958 with the rank of “Generale di Squadra Aerea.”

He passed away on 16 February 1977. He was 83 years old.