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“A Fighting Man” by William E. Poindexter

Link - Posted by David on February 15, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from William E. Poindexter. Poindexter’s work appeared frequently in the supporting pages of the air pulps of the 1930’s. Here, he gives us the tale of Little Ossie Timpkins—who asked nothing more than to be considered a fighting man. But due to his stature, found himself on terminal kitchen duty—until he thinks he found a way to prove to himself and the others that he truly is “A Fighting Man!” From the pages of the May 1932 Flying Aces.

Little Ossie Timpkins, K.P., asked for nothing more—to die in a blaze of glory—to ride flaming wings down the steep skies to a fiery grave! But they wouldn’t let him into the air—wouldn’t let him prove that he was even as every last one of them—a fighting man!

“Lufbery Becomes an Ace” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on January 7, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present “Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”—The story behind Paul Bissell’s April 1933 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the May 1932 cover Bissell presents the moment in the battle of Mauser raid where Raoul Lufbery became an ace!

Lufbery Becomes an Ace

th_FA_3205“PROCEED to their objective, the Mauser Munition Works at Oberndorf; there drop their bombs at points most destructive to the enemy positions; and then return to their home airdromes.”

So read the orders for October 12, 1916, at all Allied airdromes located back of the front line and south of Verdun. Orders of Brass Hats, “—and then return”! What a chance! With the objective one hundred and fifty kilometers inside the enemy lines and the sky filled with Boche. Well, anyway, it would be a great show, and at least one pilot smiled, thinking that tomorrow might bring death, but most surely would bring the opportunity of becoming an Ace.

This was Sous-Lieutenant Raoul Lufbery, of the Lafayette Escadrille, with four official victories to his credit, who, with three companions, Lieutenants Masson, de Laage and Prince, had been ordered to fly guard patrol for the bombing planes and protect them from attack.

Arriving at the appointed rendezvous, they saw a sight then strange to any eye. Perhaps the largest concentration of air forces the world had yet seen was spread below them. Farnums, Breguets, Caudrons, Sopwiths and Nieuports, almost every type of plane yet developed by the Allies for work at the Front, was in this huge flying armada, which would strike desperately at one of the main centers of German munition supplies.

Turning east, the whole group passed through a terrific archie bombardment, but it was not until they neared Oberndorf that the real show began. Here the Germans seemed to come from all directions. A general alarm had been spread, and every available German ship had been pressed into service.” Single-seated scouts, double-seaters, and even big three-placers, planes seldom seen on the Front at that time, were massed ahead of the advancing bombers.

The larger enemy ships would charge in, boldly maneuvering to bring their swivel guns into play, only to find the sky suddenly raining lead as Nieuports and Sopwiths dived headlong from the blue, their guns blazing in defense of their bombers. Then flashes of crimson and black, as Albatrosses and Fokkers and Pfalzes attacked fiercely, striving to gain that deadly blind spot underneath the tail of the slow-moving bomber, or twisting and squirming to evade the fire of some Nieuport, and, by some quick renversement, bring the tri-colored cocarde full in their sights.

IT WAS from such a mêlée that Lufbery, pulling out for an instant to clear a jam of his gun, saw a German go down in flames before the withering fire of Norman Prince.

“Yeow! Number one for the Lafayettes! Good old Nimmie! Now for number two!” And he pushed his stick over. But that dive was never to be finished. At that instant a sudden impact in his cockpit told him that a German was on his tail. Instinctively he yanked his stick back hard against his chest. Up he zoomed, his head twisted around to find his enemy.

There it was, a huge three-place Aviatik, with three guns, and all of them’ blazing at him. A flip of his ailerons—a kick of his rudder—then down hard on his stick, and in an instant he was away from the fire of the Boche. A sharp climbing bank would, he thought, bring him back under the tail of the larger ship, but here the German pilot, an old hand at the game, was too crafty to be caught. Banking up sharply on his right wing he exposed Lufbery again to the open fire of his three gunners.

This was entirely too hot a spot to stay in, and Lufbery turned the nose of his little Nieuport sharply away, out of the line of fire, climbing rapidly to gain altitude, from which he might dive down on the larger machine. As he turned, a flash of red went by, followed by a streak of silver—de Laage on the tail of a Boche!

Now, below him, Lufbery could see the three-seated Aviatik, the gunners all set for his attack. Over he nosed his ship and hurled down at the enemy, but at the same instant the big plane banked around and he overshot his mark. In a fury he twisted back in a sharp renversement, this time approaching the plane from the most dangerous position, open to the fire of the gunners.

But the Germans were square in his sights, and straight on he flew, feeling a thrill as the pulsing guns answered to the squeeze of his hand on the stick. He could feel the German bullets spattering his plane. Another instant, and he turned to avoid a crash, just as the huge Aviatik, the pilot dead, slipped crazily off on one wing. A telltale whisper of smoke, and then a burst of flame as it headed down to where falling chimneys and bursting roofs showed that the Allied bombers had
found their objective with fearful accuracy.

THAT was one hundred and fifty kilometers inside the German lines, and it meant one hundred and fifty kilometers of scrapping to win their way back through. The Germans took their toll. However, it had been a great show, and very successful from the Allied viewpoint. Much havoc had been wrought to the munitions center, and the Allies, too, had taken their toll in German ships. Three more victories were to the credit of the Lafayette Escadrille, for de Laage had brought down his German also.

A happy reunion awaited them, had not Fate here taken a hand. The four pilots, blown slightly off their course, and running short of gasoline, were forced to land at the French field of Corcieux, a field strange to all of them. It was almost dark as they eased their ships down, and Prince, unaware of some high tension wires strung across one end of the field, crashed into them as he glided in. With characteristic courage he refused to have his comrades move him until flares had been lighted to prevent some other pilot crashing as he had done.

Two days later he died in the hospital. The famous Mauser raid was history. Lufbery was an Ace, and Norman Prince an international hero.

The Ships on The Cover
“Lufbery Becomes an Ace”
Flying Aces, May 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“Death’s Lament” by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 23, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday with four of his pulp stories—one each Friday.

Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

To close out the fiction portion of our Barrett celebrations we have “Death’s Lament”—the story of Billy North who left home to fight in the war to avenge his brother’s death, but is stuck flying in the observation squadron where they fight the war with pencils rather than bullets!

In the crucible of duty-tortured skies was welded the stuff of which fighters are made—for only in the thunder of red-eyed guns could Angus play his death music for a friend.

From the May 1932 War Aces, it’s William E. Barrett’s “Death’s Lament!”

Some historical background was included with the story:

“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.)

“The Westland Wagtail” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on March 9, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the twelfth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war plwves in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3205THE PAINTING on the cover this month lacks two things—movement and noise. The only way to show movement is by the speed lines which stream out behind the planes. As for the noise, you will just have to imagine it. The three diving Germans with motors wide open are sending forth a deafening roar which gives the effect of a musical note when heard at a distance. The American ship, upside down as it zooms over, is emitting a high-pitched, reverberating and ear-splitting shriek. It drowns the bark of two Vicker machine guns which are pouring a stream of hot lead into the nearest Boche. Now that you have stuffed cotton in your ears we’ll go on with the story.

The action took place near Chateau-Thierry on July 2, 1918. The pilot of the American ship was First Lieutenant Alfred A. Grant of the 27th aero squadron. He was out on a patrol with several other officers when he encountered an enemy formation of nine planes. During the combat which followed, Lt. Grant became separated from the others and was immediately set upon by three of the Jerries.

He led these three Boches all over the sky, his comrades having vanished. Whenever opportunity presented itself he would turn and pour hot fire into a German ship. By skilful maneuvering he managed to keep out of serious trouble.

He kept the three Germans on the qui-vive however, and they found it impossible to corner him. Suddenly Lt. Grant broke off the fight and started on a bee-line for home. This was what the Germans wanted and hoped for. They gathered together in a group and dove after him.

On the other hand this was what Lt. Grant had hoped they would do. He allowed them to approach to within range and then zooming up and over he let go a withering blast of machine-gun fire straight into the Jerry ships as they streaked by under him.
One Boche continued his dive into eternity and the others turned and fled for home. For this action Lt. Grant was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

At first glance you may th_BA_3109think the German ships are Pfalz scouts of the type shown on the cover last September. If you have that cover compare the two and you will see how and where they differ. The machines illustrated on this cover are Albatros D.V.’s.

The Albatros biplanes were largely used in the War, at first as rather slow two-seater fighting machines, and as reconnaissance types. At the end of 1916 there came a very small Albatros single-seater with a Benz or Mercedes engine of some 175 h.p. This little ship did much damage to the Allies’ airplanes, until it was met and defeated by still faster British and French machines.

The speed of this ship was between 120 and 130 m.p.h. at its best height. This was the type known as the DIII. The DV was essentially the same as the DIII with no outward difference in appearance. There was, however, an improvement in speed and maneuverability. The DIII and DV were speedy looking ships and beautifully stream-lined. They have two Spandau machine guns firing through the propellers.

There was also an Albatros DXI, quite radical in design. The body instead of being rounded was box-shaped and for no apparent reason the rudder and fin were advanced. Between the wings it had a single instead of the V strut. As the bottom wing was much shorter than the upper, this strut inclined outward, and did away with all wiring. There was also a two-seater Albatros and a two-engined bomber.

But this month we concern ourselves with the blue ship flown by the American which is a new and seldom heard of type, the Westland “Wagtail.”

It was designed in answer to a general demand for a fast, quick-climbing single-seater fighter, and its purpose was for high altitude fighting. It met the demand, for it could climb to its service ceiling of 17,000 ft. in 17 minutes—a thousand feet a minute, which was fast climbing in those days and hardly surpassed even today.

The pilot’s view upward and downward, was very good, as more than half the center section was left open. The engine cowling differs from the accepted type of the day and has more or less of a modern appearance. It had a span of 23′ 2″ and an overall length of 18′ 11″.

The Westland Wagtail
“The Westland Wagtail” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (May 1932)