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“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.)

“The Junkers Biplane” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on April 20, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the eighteenth 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 planes 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.

th_BA_3211THIS is the story of a combat in which three German ships were brought down by one American flyer, without a shot being fired by either side. The cover shows how it was done.

A few days before this combat occurred, the American had lost his closest friend. The two men had grown up together in the same town, had enlisted together and had managed to stick together until the day one of them had been killed. His life had come to an end under particularly tragic circumstances, for he had given it for his friend. That friend had sworn vengeance.

On the morning after the funeral, this pilot took the air on an independent patrol, looking for trouble. He encountered no enemy ships and returned. After breakfast he again took off with the same result. That afternoon he resolved to go into Germany and bomb the airdrome of the squadron that had killed his chum.

He arrived over it without opposition except for the inevitable Archie over the lines. There was no ship in sight on the field. He dropped his bombs, doing considerable damage to two hangars and receiving in reply a hot ground fire which did no damage to him whatever. He turned to go back to his airdrome just in time to meet the charge of a Pfalz scout which had approached unobserved. The Boche proved to be as skilled as the American, so that neither gained an advantage over the other in the five or more minutes that the combat lasted. They had both, however, exhausted their ammunition. Finally they waved to one another and departed.

Fortune favored the Yank, for the fight had not attracted any roving Boche. He was no doubt saved by the fact that the squadron of the field over which he had been, was away on some devilment of its own. On his way back, near the lines, he sighted three dots which rapidly approached and soon resolved themselves into two Junkers, escorted by a member of the squadron for which the American had been searching.

This squadron was noted for its savage and ruthless mode of fighting. No quarter was expected of them and no quarter was given. All the Allied outfits in this sector had sworn to exterminate them, but as every man of them was a skillful pilot it proved no easy matter. As a matter of fact the event that finally put an end to this squadron was the death of its leader. True to type, the escort of the Junkers flew ahead to meet the helpless American. On seeing that he had at last met his enemy, the Yank forgot that his ammunition was gone. His only thought was to down this Boche or to die in the attempt.

With rage in his heart he kept on and the two planes came at each other with tremendous speed. As they approached, the American pressed his trigger. Nothing happened, and he remembered with despair his helplessness. It was too late. He could not turn back now.

Strangely, no shots came from the German who dipped just in time to avoid a collision. Then began a series of maneuvers that carried them all over the sky. The American could do nothing but avoid the fire of the German. Both men were evenly matched as to skill and both maneuvered successfully in order to keep out of one another’s range. Had the German known the helpless condition of the American, the fight would have been ended long ago. This, of course, he did not suspect. It was later found that the German’s gun was hopelessly jammed, which explained his failure to fire on the first onslaught.

In the meantime the Junkers had approached and passed. Neither had fired a shot nor made any attempt to join the battle. No explanation has ever been made of their failure to do so. The climax came swiftly. In fact the entire incident happened in less time than it takes to tell it. The two ships, the S.E-5 and the Fokker, got into the maneuver called “chasing tails.” They went round and round, one behind the other, each thinking the other could fire. This tactic of chasing tails by two ships of equal speed and by two pilots of equal skill, could be continued indefinitely unless the circle was broken by another ship. It was effective in preventing one from getting on the other’s tail. Sometimes pilots in this maneuver broke by mutual agreement, by use of signals, each going his own way.

The whirling ships had overtaken the Junkers and had approached dangerously close. In an attempt to break the vicious circle, the Boche dove his ship. As his head was turned, he did not see the leading Junker and crashed at full speed into it. Both fell in a flaming streak, but not before some flying wreckage had shattered the propeller of the following Junker. This ship landed safely in Germany. So three ships were downed without a single shot!

The Junkers Biplane
“The Junkers Biplane” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (November 1932)

 

Blakeslee’s Bombing London

Link - Posted by David on August 9, 2013 @ 12:32 pm in

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. Every one of those covers told a story, and Blakeslee had a page with which to do so. We present Blakeslee’s cover for the November 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces—”Bombing London.”

th_DDA_3211THE COVER shows a night raid on London by a squadron of Gothas—one of the most cruel and useless gestures of the War. The Germans seem to have had the idea that these raids would break the morale of the English people. In that respect they utterly failed, for they made England fighting mad and stimulated recruiting as nothing else could have done. The average Englishman took the raids philosophically. Instead of flocking to the cellars a great many went to the roofs to watch the sport. The following anecdote shows their reaction. In a hotel where the people were on the verge of panic during a raid, one of the guests heard the banging of anti-aircraft guns, put down his paper and said in a loud voice, “Come in!” Everyone laughed and the tension was broken.

However, raids were not jokes. They were horrible, serving no useful military purpose and killing hundreds of non-combattants. Most of the raids were at night, although a few were carried out in broad daylight. One such raid killed 104 people and injured 423 in the congested area around the Liverpool St. Station.

The Germans sometimes paid for these “murder raids.” During one of them, perhaps the greatest that took place over London, forty Gotha machines were used. Six were brought down in combat by anti-aircraft and one as the result of engine trouble.

Because of the many failures of Zeppelins to return from raids on London, the Gotha was designed to take its place. It had a wing span of 77 ft. and was powered by two 260 h.p. Mercedes engines, which gave the ship a speed of 73 m.p.h.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Bombing London: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (November 1932)

We published a small collection of 10 of Blakeslee’s “Story Behind The Cover” features in The Three Mosqitoes: The Thunderbolt Ace which can be ordered from Amazon. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations so check back again…