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“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 18: Lieut. Alan McLeod” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on March 1, 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 only three Canadian Aces to be awarded the Victoria Cross in WWI—Lieutenant Alan McLeod!

Alan Arnett McLeod was born near Winnipeg in Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada to Scottish emigrant parents on April 20th, 1899. Although he was only fifteen when England declared war, he tried to enlist every year until he was finally accepted by the R.F.C. in April 1917. He won his wings quickly—soloing after only three hours flying time. Graduating after completing 50 hours flying experience, McLeod shipped overseas in August 1917.

Alan McLeod was a very tall man with a boyish appearance which soon earned him the nickname, ‘Babe’. He was allocated to B-Flight piloting an Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 two-seater biplane and soon demonstrated he was a skilled pilot who was not afraid to take risks. Indeed, within a month of being in the Squadron he downed a Fokker Dr.1 and subsequently an Observation Balloon which earned him the honour of being mentioned in dispatches.

But it was his most thrilling sky fight on March 27th 1918 when he and observer Lt. Arthur Hammond had just downed an enemy triplane when they were set upon by eight more planes. They were able to down three more before a bullet pieced their gas tank and flames erupted. Although he and Hammond were badly injured, McLeod managed to keep the flames off of them by steeply side slipping the plane to a crash landing in No-Man’s-Land where he managed to carry Hammond to comparative safety before collapsing.

Lt.x Alan McLeod was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions, but sadly passed away several months later when he contracted Spanish Influenza while recuperating.

(Editor’s Note: Although Flying Aces has gone to a bedsheet sized publication with this issue, the feature is still being done in the two page format of the pulp-sized issues. As such, we have reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)

“Jinx Peelot” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on January 20, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

WE’RE back with another exciting air adventure from the pages of the pulp magazines of the 1930’s. This week we have a tale from the pen of that Canadian stalwart—Harold F. Cruickshank. Cruickshank was a prolific writer. He wrote all manner os stories for the pulps—war, aviation, westerns, even animal stories!

Cruickshank gives us a tale of Sam Tenby, a young Peelot with a jinx that may be sending him back to Issoudun unless he can break it.

Every Time Sam Tenby Went Up in the Air to Chase the Boche, Something Went Wrong— Until. . . .

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant David Putnam

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 2016 @ 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 Lieutenant David Putnam’s most thrilling sky fight when he scored five victories in one flight!

Lieutenant Putnam was one of the American flying aces who saw service under two flags. He began his career with the French before America entered the war. At first he served with the Ambulance Corps, but was later transferred to aviation, where he established a reputation as one of the most daring flyers on the front.

As late as July, 19I8, he was still flying with the French, but transferred to the American Forces in August. He was officially credited with 10 victories, but his actual record was over twice that number. Confirmations for his victories were hard to get, for he always flew alone and operated far within the German lines. But flyers who flow in the same squadron with him acknowledged his ability and superiority. The account, given below was secured from him when he was still a Sergeant with the French Flying Corps.

 

FIVE VICTORIES IN ONE FIGHT

by Lieutenant David Putnam • Sky Fighters, November 1933

My most thrilling air fight is hard to pick. All of them are thrilling in one way or another. Some maybe more than others. I hesitate to choose the most thrilling, so I shall give an account of my most successful flight.

That is the time I knocked down five Boches in a single fight. It was during the big push of the Germans on the Marne on June 5th, 1918. I was still flying with the French, and was cruising alone far behind the enemy lines in the region of Fere-en-Tardenois, when I glimpsed five, six, seven—yes, ten black specks slightly above the horizon line four or five kilometers farther in.

I circled slowly and watched the specks while they grew and took shape. As they approached closer to me I saw that they were German Albatrosses flying in layer formation. For an instant I debated with myself whether to run for home or stay and attack. The odds of ten to one were against me. I came to a snap decision, poured on all throttle, and raced right for their midst.

I figured that my sheer audacity would momentarily disrupt them. In that moment I might have a chance to get in some telling blows.

I kited right for the middle of the formation, aiming to get my plane between the ten enemy ships in such a position that they couldn’t shoot at me without danger of shooting down their own comrades.

My tactics were successful.

The Albatrosses spread and let me in their net; then they all turned as one and came in at me with guns blazing. It was what I wanted. I banked tightly, letting the bullets spray around me until the Albatrosses came in very close. The German guns suddenly stilled, however, when they saw their tracers streaming perilously close to their own comrades’ planes.

That was the moment I was awaiting. I opened up with both guns. One Albatross fell immediately. It was my seventh victory. I banked quickly and lined on another. It burst into flames.

The Germans began to scatter now, darting every way, up and down and to both sides, to get out of their own lines of fire. I followed two who wheeled away from me, got my sights on one, pressed the Bowdains. It fell off quickly. I lined the other instantaneously, still holding my triggers down. The plane burst into flames. Both went down together.

My slugs couldn’t seem to miss. I was just lucky, I guess. I felt a crackle behind my back. I turned my head quickly, saw a Boche hanging on my tail and peppering me with lead. His tracer was close, too close!

I dived, then reversed.

Again I was lucky. I came out right under his belly and gave him both guns. He fell off in a slow spin. It was my fifth victory in that single dog-fight. The Germans must have had enough. The five Albatrosses turned and ran away.

I let them go, certain that I couldn’t rely on sheer luck any longer; for sheer luck it most surely was. I looked at the clock on my dash as I kited for home. The whole flight had lasted only about eighteen or twenty minutes!

But when I got back, I found that only one of my victories had been observed. It was the only one I got credit for—officially. Yet, what did it matter? Actual results are what count. Whether it is a matter of record or not is unimportant.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Capitaine Georges Madon

Link - Posted by David on November 16, 2016 @ 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 week we have Capitaine Georges Madon, another great French Ace, telling of his most thrilling sky fight!

Capitaine Georges Madon was one of the most famous of the French flying aces. Along with Guynemer, Navarro and Nungesser, he furnished the spectacular flying news that filled the newspapers in the early days of the World War. He was credited with over forty victories and only the great Guynemer topped him in the list of French aces during his time on the battle front.

Cool, courageous and audacious, he kited the battle skies, making short shrift of all the enemy flyers who were unfortunate enough to encounter his specially gunned Nieuport fighter. Yet, when asked to describe his most thrilling air battle, he hesitated some moments before giving an account of the air collision described below. Such a collision three miles above the earth was something that was feared by every front line pilot.

 

AN EIGHTEEN THOUSAND FOOT FALL

by Capitaine Georges Madon • Sky Fighters, November 1933

I was flying high over the front lines. The altimeter showed 6,000 meters to be exact. I looked down over one side of my lower left wing and saw a Boche. I dived down to attack him immediately. He didn’t see me until my tracer began to crackle through his fuselage. Then he maneuvered quickly to avoid my charge. But he must have been a new pilot for he did the wrong thing. He zoomed right up into the path of my Nieuport.

There was a thunderous crash, then all went still as death. My right lower wing was torn off. The enemy plane was completely pulverized. In some manner we fell apart as we started to drop. The minutes that followed gave me some thrills, I tell you. I looked at my sick plane. The propeller was broken. Struts were torn out. Guy wires fluttered back in the growing air stream. The wing that had torn off fluttered down beside me. All was in ruins, I saw that.

But it was the atrocious, horrid thought of the fall, which was bound to end soon with a smash on the ground, that set my nerves tingling and put my mind to work.

The wreck of my plane dropped nose down for several hundred meters. Then it went into a slow spin that lasted for about 4,000 meters.

I moved my control stick, convulsively, frantically, but uselessly. The control wires had sheared away. A sickening sensation gripped me. My mind went aflame with multiple thoughts. In turn, I seemed to review in my memory, scenes of my family, of my duty in the chasse squadrons, of my captivity in Germany, of my escape, and a thousand other things. One’s memory works fast at such moments. But what was co-existent with these scenes and towered above all else was my fear of falling among the Boches.

Suddenly, by some miracle of fate, the spinning ceased. I had done nothing with my controls. Nevertheless, my sick plane slowly but surely righted itself. And miracle of miracles! It headed right toward our own lines.

I ponder with my heart still in my chest. Perhaps I shall escape death? I’ll fracture my legs! I’ll break my back! I shall surely become an invalid—but I shall live!

I shall live! Words of hope, divine words that often were, alas, the last ones faintly uttered by so many of my comrades. A shadow crosses my vision. I look, barely see some poplar trees. I try to steer through them, hit them in order to break the impact of my fall. But the stick dangles loosely in my grip. The rudder bar is pressureless beneath my feet.
I shoot beyond the poplar trees. A darker shadow looms. It is the ground!

There is a terrific crackling. A sinister thud. Flying debris. A rude jolt and jar. It is the end!

But no! From the tangled heap I succeed in extricating myself. And I had only broken my finger!

“Sky Fighters, November 1933″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on October 3, 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 November 1933 cover, It’s the S.E.5 vs the Phalz D-3!

THE ships pictured on this month’s th_SF_3311 cover are the S.E.5 and the Pfalz D-3.

The Pfalz was a single-seater chaser manufactured by the Flugzeugwerke firm founded by two famous pioneers of the German aviation industry, the Everbusch Brothers.

Germany built many types of planes during the World War. The Pfalz was one of her outstanding successes. Its motor was a 160 h.p. Mercedes, capable of swinging the plane through the air at 102½ m.p.h. when at a height of 10,000 feet. Low down its 160 horses could pull it along at a slightly increased speed. It was stable laterally, but unstable directionally and longitudinally. It answered to its controls obediently, but always had a tendency to keep turning to the left in flight.

The pilot from his office gets a good view of all that’s going on in all directions except where the top wing interferes with his vision.

The heavy Mercedes made this ship nose-heavy and many an ambitious German pilot got into plenty of trouble in putting his Pfalz into a dive and keeping it there too long. He had a difficult job in yanking the front end of his sky steed into level flight. He also had to watch his step when landing or he was likely to roll up in a ball.

The single-bay “V” struts were probably adopted from the early Nieuport design. The Germans, instead of connecting the lower part of the “V” placed a short member against the lower wing, hoping to get additional strength and to be able to anchor the bracing wires somewhat apart.

Two ships coming together in the air usually means curtains for both. Boelke, the famous German Ace, was killed when his plane was barely grazed by a ship being flown by one of his pupils. Many other airmen have cracked up in this way.

In the picture on the cover it is a toss up whether the Allied pilot will get his ship down safely. His undercarriage has snapped clear of its moorings. If he can keep control of his ship for a split second, he will be able to clear the tail of the German ship and possibly bring his own plane down for a pancake landing. If he can find two trees with a gap between them of about twenty feet he can sheer off his wings and slow up his smash. In the case of the German in his wing-wrecked Pfalz there is not a doubt of his end. He is through.

The S.E.5 single-seater scout (the S.E. stands for Scouting Experimental) was about the smoothest job in its class }hat the British turned out. It was a product of the Royal Aircraft establishment. It was powered by a Hispano-Suiza 220 h.p. motor. It could do around 120 miles an hour. The downward visibility was improved by cutting away a portion of the lower plane close to the body. A Lewis Vickers gun was parked on the left side of the hood in front of the pilot. A Lewis gun was mounted on a track arrangement above the top wing. The pilot was able to pull the butt end of his gun down till he could shoot at a vertical angle at any ship which got above him. This gave him a decided advantage over the single seaters of the enemy’s ships.

The dihedral of the wings was noticeably greater than any other British ship of its time. Landing, the pilot had to be mighty careful, as did the Pfalz pilot in his ship—both ships were nose-heavy.

Major Jimmie McCudden, the British Ace, who downed fifty-three enemy planes before a Spandau bullet carrying his initials snuffed out his glorious career, swore by the S.E.5s. He claimed, as did other of his brother pilots, that it was the finest ship produced during the war. It could hold its own in any maneuver that a Boche ship might force it into and nine times out of ten come out top dog.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, November 1933 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Westland N-17 Seaplane and a German submarine!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Oswald Boelke

Link - Posted by David on September 21, 2016 @ 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 it’s one of Germany’s greatest air fighters—Captain Oswald Boelke!

All the heroes of the flying forces were not on the Allied side. The enemy also had its heroic figures.

Captain Boelke was among the greatest of the enemy air fighters. He reigned supreme until his death; then Baron von Richtofen came along to carry on where Boelke left off.

The German air fighting tactics varied somewhat from those of the Allies, tending more towards mass attack, emulating in that respect the German system of arms to attack in force with superior number, For that reason accounts of German air fights are not usually as spectacular or glamorous as accounts of Allied fights. Boelke’s account of his fight with a dead pilot, however, borders on the realms of fiction, and could hardly he believed if it did not come from such a practical-minded, stolid figure as was the German flying Captain.

 

THE PHANTOM PILOT

by Captain Oswald Boelke • Sky Fighters, November 1933

ON THE 27th of September (1916) I attacked with my patrol a flight of six English single-seaters. I knocked down one of them, and immediately picked on another. But as I whirled into the second attack, the first machine, whose pilot I thought I had killed, having seen my tracer stream right into his face, made for me. I tried to escape the charge, but nothing I did seemed to avail. The enemy plane glued right on my tail. I was very much surprised at his tenacity.

After all, I was certain that I had killed the English pilot minutes before, yet here he was, still flying around in a circle stubbornly. The fact was mysterious indeed. I flew over very close to the enemy machine to investigate, and saw that the pilot was prostrate over the gunwales of his cockpit. He certainly seemed dead.

Sure, then, that the plane could do me no harm, I left it and banked off, to tackle another Englishman whom my comrades had rounded up for me. I got him without difficulty, sending him down in a slow spin.

Then the mysterious plane with the dead pilot at the controls veered around and headed toward me.

And what a strange thing! It crept up to within fifty meters of my plane. Next thing I knew, a stream of tracer spewed from its nose. The bullets rattled through my fuselage. I nosed down to escape the slugs. The plane shot overhead, so I banked around and slid down after the spinning Englishman. When the Englishman crashed in a shell crater, the other plane seemed suddenly to straighten out and scoot for its own lines.

I followed and watched, saw it land easily in an open space behind its own lines. When it stopped rolling, soldiers from the trenches came out and pulled the pilot from the pit. They laid him out on the ground and covered him with a blanket, face and all. One of the soldiers crossed himself. I knew then my own conclusions were confirmed. The pilot was really dead. But the way that plane maneuvered with a dead hand on the control stick was positively uncanny.

It had me in a cold sweat. I finally figured out that the plane was rigged so perfectly that it really flew itself.

That it seemed to tail me was pure coincidence. As for the slugs that poured from its nose, they were merely the result of a last convulsive muscular movement of the dying pilot. But I tell you, one experience like that is enough! I would rather fight ten daring, darting Englishmen all at once, than do solitary battle with a ghost plane with dead hands at the controls.

“The Caterpillar Ace” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 20, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. Blakeslee illustrates an incident in the career of that great German Ace—Ernst Udet! His life was previously featured by Alden McWilliams in his “They Had What it Takes”, but here Blakeslee features the battle that led Udet to use a parachute for the first time, thus becoming “The Caterpillar Ace!”

th_DDA_3311THE COVER this month illustrates an incident in the sky adventures of one of Germany’s great war aces—Ernst Udet. There is one slight discrepancy from fact in the painting. The Allied ship on the cover is an R.E.8, whereas Udet was engaged in combat with a Bristol Fighter. When the story was first told me the two planes were described as a Fokker triplane and an R.E.8. Later on—after the canvas was painted and just before this magazine went to press—I discovered the error, but it was too late to remedy it then. Outside of this, however, the picture depicts a great battle climax as it actually occurred in war skies.

You will notice that the German pilot is wearing a parachute. Ernst Udet is the only war-time pilot to escape from a wrecked ship in a parachute—thus having the distinction of being the original member of the Caterpillar Club.

The event was remarkable since, on the day this happened, Udet was wearing a parachute for the first time and against his will. He had been ordered to do so as an experiment. Sighting a Bristol Fighter, he maneuvered onto its tail and when only about a dozen feet away opened fire. His tracers tacked a scam up the Bristol’s back into the gunner’s pit; the gunner slumped over, apparently dead.

Udet’s speed carried him beyond the Bristol. Careful not to give the .pilot chance for a shot at him, he swung around, again on its tail. As he came in close, holding his fire until he should be in perfect position, his eyes widened with horror. For the gunner—supposedly dead—was dragging himself upright, his face a mass of blood; swinging his guns around, he opened fire at point-blank range.

Before the astonished German ace could gather his wits, there was a rendering crash. His upper wing carried away—was shot away, rather—snapping the struts, and pulling the second and third wings with it. A split second later, the wingless fuselage began its plunge to earth.

It was then Udet remembered the unwanted bulk strapped to his back. Well, he might just as well try it. He would die anyway! So he leaped clear. The parachute, to his astonishment, opened and he floated easily to earth, landing in German territory. The pilot of the Bristol had been watching it all. He now came down low over where Udet had landed. The German waved his hand and the Bristol flew away south.

Udet fought under a lucky star. Sometime later, while flying a Fokker D-VII, he was rammed by a fire-eating Camel pilot and he crashed to earth, but was not severely injured.

Ernst Udet is Germany’s leading surviving ace, credited with sixty-two victories. He was respected by friend and foe alike for his sportsmanship in combat. Recently he came to the United States and flew for the movies. He is responsible for the really beautiful air shots in such movies as “The White Hell of Pitz Palu” and “Storm Over Mount Blanc.” Last summer he spent in Greenland working on the movie “S.O.S. Iceberg.” He is one of the most masterly stunt pilots in the world and is one of the few surviving aces who has not lost his cunning.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Caterpillar Ace: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (November 1933)

Check back again. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations.

“The Spy in the Ointment” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by Bill on March 16, 2010 @ 9:53 pm in

When they asked for volunteers to fly that spy mission, Abe answered because he couldn’t sit down. It took another spy to convince him that medals were not always granted for bravery.

“One Blue Flare” by O. B. Myers

Link - Posted by Bill on March 4, 2010 @ 11:02 am in

When the Blue Flare tore through the skies, no pilot ever failed to answer that signal for help. But sometimes someone answers it who shouldn’t. Then a baited trap is the only answer.

“Bomb Voyage” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by Bill on December 29, 2009 @ 11:17 pm in

That idea Phineas had for trapping half the German Air Force was good. G.H.Q. liked it. Even Major Rufus Garrity took to it. Oh, yes, there was a catch. Half the German Air Force had to fall for it, too.

“Without Benefit of Bullets” by Major George Fielding Eliot

Link - Posted by Bill on August 1, 2008 @ 2:43 pm in

Pat Magee didn’t believe in ghosts, but how else could he explain the German two seater that landed on the Allied tarmac with empty cockpits. His curiosity had gotten him in trouble before, and now it was about to again.