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My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Adolphe Pegoud

Link - Posted by David on April 19, 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 Lt. Adolphe Pegoud of the French Flying Corp’s most thrilling sky fight!

Adolphe Pegoud was a famous flyer before the war began. In 1913, flying a tiny Bleriot monoplane, he astonished the world by doing a series of intricate air maneuvers. Later, he made an upside down landing, the first and to this day the only aviator deliberately to perform such a stunt.

With Pourpe, Garros, Vedrines, and several others, he made up the first French air squadron to see action in the World War. In those days planes, frail contraptions of wood, linen and wires, were not armed. The pilots usually carried a rifle or shotgun when going aloft, and sometimes darts and hand grenades. Plane to plane fighting was unknown. The crafts were used for scouting. Pegoud changed all this when ho initiated the first air battle. He tells about it in the account below.

 

THE FIRST AIR BATTLE

by Lieutenant Adolphe Pegoud • Sky Fighters, October 1934

WHILE I had always carried arms while on my trips over the Boche lines and many times had passed within fifty or a hundred meters of Taube pilots, I had never thought to try out my marksmanship on the flying targets. But on this day when I was ordered aloft, I decided that I would allow no more Taube pilots to pass me by so nonchalantly. At least, I was going to let them know that there was a war taking place.

And lucky for me, I encountered my first Taube the same day I was filled with that resolve. I met him just beyond the Fortress of Verdun. He was just a speck when I first glimpsed him off to my right, but I ruddered toward him, flying as fast as my machine would carry me. At one hundred meters distance, the Taube pilot stood up in his seat and waved at me. That fact made me mad. Here I had come to kill him (if possible) and he greeted me with that friendly gesture. I waved my Lebel in the air over my head and shouted at him in French to beware. Of course, he could not hear because of the noise of the engines.

He continued on past me and I swung around and followed him. This maneuver seemed to surprise him. I continued on, coaxing my machine to its greatest speed. Finally I was not more than ten meters to the rear of his. I shouted again, made faces, then put the rifle to my shoulder and fired a bullet over his head to let him know my intentions. Though I had firmly resolved to shoot at the pilot, I realized now that I could not, for he wan apparently unarmed and had been so friendly.

When I fired at him, he must have seen the smoke from my Lebel or saw it flash. He knew then that I was not fooling and tried to escape from my plane by streaking down toward the earth. But I followed intently, my mind occupied now, not on shooting the pilot, but damaging his machine so it would have to land, thus ha would be unable to accomplish his mission.

I stood up in the pit and fired two shots at his gas tank, but nothing happened. Then I had to sit down and maneuver my plane again. The Taube pilot was zigzagging. I got closer and stood up again. This time, he too, stood up, and hurled a hand grenade back at me. But his aim was wild. It hit on the ground far below and exploded there sending up a puff of blue smoke. I aimed my rifle and rapidly fired all my remaining shells at the gas tank again.

Now I saw that something had happened. The Taube began to wobble crazily. The Boche pilot seemed frantic. Finally the motor stopped turning. Then I saw what had happened. One of my bullets had cracked the propeller, and it had shattered, throwing the Taube into terrific vibration and forcing the pilot to cut his engine.

He had to go down. I wished then that I had not been so hasty, for as it was he landed inside his own lines. If I had waited, I could have captured him by forcing his landing on our side. A fresh Taube and its Boche pilot would have been a great trophy to take home and show my mates.

“Sky Fighters, October 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on May 2, 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 October 1934 cover, It’s the Halberstadt C.L.2 vs the Avro “Spider”!

The Ships on the Cover

THE Halberstadt C.L.2 was, th_SF_3410 with its sister ship the C.L.4, a bright spot in Germany’s output of two-seater fighters. It was simpler in design than most of the German ships of this type; probably thereby lays the reason for its very good performance. Kicking over 1,385 r.p.m.’s at 10,000 feet, it could travel at around 100 m.p.h. It was not so hot on climbing, but was light on its controls and could be maneuvered with ease.

The other ship on the cover is the Avro “Spider,” a job turned out by the famous A.V. Roe & Co., Ltd. It had “It” when it came to speed, maneuverability, and climb. Its trick triangular system of inter-plane bracing obviated the use of flying or landing wires. And when it came to visibility that “one holer” in the top wing gave the pilot a look-see up and ahead. Even downward vision was good as the chord of the lower wing was very narrow.

Let’s slip back about half an hour before this crackup that’s pictured on the cover.

A Trophy of War

Consider yourself planked on an Allied tarmac. Out in front of number one hangar is a captured German ship; a Halberstadt. A group of British aviators are standing around admiring their trophy. Greaseballs have tuned her up, she is idling beautifully. One of them with three pots of colors is ready to paint the British cocardes on this German ship. There is darn good reason for this art work on captured machines. It’s to save the Allied test pilots who take up the captured ship back of the lines from getting popped down by some other Allied aviator who might think a German was at the stick.

Standing among the British aviators is a young man with a very dejected expression on his square face. His goggles are shoved back. His collar ornaments are German. To the Allied aviators, whose captive he is, he is just a flyer who happened to work for the wrong side. Much wine and spirits have trickled down all throats since the capture of the German. All hands are buddies, friends; in fact old pals. What if Fritz did pop at them from his Halberstadt? It was all in the game.

Just a Joy-Ride

“Let’s have a little ride in your old war chariot, Fritz,” suggested Lieutenant Mills, who had forced the German down.

So Fritz climbed in at the controls after it was certain his front and rear guns were harmless. Lt. Mills tucked a pistol into his pocket and heaved himself up on the side.

Smack!

Fritz fist clipped the Britisher on the button. The Mercedes roared. Dirt blasted into the other’s eyes on the ground.

An Avro roared throatily in the next hangar. Lt. Mills was in it in a jiffy, gunned the Bentley and blasted down the drag and up into the air. It took him twenty minutes to catch Fritz. Then came ten minutes of systematic sniping at engine and wings. Finally the Halberstadt’s engine sputtered, died. Down she came, flopping and shuddering. As her undercarriage hit the ground her wings folded and called it a day. Lt. Mills landed close by, rubbed his aching jaw and walked over to the wreck. Fritz crawled out, felt himself all over and indicated that he was not injured. He then shoved out his jaw and Lt. Mills carefully planked a beautiful right uppercut home. Fritz took it standing up and grinned.

Mills produced a flask—”Cheerio,” he grinned.

“Prosit,” replied Fritz.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, October 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Fokker E.1 and the F.E.2!

“T.N.T. Wings” by Eliot Todd

Link - Posted by David on June 29, 2015 @ 6:00 am 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. This time, Eliot Todd recounts the story behind Blakeslee’s October 1934 cover for Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3410THE Bristol Fighters on this month’s cover have dropped the last of their light demolition bombs on the blazing ammunition dump below and are now battling their way through a cordon of avenging Fokker D-VII’s. Will they make the lines? Well, the Bristol Fighter was so good that it was used right up to the close of the war with very few changes and could be trusted to give a good account of itself in any show.

Perhaps the most spectacular of all war sights was the explosion of an ammunition dump. Thousands upon thousands of shells and bombs of all types and sizes were stored in these dumps. And one well-placed hit was enough to transform them from orderly, harmless looking supply depots into white-hot infernos of death and destruction.

Such great concentrations of munitions as were to be found in 1918 were unheard of during the early days of the war. Open tactics prevailed for those first few weeks and not until the armies dug in did positions become comparatively permanent. Then the establishment of definite lines made supply centers necessary for the support of the armies.

The first dumps were just what the word means—piles of ammunition dumped on the ground, sometimes protected by canvas or some other rude shelter. No attempt was made to conceal the positions of the depots; secrecy was not considered necessary at that time.

But when aerial observation and photography developed from a curiosity into an important branch of the service, it became necessary to protect the depots from the prying eyes and tell-tale camera of the airmen.

Dumps were necessarily located near some road or railway. For that reason they were all the easier to spot from above when not camouflaged.

With the position of a dump located on a map or shown on a photograph, and with each section ranged, it was generally a simple enough matter to shell the target if within range of the artillery.

If not, planes were rolled out, courses set and bomb racks loaded.

Well aware of the vital importance of these dumps to the successful operation of their plans, the general staffs of each nation used every known device to protect their supplies. Camouflage was the answer. Roads were screened when it was necessary to bring up supplies by daylight in preparation for a big drive.

Some dumps were located underground, not only to mask their position but also to protect the ammunition in case of a raid. In some cases great tarpaulins were stretched and painted to resemble the ground.

As the art of camouflage advanced it became more and more difficult to recognize them. But in spite of all precautions, the dumps continued to be spotted and bombed by that new weapon which has done more than anything else to revolutionize modern warfare—the airplane.

The Story Behind The Cover
“T.N.T. Wings: The Story Behind The Cover” by Eliot Todd
(October 1934, Dare-Devil Aces)

Check back again. We will be presenting more Stories behind the Covers.

“Tattle Tailwind” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on February 27, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Even the lowly angle worm, according to the old maxim, will turn and put up its dukes when sorely beset. The lowly worms of this story, of course, are the buzzards of Major Rufus Garrity’s Ninth Pursuit Squadron. Their tormenter, Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham, born on April Fool’s day, cradled in conjury and reared in raillery, perhaps had never heard about the deceptiveness of the proverbial worm. A worm had never kicked back at the amazing, freckle-faced, buck-toothed pilot from Boonetown when he was attaching it to the end of a fishhook. Nevertheless, Phineas should have known that he who lives by the sword will sooner or later get a taste of cutlery.

Major Garrity had chased Phineas off the drome. The Royal Flying Corps buzzards had sworn a vendetta against him. And over in Germany, the wily Rittmeister von Schnoutz was scheming. Aside from these, Phineas didn’t have an enemy in the world!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 28: Major Andrew McKeever” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 11, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Here’s 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 week we have the his illustrated biography from the October 1934 issue, that famous Canadian Ace—Major Andrew McKeever!

Major Andrew Edward McKeever is the RFC/RAF’s leading two-seater fighter pilot ace scoring 31 victories with seven different gunners/observers. He was awarded a chest-full of awards—The Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross & Bar, Distinguished Flying Cross, and from France, the Croix de Guerre.

With the end of the war, McKeever accepted a job managing an airfield at Mineola, New York. Before he could start work, he was involved in an auto accident in his home town of Listowel on September 3rd, breaking his leg. Over the following weeks, complications set in—he died of cerebral thrombosis on Christmas Day, 1919.