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My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Hamilton Coolidge

Link - Posted by David on October 18, 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 American Flyer Captain Hamilton Coolidge’s most thrilling sky fight!

As a famous athlete at Harvard, Hamilton Coolidge was well known throughout the land even before the war began. He enlisted in the aviation section of the Signal Corps and got his primary flight training at Mineola along with Quentln Roosevelt, his hoy-hood friend.

They went up to the front together on the same day. Coolidge was assigned to the 94th Squadron and Roosevelt to the 95th. Coolidge was killed when a German Archie scored a direct hit on his plane, something of which war time figures prove happened only once in every 20,000 attempts.

He had established an enviable record, soon becoming a recognized ace with 5 victories. He was promoted to a Squadron Commander, and succeeded in downing 3 more enemy planes. He was awarded both the Croix de Guerre and the Distinguished Service Cross. This account of his fight with the famous Flying Circus of Baron von Richthofen is taken from an interview he gave a war correspondent.

 

FIGHTING THE FLYING CIRCUS

by Captain Hamilton Coolidge • Sky Fighters, October 1935

THOUGH I had been expecting to encounter the Flying Circus, my first meeting with one of their patrols took me quite by surprise. With five of my mates I was cruising high above Lagny in a sky that was empty and void as a lonesome ocean.

I didn’t catch sight of the gaudily painted ships until they were almost upon us— they had come up from our own side of the lines, while I was probing the sky reaches in the opposite direction. Twelve ships there were, flying in layer formation.

I had to do some quick thinking. My patrol was outnumbered 2 to 1. And they had us cut off from our rear! I waggled my wings, whined up in vertical virage and went streaking for Germany, climbing for the ceiling as I ran.

We Gained an Even Ceiling

Luckily, the Fokkers didn’t catch us until we had gained an even ceiling with their topmost flight. Then the fighting began. It seemed that the bullets whined in from all directions at once. And the sky was just a kaleidoscopic whirl.

Finally the wild dog-fighting settled down to a man to man duel. I didn’t have to pick my quarry. He picked me with a ripping invitation in Spandau tracer that stitched a grim streak down my turtle-back. I jammed full throttle and roared into a loop, rolled out on top and got out of range. But only to run smack into a stream of tracer coming from another Hun’s gun. I ducked beneath that, pulled up and banked quickly, my sights on the checkerboard belly of my first antagonist. I had time for just a short burst before he slid out of my sights.

First Meat for Our Side

But that was enough. The Fokker tipped up on a wing, hung in the air momentarily, then went sliding down, turning over on its back finally and fluttering off in a spin.

It was first meat for our side against odds of two to one. It gave me renewed courage. Two more of the Fokkers fell before one of the Spad pilots got caught with a bad jam. While trying to clear it he was killed.

All the time we had been fighting we had drifted further over the German lines, so I concluded that now was the time for a risky maneuver. We would have to turn our tails to the Huns, give them a momentary bull’s-eye as we streaked for the earth straight down—but with the Spad’s diving speed with full power on, I figured we could leave the Fokkers behind, and take our chances with the Archies and groundfire from below. So I signalled and dived, the rest of the boys following.

I took plenty of lead in the rear, but by shaking my stick, I managed to dodge a vital burst, and finally got out of range.

We hedge-hopped for home then right over the German trenches, running the gauntlet of a terrific machine-gun fire from the ground. But when we had run through and zoomed up to the ceiling and reformed on our own side of the line, waiting, the famed Flying Circus didn’t accept the challenge.

“One Hun, One Hit, Three Errors” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on May 26, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” You heard right! 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—and he scores with bounders and grounders!

The English team finds the diamond rather wet, and Phineas sacrifices to France the first time at bat. But hang around, fans, the game isn’t over yet! Von Bountz is the next one to fly over the plate—and he gets hammered into left field.

“The Yellow Monsters” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 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. Last time Mr. Blakeslee gave us the first in a new series of mismatched time images with planes from the Great War along side present day planes from 1935! This time he returns with he second in the series, from the cover of the October 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces—”The Yellow Monsters!”

th_DDA_3510ABOVE is the drawing of a Pterodactyl, a pre-historic flying reptile that lived thousands of years ago. Today the Pterodactyl flies again, but this time it is man-made—in short, a modern fighting airplane. Before we go ahead with our story, let us explain why you find a modern ship in combat with a wartime airplane.

The World War is long past, yet many are still interested in the war-time ship; but an equal number are interested in the modern craft too. In thinking it over we wondered what a war-time pilot would do, had he in war days, met a ship of today. The problem was solved. Why not mix time? Take 1918 and 1935 and just scramble them?

The result certainly isn’t the World War, in fact it isn’t any war; it isn’t even real and not being real we can let our imagination roam. By scrambling time this way we can not only show you a war-time ship, but a modern one as well both on the same cover thus giving you an easy way of comparing the fighting ship of today with the fighting ship of yesterday.

So now, let us enter the realms of imagination. Let us see what Otto, a German pilot of 1918 would do had he met the Pterodactyl.

Otto was a crack pilot; he was leader of his staffel and was in the habit of going off on bis own occasionally to look for trouble. He was on one of these trips when he saw a speck way off on his right. Being over the French lines he guessed it was an Allied plane. His big Mercedes engine soon had him high above the other ship. As he crossed its path he looked down and saw the British insignia on the wing-tips. Something about the plane seemed queer, but not giving it a second thought he dove.

He suddenly pulled out of his dive and rubbed his eyes. He looked again. His first impression had been right after all. Something was definately queer about the British ship. Mein Gott, what was it? Was it an airplane? If so it was like nothing he had ever seen.

But he could see the flash of propellers and the crew—that was real anyway, so it must be an airplane. Dunner und blit-sen, what a crazy thing it was! Why it looked as though it would fall apart if a wind hit it. Where was the tail? Well, thought Otto, this will be cold turkey.

He was about to dive again when the strange ship put on a burst of speed. To Otto’s surprise he discovered that he had had his throttle wide open to keep up with the yellow monster.

Well it certainly could fly, he decided, as the Britisher pulled rapidly away from him. Then he saw several others of the strange ships join the first and turn toward him. Otto thought he better return to his drome and get help.

Otto assembled his pilots and recounted what he had seen. The assembled pilots looked at each other but said nothing. Otto was their superior officer so what could they say? A tailless ship indeed, bosh!

Otto led his staffel back and soon spotted the strange ships.

He made a wide circle and gave the signal to dive. The scene on the cover shows the beginning of the fight.

Here we might consider what chance Otto and his men flying Fokker DVII’s would have against the Pterodactyl. We do not hesitate to say that they don’t stand a ghost of a chance.

At the time of writing this, no data on the performance of the Pterodactyl is available. The speed is very high; the exact figure we do not know. Note the wonderful unobstructed field of fire of the rear gunner. It would be impossible for an attacker to hide under the tail. It can deliver a steady stream of lead from its fixed guns and as it dives on an enemy another dose from the free gun as it zooms away. The rear gunner by the way is fully protected from the wind. The pilot can look either under or over the center section too.

Some think that the Pterodactyl may prove to be the most formidable fighter yet produced. Others wonder if it will not become extinct as the bird-lizard from which the new ship gets its name.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Yellow Monsters: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(October 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

The Pterodactyl is manufactured by Westland Aircraft Co., England, and was first produced last year.

 BBAA_3501
Editor’s Note: The Westland Pterodactyl was featured much more prominently earlier in 1935 on the January cover of Street & Smith’s Bill Barnes Air Adventurer. Here Frank Tinsley has place the Pterodactyl front and center with the tailless tailgunner blasting away at the pursuing biplanes!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 40: Major Francesco Baracca” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on July 15, 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 October 1935 installment featuring the illustrated biography of Italy’s Ace of Aces—Major Francesco Baracca!

Major Francesco Baracca is Italy’s greatest Ace of WWI but started his millitary carrer in the cavalry before the war with the prestigious Piemonte Reale Cavalleria Regiment upon his commisioning in 1910. Baracca’s interests turned to Aviation a few years later when he was transfered from Rome to a small town in central Italy and learned to fly at Reims, France.

Son of a nobleman, Barraca is credited with 34 victories and emblazzened the fuselage of his plane with his personal emblem, a black prancing horse—the Cavallino Rampante—in tribute to his calvalry days. It is this emblem that his mother gave to Enzo Ferrari in later years to be the official symbol of the Scuderia Ferrari Racing team since 1929 and later Ferrari Automobiles.

He was killed while out on a straffing run in June 1918.