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Remembering Sid

Link - Posted by Bill on August 14, 2012 @ 11:39 pm in

If you have been following our dispatches then you already know that we lost our good friend Sid Bradd recently. Sid’s passing has left a void here at Age of Aces that just can’t be filled. And with Pulpfest 2012 happening so soon after his death, we were looking for a proper way to honor his memory.

Sid was blessed with an incredible loving family, and we decided that the best thing we could do would be to express our feelings in person to his wife Johanne. We called her, and as luck (or fate) would have it, she extended an invitation for us to visit her on Sunday during our return from Pulpfest. Most years, the last day of Pulpfest is kind of depressing, knowing that it will be another year before you can get together again with your fellow pulpsters. But this year, for Chris, David, and I, Sunday would be the highlight of our trip.

We made it to the Bradd’s home by late afternoon. Johanne met us at the door, along with her and Sid’s daughter Andrea. We presented them with a copy of our latest book. It was the last one Sid assisted us on, and we dedicated it to him. They were very proud of Sid’s abilities and talents as an aviation expert and historian, and we wanted them to know how much we appreciated his contributions to our work here. It was very moving to see their reactions when reading our dedication. It was clear how much it meant to them to know that Sid would be remembered by all of us here in the pulp community.

Johanne and Andrea brought us upstairs to Sid’s incredible aviation library where we sat and reminisced for a while. Johanne told us a funny story about his unabashed collecting habits. While on their honeymoon, he convinced her that he needed to stop at a bookstore. When he came out he had a couple pulps in his hand. When she expressed disbelief that he would interrupt their honeymoon to buy new pulps, he looked at her mischievously and said, “These aren’t new, they are just in better condition than the copies I already have!”

Johanne also told us how Sid crossed paths with some of the legends of both aviation and aviation pulps. He had met people such as Henry Steeger, Robert Hogan, Donald Keyhoe, and Charles Lindbergh. Johanne related a story about Lindbergh and Keyhoe that provided the most surreal moment of the day.

Before he became an author, Keyhoe was a military pilot. He was appointed to fly Lindbergh on his tour around the country after his famous solo flight across the Atlantic. Keyhoe published a book about his adventures on this tour called Flying With Lindbergh. Over the years Sid had used his friendly charm to strike up conversations with many people. On one occasion—many years after the Lindbergh tour—while Keyhoe was giving a speech, he sat behind Lindbergh in the audience.  Afterwards he got Keyhoe to inscribe his copy of Flying With Lindbergh.

His library contained many such books signed by some of the most notable names in aviation like Lindbergh and Earhart. One of the things Andrea wanted to convey to us was how meticulous Sid was with his collection and how much care he took when reading one of his books. She reached onto a shelf, grabbed a random book, and opened it. We were all stunned to see the title of the book she had pulled down. It was Flying With Lindbergh, and the page she had opened it to was the one that Keyhoe had signed. Andrea said that Sid must have guided her hand to that book. I totally agree with her!

Johanne related another touching story to us. Because Sid’s life revolved so much around aviation, he had a deep interest in all of it’s legends and mysteries. So while speaking about their father at his funeral, one of Sid’s daughters remarked that he would now finally know what had happened to Amelia Earhart, Lindbergh’s baby, and Flight 19.

Since you don’t visit the Bradds without having some of Johanne’s great German food, she went down to prepare a little something for us while Andrea finished showing us around the library. It seems Sid had a real passion for collecting in general, not just books. We saw his collections of old toys, old license plates, and old bottles.

Sid was an accomplished painter and there were also many of his aviation paintings hanging in various places around the library. Andrea was also kind enough to show us the unfinished painting Sid was doing for her when he died. It was of the living room of his childhood home as he remembered it. But he was dissatisfied with how he had painted his mother sitting at the piano so he had partially erased her image leaving a ghost-like form behind.

After eating dinner we unfortunately had to get back on the road. And while it was sad saying goodbye to Johanne and Andrea, we felt really good about having spent that time with them. Hopefully we can make that visit a regular stop on our Pulpfest excursion.

Finally, many people have asked us if we knew what would happen to Sid’s library. Happily we learned that it will be finding a good home. While the plans aren’t finalized, they are hoping for it to be the centerpiece of a brand new aviation library and research center at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Hawaii.

The G-8 Premiums Declassified

Link - Posted by Chris on October 10, 2011 @ 8:51 am in

When the publishers of G-8 and His Battle Aces announced the formation of a G‑8 Club in the seventh issue (April 1934), G-8 promised that “this club is going to be different from any other magazine club in the country. It will be a secret organization.” So successful was the club that it persisted throughout the ten-year run of the magazine; So successful was the pledge of secrecy that NO evidence of its membership has turned up in the last 75 years. Until now.

Admittedly, proof of the club outside of the monthly editor’s column, “G-8 Speaks,” is rare. As G-8 explained: “There will be no cards — no buttons — no emblem of any kind. The only ones who know they are members will be the members themselves. Just as the Secret Service is run. Get it?”

But even though individual members did not receive identifying papers from the magazine, local chapters of five or more kids did, in the form of a G-8 Club Charter. In order to form a chapter of the G-8 Club in your community all you needed to do was find four friends who also bought G-8 every month, and mail in five club coupons from the same issue. (Some chapters were formed by individuals in different communities connecting through the G-8 letters column.) The June issue reported that the very first chapter of the G-8 Club mailed their coupons on February 28th — actually a day before the street date of the April issue that announced it.

G8Club-charter

Qualifying clubs received a charter, a small (7″x5″) but distinguished-looking two-color certificate with a blank for the name of the chapter (ideally to be named after a local bird) and “signed” by G-8. In addition they received the Rules and Secret Orders for the Operation of the G-8 Club Chapters a tri-fold brochure (5″x7″ folded) that consisted of one page detailing the meeting rules (including an oath) and two pages describing the club’s SECRET CODE, none of which was ever reprinted in the magazine.

G8Club-rules

Members of the G-8 Club apparently took their secrets all the way to the grave or the nursing home, because neither of these giveaways had ever been documented by collectors or pulp historians until two weeks ago, when one example of each turned up at auction. The only other known G-8 premium is equally rare …

G-8 and His Battle Aces didn’t offer any other premiums for many years following the launch of the club. Then, in the November 1939 issue, came the “Special Announcement” of the G-8 Battle Aces Club Wings — silver metal wings with a blue enamelled shield in the center, measuring 1.25″ wide. As the announcement makes clear, this is not for the secretive G-8 Club (remember, that would blow your cover) but a separate, “affiliated” Battle Aces Club.

G83911_announcement

BattleAces-wings

Strangely, after this “Special Announcement” there was no mention of the badge again until the April 1941 issue, when the wings coupon became a staple of the club section of the magazine through October 1942. The wings offer reappeared for two months in the final year of G-8, with a interesting variation: golden wings. Only one example of the G-8 Wings has ever turned up and yet it sold at auction in 2007 for only $800. Like the Spider Ring, the G-8 wings were produced by Uncas Manufacturing Co. of Providence, Rhode Island, and bear the company stamp of a “U” with an arrow through it.

Silver Wings Coupon

Silver Wings Coupon

Gold Wings Coupon

Gold Wings Coupon

Comparison of G-8 wings with Shadow & Doc pins and (repro) Spider Ring

Comparison of G-8 wings with Shadow & Doc badges and (repro) Spider Ring

More Amazing Blakeslee Covers!

Link - Posted by David on July 18, 2010 @ 2:26 pm in

This week we have more great Dare-Devil Aces covers by Frederick Blakeslee. Popular Publications published some dynamite aviation art on the cover of Dare-Devil Aces! Sadly, we don’t use more than a sliver of it for our books. But that’s a design choice — We’re not trying to keep anything from you. And now we’ve added two more years of great Blakeslee covers to our growing gallery––1936 and 1937!

Captain Babyface Backcover ThumbnailThe June and December covers of 1936 are probably the two most recognizable Dare-Devil Aces covers and we have featured both of them now on back covers of our books. Our very first publication, Steve Fisher’s Captain Babyface, featured the June cover on the back. Captain Babyface and Mr Death matched wits through ten of the twelve issues that year––their last scrap appearing in the November issue. William Hartley’s The Adventures of Molloy & McNamara started running in the July 1936 issue with the adventure we choose to use as the title for the volume, Satan’s Playmates, in the December issue allowing us to utilize it’s cover in the cover design of that book.

Red Falcon 4 Backcover ThumbnailAs 1936 gave way to 1937, Blakeslee’s covers move further away from depictions of planes in use during the late great hate and start to feature more contemporary planes in the frenetic melees depicted on the covers. Robert J. Hogan’s The Red Falcon was also printing it last stories in 1937 with the last Dare-Devil Aces Red Falcon story being published in the January 1938 issue. The June 1937 cover seemed to work best with the crimson cover of the Red Falcon’s fourth and final volume. This is the latest cover we’ve used, but fear not, this is not the last update to our covers gallery. There are more covers to come.

You can enjoy these as well as covers from 1932 through 1935 in our Dare-Devil Aces Cover Gallery!

“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.

Robert J. Hogan’s Characters On a Historical Timeline

Link - Posted by Bill on February 18, 2010 @ 7:59 pm in

G-8 The Flames of HellRobert J. Hogan was one of the most prolific pulp writers of the 30’s and early 40’s. His best stories were built around World War I aviators. G-8 and his Battle Aces flew and fought for 110 issues in their magazine. Barry Rand as the Red Falcon appeared over 50 times in Dare-Devil Aces and G-8 and His Battle Aces. As fictional characters, they seemed to fight the war forever. But I decided to see how Hogan’s stories stacked up against a historical timeline of the war.

World War I went on for five long years before ending on November 11, 1918. It made a pretty big canvas for pulp writers to paint their word pictures on. But the U.S. didn’t start fighting until June of 1917. Because his characters were American, Hogan had a much smaller window for his stories. Further shrinking of that window is necessary because of references he uses throughout the tales.

One important point in regards to the timing of the G-8 stories is the airplanes being flown. G-8, Bull, and Nippy all fly the SPAD XIII which was built by the French. They were first flown in combat by the French in September 1917, but it wasn’t until March of 1918 that the U.S. Air Service purchased 800 of them for its’ pilots. Because so many Americans had flown for France before the U.S. joined the war, it is possible that some of them would have had SPAD XIII’s before March 1918. The famous flying spy G-8 would almost certainly have had one before the rest of the American pilots. Thus September 1917 is the first possible date for the beginning of the G-8 adventures. There is another important piece of data that points to a later date though.

Hogan often has the Germans flying the incomparable Fokker D VII. It was widely considered the best fighter plane of it’s time. Unfortunately for Hogan, the D VII didn’t enter combat until April 1918. I would consider this as the most probable beginning of the recorded G-8 stories. Historically, we have to squeeze all 110 of them into the period between April and November of 1918. Thus G-8 was facing off about every other day against the worst the Germans could throw at him.

The Red Falcon 4The Red Falcon’s place on the timeline is governed by many of these same factors. He built his famous red fighter using parts from planes that had crashed near his Vosges Mountain hideaway. The fuselage was from a Fokker D VII, the wings were from a SPAD XIII. This would indicate a date no earlier than April 1918. However, Barry Rand also equipped his plane with a Liberty engine.

The American built Liberty made its’ combat debut powering the British DH4 in May 1918, but Hogan states that the Red Falcon’s engine came from a DH9. This plane was not equipped with Liberty engines until August. Furthermore, only one DH9 made it to the front in time for combat duty. Assuming this single plane was shot down over the Vosges, the Red Falcon could not have gotten his engine before August 1918. His 53 recorded adventures took place between August and November of 1918.

Having a historical start for the Red Falcon also provides a bookmark for the G-8 stories. The March 1937 issue of G-8 and His Battle Aces features a brief appearance by Barry Rand. This means that August 1918 is the earliest possible date for this story titled Fangs of the Sky Leopards. It was the 42nd issue which means that the last 68 of G-8’s adventures had to have occurred in the 4 months between August and November 1918, while the first 41 took place in the 4 months from April to July 1918.

I’m sure the pressures of monthly deadlines far outweighed Hogan’s need for historical accuracy. His great knowledge of the machines flown in WWI is one of the factors that made his fiction so appealing, but it would have been interesting to read these stories with a more careful historical placement of the characters.

“Don’t Shoot” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by Bill on September 16, 2009 @ 11:16 pm in

Sammy Stein joined the grease-monkey squad to be safe; but after the first bombing raid, he struck a bargain with the C.O. and hocked his safety for his life, collecting a net profit of Spandau lead and glory.

“Framed Wings” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by Bill on March 20, 2009 @ 4:57 pm in

This is the last Smoke Wade story that appeared in a Street and Smith pulp. In the August 1932 Battle Aces, Smoke Wade began his long run in the Popular Publication air pulps. Smoke Wade was a rough and tumble Arizona cowpoke, who left the range and became the skipper of the American 66th Pursuit Squadron in WWI France. Flying a Pinto colored Spad he called Jake, after his favorite Pinto ranch horse, Smoke always wore a six-shooter strapped to his leg and made frequent use of it during his aerial battles. He would often get in trouble with his superiors because of his penchant for placing bets on just about anything that seemed like a long-shot. But Smoke would most always win these bets, and everyone from generals to mechanics would be left owing him money.

“Aces in Dutch” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by Bill on February 27, 2009 @ 4:29 pm in

This is the third and last Smoke Wade story that appeared in Street and Smith’s “Air Trails”. Smoke Wade was a rough and tumble Arizona cowpoke, who left the range and became the skipper of the American 66th Pursuit Squadron in WWI France.
Flying a Pinto colored Spad he called Jake, after his favorite Pinto ranch horse, Smoke always wore a six-shooter strapped to his leg and made frequent use of it during his aerial battles. He would often get in trouble with his superiors because of his penchant for placing bets on just about anything that seemed like a long-shot. But Smoke would most always win these bets, and everyone from generals to mechanics would be left owing him money.

“Wager Flight” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by Bill on February 20, 2009 @ 4:33 pm in

In the August 1931 issue of Street and Smith’s “Air Trails”, Robert J. Hogan introduced us to a rough and tumble Arizona cowpoke named Smoke Wade, who left the range and became the skipper of the American 66th Pursuit Squadron in WWI France. Flying a Pinto colored Spad he called Jake, after his favorite Pinto ranch horse, Smoke always wore a six-shooter strapped to his leg and made frequent use of it during his aerial battles. He would often get in trouble with his superiors because of his penchant for placing bets on just about anything that seemed like a long-shot. But Smoke would most always win these bets, and everyone from generals to mechanics would be left owing him money.

“The Other Cockpit” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by Bill on May 16, 2008 @ 12:00 am in

While Robert J. Hogan is best known as the author of long running air war series like G-8, The Red Falcon, and Smoke Wade, he wrote plenty of non-series fiction. Here is a little gem that tells the tale of Bat Benson, a bomber pilot who has a habit of mistreating his rear cockpit observers. But his newest observer is not someone who will be pushed around.

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