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“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!

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

Link - Posted by David on April 18, 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 September 1934 cover, It’s the Pfalz Triplane vs the indomitable S.E.5!

The Ships on the Cover

THE Pfalz Triplane was th_SF_3409 one of the neatest looking jobs among the number of multi-wing planes which all European countries experimented with during the late fracas Over There. The fuselage was exceptionally slick in proportion and line. If you can imagine the two top wings removed and the bottom wing having a much greater chord you will see a strong resemblance between this tripe of bygone war days and the Lockheed Sirius of modern times.

Those designers of a sixth of a century ago did some sweet visualizing far in advance of their time. If they’d have had engines as efficient as those of today to yank their stick and wire jobs through the clouds there’s no telling what the outcome of the air campaigns might have been.

Three Winged Crates

But we’re not as interested in the fuselage as in those three wings which make our Pfalz a Triplane or Dreideckcr. In building this type of ship the hope was for greater efficiency in all ways. They got it in some and lost it in others. In using three instead of one or two wings the chord and span could be reduced. Then the tail assembly could be pushed up closer to the wings, giving compactness and maneuverability. A single interplane strut could be used on each side, instead of the conventional double struts. The Pfalz used a combination of V strut and straight single strut. The top wing did most of the lifting work as the lower wings had a very narrow chord.

The Nieuport, Sopwith, Albatross and Fokker firms experimented with the triplane idea. Fokker undoubtedly was influenced by the Sopwith “tripe.” Some other manufacturers even went in for quadraplanes, and not to be outdone, one stuck on five planes which made the crate look like a flying stepladder.

On the cover the Pfalz tripe in the foreground with the red belly has been tearing in and out of the ring-sights of the S.E.5. That fight started down low and gained altitude as the two ships circled and sparred with left and right guns.

Even Steven

The famous S.E.5 of British origin, one of their outstanding successes, has the edge on the tripe in many of their in and out maneuvers, but a triplane has a much reduced period of inertia in the horizontal plane; so therefore is able to slip from one dodging tactic to another quicker than the S.E.5. So it was about “even Steven” in this climbing fight.

Suddenly another Pfalz tripe hove into the scrap with spitting Spandaus. Just about the time it looked like curtains for the S.E.5 her pilot flopped his ship into a trick skidding turn and sprayed a drizzle of slugs into the second ship. Down it went smoking, out of control. Not contented with his one victory he repeated his maneuver on the surprised Boche in the foreground Pfalz. One quick burst from the Vickers sent bullets thudding into the German pilot. He died instantly with his nerveless hands and feet still holding his plane in a climbing circle.

The S.E.5 pilot followed for a moment then eased his plane aside and headed for home. Once he turned, raised his right hand in salute as he watched the triplane, now a tiny speck far above, still gracefully climbing into the blue dome of heaven.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Halberstadt C.L.2 and the Avro Spider!

“Hell On Wings” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on June 1, 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. . . .

th_DDA_3403THE cover this month shows an S.E.5 diving on the tail of a Fokker which is on the tail of another S.E. A split second later—

Early in 1918 there appeared at a British squadron a group of replacements, among them a youngster whom we shall call Jones. After several practice flights near the lines, Jones eventually took his place in a formation that was out for real trouble. As they crossed the Front, archie was particularly active and very accurate. Shells burst close to the formation, too close for comfort, and Jones proceeded to zigzag madly. The patrol leader turned about to pick him up, but Jones was headed for home at full speed.

When the patrol returned an hour later, the leader proceeded to read the riot act to Jones. He was told that it was a pilot’s duty to keep formation, not only for his own sake, but for the sake of the rest of the flight. If the patrol got into a scrap, one machine missing would be serious— perhaps fatal. He was also told what became of stragglers, who were the Boche’s favorite dish. He was threatened with all manner of unpleasant things if he broke formation again. The lad promised to do his best.

That same day he was again a member of the flight. He kept formation despite archie—which was not as severe as earlier—and completed the patrol.

The next day, however, when archie plastered the sky a little more vigorously, Jones again broke formation and sped for home. This time the lack of one ship missing had serious consequences for the flight. They ran into seven Boches and the battle raged for half an hour. When the flight drew off for home, one of their number had gone to the happy hunting ground.

The straffing Jones received from the entire squadron is history. After long deliberation, the youngster was given one last chance to save himself from disgrace.

The flight left the field with Jones the next day. He had been moved in position to give him confidence and he stayed in place during the usual archie. Some half hour later the flight leader saw several Pfalz scouts 8,000 feet below. After a look around he gave the signal and down they went, Jones with them. During the fight two of the Germans were shot down, one in flames.

Them from above dove three Fokkers. One of these got on the tail of the flight leader, and before he realized what had happened he received a burst of Boche lead that put his Vickers out of action. He put his plane through every maneuver he could think of—and some he didn’t think of—but one of the Fokkers always clung to his tail.

There was nothing he could do but spin down and try to hedge hop home.

Down he went in a spin. At fifty feet he flattened out and with throttle wide open, streaked for home. But he was not alone. The Fokker still rode his tail, pumping steel into his S.E.

Nothing, apparently, could save the Yank. His Vickers were out of action and his Lewis drum was empty. Gas was getting low, also. As he turned, a burst went through the fairing back of his head just missing his shoulder. In desperation he swung in a steep right turn. Just as the Fokker turned to follow, out of the sky hurtled an S.E. The flight leader recognized the number—Jones . . . .

—the S.E. crashed into the Fokker; the wreckage dove deep into the ground. And so Jones died, that a comrade might live.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Hell On Wings: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (March 1934)

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