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“Skyrocket” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on April 12, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

ORTH is back! Silent Orth had made an enviable record, in the face of one of the worst beginnings—a beginning which had been so filled with boasting that his wingmates hadn’t been able to stand it. But Orth hadn’t thought of all his talk as boasting, because he had invariably made good on it. However, someone had brought home to him the fact that brave, efficient men were usually modest and really silent, and he had shut his mouth like a trap from that moment on.

“It is definitely known that an attempt will be made at that place to bring out a spy,” said Major Messersmith grimly to Silent Orth. “The enemy doesn’t know the identity of the spy. They’ve combed their own ranks, but our man is too well ensconced in his role as a German officer. For all that the Germans know, one of the very patrol officers who seek to guard against the rescue may be the man they wish to uncover. Every German plane within twenty kilometers will be on the watch at that place. It sounds like a job for an armada. But one man must do it. You’re that man, Orth.” From the pages of the April 1935 Sky Fighters, it’s Silent Orth in “Skyrocket!”

Just a Lone Yank Pilot Deep in Hunland—on the Flaming Trail of a Daring Allied Spy!

“Famous Sky Fighters, October 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on April 10, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The October 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Sgt. James McConnell, Capt. James Norman Hall, Lt. Frank Engle, the war correspondent who ended up fighting, and the father of aerial combat Eugene Gilbert!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features a bunch of Captains—James B. McCudden, Winand Grafe, Henry Clay, and John Alcock, and the most famous of all war airplane builders—Tony Fokker! Don’t miss it!

“Sky Fighters, April 1936″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on April 1, 2019 @ 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. Mr. Frandzen features Fairey F127 Seaplane making an escape after an attack on a giant Zeppelin on the April 1936 cover!

The Ships on the Cover

GOTHA and Friedrichshafen th_SF_3604 bombers of World War time ventured forth on daylight raids over England. They swooped down on the great cities dropping every conceivable type of bomb. But the slow-moving Zeppelins chose night as their time for harassing the enemy. Flying at tremendous heights with muffled engines they were often directly over their predetermined target before the defenders were aware of their presence.

Count von Zeppelin didn’t let size or weight bother him. There was fifty tons to be lifted into the air when the ship was fully loaded. The crew of twenty-two men could scramble through the big bag on a narrow catwalk running along the keel from one gondola to the others.

Aside from the navigation of the Zep they had to man nine machine-guns and release their cargo of about sixty bombs. Two of the machine-guns were mounted on top of the Zep in a small fenced platform. Her metal lattice work girder formation held twenty-four ballonets filled with inflammable hydrogen gas, within the framework. The big bag was around 650 feet long and 72 feet in diameter at its widest point.

Above London

The Zeppelin pictured on the cover nosed its way through the clouds of night towards the English Channel. Below faint splotches of flame marked the muzzles of roaring Allied cannon. Higher and higher climbed the air monster; Maybach engines pushed her toward her goal at around 50 m.p.h. Altitude was about 15,000 feet as she neared the Channel.

“Higher” ordered her commanding officer as the clouds disappeared and clear starlit skies opened ahead. The three men directly behind him glanced at each other with apprehension. Already the thermometer had dropped below freezing. It was going down fast. The great bag’s nose continued to point upward. The thermometer slid lower. Below zero. Hands froze at the control wheels. They were above London.

Bomb after bomb screamed down on the sleeping city, flames broke out, airplane motors roared as they lifted defense planes into the sky. Not a sign of the Zeppelin could they find. Altitude had again done the trick, and with dawn breaking in the east they pictured the high flying raider far back toward its home base.

The siren’s “All’s well” signal echoed through the darkened streets of London. The air raid was over. Householders could once more return to their broken slumbers. Those who had not perished.

But the Zeppelin was wallowing uncontrollable over the North Sea with a crew of men and officers nearly frozen to death. Control wires coated with ice from the morning mists, water ballast frozen in tanks. Even the engine radiators, although raised into cars, were frozen, and the motors were very nearly useless. Gradually the giant bag was settling.

The North Sea Patrol

Patroling the North Sea were the R.N.A.S. seaplanes. One of these, a Fairey F127 N9 was the first seaplane to begin flight by being catapulted from a warship. It was a big plane with a 50 foot span. The top plane had a large overhang. The machine had a 190 h.p. Rolls-Royce engine but these power plants were in such great demand for other planes that the N9 could not be put into quantity production. The original N9 was in service until a few months before the Armistice.

A surprised observer in the British Fairey seaplane rubbed his eyes and pounded his pilot on the back. Up shot the pontooned patrol boat. A nearly stationary Zeppelin hovering directly over the Channel in broad daylight was unbelievable. They soon realized it was the real thing as a barrage of machine-gun fire greeted their approach. A sharp bank brought the seaplane’s tail around. Lewis slugs streamed into the gut-covered ballonets. The great bulk of the raider shuddered as the first explosion racked her ribs.

Fire wrapped the envelope in clutching tentacles, ate into the canvas-covered sides of the control car and slashed at the three men and their commanding officer still fighting their controls. The fire engulfed the Zeppelin crew, just as flames had engulfed scores of non-combatants in London homes a few hours before.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, April 1936 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Famous Sky Fighters, September 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on March 27, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The September 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Italian Ace Major Barracca, Canadian flyer Captain W.W. Rogers, America’s Lt. Norman Prince, and Germany’s own Manfred von Richthofen!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Sgt. James McConnell, Capt. James Norman Hall, Lt. Frank Engle, the war correspondent who ended up fighting, and the father of aerial combat Eugene Gilbert! Don’t miss it!

“Mission of Death” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 22, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

TO ROUND off Mosquito Month we have a non-Mosquitoes story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. It was always his observer, Jim Evans, who judged the dive, who directed Haskell as the latter worked controls, who told Haskell the precise moment to jerk back his stick and pull up—the same moment when Evans would release the bombs. And due to this uncanny judgment of Evans, and also to Haskell’s flying skill and strength, the two had never failed. Oh, they had been a team—Bomber Dan Haskell, big, husky, two-fisted—and Jim Evans, smaller, but lithe and agile and just as ready for action. An inseparable team, Which co-ordinated like a machine—which could do bombing work as no other unit. With Haskell as reckless pilot, and Evans in the rear as gunner and observer—though he wore a pilot’s full two wings—they had fought their way through all odds, dived upon their target hellbent, and blasted it right off the face of the earth. But Jim had been lost the day before on a run leaving Dan to set off on a daring mission alone—He must bomb bridge K-100 to keep the Germans from advancing on the Allied lines! From the June 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Mission of Death!”

Two Fighting Buddies Hold the Fate of the Allies in Their Hands as They Ride the Sky on an Errand of Doom!

“Famous Sky Fighters, August 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on March 13, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The August 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Lt. Col Bill Thaw, Billy Bishop, Lt. Max Immelmann, and East Indian prince turned R.A.F. sky hellion—Sidor Malloc Singh!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Italian Ace Major Barracca, Canadian flyer Captain W.W. Rogers, America’s Lt. Norman Prince, and Germany’s own Manfred von Richthofen! Don’t miss it!

“Famous Sky Fighters, July 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on February 27, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The July 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Lt. Col Armand Pinsard, Capt. Roy Brown, Lt. Harold Nevins, and Major Edward Mannock!

Next time “Famous Sky Fighters” is jam packed! Terry Gilkison features Lt. Col Bill Thaw, Billy Bishop, Lt. Max Immelmann, and East Indian prince turned R.A.F. sky hellion—Sidor Malloc Singh! Don’t miss it!

“Famous Sky Fighters, June 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on February 13, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The June 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, Features Julius Buckler, Capt. Francis Quigley, Lt. Sumner Sewall, and Commander Herbert Wiley!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Lt. Col Armand Pinsard, Capt. Roy Brown, Lt. Harold Nevins, and Major Edward Mannock! Don’t miss it!

“Famous Sky Fighters, May 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on January 30, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The May 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, Features Lt. Georges Madon, Major H.M. Brown, Lt Josef Veltjens, and the world’s first air commander—Nadezhda Sumarokova!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Julius Buckler, Capt. Francis Quigley, Lt. Sumner Sewall, and Commander Herbert Wiley! Don’t miss it!

“Sky Fighters, May 1936″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 21, 2019 @ 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. Mr. Frandzen features A.E.G. on the May 1936 cover!

The Ships on the Cover

BEFORE the World War airplanes th_SF_3605were more scoffed at than praised as a possible military weapon. Capitalists invariably put an extra knot in their purse strings when approached by optimistic promoters or inventors.

Firms that did any manufacturing to speak of were those who built airplanes as a side line, having large established plants already at their disposal. Such was the Allgemeine Elektricitats Gesellschaft, A.E.G. for short. This firm was one of Germany’s big electrical manufacturers. Their first entry into aircraft was naturally engines. They secured the option for building Wright motors and made some of their own design. Later when they branched into airplane design and manufacture they stuck rigidly to military planes principally of metal construction and some armour plating.

The ship on the cover smacking the water, is an A.E.G. of 1917 and ‘18 vintage. It has armour plating protecting the under-part of the fuselage and sides of the cockpits. But the A.E.G. firm was up against a tough proposition. Heavy armour plate protected the pilots perfectly but the engines were not fine enough to carry this added weight satisfactorily. Light armour had very little satisfactory results, but could be lifted okay. Therefore the pilots kidded themselves that they were pretty safe from enemy bullets with the light armour till a few rounds of Allied ammunition tore through and made more jagged wounds than a clean sharp bullet.

Used for Trench Strafing

A Benz 200 h.p. motor was up front and managed to yank the ship along at around 100 m.p.h. with favorable wind conditions. Primarily used for trench strafing it was fairly successful if protected by fast scouts, but for any other type of work it couldn’t take any first prizes.

The German lines ran from a chicken wire fence backed up against Switzerland all the way to the North Sea. Now any place along that line the A.E.G. could have got in some good licks. But when it stuck its nose straight out over the water and ambitiously went about a little job of work in conjunction with a German submarine it just didn’t make the grade.

An Allied Freighter in Sight

Through a series of prisms a clear image of an Allied freighter loomed before the periscope observer in the submerged submarine. He ran his periscope up another foot, got a better view and barked the information into the stifling air. The commanding officer leaped to the instrument. He grinned in anticipation, as he saw thr flag of the merchantman. “Verdammter Amerikaner.”

Terse orders snapped to the crew. Engines whirred into added power, down to within a foot of the water came the protruding periscope. The sleek underwater raider slipped through the water toward its victim. Ten torpedo tubes were available to sink the plodding ship carrying supplies to the American forces. Grins wreathed the faces of the crew as they learned the freighter’s nationality. The U-Boat steadied, slowed up, pointed its nose then it flattened out. A shudder raced through the ship as a torpedo was shot by compressed air out through its tube. Another shudder of greater volume caught the undersea craft. A detonation shook the boat. A wreath of smoke hovered over the freighter’s 3-inch gun. It had made a direct hit.

hen the torpedo smashed into the Yank vessel. It listed and began to sink. Up came the sub, its wireless calling for help. The message picked up on the German shore was given to the A.E.G. crew. Up soared the plane, the only one available. “Kill all survivors of the freighter,” were their orders.

Wildcat, Do Your Stuff!

One Yank in the bow of the freighter’s lifeboat was a crack shot with anything from a bean shooter to a siege gun. He unhurriedly unlimbered a machine-gun. “Wildcat,” he crooned to his pet gun of guns, “do your stuff.”

He waited till the German plane had hailed them with bullets. And then at just the right moment “Wildcat” started spitting.

One burst was enough. It tore jagged holes through the thin protecting armour. The German pilot sagged, the plane nosed down and smacked the water. Armour plate in addition to the heavy Benz pulled the crate down into Davy Jones’ checkroom in fifteen seconds.

The Yank patted “Wildcat” affectionately. He looked longingly back at the spot where his 3-inch gun had sunk with the freighter.

“Cheer up,” chided one of his companions, “we’ll take up a purse and buy you a Skoda howitzer for your next birthday.”

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, May 1936 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Famous Sky Fighters, April 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on January 16, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The April 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, Features Major Reed Landis, Lt. Frank Schilt, Capt Andrew McKeever and Capt. M. Brocard!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Lt. Georges Madon, Major H.M. Brown, Lt Josef Veltjens, and the world’s first air commander—Nadezhda Sumarokova! Don’t miss it!

“Blackbird” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on January 11, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

ORTH is back! Silent Orth had made an enviable record, in the face of one of the worst beginnings—a beginning which had been so filled with boasting that his wingmates hadn’t been able to stand it. But Orth hadn’t thought of all his talk as boasting, because he had invariably made good on it. However, someone had brought home to him the fact that brave, efficient men were usually modest and really silent, and he had shut his mouth like a trap from that moment on.

Acclaimed the greatest of Allied fliers on both sides of the lines, Silent Orth had reached the end of his rope. The Germans knew it, all those who could see what was transpiring. And especially did Franz Kohl know it, as he sat on Orth’s tail in a bullet-swift Albatros and hammered relentlessly away at the battered and broken Spad of the American ace. The Americans on the ground who could see knew it and held their breaths, and their hearts were tight with sorrow. The Americans in the air who were held back from helping him by literal walls of wings, knew it. Everybody knew that Orth was doomed—with one solitary exception—Silent Orth! And he would not give up until one, or both of them, were dead! From the pages of the February 1935 Sky Fighters, it’s “Blackbird!”

Orth Was a Fighter that Just Wouldn’t Stay Dead—Not While a Single Hun Still Rode the Sky!

“Famous Sky Fighters, March 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on January 2, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The March 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, Features Corporal Edmond Genet, Baron von Buttler Brandenfels, Captain Arthur Bristol, and the incomparable Roland Garros!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Major Reed Landis, Lt. Frank Schilt, Capt Andrew McKeever and Capt. M. Brocard! Don’t miss it!

“Famous Sky Fighters, February 1935″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on December 19, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The February 1935 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, Features Lieut. David Putnam, Colonel Dean Lamb, Capt. C.F. Chander and the only Ace of the three seaters—Captain Didier Le Cour-Grandmaison!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Corporal Edmond Genet, Baron von Buttler Brandenfels, Captain Arthur Bristol, and the incomparable Roland Garros! Don’t miss it!

“Sky Fighters, March 1936″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on December 10, 2018 @ 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. Mr. Frandzen features a battle between a De Haviland Pusher and a German D.F.W. C4 on the March 1936 cover!

The Ships on the Cover

THE R.E.8 had the title th_SF_3603“Reconnaissance Experimental” but there was not so much experimental in her as good old fighting spirit. Since the line of R.E.s preceding the 8 had worked out most of the defects in actual combat flying rather than in the brain of designers, the old girl had been pretty well refined when she made her debut. The British Royal Aircraft Factory was responsible for some lesser lights in their production but the S.E.5 came out on their wartime stage to end the show in a round of applause from the aviators who flew them. But even when the S.E.s were starring at the front the R.E.8s were holding up their end of the show patrolling the sky lanes dropping bombs In the darkness of night to the end of the war.

Backstage at the training schools the R.E. put the young novices through the groundwork, in this case groundwork of the sky of fancy turns, pauses for leveling out between steep dives, pirouettes, all maneuvers to make sky hoofers for the chorus of war.

Never a Has Been

The R.E.8 did her work so well carrying on in any job that she could never have the slurring title of “Has been.” A ship that could look back on the glories of such a career need never slink away when the applause was for newcomers. It had the quiet reserve to serve gracefully, giving of its experience while treasuring in the heart of its big engine the memory of such days as the one when it flew back in 1918, the scene pictured on the cover.

An army is said to march on its belly. That’s a good old bromide and gets past first base, but marching never brought in a home run. The same can be said for a plane with only gas to feed it. It can go places but it can’t do things. The one thing needed above all others to ground or air forces is ammunition.

Silencing a pair of machine-guns in a bombproof hillside dugout commanding a pass was the problem confronting “Crackup” Jones of Texas and points West. Now “Crackup” came by his name because he had smashed more planes in landing and taking off than any other three living flyers in the A.E.F. He’d cracked his way through two schools and left a trail of splinters that ran up the national debt considerably. But that didn’t bother Mr. Jones for he and every one else who had seen him fly knew that once he got into the air no other two-legged mortal could swap lead with him and live to tell the story.

Wotta Man!

One guy swore he’d seen Jones crack a Nieuport full speed into a hangar roof. Thrown clear he sailed through the air a hundred feet and landed gracefully on the top of a grounded captive balloon. When they finally got him down he’d written a thousand-word account of the experience with diagrams for the “Stars and Stripes.” Wotta man!

“Crackup” is in the pilot’s pit of the old R.E.8 he borrowed from the British. He’d dropped all his bombs on the bombproof dugout at the head of a narrow pass just in front of his own lines. He’d sprayed every round from his machine-guns. His gas was nearly exhausted when he spied three Boche lugging up ammunition to the machine-gun nest. If those men got their cargo to the guns safely it meant the Yanks couldn’t push through.

“Crackup” Thinks—and Acts

“Crackup” thought fast. A narrow river was below the cliff. If he could smash his plane into those Germans and his luck held out he’d be catapulted into the water safe on the Allied side. Having thought, “Crackup” acted. Down he swooped, gave the last drop of gas to his coughing engine and smacked his enemies and their dangerous ammunition over the edge of the cliff with his empennage.

His tailless plane leaped through the air like a ski jumper, cleared the river and smashed head on into a jagged mass of rocks. “Crackup’s” luck had deserted him at last. When they pulled him out of the wreckage it was found that the wind had been knocked completely out of him and he had suffered a severe fracture of the left little finger.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, March 1936 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Full specifications of the R.E.8 were featured in the LIBRARY OF WAR PLANES in this issue.

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