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“Famous Sky Fighters, July 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on July 1, 2020 @ 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 1937 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Major James Meissner, Lt. Dudley Tucker, Lt. Col. Robert Rockwell, Lt. Gustav Leffers!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Major Jimmy Doolittle, Armand Pinsard, and Captain Bruno Loerzer! Don’t miss it!

“Famous Sky Fighters, May 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on June 17, 2020 @ 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 1937 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features General Benjamin D. Foulois, Lieutenant Francesco De Pinedo, and Major Reed G. Landis!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Major James Meissner, Lt. Dudley Tucker, Lt. Col. Robert Rockwell, Lt. Gustav Leffers! Don’t miss it!

“Smoke Rings” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on May 15, 2020 @ 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.

Nothing ticks Orth off more than young kids dying for no particular reason—be they Allied or German pilots. So Orth cuts through the crap and takes the fight to the Baron’s own doorstep! From the pages of the March 1936 Sky Fighters, Silent Orth sets the “Smoke Rings!”

Veteran Meets Veteran in the Flaming Skies Above Shell-Torn France as Orth Zooms for Vengeance!

“Famous Sky Fighters, March 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on May 6, 2020 @ 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 1937 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features James Norman Hall, Edwin E. Aldrin, Raymond Collishaw and Sidor Malloc Singh!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features General Benjamin D. Foulois, Lieutenant Francesco De Pinedo, and Major Reed G. Landis! Don’t miss it!

“Famous Sky Fighters, February 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on April 22, 2020 @ 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 1937 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features the RAF’s Colonel Dean Ivan Lamb, France’s Gabriel Guerin, and Germany’s Ernst Udet!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features James Norman Hall, Edwin E. Aldrin, Raymond Collishaw and Sidor Malloc Singh! Don’t miss it!

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

Link - Posted by David on April 13, 2020 @ 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 December 1936 cover, It’s a R.E.8 and the Siemens Halske Scout!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3612THE R.E.8 was used from the early war period until the armistice. The sturdy character of this plane was phenomenal.

The Siemens-Halske scout was a German single-seater whose bulky, fat outline was easily recognized. The curved fin only added to its stubby appearance. A Halske rotary engine of 200 h.p. spun the four-bladed prop.

Back in the old days when feudal wars and invading hordes from the north and northeast had Europe in a constant state of unrest, Paris was laid out. It was not just spotted because of the natural beauty of the surrounding rolling hills and the winding rivers. That city was planned to resist invaders. The ridges of hills and the winding rivers were natural barriers past which the foe must batter if he was to advance. The hills backed a series of concentric valleys spreading out and out like ripples in a pond. Those natural fortifications served well in the old days. Also, they were of help to the French in the World War.

“They Shall Not Pass!”

“They shall not pass!” was the hoarse cry of the French soldier as he threw himself at the mighty armies of the Kaiser. His battle cry was sincere. He fought wildly, clinging tenaciously to each inch of French soil. But relentlessly he was pushed back. “Replacements,” was the French cry. “More men, more cannons, more ammunition!”

The French were exhausted, their backs to the wall. And then replacements began to arrive. Swarms of Paris taxis and lorries poured out their precious loads and the line held. Back and forth swayed the front line always holding at one of the natural barriers, at a deep river, tiny rivulet or a rugged line of hills.

The war went on for months, years. The German command who had already renamed the streets of Paris on their own maps, who carried medals ready to emblazon the puffed bosoms of the troops in commemoration of the fall of Paris, were furious at the delay. They had underestimated the type of terrain they must conquer. The worst type of hazards were the rivers. Cannons and ammunition were shunted off on sidings. Trainload after trainload of special pontoon boats rattled over the captured French railroads. German shock troops staggered under the boats as they dumped them at the river’s edge. Engineers working methodically slid the boats into the water. Cables and ropes held them fast to the near shore. Planks were slapped down across the boats, foot soldiers swarmed forward. The defenders’ guns were red hot, Germans fell in piles, but others clambered over, advanced.

“They must not pass!” the grim defenders roared into the German’s teeth. But they were passing. Their sacrifice had been terrible. Their dead filled the river, reddened the blue water. Again the French held the advancing horde. Their battle cry was weaker, it became a groan, for they knew it was a matter of minutes before the Germans would swarm up the near slope of the river’s bank and enfilade them with withering fire. And then above the fierce roar of battle a faint droning sound was heard in the sky. It grew louder, shrieked down from above. A great shadow flashed across the far bank, over the bridge. Terrific geysers of water shot up. The first British R.E.8’s bombs had missed! Another shadow; a splintering upheaval of planks, boats and riddled bodies. The second R.E.8 had made a direct hit, smashing into atoms the last link of the German chain of advance.

A roar of thanks burst from the parched throats of the defenders. It was lost in the snarl of motors as the lumbering R.E.8s turned on a Siemens-Halske rushing in to attack them. The single seater staggered. Its nose fell off, it plunged down, a crumpled thing, into the floating debris and limp bodies of the German soldiers who would never flaunt medals on their tunics commemorating the capture of Paris.

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

“Famous Sky Fighters, January 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on April 8, 2020 @ 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 January 1937 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features three Lieutenants—Rene Montrion, George “Lucky” Kyle, Max Ritter von Mulzer—and a Major—the incomparable Raoul Lufbery!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features the RAF’s Colonel Dean Ivan Lamb, France’s Gabriel Guerin, and Germany’s Ernst Udet! Don’t miss it!

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

Link - Posted by David on March 30, 2020 @ 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 1936 cover, It’s a S.V.A. coming to chase of a Fokker D6 trying to thwart the Italians from moving a canon between mountains platforms!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3611ITALY, before the beginning of the World War, was a potential enemy of the Allies because of her Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria made prior to 1914. On August 1, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. On that same day Italy renounced her tie to Germany and declared she would stay neutral. But to declare and to actually keep her skirts out of the war muck of blazing Europe were quite different things. On May 24, 1915, Italy declared war on her former ally, Austria. From that day until Austria signed truce terms with Italy on Nov. 3, 1913, the Italian front was the scene of the most dramatic and nerve fraying encounters of the war. Men fought on snowcapped peaks, on slippery sides of glacial formations, on ledges where mountain goats would become jittery. It was slow tortuous labor, this perpendicular scrapping but one in which both sides were familiar.

The Austrians took an awful beating at the hands of the Italians until October, 1917, when the Austrians launched ferocious counter attacks, driving the Italians back and back. It was not until June, 1918, that the Italians again took the offensive. From then on it was the beginning of the end for Austria.

An Almost Unknown Ship

The Fokker D6 was not given the publicity it deserved and all the glory falling upon the D7 overshadowed it so that it was almost an unknown ship. It did plenty of service on the Western front and was so good that the Allied squadrons who banged into its speedy way were writing it up in their flight reports around the end of 1917. It did most of its damage on the Italian front and the Italians who fought it in their S.V.A. fighting scouts were a couple of minutes behind in climbing to give it battle. A few minutes difference in a plane can mean a lot in the air. The Fokker D6 had an Oberursel engine of 110 h.p. against the S.V.A.’s 210 h.p. Spa motor. It was suicide for the Italians to stage single man duels with that fast moving, supermaneuverable Fokker. So they flew in droves and kept the superior ships from absolutely ruling the skies.

The Austrians knew that supplies which were stored high on the mountain tops were being safely transported by the retreating Italians. The ground forces of Austria had hoped to capture those stores. But mountain fronts are taken by inches and feet, not yards and miles.

Enemy Planes Come Closer

Men who had worked days rigging up a cable across a valley groaned as they watched the enemy planes getting closer and closer to their hidden means of transportating their huge heavy artillery to the rear. One morning at daybreak a giant gun was eased out onto the cable. A gunner rode a swaying platform, a rope tied to each end of the gun ran to mountain peaks between which the gun was to be ferried. Those ropes acted as brakes and motive power for the gun’s movements. The man on the platform signaled constantly to both sides to control the speed and angle of his passage.

As the gun neared the halfway mark in its dizzy trek, the Italian suddenly signaled frantically for full speed ahead. A roaring Fokker D6 was racing up from the valley futilely pursued by an S.V.A. The Austrian pilot’s guns began hammering out lead. The Italian on his swaying perch crouched low. Bullets raked the sides of the cannon, whined off into space. Nearer and nearer raced the enemy plane. The Italian without even a pistol seemed calm in the face of such overpowering odds. His waving hands continued to signal his comrades at the two ends of the cable. For a moment he held one hand extended like an orchestra conductor holding a long note. Then abruptly he dropped it to his side and grabbed the ropes. The men at the drum controlling the cable’s tension understood the signal. They kicked out the rachet guide and the drum raced in reverse, giving out slack.

The Austrian pilot coming up from below sure of a kill and a report to headquarters which would send bombers to wreck the gun transporting equipment, suddenly yanked at his controls as a look of horror flashed in his eyes. Too late! The sagging cable smashed down into the leading edge of his top wing. The cannon and its human cargo lurched and swayed with the impact. The Austrian plane stopped. A twisted mass, it hung for a moment then plunged straight down.

The Italian wiped sweat from his dusky brow, looked over his equipment, nodded approval and gave the signal that would take him and his charge to their destination.

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

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

Link - Posted by David on March 16, 2020 @ 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 June 1936 cover, It’s the L.V.G. C6 being pursued through the Italian mountains by a Macchi M14!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3606ITALY’S air force was a meager thing in 1914; but as soon as the greater powers started tearing each other apart Italy concentrated on engines and planes and by the time she entered the war she was so well winged with fighting planes that she was selling her surplus to the Allies. ”

After men have struggled up thousands of feet of treacherous slippery mountains in continuous danger from snow slides as well as from the Austrian enemy, they do not give up their hard-gained toehold until the last man is out. Not only have the defending Italians in the cover picture dragged themselves to a dizzy height, but on their aching backs have borne parts of their mountain artillery piece. Others carried wicker cartons containing shells and food. That one small mountain gun was now holding up an entire Austrian regiment which was trying to penetrate a snow-choked pass in the narrow gorge below.

Frantic Demands for Help

Feverishly the Austrians dug the pass out, hoping to get through in single file. Then the Italian sharpshooting artillerymen smacked a few of their precious shells into the precipitous cliffs above. As though a hydrant had been opened forty or fifty tons of tightly banked snow toppled down into the gorge burying dozens of men under a cold suffocating blanket. The moment this was accomplished the cannon was swabbed out and the Italians awaited the time for another salvo. The terrain made it impossible for the Austrians to get the range of their enemies above, so as usual when the foot sloggers are brought to a halt frantic demands for help went back to the rear, to the aviation unit.

Only one plane was available, but it would be enough, the airmen said. What was one small cannon to a snorting L.V.G. (Luft Verkehrs Gesellschaft) C6, a mighty two-seater yanked into dizzy heights by its churning 230 h.p. Benz. With two machine-guns turned on the brazen Italians the cannon would soon be silenced.

Up into the cold air raced the ton and a half plane. Its observer and pilot ground their teeth as they thought of the carnage caused by the single piece of artillery. So intent were they on revenge that they did not spot a tiny single-seater Macchi M14 which was quickly closing in from below. In front and on the same level appeared the Italians and their magic cannon. “I’ll give them the Spandau first,” yelled the pilot to his observer, “then I’ll bank in close and you finish them with your Parabellum.”

Blazing Cannon

The front gun blazed at the cannoneers crouched on their platform behind their gun. They waited until the ship was about to swerve. Suddenly the gun crew came to life. As the plane banked and the observer sounded off, the cannon blazed. A direct hit through the right wings. An aileron was out of commission. The Austrian plane lurched crazily past the pursuing Macchi, lost altitude in an uncontrollable spiral. The horrified Austrians in the pass saw it loom above them, then fall out of control in a screaming dive into the tons of snow directly above.

A faint crackling which grew into a thunderous mounting crescendo reverberated through the valley. The ground shook and groaned as the entire side of the mountain slipped and came thundering down on the massed Austrians. For ten minutes the murderous snow swept down, and then through the mist of powdery flakes the Italians looked down on a flat narrow plateau. There was no pass, no Austrians, no target left for the defenders. Their commanding officer shrugged his shoulders and beamed on his gunners. He pulled out a bottle of the stuff Saint Bernard dogs carry in canteens. He smiled, passed it to his gun-sighter and said, “After you, sir!”

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

“Famous Sky Fighters, December 1936″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on March 11, 2020 @ 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 December 1936 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Major David McKelvy Peterson, Werner Voss, and Captain Charles Guynemer!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features three Lieutenants—Rene Montrion, George “Lucky” Kyle, Max Ritter von Mulzer—and a Major—the incomparable Raoul Lufbery! Don’t miss it!

“Famous Sky Fighters, November 1936″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on January 29, 2020 @ 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 November 1936 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Major Edward Mannock, Lt. Clyde Balsley, and Lt. Victor Chapman!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Major David McKelvy Peterson, Werner Voss, and Captain Charles Guynemer! Don’t miss it!

“Famous Sky Fighters, October 1936″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on January 15, 2020 @ 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 1936 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Colonel Charles Kerwood, S.A. Andree, Rene Fonck, Major Christopher Draper and the first licensed woman pilot in the US, Harriet Quimby!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Major Edward Mannock, Lt. Clyde Balsley, and Lt. Victor Chapman! Don’t miss it!

“Famous Sky Fighters, September 1936″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on January 1, 2020 @ 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 1936 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Captain John Blair, Lt. Paul Neibling, and French sky fighter Lt. M. Navarre!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Colonel Charles Kerwood, S.A. Andree, Rene Fonck, Major Christopher Draper and the first licensed woman pilot in the US, Harriet Quimby! Don’t miss it!

“Cloud Trap” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on December 13, 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.

When Silent Orth’s flight takes a real beating from a swarming mass of Fokkers, Orth takes no time to lick his wounds before putting his retaliation into action. From the pages of the June 1935 Sky Fighters, Silent Orth sets the “Cloud Trap!”

A Sinister Pall of Smoke Hangs Over the Heavens—and It’s Up to Orth to Dispel Its Fiendish Effect on His Wing-Mates!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lt. Luigi Olivari

Link - Posted by David on November 27, 2019 @ 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 it’s the inimitable Italian flying ace, Lt. Luigi Olivari’s Most Thrilling Sky Fight!

Luigi Olivari was born in Milan and educated in Switzerland in a military school. Although but a boy in his minority when the war began, he left home and school immediately and enlisted in the ranks of the Italian Army. He rose swiftly in the ranks and was commissioned a Lieutenant in tho Alpine Corps, those rugged mountain troops that did so much to protect the fertile Italian plains from Austrian army raids. After brief service as an officer in that branch he was transferred to the flying corps. Sent to the front he was assigned to a squadron flying little Pomilio monoplanes with Fiat engines. These were the fastest but trickiest of front line lighting machines of their day. Luigi Olivari downed three Austrian planes in his first sky battle. When killed on October 15, 1917, he had run his score to 12 official and was the third ranking Italian ace. The account below is taken from an interview he gave to an American correspondent.

 

DOWNING A NIGHT RAIDER

by Lieutenant Luigi Olivari • Sky Fighters, October 1936

FIGHTING by day and fighting by night are not at all similar. Of course, one uses his guns in the same manner in both cases; but tactics and strategy are entirely different. In day time one maneuvers to secure the advantage of the sun, so that he may come down in the path of the sun’s rays unseen by his antagonist. To try the same tactics at night, say to maneuver into the path of the moon’s rays, would be fatal. For instead of being hidden you would only succeed in revealing your presence to the enemy. Then another thing, in day fighting one usually tries to gain position behind and above the enemy. In night fighters against bombers such a position is fatal. The glare of your exhausts gives your presence away, and the night bombers are so arranged that many guns can be brought to bear on the rear, in front and to all sides. The only proper way to attack is from directly beneath.

One has to unlearn most of his day fighting tactics when he goes on night patrol. I had had good schooling before I ever went on night patrol. That accounts, I believe, for my success in my first night flight, when I succeeded in bringing down an Austrian Gotha that was attempting to bomb one of our ammunition factories,

A Moonlit Night

Front line patrols had reported that a formation of three Gothas had crossed our lines, proceeding in the general direction of T——. The night was one of bright moonlight, ideal for bombing. And I must also say helpful to us, the flyers of the night patrol, who were supposed to keep them from laying their eggs—and down them if possible.

With Captain M——, Lieutenants S—— and G——, and Sergeant T——, I took off from our airdrome and flew to intercept the night raiders. Even in moonlight one cannot see far at night, hence the Gothas passed us unseen. They came over at a much higher level than they had been reported. It is only when the anti-aircraft battery protecting the factory at T—— began to fire at them, that our formation located them.

We all dashed in then with full power. Our instructions were to split the formation if possible. That we managed to do even before the night raiders had a chance to drop their bombs. Captain M—— and two others went for the Boche leader. Sergeant T—— and I then attacked the Boche on the right. The sergeant went up above and the Boche gunners opened up on him with a heavy fire which he returned. I could see the tracers from both ships racing back and forth like a streaking shuttle in power loom.

Firing at Close Range

Taking advantage of the Boche gunner’s momentary distraction with Sergeant T——, I dived down and came up with full power immediately beneath, my sights fastened on the Boche’s black belly. Knowing that they were armored in places beneath I waited until I was very close before firing. Then when I did, I rooked my stick fore and aft, so that my tracers traversed the whole length of the fuselage.

The Boche gunners saw me now, however, and they switched their fire to me. But their tracers went harmlessly through my outer wings. They couldn’t reach me in a vital spot, for parts of their own plane intervened. I was hovering under their blind spot.

With speed lost, my ship began to wobble. I had fired a whole belt of ammunition into the Boche’s belly and still nothing had happened. I thought my surprise attack from beneath was going to fail and was sick at heart. But no!

A little tongue of fire began to lick along the fuselage. Fanned by the air blast it leaped into a giant flame, the heat of which I felt against my cheeks as I fell off into an uncontrolled spin. Then there was an explosion. My own plane seemed to suddenly thrust sideways. It groaned under the sudden strain and the braces crackled.

But my motor was roaring, so I soon managed to regain control.

There below and to one side of me was a night raider falling in flames. The other two Gothas were streaking homewards with my comrades darting in at them and sniping from all sides like swallows attacking a hawk.

The bombs that were dropped did not do any damage, and I had succeeded in gaining my first victory over a night raider.

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