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F.E. Rechnitzer’s “Three Tough Days”

Link - Posted by David on September 18, 2020 @ 6:00 am in


The Courier-News, Bridgewater, NJ, Friday, 15 November 1918, page 11.

F.E. RECHNITZER tells of his harrowing encounter with a Boche prison camp after his plane was forced to land on the wrong side of the lines. A prisoner of the Germans, this war aviator was given a strange third degree—and made the victim of a Boche Colonel’s grim joke!

Three Tough Days
by F.E. RECHNITZER

FLYING a Sopwith Camel in good weather was a job which kept a pilot on his toes every minute of the time. But in bad weather, with visibility almost zero, and rain driving in over the cowling—well, that was just plain hell.
    And that was just the sort of thing I faced on the morning of September 28th, 1918—the day the Belgians started their drive to rid their country of the grey-clad army of the Kaiser.
    We’d lined up earlier in the morning for patrol duty only to be called back by our C.O., who said that it was murder to send men into the air in that sort of weather. But no sooner had we changed into dry outfits than we were ordered into the air again by the Wing commander.
    So off we hopped at intervals to ground-strafe the enemy from the air while the Belgians hammered away from the ground.
    The first thing I did on reaching the storm-curtained battle in the muck was to look for a target on which to unload my four twenty pounders. For those four bombs nestling under the fuselage didn’t help the flying qualities of my Camel a bit.
    I finally spotted a cluster of transport trucks bogged down in the mud. I circled above them and pulled the bomb toggles. I saw the muck fly, but when the smoke settled the transport was still there. An Aldis sight wasn’t so hot as a bomb aimer even in clear weather.
    I circled over the battlefield again, hiding my head behind the low windshield to escape the impact of the rain.
    Among the things the brass hat had lectured us on back in the mess was the activities of the R.A.F. during the coming drive. We were to take notes on them when the different outfits were to take off—bombers, fighters, ground strafers, photography jobs and the balloon burners.
    I made notes and took the paper back to the hut in an effort to memorize them. Some of the fellows got theirs down pat and burned the paper according to instructions. But I was slow and by bedtime I still wasn’t sure of them, so I put the paper in my pocket, meaning to review it before breakfast, just before shoving off. I hadn’t had a chance, however, and the piece of paper was still in my pocket.
    I thought of it now as I flew along in the storm, fighting the stick every minute of the time to keep my little Camel right side up. I tried to find a target for my machine guns on the ground, but I couldn’t tell a Belgian from a German. Everything was covered with mud. The men I saw traveling northeast might be Huns retreating, and then again they might be Belgians advancing.

THEN suddenly the storm slackened. The driving rain changed to a drifting mist and the ceiling dropped another hundred feet or so.
    Diving lower, I found myself welcomed by a crew of Hun machine-gunners. They poured it into me plenty, so back into the soup I ducked.
vHow long that ducking business kept up I don’t know. But I soon discovered that I was well lost, muddled, befuddled and all the rest of it. My compass was spinning like a top and everything on the ground looked alike. And every time I went down below the ceiling to take a look around, the Germans on the ground made it hot for me. At least I knew I was still over enemy-held territory.
    I tried my best to get straightened out, but it was no go. I might as well have been flying in China for all I could recognize on the plastered terrain below.
    Presently I swept low, and much to my relief not a shot was fired at me. Not a single tracer steamed through the swirling mist. Right then my old heart settled back to normal revs. That would mean that I was back within my own lines.
    But where? I didn’t hanker to get caught in another grey wall of mist and then find myself out over the North Sea. So I decided to set down in one of the fields below and ask where I was, locate some landmark and dig for home.
    I picked out a field, slid in for a landing and glanced around as I unfastened my belt. Somebody shouted. I looked over my shoulder to see three grey-clad figures break out of the bushes alongside the road bordering the field.

THEY were Huns!
    I slammed the throttle up against the post. The Clerget picked up the beat and dragged the Camel over the far hedge.
    Wham! Something hit the ship with a crash. The Clerget coughed, and I had a hunch I knew what had happened. Soon my nose told me I was right. A lucky shot from one of those Hun rifles had smacked my fuel tank.
    In a flash I reached for the valve of my reserve tank. Wonder of miraculous wonders, it began to feed right away. I heard another volley as the Camel dug for the low-hanging mists, while I wiped the sweat off my forehead with my sleeve. What a story I’d have to tell!
    Then it dawned on me that I still had to find my way back to the squadron before I could tell anybody anything.
    I tried blind flying, but it was no go—not with just a compass, an airspeed indicator and a tachometer to help me. Well, to save time—I mean in telling what happened—I ran out of gas. My reserve tank, holding a half hour’s supply, went dry and I had to land.
    Snapping off the switch, I headed for a beet field, set my trucks down in the mud. I was about to congratulate myself on making a good landing when the wheels dropped into a ditch and the Camel stood up on its nose. I jumped to the ground—and turned to face three civilians.

THEY all started to talk at once in a language that didn’t mean a thing to me. I soon decided that they were Belgians talking Flemish. But it might as well have been Arabic for all it meant to me.
    So I went into a pantomime act, trying my best to inform them that I wanted to reach a telephone. At last one of them nodded that he understood and pointed across the field to a road.
    I grinned and sighed with relief. Evidently, I thought, I had landed on my own side of the lines.
    Just as we reached the road we met a girl and two youngsters who were evidently hurrying to see the plane which had landed on its nose.
    The girl, a kid of about seventeen, stopped and spoke to me. I recognized a German word or two, but couldn’t quite get what she said. Then she tried French. I shrugged my shoulders, and muttered something in English. She laughed and replied in well-accented English.
    “You are an English aviator?” she asked, apparently surprised. “What are you doing here on the road?”
    “Going to telephone my squadron an’ tell them to send a tender for me,” I replied. “But I’m American, not English.”
    “Do you not know that this is Boche territory?” she said.
    “Boche!” I yelped. “You—you mean that I’m down on the wrong side of the lines?”
    She nodded and the rest of them shook their heads in agreement, and began to point in all directions.
    I was finally convinced and started back to perform the rite of burning my ship before it fell into the hands of the enemy. To do this, I had to lug some sheaves of wheat from a bordering field. I refused to allow the willing Belgians to help me for fear of getting them into a jam.
    Now a bus will catch fire quite easily when you don’t want it to burn. But try to get one perking on purpose. That’s a different story. I had to break open my oil tank with my Very light pistol, finally pounding for dear life with the heavy barrel, and then smear oil over the fuselage, before I finally managed to get the fabric to curling merrily.
    Then we hustled away from there, with the girl in the lead.

THE Belgians and the kids disappeared after we left the field, but the girl stayed, and motioned me toward a house just at the edge of the village which was now in sight.
    We entered the house and I took off my fur-lined flying suit which I had put on in place of the one that had gotten wet earlier in the day. Just as I handed it to the young chap who seemed to be the man of the house, a steady rattle of shots reached our ears.
    The boy and girl turned pale and glanced at each other fearfully. For a moment I could picture the house being raided by half the German army. Then I realized what had happened. In my hurry to burn the Camel and get away I had forgotten all about the ammunition left in my Vickers belts. Now they were popping way in the fire just a few fields away. Those Belgians were plenty scared and they had a right to be. Helping Allied soldiers to escape was a serious offense. The noise of those shots would surely attract attention. I cursed myself bitterly for my forgetfulness.
    Through the window of the steamy little kitchen we saw a group of Germans hustle by in a few minutes.
    “I’ve got to get away from here before they begin to search,” I said to the girl. “How far is it to Holland?”
    “About ten kilometers,” she said, pointing toward the north. The man interrupted. She spoke to him a moment and then continued. “He says you must be careful of the electric wire if you plan to make an attempt to get into Holland.”
    I’d heard plenty about that hellish wire, but I was determined to try.
    The old lady of the house fixed me up a cup of strong black stuff that passed for coffee and gave me a couple of slices of black bread smeared with lard.
    “I’ll save that for later,” I said, pocketing the bread. “I’m going to try and make the Border tonight, and slip through the wire at dawn. I’ll be hungry by then.”
    The young fellow went upstairs and came back down with a coat and a pair of trousers in his hand. The clothes weren’t new but fitted fairly well.
    As I slipped the coat on the girl handed me a half dozen lumps of sugar. “Smuggled from Holland,” she smiled.
    I thanked her and slipped the sugar into the pocket of my Bedford Cords, little realizing the part that sugar would play before the day was over. Then I put on the trousers, wrapped my scarf around my neck and put on an old cap the young fellow had taken from a nail. I transferred the two slices of bread to my coat pocket, and turned to the girl.
    “If you can,” I said, “notify my folks that I’m all right.” I gave her the address, which she wrote down.
    “The Burgomaster will see that your people get word,” she said as she folded the paper and slipped it into her dress.
    I thanked the people in whose house I had rested, through the girl, and then started out, hoping to get to the Dutch Border by dark.
    The boy had informed me that a brook about a kilometer west of the village ran due north to the Border and that if I followed that I would have little trouble keeping my direction. I found the brook and turned my face toward Holland and freedom.

I DON’T think I had traveled three miles before I was startled out of my wits by a man stepping out from a clump of bushes. He didn’t say a word as he handed me three raw eggs. I was a little suspicious as I took the eggs, but when I saw the light in the old man’s eyes I knew that he was trying to do his bit toward helping the cause. He had recognized me as a stranger and evidently guessed the rest.
    Putting the eggs in my coat pocket I hustled on, keeping to the brook and crossing under roads by walking in the water under the low bridges.
    Presently I came to a bridge with a wire across it which forced me to cross the road. I crawled up the bank, and just as I started across I saw an old woman come out from behind the walls of a barnyard. Now I hate to think that that old Belgian woman had anything to do with what occurred a couple of minutes later. But this is what happened: She looked me over from the other side of the bridge. Her eyes took in the thick flying boots I had partly covered with my tattered trousers. Then she turned around and went back into the barnyard.
    By the time I was across the road I heard a shout. I looked back to see two Germans wearing brass breast plates dangling by a chain on their chests. These plates, I found out later, denoted that the men were military police.
    One of them fired a shot as I jumped into the brook and started to splash through the water. Another shot and they were in the brook too. I jumped up on the bank and then back into the brook as I ran trying to duck the slugs cutting through the bushes. As I went I ripped the two slices of bread from my pocket and threw them into the bushes, hoping to shield the Belgians if I were caught.
    I came to a wall. I thought of jumping over, running along the wall on the other side, then popping back again. I’d seen that done once in the movies. But, as usual, things didn’t happen the way they happen in the movies. For as I jumped over I dropped right into the arms of a German who was walking along the path inside the wall.
    He said something which I did not understand, but I did understand the language of the gun he held against my belly. I reached for the clouds, which were beginning to lift, by the way, but a couple of hours too late.
    The only funny feature of my capture was the eggs. One of the other Huns began to frisk me the minute he came over the wall. When his hands touched the eggs he jumped, and began to point with lots of excited words at my pocket. I was sure he was saying something about grenades, so I reached in and took out the eggs. He looked so sheepish I had to laugh.
    After a little discussion they took me to a village, got a two wheeled cart and loaded me on. There I sat, a guard on either side with ready rifles and two following along on bicycles. I was feeling low and pretty desperate by now.
    It was almost dark when we reached the next village. I wouldn’t have known where I was if it hadn’t been for the girl. I saw her standing beside the road as we passed. As she saw me her face paled and she turned hurriedly away.
    “You know this town?” asked one of my guards in broken English.
    I shook my head.
    He asked me that same question in a dozen different ways while the cart stood in the village square, and each time I insisted that it might be any one of the hundreds of villages in Belgium as far as I was concerned.
    At last an automobile appeared on the scene and in a few minutes I was being whisked away to headquarters in Eecloo. It was here that the fireworks really started.

AFTER a few preliminary questions by a major, the coat and trousers which I had put on over my flying togs were taken away from me, together with the cap. Then I was led in to a high ceilinged office, to face a square-faced old colonel “Sit down,” he growled. For a few moments he looked me over. “So,” he finally went on, “we catch a British flyer behind our lines wearing civilian clothes over his uniform.”
    Right then the dumb trick I had pulled hit me right between the eyes, and he knew what I was thinking. He took off his glasses and sat playing with them as he looked at me. I felt like a cornered rat looking at a cat.
    “You have had help on this side,” he finally snapped.
    I shook my head.
    “Then where did you get these?”
    He motioned toward the coat and trousers.
    I had my story ready. I’d been thinking about those clothes on the way. So I looked him straight in the eye and went to it.
    “Why,” I said, “I went into an old barn this morning to get out of the rain. They were hanging on a peg so I stole them. Thought they would make it easier for me to get into Holland.”
    The old fellow glared. “And the eggs?” he barked.
    “Got them in the same place,” I bluffed. “Just as I was leaving I saw a hen on a nest and kicked her off and there were those eggs. If I’d waited a couple of minutes I might have had four.”
    The colonel’s eyes glowered at me across the desk. “That’s a lie,” he thundered. “These Belgians must be taught a lesson and I mean to find out who aided you.”
    I shrugged my shoulders. “Who would help a flyer to escape, especially give him clothes?” I argued.
    The colonel leaned back in his chair. I can see him yet in that dimly lighted room, his stubby fingers touching together under his chin. I can see the sly smile steal across his face as he leaned forward suddenly.
    “How can you prove that you are an aviator who was trying to escape?” He pointed toward the coat and trousers. “Remember, you were caught wearing these.”
    “But you found my plane, didn’t you?” I asked.
    “My dear fellow,” he grinned. “A dozen or more of your planes came down in our territory today. Have you any particular plane in mind?”
    I sighed in relief at this bit of news. I said:
    “I burned the ship I came down in; that’s orders, you know. It was a Camel.”
    He picked up a slip of paper, glanced over it for a moment, then turned to me. “We have three burned Sopwith Camels on our list. Could you by any chance name a town near which you came down? Surely you know the country well.” I shook my head and settled lower in my chair. His questions were getting awkward.
    “You realize that if you cannot prove that you are a pilot there is a severe penalty for being found behind our lines in civilian clothes?” he said steadily.
    I couldn’t think of an answer to that one. I was pretty worried by now.

HE BEGAN to write on a paper he had before him. For a while there wasn’t a sound except the scratching of the pen. He seemed to have either forgotten me or was giving the words he had just spoken a chance to sink in. And believe me they were sinking. So was my heart.
    I slumped lower in the chair, and stretched my tired legs and put my hands in my pockets. My fingers touched the sugar, then something else that made my heart flop over. It was paper! I knew in a flash that it was the notes I had taken down as the brass hat outlined the air activities for the first two days of the push. One day had passed, but there was another to come. And the information on that slip of paper would be very clear to this German officer.
    The information would not have much bearing on the outcome of the war. But it did mean that with that information in their possession the German airmen might be at the right place at the right time, and some Allied pilot might go west because of my negligence.
    Now I was glad that they had been so busy asking me questions which they hoped would allow them to vent their spleen on some unfortunate Belgian or two, that they had overlooked searching me.
    I had to get rid of that paper before somebody thought of going through my uniform!
    Then I got an idea. Taking a piece of sugar from my pocket I sat toying with it, tossing it into the air and catching it.
    “What is that?” snapped the colonel looking up,
    I tried to be casual as I held it out to him, and more casual as I said, “Just a lump of sugar. Always carry it with me. Fond of sweets.”
    He took it, examined it and then handed it back with a growl, I slipped it into my mouth and began to chew, making as much noise as possible.
    While I ate the first lump I squirmed around in my chair restlessly. While I wriggled I tore off a fair sized piece of the paper and wrapped it around a lump of sugar.
    I slipped it quickly into my mouth and went on with my crunching, and at the same time wrapped up another lump in the precious notes. Once or twice the colonel looked up in annoyance as I ground the sugar between my teeth. But I remained impervious to his glances and continued to munch my sugar.
    It took four lumps and a lot of swallowing, but I did away with the notes and believe me, wet paper sure can stick in a person’s throat.
    After a while he turned his attention to me again and began to ask questions about what was going on over on the other side. When I told him that he more than likely knew more about what was going on than I did, he got peeved. I tried to explain that we got our war information from the papers and that they were usually three or four days old. When I offered to bet him a pound that he had already seen that day’s London papers, he got mad. He finally ordered them to take me to another room and search me.
    They did. that. But all they found after stripping me to the hide, was two lumps of sugar, a package of cigarettes and fifteen francs. They were half an hour late.
    Then they gave me something to eat and left me to myself. I had nothing to do but think and do a lot of wishing. I did plenty of both.
    About ten o’clock I was called into the colonel’s office. He seemed quite friendly. Offered me a cigarette and I countered by offering him one of mine. He put his away and took mine. Then the questions started again. He wanted information about who had helped me. When he drew a blank there he went after war information and again discovered that when it came to knowledge about the activities of the Allies I was a numskull of the first water.
    Then things took an ugly turn. He began to talk about trading. It was my life for information against my Belgian friends or information about the Allied activities.

I TRIED to convince him that I didn’t know a thing about the Allied maneuvers and that no one had helped me. He persisted that I had at least heard rumors, and that he didn’t believe I had stolen the clothes.
    “We can shoot you as a spy for masquerading behind enemy lines/’ he threatened.
    I had a hunch he was bluffing. I realized that I had done wrong in putting on those clothes. Perhaps they did have a right to put me up in front of a firing squad. But I didn’t think they’d dare. The Belgians had seen me come down. I had been paraded through two villages whose inhabitants would no doubt tell the British that I had been seen alive in the hands of the Germans.
    My line of reasoning might have been all wrong. I’m not sure yet that it wasn’t. And what happened a morning or so later had me convinced at the time that it was.
    Day and night were the same. Questions at ungodly hours, until I began to ponder over the feasibility of giving the old boy some false information.
    On the morning of the third day a young officer came into the room and told me to dress. Wondering what was up now, I followed him downstairs. But instead of going to the colonel’s office, we went outside.
    There, lined up on the garden path was a squad of soldiers, six of them. I had lots of time to count them before I was through. The men fell in at my side and led by the officer we walked down the garden path.
    I thought of a million things as the officer told me to step from the path and stand by the wall.
    There was the way. There was the officer. There was the firing squad. And there was I, scared to death.
    The officer offered me a cigarette, but I shook my head.
    I’ve often seen pictures and movies of men facing a firing squad and they always refused a bandage for their eyes. They were supposed to be brave men, not afraid to look down the long barreled rifles from whose blazing muzzles slugs would fly and tear their manly chests to shreds.
    Perhaps that’s the way a brave man should act, but I didn’t feel that way about it. If there had been a potato sack handy I would gladly have crawled in and then asked somebody to tie me up.

    I glanced up at the back window of headquarters. There stood the old colonel, grinning as he looked down where I stood with my back against a garden wall quaking in my rubber-soled flying boots. The boots were lined with sheep’s wool, but my feet were cold.
    I heard a motor stop outside, and wondered if there were going to be witnesses. My heart looped and then went into a side-slip as the officer shouted a command.
    The rifles rattled, but instead of pointing at me they dropped to the men’s shoulders. Bewildered, I turned to the officer. He smiled and pointed to the gate, where the soldiers waited. My knees were like fresh putty as I walked through that gate.
    “Get in.” The officer pointed toward the car. I crawled in, and in a few minutes we were standing on the platform of a railroad station.
    “You were frightened back there in the garden, yes?” grinned the officer.
    “Frightened!” I almost yelled. “What do you think? Say, what was the big idea?”

THE officer laughed. “It was just the colonel’s little joke.
    “Yes, you see he had been threatening to have you shot as a spy when you would give him no information. Last night he thought of this as a farewell as you leave for the prison camp at Rasstatt. It was not funny to you, was it? I could not help, could not tell you, for he stood in the window.”
    For a moment I was speechless. “Listen,” I said, tapping the young officer on the chest. “If he likes jokes, tell him this one and see if he thinks it’s funny. Maybe he’ll decide the joke’s on him.”
    Then I told the young German about what I had done with the notes and how I had used the sugar to accomplish my purpose. His eyes opened a bit wider as I spread it on, stretching the importance of the paper a point or two.
    “Be sure an’ tell him everything,” I snapped.
    “I shall tell him,” the officer smiled.
    “But I do not think he will consider it funny.” He paused and glanced at the guards. “But I do,” he whispered.
    The train came in. I left for Rasstatt in company with an armed guard sitting on either side.
    I’m certain that the officer must have given the colonel my message, for no word about me reached either the States or England until after I had been released and sent into Switzerland a couple of months later. Evidently the colonel was having a last crack at getting even.
    At home I was given up for dead. Letters of condolence came to my people as word of my supposed demise spread. I’ve read those letters. They were nice, but they raised the devil with my ego.


Sky Fighters art department knocked up this facsimile of an official
communication regarding the Rechnitzer’s fate.

And quite a while later, news of Rechnitzer’s safe release is reported in The Courier-News!


The Courier-News, Bridgewater, NJ, Friday, 10 December 1918, page 6.

“Famous Sky Fighters, November 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on September 9, 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 1937 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Captain Donald MacLaren, Captain W.D. “Bill” Williams, Roland Garros and Anthony Fokker!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Lt. Paul Pavelka, Captain Georges Madon, General Italo Balboas and famous American adventurer Walter Wellman! Don’t miss it!

“The Return of Silent Orth” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on August 14, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

ORTH is back for one last battle! 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 had been nine months since the previous Silent Orth story graced the pages of Sky Fighters, but the quiet pilot has returned for one final dogfight in Hell skies! Seriously injured and captured by the Germans, Orth finds his way back to an Allied hospital only to be blown back into action by German bombs—and it’s pure retribution for the trio of German Aces who tried to stop him! It’s “The Return of Silent Orth” from the pages of the December 1936 Sky Fighters!

A Hun Bomb Blasts a Wounded Yank from a Hospital Cot to the Middle of Battle!

“Famous Sky Fighters, September 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on July 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 September 1937 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Major Jimmy Doolittle, Armand Pinsard, and Captain Bruno Loerzer!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Captain Donald MacLaren, Captain W.D. “Bill” Williams, Roland Garros and Anthony Fokker! Don’t miss it!

“Solo Show” by F.E. Rechnitzer

Link - Posted by David on July 10, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author—F.E. Rechnitzer. Tip Hunley was a forgetful sort—he would even forget his commanding officer’s direct orders. The result of which found him grounded the night before his squadron was to set to bomb the ammunition dump at Roulents early the next morning. However, he neglected to remember that he had been grounded when he took a Sopwith Camel up and took on the Roulents dump all on his own! Surely an unforgettable story he could one day tell his grandkids! From the pages of the September 1934 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s F.E. Rechnitzer’s “Solo Show!”

Tip Hurley Was Grounded for Disobedience—But No Brass Hat Could Stop That Hell-Bent Sky Rider from Taking a Crack at the Roulents Dump!

“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!

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