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Silent Orth Returns in “Single Action” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on August 11, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

IT’S been a few months, but Silent Orth is back! Silent Orth—ironically named for his penchant to boast, but blessed with the skills to carry out his promises—comes up against a trio of deadly marksmen who manage to take down their victims with but a single bullet! Orth must take down all three before fresh new recruits arrive the next day—The problem is, Orth has vowed to take each of them out with a single shot. From the July 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s Silent Orth in “Single Action!”

Silent Orth Goes Gunning for Three German Flyers Whose Diabolical Tactics Call for Quick Reprisal!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Sergeant Take Engmann

Link - Posted by David on August 9, 2017 @ 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 we have German Flying Corp Sergeant Take Engmann’s most thrilling sky fight!

All the great heroes of the war in the air did not fly single-seater fighting planes, and all of the heroes did not accomplish their missions single handed. Some of the great feats were accomplised by the pilots of the bigger, bulkier, clumsier, two and three-seater observation and bombing planes. Sergeant Engmann was one of the heroes of this latter class. Obscure, reticent, retiring by nature, his own part in the many successful missions accomplished by the greatest of all German observation aces, Captain Heydemarck, whose pilot he was, marks him as one of the outstanding flyers of the war.

Between them, flying together, they accounted for over a dozen Allied Planes, despite the fact that destroying enemy aircraft was not their primary duty. The account below is from one of the few written records Engmann left.

 

AGAINST DESPERATE ODDS

by Sergeant Take Engmann • Sky Fighters, May 1935

CAPTAIN HEYDEMARCK was given the initial mission of photographing a Russian concentration camp in France and plotting it on our maps of the enemy terrain, so that our night bombers might attack it later. But we decided to do a little bombing of our own, so I loaded our plane to the limit with forty kilo bombs. The morning mists still lay on the hills and valleys of the Marne when we flew over the lines at 6 a.m.

By using the rising clouds as a mask for our entry, I managed to skip from one to another and keep concealed from enemy patrols. When we got over Mailly, the clouds had broken some, and the morning sun began to break through. The Russian camp lay beneath us.

I idled the motor and nosed down, leveled off when about 300 meters over the camp. Heydemarck snapped his pictures as I circled around. As soon as he had finished, I began dropping the bombs; one, two, three. They hit squarely in the center of the camp and set the barracks on fire. I headed for home.

But I had not gone far when I decided that the whole of the Allied air forces had been called on to intercept us. One after another French ships, Nieuports, Caudrons, Breguets, poked their noses through the rising mists to come hurtling at my Rumpler. I decided to make a bold show, so headed abruptly for the first Nieuport. Just as it commenced firing, I pulled into a swift turn, letting Heydemarck in the back seat take care of it, while I nosed up for the belly of another Nieuport.

Heydemarck’s guns and mine spoke at the same instant, two short bursts! My Nieuport slid off on one wing, turned over, and went spinning down through the clouds. Heydemarck had managed to set fire to the other’s gas tank.

More enemy planes pounced on me swiftly. Heydemarck got his guns in action, but an enemy burst clicked a right strut. Another snapped a flying wire. My left wing dragged. I zigzagged, plunged into a cloud. Saw ten more enemy planes in a group when I came out. They attacked from all sides.

I don’t know what happened for several seconds. We went around and around. Heydemarck kept firing. I fired short bursts, wary of using all my ammunition.

Back and forth, over and up. Then a fast dive, a quick turn. Somehow I found myself in another cloud. The enemy guns were silent. Heydemarck was smiling.

In another moment the enemy formation met us again, guns blazing. I wheeled swiftly, darted back into the cloud. When I broke free of the mists, I had lost the enemy far off to my left. I banked again, raced in a straight line for the trenches. I could see them below. The Nieuports raced after me.

When I skirted over the trenches I was not more than 100 feet off the ground and traveling with the speed of light. Our Archies and machine-guns protected me.

We landed safely at Attigny, our pictures still intact. Not a bullet had touched them! Heydemarck pointed at our one remaining bomb: “What if one of their bullets had hit that detonator?” he said.

I had forgotten to drop it in the excitement of the fight. “Yes, what if one had?” I replied.

My Most Thrilling Sky Flight: Lt. Waldo Heinrichs

Link - Posted by David on July 26, 2017 @ 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 we have American Flyer First Lieutenant Waldo Heinrichs’ most thrilling sky fight!

First Lieutenant Waldo Heinrichs was among the first contingent of flying cadets to be graduated from the air combat school at Issoudun, France, the great flying field established by the American Air Service on foreign soil after the United States entered the war. He was one of tho original members of the famous 95th Pursuit Squadron, the first American squadron to do actual front line duty with the American Army. Among his squadron mates in the 95th were Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt and Lieutenant Sumner Sewell.

No other American flyer ever fought through the hail of bullet fire absorbed by Lieutenant Heinrichs and lived long enough afterward to tell about it in his own words. The account of his last flight as written in his diary is one of the most amazing records of the war. He was shot down and captured by the enemy soldiers on the 17th of September, 1918, after compiling a record of sheer courage second to none.

 

THE BULLET ABSORBER

by Lieutenant Waldo Heinrichs • Sky Fighters, April 1935

WITH six other pilots from the 95th, I encountered an enemy patrol of nine planes flying at 2,500 meters. Lieutenant Mitchell, the flight commander, signalled for an immediate attack and went down in a dive for the tail of the first German. His guns jammed in the first dive. I followed on the same Fokker he had picked, one of seven which had remained to fight after our attack.

But my guns jammed also, at the first burst!

While zooming up, trying to clear, I fell into a spin. All seven attacked me in my spinning Nieuport. I straightened, hurdled a burst from a forward attacking plane. But the Fokker behind me got in a burst at close range. An explosive bullet hit me in the left cheek, then shattered my windshield. I spit out teeth and blood (16 teeth, I found out afterward). I pulled into a swift renversement, came out beneath the attacker behind.

Two more explosive bullets hit me in the left arm, tearing through, breaking the elbow. Two more broke in my right hand, nearly tore off my little finger. Another hit in the left thigh. One in the left ankle. One in the right heel. Two more hit my leg.

I tried to yank the throttle wide to get more speed. No go! It would not work. The motor died. I saw my arm hanging broken at my side. The blood I spat out
splattered my goggles, blinded me, so I threw them up over my helmet, and dove for the ground. Pulled out just before I crashed into a wood, found a field in front of me, telephone poles. I dove under the wires, fearing they would crash me with a dead motor. The right wing crashed a telephone pole, broke it in two. The Nieuport landed, stopped five feet shy of the field’s edge—in enemy territory!

I broke the gas feed from the wing tank purposely. The gasoline filled the cockpit, sprayed over me. I reached for my matches in the side pocket, to fire the plane. But I was unable to hold anything. I tried to hold the box in my teeth, while I scratched the match, but my whole mouth was blown away.

I did not think to grasp the match box between my knees.

Sixty soldiers with rifles lined on me came running out of the woods. I loosed my belt. As I climbed over the cockpit I saw a pool of blood, my blood, swishing around in the bottom of the pit. I couldn’t run. I had no strength.

I surrendered, holding my right arm up with my left. The German soldiers gave me first aid, applying tourniquets to my left arm and left thigh. But they left me lying there on the field for two hours. Two stretcher bearers came along then and gathered me up. The war was over for me!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Ritter von Schleich

Link - Posted by David on July 12, 2017 @ 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 we have German Flyer Ritter von Schleich’s most thrilling sky fight!

Hauptmann Ritter von Schleich was one of the least known, but nevertheless, one of the greatest and most successful of the German war birds. A nobleman by birth, he was educated for service in the army beginning with his early childhood. When the war broke out he was an officer in the Uhlans, the most aristocratic branch of the German Army. After transferring to the flying corps, he served some time as an observer, before learning to become a pilot himself; paralleling in that respect the career of Baron Manfred von Richthofen, who preceeded him as an officer of Uhlans.

War has its humorous moments as well as its many tragic ones. At least it would seem so after reading the account of the German flying captain, who took a captured Allied plane and rode the battle skies in company with an enemy patrol, the only instance upon record when it was known to be done.

 

A SKY TRICK

by Captain Ritter von Schleich, Imperial Flying Corps • Sky Fighters, July 1934

THE DAY before this, my most thrilling day in the air took place. My staffel had forced a young, inexperienced French pilot to land his latest model Spad pursuit plane intact behind our own lines.

After painting a black cross on it in the place of the circular cocarde of the Allies I decided it would be great fun to take it on a flight over the enemy lines. Fortunately, my staffel had forced it to land with almost a full supply of ammunition, so I had plenty of bullets for the Vickers guns. I phoned our anti-aircraft batteries and informed them of my plans so they would not bother me.

After taking off, I headed for Verdun. Our own Archies let me pass unmolested. When I slid across the lines, the Allied Archies did the same thing. I encountered a single enemy aircraft on patrol over Verdun, but he waved at me and passed on. I laughed and waved back, then swung about and headed for the Argonne. Over the Argonne I ran into the tail end of a formation of five Spads who were sweeping along parallel with the lines at 10,000 feet.

I goosed up my engine and took my place at their rear, flying along behind them and following the leader’s signals as well as I could. Suddenly they banked and flew over my own lines. I went in with them, still keeping my place in the formation.

As I flew along I wondered what would have happened if the leader really knew who it was tailing along at the rear of his flight. It was a sad thought, though. It certainly would have been curtains for me if those Spad pilots had suddenly turned and charged me.

We had gone about five miles behind our own lines when I decided that I was not
giving our Archie gunners any breaks at all. They had been directed not to fire at my plane, hence could not fire at the others in the formation without danger of getting me.

I banked off suddenly, went into a half roll, then dived to 6,000 feet. Our Archie gunners opened up then with a terrific barrage. The Spad pilots maneuvered then to escape it. The leader wheeled, saw me going down, caught sight of the black cross on my Spad for the first time, I guess, and came tearing down after me.

At 3,000 feet he let me have it—a heavy burst that forced me to duck swiftly. Now, that he had attacked me, I felt that I would not be taking advantage of my trick, so I maneuvered into shooting position and fired back.

We went at it hammer and tongs. I swept by him so close one time that I could see the angry expression on his face. We went round and round. Bullets nicked my Spad, but they did not come close to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his mates up above come streaking down to join the fun. I knew I had to do something quick or be in an awful pickle. I zoomed, half rolled, came down at my opponent with both Vickers blazing. The burst was effective. He sagged in his pit. The Spad went floating down in an uneven spiral.

I followed down until it crashed, then went hedge hopping over the field for my staffel drome, with all of the speed I could get from my captured Spad. Our Archie gunners kept my pursuers so high they could not reach me.

It was my twentieth victory. I got official credit for it later. Yes, under the circumstances I am sure it was my most thrilling sky fight.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Ivan Kosakov

Link - Posted by David on June 28, 2017 @ 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 we have Russian Imperial Flying Corps Ace Captain Ivan Kosakov’s most thrilling sky fight!

Captain Ivan Kosakov was already a great war hero when lie transferred from the cavalry to the flying corps. After a short course of just two weeks in flying school, he was sent up to the front again as a bombardment pilot. But flying heavy, unwieldy bombers was too slow and tedious work for him. He was transferred to a single-seater fighting squadron after two months with the bombers. It was then that his remarkable record began to grow.

Kosakov never stayed on his side of the lines and waited for the enemy planes to attack him. He flew far behind the Austrian lines and stalked them. It was on one of those long solo patrols into Austria that he and his plane disappeared. Whether he was killed in battle, captured by the enemy, or died in some obscure prison, has never been officially determined. At the time of his disappearance he had run up a score 23 victories, and at one time was the Russian ace of aces. The account below is from his diary.

 

TWO VICTORIES WITH ONE BURST

by Captain Ivan Kosakov, Russian Imperial Flying Corps • Sky Fighters, March 1935

I FEEL good today. I have now to my credit 6 official victories over the enemy. Today I got two and expended the very minimum of ammunition—17 bullets. But one of those two was due to good luck, nothing else. Or maybe, possibly, because I said my prayers faithfully last night?

It happened like this. With three others of my squadron mates I encountered a flight of Austrians at 2000 meters. The Austrian flight spread when we attacked. Three of my mates went after those that banked off to the right. That left me alone to battle the three that banked my way. The enemy took immediate advantage of my predicament. One came at me head-on. Another dove underneath, and the third charged at my rear.

Another Enemy Plane!

I had no time to figure strategy, so plunged blindly for my frontal attacker, the nearest one. Leveling my guns on his radiator I let go with a burst, hoping to damage his engine and put him out of the flight. That is, I pressed my triggers for a burst. But there wasn’t a burst. Sly guns jammed without firing a single shot.

At the same time bullets came clattering through my ship from beneath. I banked steeply, then dived and zoomed. At the top of the zoom I leveled off and cleared my guns. It wasn’t a bad jam, luckily. The three Austrians were still clinging to me, and my mates and the other Austrians had disappeared. I tell you it wasn’t a sweet feeling, but now that my guns were in order I vowed to give my attackers all I had.

I dived to shed an Austrian on my tail whose bullets were spotting holes in ray wings, then zoomed up abruptly, half turned, and found an Austrian plane dead in my sights. I let him have it. Tac-tac! Tac-tac.

No Time for Strategy

Another of the enemy planes swept past behind the one I was firing on at the same instant.

I held my triggers down for a short second or so.

The first plane began to wobble. I released my triggers. It wobbled some more, then slid off sideways, and tumbled into a spin. Then, of all things! I ruddered to chase the other plane. But it had burst into flames! It too, went spinning down, leaving a weaving black smoke trail behind.

I had got both of them with that single burst, in that split second when they lined up together in front of my guns. When I got home I counted the empty loops in my bandoliers. I had used but 17 bullets!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Rex Warneford, R.F.C.

Link - Posted by David on June 14, 2017 @ 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 we have Sub-Flight Lieutenant Rex Warneford’s most thrilling sky fight!

Sub-Flight Lieutenant Rex Warneford of the British Royal Flying Corps was the first airman to shoot down an enemy Zeppelin, likewise he was the first war pilot to win the coveted Victoria Cross. Previous to his epic fight with the raiding Zeppelin young Warneford was a comparatively obscure pilot. After this amazing and brilliant victory he leaped to the highest pinnacle of fame, he escaped from the German lines with his plane after being forced down fully five miles from his own territory. A troop of German cavalrymen rode up to take him prisoner, but using his machine-gun to the greatest advantage he managed to hold them off until he had completed temporary repairs on his plane. Then, amidst a continual hail of fire, he took off in flight, running the gauntlet of fire successfully, eventually to land within his own lines. Unhappily, two days after the V.C. had been conferred on him, he was killed in an air accident near Paris. In the account below he tells the story of this fight in his own words:

 

DOWNING A GERMAN ZEPPELIN

by Lieutenant Rex Warneford, R.F.C. • Sky Fighters, February 1935

I WAS cruising high over Belgium beyond Poelcapelle on a solo bombing mission when I chanced to glance above me and saw a huge moving shape parting the cloud reaches above me. At first I did not recognize it for what it was, but after swinging up on one wing to get a better view, saw immediately that it was a giant Zeppelin raider. It was far above me and flying in the opposite direction.

I decided immediately to go after it, so swung up in a steep climbing circle with the bright noonday sun at my back. The clouds served me in good stead, for they kept my movements somewhat masked. I managed to get within 500 yards of the big bag. Then a veritable hail of machine-gun fire began spouting at my plane. I was not nervous nor scared at the moment, but I recall that my hand shook uncontrollably on the control stick and my feet quivered against the rudder bar. The consequent erratic motion of my plane probably helped me to dodge the German bullets.

I was so thrilled that I shook all over. But after I had fired my first burst of retaliatory fire, self-command returned. I went about my task grimly, sliding in through the Zeppelin’s fire until I was immediately over the bag. I let loose then with my first bomb. It missed by several yards.

I whined back in a swift bank, climbing, came in again, nosed down swiftly, got over the bag again and let go with another bomb. The Zeppelin fire was terrific now. I heard the bullets crackling through my wings. One landing wire snapped. That second bomb missed, too.

I got mad, dived straight down with my gun blazing. The bullets poured through the big bag—but nothing happened. I dived underneath, climbed up on the other side to the rear and came in again haltingly. My motor had begun to falter. I pushed the nose down and dived head-on until within a few yards of the airship, then pulled up quickly in a stall and dropped my last bomb. It hit squarely.

The resultant concussion when the big bag exploded buffeted my plane severely. My motor was faltering badly and while I was struggling to right my ship it conked out completely. I had to go down in enemy territory, but I was not unhappy, for as I looked down below me I saw the giant Zeppelin break in two in the middle and go flaming earthwards in separate parts. I thought, as I went gliding down, of the old story of David and Goliath. The fact that I was soon to be taken prisoner did not sadden me.

The story of my escape from the Germans is a long one and will have to be told another time. That was certainly my lucky day and most thrilling fight!

“Von Satan’s Lair” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on June 2, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story by another of our favorite authors—Harold F. Cruickshank! Cruickshank is popular in these parts for the thrilling exploits of The Sky Devil from the pages of Dare-Devil Aces, as well as those of The Sky Wolf in Battle Aces and The Red Eagle in Battle Birds. He wrote innumerable stories of war both on the ground and in the air. Here we have a tale of Captain Jack Malone, the last of his squadron not to be downed by the evil von Satan. Malone learns that his fellow flyers were not killed by von Satan, but captured and had their brains operated on to turn them against their countrymen! To save his pals, Malone must free them from “Von Satan’s Lair!” From the April 1934 Sky Fighters

Captain Jack Malone Sails the Sky Lanes Grimly in this Gripping Drama of Sinister Secrets of Hun Hate!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Ernst Mathy

Link - Posted by David on May 31, 2017 @ 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 we have German Zeppelin Commander Captain Ernst Mathy’s most thrilling sky fight!

Very few stories of the Zeppelin raiders as told by the raiders themselves have come out of the Great War. Captain Ernst Mathy was one of the most famous of all wartime Zeppelin commanders, having made before he was killed in his final raid over London, six successful night raids over that well protected city, more than any other Zeppelin commander. It was Captain Mathy who developed and perfected most of the strategy of attack for the giant Zeppelins operated by the Imperial
 Flying Corps.

It is not generally known, but it was a fact that there were two divisions of Zeppelin raiders; those operated by the German navy and used for scouting of the British battle fleet on the North Sea, and those operated by the army and used for bombing raids on the capital cities of England and France. The last being, of course, the most spectacular and dangerous duty. Captain Mathy was the ace of aces of all Zeppelin commanders, and despite his army affiliation, his most thrilling fight in the air was with five submarines of the British navy. The story of this strange fight between the monsters of the sea and air as told in Captain Mathy’s own words, follow below.

 

SINKING A SUBMARINE

by Captain Ernst Mathy • Sky Fighters, January 1935

I HAD taken the L-31 over the North Sea, but was balked in my attempted raid on London by heavy rain and low-hanging storm clouds, so had to turn back. I did not want to return with a full load of bombs and without doing some damage, so I dropped down low and skirted the coast line in a northerly direction, looking for enemy surface craft as possible targets.

Upon coming out of a cloud I was surprised to spy a cluster of five enemy submarines floating on the surface. I circled back into the cloud and descended, coming out again at an altitude of about 2000 feet over the subs. They, of course, saw me then and went into immediate action with their deck guns. One shell put my forward starboard motor out of commission. I ruddered in against the window and dropped lower.

Shells were popping up now like spouting geysers and the subs were moving in ragged circles. I dropped a demolition bomb. It landed a hundred yards from the nearest sub. A shell exploded now in my port gas tanks, ripping the framework on that side to shreds, but happily causing no fire. I got still lower, then dropped another bomb. It missed, also, but only by a few yards.

The submarines began to submerge now and travel away from each other in tangential paths. I immediately loosed another bomb. There was a terrific explosion when it hit a huge fountain of water that hid the diving submarine from my vision temporarily. But when the cataract subsided, I saw the sub nosing slowly downward.

A few minutes later its stern lifted free from the water, a third of the hull exposed. In another minute it sank. Five minutes later it had disappeared completely, leaving nothing but an oily slick on the surface. The other subs by this time had managed to submerge and were rapidly running away. I could not pursue them because my gas balloonets were sieved full of holes and the L-31 was fast losing buoyancy.

I headed for home, just managed to make the German coast when I was forced to land with my badly crippled craft. There I discovered that one shell had missed severing my elevator and rudder controls by a single foot. If that one had been a foot closer, it would have been the submarine which would have been the victor. As it was, the L-31 had another successful mission to its credit.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Corporal Edmond C. Genet

Link - Posted by David on May 17, 2017 @ 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 we have American Flyer Corporal Edmond C. Genet’s most thrilling sky fight!

The great-great-grandson of Citizen Genet, who served as the revolutionary ambassador from France during George Washington’s term as president, Edmond C. Genet had a distinguished heritage. Mild-mannered and handsome he was a typical soldier of fortune at heart, possessing an astonishing courage. At 10 he missed an appointment to Annapolis and immediately enlisted in the navy where he participated in the taking of Vera Cruz. A year later he was in battle in Haiti. Later on after the war in Europe broke out, he sailed for France to enlist in the Foreign Legion. He served for some years in the trenches as a simple poilu, then was transferred to aviation and assigned to Escadrille N-124, better known as the Lafayette, where he was the youngest American in a company of famous men. Genet’s flying time on the front was short. He was one of the few airplane pilots to be killed in the air by enemy shrapnel. He was the first American to die in action under the stars and stripes, his death occurring just ten days after America entered the war. The account below is from one of his letters home.

 

HOLDING THE HUNS AT BAY

by Corporal Edmond C. Genet • Sky Fighters, December 1934

I WAS flying along with McConnell at a very low altitude behind the German lines. Mac and I were making a survey of the enemy troop concentration. Intelligence had brought word that the Germans were preparing for a push in our area. We were to check on this, and as the country was hilly and wooded, we had to fly low to make the proper observations.

Being so engrossed with our ground work, both of us had neglected to watch the sky lanes. Suddenly we were jumped by a whole flight of Huns who took us completely by surprise! A burst of Spandau lead crackled through my plane from the rear! I glanced back, saw three Huns on me, throwing lead! At the same instant my right cheek began to sting and something scorched across my hip.

I swept up on one wing tip, whirled around. Two other Hun planes confronted me there. Their Spandaus were smoking. I looked over at McConnell, waved at him to go on with the mission while I attempted to hold off the Huns. I thought I could hold them off by making a bold, dashing frontal attack at first one, then the other. Mac banked off and swept down lower toward the ground.

I charged my first Hun with Vickers chattering. He turned aside and I plunged for the next. The second Hun clung to me and we began going round and round ineffectively. But a third Hun from above dived down, raked my turtleback with tracer. I was forced to pull out, but did not run away. I sneaked further inside the German lines drawing the Hun planes with me.

They had apparently forgotten Mac. Our strategy had been successful so far, but I wasn’t so sure that I was going to figure in the picture much longer. For the Huns had the speed on me and it was only a matter of minutes before I was entirely surrounded again. Bullets came from all directions at once. I was cornered. There was nothing to do but fight my way out boldly.

I dived for speed, then zoomed at my nearest antagonist. My tracer raked across his nose, puffed holes in his upper wing. He rolled off to one side to let me pass, for I was determined I would not turn out for him. That gave me an opening and I streaked through with the whole flight of Huns after me.

Presently I was rejoined by Mac, and what a relief! He was smiling, so I knew he had finished his mission successfully. We fought clear back to our lines where the Huns left us. I had just enough strength left to set down on the squadron drome safely, but my squadron mates had to lift me from my seat. It was a hot fight, but Mac and I got what we went out after—information that enabled our corps commander to forestall the German push!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Willy Coppens

Link - Posted by David on May 3, 2017 @ 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 we have Belgian Ace, Lt. Willy Coppens’ most thrilling sky fight!

Willy Coppens was the Belgian Ace of Aces. He got his initial training as a soldier and officer in the cavalry division of the army. He transferred later on to the Flying Corps and began immediately to compile the record of victories that gained him top ranking among sky fighters.

Because the German armies had overrun all but a narrow strip of his own country, he did all of his flying from foreign bases, usually being stationed in the sectors in Flanders occupied by the British forces. Flying foreign machines from foreign bases, he nevertheless built up a remarkable record of successful combats. When his time on the front was ended, unhappily but gloriously, he was officially credited with 32 victories. The account below is from his diary.

 

TRUSTING TO FATE

by Lieutenant Willy Coppens • Sky Fighters, November 1934

FIGHTING great odds is not an uncommon thing. But today I felt for a time that, at last, I had run into a situation where the odds were too great for me.

I was cruising alone over La Chapelle on solo patrol at a very low altitude because of the low hanging clouds.

A full flight of Fokkers, six in all, came down at me like a lightning bolt. I was bottled up before I fully recovered from my first surprise.

I decided to open the attack myself and fight it out if I could. I dived for speed with throttle wide open, then banked swiftly, aiming for the Fokker below. I pressed both trigger trips, sent out a vicious double burst the instant I lined him. But he had pulled back and swept into a swirling vertical bank at the same instant. My burst passed harmlessly beneath the Fokker’s trucks. And instantly bullets began to clatter and zing through my instrument board. I glanced back up, saw one Fokker bearing down on me not more than 10 meters off my tail.

I jerked into a desperate loop, whined out with my attacker just ahead of me. Again I pressed my triggers. This time my bursts literally tore the Fokker to pieces. The vertical rudder shattered, sheared away. Only a quick maneuver on my part saved me from being hit by it. Next the whole tail seemed to disintegrate, and the following moment the Fokker nosed abruptly earthward. First blood was mine. It gave me confidence. But too soon!

When I looked up again, another Fokker was charging at me head on, both Spandaus yammering. The smoke streams parted my wings. Then a second stream of tracer rattled in from the rear. I was getting it fore and aft. I decided to plunge straight ahead.

I did so, gripping both trigger trips and sending out twin streams of tracer as I roared in toward the first Hun. Bullets from the following Hun still rattled around me. But I knew that if I held my ground, the oncoming Hun would have to swerve to escape being rammed in midair. But my senses would not stand the sight. I could not look at the Fokker charging at me, so I closed my eyes and decided to keep them closed until I counted off ten seconds. I kept my guns firing all the time, for the Fokker was centered directly in my sights.

I expected in be killed, and trusted only to fate. The seconds passed interminably in the darkness I had willed. Still I lived! At the count of ten I opened my eyes. The Hun who had been flying at me from in front was spiralling down toward the ground, his plane a mass of red flame and black smoke trails.

God had been with me I knew then. I had got that Hun with my eyes closed. My bullets had exploded his gas tank. Charged now with a renewed vigor and desire to live, I wheeled and attacked my pursuer. But the three remaining Fokker pilots did not stay to fight any longer. They ran for home. I would have chased them, but when I looked at my ammo supply, I saw that I had none, so I went home myself.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Adolphe Pegoud

Link - Posted by David on April 19, 2017 @ 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 we have Lt. Adolphe Pegoud of the French Flying Corp’s most thrilling sky fight!

Adolphe Pegoud was a famous flyer before the war began. In 1913, flying a tiny Bleriot monoplane, he astonished the world by doing a series of intricate air maneuvers. Later, he made an upside down landing, the first and to this day the only aviator deliberately to perform such a stunt.

With Pourpe, Garros, Vedrines, and several others, he made up the first French air squadron to see action in the World War. In those days planes, frail contraptions of wood, linen and wires, were not armed. The pilots usually carried a rifle or shotgun when going aloft, and sometimes darts and hand grenades. Plane to plane fighting was unknown. The crafts were used for scouting. Pegoud changed all this when ho initiated the first air battle. He tells about it in the account below.

 

THE FIRST AIR BATTLE

by Lieutenant Adolphe Pegoud • Sky Fighters, October 1934

WHILE I had always carried arms while on my trips over the Boche lines and many times had passed within fifty or a hundred meters of Taube pilots, I had never thought to try out my marksmanship on the flying targets. But on this day when I was ordered aloft, I decided that I would allow no more Taube pilots to pass me by so nonchalantly. At least, I was going to let them know that there was a war taking place.

And lucky for me, I encountered my first Taube the same day I was filled with that resolve. I met him just beyond the Fortress of Verdun. He was just a speck when I first glimpsed him off to my right, but I ruddered toward him, flying as fast as my machine would carry me. At one hundred meters distance, the Taube pilot stood up in his seat and waved at me. That fact made me mad. Here I had come to kill him (if possible) and he greeted me with that friendly gesture. I waved my Lebel in the air over my head and shouted at him in French to beware. Of course, he could not hear because of the noise of the engines.

He continued on past me and I swung around and followed him. This maneuver seemed to surprise him. I continued on, coaxing my machine to its greatest speed. Finally I was not more than ten meters to the rear of his. I shouted again, made faces, then put the rifle to my shoulder and fired a bullet over his head to let him know my intentions. Though I had firmly resolved to shoot at the pilot, I realized now that I could not, for he wan apparently unarmed and had been so friendly.

When I fired at him, he must have seen the smoke from my Lebel or saw it flash. He knew then that I was not fooling and tried to escape from my plane by streaking down toward the earth. But I followed intently, my mind occupied now, not on shooting the pilot, but damaging his machine so it would have to land, thus ha would be unable to accomplish his mission.

I stood up in the pit and fired two shots at his gas tank, but nothing happened. Then I had to sit down and maneuver my plane again. The Taube pilot was zigzagging. I got closer and stood up again. This time, he too, stood up, and hurled a hand grenade back at me. But his aim was wild. It hit on the ground far below and exploded there sending up a puff of blue smoke. I aimed my rifle and rapidly fired all my remaining shells at the gas tank again.

Now I saw that something had happened. The Taube began to wobble crazily. The Boche pilot seemed frantic. Finally the motor stopped turning. Then I saw what had happened. One of my bullets had cracked the propeller, and it had shattered, throwing the Taube into terrific vibration and forcing the pilot to cut his engine.

He had to go down. I wished then that I had not been so hasty, for as it was he landed inside his own lines. If I had waited, I could have captured him by forcing his landing on our side. A fresh Taube and its Boche pilot would have been a great trophy to take home and show my mates.

Silent Orth Returns in “Sunset Song” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on April 14, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

SILENT ORTH—ironically named for his penchant to boast, but blessed with the skills to carry out his promises—comes up against a trio of skilled acrobatic flyers that manage to elude the most skilled flyers while downing three enemy planes in every encounter, but Orth asks for one day to do the impossible and take down the trio! From the May 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s Silent Orth in “Sunset Song!”

Three Acrobatic Fokkers Work Havoc in the Air In This Zooming Yarn Packed With Thrills and Action!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Sergeant Norman Prince

Link - Posted by David on April 5, 2017 @ 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 we have American Norman Prince’s most thrilling sky fight!

Norman Prince lived in France when the World War began. Being immensely wealthy in his own right, he offered to furnish and equip an entire squadron of planes and pilots. The French Army would not accept this generous offer, but Prince, acting in co-operation with William Thaw of Pittsburgh, convinced the officials that they could muster enough Americans to man an entire squadron. Their offer was accepted, and the LaFayette Escadrille was born. A French officer was put in command. All the rest of the pilots were American. Prince’s death was tragic. Though wounded in an air battle, he managed to fly his crippled plane homeward, and was about to land on his own airdrome in the gathering darkness when his plane ran into a telephone pole and crashed. In his weakened condition he did not have strength enough to guide his plane over or around the obstacle. So perished one of the bravest and most courageous of the early American pilots who gave their lives for France. The story below was told to a French reporter.

 

ONE SHOT, ONE HUN!

by Sergeant Norman Prince • Sky Fighters, September 1934

I HAVE had many thrilling brushes with the enemy, so many that I scarcely know which is the most thrilling. All air fights are more or less of the same nature, and the actual thrills are usually delayed until the bottle is passed in mess several hours after the fight took place. No one has time to feel thrilled when the actual fighting takes place. One’s mind is then concentrated on how to defeat the enemy pilot and escape death.

My hardest fight happened over St. Menehold. With two squadron mates I chased five Boche fighters far back behind their own lines. Ten kilometers in, the Boche divided, flying in three different directions. One swung to the left, two to the right, and two continued straight ahead. I kited after those ahead. They waited just long enough to separate me from my companions, then banked suddenly, swinging around at me from opposite directions. One zoomed above me. The other dived under my belly; perfect team work on their part. Almost before I realized it the bullets from their guns came clicking through my plane.

I dived, went into a swift loop, saw when I was coming out of it that they had anticipated this maneuver; so I shifted controls quickly, half rolled and came out flying in the opposite direction. An instant vertical bank got me on the tail of the first Boche. I pressed my stick trigger. Nothing happened! The Vickers had jammed without spewing a single shot. Panic seized me momentarily.

But another burst of bullets clicking through my fuselage brought me out of that daze. I crossed controls, fell off on one wing; then stood up in the cockpit and leaned over the gun breech. I saw what the trouble was. The webbed bandolier had been raked with machine-gun bullets. It was useless. The Boche bullets still rained about me. I had to do something quickly.

I ripped the bandolier from the breech feeder, shoved a single shell in the chamber and pulled the cocking handle. I had then what was equivalent to a single shot rifle. One bullet against two Boches with perfectly functioning Spandaus! It was ridiculous, but war plays strange pranks. Sometimes you are favored, sometimes not.

I managed to shed the Boche bursts in their next attack. Then as one swept past me, I swung in line with him, dived, came up under his belly. As my plane poised in air almost vertical, my sights centered the pilot’s pit. I uttered a silent prayer, pressed the stick trigger, expended my single shot.

It was effective. The Boche plane wobbled, one wing-tip upended, then it began to spin, uncontrollably. I reached up again, cleared the shell and jammed in another, then went sailing after the second Boche. But he had seen enough, I guess. He went scuttling homeward with his tail between his legs.

I did not have gas or—nerve enough—to chase him any further inside his own lines. Believe me I was glad to set down on my own drome safely fifteen minutes later. It was my narrowest escape, the tightest moment I ever want to experience.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major Giuseppe Barracca

Link - Posted by David on March 22, 2017 @ 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 we have Italian Ace of Aces Major Giuseppe Barracca’s most thrilling sky fight!

Quite in contrast with Alan McLeod of the Royal Flying Corps, who was one of the youngest of the famous flying aces. Major Giuseppe Barracca, Ace of Aces of the Italian Flying Corps, was one of the oldest, being 34 years of age when he was killed in the desperate air fighting above the Piave. Like Captain Ritter von Schleich, he entered the war a cavalry officer, but soon was transferred to the more romantic, yet more hazardous branch of the army, the flying corps.

He took part in more than 1,000 flights over the enemy lines, 70 of which were long distance bombing raids. He disappeared during a night flight when he took to the air to fight off German and Austrian bombers which had been reported bombing Red Cross hospitals. His body and the crashed ship was found two days later when the heroic Italians won back the ground the Austrians and Germans had taken from them six months before. A single stray bullet had snuffed out the life of this greatest of Italian aces, who, like von Schleich, had disappeared after running his score to 36 victories. The account below is taken from his diary.

 

TWO IN THE NIGHT

by Major Giuseppe Barracca • Sky Fighters, August 1934

JUMPING into my single-seater, I took off immediately. Not waiting for the rest of the squadron to form I headed for the front to intercept the enemy without circling for ceiling.

The night was bright with much moonlight bathing the scraggy battlefield beneath in an eerie, silvery glow. “What an ideal night for raiding!” I thought, but, “I must stop them before they reach their objective!”

I had my little single-seater climbing steeply. All the time I was peering ahead, trying to pierce the starry skies and spy my enemies. Finally they showed, an extended line of blinking red lights—the flames from their exhausts.

As I was above them, I throttled my own motor, so my own exhausts would not show and give my location away. Then down I went in a steady glide, headed directly for the leader, aiming directly between the fluttering exhausts of the two motors on either side of the pilot’s pit. At two hundred yards I pressed my triggers. Two livid streaks of flame marked the path of my tracers in the sky—but they were high!

I lowered my nose, pressed the trigger again. I saw my tracer cut luminous paths through the wings of the leading bomber. I ruddered back and forth, spraying the lead in a slow traverse.

Then all Hades bloomed in the night sky. Every gunner in the formation must have turned his guns on me at once. Tracers stream spewed from everywhere. Still, I held my own gun steady.

But the big bomber did not fall. We were approaching head-on at terrific speed, bullets still splattering. I had to dive under to keep from being rammed. I pulled up in a loop behind, half rolled, dived at it again, let go with my guns when in range. This time my shots were good. My explosive bullets must have penetrated the petrol tank.

Red flames shot out, fanwise, lighting the whole sky.

In the glare of light from the burning plane, I got my sights on the bomber at the left of the falling funeral torch. Bullets clattered into my little ship, but hit nothing vital. I let go with a burst at very close range, then dived underneath. The upper gunner swung his tracer on me, but I side-slipped, went into a dive, then zoomed up under another. It was just a vague black shape above me. But my tracer etched flaming holes in it. It slid off on one wing, went flailing down, to burst in fire when it crashed.

By this time my squadron mates had got up to help me.

I did not knock down any more, but the bombing armada was turned from its course. They never reached the cities. Their bombs exploded harmlessly in the open fields.

A very successful fight. I have heard of no other pilot who has brought down two enemy planea in a single night flight. Naturally, I am elated, but I wish it had been two more.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Alan McLeod, R.F.C.

Link - Posted by David on March 8, 2017 @ 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 we have Canada’s Lieutenant Alan McLeod’s most thrilling sky fight!

Alan McLeod was one of the three Canadian airmen winning the coveted award of the Victoria Cross, the highest honor bestowed on its fighting heroes by the British Empire, He was the youngest flyer ever to receive the honor, having it pinned on his chest in appropriate ceremonies at Buckingham Palace a few months before his nineteenth birthday.

Whereas most of the other British airmen who received this coveted honor accomplished their deeds of heroic valor in fast, single-seater fighting machines, young McLeod used a heavy, unwieldy, Armstrong-Whitworth two-seater which was poorly equipped for air combat. But Alan McLeod used it just as though it were a pursuit ship, never running from a possible chance lo shoot it out with enemy planes in the air, no matter how heavy the odds were against him. The fight he tells about below is one of the great epics of the air. McLeod was wounded six times, but recovered, only to succumb to influenza five days before the armistice was signed.

 

DOWN IN FLAMES

by Lieut. Alan McLeod, R.F.C. • Sky Fighters, June 1934

WHEN zooming up after dropping my last bomb, I saw a Hun Fokker, coming at me from the rear. I swung my machine up on one wing, gave my observer, Hammond, in the back seat, a chance at it. His first burst of Lewis fire was effective. It went fluttering down like a falling leaf, swaying from side to side.

I climbed for altitude then. At 5,000 feet the sun broke through the clouds. A flight of eight scarlet-painted Fokker tripes burst through with the sun. One dived, then zoomed up under my tail. I banked steeply. Hammond got his guns on it just as the Hun let go with a burst that crackled through the lower wing just beyond my head. It went spiralling down, a black smoke trail pluming behind it.

The seven other Fokker tripes dived in with a vengeance then, attacking from all sides, and simultaneously! The air was full of German tracer. My wings were sieved. Flying wires snapped, coiled up like watch springs. I felt something like a hot knife slide across my stomach. A red shape flashed down in front of me. I pressed my gun triggers, sent in a withering burst of lead that seemed to splatter like a pinwheel as it hit. More struts on my plane cracked, shattered, sheared in two from Spandau bursts. A sharp pain stabbed me in the groin. But the red Fokker went to pieces in the air, tumbled down beneath me.

I glanced back. Tracer streams from two Fokkers were pouring at Hammond. One of his arms was hanging limply. Blood saturated his mitten. He was aiming his Lewis’ with the other hand. I went around in a sweeping, climbing turn, to get him above the attackers. Our plane groaned, crackled some more. More holes appeared like lightning in the upper wing, the lower. Another sharp pain stabbed through my lower right leg. A burst of German tracer found my petrol tank, it puffed into flames. I got in a final shot at a red Hun who swept across my path. He went down, out of control.

The heat from the burning tank lashed back in my face. Flames, choking smoke swirled in the cockpit. I loosened my belt, stepped out on the lower left wing. Holding on with my left hand, moving the stick with my right, I threw the machine into a steep side-slip, blowing the flames and smoke away from us.

Two Fokkers slid down with us, firing as they came.

Hammond, weak and reeling in the back pit, got one of them just before we hit the ground, then climbed up on the top wing. The machine crashed, thudded, bounced, throwing me off. Hammond was swept back into his pit. Flames and smoke enveloped him, the whole machine.

I raced back, pulled him out, carried him away from the fire. Bullets thudded around us, machine-gun and rifle bullets from the Huns in their trenches, not two hundred yards away,

I kept going away from them until a deep blackness descended. That is all I remember.

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