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“Famous Sky Fighters, April 1934″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on June 20, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

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

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

The April 1934 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Major Raoul Lufbery, Lt. von Eschwege, and Paul Lukas!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Capt. Elliott White Springs, Major Edward Mannock and the three flying McCudden brothers! Don’t miss it!

“Sky Fighters, December 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on June 11, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. For the December 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Italian S.V.A. bringing loaves of bread to the troops high in the mountain passes!

The Ships on the Cover

BREAD! The mainstay of mankind. th_SF_3512 And when the army is the mainstay of nations, bread for the army ranks higher than Roman Emperors.

Who said an army fights on its stomach? Someone who did plenty of fighting in the old days and knew his armies. Of what importance were guns, bombs, and shells piled up ready for combat when the human bodies to man these weapons of war have no fuel to stoke the human engine!

The chuck wagon was greeted by loud cheers when it put in its appearance in “any man’s army.” Runners with food supplies strapped to their backs dodged bullets through a maze of communication trenches to get to the front line doughboys. Dogs pulling small carts of food got through to scattered outposts.

The Alpine Heights

Italy has a wonderful northern barrier which nature has seemingly bestowed upon that sunny boot projecting into the Mediterranean. When Italy declared war on the Austrian Empire in May, 1915, she looked hopefully at those lofty Alpine heights to keep her enemy in check.

The Italian advance of early days was halted. The Austrian counter-attack regained their positions but in 1917 when Italy finally declared war on Germany also, the Italians resumed their offensive and captured fourteen fortified mountains.

It is a different problem to fight on mountain sides than on the fields of the lowlands. The ordinary labor of warfare is made a hundredfold more difficult. Dragging heavy guns up rocky mountain sides by sheer nerve-racking will power—pulling shells on sleds over icy passes—stringing communication lines from crag to crag, where one well-placed shell would damage the patient work of days of laying the wires.

The contact, broken in some out of the way pass, impossible to mend without disastrous delay. All these had to be done on the ground. The only savior of these lonely mountain outposts was the new weapon of the world war—the airplane.

Italy, from poor beginnings, progressed Steadily forward in the aviation branch of her service despite her ground army’s advances or retreats. Planes could fly from their bases on flat ground to the besieged mountain country to drop messages keeping the army in touch with headquarters no matter how many communication lines on the ground were destroyed.

Flying high over such a wide expanse of territory they observed the enemy positions, often saving their own forces from being bottled up by enemy flanking movements.

But as important as any message to the morale of these men high in snow-covered fastnesses was the sight which is shown on the cover picture. Planes bringing the white-clad figures on the mountain side that which they could obtain by no other means—Bread! Big round, crispy loaves of the life-giving food.

The pass through which the guns and ammunition have been hauled was later completely buried under an avalanche, tons of snow and rock blocked the narrow road.

When Men Hunger

Days, weeks, months might elapse before that impassable barrier could be surmounted to transport food to the men cut off from their fellows. But four planes received their orders and cargo. They were in sight of the desperate little group in a few hours time. Sleek S.V.A.’s that could climb high above the loftiest peaks, their powerful Ansaldo engines overcoming the barrier that nature had created against the Italians as well as in their favor.

Shouts of “Bravo” from the snow. Shouts that would warm the heart of an opera star at the Milan Opera House. These cheers were for something better than music when men are hungry. They were for contents of the rope bags falling from the planes, the golden brown loaves of bread.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, Deecmber 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Earthbound Ace” by Ralph Oppenheim

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THIS week we have another great story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. Best known in these parts for The Three Mosquitoes, he wrote many other stories of the air and several ripping detective yarns. Here Mr. Oppenheim gives us a story of Lieutenant Steve Bentley who was a race car driver before the war like the great Rickenbacker. But unlike Rickenbacker, Lt. Bentley has a problem with take-off. So used to driving race cars, he couldn’t let go of his instincts—he would hold the stick back, keep the tail down, making the speeding plane hug the earth. He could never get it through his head that a Spad didn’t have to go ninety miles an hour to take off, that flying speed was no more than seventy. Once in the air he was as good as they come.

When Bentley finds out his friend has gone out on a suicide mission, he jumps in his plane and goes after him. Here, his proclivity to drive a plane like a race car comes in handy for getting through the German ground defenses and hopefully saving the day! From the December 1933 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Earthbound Ace!”

An Auto Racer Takes to the Sky and Finds That He Has a Lot to Learn—But . . . .

“Famous Sky Fighters, March 1934″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on April 25, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

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

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

The March 1934 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features “Fighting Dave” himself—David Sinton Ingalls, Lt. Frank Luke, and Germany’s Lt. Werner Voss!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Major Raoul Lufbery, Lt. von Eschwege, and Paul Lukas. Don’t miss it!

“Sky Fighters, November 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on April 16, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. For the November 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Kondor E3 and Salmson 7A-2!

The Ships on the Cover

SKY battles were fought for the th_SF_3511defense of the reconnaissance arm of the air service. The all important function of airplanes in warfare from the beginning was reconnaissance. More good was done to protect the lives of millions of men on the ground by the slow reconnaissance ships plodding their daily round of the skyways than many of the glorious dog-fights of crack squadrons. Commanders of divisions were desperate in carrying out their strategy. They stamped up and down at headquarters waiting for the word that would mean success or failure for their planned maneuvers. Word of what was happening “out there” after the men had gone “over the top.”

Telegraph wire was laid over miles of territory. At great risk it was buried deep to protect it. Despite this care it was often uprooted by the continuous barrage of shells tearing into the earth. It was torn to a mass of useless shredded copper fibres. Then runners were dispatched back through the lines with the precious messages which gave the position of the troops. Often those runners, despite the sacrifice of their lives, were never able to deliver the message which would mean so much to their buddies. Sometimes those who were lucky got through, but took so long to get back that the news was too old to be of help to the men directing the action. Even more difficulty was experienced in getting directions from the men behind the scenes to the front line troops. Contact with those out there was often impossible.

Motorcycles on Planes

An American had an idea that two fast moving inventions of man could be combined to overcome such a bad situation. He said, why not carry a motorcycle on a plane? A two-seater could carry a motorcycle rider in the back pit. He could be landed as close to the front line as possible and make a dash on his cycle to the isolated units separated from their reserve support. He could bring them directions for concerted action. The motorcycle dispatch rider had the speed to get the message where it would do most good in the shortest time. His two-wheeled vehicle without wings carried him at 60 m.p.h. over shell-torn roads to the farthest outpost.

The Salmson 7A.2 on the cover was in the midst of just such a job. It had flown as close to the front lines as it could to observe the ever shifting American troops. Intent on picking a landing spot, the Salmson pilot was suddenly aware that the sky held more planes than his own by a yell from his observer in the rear of the one long cockpit.

Two Monoplanes Buzz By

Two small monoplanes buzzed close by. Their 140 h.p. Oberursels brought them closer at the rate of 120 m.p.h. They were Kondor E 3 parasols whose pilots thought it would be easy to polish off the two-seater. But the Salmson’s observer wasn’t chosen for the hazardous work he did merely for his ability in scooting over rough roads on his motorcycle. He was as expert with the Lewis trigger as the handlebars. One Kondor misjudged the big ship’s maneuvers and the observer blasted straight at the German pilot. The second Kondor coming up under the forty feet wing spread of the Salmson had a big target, but the men in the observation ship had too much valuable information to deliver to sell their lives cheaply in a sky duel. The Kondor was literally blanketed with Vicker’s slugs. The Boche pilot decided he wouldn’t bother a ship with such a good marksman at the rear gun. He nosed over and limped for home. The Salmson sought the ground to land the motorcycle. The observer changed roles quickly and became the dispatch rider.

As the pilot took off again to return to his home tarmac he saw the motorcycle and helmeted rider fused together as one streak of lightning along the road toward Allied outposts, even as flashing a rider of fearlessness as Jove’s thunderbolt insignia painted on the side of the Salmson.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, November 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Silent Orth flies toward his “Zero Hour” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on April 13, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

ORTH is back! Silent Orth—ironically named for his former penchant to boast, but blessed with the skills to carry out his promises—is faced his a choice. He’s ordered to retrieve a spy with valuable information that could save the lives of thousands from behind the lines, but, at the same time his best mate is to face a German firing squad! Save the Spy or save his friend . . . . or save both? Impossible! But if anyone could do it, Orth could! From the pages of the October 1934 issue of Sky Fighters, Silent Orth flies toward his “Zero Hour!”

While his wingmate, Lieutenant Gabriel, waits for death by firing squad in Bocheland, Silent Orth faces the toughest problem in his career!

“Torture Drome” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on April 6, 2018 @ 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 story of brothers—half-brothers both assigned to 17 Drome. The younger brother, Cal, is posted as A.W.O.L., but Lew, the older of the two fears Cal was attempting to assist his older brother in his assignment to get the dreaded Baron von Hertzog and some awful fate has befallen him. Leading Lew to absent himself from his drome without authority to try and find the kid and save his hide. From the June 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Torture Drome”—

Captain Lew Vance Braves Boche Horror As He Flies Hell-Bent into Hunland to Vindicate the Honor of His Half-Brother!

“Famous Sky Fighters, February 1934″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on March 28, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

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

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

The February 1934 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features American Ace Major George Vaughn, the R.F.C.’s Lt. Malloch, and the great Major Oswald Boelcke!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features “Fighting Dave” himself—David Sinton Ingalls, Lt. Frank Luke, and Germany’s Lt. Werner Voss. Don’t miss it!

“Burning Wings” by Ralph Oppenheim

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TO ROUND off Mosquito Month we have a non-Mosquitoes story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. “Streak” Davis must stop Erich von Hartwig, Germany’s master flying spy— the craftiest and most underhanded Boche in the war! Von Hartwig just murdered three Allied officers at Chaumont in cold blood—then made off with a dispatch cylinder containing most vital information of our troop movement. His orders: “Head him off and burn von Hartwig and his black Albatross in the sky so there’s no chance of those papers falling into German hands!”

From the February 1935 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Burning Wings.”

Follow “Streak” Davis on the Perilous Pursuit of A Fiendishly Cunning German Super Spy!

“Sky Fighters, October 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. For the October 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the classic age old battle of Spad 13 C1 vs Fokker D7!

The Ships on the Cover

THE first Spad made its debut in 1916. th_SF_3510It was a heavier ship than the French manufacturers usually turned out. They were prone to seek speed by making engine, wings and fuselage all as light as possible.

Then up popped the first Spad with its heavy Hispano-Suiza motor and its rigidly braced body and all around husky construction. It knocked the spots out of the lighter type of machines. Each succeeding model got heavier and each engine had more power.

Aviators put these husky Spads into prolonged power dives that other machines could not possibly make.

The Finest Fighting Plane

The Lafayette Escadrille swung over from Nieuports to Spads and any French squadron that could beg, borrow or steal them parked themselves in Spads and went up into the skies confident that they had the finest fighting plane in existence.

Of course there was a difference of opinion over on the German side of the line. The Fokker D7 made its appearance and the Heinie flyers just knew that they had the finest machine that ever sprouted wings. Therefore when the confident opposing war flyers, one in a Spad 13 C1 and the other in a Fokker D7 decided to smack each other with a few well placed slugs, it was an interesting show. And doubly interesting if two men happened to be aboard a one-place Spad.

Story of the Cover

Fifteen minutes before the action depicted on the cover, the Spad pilot set his ship down on German territory at a prearranged spot. A figure crawled from a clump of brush, raced to the Spad and shinned onto the right wing. Up zoomed the Spad with its precious wing passenger, an A1Iied intelligence operator who had documents that were important enough to cause three generals to be waiting at that moment at the Spad’s drome.

At a thousand feet the German archies started bursting in profusion. One lucky she11 sheared the undercarriage nearly off the Spad. It lurched and staggered with the swaying encumbrance. The wing passenger inched his way to the cockpit the pilot handed out a small hunk of iron.

Bullet Hemstitching

The passenger went to work just as a Fokker went into action. Three minutes of scientific prying on the shattered undercarriage released it and the Spad leaped forward with ten miles extra speed. It turned on the Fokker and hemstitched it from stem to stem.

The German with two minor wounds admitted the Spad, if it didn’t carry wheels, was the better ship.

He dove out of the fight cursing the anti-aircraft gunners who had ruined a sure kill for him. His only consolation was that his foe’s landing would be about as soft as a racing locomotive hitting the rear end of a cement train.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, October 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Famous Sky Fighters, January 1934″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on March 14, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

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

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

The January 1934 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features America’s first Ace Lt. Douglas Campbell of the 94th Aero Squadron, observer Captain J.H. Hedley, and the incomparable Baron Manfred von Richthofen!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features American Ace Major George Vaughn, the R.F.C.’s Lt. Malloch, and the great Major Oswald Boelcke. Don’t miss it!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Capt. Allan R. Kingsford

Link - Posted by David on March 7, 2018 @ 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 Australian flyer—Capt. Allan R. Kingsford!

Captain Kingsford enlisted as a simple private in the Australian Army. The troop ship carrying his contingent was torpedoed by a German submarine and he was cast adrift in a heaving sea at midnight with only a frail spar to buoy him up. He served for over a year as a Lance Corporal of Infantry in Mesopotamia, he determined upon obtaining a transfer to the Hying corps, and after many setbacks he finally was ordered for flight training and sent to England, He became pilot of the Zeppelin night patrol guarding London, later joining that strange organization, the British Independent Air Force, as a bombing pilot attached to 100 Squadron. As a member of that group which served under no army, but roved about from point to point, he took part in 270 night bombing raids and became known as the Ace of night bombers. This account of his most thrilling flight is taken from his private memoirs.

 

DESTROYING THE BOULAY AIRDROME

by Captain Allan R. Kingsford • Sky Fighters, November 1936

BOULAY! That is a name to conjure up grim thoughts. Boulay Airdrome … the home nest of the Hun Gothas that rained so much terror on Paris and London! When our C.O. told us Intelligence had discovered that the Hun Gothas were planning to put on a massive parade over Paris that bright August night and that 100 Bombing Squadron had been ordered to forestall their show, Bourdegay (my observer) and I danced with glee.

We had tried to destroy Boulay before but something had always been against us . . . bad weather, tricky engines, faulty bombs or too many enemy planes and archies for protection, that we had failed in our efforts. Still Bourdegay and I thought it could be done.

Loaded with sixteen bombs I took off with my flight at midnight and flew over the valley of the Moselle River toward Boulay 90 kilometers behind the front lines. Because of the great distance there and back (180 kilometers) I knew it would have to be a short show on a hot spot. We would have no time to waste when we got there, and we would have to go down through hell fire and brimstone to lay our iron eggs.

Lights Flash on!

Flying at a great height, masked by a convenient layer of clouds that hid our approach from the enemy, I managed to guide the formation intact right over Boulay. Our “Fees” (slang for F.F. 2B’s, the type of bomber they flew) were running perfectly that night.

Just as we appeared over the airdrome the take-off lights on the field flashed on. There were the flights of Gothas running across the field in take-off just below us! And all lit up conveniently like churches for us to pepper at!

Bourdegay hooped and yelled at me to dive down on the nearest one. I threw the Fee into a steep dive. A searchlight flashed on, another and another. The landing field went suddenly dark! The wind whined through the brace wires and struts of my diving plane like shrieking demons, A searchlight beam caught us full. Archie puffs blazed clear as Christmas lights around us. I slipped the Fee, tried to get out of that dazzling light, but the searchlight crew held us in their beam. “I’m going for them!” Bourdegay yelled, swinging his Lewis around and spewing out a long burst.

There was a dazzling flash. The searchlight seemed to explode, spread apart like a pinwheel in a million dazzling fragments. The Gotha ahead of us showed its red exhausts. I was down to three hundred feet now and almost over it. Other “Fees” were following behind me. I could hear the snort of the motors above the roar of my own. Machine-guns on the ground opened up in murderous volley, their tracer streams shooting up like light rays from a setting sun. “Pull her up!” Bourdegay yelled, bending over his bomb sights while his fingers tensed on the trips. I pulled back and he let go. A direct hit! The Gotha exploded in red flames.

I zoomed for the ceiling with all the sauce I had, managed to get up to a thousand feet before another probing finger of light caught up. Bourdegay had dropped two more pills on the way up. One set a hangar on fire. Another exploded on the field and hurled up a geyser of earth which a running Gotha tore into and up-ended on its nose.

Crashing Bullets

I slid the Fee again, but couldn’t escape the beam. Bullets crashed through my wings. Archie blasts rocked us mercilessly. I banked and zig-zagged, stood on my wingtips and dropped three hundred feet, but I couldn’t shake that light; so I determined on a ruse. I dropped a landing flare through the tube, cutting my engines at the same time. It exploded in flame beneath the plane. The Hun gunners thought they had made a direct hit on my ship. They ceased firing and the searchlight beam swung away seeking my mates.

All was bedlam now below on the earth and in the skies above. Boulay Airdrome was in flames. Fed by a fitful wind the flames leaped this way and that, igniting one hangar after another. Several of the Gothas, however, had succeeded in getting into the air.

Bourdegay spied one of these and yelled at me to go for it. He still had two bombs left.

A Fountain of Flame

I sent the Fee around in a split air turn, straightened out and streaked for the running Gotha. Just as I got over it a fountain of flame blossomed under my wings—flaming onions! Up they came like luminous dumbbells in their crazy, erratic trajectory. I lifted the nose and leaped over them, then piqued for the Gotha. Bourdegay tripped his first bomb. It missed.

But the second made a direct hit. The Gotha fell apart in the flame-ridden sky. And just in time—for a formation of night flying enemy fighters thundered in from the east, swarming around my flight like bees and attempting to cut off our return.

Boulay was destroyed, however! We had accomplished our mission. Not a Gotha reached Paris that night, nor any night thereafter. We had scotched that last parade before it began.

How Bourdegay and me got back, I don’t know. I guess we were just lucky, for most of the boys with us did not return.

“Famous Sky Fighters, December 1933″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on February 28, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

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

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

The December 1933 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features aviation’s Ace of Nations Lt. Bert Hall, Balloon Buster Lt. Frank Luke and Captain Rene de Beauchamp!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features America’s first Ace Lt. Douglas Campbell of the 94th Aero Squadron, observer Captain J.H. Hedley, and the incomparable Baron Manfred von Richthofen. Don’t miss it!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell

Link - Posted by David on February 21, 2018 @ 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 member of the LaFayette Escadrille—Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell!

Kiffin Rockwell was a true soldier of fortune. Born and raised In Aaheville, N. Carolina, young Rockwell got the wanderlust soon after graduating from the University of Virginia. When the Germans made their surprise move on the forts of Liege, Rockwell was serving in the ranks of the Foreign Legion. For a heroic exploit in hand to hand bayonet fighting, he was awarded the Medaille Militaire. For a whole year he served with the Foreign Legion in the trenches, then transferred to the aviation and went into training at Avord. When Norman Prince formed the first American Flying Squadron in Paris, Rockwell was one of those invited to join. He proved out to be one of the best and most daring pilots of that original band. His career was cut short by his untimely death on September 23rd, 1916.

Rockwell ran up a score of three official victories before being killed in action and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with additional citation for his Medaille Militaire. The following is taken from a letter to his brother in Asheville.

 

WHY WE CALL THEM LES BOCHES

by Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell • Sky Fighters, August 1936

YOU asked why we call the Germans les Boches, or butchers, in our language. There are many reasons. I shall relate a recent experience so you can determine for yourself.

Captain Thenault, Prince and I had taken young Balsley out for his second trip over the front. We were cruising along behind the Boche lines when we suddenly found ourselves face to face with about 40 Boches. They were grouped together in a close formation but at different altitudes. On our level there were about 12 or 15 Aviatiks.

These Aviatiks had about the same speed as our Nieuports, but they carried a gunner behind the pilot. The pilot shoots as we do, but the gunner has a movable gun which enables him to fire in all directions.

A Mêlée of Battle

We were but four and on the German side of the lines, but none of us turned and ran away. For ten or fifteen minutes we flew over and around the Aviatiks, being fired at constantly, some of their bursts being at very close range. Finally we saw an opening. One of their machines raced toward our lines. The rest were behind us.

We plunged after this isolated Boche. A general mêlée resulted, for the whole swarm of Boches pounced on us, coming from above and all sides.

One of our planes dived and fell as though streaking to death. I wondered if it were Prince or Balsley. Tough in either case, I thought. Then in the mêlée I lost sight of another of our little Nieuports. Now both Prince and Balsley were gone. Only Captain Thenault and myself remained and the Boches were giving us plenty.

Thenault signalled to draw away and we ran for our lines, confident that both Balsley and Prince had been shot down.

An Exploding Bullet

We managed to run the gauntlet. Later Prince showed up. He had followed down after Balsley when he saw the youngster falling. It appeared that poor Balsley had darted in on a Boche and just as he pressed his Bowden to fire his gun, it jammed.

He swerved off to clear and just at that instant a bullet struck him in the stomach and exploded against his backbone!

Balsley’s machine went into a dive as he fainted over the stick. But the rush of air in the dive revived him. And as he had kept his feet on the rudder he was enabled to redress and land right side up. The machine, however, smashed to bits. Prince got Balsley out. Twelve pieces of the exploded bullet were removed from Balsley’s interior. Balsley will live but he will never fly again.

So, you see why they are called les Boches? This is the second time we have run into explosive bullets. First it was me, and I am not entirely recovered yet, now it is poor Balsley.

“Sky Fighters, September 1935″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. For the September 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Nieuport 17 taking on a Albatross D1!

The Ships on the Cover

PLANES kicked through the air at th_SF_3509 the first of the war and were laughed at by the ground troops and their commanders. Toys, things to wonder at and possibly admire; but to be taken seriously as an offensive weapon. Never!

Weapon? That’s exactly the right word that keys the whole advance of the airplane from a trick war sideline to a major cog in the wheels of war. On the Nieuport in the foreground the weapon blazing from the top wing is the Lewis gun with a revolving metal drum which fed shells into the gun breech. But let’s slide back to the first part of the war when machine-guns were not thought possible. In August, 1914, cavalry carbines were occasionally tucked into a cockpit and the observer or even a pilot of a single seater optimistically pushed the snout out over the side of the fuselage and took a pot shot at a Boche flying parallel to his plane. With the vibration from the engine, the bumpy air and the back pressure from the slipstream it was all the would-be assassin could do to hold the rifle from jerking out of his hands and barging back into the empennage, let alone draw a bead on the enemy who had ideas of his own about remaining in focus.

Bags of Bricks

Finding this method useless the sharpshooters of the air dragged out, believe it or not, good old bags of bricks. The trick was to get above your opponent, mentally calculate the trajectory of a brick from your shaking hand to the whirling prop of the enemy plane. Of course there was always the chance of ringing the bell by a super-lucky throw if the falling brick made direct contact with the enemy’s head. About the only casualty from this duck on the rock technique was a direct hit on a high official’s private cow. Orders went out immediately: No more bricks.

Small steel darts, diminutive bombs and hand grenades were hurled down at ground troops and supply trains but the damage was small. Then came the machine-gun firing from the back pit or from the front nacelle of the pusher type.

In January, 1915, the Lewis gun was first mounted on the top wing of a Nieuport firing over the top of the propeller in the line of flight. A few months later the Roland Garros gun appeared, shooting through the propeller arc, but not synchronized. Triangular steel plates deflected bullets that would otherwise have shattered the wooden propeller.

Finally the Fokker synchronized guns blazed a devastating hail of bullets through the prop arc. The Allied airmen were battered and smashed from the skies. Fast pusher type planes were thrown against the German’s super gun. And then a German plane crashed behind the Allied lines. The interrupter gear secret was out. Synchronized Vickers guns were mounted on Allied cowlings. The Germans’ advantage had been lost. The war in the skies blazed forth with accelerated tempo. Toy ships of a few months past had blossomed into major weapons of war.

An Old Stunt

However, the top gun firing forward was not discarded by many Allied aviators. Nieuports and S.E.5s used it, up until the Armistice. The Nieuport on the cover has its top gun and a synchronized Vickers which has jammed hopelessly. Only a few shells remain in the pancake drum above. The French pilot is wounded and attacked by two German Albatross D1s. He knows he cannot get them with front gun fire, but he remembers an old trick. Painfully he reaches up, yanks back the Lewis butt, jams the Bowden wire on the trigger as he zips under the belly of one German plane. A direct engine hit. Down goes the enemy. The remaining German sees the tricky gun work of the wounded Frenchman and feels the wind from the bullets of a second Nieuport coming to the rescue. He veers off and streaks for home allowing the Frenchman to get away, land and become a confirmed booster for the old top gun Lewis.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, September 1935 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

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