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

Link - Posted by David on January 8, 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 June 1935 cover, Mr. Frandzen features the Spad 22 and Spad 13 C1!

The Ships on the Cover

THE cannon ship used during th_SF_3507 the World War did not necessarily have to be one type of plane. Any ship having a “V” type engine with a geared propeller could do the trick. The geared prop was above the crank shaft at the front of the engine, therefore above the center of the round radiator in the Spad. The hub of the propeller was made hollow just large enough to clear the sides of the muzzle of the 37 millimeter cannon which protruded about two inches. In the accompanying drawing this is clearly shown.

The ship with the complicated bracing in the foreground of the cover is the Spad 22, one of the little known crates of the war. It rated a 220 h.p. Hispano-Suiza motor with a geared prop which could accommodate the cannon. The Spad zooming up in the lower background is the Spad 13 C1 with geared prop. There were plenty of these “cannon ships” tried out from time to time and words flew hot and heavy from pilots who used this new gun arrangement for and against the stunt.

The Original Cannon

The original 37 millimeter cannon, the type the great French ace Guynemer used to down his forty-ninth to fifty-second victims, had to be fed by hand. Each seven-inch shell weighing about one pound had to be dropped into the breach of the gun. This took about three seconds in which time a pair of Vickers guns could churn out around fifty slugs, one of which might find a vulnerable spot in the enemy or his ship. But said enemy ship in three seconds could vary its position about 600 feet which is about equal to a shooting gallery target being reduced from the size of a wash tub to an aspirin tablet, a comparison which you fans with air guns or .22 caliber rifles Will appreciate.

On the other hand a Vickers slug might smack into a strut longeron, engine or even the gas tank, if it was rubber housed and not cause any serious damage; but let one of the one-pounder shells which explodes on impact connect with about any part of the enemy plane and the fight is over. The non-explosive one-pounder shell will knock a plane down in from one to three hits. Then there was a “fireworks” shell which was designed to set the target on fire, also a shell similar to a shotgun shell, which when loaded with buckshot would tear a wing to pieces.

A versatile gun, that cannon, and one which certainly did plenty of damage to the Germans.

Later Models Weighed More

The later cannon was semi-automatic, using the recoil, which was eight inches or more, depending on the muzzle velocity, to eject the used shell and slide a new one into the gun chamber. Guynemer’s cannon weighed about 100 pounds. The later models, 150 pounds or more. So put this added weight into a plane with a given speed and load, is to cut down its speed and put it at a disadvantage in a fight. To overcome this, the ammunition supply was limited or the fuel supply cut down which naturally decreased the cruising range. There were plenty of arguments for this weapon but also a few plain and fancy arguments against it.

Those two Albatross D5s zipping down on the foremost Spad are churning out four streams of slugs at a range which only amateurs would fire. The Spad 13 C1 coming up under them has a better range at a good angle. Not only are the bets on the Spads to come out with flying colors but when those explosive shells from the one pounder connect with the German ships, only one shell is necessary for blasting each one, where dozens of Spandau bullets may whistle through the Spads without harming them.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Nieuport 27 and Junkers C.L.1!

“Sky Fighters, February 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 11, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

This week we have the cover of Sky Fighters from February 1934 by our old friend Eugene Frandzen. Franzen 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.

THE SHIPS pictured th_SF_3402on this month’s cover are the German Rumpler type C5 and the French Spad type 13.

The Rumpler was one of Germany’s most successful war planes. As far back as 1908 Herr E. Rumpler was working on airplane designs. At first his ships followed closely the Eitrich “Taube” design, that queer birdlike swept-back wing construction. In a Rumpler biplane an eighteen-hour record was established just before the war by Herr Basser who flew from Berlin to Constantinople, making only three stops.

This flight was phenomenal for those days and it was only natural that when the World War flared and burst over nearly all Europe that the German High Command would do plenty of concentrating on their prize-winning Rumpler. It eventually lost its swept-back wings but the general appearance of the fuselage and nose remained the same up to the end of the war.

The two Rumpler C5s pictured on the cover are equipped for light bombing. Their speed was around 105 to 110 m.p.h.

From the blast of the explosion coming from the bottom of the picture it looks as though they have caused plenty of trouble. When we consider that the bill for the World War amounted to about 186 billion dollars and that plenty of that sweet little amount went into explosives of assorted shapes and potency one little ammunition dump valued at a few hundred thousand dollars doesn’t amount to much on the books, but add a few of these dumps together along a front that is causing the opposing power plenty of headaches and you’ll easily see how extremely important a little bomb-dropping party really is.

That in exactly what is happening in the picture—an ammo dump has gone blooey. One bomb beautifully spotted by the leading Rumpler pilot has done the trick. His pardner in the background is shedding his load of eggs in a businesslike manner too. The odds are against the Allies in this particular instance. They will have to rush some fresh ammunition to this particular sector if they want to have sufficient food for their hungry cannons.

But don’t overlook that Spad coming in with both guns blazing at the Rumpler. It didn’t get there quite in time to drive the Fritz away before he could shed his bombs but if a stray hunk of exploding shell from the dump doesn’t get one of the Spad pilots it will just be too bad for the men in the German ships.

This Spad 13 could kick off about 130 to 135 miles per hour. It carried plenty of horsepower up front in its nose, 220 to be exact. The ambitious pilots of the bomb-dropping Rumplers are quite some distance behind the Allied lines. Their protection planes are far behind the German lines. And those two Spads will either herd the Germans down to the ground or blow them out of the sky.

Bombing ammunition dumps during the World War was done extensively by both sides. Many times the pilot and observer of a two-seater plane went on a special ammunition-bombing expedition from which they knew they would never return.

They had specific jobs to accomplish and they grinned, smoked a last cigarette and flew their ships to the spot indicated on their maps. Usually a one-way trip, but if the mission was successful thousands of lives were saved.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, February 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Morane-Saulnier Parasol (type P)!