“They Had What It Takes – Part 22: John Alcock” by Alden McWilliams
They Had What it Takes was Alden McWilliams’ series of illustrated tributes to the pioneer fliers of the early days of aviation that ran in Flying Aces from 1937 through 1940. Sir John William Alcock is the focus this time.
Alcock was a Captain in the Royal Air Force who, together with navigator Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown, piloted the first non-stop transataltic flight in 1919 in a converted Vickers Vimy Bomber.
A fighter pilot in WWI, Alcock designed and built a fighter plane out of the remains of other crashed ships a’la The Red Falcon while stationed in Greece. Alcock constructed his “Sopwith Mouse” as he called it out of the forward fuselage and lower wing of a Sopwith Triplane, the upper wings of a Sopwith Pup and the tailplane and elevators of a Sopwith Camel, and married them to a rear fuselage and vertical tail surface of original design with a 110 hp Clerget 9Z engine and armed with a .303 Vickers gun. Alcock never flew his eponymous Alcock Scout, but squadron-mate FSL Norman Starbuck flew it a couple times until it crashed after several months—returning to field of crashed planes from whence in came.
More Amazing Blakeslee Covers!
This week we have more great Dare-Devil Aces covers by Frederick Blakeslee. Popular Publications published some dynamite aviation art on the cover of Dare-Devil Aces! Sadly, we don’t use more than a sliver of it for our books. But that’s a design choice — We’re not trying to keep anything from you. And now we’ve added two more years of great Blakeslee covers to our growing gallery––1936 and 1937!
The June and December covers of 1936 are probably the two most recognizable Dare-Devil Aces covers and we have featured both of them now on back covers of our books. Our very first publication, Steve Fisher’s Captain Babyface, featured the June cover on the back. Captain Babyface and Mr Death matched wits through ten of the twelve issues that year––their last scrap appearing in the November issue. William Hartley’s The Adventures of Molloy & McNamara started running in the July 1936 issue with the adventure we choose to use as the title for the volume, Satan’s Playmates, in the December issue allowing us to utilize it’s cover in the cover design of that book.
As 1936 gave way to 1937, Blakeslee’s covers move further away from depictions of planes in use during the late great hate and start to feature more contemporary planes in the frenetic melees depicted on the covers. Robert J. Hogan’s The Red Falcon was also printing it last stories in 1937 with the last Dare-Devil Aces Red Falcon story being published in the January 1938 issue. The June 1937 cover seemed to work best with the crimson cover of the Red Falcon’s fourth and final volume. This is the latest cover we’ve used, but fear not, this is not the last update to our covers gallery. There are more covers to come.
You can enjoy these as well as covers from 1932 through 1935 in our Dare-Devil Aces Cover Gallery!