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“Downing the L-22″ by Paul Bissell

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THIS week we present “Downing the L-22″—The story behind the cover of Paul Bissell’s June 1933 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the June 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action As Galpin and Leckie’s Phoenix Cork flying boat is caught in the searchlights of the mighty L-22 Zeppelin!

Downing the L-22

th_FA_3306 FROM the very outbreak of the World War it was apparent to the British that with an aggressive foe only a comparatively few miles across the water from them, England would be subjected to constant and continued air raids. With this in mind the Air Ministry attempted to build up an adequate defense, but with aviation in its infancy, and no past experience to help them, this task proved much more difficult than was at first apparent. The inadequacy of the defense first built up was quickly evident when the Germans began seriously to raid England in the early summer of 1915.

Almost every dark night one or more of the huge Zeppelins would slip through the blackness, drop its bombs, and disappear again—untouched. To be sure, the alarm would have been given, and plane after plane would be up searching for the enemy, while the night would be pierced by hundreds of bright beams trying vainly to find the giant ships. Often the huge shapes of the Zeps, silhouetted against the lighted sky above, would be clearly visible to those on the ground, but quite invisible to those high in the air, groping vainly for them.

And even if spotted, the Zep was by no means an easy prey. It had a flying speed almost equal to most of the planes of that time, while its ceiling was higher than could be obtained by the majority of them. And, even if caught at lower altitudes, merely by dropping its water ballast it could rise with a rapidity that made pursuit almost hopeless.

It was well-armed, too. Machine guns were mounted in each gondola, and in the main cabin, while on top; of the envelope at either end was a gun platform.

To be sure, not every raid was carried out successfully, or without serious losses. The difficulties offered to the defenders of the British coast only served to increase the determination of the British pilots, and more than one story of dare-devil bravery and achievement crowned with victory was written in flames against the night skies above England, as some huge Zeppelin hurtled down through space to destruction, the victim of one of Britain’s air heroes—Robinson, Warneford, Tempest, Brandon, Cadbury — just to mention a few of them.

There was probably not a pilot who, no matter what his individual mission might be, did not hope that some time, slipping out of a blinding fog bank, he might find himself face to face with a Zeppelin. They perhaps said little about it, and daily carried out whatever job was assigned to them. But they quietly longed and waited for that day when fate would be kind and give them their big chance.

AND so it was with the crew of the Phoenix Cork flying boat, H12-8666, of the Great Yarmouth station. They had gone out to drop a few eggs on the enemy hangars over in Belgium, but on the way high adventure overtook them.

With Flight Lieutenant Galpin as navigator, and Sub-Lieutenant Leckie as pilot, they left Great Yarmouth station at three o’clock on the morning of May 14, 1917. Four one-hundred-pound bombs were strapped beneath their wings, and they carried three Lewis machine guns—a double one mounted in the forward cockpit, and one aft in the side door.

They had proceeded about eighty miles toward their objective and gained about six thousand feet of altitude when they plunged suddenly into a dense fog bank. Until now the. trip had been uneventful, just a careful watch out as they sped along, searching the scarcely visible horizon for the first suggestion of daylight. Now, however, there was no horizon, no top, no bottom—above, below, to either side—just a dark mass of nothingness through which they winged their way, guiding themselves only by their instruments.

Lieutenant Leckie kept the plane climbing gradually until he had finally reached an elevation of ten thousand feet, and figured that he must be nearing the Belgian coast. He cursed the thick fog that made him as helpless as a blind man. The blackness around had faded to a dirty gray, heralding the approach of day. Then suddenly, like slipping from a dark room, they shot out into the clear air. Off in the east, dawn pushed its long fingers up into the heavens. Below were the waters of the channel, still black as seen between other fog banks and huge cloud formations which extended interminably, billow on billow, off into the distance.

But straight ahead, and some six thousand feet below them, was a shape that sent the hearts of the Britishers into their throats. Scarcely visible in the early light, but with each second making their hope more and more certain, was the silvery shape of a German Zeppelin.

Instantly all thought of their objective was forgotten. Their big chance was here. Without need of a command, the pilot altered his course, and headed directly for the big ship. Galpin manned the forward twin gun, while Whatling, the wireless operator, manned the aft gun. With throttle wide open and nosing over slightly to gain speed, the flying boat tore ahead. Had the Zep seen them? Would she turn and run for it? Or would she ascend rapidly and wireless for help? Quickly they crept up. Only a mile separated them—then only half a mile.

On the side of the Zep the numerals L-22 and the Black Cross now stood out boldly. Then the Zep seemed suddenly to come to life. She changed her direction, at the same time dropping volumes of water as she discharged her ballast, and her nose shot violently upward. But Leckie had anticipated just this maneuver, and though he had sacrificed some of his altitude, he was still some five hundred feet above the Zep. Without hesitation Galpin dropped three of his four bombs. Every pound counted. Now they must have every bit of speed that was possible.

Already the Germans from the top platform were raking them with machine-gun fire. Then Leckie turned her over in one last headlong dive, pulling her up just under the rear fin and not forty yards from the back gondola. Immediately they were met by a terrific fire from the two gondolas. Bullets whizzed by, tearing pieces of fabric from their wings.

But now Galpin’s guns were also in action. Burst after burst of incendiary bullets he saw bury themselves in the rear end of the big envelope. Leckie piloted the machine skilfully, swinging from one side to another under the big dirigible, offering as difficult a target as possible and at the same time tipping up on one wing so as to give Whatling a chance to bring the rear gun into action.

The Zep was climbing rapidly, and Leckie strove desperately to hold his position in spite of the backwash from the German’s five propellers. Another burst of fire from Galpin, and then his guns jammed. Now they were in a perilous position. Scarcely twenty yards separated them from the German gondolas from which a withering machine-gun fire was pouring.

Leckie turned away to starboard to give Galpin time to fix his guns, intending to sweep around and come up under her again when the jam was cleared. But this was not necessary. Already a faint red glow was discernible in the rear of the huge silver envelope, where Galpin’s bullets had buried themselves—a glow which quickly increased as tongues of flame leapt out and swept upward.

For a few seconds the great ship hung quivering, then, like a meteor, rushed flaming down to the sea. Her engines, burned out of their fittings, dropped ahead of her, sending up great columns of water as they crashed. Then, with a hissing scream, the great burning mass plunged out of sight into the dark waters below. All that remained of the L-22 and its crew of twenty-five men was a patch of oil and black ash upon the restless surface of the channel.

The Ships on The Cover
“Downing the L-22″
Flying Aces, June 1933 by Paul Bissell

“The Lone Eagle, January 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the fourth issue from January 1934, Frandzen has a German Halberstadt smashing into the undercarriage of a French Breguet—with dire consequences.

The Story of the Cover

SMASH! A crackup in the air! th_LE_3401 That is the picture on this month’s cover.

A shaved second before the collision there were two trim ships battling each other high above the war-torn fields—two ships piloted by airmen intent on blasting each other into oblivion. Vickers, Lewis, and Spandau slugs have slashed back and forth across the heavens.

The big Breguet with its wing span of forty-seven feet is not as maneuverable as the small Halberstadt scout with a span of only twenty-eight feet. But the Breguet’s handicap is offset by its rear gunner, who has an office unequalled for visibility. On either side of his pit he has Cellon windows.

There is a hole in the floor that he can see through and fire through if necessary. Therefore the blind spot under his tail is not as vulnerable as in ordinary two-seaters.

A Dangerous Opponent

The small Halberstadt has had a taste of the observer’s fire when sneaking in from behind to make the hoped for kill. The ship the German pilot thought was an easy victim has turned out to be a dangerous opponent.

Twice the German pilot has barged in from in front. Each time a stream of Vickers’ slugs drenched his ship. One of those hot, whistling messengers of death has slashed into his shoulder. Not a fatal wound, but a painful one. A wound that causes his flying to become jerky and erratic.

Another Angle of Attack

Mad clear through from being bested in a sky duel with a lumbering two-seater the German pushes the nose of his ship down. He starts to slither out of the fight, then he suddenly changes his mind. There is one angle of attack he has not tried; that one is coming up under the blunt nose of the Breguet. Coming up with a brace of Spandaus churning out hot steel.

His Halberstadt shudders as he pulls it out of its dive into a loop. Up swings the nose. He presses his gun trips. A short stutter from one gun, then it jams.

The other gun is silent—its ammo exhausted. Then directly in front of his blazing eyes looms the undercarriage of the Breguet; six husky steel members holding the axle and wheels—the strongest under construction of any Allied two-seater. Too late the German yanks on the stick to pull out of danger.

And This Is What Happens

Smash—his prop chews into the tough steel struts. His top left wing snaps—rips off—his prop flies to pieces, as does the undercarriage of the Breguet.

Both ships will get to earth; but one will be a wingless fuselage holding a doomed German pilot. The Breguet, minus wheels, can come down under its own power, flatten out and take the ground on its chest. It will be a rough landing but it is a ten to one chance that those two Yanks will be in the air again in a few days. They will be on the job—looking for trouble and overconfident Boche pilots.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, January 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“The Hawker Fury” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ September 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee presents a couple Hawker Furys escorting a flight of Hawker Demons on a bombing mission!

th_DDA_3610THIS black and white drawing which you see above, is the English ship, the Hawker “Fury.” It appears on the cover as an escort to the Hawker “Demons,” towards which we have given much space in the past. The “Demons” of course, are doing the actual bombing. The “Fury” happens to be a single-seater fighter with a maximum speed of 240 m.p.h. at 14,000 feet. It is naturally a very handy crate with which to protect the bombing ships.

Now, I believe, is as good a time as any in which to answer the frequent question, “Why don’t you paint more American ships?” The answer, I believe, should be obvious.

America, of all the nations of the world, should be about the last to be drawn in a major war. We are less secretive about our military plans and aviation developments than other nations, and any information regarding our ships is readily available to the readers.

However, across the seas, such, unhappily, is not the case. War clouds hover constantly above the threatened capitals of Europe. And while no nation there will admit to thoughts of aggression, we are well aware that it might come any minute. I have a natural interest in the ships of the English, feeling that they are naturally our friends and allies. We know too, that they are as peace loving as we, but by the very nature of their geographical situation, are more apt to become involved in war than ourselves. Feeling that your interest naturally runs that way, I have tried to give you as much information on British ships as I possibly can.

You will also note that I have from time to time, painted the German ships of war. We all know of Germany’s gigantic military preparations; we know very well that she may become the bombshell that will once again rock the earth. What then is her equipment in the sky? Next month I shall try to elaborate on the German air strength, giving you all the information I can possibly gather. It must be kept in mind however, that Mr. Hitler and his aides keep their activities pretty much under cover. Once in a while, though, I manage to get a peek. And when I do, you can be sure that I’ll pass the news along.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hawker Fury: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(October 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Overstrand” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ September 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee gives us his two favorite things to paint—planes and trains—in this case a couple Boulton Paul Overstrands attacking a train depot!

th_DDA_3609I DON’T know whether it makes much sense or not to tell the story behind this month’s cover, because action speaks louder than words, and all but the blind can see that a perfectly good piece of railroad is being blasted all over the premises by the sky raiders. Still, maybe we could use a little information on just what sort of ships these giant bombers are.

The big crates, coming in low, are Boulton Paul “Overstrands.” From the damage apparent on the cover and the bombing to be inflicted by ships we were not able to show, you can well imagine what’s going to happen to the enemy’s railroad. Of course, it is a practical military tactic, as old as warfare itself, to cripple your enemy’s means of transportation.

If at this late date, War should come to us again, and God forbid that it ever should, I believe this cover should give you some idea of what would happen. We have, for purposes of illustration, placed the “Overstrands” at a much lower altitude than they would really attempt. Were they actually to fly at this altitude, the terrific concussion that would ensue from the bombardment, might well put them out of commission. War is no longer a pleasant pastime, and the bombs to be dropped today are not precisely baseballs.

But suppose they were actually at this height—suppose this illustrated scene were actually taking place. At that altitude the ship’s speed would be somewhere around 160 m.p.h.—somewhat faster than the speed attained by the fastest, single-seat combat crates of World War days. The “Overstrand” is a bomber, pure and simple, but it is carefully protected by three gun positions, bow, amidship and prone. It can carry a load of 2,196 pounds, and its service ceiling is 22,500 feet.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Overstrand: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(September 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Fairey Hendon Night Bomber” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ August 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee has painted a squadron of Fairey Hendon Night Bombers doing what they do best!

th_DDA_3608THE fortunate folk who’ve had a look at this month’s cover before the regular customers, keep reminding me that it looks like a bombing of the docks along the Hudson River, New York City. Far be it from me to bring such disaster to the fair City of New York, so you may be sure that the resemblance is quite accidental. As a matter of fact, the scene is laid nowhere in particular—my idea being to give you as interesting a cover with as much detail as possible. It looks alright to me. What do you think?

However, the bombers are the real McCoy. Should one ever chance to drop an egg on your peaceful residence, I’m sure all hands will agree that they are genuine. These are Fairey Hendon night bombers, designed for long distance maneuvers. It’s a low-winged cantilever monoplane with two Rolls-Royce Kestral Engines, capable of carrying a crew of five. The gunner, who has all the fun of releasing the bombs, is located in the bow, while the pilot sits comfortably, just forward of the leading edge of the wing. There’s another bomber amidship and one in the tail. This ship can also be employed as a troop transport, being capable of carrying up to twenty fully equipped men. Its span is 101 by 9 feet; its length, 69 by 9. All in all it’s quite a crate, weighing some 20,000 pounds, fully loaded. This is definitely the wrong package to be hit with, since it can travel at a terrific rate of speed. Just how fast, however, has not been divulged by the people who hold the secret. Hope you like it. Fred Blakeslee.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Fairey Hendon Night Bomber: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(August 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Hanriot-Biche Pursuit” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ July 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee depicts a French Hanriot-Biche pursuit plane attacking a flight of German Junkers!

th_DDA_3607THE queer looking French ship on the cover is a Hanriot-Biche pursuit. As the student of aviation can readily see, this is an abrupt departure from the usual type of pursuit ship. Here, because the ship is a pusher, the cockpit is placed well forward in the bow, from which the pilot has a clear, unobstructed view. You have also noted, perhaps, that the radiator is even further forward than the pilot. This is permissible through the use of the air-cooled, 600-horsepower Hispano-Suiza engine. But probably the most unique feature of this odd ship are the two tail booms between which the three-bladed, metal propeller revolves. The Hanriot’s two machine guns fire from the bottom of the cowl.

The green ships are German Junkers, once used purely as transport planes, but now employed by the Rhineland as bombers.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hanriot-Biche Pursuit: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(July 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Bristol Bulldog” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ June 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee has painted a couple of Bristol Bulldogs escorting a flight of Vickers Virginias!

th_DDA_3606THE two yellow ships on this month’s cover are Bristol “Bulldogs”. There are two types of this ship, both of them one-place fighters. One type is powered by a 450 h.p. Bristol Jupiter motor and has a top speed of 170 m.p.h. The other has a 645 h.p. Bristol Mercury motor, and can be pushed up to 230 m.p.h. This second ship is known as the Mark IV, and is the ship shown on the cover, escorting a flight of Vicker “Virginias”.

The Virginia has been a standard bomber of the R.F.C. for quite a few years. It’s two Pegasus L.M. 111 motors have a total of 1100 h.p. It’s speed averages about 125 m.p.h., and its service ceiling is 17,750 ft. The “Virginia” carries a crew of four, while one of its features, as you can readily see, is the tail cockpit— Frederick M. Blakeslee.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Bristol Bulldog: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(June 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Hawker Demon” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ May 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee has painted a flight of Hawker Demons bombing an enemy ammunitions dump!

th_DDA_3605ON THE cover this month, a squadron of Hawker “Demons” is bombing an enemy ammunition dump. Apparently the raid was a complete surprise, since no resistance was offered. But perhaps the enemy was expecting the raiders to come in from a much higher altitude. Whatever the case, the “Demon” was well suited to carry out a surprise attack.

Besides carrying its supply of bombs, it would give a good account of itself in a dog fight, since it was a two-seater fighter, the same type made famous by the never-to-be-forgotten Bristol Fighter. Speed, combined with a low altitude, probably accounted for the surprise. You see them streaking over their target at the maximum speed of 202 m.p.h. This, of course, is going some, especially when you consider that its “father,” so to speak, the Bristol Fighter, had a top speed of 125 to 130 m.p.h.

Obviously the dump is near the sea and the raid is enjoying the cooperation of the Navy. As you see, the ship in the foreground, banking around, is a fleet fighter —the single-seat Hawker “Nimrod”. This ship is slightly smaller than the “Demon”, but has the same 630 h.p. engine, along with a slightly greater speed of 206 m.p.h. Following the Nimrod is a Fairey “Fox”, almost identical in appearance. These ships have been shooting up the ground with great success, and are thinking about doubling the order.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hawker Demon: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(May 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Gloster Gauntlets” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ April 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee has painted a flight of Gloster “Gauntlets” protecting a Handly-Page Heyford on a bombing mission!

th_DDA_3604THE STORY behind this month’s cover concerns the Gloster “Gauntlets”— and their particular job is the protection of a flight of “Heyfords” which has been sent to bomb an enemy drome. On the cover, the Heyfords have been shown at a very low altitude, so that we might also depict their target. But in reality, they would drop their eggs at no less than 10,000 feet. And at that height, would roar over their target at approximately 143 m.p.h., approaching their objective at a service ceiling of 21,000 feet.

For their protection, some ship had to be selected which would fly well over the Heyford’s maximum 21,000 feet, and be capable of a good scrap regardless of altitude. There simply couldn’t have been a better ship for this job than the Gauntlet, whose service ceiling is 35,500 feet! That is really going up!

At even 15,800 feet the Gauntlet’s speed is 230 m.p.h., and at this and higher altitudes, there is nothing with wings that can give it a decent scrap. At lower altitudes, however, the Gauntlet does not do so well, as its “Mercury” VI.S engine only delivers full power in the upper regions. But in power dives and fighting aerobatics, the Gauntlet is without a peer.

Note the sturdy arrangement of the wing structure, which places the question of wind rigidity beyond all doubt. In our cover, as may readily be seen, the Gauntlet has dropped down to the carpet to mop up the enemy ground crew with its Vickers, and to drop its four 20-lb. bombs, along with the larger shells being dropped by the Heyfords.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Gloster Gauntlets: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(April 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“H.P.47″ by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time Mr. Blakeslee brings another of his “scrambled time” covers pitting planes of the great war against modern day planes (those from the 1930’s), from the March 1936 issue of Dare-Devil Aces it’s a plane so new it doesn’t have a name yet—The Handly-Page 47!

th_DDA_3603THE HANDLY-PAGE has steadily progressed in design, since before the war to the present day. The pre-war Handly-Page would be a joke today, but in those early days, it was looked upon as the last word in aircraft. It was a two place biplane, but so queer in construction that it would be impossible to describe it. But still, if you want a laugh, look up the pre-war Handly-Page and you’ll get the idea.

Then came the war, and with it, the big twin engined Handly-Page 0/400, which was so far superior to the earlier ship that comparisons would be ridiculous.

It was considered the wonder ship of its day, and with its span of one hundred feet, it would still be considered large, even today. However, with its top speed of only 97 m.p.h. it would hardly be in the same class as the same sized ships of today.

The next step in the design of the Handly-Page was the V/1500, which was still larger. It had a span of one hundred and twenty-six feet, while its four engines gave it a speed of 103 m.p.h. This ship was originally built to bomb Berlin, but the signing of the Armistice, of course, removed the opportunity.

Not much was heard from Handly-Page after the war until 1933, when type 38, more generally known as the “Heyford,” made its appearance : We have already shown this ship on the January cover, so we shall not discuss it here.

This month we have painted the very last word in the Handly-Page series. So far this ship is known as H.P.47, as it has not as yet been officially christened by its designers. It is so new at the time of this writing, that no performance figures are as yet available.

However, it is known to have a very high top speed and a low landing speed. There is a tendency for the monoplane to supplant the biplane in military flying in England and several monoplane types are coming into favor. Midway between the huge Fairey night-bombers and the small high-speed fighters, is the H.P.47.

It is a general purpose ship, and has to perform a variety of duties, such as bombing, photography, long distance reconnaissance, and so on. It can even carry torpedoes, to operate with the fleet. But it must also be able to fight, and towards that end, presents a unique feature, notably the slim fuselage, which gives the gunner an unobstructed field of fire.

On our cover we have scrambled time a bit in order that you may compare the H.P.47 with a war-time ship.

We have shown them in combat with the Pfalz DIII and we will say at the outset that it was a mean trick to play on the Germans. In this instance, the Pfalz wouldn’t stand the ghost of a chance against these big ships, because as big as they are, they could have flown circles around the Pfalz, with its mere 125 m.p.h.

The Story Behind The Cover
“H.P.47: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(March 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Vickers Vampire” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On the February 1936 cover of Dare-Devil Aces, Mr. Blakeslee brings to our attention a plane that sounds like it’s straight out of the pages of G-8 and his Battle Aces or Captain Philip Strange—The Vickers Vampire!

th_DDA_3602NEARLY every reader has heard the merits of the Spad, Camel, S.E.5 and Fokker DVII drummed into their ears by fiction writers. Authors, of course, write about the ships with which they are most familiar. The authors of the stories in this magazine were war fliers, and as the United States did not have combat ships in France, the Americans used the French ships, mostly Spads. That is why, in the majority of stories, the Spad figures so prominently and since the Germans had practically washed out the Phalz and Albatross in favor of the Fokker DVII by the time the American aviators became effective at the Front, naturally the DVII figures largely in these stories, since they were the ships the authors fought against.

However, we have painted on this month’s cover a little ship that happens to be a pet of ours, and I think you will agree that she’s a beauty. We recommend to authors the Vickers “Vampire”, which is, by the way, rather a sinister name. This ship is rarely heard of in fiction. It was a trench strafer and the first ship to make a name for itself in France.

Its low altitude speed was 121 m.p.h., which made it a pretty speedy target for the dreaded ground machine guns. Machine guns on the ground, however, were more dreaded than those of enemy planes. It also took a high order of courage to attempt it.

The “Vampire” was a pusher, driven by a four-bladed propeller. It was an attempt to solve the forward field of fire. The pilot was out in front of the top wing with the motor behind and machine guns in front, a nasty bus to crash, but then, aren’t they all?

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Vickers Vampire: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(February 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Handly-Page Heyford” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on April 17, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time Mr. Blakeslee brings another of his “scrambled time” covers pitting planes of the great war against modern day planes (those from the 1930’s), from the January 1936 issue of Dare-Devil Aces it’s The Handly-Page Heyford!

th_DDA_3601ANOTHER scrambled time cover. As you see, it is an impossible situation. We mean, a war-time Albatross and a modern bomber! But in order to show the comparison between the ship used during the World War and the ship of today, we have taken liberties with Father Time. The Albatross seems to be on the top of a loop, how he got there we’ll let you figure out. And of course, the Albatross could never have overtaken the bomber from the rear. Note the size of the pilot in the bomber, it is a huge ship, the little Albatross (big on the cover because it is nearer) could almost land on the wing of the bomber. Huge as this ship is, it could have flown circles around the Albatross. As a matter of fact, there are few pursuit ships even today that could overtake it, which fact, at the time of writing, seems to be worrying a few countries. If a modem pursuit ship cannot overtake a modern bomber, what chance would the war-time ship have? How can these big bombers be intercepted? Well, that remains to be seen, we may be finding out by the time this magazine is in your hands, what with all this war talk.

But to return to the cover, I suppose you have recognized the bomber, but who would ever guess that it is the offspring of the war-time Handly-Page? It no more resembles its “parent” then the first Handly-Page resembled the war-time Handly-Page. If you want a laugh some day, look up pictures of the first Handly-Page.

This ship is the Handly-Page “Heyford” previously known as type 38. It appeared on the scene in 1933 and is still being produced. Its most striking characteristic is the way the fuselage is slung immediately beneath the upper wing. This arrangement gives an unrestricted field of view to the pilot. Machine gunners are located in the nose of the ship and behind the top wing. To protect the ship underneath there is an ingenious device, a retractable and rotatable gun turret, directly under the rear gunner. The machine is thus completely protected and the chances are that should the Albatross be so unfortunate as to get within range, it would be just too bad.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Handly-Page Heyford: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(January 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Balloon Busters” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time Mr. Blakeslee brings us a story of “The Balloon Busters” from the July 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3207THE cover shows a patrol of French Spads attacking a group of observation balloons. Helpless as these “sausages” were, it was dangerous business to attack even one of them. Many a good pilot met his Waterloo by so doing, and as a rule the Allies left them strictly alone, unless ordered otherwise.

German archie usually had the drachens ranged and an attacking pilot had to go through an explosive hell to get at them. A favorite trick of the Germans was to send up a decoy balloon which was not only ranged but instead of carrying an observer, had its basket filled with amanol. If a ship survived the barrage and came within range, the Boches exploded the amanol—and that was the end of the attacking ship. We can’t blame the Germans for using this trick, as the Canadians were the originators of it.

A similar ruse which the Allies played unsuccessfully was to surround Dunkirk at night with a dozen or more balloons which were attached to strong cables. Dunkirk suffered frequent bombing from the air and it was hoped that a raiding Boche would run into one of the cables. There is no official record, however, of such a thing ever having happened.

In spite of the danger of the observation balloons, Frank Luke, the American pilot, seemed to enjoy attacking them. He received the D.S.C. for bringing down eight of them in four days. Balloon bursting was Frank Lukes’ specialty.

Balloons were olive drab, camouflaged in green and brown or black and white checks. The large green balloon in the foreground of the cover is a German Ae. It is colored after a French war balloon which is now being kept as a war souvenir near Versailles. The green and brown balloon on the cover is a Luftchifftrupp 20.

A balcony runs around the inner court of Les Invalides in Paris. Hanging in one corner of it is a famous airplane which I have reproduced here from a color sketch I made last summer. The plane is the Spad used by Georges Guynemer. He called it “Vieux Charles” (Old Charles), and on the side, under the exhaust pipe, that name was printed. Back of that was the stork insignia of his squadron. You see this plane on the cover as it actually looks today.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Balloon Busters: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(July 1932, Dare-Devil Aces)

“Revenge Bombs” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time we present “Revenge Bombs,” the story behind Mr. Blakeslee’s cover for the very first issue of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3202

NEAR Dunkirk there was a large air-drome where several squadrons were located, among them a bombing outfit using Handley-Pages. This airdrome was bombed regularly every clear night by the Germans, who would always reserve a few bombs to drop there after giving Dunkirk a salute. The men got used to it and became rather bored.

One night, however, the usual force flew over and to the surprise of all gave the airdrome a bombing it never forgot. The Boches first dropped a parachute flare that lit up the place like day, and then proceeded to drop thirty-two bombs. Hangars caught fire, the landing field was ploughed up, and the Jerries scored a direct hit on a so called bomb-proof dugout, killing forty officers and men. Fortunately the Handley-Pages were out on a straff of their own, or the damage would have been greater. When they returned they found the field ripped up to such an extent that they were unable to land and had to either fly around for the rest of the night or make a landing on the beach three miles away.

A hangar more or less blown to pieces and a torn-up landing field were to be
expected, but forty men gone West at one blow was not to be born. The men determined to wipe out the particular nest that had caused the damage.

They got under way the very next night and on being joined by a fleet of D.H.9’s, set a circular course that would bring them onto the enemy from behind.

The D.H.9’s took the lead. With a roar, they streaked over the Boche drome, letting go a storm of bombs.

As more than fifty bombs struck there was a flash and a stunning report that could be seen and heard for miles. By the time the dust settled and the smoke cleared away the D.H.9’s had gone.

The startled Germans were just coming to, when the huge Handley-Pages swept in on them, dropping tons of high explosives. The blast shook the ground and blew ships, supplies, men and hangars skyward in a mass of smoke and dust.

On the cover the Handley-Pages are shown bombing the undamaged portion of the airdrome. Looking back from the departing bomber the scene was horrible, the destruction complete, the Boche squadron practically annihilated and the forty British flyers revenged.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Revenge Bombs: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(February 1932, Dare-Devil Aces)

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

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Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the April 1934 cover, Frandzen featured the Nieuport 17 and the giant Gotha bomber!

ON THE COVER this month th_SF_3404you will find two ships as radically different in design as you could wish for. The fleet little scrapper, the Nieuport 17 and the cumbersome engine of destruction, the Gotha bomber. The Nieuport was one of the most effective scouts that the French turned out. Owing to its high speed and maneuverability it was very popular with the French flyers. It was really a parasol in that the lower wing was so small that its chief function was to give girder strength to the upper wing. The Nieuports of this type were commonly called “one-and-a-half-planes.”

The big Gotha smacking the ground was just the last word in bombers as far as Germany was concerned. She built some bigger ones and stuck more engines on them than this 77 ft. twin-engined job, but in the case of the larger bombers they had plenty of trouble lifting them off the ground.

Slip back a few hours and take off with this broken Gotha as it leaves its home drome with a half a ton of bombs snuggled against its belly. With its two 160 horse power Mercedes churning the two pusher props more than four tons of ship and load are eased into the air. Two other giant bombers follow. The field is circled twice and then the three ships with their motors blasting orange streaks of flame from six exhaust stacks point their noses westward, toward the English Channel. The vibrating motors are laboring like mogul locomotives pulling a heavy train over a steep mountain grade—they are climbing. At last they reach twelve thousand feet, level off and throttle down to about sixty-five miles per hour. It is a clear night with high clouds scudding just below. Finally the nose of the leading Gotha is pointed downward. The other two follow. They slip down through the clouds. The Channel is below, now it has been passed. Again the bombers level off, wing slightly to the left. Scattered houses, the outskirts of London are below. Now the dwellings are bunched together. The gunner in the front pit has his eye glued to a Georz bomb-dropper’s sight. The pilot is watching his galvanometer, his left hand is on his bomb releases. Government buildings are now below at an angle of about twelve degrees.

Two giant bombs drop flatly from beneath the Gotha, lazily point their noses downward, then gathering momentum they go streaking down at their target. Buildings rock, flames spurt from shattered windows. Sirens from tops of buildings wail their eerie warnings through the chill before dawn air. AIR RAID. Again the bombs go racing toward the sleeping city. A ton and a half of high explosive has been released.

The British home defense planes are in the air, sweeping up to engage the giant destroyers, but already those dark shapes have slunk off into the blackness and are well out over the Channel.

The British were taken by surprise. They had not adequate speed in their protection planes. The advantage of the raiders was too great, they escaped across the Channel. But did they get back to their hangars behind the German lines? They did not! One was forced down with a balky engine. The two others ran into a dawn patrol of French airmen out looking for big game. Spandaus and Vickers snarled and spat lead as the eastern sky burst gloriously into color as the sun rose over the torn and twisted battle fields. A Vickers’ bullet found a vulnerable spot in the left engine of the Gotha pictured on the cover. Another killed the pilot. Flames, a dive, oblivion for the raiders. The Nieuport pilot circles the flamer once, salutes his fallen foe. It’s all in the day’s work.

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

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