Looking to buy? See our books on amazon.com Get Reading Now! Age of Aces Presents - free pulp PDFs

“Lufbery Becomes an Ace” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on January 7, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present “Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”—The story behind Paul Bissell’s April 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 May 1932 cover Bissell presents the moment in the battle of Mauser raid where Raoul Lufbery became an ace!

Lufbery Becomes an Ace

th_FA_3205“PROCEED to their objective, the Mauser Munition Works at Oberndorf; there drop their bombs at points most destructive to the enemy positions; and then return to their home airdromes.”

So read the orders for October 12, 1916, at all Allied airdromes located back of the front line and south of Verdun. Orders of Brass Hats, “—and then return”! What a chance! With the objective one hundred and fifty kilometers inside the enemy lines and the sky filled with Boche. Well, anyway, it would be a great show, and at least one pilot smiled, thinking that tomorrow might bring death, but most surely would bring the opportunity of becoming an Ace.

This was Sous-Lieutenant Raoul Lufbery, of the Lafayette Escadrille, with four official victories to his credit, who, with three companions, Lieutenants Masson, de Laage and Prince, had been ordered to fly guard patrol for the bombing planes and protect them from attack.

Arriving at the appointed rendezvous, they saw a sight then strange to any eye. Perhaps the largest concentration of air forces the world had yet seen was spread below them. Farnums, Breguets, Caudrons, Sopwiths and Nieuports, almost every type of plane yet developed by the Allies for work at the Front, was in this huge flying armada, which would strike desperately at one of the main centers of German munition supplies.

Turning east, the whole group passed through a terrific archie bombardment, but it was not until they neared Oberndorf that the real show began. Here the Germans seemed to come from all directions. A general alarm had been spread, and every available German ship had been pressed into service.” Single-seated scouts, double-seaters, and even big three-placers, planes seldom seen on the Front at that time, were massed ahead of the advancing bombers.

The larger enemy ships would charge in, boldly maneuvering to bring their swivel guns into play, only to find the sky suddenly raining lead as Nieuports and Sopwiths dived headlong from the blue, their guns blazing in defense of their bombers. Then flashes of crimson and black, as Albatrosses and Fokkers and Pfalzes attacked fiercely, striving to gain that deadly blind spot underneath the tail of the slow-moving bomber, or twisting and squirming to evade the fire of some Nieuport, and, by some quick renversement, bring the tri-colored cocarde full in their sights.

IT WAS from such a mêlée that Lufbery, pulling out for an instant to clear a jam of his gun, saw a German go down in flames before the withering fire of Norman Prince.

“Yeow! Number one for the Lafayettes! Good old Nimmie! Now for number two!” And he pushed his stick over. But that dive was never to be finished. At that instant a sudden impact in his cockpit told him that a German was on his tail. Instinctively he yanked his stick back hard against his chest. Up he zoomed, his head twisted around to find his enemy.

There it was, a huge three-place Aviatik, with three guns, and all of them’ blazing at him. A flip of his ailerons—a kick of his rudder—then down hard on his stick, and in an instant he was away from the fire of the Boche. A sharp climbing bank would, he thought, bring him back under the tail of the larger ship, but here the German pilot, an old hand at the game, was too crafty to be caught. Banking up sharply on his right wing he exposed Lufbery again to the open fire of his three gunners.

This was entirely too hot a spot to stay in, and Lufbery turned the nose of his little Nieuport sharply away, out of the line of fire, climbing rapidly to gain altitude, from which he might dive down on the larger machine. As he turned, a flash of red went by, followed by a streak of silver—de Laage on the tail of a Boche!

Now, below him, Lufbery could see the three-seated Aviatik, the gunners all set for his attack. Over he nosed his ship and hurled down at the enemy, but at the same instant the big plane banked around and he overshot his mark. In a fury he twisted back in a sharp renversement, this time approaching the plane from the most dangerous position, open to the fire of the gunners.

But the Germans were square in his sights, and straight on he flew, feeling a thrill as the pulsing guns answered to the squeeze of his hand on the stick. He could feel the German bullets spattering his plane. Another instant, and he turned to avoid a crash, just as the huge Aviatik, the pilot dead, slipped crazily off on one wing. A telltale whisper of smoke, and then a burst of flame as it headed down to where falling chimneys and bursting roofs showed that the Allied bombers had
found their objective with fearful accuracy.

THAT was one hundred and fifty kilometers inside the German lines, and it meant one hundred and fifty kilometers of scrapping to win their way back through. The Germans took their toll. However, it had been a great show, and very successful from the Allied viewpoint. Much havoc had been wrought to the munitions center, and the Allies, too, had taken their toll in German ships. Three more victories were to the credit of the Lafayette Escadrille, for de Laage had brought down his German also.

A happy reunion awaited them, had not Fate here taken a hand. The four pilots, blown slightly off their course, and running short of gasoline, were forced to land at the French field of Corcieux, a field strange to all of them. It was almost dark as they eased their ships down, and Prince, unaware of some high tension wires strung across one end of the field, crashed into them as he glided in. With characteristic courage he refused to have his comrades move him until flares had been lighted to prevent some other pilot crashing as he had done.

Two days later he died in the hospital. The famous Mauser raid was history. Lufbery was an Ace, and Norman Prince an international hero.

The Ships on The Cover
“Lufbery Becomes an Ace”
Flying Aces, May 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on December 24, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present “Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”—The story behind Paul Bissell’s April 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 April 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action as Lt. Paul H. Niebling shoots his Colt .45 at an oncoming Fokker while parachuting to the ground!

Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat

th_FA_3304UNSWERVING and terrifying, like a messenger from hell, the red plane, its guns blazing, bore down on the hapless young American swinging dizzily in his parachute harness. He heard the whine of the German bullets as they whizzed by, cutting another of his shroud cords. He clutched desperately at one of the loose ends as the wind began to spill out of his chute, at the same time twisting in his leg straps to empty the rest of his magazine into the red machine as it roared by him in a wild zoom.

Five times the Colt .45 spoke sharply, and then the mechanism jammed . . . .

Less than two minutes before, this young American, Lieutenant Niebling, and his companion observer, Lieutenant Carroll, had been quietly watching the enemy positions from their basket, some two thousand feet above Maixc. Not a plane had bepn in sight. The clouds hung low. Then, without warning, nosing out of a cloud, its motor picking up with a full-throated roar, had come this red devil, spitting flaming bullets into the big silken bag above.

At Niebling’s command, Carroll had jumped. But Niebling, an old hand at the game, had decided to stick to the last minute. Three times before this, he had gone overboard as the balloon above him went up in flames. He was sick of just going over and putting up no fight. So this time he had swung out of the basket that he might be in the clear if he felt the whole balloon give suddenly, as it does when it finally explodes. He was determined to get in a few shots at the Boche before he let go.

So, as the red plane had banked up sharply and came back for another go at him, Niebling had freed his automatic. If only he could put a bullet in that damned red nose, that came on relentlessly, shooting flaming darts which bit into the silken folds above! Damn him! And Niebling’s automatic had pulsed as he squeezed the trigger. Like a trip-hammer he felt it kick in his hand. The plane, apparently untouched, had nosed up and put a last fierce burst into the big bag. “Great God, how futile!” had thought Niebling, and in anger almost threw the partly empty automatic at the German plane. A sudden return of caution, however, had warned him that he had hung on as long as he dared. He released his hold and dropped like a stone, turning over and over in his plunge down.

The first seconds of a jump, even to the most experienced old jumpers, are seconds in which life seems suspended. Whether or not it will go on depends on the chute. If it opens—good! If not—well, c’est la guerre. So with Niebling, for a few seconds life stopped.

He himself, when first at the Front, had seen a French lieutenant carefully tuck the parachute into its carrier, demonstrating just how it should be done, had seen the parachute attached to sand-bags placed in the balloon basket, had seen the balloon ascend three thousand feet. Then, from the ground, he had seen the bags pushed over the basket’s edge, drop and rip the chute from its container—had watched breathlessly and vainly for the chute to open, only to see those bags plunge three thousand feet down, to crash in a cloud of dust with the folded chute trailing hopelessly behind. Yes, sometimes it didn’t open.

But this time it did, and with a rush and a snap, life was on again for the young lieutenant, and he found himself floating gently earthward, still gripping his automatic. Above him, and to one side, his balloon, now a mass of flames, was falling slowly to pieces. The Fokker had swung off and was attacking the other balloons. Even as he watched, Niebling saw the second, third and fourth bag explode, and then the German banked up in a sharp turn and headed back toward him.

ONCE before when Niebling had been shot down, the enemy had returned to the attack and passed so close that the American had made some excellent snapshots of the German plane with a tiny vest-pocket kodak. This time, however, Niebling longed not for pictures, but for blood. So he had waited for the German to get closer. Already the fixed gun, shooting through the Fokker’s prop, flashed steadily. What a chance! Just a service .45 against a Spandau.

Yes, but if only he could get one bullet in the right place—one, just one! And Niebling’s teeth gritted as he squeezed the trigger and butt of his Colt. Five times the automatic spoke, square into the red body, so close now that Niebling could almost have touched it with a fishing pole.

That was the moment when the mechanism jammed. The plane, apparently untouched, turned and headed back toward Germany, while the American, cursing with rage, worked feverishly to clear his gun. Watching the fast-retreating Fokker, he saw something suddenly go wrong.

Slowly at first, then more rapidly, the plane headed downward. Quickly it was apparent that the headlong dive was uncontrolled, as if death’s hand were on the stick. The motor roared, pulling the ship into a tight spin from which it never came out. Twisting faster and faster, it finally crashed, burying its nose deep in a hillside.

Yes, Niebling got down. With the wind still spilling out of his chute, he landed fast but safely. Modest always, he says that he was never able to prove positively that his bullet brought down the German. But evidently America and France thought that he had done a good job, for First Lieutenant Paul H. Niebling, 1st Minnesota Field Artillery, A.E.F., attached to the 73rd Company, French Balloon Corps, today wears a D.S.C. and Croix de Guerre, with Palm for exceptional valor, and is, we believe, the only man of the war who, in a head-on duel in the air, with only a sendee automatic against a Spandau, came away the victor.

The Ships on The Cover
“Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”
Flying Aces,April 1933 by Paul Bissell

“Downing the L-22″ by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on September 17, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

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

Link - Posted by David on February 5, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

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

Link - Posted by David on September 18, 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. 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

Link - Posted by David on August 21, 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. 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

Link - Posted by David on August 7, 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. 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

Link - Posted by David on July 10, 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. 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

Link - Posted by David on June 26, 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. 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

Link - Posted by David on June 12, 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. 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

Link - Posted by David on May 29, 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. 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

Link - Posted by David on May 15, 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 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

Link - Posted by David on May 1, 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. 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

Link - Posted by David on April 3, 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 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)

Next Page »