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“The Sopwith Salamander” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on December 14, 2015 @ 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. Although this looks like it should be in his new series of scrambled time covers, instead we get Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for Fokker Aircraft Corp, telling the story of the last of the Sopwith war-time machines—The Sopwith Salamander—from the cover of the November 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3511THE SALAMANDER, the last of the Sopwith war-time machines, was one of the most interesting and efficient types used in the World War. Although the design of the Salamander followed that of the earlier developed Sopwith Snipe, the plane was not intended for use as a scout or fighter—as were the Camel, Pup, Dolphin, and Snipe. It was designed primarily as a trench fighter, and in official circles it was known as the T.F.2.

The rudder of the Salamander was larger than those on the majority of the Sopwith designs. The pilot’s head, owing to the extremely deep fuselage and comparatively small wing gap, was on a level with the top plane, the center of which was partly slotted and partly cut away, to insure a better vision.

Due to the rather large diameter of the engine used, a B.R.2., the rectangularity of the fuselage was apparent toward the tail only, with the result that the fuselage was of a more circular cross-section than was the case in the other Sopwith ships.

Perhaps the mast interesting feature of the Salamander was the manner in which it was armored. Light steel plating formed the front of the fuselage from a point immediately in the rear of the engine, and extended to a point slightly to the rear of the cockpit. This armor, instead of being added to an existing fuselage frame, was a definite structual part of the frame work, and in itself formed the front portion of the fuselage. Thus, the armor plating served a structual, as well as a protective function.

Another variation from the usual Sopwith designs was incorporated in a tapering spine which served to taper off the pilot’s head and at the same time act as a head rest. This spine, being bulletproof, gave the pilot considerable protection against a rear attack.

The total weight of the armor in the Salamander totaled to some 650 pounds, and in addition to this weight, more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition was carried. In all, the ship weighed 2,945 pounds, as compared to the 1,959 pounds of the Dolphin, which was considered a rather heavy plane.

The following figures will give some idea of the performance and construction of the Salamander:


GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS
    Type Tractor Bi-plane
    Purpose Trench fighter
    Engine B.R.2, 230 h.p.
    Weights
        Loaded 2,945 lbs.
        Empty 1,844 lbs.
 
PERFORMANCE
    Speed (High—at 6,500 ft.) 123 m.p.h.
              (High—at 10,000 ft.) 117 m.p.h.
    Climb 10,000 ft. in 17 min.
    Landing speed 60 m.p.h.
    Ceiling 14,000 ft.
 
DIMENSIONS
    Length, over all 19 ft. 6 in.
    Stagger 1 ft. 5 in.
    Sweepback None
    Top Wing
        Span 31 ft 2⅝ in.
        Chord 5 ft.
        Area, not including ailerons 139 sq.ft.
        Incidence 1.8 deg.
        Dihedral 4.0 deg.
    Bottom Wing
        Span 30 ft. 2½ in.
        Chord 5 ft.
        Area, not including ailerons 123 sq.ft.
        Incidence 1.8 deg.
        Dihedral 4.0 deg.
 
AREAS
    Total wing area, not including ailerons
    Total wing, not inch ailerons 272 sq. ft.
    Tailplane 15 sq. ft.
    Elevators 11 sq. ft.
    Fin 2.75 sq. ft.
    Rudder 9 sq. ft.
    Total aileron area 51 sq. ft.

 

With the weights carried, the machine had a loading of 11 pounds per horse power, or 9.4 pounds per square foot.

As originally designed, the Salamander was armed with two fixed machine guns, but with its development into a general ground strafer, and later into a contact-patrol ship, the armament was increased, first to four guns, and later to six guns. In this later type there were two Lewis guns mounted on the top wing in such a manner that they could be easily drawn back and reloaded by the pilot from the cockpit.

Then, two Vickers were fixed on the top of the cowling, synchronized to fire through the propeller arc, while two Lewis guns, intended for trench strafing work were mounted on the bottom of the cockpit in such a way as to fire through the floor of the fuselage at an angle of about forty-five degrees.

The Salamander was passed by the experimental board of the Sopwith concern in April, 1918, but it was not until considerably later on in the year that the plane reached a production stage. Consequently few of them were in service over the lines.

In the short time that they were in action they showed such a performance record that it is quite probable, had the conflict lasted longer, the Salamander would have been one of the outstanding planes.

It is interesting to note, in connection with the Salamander, that the armored airplane has always been generally accepted as a logical step in the evolution of military planes by aeronautical engineers and designers. In actuality, however, there have been very few armored ships produced, and in fact, it was not until late in the war that any machines of the armored classification appeared.

For the most part, the greater number of the so-called armored planes produced were most inefficient, and in most instances the protective plating was added to the fuselage frame work of a regular pursuit or observation ship, with the result that the total weight of the machine was increased to a point where, powered with the engines then in use, they were sadly underpowered.

The Salamander, however, was designed from the first as an armored fighter, and inasmuch as the armor plating was made an integral part of the structural framework, the weight problem was done away with. This particular Sopwith offered a definite advance over the designs then in use, and it will be interesting to note in just what ways the modern armored pursuits will follow this pioneer model.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Sopwith Salamander: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(November 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Yellow Monsters” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 2015 @ 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. Last time Mr. Blakeslee gave us the first in a new series of mismatched time images with planes from the Great War along side present day planes from 1935! This time he returns with he second in the series, from the cover of the October 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces—”The Yellow Monsters!”

th_DDA_3510ABOVE is the drawing of a Pterodactyl, a pre-historic flying reptile that lived thousands of years ago. Today the Pterodactyl flies again, but this time it is man-made—in short, a modern fighting airplane. Before we go ahead with our story, let us explain why you find a modern ship in combat with a wartime airplane.

The World War is long past, yet many are still interested in the war-time ship; but an equal number are interested in the modern craft too. In thinking it over we wondered what a war-time pilot would do, had he in war days, met a ship of today. The problem was solved. Why not mix time? Take 1918 and 1935 and just scramble them?

The result certainly isn’t the World War, in fact it isn’t any war; it isn’t even real and not being real we can let our imagination roam. By scrambling time this way we can not only show you a war-time ship, but a modern one as well both on the same cover thus giving you an easy way of comparing the fighting ship of today with the fighting ship of yesterday.

So now, let us enter the realms of imagination. Let us see what Otto, a German pilot of 1918 would do had he met the Pterodactyl.

Otto was a crack pilot; he was leader of his staffel and was in the habit of going off on bis own occasionally to look for trouble. He was on one of these trips when he saw a speck way off on his right. Being over the French lines he guessed it was an Allied plane. His big Mercedes engine soon had him high above the other ship. As he crossed its path he looked down and saw the British insignia on the wing-tips. Something about the plane seemed queer, but not giving it a second thought he dove.

He suddenly pulled out of his dive and rubbed his eyes. He looked again. His first impression had been right after all. Something was definately queer about the British ship. Mein Gott, what was it? Was it an airplane? If so it was like nothing he had ever seen.

But he could see the flash of propellers and the crew—that was real anyway, so it must be an airplane. Dunner und blit-sen, what a crazy thing it was! Why it looked as though it would fall apart if a wind hit it. Where was the tail? Well, thought Otto, this will be cold turkey.

He was about to dive again when the strange ship put on a burst of speed. To Otto’s surprise he discovered that he had had his throttle wide open to keep up with the yellow monster.

Well it certainly could fly, he decided, as the Britisher pulled rapidly away from him. Then he saw several others of the strange ships join the first and turn toward him. Otto thought he better return to his drome and get help.

Otto assembled his pilots and recounted what he had seen. The assembled pilots looked at each other but said nothing. Otto was their superior officer so what could they say? A tailless ship indeed, bosh!

Otto led his staffel back and soon spotted the strange ships.

He made a wide circle and gave the signal to dive. The scene on the cover shows the beginning of the fight.

Here we might consider what chance Otto and his men flying Fokker DVII’s would have against the Pterodactyl. We do not hesitate to say that they don’t stand a ghost of a chance.

At the time of writing this, no data on the performance of the Pterodactyl is available. The speed is very high; the exact figure we do not know. Note the wonderful unobstructed field of fire of the rear gunner. It would be impossible for an attacker to hide under the tail. It can deliver a steady stream of lead from its fixed guns and as it dives on an enemy another dose from the free gun as it zooms away. The rear gunner by the way is fully protected from the wind. The pilot can look either under or over the center section too.

Some think that the Pterodactyl may prove to be the most formidable fighter yet produced. Others wonder if it will not become extinct as the bird-lizard from which the new ship gets its name.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Yellow Monsters: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(October 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

The Pterodactyl is manufactured by Westland Aircraft Co., England, and was first produced last year.

 BBAA_3501
Editor’s Note: The Westland Pterodactyl was featured much more prominently earlier in 1935 on the January cover of Street & Smith’s Bill Barnes Air Adventurer. Here Frank Tinsley has place the Pterodactyl front and center with the tailless tailgunner blasting away at the pursuing biplanes!

“The Tailless Ship” By Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on November 16, 2015 @ 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 gives the first in a new series of mismatched time images with planes from the Great War along side present day planes from 1935! Without further Ado, Mr. Blakeslee gives us the story of “The Tailless Ship!”

th_DDA_3509AFTER looking at the cover this month you have probably turned to this story quickly to find out what it is all about. You probably think you have missed something in German war-time ships. But you haven’t. Its this way.

Recently we were wondering what a war-time pilot would think and do, had he, in 1918, met a ship of today. So we took 1918 and 1935, mixed them thoroughly and what have we? Well, the result certainly isn’t the World War. As a matter of fact it isn’t any war. It isn’t even real, and that is just the result we were after. Not being real we can let our imaginations roam. Therefore, this cover is No. 1 of a brand-new series. To
keep them in order we will number them. You will find the number in the lower left-hand corner on the blue band.

Now let us suppose that a French pilot, in 1918 meets a ship of 1935. This opens a fascinating field. We can keep abreast with the very latest in modern fighting aircraft design on these covers as well as present the war-time ship. And more, you will then have an easy way of comparing the fighting ship of today with the fighting ship of yesterday.

To start off, we have selected a tailless ship. It is not strictly speaking, a fighter. It was designed by a young German inventor in 1933 and he startled the aeronautical world by actually flying it.

It was, therefore, the forerunner of the modern tailless type. Designers seized on the tailless idea and a recent ship of this type, produced by Great Britain, may prove to be the most formidable fighting craft yet made. That ship is the Pterodactyl, which we shall show next month.

As we said above, the tailless ship was not designed as a fighter. But for the purposes of this cover and to give the Spad a break, we have made it into a fighter by merely making the passenger cockpit into a gun nacelle.

Granted it is a fighter, let us see what Pierre, our French pilot of 1918, would think of it. When he first sighted it he probably thought it was a bat, but as it approached and grew in size, and although it still looked to him like a bat, he knew it for what it was, for he caught the flash of propellers.

And then he sat fascinated as the strange ship circled him. His eyes told him it zvas an airplane, but his mind refused to accept it as such. He probably said to himself, in French of course, “There ain’t no such animal, there couldn’t be! Why, it hasn’t even got a tail and where the tail should be is a propeller! There’s a propeller at the bow too. Good grief, it’s a pusher and a tractor at the same time, impossible! And what are those green things at the end of the wings, if they are wings?”

Just then the bat-like ship banked. “Are they rudders? How could rudders be there? No, I’m seeing things, no more cognac for me!”

Of course we must assume all this went through Pierre’s head in a flash. As the ship banked, Pierre was startled to see smoking white tracers flash past. He then saw what had escaped him at first, the bat ship carried German crosses. Pierre looped and although he didn’t think the thing was really there, went to work.

Now what chance would Pierre have against this ship? A very good chance indeed. Pierre, with his 300 h.p. Hispano could do 130 m.p.h. on the straight-away. The tailless ship with only 150 h.p. could do 160, no use trying to run for it. Maybe he could out-climb it? No, the German could climb a thousand feet a minute. Well maybe he could out-dive it? Not that either, the German ship could dive like a bat out of hell.

He could out-maneuver it however, but what good would that do? The gunner had an unrestricted field of fire, back, ahead, up and to the sides. Well, maybe the thing has a blind spot. Ah! There we have him; underneath Pierre was as safe as a church. Now just tip up and let him have it.

Yes, we’re sure Pierre would win this fight, but next month the tailless ship tells a different story.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Tailless Ship: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(September 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

Battle Aces Covers Gallery

Link - Posted by David on November 2, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve posted anything, but we’re back with a gallery of covers from Battle Aces magazine. Battle Aces was Popular Publication’s premiere aviation pulp debuting in October 1930 as one of Popular’s first four pulp magazines along with Gang World, Detective Action, and Western Rangers.

1930


October


November


December

Unlike other Popular Publications aviation titles, Frederick Blakeslee did not paint all the covers! Don Hewitt provides the first cover, October 1930; with Rudolph Belarski doing honors for two early issues––November 1930 and January 1931; and Sidney Risenberg applying his talents for the February 1931 number. The December 1930 issue is Blakeslee’s first Popular aviation cover and he would take over the honors with the March 1931 issue and from then on for all Popular aviation titles–Dare-Devil Aces, Battle Birds, G-8 and his Battle Aces, etc.

Stating with the June 1931 issue, an editorial decision was made to feature actual war-time events on the cover and artist Frederick Blakeslee would provide a story behind these covers. We’ve featured a number of those Battle Aces covers over the past year as part of the Story Behind the Cover feature. And we’ve provided links to those posts in the gallery so you can learn more about those covers we’ve featured.

While we’re still building our Dare-Devil Aces Cover Gallery, The Battle Aces Cover Gallery collects all 27 covers and includes links to those whose stories we’ve posted. Check it out!

“The Green Death” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on October 5, 2015 @ 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, we have Mr. Blakeslee’s cover for the August 1935 number on which he depicts the story of The Green Death!

th_DDA_3508I HEARD this story at a club for ex-service men in London. The conversation had been on gasses used in the war.

“You were lucky, Bill,” someone said. “You flyers didn’t have to worry about gas.”

Bill Norman nodded. “You’re right, Frank. But nevertheless we were gassed once out of our drome. To this day no one knows what kind of gas it was.”

He looked around the room and spied a man standing by the fireplace. “Pip, come here, will you?” he called. (”Pip,” or Captain Larry Skidmore, was in the chemical warfare division.) “Pip was sent to our drome after the event, ask him.”

“Bill’s right,” said Pip, “the gas was something new in our experience and so far as I know has never been duplicated. We were never able to get a sample. But let Bill tell the story.”

“Well,” continued Bill, “it was in early March, 1918. We were stationed about sixteen miles west of Paris. One morning a farm cart drove up to the field. A guard stopped the old man who was driving the cart and looked with astonishment at the load. In the cart was a metal ball about seven feet in diameter. The guard brought the old man to the C.O.’s office. Lt. Read and myself were in the office at the time but the skipper told us to stay. The C.O. could speak French like a native and as the old man could speak no English it was just as well. To our amazement the conversation lasted almost half an hour and at last the C.O. turned to us.

” ‘Whew!’ he said, ‘This man looks like a peasant but talks like a college professor. He says he has developed a new gas that he wants us to drop on a German city. He promises that not one person will go near the city for a month afterward. Further, he says the gas will not kill, but he is mighty mysterious as to what it will do. Personally, I think we had better humor him,’ and he tapped his forehead.

“Well, to make a long story short, we promised to do as the old man said and stored the metal gas ball in a hangar. The chemical warfare division was notified. Pip was sent up.

“But before he arrived some curious mechanics managed to shatter the sphere and ran screaming from the hangar, a poisonous looking green smoke creeping out after them.

“It was a gas all right and for the next half hour the place was in an uproar. Whoever got a whif of that gas let out a terrible yell and ran. They actually saw horrible phantoms chasing them. We had to abandon the place altogether. More curious still, the gas remained in a circular area of about a half mile; even the road that passed our field had to be re-routed. It remained, despite rain and wind, for about a month, then suddenly vanished.”

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Green Death” by Frederick Blakeslee (August 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Sopwith Triplane” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on September 28, 2015 @ 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, we have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story of the Sopwith Triplane—featured on the cover of the July 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3507Editor’s Note: This month’s cover shows what would happen if a certain invention, had been perfected during the War. The rear-pit man in the all metal Junkers is operating a huge, highly magnified tense, so constructed as to concentrate a powerful percentage of the sun’s rays. When focused on the fabric covering of an airplane, this sunlight beam would cause a tiny burn. It is based on the same principle as that of lighting a fire by focusing sunlight on a small glass dial. The Allied ships on the cover are Sopwith triplanes.

The Sopwith Triplane
By ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly draughtsman, Fokker Aircraft Corporation

OF THE various Sopwith planes, all of which attained great fame, none is more interesting and characteristic than the Triplane—or as it was better known by the German and British pursuit pilots, the “Tripe” or “Tripe-hound.”

The Triplane was the ninth type produced by the Sopwith works, being accepted by the Experimental Board about four months after the Sopwith Pup. The principal object aimed at in the design of the Triplane was the attainment of an extra high degree of visibility, or in other words, the reduction to minimum of the pilot’s blind angle.

With his eyes on a level with the intermediate plane the pilot had practically an junrestricted arc of vision through some 120 degrees, while a section cut out of the intermediate wing enabled him to have a rather good view of the ground while landing the ship, the position of the cockpit being such that the bottom wing had no restricting effect on the vision.

The narrowness of the chord made possible by the use of three main planes also enabled the pilot to have an exceptional view upward and to either side—a most important consideration in any pursuit ship. Another object aimed at in the “Tripehound” was an increase in maneuverbility.

It will be seen that due to the narrow; chord the shifts in the center of pressure with varying angles of incidence is smaller than in a biplane, and consequently a much shorter fuselage can be used to suport the tail surfaces. In addition to this, the small span of the triplane reduces the moments of inertia in the horizontal plane and an airplane is thus obtained which is very sensitive to its controls, which fact adds to its ability to dodge to various strategic positions in a fight.

The factor of the movement of the center of pressure enabled single I-struts to be used instead of the usual pairs, one springing from each spar. This simplified construction by permitting a simplification of inter-plane wire bracing system. Ailerons of the unbalanced type were fitted to each of the three wings.

The “Tripehound” was armed with a single machine gun mounted on the forward top side of the fuselage. In the hands of experienced pilots the ship gave a splendid account of itself and coped favorably with the Fokkers then in use on the Western Front.

The dimensions of the Triplane follow:

Sweepback None
Stagger 1 ft. 6 in.
Dihedral (same for each wing) 2.5 degrees
Total wing area 231 sq.ft.
Length over all 18 ft. 10 in.
Overall span 26 ft. 6 in.
Wing span (same for each wing) 26 ft. 6 in.
Chord (same for each wing) 3 ft. 3in.
Wing areas—
    Top 84 sq. ft.
    Intermediate 72 sq. ft.
    Bottom 75 sq. ft.
    Gap 3 ft.
Areas—
    Aileron 34 sq. ft.
    Tail plane 14.0 sq. ft.
    Elevators 9.6 sq. ft.
    Total 23.6 sq.ft.
    Fin 2.5 sq. ft.
    Rudder 4.5 sq. ft.
    Total 6.5 sq. ft.

 

Powered with a 130 h.p. Clerget engine the Sopwith Triplane had a high speed of 112.5 miles an hour (at 6,500 feet). The landing speed was 35 m.p.h. and it would climb to 6,500 feet in 6.5 minutes and to 15,000 feet in 22.3 minutes.

The plane had a fuel capacity of 180 pounds and a flight range of 310 miles. The ceiling was 20,500 feet. The “Tripehound” weighed 1,103 pounds empty and 1,543 pounds loaded which made a loading of 6 pounds per square foot or 12.4 pounds per horse power.

Although judged by present standards the Triplane was low-powered and rather slow, its speed, ease of handling and general performance were outstanding at the time of its introduction into the Royal Flying Corps.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Sopwith Triplane” by Frederick Blakeslee (July 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Fokker Triplane” By Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on September 21, 2015 @ 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, we have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story of the most recognized plane of the era—the Fokker Triplane—featured on the cover of the June 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3506AFTER one look at the cover this month you would probably think that the American and German pilot were doomed. However, both escaped, the American with minor burns and the German with a bad fright.
  As a matter of fact, the fire on the Spad was not quite as bad as we have shown; just bad enough to make the pilot think that he was due for an awful death. He decided to crash one of the Fokker tripes, bringing it down with him. But the pilot of the Fokker got ont of the way just in the nick of time.
  The American discovered in that dive that if he side-slipped the blast of wind would keep the fire away from the cockpit. He managed to reach the ground by side-slipping. As he later said—”Given my choice of crashing or being burned to a cinder, I’ll crash every time.” And crash he did.

Now let’s hear from an expert the inside dope on the Fokker triplane.

The Fokker Triplane
By ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly Draftsman, Fokker Aircraft Corporation

DURING the early part of the year 1916 the German High Command realized that the war had developed into a bitter struggle which would be prolonged much longer than had at first been expected.

With this fact in mind, Germany at once redoubled her efforts to gain undisputed supremacy of the skies and Anthony Fokker was asked to design and produce a new combat ship which would enable her to gain the upper hand. Fokker set to work at once and in the early fall of 1916 this plane was placed in the hands of the fighting pilots. It was the Fokker D.R.-I, or as it was perhaps better known, the Fokker triplane.

At first the performance of the triplane was not viewed seriously by the Allies. But within a short time they learned to have a high regard for the new Fokker pursuit. Although this unique ship was slower than the Nieuports, Sopwiths and Spads, its ability to climb and maneuver gave it a decided advantage over any ship then in use and the series of impressive victories for which it was responsible gave the entire world notice that it was a most important factor in aerial warfare.

In general outline the Fokker D.R.-I was of the orthodox triplane type. However, unlike the Sopwith triplane the span of the wings were unequal.

The span for the top wing was 23 feet, 7 inches, the span for the middle wing was 20 feet, 6 inches, while the span of the bottom wing was 18 feet, 9 inches. The chord was the same for all three wings. The top wing alone was provided with ailerons, and these were of the balanced type.

One of the outstanding features of the Fokker was the wing spar construction. The main point of interest is that the twin spars were built up of two box section tapering spars, these being joined by transverse plywood. The front and rear shear strength of this built-up member was supplied by one right and one left plywood bulkhead in each wing.

Structurally the main wing frame could be regarded as consisting of three pairs of cantilevers tied by pseudo-struts near the wing-tips. The function of this structure was to distribute the load evenly from wing to wing.

The use of the triplane design gave the advantage of a larger ratio of lifting power. Of course, there was some increase in head resistance caused by the use of the extra set of inter-plane struts. But by bracing the wings internally, Fokker eliminated all brace wires, thus reducing the total head resistance to some extent.

It is interesting to note in connection with this that Fokker was the first designer to completely do away with inter-plane bracing.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Model No.14 – Fokker Triplane” by Frederick Blakeslee (January 1934, Battle Birds)

The fuselage of the triplane was built up of welded tubular steel and was covered with linen fabric. It was rather well streamlined, and like most of the Fokker war-time designs it compared closely to modern aeronautical practice.

The empennage or tail of the ship was a fabric covered steel tubing framework. There was no vertical fin, there being only the characteristic Fokker rudder. The tail plane or stabilizer was comparatively large and was fitted with the usual type elevators.

The landing gear axle was inclosed by a wing, a feature which was incorporated on all of the later Fokker fighting models. This wing was two pieces and these were attached to a central casting which housed the shock absorbing agents and the axle. The covering for this wing was plywood.

The triplane or D.R.-I was equipped with a 110 h.p. 9 cylinder Oberursel rotary motor. This motor was mounted on a plate which was stamped from sheet steel. The plate was attached, of course, to the front ends of the fuselage longerons.

For armament the plane was fitted with twin Spandau machine guns, these being mounted on the top side of the fuselage directly in front of the cockpit. Directly behind the engine was the synchronizing gear for the guns, and behind this gear was located the fuel tank. This tank was of a rather small capacity and as a result the flight range of the machine was greatly limited.

The triplane answered very well to the controls and as far as climb and general maneuverability are concerned it was equaled by but very few of the later war time designs.

German pilots have told the writer that they were greatly impressed with the ship and if the speed of the plane could have been increased they would have preferred it to any other plane, with the possible exception of the D-VTI. Certainly it was the choice of many of the German pilots.

The great von Richthofen, who could select any ship he desired, favored it above them all; and his series of victories indicate the famous flyer made no mistake in his choice of a pursuit.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Fokker Triplane” by Frederick Blakeslee (June 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

 

Mr. Blakeslee covered the Fokker Triplane himself with the story of the great von Richthofen last flight for the cover of the March 1932 number of Battle Aces.

“Sopwith 1½ Strutter” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on September 14, 2015 @ 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, we have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story of the Sopwith 1½ Strutter on the cover of the May 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3505
Editor’s Note: This is a surprise cover. In painting it, Frederick Blakeslee attempted to tell no story, but simply painted a ship for your collection. The color and every detail on the ship is exactly as it is on the original. We are very anxious to know how you like this cover. Write to Frederick Blakeslee in care of this magazine and tell him what type of cover you like best.

Sopwith 1½ Strutter
by ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly Draughtsman, Fokker Aircraft Corporation

WITH the exception of Fokkers, the Sopwiths were in all probability the best-known fighting ships used during the World War. The Sopwith Camels did more to repulse the German attempts at aerial supremacy than any other type or make of plane, while the Sopwith Pups and Triplanes made themselves almost equally as famous.

Although not as well-known as the other Sopwith models, the 1½ Strutter has a definite claim to historical distinction, not only because it was a great fighter, but because it was the first British plane to be fitted with a gun synchronized to shoot through the propeller.

The Sopwith-Kauper synchronization gear which made this possible was developed at the Sopwith factory and was as much a product of that firm as was the ship to which it was fitted.

The 1½ Strutter was originally designed as a high-performance two-seater fighter powered with the 100 h.p. Clerget engine. As such it gave a very good account of its self, showing an excellent performance and a decided ease of maneuverability.

In view of its worth as a fighter, many 1½ Strutters were built to the order of the governments of Roumania, Russia, Belgium, and the United States. In addition to this, the French government, under license, built more than 4,500 of these machines.

Structurally the 1½ Strutter was interesting in several ways. The wing bracing, which gave the ship its name, was rather unusual, for the top plane was in two halves, bolted to the top of a central cabane, while the wing spars were provided with an extra support in the shape of shorter struts running from the top fuselage longerons to the top plane spars some distance out.

In the single-seater pursuits which followed the 1½ Strutter, this bracing of the top wing was generally adopted, with the exception that the central cabane was done away with, the outer struts of the W formation having a slightly less pronounced slope, and supporting a separate top wing centersection.

Aerodynamically the machine is of interest because of the air-brakes with which it was fitted. These were in the form of adjustable flaps in the trailing edge of the lower wings. These flaps could be rotated by the pilot until they were normal to the wind, thus helping to pull the plane up as it was about to land.

Another innovation incorporated in the 1½ Strutter was the trimming gear by means of which the angle of incidence of the tail plane could be altered in flight. This allowed the tail to be adjusted for speed, climbing, etc.

Although designed originally to be used as a two-seater fighter only, the 1½ Strutter was later successfully adopted as a single-seater bomber, and as such it was used in bombing such German towns as Essen, Munich, and Frankfort. For bombing service the machine was equipped with the 130 h.p. Clerget.

Later this higher-powered engine was used in the standard two-seater fighters. After the war a number of these fighters were fitted with dual controls and powered with 80 h.p. Le Rhone engines for use as training planes.

A study of the following figures will give some idea of the characteristics of the 1½ Strutter:

TOP PLANE
   
Span 33 ft. 6 in.
Chord S ft. 6 in.
Area 183 sq. ft.
Incidence in degrees 2.45
Dihedral 2.45
Gap 5 ft. 5 in.
   
BOTTOM PLANE
   
All dimensions the same as for the top plane.
   
GENERAL DIMENSIONS
   
Total wing area 373 sq. ft.
Length over all 25 ft. 4 in.
Stagger 2 ft. 0 in.
Sweepback 0 ft. 0 in.
Aileron area 52 sq. ft.
Tail plane area 35.5 sq. ft.
Elevator area 21.5 sq. ft.
Fin area 3.5 sq. ft.
Rudder area 7.25 sq. ft.

 

Powered with the 110 h.p. Clerget engine, the two-seater fighter weighed 1,281 pounds empty, had a high speed of 130 m.p.h. and climbed 6,500 feet in 10½ minutes. The ceiling was 16,000 feet, the military load 160 pounds, and the landing speed 35 m.p.h. In addition to the fixed gun, the fighter carried a Scarfe ring and gun for the use of the man in the rear pit.

As a bomber, powered with the 130 h.p. Clerget, the ship weighed 1,316 pounds empty, showed a high speed of 102 m.p.h., and climbed to 6,500 feet in 12.7 minutes. The ceiling was 13,000 feet, the military load was 344 pounds, and the landing speed 35 m.p.h.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Sopwith 1½ Strutter” by Frederick Blakeslee (May 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Death Disc” 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 a weapon that was made, but never used during the war. From the April 1935 issue of Dare-Devil Aces, we present “The Death Disc!”

th_DDA_3504SOME time ago we mentioned the fact that during the war people in all walks of life set their creative minds at work on inventions to “win the war.” Each inventor seemed to think that he had hit upon an original principle, or a new application of an old principle. The majority of these inventions were utterly useless. This month’s cover is based on the invention of a German who lived in a small village in East Prussia.

He had been a brilliant instructor of mathematics in a famous German university. Later on in life he retired and when war broke out he was too old to fight

There was no lack of courage in the old man for he tried in vain to find a place in the fighting forces of his country. But German officialdom at that time would have none of him.

Finding no place for himself he had retired to his village again and there devoted his time and his modest fortune to experimentation on explosives. None of his formula proved successful and after an accident that wrecked his laboratory, the towns people persuaded him to give up this dangerous occupation. Discouraged by his failures, he did stop dabbling in explosives and turned to commodities.

He figured, and rightly, that the war would last longer than people thought, and foresaw a shortage in some of the staple commodities. He received no backing whatever, although some of his ideas, conceived during this period, were later adopted.

Constant discouragement undermined his health and his mind broke under the strain, He kept on working, but his inventions were noted for their utter uselessness. Before this he had become interested in the airplane and had started the device that is pictured here. After his mind gave way he completed it in this form. Early in 1917 he died and whatever his intention was concerning this device died with him.

However, there is a model of it preserved in the village and from an examination of it, it would appear that part of its function is shown on the cover. We know it was to have been shot from a German two-seater by a sort of spring gun. The gun, they say, was actually built but there is no record that it worked.

The device itself is very light and consists of a bomb-like core around which revolved a driving propeller and cutting blades. There is nothing within the core now to indicate how the propeller was to have been revolved.

It was invented before the machine gun came into general use, when pilots were throwing bricks at each other’s prop or fighting with rifle and pistol. Assuming that the thing was workable, we have shown on the cover our idea of what it could do, What do you think it was?

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Death Disc: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(April 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The B.E. Fighters” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: Every month the cover of BATTLE ACES depicts a scene from a real combat actually fought in the War and a real event in the life of a great ace. The series is being painted exclusively for this magazine by Frederick M. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft and was started especially for all of you readers who wrote in asking for photographs of war planes. In this way not only do you get pictures of the ships—authentic to the last detail—but you see them in color. Also you can follow famous airmen on many of their most amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you, want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3107IN THIS month’s cover a B.E. has penetrated deep into enemy territory on a reconnaissance trip. While harassing troops it is sighted by a patrol of Pfaltz Scouts. The Jerries dive immediately, surrounding the lone Allied ship in a trap of wings and spitting Spandaus. Valiantly the observer hammers away at his guns and has already succeeded in knocking one of the Boche out of control when fire breaks out in the front cockpit. Leaving the observer to stave off the attackers with his blazing Vickers, the pilot straddles out onto the lower wing and continues to fly the ship from there, controlling it from the side of the fuselage.

The incident is taken from an actual combat fought in the latter part of the war. The observer was Lieutenant H.W. Hammond, R.F.C., who was awarded a bar to his previously won Military Cross for his part in the fight.

With his pilot, Lieutenant Hammond had flown over the lines and was well into Boche territory when eight German fighting planes dived down on them. The unequal combat began with a savage burst of steel and flame. Knowing their only hope lay in getting back across the lines as swiftly as possible, the pilot held the nose of the ship toward home while the observer blazed away at the swarm of Jerries. By skillfully directed fire from his guns, Hammond succeeded in shooting three of the black-crossed wings down out of control. But he himself was wounded in half a dozen places and it looked as if the remaining Boches would be finishing them off any second.

Then that horror of all airmen—fire—broke out. The front cockpit became a blazing holacaust that threatened the lives of both men. Climbing over onto the lower wing, the pilot calmly continued to fly the ship from there, manipulating the joystick from the side of the fuselage! In a long turning side-slip to the right, which blew the flames away from the observer and himself, they started earthward.

They crashed in No-Man’s-Land, where they were rescued by infantry.

The B.E. was a reconnaissance plane which proved very successful, also, in destroying Zeppelins. The name, B.E., at first indicated Bleriot Experimental, Monsieur Bleriot being credited with having originated the “tractor” type machine. But later on it took the meaning of British Experimental. It was developed in several series. A later type was numbered B.E.2, B.E.2b, B.E.2d and B.E.2e, the two last being built in very large quantities. The general type was also made along different lines, as the B.E.3, B.E.4, etc., up to B.E.12.

The observer for a reconnissance plane had a two-fold job; to photograph, and, if necessary, to fight. The ship was not exactly the cold meat that one might expect; it was equal in combat to two Scouts but was always their prey if outnumbered.

The B.E. Fighters
“The B.E. Fighters” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (Battle Aces, July 1931)

 
Next month, the cover design illustrates another type of reconnaissance plane, the R.E. 8, in a stirring incident that commemorates a deed of outstanding daring.

“The Dynamite Monster” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on August 3, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. This time Mr. Blakeslee looks into the possiblity of a giant bomb that needed to be carried aloft by two planes! From the March 1935 Dare-Devil Aces, it’s “The Dynamite Monster!”

th_DDA_3503I MET Ed in the Savoy Grill in London. We had not seen each other since I had been in England three years before, so naturally we sat down, ordered drinks and spent the rainy afternoon talking over old times.

Finally. “I suppose you’re over digging up ideas, what?” he asked.

“Among other things,” I answered. “Have you any ideas around loose?” and I explained what I was after.

“Inventions is it?” he said. “Well, I don’t know of any unless—”

“Unless what?” I urged.

“Oh nothing, I was just thinking of something I heard some time ago, but you’re after authentic material, aren’t you?”

I told him I was.

“There you are,” he returned. “I can’t prove it because Bill Totling told it and someone told Bill, or so he says, and you’d have to trace the story to the original source.”

“As long as the story had a source, that’s all the proof I require, so tell it.”

“All right,” he began, “but keep this in mind, personally I think Bill was pulling our legs. It was at the annual binge of the W.B.C. (I have called it the W B C (War Birds Club) which is not its real name.—Author.) Bill said that late in 1918 we were experimenting with a bomb to drop on Berlin that was to be carried by two airplanes. The bomb was to be slung between the ships by cables. At the proper place it was to be released by electricity from one of the ships.”

“I’d like to hear more of the details,” I said,

“Why don’t you look up Bill and ask him?”

I thanked Ed and we parted. I found that Bill lived on Taviton Street which was near my hotel so that very night I called on him. He remembered the story.

“Sid Stanley told it to me,” he said to my question, “Who told it to Sid I don’t know, it’s one of those yarns that has been told to so many people that without a doubt it has been changed in the telling, but I have reason to think that it has some foundation in fact.”

“That’s all the proof I need,” I said, “perhaps you can answer some questions. What kind of ships were to be used?”

“That I don’t know. They experimented with deHavilands.”

“Why deHavilands?”

“I suppose because they were easier to handle in the take-off. The idea was to train the pilots on the lighter ship before handling the heavier planes.”

“I see. Well, how did they take off?”

“The bomb was on a carriage. The ships took up position on either side of the bomb, dragged it between them, rose in the air and gradually took up the load of the bomb lifting it off the carriage and there you are. Sid said they actually got in the air with one too,”

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Dynamite Monster: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(March 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Fokker D-VII” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on July 27, 2015 @ 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, we have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story of the Fokker D-VII on the cover of the February 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3502The contraption shown on the cover was supposed to have been invented just after our entry into the war. The idea was for a bomber to drop the net and then the combat ships were to lure the enemy into it, or else the combat ship was to carry the net itself. The story goes that the inventor offered it to the U.S. government, then to France and England and finally into German hands. (A similar device was employed in the Sky Devil story “The Haunted Fokker” (Dare-Devil Ace, April 1933))

Now let’s review the history of the Fokker D-VII, written by an authority on the subject.

THE FOKKER D-VII
by ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly Draughtsman, Fokker Aircraft Corp.

TO ANY one familiar with the fighting planes developed during the World War the Fokker D-VII is outstanding. It was superior to any other plane used by Germany and it was certainly the equal of any machine used by the Allies. Using the D-VII the German pilots were able to hold their own against a much larger force of Allied aircraft, and so great did the fear of these planes become that it was definitely stated in terms of the Armistice that all Fokker planes should be destroyed.

The D-VII was the result of the gradual development of the earlier Fokker Fighters. When it was found that the 110 H.P. Le Rhone powered Nieuport easily outmoded the 80 H.P. Gnome powered Fokker the design of the Fokker tri-plane was completed.

The triplane enabled the German pilots to gain a series of impressive victories and it was used by the great von Richthofen in many of his aerial duels. Although the speed of this plane was comparatively slow, its decided ease of maneuverability more than made up for the disadvantage.

But its flight range was limited by a small gasoline capacity and Allied pilots found that the best way to escape it was to out-distance it.

As it became apparent that the fighting planes of the Allies, and in particular the Sopwith Camels and Spads, were giving them the advantages of speed and flight range the design of the D Series Fokkers was started. The first of these was the D-I, a bi-plane powered with a 120 H.P. Mercedes, and like the rest of the series it was fast and efficient.

About this time the Albatros works (Albatros Werke) began production of the D Series Albatros machines. The Albatros D-II proved itself superior to the Fokker D-I and by 1917 the later developed D-III had surplanted the Fokkers at the Front. This Albatros was powered with a 175 H.P. Mercedes, weighed 1,470 lbs. and carried a useful load of 297 lbs.

These D Series Albatros planes were a bi-plane design, having a small lower wing (made of a single spar) connected to a larger upper wing with a V strut. Any combat advantages which the Albatros offered were offset by the fact that the plane was structurally weak and the wings could not stand torsions. Consequently, when fighting the Albatros, Allied pilots had but to put their planes into a steep dive to be safe.

Many German airmen were killed when their planes went to pieces in mid-air; the celebrated Captain Boelke met death when the wings of his Albatros pulled off while he was flying over his own lines. Several pilots deliberately wrecked their machines rather than take them into the air.

The father of the D-VII was a bi-plane of somewhat radical appearance. Its fabric-covered fuselage was made of wood covered welded tubing, making a clean and decidedly streamlined job. The wings were built up of wood in much the same manner as were the wings of the later Fokker commercial types.

Although this plane offered every advantage and was years ahead of its time in many ways it was refused by the German High Command. Realizing that little satisfaction could be had from the German government (politics meaning more to them than efficient fighting equipment) Mr. Fokker managed to contact the important pilots. He found that they were not satisfied with the planes and materials furnished them and they desired to select their own equipment.

After some difficulty and much red tape an open competition of the leading makes of military planes was held. For this competition Fokker redesigned his bi-plane and the D-VII was born.

The D-VII was characterized by its cantilever wings (made up of box spars). No wires or external braces were used and the wings were joined together at the tips with a single strut. The fuselage was of a rectangular cross section which feature made for simplified manufacturing and quantity production. By streamlining the landing gear axle with a tiny wing, speed was added to the plane.

The D-VII fast became a favorite of the pilots. Although the Rumpler climbed faster, it handled very badly, especially on the turns. So great was the demand for the new Fokker that the factories making other planes were required to stop production of their own types and concentrate on the building of the D-VIIs.

The following figures give an insight into the construction and performance of the plane.

Wing curve Fokker varying
Sweepback None
Dihedral, upper wing
Dihedral, lower wing 1° 20′
Stagger 2′ 1″
Total wing area, including ailerons 236 sq. ft.
 
Upper plane—
  Span 27′ 5½”
  Chord 5′ 3″
  Area, with ailerons 145 sq. ft
 
Lower plane—
  Span 22′ 11¼”
  Chord 3′ 11¼”
  Area 91 sq. ft.
  Incidence 1 to 1.5 degrees
  Gap 4′ 6¼”
 
Fuselage—
  Max. cross section shape Rectangular
  Max. cross section area 9.35 sq. ft.
  Max. cross section dimension 3′ 9½” by 2′ 5½”
 
General Dimensions—
  Overall span 27′ by 5½”
  Length 23′
  Height 9′ 3″
 
The weight of plane (empty, including water) 1,867 pounds
The weight of plane loaded 2,462 pounds

The endurance of the Fokker D-VII is, full throttle at 10,000 feet (including climb) 2 hrs. 13 minutes.

Minimum speed of the D-VII at sea level (lowest throttle) is 62 miles per hour.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Fokker D-VII” by Frederick Blakeslee (February 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

 

Mr. Blakeslee covered the Fokker D-VII himself with the story of Billy Bishop for the cover of the February 1932 number of Battle Aces.

“Death Lightning” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 20, 2015 @ 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. It’s another of Mr. Blakeslee’s future tech story covers—and it’s a cover you don’t see often because it’s a hard to find issue due to G-8 guest staring in Robert J. Hogan’s Red Falcon story that month—Dynamite Cargo! (available in our first volume of Red Falcon: The Dare-Devil Aces Years.) Another side note: Although Blakeslee did the cover, he did not do the interior illustrations aside from the interstitials Would You Believe it? and The Story Behind The Cover—Josef Katula handled the art honors this month. So feast your eyes on the January 1935 number of Dare-Devil Aces!

th_DDA_3501THE cover this month, as last month, is dedicated to war in the air as it might have been fought had inventors realized their dreams.

If you did not believe the story behind the cover last month you probably will not believe it this month. As a matter of fact we are a bit incredulous ourselves, yet we have it on authority that such an invention as this month’s cover shows was actually being worked on during the war.

As you see, the invention consisted of a device by which an electrical charge would be built up sufficient to jump the gap between two airplanes.

When we visualize the huge apparatus required to jump a spark across even a comparatively small gap, we wonder what the airplane that could carry such a machine would look like. So we selected the German Roland Walfische which was a queer looking ship for those days, a beauty however, and far in advance of its time as you can see by the above drawing of it.

We may laugh all we please at these “impossible” things, yet in this age who is to say what is impossible and what is possible? Imagine what would have happened to a man fifty years ago had he described the radio—a padded cell for him perhaps. So reserve your laugh to fifty years hence.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Death Lightning: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(January 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next time, Mr. Blakeslee brings us another fanciful invention—”Death Lightning” for the January 1935 cover. Be sure not to miss it.

“The Flying Torpedo” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 13, 2015 @ 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. Blakeslee had three different formats for his stories behind his covers. First, there’s the straight story of the cover action; second, there was the ship on the cover where he told the specifics of the plane featured on said cover; and then there were future visions of air warfare. This week we have the first of these where he talks about the flying torpedo—or guided missle! From the December 1934 issue of Dare-Devil Aces

th_DDA_3412DOES this cover look fantastic? Perhaps it does, but it is based on actual fact.

During the war inventors were busy all over the nation. The butcher, the baker, the candle-stick maker, all turned their minds to contraptions calculated to win the war. Farmers who had never seen the sea went to work on unsinkable ships, clerks in the corner store who had never seen a big gun, invented marvelous shells.

Almost without exception the thousands of war inventions that flooded the patent office were useless and often fantastic. Without exception however the individual inventors were serious in their intentions and the government wisely treated even the fantastic inventions with the respect they deserved. The government realized that someone somewhere might turn in a workable idea.

Occasionally workable ideas were received from obscure inventors and in such a case government engineers were dispatched to the inventor to investigate, test and report. Many new and workable war inventions were acquired in this way but that was the exception and not the rule.

It was left to experts in the various fields to evolve new ideas and one was the aerial torpedo. How the torpedo was to have worked is pictured on this month’s cover.

Being an air magazine we have selected the Zep as the target, but the torpedo was meant primarily for operations against munition factories, ammunition dumps, ships, etc. We do not know what the torpedo looked like, but we do know that they were controlled by wireless. They were actually, and successfully tested near Dayton, Ohio.

A humorous incident occurred that might have proved tragic, during the test. One of the torpedoes got out of control and had the countryside thoroughly scared until it eventually landed in a wood with disastrous results—but only to the trees.

Our informant tells us that the torpedo was self-propelled and had a wing span of about six feet. Direction up, down, right or left was controlled by wireless. Although the torpedo had wings we have shown them on the cover as rockets.

The question naturally arises, why weren’t they used in the war ? We can’t answer that one so we will let you answer it and if anyone does know the answer we would be glad to hear it.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Flying Torpedo: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(December 1934, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next time, Mr. Blakeslee brings us another fanciful invention—”Death Lightning” for the January 1935 cover. Be sure not to miss it.

“The Breguet” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 6, 2015 @ 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, Blakeslee presents us with more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover of the November 1934 cover for Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3411THE BREGUET pictured on the cover was one of the most successful bombers produced by France during the war. There are several types, the 14 A 2, 14 B 2, 16 B.N.2. and the three-motored machine. The ship here shown is a 14 B 2 and is from a Signal Corps photograph.

The BREGUET was designed by M. Louis Breguet, one of the great pioneers of French aviation. He was one of the first designers to produce a satisfactory tractor biplane.

The BREGUET was very strong and sturdy, being constructed almost exclusively of aluminum. Only the upper wings were provided with ailerons. The part of the lower plane lying behind the rear spar was hinged along its total length and was pulled downward by means of 12 rubber cords fixed on the under side of the ribs; the tension of these could be adjusted by means of screws, an automatic change of aerofoil corresponding with the load and speed thus resulting with an easier control of the airplane with and without a load of bombs. The ship was equipped with a complete dual control which could be removed from the observer’s cockpit. The engine was a 260 h.p. Renault stepped up to 300 h.p. by the use of aluminum pistons and a greater number of revolutions. To the left on the outside of the body a fixed machine gun for the pilot was mounted. The observer was armed with two machine guns clutched together and mounted on a raising and turning ring. As the ring was mounted high, the firing range forward was good. The characteristic features by which the ship could be recognized were beside the usual backward stagger to be found on other airplanes, the following; the high fuselage with the right-angled rudder and forward sharp rounded keel fin, the landing gear with three pairs of struts, the triangular-fixed tail plane, the divided elevator, with cornered balance, as well as the dihedral upper planes and horizontal lower ones.

We have discussed bombs and bomb dropping; this month we shall discuss machine guns. Of the three guns carried on the BREGUET, two arc Lewis and one a Vicker. These two types were used extensively by France and England. The Lewis machine gun was an air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine fed gun, weighing about 26 lbs. with the jacket, or 18 lbs. without. The gun was used almost entirely without the jacket, without any loss of efficiency. Its extreme mobility made it a most efficient gun for airplane work, being capable of operating in any position, firing straight up or straight down, or in any position. The speed of getting into action and the ability to function automatically in any position were due to the use of detachable, drum-shaped, rotating magazines, each magazine holding 47 or 97 cartridges. When a magazine is latched on the magazine post, it temporarily becomes part of the gun requiring no further attention until empty, when it is snatched off and another snapped on, as quickly as an empty magazine.

The Vickers is a water-cooled, recoil-operated, belt-fed machine gun. Like the Lewis gun, it is capable of being fired at the rate of 300 to 500 shots per minute. Its advantage over the Lewis gun is that it is capable of being fired continuously up to 500 shots, whereas the Lewis requires changing of magazine after 97 shots. On the other hand it has the disadvantage of being belt-fed, so it does not afford the mobility which the Lewis gun afforded. The water-cooling in the Vickers, like the air-cooling device in the Lewis, was dispensed with for aerial work, as unnecessary.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Breguet: The Ship on the Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(November 1934, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next time, Mr. Blakeslee brings us the fanciful tale of “The Flying Torpedo” for the December 1934 cover. Be sure not to miss it.

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