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“The Green Devil” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on December 11, 2014 @ 12:00 pm 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. For the January 1934 issue Blakeslee paints a confrontation between Richthofen’s Circus and a couple of English Camels in “The Green Devil”…

th_DDA_3401TO MEET the Richthofen Circus in combat was not a matter to be taken lightly, even when the number of ships on both sides were equal. But to meet them on a basis of two to six was no less than suicidal—yet this month’s cover shows a thrilling incident that actually occurred in a dogfight of similar proportion.

On a day early in 1918, an English pilot, Lt. Alderson, was ordered to report at his squadron office. There the C.O. told him that the Richthofen Circus was out looking for trouble and that his squadron (No. 3 R.F.C.) had been selected to provide it. Most of the squadron was out on patrol and only four pilots were available—but orders were orders. So Lt. Alderson and three others took off without delay.

They knew that the Circus numbered six. Four Camels against six Fokkers was not too bad. However, when one of the Camels dropped out of formation with engine trouble, that was something-else again. Three against six! Not so good, damn bad in fact. However, the three Camels kept on.

They sighted the six brilliantly painted Albatrosses almost as soon as they had crossed the lines. Realizing that surprise was their best bet, they charged immediately.

But the Germans had also seen the Englishmen—and they too charged. With the very lirst shots fired, one of the Camels dove out of the fight with a badly damaged tail plane.

The battle that then took place was one ol the fiercest of the whole war. Such a one-sided combat could only end in one way, and the two Englishmen knew it. But before they went West they were determined to do as much damage as possible.

The fight had been on less than a minute when an Albatros went plunging earthward, a mass of flames. Score one for the Camels! A second later another Albatros hurled out of the scrap and, trailing fire and black smoke, went plunging in its turn to destruction. Score two Eor the Camels!

But now the tide began to turn. Observers on the ground saw a Camel fall, completely out of control; it disappeared far over into German territory. A moment later the remaining Camel dove down—a roaring inferno. The fight was over. But only three Germans returned.

The Camel going down out of control was Alderson’s ship. An explosive bullet had shattered his right leg, and he lost consciousness.

From 13,000 feet—a two and a half mile fall—he plunged to earth.

How the ship landed upright has never been told; at any event Alderson survived the crash. When he opened his eyes, a week later, it was to find himself a prisoner of war.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Green Devil: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (January 1934)

Check back again. We will be presenting more of Blakeslee’s Stories behind his cover illustrations.

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