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

“Bargains for Blois” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on June 30, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

“HAW-W-W-W-W!” That sound can only mean one thing—that Bachelor of Artifice, Knight of Calamity and an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors is back to vex not only the Germans, but the Americans—the Ninth Pursuit Squadron in particular—as well. Yes it’s the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa himself—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham!

When Phineas’ joke on Colonel Guilfoyle gets the Old Man in trouble, he concocts an elaborate plan to try and get Garrity and the Ninth Pursuit Squadron off the hook. From the July 1931 Flying Aces, it’s Joe Archibald’s “Bargains fro Blois!”

It was a dastardly trick! On account of it, Colonel Guilfoyle, G.H.Q.’s weightiest chair-warmer, threatened to bust the Old Man. Somehow connected with it was the Old Man’s promise to make a spark plug-cleaner out of Phineas “Carbuncle” Pinkham. And we don’t blame either of them–do you?

“The Cloud Busters” by Fred Denton Moon

Link - Posted by David on June 23, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have one of the few stories from Fred Denton Moon. Moon was born in Athens, Georgia in 1905 and was a freelance writer. A former staff member of The Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine, he was the first editor of the Journal’s wire photo service as well as former city editor of the Journal. He was member of Sigma Delta Chi and a retired member of the Georgia Department of Labor.

Galactic Central lists just a handful of stories by Moon in their various directories:

title magazine date vol no
The Cloud Busters Flying Aces November 1 3
The Unclaimed Necklace The Underworld Magazine February 5 1
The Phantom Fokker Sky Birds March 1 3
The Buzzard Feeder The Golden West Magazine April 5 3
Tortured Skies Flying Aces June 3 2
Lieutenant Goose-Egg Eagles of the Air November 1 2
The Aerial Aim Flying Aces November 4 3
The Bear Facts The Dragnet Magazine January 4 4
Front Page Stuff Prize Air Pilot Stories January 1 2
Gimme a Cigaret! Thrilling Stories January 1 2
The Rattler of No Fang Western Trails June 6 1

Moon died in 1982 at the age of 76.

His first published pulp tale is one of an overly harsh C.O., hated by his men who get no respect for making due with the Army’s worst equipment, who proves his mettle when he joins a bombing raid over enemy lines. From the pages of the November 1928 Flying Aces, it’s Fred Denton Moon’s “The Cloud Busters!”

Hades had spewed up and was spreading all over the map of France. Count von Stratton’s flying circus was the worst bunch of hornets that had ever stung to death the group of able flyers under the disliked Commandant Legarrin—but the Commandant was an old devil who knew his viewpoint so well he tried to stop the war all by himself.

Heroes of the Air: Major L.G. Hawker

Link - Posted by David on June 19, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 28 May 1938 issue of Flying:


IT WAS on July 25, 1915, that Major Lanoe George Hawker was on reconnaissance over enemy territory. He was flying a Bristol Scout when he saw a German two-seater. He at once engaged it with such fury that it turned tail and fled. Continuing on his way, he encountered another two-seater. This time he was more lucky, for he sent his opponent down out of control. His third victory that day over yet another two-seater, was gained on the way home. It was almost dark at the time and the German machine must have presented a grim picture as it spun down in flames. These three successes were all the more surprising because Major Hawker, at that time a Captain, was armed only with a French cavalry carbine, while his opponents were armed with machine-guns. For his gallantry on that day he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Notification was made on the 24th of August in the London Gazette, for “ most conspicuous bravery and very great ability on the 25th July, 1915.” This fearless airman finally fell to the guns of Richthofen, but only after a long and bitter engagement which in the end was decided by the German’s superior equipment—as Richthofen himself admitted.

“Crumpled Buzzard” by Franklin M. Ritchie

Link - Posted by David on June 16, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story by Franklin M. Ritchie. Ritchie only wrote aviation yarns and his entire output—roughly three dozen stories—was between 1927 and 1930, but Ritchie was not your typical pulp author.

After reading “Crumpled Buzzards” I tried to find out a little about Ritchie to include in this post. I thought he had been covered in a biographical piece in Air Trails or Sky Birds, but couldn’t find anything. So I turned to the internet.

In putting in the name some great stuff comes up—letters from when he was a cadet to teachers back at Rutgers; a long letter to the folks back at Central New Jersey Home News where he was reporter before the war; he married fellow Erasmus High grad Elizabeth Farrish before enlisting; and this brief biographical piece from the Perth Amboy Evening News (September 23, 1922)—

All this good stuff was tied to this Lawyer fellow from New Brunswick. He seems to have an incredibly full life, when would he have time write pulp stories? But then I found a letter from Ritchie buried in the April 1929 issue of Sky Birds that explains it all:

Ritchie retired from all that in ‘58, moved out west and become a pastor at a Presbyterian church in Lakewood, California. He passed away at 84 in 1978.

With all that in mind, from the July 1929 number of Sky Birds, it’s Franklin M. Ritchie’s “Crumpled Buzzards!”

Lanky Jeff Dayton, a war bird, saw nothin’ to get het up about in this man’s war, but when he did, he saw red—red streaks of flame jetting from angry guns.

How the War Crates Flew: Flying Comfort

Link - Posted by David on June 13, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

FROM the pages of the December 1933 number of Sky Fighters:

Editor’s Note: We feel that this magazine has been exceedingly fortunate in securing R. Sidney Bowen to conduct a technical department each month. It is Mr. Bowen’s idea to tell us the underlying principles and facts concerning expressions and ideas of air-war terminology. Each month he will enlarge upon some particular statement in the stories of this magazine. Mr. Bowen is qualified for this work, not only because he was a war pilot of the Royal Air Force, but also because he has been the editor of one of the foremost technical journals of aviation.

Flying Comfort

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters, December 1933)

SO! SOUND asleep, the lot of you, eh? Well, my pin-feathered buzzards, that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s perfect. It gives me an idea of what to chin about this time. For a week I’ve been lying awake nights, tearing out my hair, wondering what I could talk about that would be close to your dear little hearts, and which you’d all understand.

Well, you yourselves gave me the idea. What subject could you better understand than one dealing with comfort?

And so, I will proceed to raise my usually calm and soothing voice above the stentorian chorus of snores, and bellow at you about the art of flying comfort.

We Were Comfortable

Though it breaks my heart to reveal the truth, my conscience forces me to draw aside the veil and show just how comfortable we baldheaded eagles were in the days when the word German was something that made you jump and jump fast.

As your big sisters have probably told you, wartime airdromes were never located in the middle of No-Man’s-Land. In fact, they were usually fifteen to twenty miles behind the lines. Such being the case, we had no fears of waking up and finding German infantrymen plowing through the room. And so, we could add the old home sweet home touch to our abodes and know that it would all still be there when we got back from a gallant patrol.

Sure! We had hutments to live in, blankets and clean sheets. A mess lounge to get plastered in, too. True, the furniture was not all mahogany or birdseye maple. However, it didn’t fall apart, much. And most important of all, my dears, the grub was good. It wasn’t dropped in the mud, and it was cooked (by a cook) in a real stove. There was usually some sort of a piano that worked. And, of course, the ever-present phonograph.

Now, before I mislead you too much, let me explain that the pilots more or less enjoyed solid comfort only as compared to the men holding the line.

I COULD name lots of places that are heaven compared to a wartime airdrome, and not even exaggerate. So, just keep it in your think-box that I’m speaking of flying comfort as compared to infantry or artillery comfort.

Visiting the Neighbors

And so, we were able to install all the little things that helped to make life enjoyable when not in the air. Usually there was a village near-by, with at least one worthwhile estaminet where we could go between patrols or any time when we were off duty. Also, if the field was big enough, more than one squadron used it, with the result that you had neighbors to visit, etc.

IN OTHER words, while an airman was on the ground, it really was a pretty good war.

In the air, though, it was different. And naturally so, because for us, that’s where the war was—in the air.

But here’s the point—we didn’t confine all our efforts for comfort to the time when we were on the ground. We took it along with us when we went up, providing, of course, it didn’t interfere with air scrapping.

That, of course, was the one essential thing to think about. And as a result, the comfort that we tried to get in the air was in reality a type of comfort that actually helped air performance.

Just a Few Examples

For a few examples of what I mean, unbutton your ears to these.

Straight flying—ordinary patroling between two points—is about the most monotonous thing east or west of the Seven Seas. There’s nothing to do but sit and fly, and then sit and fly some more. On a smooth day your legs and arms and neck get so doggone cramped, that you suddenly’ find yourself praying aloud for a flight of enemy ships to drop down on you.

True, you’ve got to keep your eyes open, to spot said enemy ships ahead of time.

And also you’ve got to keep on the alert so that you won’t slide out of formation position. But after awhile at the Front that sort of thing becomes almost mechanical. Like a sixth sense, you might say.

To permit themselves the opportunity to relax, some of the boys had headrests fitted to the top of the fuselage just back of the cockpit. The headrest was just a leather pad streamlined into the top of the fuselage. On some ships, the S.E.5, for example, the headrest was already there. And to show you how queer war pilots can be, some of the guys had the headrest of their S.E.5
taken off, because they said it cramped their necks! (See Fig. A.)

Every Little Thing Counts

ANOTHER little thing that we added for comfort’s sake, was a little box fitted to a fuselage crossbrace inside the cockpit. In ships that had a Lewis gun mounted on the top center section, the box was already there. That is, there were two boxes in which you carried a couple of spare Lewis drums of ammo. So you simply carried one extra drum—and the other was your box.

What for? Why, to keep things in, dummy. What things? Well—that depended upon the pilot’s likes and dislikes. Me, I used to slip a couple of bars of chocolate in, a cloth with which to wipe oil spatterings off my goggles, a couple of nips of this and that in a flask (in case of a cold, you understand), a picture of the current girl friend to gaze at if I felt lonely, a box of matches, and at least one deck of cigarettes.


Ah, I knew darn well that buzzard over there in the corner wasn’t asleep! Sure, we carried cigarettes. Why not? No, not to smoke while we were in the air. Nix! Can do, as a stunt. But didn’t as a regular practice.

No, the idea was, in case we got forced down and taken prisoner. Yes, sir, we were that way. Made sure of our comfort—in case. And if you think that’s a funny idea, go get yourself taken prisoner some day, and find out how many smokes the enemy gives you! Yeah, you’!I learn!

If We Were Captured

AND speaking of being taken prisoner. Some of the lads used to sew a small compass and a map or two in the lining of their flying suits. I once heard of a case where that little stunt was the means of a bird escaping an enemy prison camp. Well, all I can say is, that guy sure was lucky, and then some!

In the first place, the enemy wasn’t as dumb as the newspapers try to make them out to be. They knew a few things about fighting a war just as we did.

And searching a captured prisoner for anything that might help or hinder him was something that the Germans did nothing else but. However, for argument’s sake, let’s say that the searching officer was blind in one eye, couldn’t see out of the other, and both hands were cut off. Well, the hero goes to a prison camp, tells the guard to look the other way, and sets off for home. He uses the compass and starts south. Soon it gets darn cold and he meets an Eskimo. Heavens, he’s been walking all these weeks in the opposite direction.

And why? Because that little compass sewed in his flying suit was long ago sent haywire by the metal and ignition system of his engine.

But to get back to that box—comfort box, you could call it—I’ve told you a few of the things I used to lug along. Other guys used to carry other things. One chap, for instance, used to take along pen, paper and envelopes. Sure! Do his letter writing while waiting for action.

No Identification!

However, that was just an unusual stunt. Don’t get the idea that it was general practice. And also don’t get the idea that the box was big enough to hold a couple of spare props and
a tire maybe. And also, take it from me, you did not carry anything that would be valuable to the enemy if captured. I carried the girl friend’s picture, but I didn’t carry any of her letters to me.

No, smart guy, not because I was afraid the ship would catch fire! Simply because they were identification, and might contain information of something seemingly unimportant, but perhaps most important when pieced together with what the enemy might already know.

In other words, we carried in the box, or on our person, nothing that would divulge information to the enemy.

I Call It Laziness

MAYBE you’d call this next item comfort, but I call it just plumb laziness. It was a flight leader’s trick. As you know, a flight leader has to keep his eye on the ships back of him, just as much as the other lads have to keep their eyes on him.

So this bird, in order to save wear and tear on his neck, got hold of a piece of looking glass and fastened it near the top of his right rear center section strut. Yup, a rear view mirror for airplanes. And believe it or not, the thing worked swell—so he claimed! (See Fig. B.)

Another idea for comfort, and a thing that was mighty useful in a dog scrap, was a pair of shoulder straps fastened to the sides of the cockpit seat. (See Fig. C.) As you know, every ship had the regular safety belt that fastened about your waist. That was okay for level flight, but should you get hung in a loop, gravity would start to slide you out and pull your feet off the rudder bar.

So we installed two straps; one that came up the back and over the right shoulder and down the left side of the seat, and the other came up over the left shoulder, crossed the other at your chest, and down to the right side of the seat. Thus you were held back by the safety belt, and held down on your seat by the double straps. Naturally, snap fastenings were used, in case you had to get clear fast—like in thr event of a forced landing.

It’s All How You Look At It

Yup, our motto was, comfort east or west of No-Man’s-Land. Of course, it wasn’t like home. We did get our feet wet now and then. However, in case the Grim Reaper ever reached out for us, we kind of planned it so we’d at least die on a full stomach. For the lads on the ground shoving about the trenches, such was not the case. They had to take it on the chin day and night.

Yet, after all, it’s the way you look at it. The doughboy in the trench looks up at the aviator and says, “Cripes, that damn fool up there with nothing to hang onto!” And the pilot looks down and says, “Cripes, that damn fool down there with nothing but mud to sit on!” And, so what? As far as I’m concerned, it’s, so long!

“The Sky Joker” by Raoul Whitfield

Link - Posted by David on June 9, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from Raoul Whitfield. Whitfield was a prolific pulp writer primarily known for his hardboiled crime fiction published in the pages of Black Mask, but he was equally adept at lighter fair that might run in the pages of Breezy Stories. We’ve featured a number of his Buck Kent stories that ran in Air Trails, but this time we have a WWI tale!

The Thirty-ninth was located pretty far up front, for a squadron field. The enemy had bombed them out of two fields, and the third one that Staff had assigned them was just a little worse than the other two had been. Worse for landings and take-offs, and considerably worse in the matter of camouflaging from the enemy. The Boche had already come over several times to say hi—they didn’t do very much damage, just raised hell in general. But the morale of the outfit took a sharp drop. It was into this humorless squadron that Lieutenant Bill Roberts and his very large sense of humor was transferred and the Thirty-ninth wanted none of it!

From the February 1929 number of Over The Top, it’s Raoul Whitfield’s “The Sky Joker!”

He brought a sense of humor to a hard-boiled squadron, this laughing lieutenant, but it took the squadron a long time to appreciate his wisecracking.

Strange War Ships: Deperdussin Monoplane

Link - Posted by David on June 5, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

FOR FOUR successive months in 1933, War Birds ran a series of covers featuring “Strange War Planes.”—those freak planes that were used during the First World War. The covers were by Eugene M. Frandzen—known here for the covers he did for Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. The Final freaky ship in the series was the Deperdussin Monoplane!

Strange War Ships:
Deperdussin Monoplane

th_WB_3309BEFORE synchronization of machine gun fire was perfected, many strange ways were devised to fire in the direction of flight. The Deperdussin Monoplane, with machine gunner mounted atop the wing was one of these. A rudder attachment kept the gun from whipping from side to side. The ship was armoured and a superstructure of steel pipes formed the gunner’s cockpit. A gunner on this ship had to have a sense of balance equal to an acrobat to be accurate with the gun.

The Deperdussin was the forerunner of the 5pad. This ship and the single place were used extensively on the Russian front. Germany, at that time, considered these ships the most dangerous used by the allies. The single seater had the phenomenal speed of 131 m.p.h. when stripped.

LENGTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24′
SPAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36′3”
AREA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 226 sq.ft.
WEIGHT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1050 lbs.
MOTOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80 h.p. Gnome
SPEED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105 m.p.h.
CLIMB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .247 ft.per min.

Strange War Ships: Deperdussin Monoplane
Strange War Ships: Deperdussin Monoplane • War Birds, August 1933
by Eugene M. Frandzen

“Silent Peters—Hell-cat” by Alexis Rossoff

Link - Posted by David on June 2, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another exciting adventure in those Hell-skies with Alexis Rossoff’s Hell-Cat Squadron! The adventures of the Hell-Cat Brood ran in War Birds, War Stories and Flying Aces. The Seventy-Seventh Squadron had a reputation of being short on technique and long on defying every regulation in the book. The squadron was the cause of many gray hairs on the pates of the star-spangled ones back in G.H.Q. They flew their merry way like nobody’s business, and played hell with any Jerry who tried to dispute their intention of going places. This bunch of cloud-hopping war birds were known from one end of the Western front to the other as the “Hell-cats”—and sometimes the “Unholy Dozen!”

There was one man responsible for “Silent” Peters’ warped outlook on life. One man who turned a brilliant engineer into a man who hates the world, God and life itself. An Ace who was tall, gaunt and taciturn with the eyes of a saint—and the face of a devil with nothing but hate in his heart! And Silent Peters believed he would find this man in the death-torn Hell skies over Germany and settle the score once and for all! From the pages of the August 30th, 1928 issue of War Stories, it’s Alexis Rossoff’s “Silent Peters—Hell-cat!”

He was lean and tall and firm-jawad, this Yank of the Seventy-Seventh Squadron. That was the bunch of cloud-hopping war birds they called the “Hell-cats,” and sometimes the “Unholy Dozen.” But “Silent” Peters was a lone eagle without a buddie in the squadron. He had a reason for his war—a reason that meant more than life.