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“S.E.5 vs. Fokker D7″ by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 31, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have an early cover by Frederick Blakeslee for Flying Aces. Blakeslee did three covers for Flying Aces in 1930. The one below for the August issue of that year was his third and final cover for the magazine.

The Story Behind the Cover

th_FA_3008BRITISH against German—S.E.5 against Fokker—that’s the struggle depicted in this month’s cover. The S.E.5 has taken a long dive and is raking the Fokker from wing tip to cockpit. In this particular bit of action, the German was wounded in the legs, and with great difficulty escaped to his own lines.

Planes of the S.E.5 type appeared in France during the winter of 1917-1918. The German Fokker D7 was the only ship at the Front superior to the S.E.5—and our cover shows that the Fokker did not always win!

The Ships on The Cover
“S.E.5 vs Fokker D7”
Flying Aces, August 1930 by Frederick Blakeslee

“Tell It to the King!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on July 28, 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!

Phineas is jumped by a couple Boche Fokkers and sent crashing into a tree all while a pair of British Bristols idly fly by watching, but not helping in the least. When Phineas tries to get to the bottom of the British flyers’ lack of assistance it could all blow up into a Royal Scandal! From the August 1931 Flying Aces, it’s Phineas Pinkham in Joe Archibald’s “Tell It to the King!”

It was all the fault of the Limeys that his Spad was smeared against the side of a tree and he himself looked like the target in a knife-throwing contest. And if you think he let the matter rest right there—well, you don’t know Phineas “Carbuncle” Pinkham!

Premiering at PulpFest 2023!

Link - Posted by David on July 21, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

AGE OF ACES will be back at PulpFest again this year where we will be debuting our two new titles!

First up is another collection of tales of that Inseparable trio—The Three Mosquitoes!

The Adventures of the Three Mosquitoes: The Night Monster

THE Three Mosquitoes—Kirby, the D’Artagnan of the group, led the formation even though he was the youngest, but his amazing skills had won him the position of leader of the trio. On his right flew “Shorty” Carn, bald, stocky, and mild of eye, but nevertheless a dead shot with a gun. On his left flew Travis, the oldest and wisest of the trio, whose lanky legs made it difficult for him to adjust himself in the little cockpit. With their customary battle cry—“Let’s go!”—they’re off on another dangerous mission in perilous skies!

Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes was one of the longest running aviation series to never have its own magazine. They flew for twelve years, through nine different magazines in over five dozen stories! This thrilling volume collects four action-packed adventures from the pages of Popular Publications’ Dare-Devil Aces: The Night Monster (2/32), The Crimson Ace (7/32), The Rocket Ace (11/32), and The Secret Ace Patrol (6/33).

Paired with this is the second volume of Donald E. Keyhoe’s Fighting Marines—The Devildog Squadron!

Devildog Squadron: The Flying Juggernaut

“CYCLONE BILL” Garrity and his Mad Marines are back in the thick of things in six more Weird World War I Adventures from the imaginative pen of Donald E. Keyhoe. Those crazy Germans have come up with even more ways to turn the tide and win the war. Operating from airfields hidden in the sides of cliffs under a waterfall, beneath an impenetrable dome, or simply under camouflage nets, the Germans unleash everything from deadly rays that can wipe an entire drome off the face of the earth; the dead pilots flying again; a tank as large as a city block and just as tall that can flatten everything in it’s path; and the cloak of death itself lurking in the night sky ready to suck the life out of anything it should happen to touch––both pilot and plane!

The Devildog adventures featured in this volume are all from the pages of Sky Birds: Devildog Doom (6/32), Lucky’s Day (8/32), The Devildogs’ Decoy (1/33), The Flying Juggernaut (2/33), The Squadron Nobody Knew (7/33), and Devildog Breed (7/34).

In addition to these new books, we’ll have all of our other titles on hand as well as our previous convention exclusive—Arch Whitehouse’s Coffin Kirk, and last year’s two book set of Steve Fisher’s Sheridan Doome! So if you’re planning on coming to Pittsburgh for PulpFest this year, stop by our table and say hi and pick up our latest releases! We hope we see you there!

Heroes of the Air: Lieut. W. B. Rhodes-Moorhouse

Link - Posted by David on July 17, 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 4 June 1938 issue of Flying:


ON APRIL 26, 1915, No. 2 Squadron received a message that the railway junction at Courtrai was to be bombed to prevent enemy reinforcements from reaching the front. Lieutenant Rhodes-Moorhouse left the aerodrome at Merville in company with three other machines. Each machine carried a one-hundred-pound bomb, the largest in use at that time. When Rhodes-Moorhouse arrived at the railway junction he descended to a height of only three hundred feet. This enabied him to score a direct hit, but it also exposed him to concentrated fire from all the troops who were waiting at the station and from the anti-aircraft batteries defending it. At such close range the odds were all against him. One bullet broke his thigh, another shattered his hand, and a third reached his stomach. Despite the fact that he was dying and in terrible agony he realised the importance of returning to headquarters to make his report. Unhappily he died of his wounds within twenty-four hours. He was awarded the V.C. on May 22, 1915.

How the War Crates Flew: Night Flying

Link - Posted by David on July 11, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

FROM the pages of the January 1934 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.

Night Flying

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters, January 1934)

WELL, I note that both of you sparrows are here again. And I suppose that means I’ve got to do some talking and improve your knowledge as to the activities of myself, and other world renowned heroes, during the late unpleasantness.

This time I’ll gabfest on the advantages, disadvantages, and ups and downs of night flying in the days when girls used to marry uniforms.

A Mean Job

To begin with, let me say that next to daylight bomb raids, night flying was about the meanest and toughest job that the C.O. could pass out to you. You seldom saw what you were banging away at, and the other guy wasn’t any better off.

How-the-some-ever, night flying was not originated with the idea of giving pursuit pilots something else to do. As a matter of fact, pursuit ships didn’t begin to take much part in night flying work until along about the last year of the war.

Generally speaking, night flying, simply meant bombing raids at night. Long range assignments with destinations far behind the enemy lines.

The Germans Started It

To get at the idea from a historical viewpoint, night flying in the world war was really first started by the Germans. How, you ask? With their Zeppelins, stupid. Why certainly! The Zeppelin raids on London and Paris were made under cover of darkness.

The reason for that is, of course, quite obvious. A Zeppelin raid in the daytime would be just too bad for the Zeppelin. It would be spotted long before it reached its objective.

No, Alice, this is not going to be a discourse on Zeppelin raids. So tuck in your bib and pay attention.

I spoke of Zeppelins being first used in night flying work to point out the fact that night flying was fundamentally an offensive maneuver.

How come?

Home Defense Squadrons

VERY well, let me explain the difference. In the daylight your air force raids enemy territory, repels enemy raids into your territory, and also reconnoiters enemy territory. In short there is a definite object for every patrol. But at night there were no scheduled patrols for planes on the receiving end. And by the receiving end, I mean territory that was being raided. To make it a bit more clear than that, flights of ships whose job it was to repel night invaders or raiders, didn’t take to the air until the raiders made the first move. Such squadrons were known as Home Defense Squadrons. And that’s just what they did—defended the fireside against invaders. In other words, in the daytime you flew patrols whether the enemy was there or not. But at night you only flew when the enemy came to call.

Rather than frighten the French and English populace, Zeppelin warfare made them all the more determined to defeat Germany.

Not favoring the construction of Zeppelins, or I should say, lighter-than-air-aircraft, the Allies started to hit back with long range bombing raids (Fig. 1) on German strongholds behind the lines. Most of these raids were conducted by the English, and to them should go everlasting praise for their accomplishments.

Not tor the Chicken-Hearted

A bomb raid at night is not a job for chicken-hearted men. To begin with, you’ve got to have a clear night to see things on the ground. Nowadays with blind flying developed as it is, with airway beacons, and all the rest of it, a pilot can fly from here to there and back again in almost any old kind of weather. But in war days a clear night was very essential.

But as even you two nitwits can see, what was a break for the raiders was also a break for the defenders. In other words, if you could see them, they could also see you.

There were no special hours of the night for bomb raids. The time of take-off really depended upon how far you had to fly before you could let the old “eggs” go whanging down. But the dangers of night bombing raids began just as soon as you opened up the throttle.

Today when a ship takes off at night, the runway is bathed in flood lights, and it’s just about as easy as a daytime take-off. But in war days, you did the best you could and trusted to luck for the rest. There were no flood lights, or any of the other fancy gadgets that you have today. The “runway” was simply the best part of your drome, and it was lighted by parallel rows of oil pots (Fig. 2). The ship simply took off between the two rows.

What They Looked Like

And speaking of oil pots, next time you’re out driving with the girl friend at night (you do, don’t you?) and you come to a spot where they’re digging up the road, take a look at those ball-like things that rim the ditch. They look like a bomb full of oil, and burning at the top. Well, those things are what oil pot flares used to look like during the war.

WELL, as soon as you’ve taken off, the oil pots are doused, because it’s not any help to advertise the location of your drome to any enemy ships that might be upstairs. And after those oil pots go out, the rest is up to you. If there is more than one ship in the raid, each pilot has got to make sure he doesn’t ram into the other guy. To avoid that they usually flew in follow-the-leader-style. Not only did that permit the pilot to see the exhaust flames of the ship ahead, and thus keep his distance, but it also permitted more effective bombing of the objective. When the objective was reached the first plane would drop its bombs and then bank wide and swing for home. The second ship would do the same thing, and after it, the third ship, and so on.

Naturally, while you are heading for your objective the enemy hears you, and he tries to spot you with his searchlights. And when he does, look out, because you’re going to get a shower bath of archie in the next few seconds. When one searchlight gets you, two or three others swing right over with the idea of “boxing” you—fixing you so’s you can’t dodge either way into the darkness, and escape. At such times, good piloting counts plenty, and how.

Of course, most of the time defending ships don’t wait for searchlights to nail you. They come streaking up, using your exhaust flames as a guide to where you are. And in turn your gunners use their exhaust flames as a guide to where the attacking pursuits are.

The Return Trip

Once you’ve let your eggs go, you can bet your shirt that the enemy is going to try his damnedest to get you. And so the return trip is really worse than the journey out. Besides, you’ve got to get the ship down okay.

When the home drome mechanics hear you, they set out landing marks on the drome. These are oil pots set out in a way that will indicate the direction of the ground wind. There were two signs generally used. One was in the shape of a big L, (Fig. 3) the bottom of the L being at the leeward side of the drome. In other words, you landed along the upright part of the L, toward the bottom piece. The idea being that the area formed by the angle was the smoothest part of the field.’
The other sign were lights in the form of a T, (Fig. 4) with the crosspiece being toward the leeward side of the field. And so you simply landed along either side of the leg of the T, toward the cross piece.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well don’t kid yourself, sweetheart. Those oil pots never did blind you with their light, and it took wonderful pilots (like me) to get down without jarring the other guy’s teeth.

Night Pursuit Flying

To get the idea of pursuit flying at night, just reverse what I’ve been telling you about a night bombing raid. The night pursuit ships (or, bats, as your favorite authors like to call them) simply took the air when enemy bombers were announced. Their job consisted of two things. One, to get the bombers.

And the other, to avoid smacking into one of their own men. I never could decide just which job gave me the most gray hair.

Just one more thing, and I’m gone. It’s about sighting landmarks at night. One tough job, children, unless there’s a moon. About the only thing you can really see clearly, is water—rivers, lakes, etc. The rest you guess at. And here’s an interesting item lots of folks don’t know. It was a cinch for German Zeppelins to find either London or Paris at night. Why? Because both cities are on a river, and their metropolitan areas are exactly between two islands in each river, both the Thames and the Seine. They simply hovered over either of those areas and let go. And speaking of “go,” that means me. too! Good evening.

“Frozen Wings” by Frank Richardson Pierce

Link - Posted by David on July 7, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another exciting air adventure with Rusty Wade from the pen of Frank Richardson Pierce. Pierce is probably best remembered for his prolific career in the Western Pulps. Writing under his own name as well as two pen names—Erle Stanly Pierce and Seth Ranger. Pierce’s career spanned fifty years and produced over 1,500 short stories, with over a thousand of these appearing in the pages of Argosy and the Saturday Evening Post.

Each year Rusty Wade promised himself a real, old-fashioned Christmas, and each year Fate decreed that he be riding high in the air, eating cold sandwiches instead of thrusting his long legs under a table groaning with turkey and the other good things that went with a Christmas dinner. But this year he was determined to have just that with Mary Heath—the prettiest teacher in the whole Yukon country. Until that faked distress call came in from the ice bound Ellen Dow. From the pages of the January 1930 Air Trails, it’s Christmas in July with Rusty Wade in Frank Richardson Pierce’s “Frozen Wings!”

“Hawk” Breed was out to beat him; but “Rusty” Wade made a dare-devil’s landing and pledged himself to play a desperate game!

“Martyrs of the Air: Frank Luke” by R.C. Wardell

Link - Posted by David on July 3, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present an early Flying Aces cover from March 1929 by the incomparable R.C. Wardell. Wardell turned out numerous covers for the pulps in the late ’20’s and early ’30’s for magazines like Under Fire, Flyers, Flying Stories, Prison Stories, Sky Birds, Prize Air Pilot Stories, Far East Adventure Stories, Murder Stories, Murder Mysteries, Zoom! and of course Flying Aces, signing most of this work as “R.C. Wardel.” Here he depicts American Ace Frank Luke, shot down behind enemy lines waiting for the enemy troops to advance and take him prisoner—if they can!

Martyrs of the Air: Frank Luke

A German in name, but a fiery, patriotic American at heart, Frank Luke, the greatest ace that ever emblazoned his name in aviation annals, died as he had lived—a flaming, fighting, fast-winged warbird.


How much the name means to those few who knew how he fought, and died. And contrarily, how little it means to the vast majority of the great American people who knew so little about him.

Lieutenant Frank Luke’s career was short, hectic, and dynamic. He blazed across the wartorn skies of France like a flaming meteor and with equal brilliance. Very few people ever see the same blazing meteor in its dazzling course across the night skies; very few people ever heard of Lieutenant Frank Luke during his short but sensational career on the western front.

But to those who did come in contact with him, his valorous deeds and manner of dying will ever remain in their memories as long as they live. Frank Luke was the most courageous, the most audacious war bird that ever handled a control stick and pressed the Bowden triggers mounted on it.

Only Eddie Rickenbacker topped him in the final list of American Aces after the war was ended. Rickenbacker was officially credited with 26 victories. Frank Luke had 21. But the comparison is hardly fair to Frank Luke, for Eddie Rickenbacker was on the front for almost six months.

Luke’s front line career lasted only a little over two weeks, and even in that short space of time he was at one time the American Ace of Aces and there is no telling what score he would have run up if he hadn’t died. And how he died!

Bom of a German father who had emigrated to this country in the early days, and carrying a German name, Luke was looked upon with suspicion by his squadron mates who fraternized very little with him. Little did they suspect the intense hatred for the Germans that Luke harbored in his breast. He hated the enemy with an intensity of feeling that was only equalled by his supreme courage, and he swore when living that no German would ever take him alive. No German did.

There was another pilot in his squadron who had a German name and was of German parentage, a Lieutenant Wehner. The two, because they were more or less ostracized by the other members of the squadron, teamed up together. And what a team it was. The Germans soon learned to recognize the pair as twin furies of the skies, and would dash for cover as soon as the pair came in sight.

They were such dashing, daring fighters that the Germans gave them a clear sky when they came over, not even bothering to tarry and fight with them. Then it was that Luke originated his plans for bringing down German sausage balloons.

And what a terror the pair were to the German sausage observers—balloon after balloon fell before their streaking tracer fire. Finally, Wehner was killed while holding off an upper flight of German Fokkers who were trying to get at Luke below when he was diving on a German sausage with his twin Vickers guns blazing molten lead. Luke got the sausage, but the Fokkers got Wehner, and from that late afternoon on, Luke was never the same. He loved Wehner like a brother, and the Huns had got him.

“They’ll pay!” Luke stormed, and clenched his fists. “More than one Hun will pay for Wehner’s death.”

And more than one Hun did!

HE HAD been a terror before. After Wehner’s death he became a raving, tearing madman of the skies. Flying alone thereafter, he was the Lone Wolf of the sky trails. He had but one consuming passion; that was to get the Huns and then more Huns. Flying wherever he willed he tore up and down the front lines in search of Hun meat.

He paid no attention to orders and had absolutely no regard for discipline. One night would see his Spad plane bivouaced at some strange French airdrome far from his own squadron. The next night he would be way across France over in Lorraine somewhere. During his flights between he left a path of desolation. The German feldwebels dubbed him the Scourge of the Skies and scurried for cover whenever they saw Luke’s plane skirting down the trench lines.

His own commanding officer never knew where he was or what he was doing. An old army sergeant, one John Monroe, who had charge of an advanced emergency landing field right behind the front lines perhaps knew more of Luke’s movements during his short career on the front than any other man. Luke spent many a night sleeping with Monroe in his pup tent.

The sergeant would service his plane for him each night he landed and make it ready to take off before dawn the next day. Then while the two laid in the tent trying to go to sleep, Luke would tell the sergeant of the events of the day as he saw them from the sky.

Luke’s last day on earth was a spectacular one. He brought down two sausage balloons and one Hun plane, and was himself shot down about five miles behind the German lines near the little town of Murveaux. Luke was not shot to death in the air, but bullets from a Hun Spandau had shattered his propellor and damaged his engine such that he had to make a forced landing behind the German lines.

In addition he had two slight flesh wounds which were not in themselves serious enough to cause death, but they did make him somewhat weak from loss of blood. While the crippled plane was Winging down to a landing with the Hun attackers hovering overhead, Luke spied a cutover wheat-field and by agile manoeuvering, managed to set his plane down safely on it.

To any ordinary pilot, that would have meant the end of the war. But, not so with Luke. A small company of German infantry were stationed at Murveaux not far from the wheatfield, and when they saw Luke’s plane land, they sauntered out to take him prisoner.

When Luke’s plane staggered to a dead stop Luke jumped out of the cockpit on the side nearest the approaching soldiers. His left hand dangled loosely from his-shoulder and blood was on his tunic sleeve. His right hand he kept inside the cockpit, apparently holding himself up, for his knees buckled and he was half slumped to the ground, and so the approaching captors thought.
Luke looked at them and let them come. On they came in sort of a half run with their bayonets fixed. Luke watched them out of the corner of his eyes, and clenched his right hand tighter. His body swayed a little and he reeled slightly, nevertheless he held his feet, and when th approaching Germans got within about 50 feet of him, he snapped his right hand out of the cockpit. In it was a Colt Automatic. Luke leveled it and fired pointblank into the faces of the captors.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

Five successive shots rang out. Five of the approaching Germans fell dead, shot through the heart each and every one of them.

More shots rang out, from the German’s rifles this time. Luke slumped over by the side of his machine, dead, his body riddled like a sieve by the German fire.

But think of the cold, raw courage that was Luke’s. In the height of battle man might do that, many of them. But Luke had time to think while his would-be captors approached.

“Surrender, and live through the war? Or die fighting with the blood of his comrade Wehner further avenged?”

Frank Luke died, and how gallantly!

The Ships on The Cover
“Martyrs of the Air: Frank Luke”
Flying Aces, March 1929 by R.C. Wardell