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Heroes of the Air: F.H. McNamara by S. Drigin

Link - Posted by David on November 21, 2022 @ 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 16 April 1938 issue of Flying:

LIEUT. F.H. McNAMARA WINNING THE VICTORIA CROSS, PALESTINE, MARCH 1918.

ON MARCH 17, 1918, Lt. McNamara, flying a Martinsyde, was taking part in the bombing of a train in Palestine, when he saw Capt. D.W. Rutherford’s machine coming down among the Turks. It had been hit and, although not out of control, Rutherford was forced to land. McNamara landed at once and taxied to his rescue. The Turks opened rapid fire and McNamara was severely wounded in the leg. Seeing the approaching “Tinsyde,” Rutherford dashed up to it and clambered aboard as it shot past. Fortunately, as it happened, he did not wait to set fire to his machine. When McNamara opened up the throttle
he found that his damaged foot had jammed the rudder-bar. The machine swerved round and crashed. Turkish troops were approaching fast. The two struggled out of the wreckage and ran back to Rutherford’s machine, McNamara hobbling along as best he could. The prop, was swung. Miraculously the engine started. They leaped aboard—McNamara in the pilot’s cockpit—and took off over the heads of the Turks without further hurt in spite of concentrated rifle-fire. The London Gazette of June 8 announced that Lt. McNamara had been awarded the Victoria Cross for “conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.”

Heroes of the Air: Alan McLeod by S. Drigin

Link - Posted by David on November 7, 2022 @ 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 9 April 1938 issue of Flying:

LIEUT. ALAN McLEOD WINNING THE VICTORIA CROSS ON THE WESTERN FRONT, MARCH 1918.

ON MARCH 17. 1918, Lt. McLeod, a Canadian officer, set off on a bombing expedition with his observer, Lt. Hammond, in an Armstrong-Whitworth two-seater. Shortly afterwards they were attacked by a Fokker triplane, which Hammond sent spinning down into No-Man’s-Land. Seven more Fokkers then appeared out of the clouds. McLeod disposed of the first but a second crept up from below and wounded Hammond with two bullets. Under heavy fire from six enemy aircraft their petrol tank burst into flames. Hammond, though badly wounded, was still firing when the floor of his cockpit fell out. McLeod climbed out on to the wing and, with one hand on the joy-stick, side-slipped to keep the flames away until the machine crashed in No-Man’s-Land. Hammond was unconscious, so McLeod started dragging him towards the British lines, but he was hit by rifle-fire before he could reach them. The two gallant airmen were finally brought to safety by Tommies. Notification of the award of the V.C. followed in due course. McLeod subsequently died of his wounds.

“A Hunting We Will Go” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on October 28, 2022 @ 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!

In 1918, Lieutenant Phineas “Carbuncle” Pinkham took a long hop, figuratively speaking, in an astral plane and came down to earth with the Zodiac in his lap. And as if that weren’t enough, a spiritualist of note—one Madame Mazola, who had taken a powder out of the Tyrol in 1915—put out her shingle in Bar-le-Duc, announcing to whomever it might concern that she would give an applicant a clear wire to his relatives who had long since departed this vale of tears. Ectoplasm was her specialty, and it would be produced for the most skeptical—for the insignificant sum of five francs—payable in advance!

After Madame Mazola hit town with her astrology, it didn’t take Phineas “Taurus” Pinkham long to prove that Garrity was a crab, Gillis was a sucker, Goomer was two other guys, and Casey was the goat. But it wasn’t until Babette hit Phineas with her skillet that the transplanted star gazer from Boonetown really got his astral plane into the ascendancy. And then he hit into something himself—a double-talk play!

“Outlawed Aces” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on October 7, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story by another of our favorite authors—Harold F. Cruickshank! Cruickshank is popular in these parts for the thrilling exploits of The Sky Devil from the pages of Dare-Devil Aces, as well as those of The Sky Wolf in Battle Aces and The Red Eagle in Battle Birds. He wrote innumerable stories of war both on the ground and in the air. Here we have his take on the squadron of “Outlawed Aces”—those aces purposely listed as dead so they can be recruited for special missions much like Keyhoe’s Vanished Legion!

From the September 1934 issue of Sky Birds

The thunder of guns rumbled constantly, ominously, past that secret drome in the badlands back of the Meuse River. And in the tiny hiding place were three men whose garb was strangely unmarked, whose wrists bore no identification tags. For they were a flight of vanished men—and their orders were known only to a few.

“Happy Hunning Ground” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on September 30, 2022 @ 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!

American military moguls were miserable! For along the Western Front, the Krauts were doing a Russian business which threatened to give the Potsdam Potentate a corner on the Frog real estate market. But meanwhile there was one thing that neither Chaumont nor the Wilhelmstrasse had figured on. This was Phineas Pinkham’s skin game—a redskin game that was a cinch to corner a flock of squarehead scalps!

“Killer Tarmac” by T.W. Ford

Link - Posted by David on September 23, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the prolific T.W. Ford. Ford wrote hundreds of stories for the pages of the pulps—westerns, detective, sports and aviation—but best known for his westerns featuring the Silver Kid.

For the September 1934 number of Sky Birds Ford gives us the story of young Art Crain, just up at the front and already with a score to settle—his best mate had gone out against one of Germany’s greatest Aces, von Kunnel, to prove he wasn’t yellow as his flight leader Major “Bloody” Doll had continually chided him, and lost. Once there, Crain learns a lesson about justice, honor and war!

“Kill before somebody kills you!” That was the advice they handed to young Kid Crain when he arrived at the Front. Then the Kid ran into von Kunnel, great German ace, whose insignia was a jagged streak of lightning and who fought like that—swift, deadly, sure. And the Kid learned a lot about killers that no one had ever told him—that no one else knew.

“Sky Writers, February 1938″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on September 21, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

FREQUENT visitors to this site know that we’ve been featuring Terry Gilkison’s Famous Sky Fighters feature from the pages of Sky Fighters. Gilkison had a number of these features in various pulp magazines—Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Starting in the February 1936 issue of Lone Eagle, Gilkison started the war-air quiz feature Sky Writers. Each month there would be four questions based on the Aces and events of The Great War. If you’ve been following his Famous Sky Fighters, these questions should be a snap!

Here’s the quiz from the February 1938 issue of Lone Eagle.

If you get stumped or just want to check your answers, click here!

“Buck Kent’s Air Push” by Raoul Whitfield

Link - Posted by David on September 16, 2022 @ 8:04 pm in

THIS week we have another of Raoul Whitfield’s ‘Buck’ Kent stories from the pages of Air Trails magazine. Whitfield is 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. ‘Buck’ Kent, along with his pal Lou Parrish, is an adventurous pilot for hire. These stories, although more in the juvenile fiction vein, do occasionally feature some elements of his harder prose.

The Buck Kent story in the January 1929 issue of Air Trails, follows on from the December installment. After saving Joan Dean from the runaway balloon in the December story, Buck and Lou must protect her from a rival air carnival’s goons set on destroying her trapeze act she does dangling from a plane.

They took a desperate chance when they tried to push “Buck” Kent out of the sky!

Heroes of the Air: Richard Bell Davies by S. Drigin

Link - Posted by David on September 12, 2022 @ 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.

Serge Drigin (or Sergie, Sergey or Serge R. Drigin) was born in Russia on 8 October 1894.
Without any formal training, Drigin managed to become a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s. He did illustrate at least one book in his native Russia in 1919—E. Venskii’s Skazka o rybakie I rybkie—before becoming big illustrating British magazines like 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.

For a few years in the mid 30s he tried his hand at comics, drawing varioius episodes for Film Picture Stories and the serial “The Flying Fish” in Sparkler. By the early 40s he was working for War Artists & Illustrators who supplied material to War Illustrated, Sphere and other such magazines.

After the war, when paper shortages made it hard for illustrators to find work, Drigin turned to comic strips producing many one off strips from 1947 to 48 for the likes of Scion, Ltd, before hooking up with J.B. Allen in 48 and producing a number of series for his Comet, Sun and Merry-Go-Round comics until 49 and moving into contributing features and artwork to various annuals including Swift and Eagle.

Drigin was naturalized in 1932, married three times and died in 1977.

From the 2 April 1938 issue of Flying:

SQUADRON-COMMANDER RICHARD BELL DAVIES WINNING THE VICTORIA CROSS AT FERRIJIK JUNCTION, NOVEMBER 19, 1915.

TWO officers were concerned in this gallant action, Commander Bell Davies and Flight Sub-Lieutenant G. F. Smylie, and the incident occurred during a raid on the borders of Bulgaria. Both officers were flying Nieuport Scouts. Near the objective Smylie’s machine was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and although he was compelled to come down, he first flew over his target and dropped nearly all his bombs. Having done this he landed in a marsh and at once took steps to destroy his machine to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy. Looking up, he saw to his dismay that Commander Bell Davies was preparing to land with the obvious intention of picking him up. Commander Bell Davies was, of course, landing as close as possible to the now burning machine, unconscious of the fact that an unexploded bomb was still in it. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Smylie thereupon acted with great courage and presence of mind. Running up close to the bomb he fired at it with his revolver until he caused it to explode. By this time enemy troops were rushing forward to make the airmen prisoners, firing as they ran. Nevertheless, Commander Bell Davies landed near his companion on the ground, and under the very rifles of the enemy picked him up in his machine and carried him home to safety. The award of the V.C. appeared in the London Gazette on January 1st, 1916, and concluded with these words: “This was a feat of airmanship that can seldom have been equalled for skill and gallantry.”

“Wanted—One Fokker” by Captain John E. Doyle

Link - Posted by David on September 9, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of British Ace, Captain John E. Doyle, D.F.C. Born in 1893, Captain Doyle was a successful fighter pilot in WWI with 9 confirmed victories with 56 & 60 Squadrons. Near the end of the war, he was shot down and taken prisoner where they amputated his leg. After the war, he wrote three books, one of which was an autobiography, and 31 short stories for magazines like War Stories, The Scout, Popular Flying, The Aeroplane, Flying, Boys’ Ace Library, Mine, Modern Wonder and Air Stories. Five of those stories were for the British version of Air Stories and featured one Montgomery de Courcy Montmorency Hardcastle, M.C. In Scotland he was usually referred to as “His Lordship,” for he was the fourteenth Viscount Arbroath as well as the sixth Baron Cupar. Out in France he was just “Monty” behind his back, or “The Major,” or “Sir” to his face.

Monty deals with the repercussions of the events in Sky Code and tries to get his hands on a Fokker to replace the one he smashed previously in trying to red the ‘drome of a spy. And then there’s the matter of his own Camel he had left over at another ‘drome when he picked up said Fokker. But events come together even though he’s been commanded to lead his squadron on patrol—a squadron that doesn’t even know of Monty’s abilities in the air! From the December 1937 issue of the British Air Stories, it’s Captain John E. Doyle’s “Wanted—One Fokker!”

A Camel vanished without its Pilot and a Fokker rose up from its own Ashes before Major “Monty” Hardcastle, M.C., had finished Ringing the Changes in a Daring Game of Bluff Played with the Loaded Dice of Death!

“The Sinister Sentinel” by Arch Whitehouse

Link - Posted by David on September 2, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another gripping tale from the prolific pen of Arch Whitehouse! Whitehouse had numerous series characters in the various air pulps—none ran longer than Buzz Benson! Billy “Buzz” Benson’s exploits started in the February 1930 issue of Sky Birds and appeared in every subsequent issue until it folded. Not to be twarted, Whitehouse moved Buzz over to Flying Aces where his exploits rotated with his many other characters in that title. For the uninitiated, Buzz Benson was a flying reporter for the Los Angeles Mercury newspaper, but his real job was far more dangerous. He is a secret agent and pilot extraordinaire for the U.S. military.

A young model builder stumbled on an idea the U.S. Government had been seeking for years. An Air Service official was murdered. A giant Curtiss Condor crashed to its doom on the desolate sand dunes of Chesapeake Bay. Those three things happened far apart—yet they led Buzz Benson into the mystery of the sinister sentinel known as Devils Trap Light!

“Skyway Robbery” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on August 26, 2022 @ 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!

The Boonetown miracle man, Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham, and his unwitting hut mate Bump Gillis find themselves down behind Boche lines only to run into a fellow Boonetownian, but one who’s fighting for the Germans!

You can’t blame a fellow for wanting to make his mark. But over on the Heinie side of the Big-Fuss fence, marks were scarce. Yes, and when Phineas staged that “Bank Night of Germany” and hit the jack plot—they were even scarcer!

“Sky Writers, February 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on August 24, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

FREQUENT visitors to this site know that we’ve been featuring Terry Gilkison’s Famous Sky Fighters feature from the pages of Sky Fighters. Gilkison had a number of these features in various pulp magazines—Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Starting in the February 1936 issue of Lone Eagle, Gilkison started the war-air quiz feature Sky Writers. Each month there would be four questions based on the Aces and events of The Great War. If you’ve been following his Famous Sky Fighters, these questions should be a snap!

Here’s the quiz from the February 1937 issue of Lone Eagle.

If you get stumped or just want to check your answers, click here!

The Original Sixgun Buzzard by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on August 15, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

SOMETHING a little different this week. Instead of the story behind a cover, we have the original version of one of Frederick Blakeslee’s interior illustrations. Blakeslee’s cover paintings seem to show up frequently on the various auction house sites, but this may be the only interior illustration of his we’ve ever come across on those sites.

The image in question is the one Mr. Blakeslee did for “The Sixgun Buzzard,” the Smoke Wade story from the April 1933 issue of Battle Birds (as well as the lead story in our third volume of The Adventures of Smoke Wade)

As you can see, the printed version has a lot of plate edges on it outlining areas in an unseemly manor. Although the original is much cleaner in this regard, it has unfortunately suffered some damage at some point.


The Sixgun Buzzard by Frederick Blakeslee, Conte crayon, ink, and pen on paper.
16″ x 10½”

“The Action Hunter” by Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by David on August 12, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have an early story from the prolific pen of Mr. Robert J. Hogan—the author of The Red Falcon and Smoke Wade as well as G-8 and his Battle Aces! Herre, Hogan gives us the story of young Dexter, pilot of a D.H. bomber who knows his own pride is getting in the way of accepting some much needed advice from his more experienced observer/bomber. He knew Death was reaching for him and he fought frantically to control himself. from the September 1931 issue of War Aces it’s Robert J. Hogan’s “The Action Hunter!”

To the deadliest of slaughter missions lumbered that rookie bomber, and only in the ashen face of The Reaper did that kiwi see the stuff of which men are made.

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