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History


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.

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.”

Remembering Robert J. Hogan

Link - Posted by David on August 5, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

MIAMI HERALD columnist Bob Swift wrote a final piece about Robert J. Hogan, G-8 and the pulps twenty seven years after Hogan’s death. From his column for the 28 July 1990 edition of The Miami Herald:

A chance meeting with a great wartime writer

by BOB SWIFT | The Miami Herald, Miami, Florida • 28 July 1990

“Someday, as is almost the case now, the art of the Beatles will seem quaint . . . And as the music of the Beatles will be tomorrow; the Pulps are today.”— Tony Goodstone, author of THE PULPS.

FOR millions of kids who hit the acne stage between the early 1930s and the late 1940s, their choice of reading material was clearer than their complexions. They read pulp magazines, often by flashlight under the covers if Mom was so unenlightened as to call them trash.

Kids devoured comic books, too, but they just weren’t on a literary level with the pulps, which came in all types: detective, science-fiction, westerns, etc. One of the most popular types was the air-adventure, of which there were scores. Of those, the one that really made a kid’s eyeballs pop was G-8 and His Battle Aces, which packed a bigger kick than a surreptitious puff on a Domino cigarette.

I ran across G-8 not long before the magazine (and all the pulps) died but liked it so well I haunted second-hand stores to buy up back issues. Having been a childhood fan, I was agog when I actually met G-8’s creator, Robert J. Hogan. That was 1962, he was living in Coral Gables and he called me about something I had written. I began to visit him and we talked for hours.

A World War I flier, nearly penniless in the Great Depression, he read a pulp magazine, snorted “Hell, I can write better than that,” and did so, selling his first story for $65. When novel-length pulps (Doc Savage and the Shadow) became popular, Hogan created G-8, air hero.

There followed at least 100 novels in which G-8 battled monsters with tentacles, men with beast brains, mad scientists, flying bombs and magnetic rays. Even the titles had a certain zing: The Death Monsters, Wings of Invisible Doom, Skies of Yellow Death, Flight From the Grave and (don’t you love it’) Vultures of the Purple Death.

German villains, such as Herr Doktor Krueger, plagued G-8. But Hogan, an equal opportunity employer, also invented the evil Dr. Chu Lung; the black King Jolito, who turned dead German pilots into zombies; and even an army of Vikings, frozen in a glacier but revived as horrid German shock troops.

The prose was colorful:

“There was a sword covered with blood. Gripping it tightly was a ponderous human arm. The flesh was seared like a half-broiled steak. It was severed at the shoulder as though it had been torn off.”

Whew. Heady stuff for a 12-year-old. If my mother had only I known.

In another novel, mad scientists boiled bodies in cauldrons and sent their zombie-like skeletons marching against the Allies.

“My editor became nauseated,” Hogan told me with some relish.

Air combat was frequent:

“G-8 was sure his bullets had spattered into the lead pilot’s body. Tac-tac-tac! Spandau bullets snapped past his head.”

Hogan wasted little time on research. He named characters “Monsieur Chapeau” and “Herr Schmaltz,” injected a few ach du liebers and went merrily on with the plots, which sometimes involved a female spy, R-1. She was the love interest, although a typical G-8 story was tailored to the tastes of a 12-year-old, with the result that any cuddling between G-8 and R-1 was roughly akin to that between Roy Rogers and Trigger.

In his prime, Hogan turned out 200,000 words a month, dictating to two secretaries at once. At one incredible time, he was doing G-8, a mystery series called The Secret Six, and a Fu Manchu clone called Wu Fang. Each called for a 60,000 word novel a month, plus enough short stories to fill the back pages. He ran G-8’s fan club, too (”Hello, gang, this is G-8 speaking.”). The Readers’ Digest called him one of the world’s most prolific writers.

G-8 finally died in 1944, victim of wartime costs and a more-sophisticated audience. At a time of B-29s, V2 rockets and radar, the demand for World War I adventure (Spads? The Kaiser? How quaint!) disappeared. Soon, a nation turned to TV. Hogan turned to westerns (one became a film) and juveniles, but always hoped that G-8 would be reborn in some form. The G-8 novels were finally reprinted in the mid-1960s, in paperback, but Hogan didn’t live to see them. I wrote his obituary in 1963. He was 66.

I have a few copies of those paperback G-8 reprints. The pages, not much better than the rough pulp of the original magazines, are brown and flaking. But they still bear the purple prose that awed a 12-year-old on a long-gone summer’s day:

“A fiend had turned his pals into a Squadron of Living Death. A low, vibrant chuckle left the lips of G-8. The master spy shot his fist up in a signal to the Battle Aces. Fokkers thundered from the sky. Tac-tac-tac! Machine guns clattered a hymn of hate. Tac-tac-tac! Tac-tac-tac!”

The Passing of a Pulp Legend

Link - Posted by David on August 3, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

ROBERT J. HOGAN passed away just over a year after the big Miami Herald Sunday Magazine feature in December 1963. The Miami Herald used an edited down version of the feature for Hogan’s obituary.

Creator of “G-8″ Dies Here at 66

The Miami Herald, Miami, Florida • 18 December 1963

Robert J. Hogan, of 829 Granada Grove Ct., Coral Gables, one of the most prolific pulp writers of his day, died Tuesday at the age of 66.

His was the pen that fostered the pulp magazine adventures of “G-8 and His Battle Aces” in the 1930s and ’40s. G-8, the master spy, makeup artist, crack shot and ace pilot, was the hero of the American boy of the depression years.

Mr. Hogan wrote the adventures of G-8 for 11 years, from 1933 to 1944, In about 100 novels. He turned out 200,000 pulp fiction words a month.

A preacher’s son, Mr. Hogan grew up in Buskirk, N.Y. During World War I, he learned to fly as a member of the Air Corps. After the war he demonstrated private planes until the depression.

He started writing for an aviation pulp, Wings Magazine, then did a series called “The Red Falcon” and the “Smoke Wade”—stories which appeared in Daredevil Aces Magazine.

But the demand was for novel-length stories featuring the same character. Thus, Master Spy G-8 was created in 1933. G-8 was killed at the end of the series in 1944.

Mr. Hogan was later a writer for slick magazines and televisions, writing westerns and stories for young people. One of his westerns became a movie, “The Stand at Apache River,” and a juvenile novel, “Howl at the Moon,” was considered a classic boy-dog story.

Many of his books were translated into foreign languages. He had always hoped to re-issue G-8, perhaps as a television show.

Readers Digest called him one of the world’s most prolific writers.

For the past ten years Mr. Hogan has been living in Coral Gables, where he had spent the whiters for several years previously.

He was a member of the Coral Gables American Legion, the Rotary and Presbyterian
Church.

Surviving are his wife, Elizabeth L. of Coral Gables; a daughter, Mrs. Betty Van Houten, and four grandchildren in Allendale, N.J.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Philbrick Coral Gables Funeral Home.

G-8: Spy King of the Pulps by Bob Swift

Link - Posted by David on August 1, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

BACK in 2015 we posted a bunch of correspondence between Henry Steeger, Robert J. Hogan, and Bob Swift that Pulp Historian Don Hutchison handed us at PulpFest. The letters with Bob Swift concerned a feature article he was writing for the Miami Herald Sunday Magazine. Although Don had given us the letters, the package did not include the Miami Herald Sunday Magazine feature story. But thanks to Newspapers.com, we have finally got a copy of it to share with our readers.

Without further ado, here is Bob Swift’s feature:

G-8: Spy King of the Pulps

by BOB SWIFT | The Miami Herald, Miami, Florida • 8 July 1962

Remember before TV, when the lurid pulp magazine was the boy’s best friend? Remember Bob Hogan’s fabulous heroes, G-8 and His Battle Aces?


Debonair G-8, as drawn by John Fleming Gould, for the pulp magazine series that bugged the eyes of young readers for 11 years. G-8, created by Robert J. Hogan, was a master spy, makeup artist, ace pilot, a hero in the tradition of the dime novels.

ENTER the Depression era small town boy, bicycle-borne, legs pumping, frayed and faded school books bouncing in the bike basket, dime burning the clenched fist like a nugget of lye.

Past the candy store with its dubble-bubble. Past the movie with Hoot Gibson. Past the drug store and the root beer float. Here. The news stand. Padded clatter of Keds on the wooden floor. There. Row upon lurid row, garish and glorious, the pulp magazines of the 1930’s.

Were you a fan, back In those beautiful days when the pulp was king? It was before TV (what you did, you listened to I Love a Mystery, the Green Hornet and Jack Armstrong on the radios). And what you did, you read the pulps.

There was Doc Savage, the man of bronze; the Shadow, whose flaming automatics piled crooks like cordwood; Nick Carter, the master detective; the Spider, soaring on a silken web; Wild West Weekly and Western Story Magazine.

But what really made that school literature book a volume of tepid pap was a brassy book called G-8 and His Battle Aces, a seven by 10 inch pulp magazine whose contents palsied the hand, dried the mouth, popped the young eyeball and packed a bigger kick than a surreptitious Domino cigaret.

America’s Master Spy. who could pilot a Spad pursuit plane in circles around any World War I ace. Master of makeup, crack shot, superb physical specimen, noble and true, ruthless to the enemy. That was G-8 as created by Robert J. Hogan, one of the most prolific pulp writers of his day.

Robert J Hogan wasn’t just the communal pen name for some stable of writers who took turns writing some of the pulps of that era.

Hogan was—and is—Hogan. Today. Bob Hogan lives in Coral Gables, 829 Granada Grove Ct.

He fondly remembers his pulp hero.

“I love G-8.” says Hogan, a spare, balding man of 64. “G-8 was good to me, supported me for 11 years, built our summer home in New Jersey.”

Bob, a preacher’s son from Buskirk, NY, learned to fly in World War I, demonstrated private planes after that, found himself almost penniless when his company closed in the Depression’s early day. He happened to buy a pulp aviation magazine, snorted, “Hell. I can write better than that.” and did so. He sold his first story to Wings Magazine for $65, was off on a writing career.

“Does anyone remember a series called The Red Falcon?” wonders Hogan. “Or the Smoke Wade stories in Dare-Devil Aces magazine?”

But other pulp fiction publishers began turning to novel length stories featuring the same character each month . . . the Shadow, Doc Savage. Hogan’s chore: Dream up an air hero. Driving home from his publisher’s office one day in 1933. Hogan’s racing brain came up with G-8 and His Battle Aces.

There was G-8 himself, the Master Spy. There were his sidekicks, little Nippy Weston (”Hey, you dumb ox!”) and burly Bull Martin (”Holy herring!”) and Battle, their English butler.

That first novel was called The Bat Staffel, the latter being a German word meaning squadron. Then came the whole great series that ran from 1933 to 1944, a series of novels whose titles had a certain zing, such as: “Death Rides the Ceiling,” “Skies of Yellow Death,” “Patrol of the Mad,” “Scourge of the Steel Mask,” “Wings of the Juggernaut,” “Vultures Of the Purple Death,” “The Death Monsters,” “Wings of Invisible Doom,” or “The Staffel of Beasts.”

Imagination unlimited was the rule of the pulp magazines and G-8 fought monsters with tentacles, men with beast brains, flying zombies, marching skeletons, mad scientists, mysterious gas, flying bombs, monster tanks with spiked treads and flame throwers, armored dirigibles, magnetic rays.

Particular villains plagued G-8 for years. One was the horrifying Steel Mask. Another was the yellow peril, Dr. Chu Lung. But the adversary who gave G-8 the creeps the longest was the wretched evil genius, Herr Doktor Krueger:

“Emaciated beyond description . . . shrunken, half-paralyzed body . . . head huge at the top . . . ‘Ha, ha.’ cackled the little fiend doctor . . . a cackling, high-pitched laugh left the ugly mouth of Herr Doktor Krueger …”

And talk about television blood and mayhem! G-8 beat today’s fare by a gory mile. The Master Spy never got through an issue without shooting, stabbing or otherwise disposing of a dozen or so enemy pilots, soldiers, guards, spies, madmen or monsters.

How about this scene from “The Sword Staffel” of June, 1935:

“There was a sword covered with blood. It measured at least six feet in length . . . the handle was large and gripping it tightly was a ponderous, human arm. The flesh was seared like a half-broiled steak . . . it was severed at the shoulder as though it had been torn off.”

Whew! Heady stuff. And we loved it.

In one novel the mad scientists boiled bodies in cauldrons, sent zombie-like skeletons marching against the Allies.

“My editor became nauseated.” says Bob Hogan with some relish. “Had to leave his desk.”

There was “Wings of the Glacier Men,” wherein the Germans found a whole army of Vikings frozen in a glacier, brought them to life, used them as hideous soldiers.

Aerial combat played a big part in G-8’s adventures, too:

“G-8 was sure his bullets had spattered into the lead pilot’s body, but he was still flying. Instantly, G-8’s brain flashed to the time when Germany had sent over the gorilla men who could not be killed. Were these men wearing bullet proof armor, too? Tac-tac-tac! Spandeau bullets snapped past his head . . .”


Author Bob Hogan, who turned out 200,000 pulp fiction words a month in the late 1930’s, is still writing on the typewriter that pounded out the first G-8 story. Hogan and his wife live in Coral Gables in the winter. New Jersey in the summer. The books are all by Hogan, some in German translations. Painting is an illustration for one of his Worid War II flying stories.

Hogan wasted no time inventing complicated names for his foreign characters. He glibly tossed off handles like Monsieur Chapeau, Herr Schmaltz and Herr Butscher, injected a few ach du liebers and violas and went merrily on with the plot.

There was even a female spy with the lovely name of R-1. She was what you might call the love interest if you stretched a point, although romance in a G-8 novel was tailored to the tastes of the 14-year-old, with the result that any cuddling between G-8 and R-1 was roughly akin to that between Roy Rogers and Trigger.

No matter. When that G-8 novel was finished, the short stories digested and the G-8 Club news read (sometimes all this occurred by flashlight under the covers), it was time to begin the impatient waiting until next month’s issue.

Even the ads were wonderful. Johnson Smith & Co. offered courses in Ju Jitsu, Whoopee Cushions for a quarter. French Photo Rings and Boys. Boys, Learn to Throw Your Voice. Charles Atlas stared from the page and sneered. “You can have a body like mine.” You were entreated to buy yeast for those pesky pimples. And for the more mature reader, it is hoped, there was the ad for Crab Orchard Whisky, guaranteed a mellow 18 months old.

When G-8 was in his prime. Bob Hogan turned out 200,000 words a month, pacing his Sparta, N.J. home with the radio full blast, bouncing a rubber ball on the floor, dictating to two secretaries at once.

At one incredible time, Hogan was writing the G-8 series, a cops and robbers series called The Secret Six and a Chinese menace series called Wu Fang, each calling for a 60,000 word novel a month plus enough short stories to fill the back of each magazine. In addition, he ran the fan club (”Hello, gang, this is G-8 speaking.”).

A Readers Digest article called him one of the world’s most prolific writers.

Hogan’s orders were to turn out the copy. Don’t edit it, said his publisher, don’t rewrite it, don’t even read it. Just turn it out and mail it. And that’s just what Hogan did.

“I have yet to read a G-8 story,” he says with wry curiosity. “Wonder if they were any good?”

“G-8 was aimed at boys about 14 years old, but I had fans ail ages and all over the world. One was president of a street car company in Scotland. Another was a Bengal Lancer in India.’

Hogan still gets letters from old fans who wish their own kids could read G-8. But alas, that’s almost impossible. A mint copy which once sold for 10 cents might bring $50 today, if you could find one.

Hogan himself has a complete set of G-8 at his lodge in New Jersey, “The House That G-8 Built.” There, too, are Hogan’s mementos: airplane struts serving as curtain rods, engine parts for andirons, bomb casings for lamps.

G-8 appeared in about 1OO novels, finally died in World War II.

“Production costs killed the pulps.” sighs Hogan. “And, of course, in the day of the B-29 and radar, the demand for stories about Spads and the Kaiser sort of wore itself out.”

G-8 buried and mourned, Hogan turned to slick magazines, westerns, juveniles, TV. One of westerns became a movie, The Stand at Apache River. A juvenile novel, Howl at the Moon was considered a classic boy-dog story. Many of his books have been translated into foreign languages.

Hogan has slowed a bit lately. He and his wife Betty, winter in Coral Gables, summer in New Jersey. But the typewriter still clatters though the pace has relaxed. What Hogan would like to do now is re-issue G-8 in some form or other, for nostalgia fans maybe make G-8 a TV show.

We can hope so. In the meantime, go back in spirit to the hot summer day, the ceiling fan turning in the news stand, the rows of lurid covers, the swap of hand-heated coin for shiny book, the long walk home with open magazine, palpitating heart and great risk to life and limb.

Turn the pages slowly. Savor the deathless prose:

‘ . . . he knew a fiend had turned his pals into a Squadron of Living Death. He knew that the remedy lay in a will to fight and fight and fight . . . a low, vibrant chuckle left the lips of G-8 . . . the Master Spy shot his fist up in a signal to the Battle Aces . . . the Spad howled up in a steep climb . . . Fokkers thundered from the sky . . . tac-tac-tac! the machine guns clattered a hymn of hate . . . tac-tac-tac! tac-tac-tac!

Cowboys of the Air

Link - Posted by David on July 19, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

HERE’S and interesting article from the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle in 1918 theorizing about a new “Lasso” bomb that would “rope” an enemy when exploded near their plane. Sounds like the kind of thing that should come from the pages of Robert J. Hogan’s six-gun ace, Smoke Wade, but is actually from the father of Science-Fiction himself, Hugo Gernsback, and The Electrical Experimenter!

“Cowboys” of the Air

The San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California • 22 September 1918

How The New Lasso Shell Makes Possible the Rare and Exciting Sport of Roping Hostile Airplanes

“ARCHIES,” as anti-aircraft guns are called, throughout the war have been blazing away at Hun airplanes and scoring some remarkable hits. However, military experts are of the opinion that it is impossible to stop an aerial raid by means of anti-aircraft guns alone. Notwithstanding the fact that the armed aeroplane Itself is probably the most effective means of downing enemy planes, there is a long felt want of some other method of clearing the skies of raiders.

With this idea in mind Mr. H. Gernsbeck, editor of the Electrical Experimenter, has perfected a plan which he says, to a certain degree, will accomplish such a result. The principle of this writer’s device, which is illustrated and described in the Electrical Experimenter, centres upon the “chain-shot,” which was nothing else but chaining several cannon balls together and shooting them at the enemy with devastating results. As the erratic flight of such a device made it extremely inefficient, it was soon given up and came into disuse.

“In my device,” says Mr. Gernsbeck, “I propose the use of a ‘mother-shell’ containing two explosive bombs, as well as two ’liquid-fire’ bombs. Each one of these bombs has a smaller companion—a heavy lead ball, the purpose of which is explained later.

“All of the bombs and bails are normally housed in the metal mother-shell which need not be very heavy, as it does not contain any explosive charge itself. All the bombs are kept in their respective places by means of a casing composed of eight pieces of reasonably thin steel. These pieces are released from the mother-shell, and fly off as soon as the time mechanism located at the apex of the mother-shell permits this. This time mechanism works on the principle of the one used on shrapnel, the purpose of the present device being to keep the mother-shell intact till it comes within a few hundred feet of the aeroplane under attack. This, of course, makes for great accuracy, as the mother-shell can be accurately timed, and being a self-contained shell like any other, its flight will naturally be true.

“The mother-shell In addition is ‘rifled,’ exactly like other big shells. A rifled shell while still in the cannon is made to turn on its axis by following a corkscrew path cut Into the inner walls of the cannon. This Imparts a spinning action to the shell which it maintains during its entire flight. So while the shell flies over its course with its nose pointed at its target, it also spins like a top. This spinning action, it has been found, keeps the shell better on its course than if it did not spin.

“In the case of the rifled mother-shell, another distinct advantage is had. Aside from keeping the shell on a true course as soon as the time mechanism acts, the pieces of the casing are thrown violently outward by centrifugal action. The same is the case of the four bombs which art hurled outwardly as shown in the illustration. Each set of bombs and balls are attached to a central steel ring by meant of a thin, but tremendously strong steel piano wire. Each wire may be from two hundred to three hundred feet long as desired. But as the mother-shell and the various bombs still have their rotary (spinning) motion, it follows that the entire device will continue to revolve not unlike a miniature planetary system. The four piano wires will be straight and taut, and as they cut the air at a great rate of speed, they will probably ’sing’ with a weird as well as a shrill note.

“We now have an aerial lasso covering a circular space of from four hundred to six hundred feet, all depending upon the length of the piano wires.

“Woe to the enemy aeroplane flying into it, or which is overtaken by it! There can be no escape. If either of the two contact-exploding bombs touch the aeroplane, it will be wrecked by the terrific ensuing explosion. If either of the contact-flame bombs touch, liquid fire kill be sprayed over wings or fuselage, setting the plane on fire.

“But let us suppose that neither type of bomb were effective, or touched only non-vltal parts of the enemy plane. Here it is where the lead balls take up their deadly work. Suppose all the four bombs bad been exploded. If it were not for the four lead balls, the four piano wires would simply go limp and the fight would be over. But having these lead balls spaced about ten feet from the explosive bombs, they will not be affected at all after the former have been set off.

“The planetary system, broadly speaking, still remains intact, although now we have only four ‘moons’ left. But suppose only one of them manages to get entangled in the trusswork of the enemy plane. Immediately the flight of the entire system is stopped abruptly and the three other balls come whining around, snarling up the entire plane and breaking the wings, fuselage or tail as they come crashing down at a terrific speed.

“You have read of the terrible Mexican lasso, the Bolas, which is a lasso with lead balls. It works on the same principle as the aerial lasso, only the latter having lead balls weighing several pounds apiece, will cause correspondingly greater havoc, especially on a comparatively fragile aeroplane.

“Perhaps you have read accounts of aerial fliers and their dread to intercept the course of even the smallest bird. It is a well known fact that an aeroplane propeller revolving at its great speed, will be instantly shattered if a bird as small as a sparrow flies into it. Therefore it may be imagined what a large load ball, or a powerful piano wire will do to a propeller should either come in contact with it.”

And look for Smoke Wade to return real soon in a new volume of rip-snortin’ air adventures!

The Magic Puppet World Revisited

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

BACK in 2015 during our first Mosquito Month, we ran a series of articles from The Pocono Record that covered Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World. In 2019 we ran an additional article from the nearby Allentown Morning Call. But what celebration of the Three Mosquitoes and their creator and chronicler Ralph Oppenheim could go by without a mention of Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World? Especially since we just came upon an artifact from the time!

Yes, just recently we stumbled upon one of the hand-made pennants that they used to sell at the gift shop at Oppenheim’s!

It’s a small orange felt pennant measuring 3¾” x 8¼” with heavy dark blue yarn ties. Emblazoned upon it are the words “Magic Puppet World” and a joyous printed figure with a wooden ball head and red body with arms up and legs spread.


While the hair is painted with a fine brush; Mrs. Oppenheim paints the eyes, nose and mouth with a cellophane cone filled with lacquer.

So in celebration of finding the pennant, we’re presenting another article from The Pocono Record we passed over due to it’s poor picture—but it does have lots of good information.

Oppenheim puppets tireless performers for visitors

The Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa • 20 July 1968

SCIOTA — In Sciota, right off old Route 209 there Is a continuous show going on and—a lot of show for the money!

Its performers are the puppeteerless puppets of Oppenheim’s magic puppet world who, If animated, would be a highly unionized group of theatricals with large overtime paychecks and gleeful over their immunity from artistic exploitation.

Alas, however, they are inanimate and by fate, doomed to dance their little logs off until their repertoire is exhausted and the last Pocono vacationer who has heard of them in the course of a day, leaves the theatre.

Their creator is Ralph Oppenheim who, having dreamed them up in the first place and having possessed unwavering convictions for their artistic immortality, remains their impressario.

Their choreography is attributed to Shirley Oppenheim, and their current manager (no pun intended) is the local light company—another way of saying that a highly artistically endowed man and wife team, in an old converted barn in Sciota, are the owners of automation-controlled puppetry, nationally recognized as a completely new medium of entertainment.

Ingenious Creativity

The experience of those who will be visiting this unusual Pocono attraction will doubtless provoke admiration for the ingenious creativity, singularly Oppenheim, which lies behind the magic puppet show. Audiences will probably be divided.

There will be those who will approach the show on a purely emotional level and get a royal bang out of the rescue of Juliet by two rival Romeos; or the vagaries of the mind in “The Dollmaker’s Dream”; or the little clown being shot from a cannon in “The Cannonball Clowns”; or the ballerina dancing down a stairway before her solo in “The Doll Ballet.”

Other Segment

The other segment of the audience will be those of strong engineering and mechanical leanings who will try to figure out “what makes the wheels go around”, and probe the intricacies of the cams, cogs, and cajoles of the moving parts, all Einsteinian manifestation of the Oppenheim mind.

Many prefer the emotional approach to entertainment, not impervious, however, to appreciating the daily vicisitudes of the Oppenheims who have to concern themselves with the delicate “taut” of the finest silk thread, the humidity level and its influence on equipment, etc., to assure that the clown in “Cannonball Clowns” really does get booted out of the cannon before the thread holding him up doesn’t throw a fit in the form of a French knot.

There is an element of promotion in Oppenheim’s advertising slogan “15 years in the making”, but that’s not the whole slury. It excludes the “ups and downs” the couple have known which is ail part of the slow evolution of their art from consumated, as its stands today. Their story is a success story, but predicted on trial and error.

A New Yorker, Oppenheim first invented a textile machine for weaving with “raffia,” a coarse grass, which hitherto was considered uneavable.

He made purses, baskets, hand crafts, etc., which found a market outlet in Philadelphia. Automating puppetry, however, was always a childhood fantasy, and he began devoting eight years after weaving with raffia, to developing his first puppet piece, a figure ten inches high, mounted on a pedestal, and producing a large shadow. A department store got interested.

The mechanism’s cams, drums’ and levers, pull strings however, through constant interplay wore out, and he lost it.

His “Miss Muffet” puppet was born in 195B and he toted it around, caressingly to attract interested ones in the exhibit fields, and in trade shows. This attracted Westinghouse, and also Bell Telephone at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. He also had productions at the New York World’s Fair.

Country Living

The couple finally expatriated New York City in quest for country living and through the process of elimination, finally chose the Paconos.

As one might have guessed, Shirley Oppenheim, with a former career in art and ballet, pools her talent with her gifted husband, in their old barn, the old Art Ruppert barn in whose cornerstone is chiseled the dale 1858, they happily live their life of artistic activity, and in the dead of winter, winterize themselves in the barn’s lower level and make arts and crafts for their gift shop.

Every item in the shop is their own creation. They have, two devoted dogs, and that is their family.

Their Magic Puppet World opens in May and closes October 20. It Is a world where science and artistry combine to bring new magic to puppetry, enjoyed by all through a modest admission charge.

 

Ralph Oppenheim—Eyewitness to History

Link - Posted by David on March 8, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN the first issue of War Birds hit the stands in February 1928, it not only contained an exciting tale of Ralph Oppenheim’s inseparable trio The Three Mosquitoes, but it also had a rare factual piece by Mr. Oppenheim. Ralph and his younger brother Garrett had taken a trip to Europe the previous year and just happened to be there at the right time to be able to get to Paris and be there at Le Bourget Field on the 21st of May when Charles Lindbergh successfully ended his trans-Atlantic flight!

The editor of WAR BIRDS considers it an outstanding honor to be able to give you this little sketch. Mr. Oppenheim, besides being the most brilliant flying story writer in America, had the priceless privilege of being an eyewitness of one of the most historic moments of modern times—when the great Lindbergh landed the “Spirit of St. Louis” on Le Bourget Field that memorable night in Paris.


Lindbergh uses the lights of Paris to guide him around the Eiffel Tower to Le Bourget Field. (image © lookandlearn.com)

Author’s Note—The following is taken, for the most part, from notes written at Le Bourget Field before and after Lindbergh’s arrival. We (“we” in this case meaning my brother and myself) had come early in the afternoon and had thus secured a wonderful position, on the flat roof of a cafe which was right at the edge of the big field. After a long windy, raining afternoon, during which the crowd grew to a size of about 100,000, the hour when the American should arrive began to draw closer.

 

 

When “Lindy” Dropped on Paris

MAY 21st, 1927. 9 to 9:20 P.M. What a mob of people! The roof here is packed behind us, and we are being pushed so hard against our concrete wall (which comes up to our necks) what we’re afraid that either the wall will give or we’ll be crushed into a “shapeless mass.” At our right, in the corner, are three newsreel men, getting movie cameras set. Somewhere in back a Frog newsboy is croaking shrilly: “L’Americain Volant! L’Americain Volant!” A former senator from Missouri says that means that Lindbergh is now over the English Channel. . . . Down below, along the edge of the field, is the real mob—the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen. They are kept from the field itself by a big, strong iron fence. Out on the field, in front of this fence, about two hundred gendarmes are forming a long string to check the crowd if it should attempt to get over that fence. There are no more planes landing or taking off on the field now. The big air-liners which have been coming and going regularly all afternoon, discharging slightly dismal looking passengers and taking on happy, eager ones, are no longer to be seen. They have cleared the field. They have floodlights to illuminate the ground, but they only turn them on every now and then. Economical, these French. Also there are parachute flares. These are shot up like sky-rockets, and the blazing phosphorous comes floating down on a little parachute. Only trouble is these frogs have rotten aim. Some of those damn flares are falling right into the crowd. Each time it happens there’s an excited, panicky shriek. And the idea that one of those flares might fall on our roof is enough to keep us in good suspense. But we don’t need anything to keep us in suspense now. As the moment when the brave American should arrive draws closer and closer, the excitement rises to the highest pitch. Everybody is yelling, shouting, and it seems that everybody has suddenly become a great authority on the subject of aviation. Gosh, these French certainly know how to get excited! There goes that newsboy again: “L’Americain Volant! L’Americain Volant!” And a school-ma’m from Iowa says that means the poor boy’s been lost at sea.

9:20 to 9:30—They are cheering! It seems they hear a plane overhead. We listen. Does sound like a drone up there. More flares—and more suspense. They have the floodlights on again. The cheers are increasing. The gendarmes on the field look worried as the iron fence begins to shake ominously under the pressure of the surging mob behind it.

9:30 to 10:15—Look! Look! Voila! Nom de nom! Everyone is screaming at the top of his or her lungs. We can all hear the drone now. Off to the left it is. We stare in an effort to pierce through the murk. Nothing yet, nothing yet. Then—

The earth shakes with a mighty reverberating cheer. In the darkness up there appears a floating, whitish shape. It is coming down, gliding for the field! It is Lindbergh! God Almighty!

Now we can clearly distinguish the graceful silver monoplane. The crowd is going crazy. The plane is landing. The great pilot, cool and collected, carefully keeps away from all signs of the crowd. He brings his ship down way across the field, just opposite our roof. It is a wonderful and an astonishingly quick landing—the best we’ve seen on this field. And there was something incongruous about the way that plane, having just come way from New York, simply dropped out of the sky and landed.

Before the Spirit of St. Louis rolls to a stop hell breaks loose at Le Bourget. With a mighty shove, the people surge right through that iron fence like a tremendous tidal wave. The gendarmes? Drowned, swallowed in that flood. It is a sight indeed, that mob rushing out towards the plane. It makes you feel insignificant to see all those people. All over flashlights are popping, cameras clicking, and men and women shouting like mad. The cameramen tackle the mob like football players in their efforts to get to the plane. The people on our roof are—well, they’re raising the roof. Some Frog is using my back as a step-ladder, and another is trying to make a foot-stool out of my neck. Tables collapse as people try to stand on them to get a look. One or two crazy fools actually jump off the roof, onto the shed below. A fifteen foot drop! The plane out there is surrounded now. And it seems almost that the mob is lifting that big monoplane on its shoulders and carrying it around. They’re bringing the great Lindbergh in. Cheers! “Vive l’Americain! Vive Londberje (as the Frogs pronounced it)!” Where is he? We think we catch a glimpse of him in the midst of a little circle, around which the crowd is thickest. How they bring him in is a mystery, but they get him to the building right next to ours, and hold the crowd out. The crowd storms outside, yelling in a mighty chorus: “Let us see! Let us see!” From our roof we can see the lighted, curtained window of the room where they have him. We see lots of people in there, and often we think we get glimpses of the American—but we will never know if we really did, though we saw him twice on future occasions (both in Paris and on the day of his arrival in New York).

Now the French windows are opened over in that building, and a man steps out on the balcony. It is the American ambassador. He makes a speech, which nobody hears. But nobody has to hear, because all realize that an epoch-making event has just occurred, and that Charles A. Lindbergh, later to be known as “Plucky Lindy” and “The Lone Eagle” and “Slim,” has succeeded in making the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris.

For a sense of the scene at the time you can check out some newsreels from the whole journey—AP (British Pathé)—or just the day—British Pathé and Periscope Film. And the USA Today actually has a decent article with some good photos from the 90th anniversary of the historic flight.

Leaving the Scrapbooks Behind

Link - Posted by David on December 31, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’ve been delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil who, like many at the time, had a keen interest in all things aviation. The scrapbooks contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What he assembled was a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI and the time.

The back covers of the two scrapbooks.

Robert’s father was in and out of VA Hospitals during the time Robert was assembling the scrapbooks, 1929-1932. By 1940, his parents had divorced with his father trying to strike it rich as a prospector in Searchlight, Kansas. He passed in 1947 at the age of 70.

Ancestry.com points to Robert getting involved in the movie industry after the war. His obituary has him starting in the movie industry in some capacity as early as 1943. Somehow he found his way on to the big screen where IMDB lists mainly uncredited parts in fifteen movies from 1947 to 1951. Some with big stars like Ronald Reagan, Doris Day, Donald O’Connor, Lauren Bacall and Burt Lancaster!

Who will ever forget his turn as a heckler in Donald O’Connor’s “Are You Worth It?” (1947); or the informer in “Johnny Stool Pigeon” (1949); or the Irishman in the Ronald Reagan – Virginia Mayo Warner Bros’ big laugh-holiday “The Girl from Jones Beach”(1949).

He played a bum in 1950’s “Young Man with a Horn” staring Burt Lancaster, Lauren Bacall and Doris Day; a cropper in the Civil War Technicolor extravaganza “Tap Roots” staring Van Heflin, Susan Hayward and Boris Karloff (1948); and “townsmen” in the Donald O’Connor vehicle “Feudin’, Fussin’ and A-Fightin’” (1948), Bill Elliot’s trucolor western “Hellfire” (1949), and the Ginger Rogers – Ronald Reagan KKK classic “Storm Warning” (1951).

A number of his movies can be found on YouTube, like the “The Baron of Arizona” where Vincent Price plays James Reavis, a master swindler who painstakingly spends years forging documents and land grants that will make his wife and him undisputed owners of the entire state of Arizona. Robert has one of his showier parts with a name and lines as Brother Paul.


Robert, pictured center, appeared as Brother Paul in The Baron of Arizona (1950).

FILMOGRAPHY

date title role
1947 The Crimson Key Gunman Driver (uncredited)
1948 Are You With It? Heckler (uncredited)
1948 Feudin’, Fussin’ and A-Fightin’ Townsman (uncredited)
1948 Tap Roots Cropper (uncredited)
1949 Johnny Stool Pigeon Informer (uncredited)
1949 Hellfire Townsman (uncredited)
1949 The Girl from Jones Beach Irishman (uncredited)
1949 Roseanna McCoy A Hatfield (uncredited)
1950 Young Man with a Horn Bum (uncredited)
1950 The Fargo Phantom (short) Agent
1950 The Kid from Texas Townsman (uncredited)
1950 The Baron of Arizona Brother Paul (uncredited)
1951 Storm Warning Townsman (uncredited)
1951 Drums in the Deep South Soldier (uncredited)
1951 The Raging Tide Spade-Face (uncredited)

 

Sadly, Robert passed away when he was only 40 years old in 1951.


From The Los Angeles Times October 12th, 1951.

But what of the Scrapbooks? They were probably kept by his mother until her death in 1972 where they may have passed into his sister’s possession up in Multnomah, Oregon until she passed away in 1994 since the scrapbooks were sold by a rare book dealer out of Portland, Oregon.

 

From the Scrapbooks: Letter Postcards

Link - Posted by David on December 29, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. But amongst all the planes and air race flyers and info on Aces are some surprising items.

Turning the page, we find two acknowledgments that had been sent out for having written a letter in to the pulps!

The first, from Battle Aces, is an actual postcard mailed on March 28th 1931 at 7:30pm from the Grand Central Annex branch of the post office. It pictures Sarge and a happy plane dancing about and reads:

“SAY, YOU! Thanks for the swell letter! Yours for happy landing,
—Editor Battle Aces”

but upon it, Sarge has written Robert a handwritten note that reads:

“Never mind that ride with my blonde Jane, Bob.
She goes sky bugging with yours truly only!
Gene”

The second is from War Birds magazine. Unlike the Battle Aces card, this is not a postcard, just a slip of paper and was most likely sent in an envelope. It pictures that “same hard boiled, son-o’a gun, Sarge” reading letters while being flown about and says simply: “Thanks for your Letter!”

Yes, it’s the same Sarge, well…. Depending when the card was sent. Eugene A. Clancy was the editor of War Birds magazine from 1928 to whenever he left in 1930 to take over duties at Battle Aces. The letters column over there was full of all the same things—except the Prince of Zanzibar and a big Swede are his cohorts in his escapades. Aside from that, he’s still going down to Mike’s Place and the Blonde Jane is still helping out. His replacement carried on as Sarge, but it’s obvious it’s not the same Sarge.

 

From the Scrapbooks: Cover Cut-Outs

Link - Posted by David on December 27, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. But amongst all the planes and air race flyers and info on Aces are some surprising items. Robert was also fond of including cut-outs from covers of all kinds of aviation themed magazines.

Here are a few along with the full covers Robert excised them from:


AIR TRAILS
August 1931


POPULAR AVIATION
September 1931


MODEL AIRPLANE NEWS
OCTOBER 1931


SKY BIRDS
August 1931


SKY BIRDS
MARCH 1932


SKY BIRDS
APRIL 1932


NATIONAL GLIDER
and AIRPLANE NEWS

July 1931


BATTLE STORIES
August 1931


FLYING ACES
August 1931


BATTLE STORIES
May 1931


ACES
August 1931

 

From the Scrapbooks: A Seasonal Mystery

Link - Posted by David on December 24, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. But amongst all the planes and air race flyers and info on Aces are some surprising items.

Turning the page, we find a Happy New Years greeting from George Bruce scrapbooked in. . .

Measuring 5″ x 5¾”, it’s a cartoon by Jonny Pike of two soldiers from opposing countries ambling down the street, arm-in-arm, with several bottles.

The first couple times I looked through the scrapbooks, I thought this was just some festive image taken from a page in a pulp magazine, probably from one of the many George Bruce magazines that seemed to proliferate in the early ’30’s. It wasn’t until I was going through the scrapbooks and scanning things for these posts that I realized I was totally mistaken. It wasn’t a page from a pulp, it couldn’t have been—the image is printed on card stock.

Unfortunately, the card stock is too heavy to shine a light through to pick up what’s on the other side—if there is anything on the other side. There is a bit of creasing and ware down the two sides—a little more on the left than right if that means anything.

And to compound the mystery, Robert has written on the top corner of the page, “xmas – 32 Sky Fighters” as if to say that this came with Sky Fighters magazine. I combed through the issues of Sky Fighters from around that time and saw no mention of it in any of the issues.

Bruce could have sent these out on his own to those who had written in or were involved in the “Win Your Wings” contest that had just ended—Robert had both written in and placed in the second month of the contest. Who knows. Hopefully someone does. If you know, please, by all means, leave a comment below.

From the Scrapbooks: A Letter from Sarge!

Link - Posted by David on December 22, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. But amongst all the planes and air race flyers and info on Aces are some surprising items.

Turning the page, we find another letter removed from its envelope and scrapbooked in. . .

Opening it, we find a letter from “Sarge” on the official Popular Publications letterhead. Sarge was the assumed character and nom de plum of Eugene A. Clancy that he used for answering letters sent into Battle Aces magazine’s letters column, The Hot Airdrome.

SARGE AND THE HOT AIRDROME

SARGE was a grizzled old war bird often found downing Iotas at Mike’s Place with his distinguished friend Colonel Houseboat, one of the most important unofficial diplomats of two continents when not in the “hanger” answering the reader’s questions and spinning tall tales of his misadventures. Those misadventures start to take on a life of their own from month to month and often involve the likes of Clarence Hip Lee, the well-known Chinese diplomat and representative of the great Chinese general One Lung Gut, Abdul Benny Smid, the former ex-sultan of Morocco, Issac O’Connor, the Swedish ace, and sometimes the authors of the stories from the magazine!

Battle Aces’ letters column, The Hot Airdrome, was the meeting place for The Iota Club. It was a club that was easy to join—one need only need to send in the coupon at the end of the letters column that asked you to list which stories you’d like to see more of as well as your name and address. Sarge had a secretary he often referred to as a “Blonde Jane” who assisted him in sorting through the coupons and pasting them down in the Iota Club Book. She was of Norwegian decent and was not of fan of Sarge’s terse language or his ham-handed advances.

From the outset, the Iota Club seem to be on it’s way to becoming a real card carrying club like other pulp clubs. Sarge would reference that he’d give the readers full particulars about the new Iota Club in the next issue (October 1930) or that he was working on getting cards—they “weren’t quite ready yet” in January 1931, but would be sent out when they were. But these teases were never followed up on and the Iota Club remained a place where—as they state at the start of the column—”the readers of BATTLE ACES gather every month to tell each other and the editor to go to hell—on wings.”

Sarge’s load of tall tales and abuse were doubled up when Popular Publications started up Dare-Devil Aces in February of 1932. Dare-Devil Aces’ letters page, The Hot Air Club, was more of the same with Sarge dishing up over there as well as he did at the Hot Airdrome. Eventhough Battle Aces folded with the December 1932 issue (to be reborn ten months later as G-8 and his Battle Aces) Sarge wasn’t idle, as The Bull Flight Club took off that month in Battle Birds.

Like all good things, The Bull Flight Club closed its hanger doors when Battle Birds ended in June 1934 and Nosedive Ginsberg took over the bull sessions over at the Hot Air Club in April 1936.

EUGENE A. CLANCY

EUGENE A. CLANCY, born in 1882, was a New York City native and graduate of St. Francis Xavier College. He started getting his stories published in 1910 in publications like Harper’s Magazine, Short Stories, Munsey’s Magazine, Lippincott’s Magazine, Snappy Stories, The Parisienne Monthly, Top-Notch, People’s Story Magazine, and Complete Story Magazine to name but a few. It’s estimated he wrote some 1500 stories over his career.

By 1926 he started editing various aviation and war magazines for Dell—War Stories, War Novels, War Birds, and Navy Stories, before Henry Steeger brought him along when he left to start Popular Publications where he put him in charge of Battle Aces right from the get go with the October 1930 issue. From there his editing duties increased with the addition of Dare-Devil Aces in February 1932 and later Battle Birds in December 1932.

During the Second World War he served as executive secretary of the Quincy Council of Social Agencies in Massachusetts. After the war he held the position of South Side correspondent for the Boston Herald-Traveler until he passed away on March 29th, 1952 at the age of 69.

A LETTER FROM SARGE

EUGENE CLANCY replies to Robert’s request to get a copy of the June 1931 issue of Battle Aces and possibly pictures of war planes in combat. Dated July 23rd, 1931:

Dear Robert:

    This is to acknowledge receipt of forty cents in stamps for the June issue of BATTLE ACES, which was sent out under separate cover by first class mail and you should have received it by this time.

    The best way for you to get framed pictures of war planes in combat would be to write to the Signal Corps in Washington for the pictures and then have them framed. The Signal Corps has a fairly complete list of photographs which they will send upon request and you can have them framed at any art dealer’s for about seventy five cents a piece.

    Now lissen’ Bozo—no wise cracks about the blond jane. You lay off or I’ll fly over your drome and drop a load of TNT on your neck.

    Hope you get as much kick out of reading the magazine as we do out of putting it together.

                              Yours for happy landings,

                              THE SARGE


Clancy signed the letter simply as “Gene.”

   

From the Scrapbooks: The Sky Riders Club

Link - Posted by David on December 20, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. But amongst all the planes and air race flyers and info on Aces are some surprising items.

Turning the page, we find one of the Birdmen Club cards paired with the Sky Riders Club Card!

The Sky Riders magazine started in November 1928. A year later, in the November 1929 issue there was a brief mention in the magazine’s letters column, The Bung Bung, that they would be announcing details of a club in the subsequent issue. And sure enough, avid Sky Riders readers who had been pestering the editors for a club were granted their wish.

As the chief laid out the Sky Riders Club guidelines in the December 1929 issue:

First off, the name will be THE SKY RIDERS CLUB, and it will be open to all readers of the mag. But just being a reader of the mag is no free ticket for joining this new bunch of cloud-busters, not on your dizzy life.

The club will be divided into three squadrons. Squadron 1 includes those who have actually piloted a plane, and by piloting a plane, I don’t mean no dare-devil stunt like pushing the joystick around inside the hangar. To get into Squadron 1, the requirements are that you send in one coupon and a letter stating (a) why you are interested in aviation, and (b) one constructive idea that you have for the promotion of aviation.

Squadron 2 includes those who have been up in a plane, regardless of whether they have handled the joystick themselves or not. These members will be required to send in the coupon from two successive issues of the mag, together with the letter as explained above.

And Squadron 3 will include those modocs who have never been up in a plane, but are just feverish with the aerial itch. Membership in Squadron 3 will be given to these who send in the coupon from three successive issues of the mag and also the letter as outlined for members of Squadron 1.

If you are accepted into the club, you will receive a membership certificate, and the right to wear the silver wings of the outfit. The silver wings can be had by sending in fifty cents, but this is not a commercial organization and will make no money. As a matter of fact, there will be various contests in the future with prizes awarded to the winners. But I’m going to wait until the next issue before I get all steamed up and fiery about what this nose-diving club is going to do.

>

It was announced in the March 1930 issue that the silver wings were just being made and would be sent to people starting the next month.

Robert was listed with the new members in the June 1930 issue.
(That’s the coupon at the bottom of the page.)

By the September 1930 issue, The Sky Riders Club had been combined with those members of the short lived Flying Corp Cadets which had been formed by readers of the first and sadly only issue of Clayton Magazine’s Sky High Library published in February 1930. The increase in new memberships allowed them to drop the price of the silver wings pin from 50¢ to 25¢ (September, 1930)

Sadly, Sky Riders published their final issue in May 1931.


The Club page from the February 1931 issue with angular wings logos for both the SKY RIDERS CLUB and FLYING CORP CADETS.

   

Robert had also joined the Flying Aces Club. The FAC is so ubiquitous, I thought it best to cover the two clubs cards we had not seen before. Plus, the FAC itself could fill a whole month of posts to cover all they had to offer. Here is a comparison of the four cards Robert included in the scrapbooks.


The FLYING ACES CLUB card measures: 2.5″ x 4″; the SKY RIDERS CLUB card is:
2.75″ x 4.5625″; while the BIRDMEN CLUB card measures: 3″ x 5.125″.

 

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