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The Story Behind The Cover


J.W. Scott’s Sky Devils, Pt1

Link - Posted by David on October 11, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

HERE, at Age of Aces Books, we have featured a lot of great aviation covers by Frederick Blakeslee (Dare-Devil Aces, Battle Aces and Battle Birds), Eugene M. Frandzen (Sky Fighters and Lone Eagle), Paul Bissell (Flying Aces) and C.B. Mayshark (Flying Aces). You can add to that list J.W. Scott! Scott painted covers for practically every genre of pulp—sports, western, detective, science fiction and aviation. Most notable of his aviation covers are the ones he did for Western Fiction Publishing’s Sky Devils. The title only ran for seven issues. Scott was very adept at capturing people, so his aviation covers center on the pilots and gunners in the planes rather than the planes themselves for the most part. The issues contained no stories for these covers like other titles we’ve featured, but Scott’s magnificent work was just too good to not feature! And besides, he captures the action so well, you can imagine the story that goes with the cover he’s painted.

Here are his first two covers for Sky Devils—those for March and July 1938!


Sky Devils, March 1938 by J.W. Scott


Sky Devils, July 1938 by J.W. Scott

As a bonus, here is David Saunder’s biography of J.W. Scott from his extensive Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists website!

J. W. SCOTT
(1907-1987)

John Walter Scott, Jr. was born on December 1, 1907 in Camden, New Jersey. His father of the same name was a second generation immigrant from Scotland, and was a draftsman at the Camden Shipyard. His mother was Helen L. Scott, who was of Irish ancestry. They lived at 7 Wood Street, which was one block from the busy riverfront piers. He and his father were avid fishermen.

During the Great War his father rejoined the U.S.Army and attained the rank of Captain before dying in 1919.

His mother took a job at the La France Tapestry Mill in Philadelphia, and in 1923 at age fifteen, he left school and began to work at the same mill.

The mill operator offered free night school classes in various facets of mill work to his child laborers, including design at the La France Art Institute.

In 1930 he finished his art training and began to pursue a career in freelance illustration. He worked under the name “J.W. Scott” out of emulation for the well-known pulp artist “H.W. Scott” as well as to capitalize on any resultant confusion over his professional status.

In 1932 and age twenty-five, he moved to 390 First Avenue in New York City.

His first published pulp cover appeared on the July 9, 1932 issue of Street & Smith’s Wild West Weekly.

He sold freelance pulp covers to All Star Fiction, Best Western, Complete Western Book, Detective Short Stories, Future Fiction, Ka-Zar, Lone Eagle, Marvel Science Stories, Mystery Tales, Quick-Trigger Western, Real Sports, Star Detective, Star Sports, Top-Notch Western, Two-Gun Western, Western Fiction, Uncanny Tales, Western Novel and Short Stories.

By 1938 he joined an advertising agency and began to find work in slick magazines. He became friends with R.G. Harris and other New Rochelle illustrators. In the Fall he married Eleanor Snyder, a banker’s daughter and socialite, but the marriage only lasted one year. There were no children.

During WWII he served in U.S. Army Corps of Combat Engineers. His detailed field drawings were sent by his Lieutenant to the editors of YANK Magazine, and he was soon invited to work on their art staff. He eventually wrote several articles and was promoted to the editorial staff.

After the war Scott found slick magazine assignments with Coronet, Elks, This Week, and Woman’s Day.

In 1946 he married Flavia Bensing. She was also an artist, as well as the daughter of an artist, Frank C. Bensing. They moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut, where they raised two daughters.

In the 1950s he began to work for men’s adventure magazines, such as Argosy, True, and Sports Afield. He continued to produce illustrations for Sports Afield for almost two decades.

In the 1960s he was commissioned to paint several impressive murals for The Church of Latter Day Saints and The Petroleum Museum of Midland Texas.

In his final years Scott worked on easel paintings of the Old West.

According to the artist, “I paint the pictures I am interested in painting. Much of contemporary art is about people who think they are IN. The quickest way to lose yourself is to lose your individuality. The important thing is to be yourself and forget about being IN.”

John Scott died in the Danbury Hospital at the age of seventy-nine on October 20, 1987.

Check out David Saunder’s page for J.W. Scott at his excellent Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists site for more great examples of Scott’s work. And check back in two weeks for two more of Scott’s covers for Sky Devils magazine!

“Sky Fighters, November 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the November 1937 cover, It’s the deadly Gotha!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3711GOTHA! An ominous word during the World War days. Gothas over London raining steel-cased loads of high explosive, inflammable liquid, shrapnel. Gothas over Paris dropping bombs and hundreds of pounds of propaganda leaflets proclaiming: “We are at your gates. Surrender!” No wonder that millions of civilians far behind the actual fighting lines shuddered in terror as warning sirens blared their screeching blasts across the roof tops.

Defending planes seemed helpless against huge raiders whose pilots were so bold that they flew over England in daylight.

Shattering Morale

The Germans knew that more actual harm could be done to the Allied cause by shattering the nerves and morale of the great masses of humanity in the crowded cities than battering holes in the Allies’ front lines. It brought the war right into the living room. Even if casualties were comparatively small, the damage done to buildings and streets vividly kept before a jittery populace’s eyes the devastating results of war, kept their sleep broken, kept them forever wondering where the next bomb would strike, if they would be torn, bleeding things smashed and broken in an avalanche of falling masonry and flying hunks of smoking steel fragments.

The name Gotha came from the first word of the manufacturing company’s name, Gothaer Waggonfabrik A. G. Aircraft Department. Their most famous job was the twin-engined pusher carrying a pilot, a front gunner and a rear gunner. This ship is pictured on the cover.

Successful Fighting Ships

The Morane-Saulnier Company rendered great service to the Allies by producing a series of highly successful fighting ships. The Parasol or high wing monoplanes were their specialty, but they made biplanes and early in the fracas put out different types of wire-braced low-winged jobs which although fragile things were speedy and dependable except in a hard dive.

Roland Garros, the famous French airman, used one of these ships in his experiments with the front gun firing through the propeller arc. This was not a synchronized firing gun, that is, the gun was not mechanically timed to fire so it missed the propeller blade. Any machine-gun could be used and was fired by hand. The slugs bashed against the whirling prop nearly as often as they slipped through but no appreciable harm was done as a pair of steel deflecting flanges were bolted around the propeller blades just outside of the hub. When the bullets hit the gentle angle of the flanges they were deflected harmlessly into space. But those bullets which got through were just as deadly and accurate as bullets from later synchronized guns.

The Gotha crew felt absolutely safe from this wasplike single seater as it rushed up at them. They feared it just as much as a great Dane would a yipping poodle. And just because of their lack of respect they were caught flat-footed. It was unheard of that a tractor plane could shoot forward. The front gunner of the Gotha nonchalantly started to swing his gun forward toward the tiny plane.

Death Dive

He never knew what hit him. He swayed, lost his balance and fell over the side. The pilot became panic stricken, started to release his bombs to gain altitude and possibly crash a missile through the spindly wings of the French plane. The back gunner forgot himself and fired through his left hand propeller in hopes of hitting the foe. But that propeller had no deflecting flanges. A slug tore into the laminated, whirling blade. It splintered into bits.

The Gotha shuddered, gently listed and then lurched into its death dive. Germany’s threat collapsed. Millions of people behind the lines threw back their shoulders and went confidently again at that very important job of winning the war.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, November 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Sky Fighters, September 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on June 7, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the September 1937 cover, It’s the immortal Fokker D7!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3709THE one type of plane most talked of when the German air service of World War times is mentioned, is the Fokker. And the outstanding plane of the Fokker line was the D7. Anthony Fokker, a Dutchman, tried to interest the Allies in his early efforts in plane building but met with such stubborn sales resistance that when war clouds formed over Europe and the German government showed it meant real business in buying Fokker planes he took up residence in Germany and promptly started to grind out fighting ships.

From the start his planes were outstanding. Those first monoplanes of his were flimsy many-wired braced things but they had stability, a characteristic which was lacking in most other types.

First Synchronized Machine-Gun

It was on an early Fokker monoplane that the first synchronized machine-gun appeared. This gun all but blasted the Allies from the skies.

As time progressed, so did Fokker planes. He switched to biplanes. Out of these came the D7, the most dreaded plane the Allies had to contend with.

It had no interplane bracing wires. The only external bracing wires were a pair crossed under the nose on the undercarriage.

On lack of interstrut bracing there goes an interesting side story. German flyers, on seeing no wires on the Fokker D7, threw up their hands in horror and refused to fly the darned things.

“It can’t be done,” they said even as they saw Fokker himself putting the new D7 through a series of difficult maneuvers.

A Fine Flying Steed

Fokker was not stumped. He yanked the D7s back into his assembly plant and had wire braces installed. Out they came again for tests. The German Aces took them up and gave them the works. They came down grinning with appreciation for a fine steed which could outfly any German ship in the skies. After Fokker had his ship in mass production he yanked the wires off all the D7s and said, “There, without those wires which are just dummies, you’ll get a couple of extra miles per hour.” They believed him and the real Fokker D7 was launched to do more damage to the Allies than any oilier ship.

The Squadron of Death

Another trick construction stunt on the Fokker was the welding in the joints of the fuselage. They did this welding in such a manner that it was real mass production done cheaply. After the joints were welded the frame looked as though it had been in a wreck, it was so out of shape. The welders merely hammered it back into alignment in a few minutes and it was ready for the riggers. It took our own engineers nearly two years after the war was over to find out how the Germans had done the stunt.

Many German squadrons painted their ships gaudy colors, put decorations on them and even pictures. One squadron of Fokker D7s called themselves the Squadron of Death. And on the fuselage of each plane was painted a skull and crossbones. They had such faith in this death dealing ship that they flaunted their gruesome insignia in the faces of the enemy as they drove them out of the sky. But war is a business, and like peacetime business a competitor’s product must be equalled or bettered or you go to the wall. The Allies didn’t intend going to the wall. True, from behind the eight ball things looked bad, but they had arched their backs and in a very few months the Fokker D7 was fighting for its life.

On the cover two Boche pilots tangled with a single Nieuport 28 C.1. Both Fokkers had skull and crossbones insignia on their flat fuselages. But it’s superior ships and superior flying that chalks up the score.

The first Fokker staggered in its tracks as the guns of the Nieuport blasted slugs into it. A puff of black smoke and down it went. The other German pilot stubbornly attacked the Nieuport which proceeded to fly rings around him and chop his ship to pieces. German ground troops fired their rifles up at the wraithlike Nieuport. Then the Fokker gave a sudden lurch, nosed down in a sickening power dive. German ground troops, who had admiringly noted the skull and crossbones, now gasped in horror as the ship went out of control and smashed them into the sides of their own trenches. The Fokker D7 had been equalled!

It had reached its peak. The Allies threw equally fine planes into the skies—but few surpassed the blunt-nosed awkward product of the Dutch inventor, Anthony Fokker.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, September 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Flying Aces, October 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

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

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—like the October 1935 cover where Mayshark gives us a glimpse into a Nazi attack on the Polish Corridor!

Raid on the Polish Corridor

th_FA_3510IT IS nearly 2 a.m. in the City of Danzig, and the atmosphere of quiet, common to that hour, prevails. The city’s population is asleep; there is little activity other than the measured steps of the guards and sentinels at the military encampments and fortifications. The night is clear, and a soft, yellow radiance, cast by the moon, is playing over the cold, grey walls of the century-old buildings. Here and there, the darkness is punctuated by the brilliant pin points of the city’s remaining lights.

It is difficult for one to visualize the fact that this peaceful and slumbering city is one of the storm centers of European diplomatic wrangling. Nazi Germany believes that the city rightfully belongs to her, and if she can’t get it by vote, very likely she will resort to force. Votes, thus far, have failed her.

SUDDENLY an operator on a sound detector at a military flying field springs to attention. Adjusting his earphones, he tunes his instrument to maximum efficiency. Quickly jotting down his observations, he calls a runner and dispatches a note to his superior. A hurried order is broadcast, and a Polish squadron of single-seaters roars into action.

They arrive over the city at a speed of more than two hundred miles per hour—just in time to meet a flight of huge, tri-motored German converted bombers. The Polish pilots must act quickly if Danzig is to be saved. Already, the German ships have begun to drop their deadly eggs, and to make matters worse for the defense ships, a devastating anti-aircraft fire has been leveled at the invaders.

There is a contention among military authorities that it is impossible to completely destroy a city with one air raid, and that one bombing expedition will only serve to bring on a reciprocal one, thus prolonging the warfare. Very likely this logic is good, but it is doubtful if it is applicable in the present case. Danzig, a free city, is under the protectorate of the League of Nations—a body that would find it difficult to conduct retaliatory air raids against Germany. If Germany were successful in taking Danzig by force, she might have a chance of getting away with it, because Poland no longer depends entirely upon that city as a seaport, having recently built her own port at Gdynia, which is located at the Baltic end of the Polish Corridor.

On the other hand, a German air raid on Danzig might only constitute a move to throw Poland off her guard. Once a few bombs were dropped on Danzig, the Nazi bombers could continue southward to attempt devastation of the whole length and breadth of the Polish Corridor.

However, it is logical to assume that Poland would spring to the assistance of Danzig in the manner we have pictured on our cover. Poland, naturally, has an interest in the welfare of Danzig, for she is responsible for the city’s relations with foreign countries. And then, if the German ships were to jump across the border into the Corridor, Poland would find herself in a position to repulse the attack if she had sent defense ships into the air at the first warning of impending danger to the City of Danzig.

And so, with the shrieking of shrapnel and the whine of machine gun bullets the populace of Danzig is awakened with a start of horror. The flight of single-seaters is knifing down to the attack with a vengeance, and the formation of the bombers is temporarily broken. As a rain of tracer is directed against the first German ship, the Polish single-seaters swerve to the side abruptly. Bombers always have been difficult to shoot down, and the defense pilots are finding that their fire is ineffective. It is hard to find a vulnerable spot on such a large surface as that possessed by a tri-motored bomber, much less crash it to the earth with a single burst of bullets. As the defense ships roar in, the anti-aircraft fire abates somewhat in order that the defense ships will not be endangered.

Like a pack of yelping dogs, the gull-winged fighters cut loops of fury in the night sky. Three or four converge on one bomber, and after repeated thrusts it goes down, to crash with a deafening concussion on the earth below. And now two fighters follow it, victims of streaming lead from a vengeful bomber.

The Nazi bombing group now re-forms quickly. With the single-seaters still yelping about their ears, they climb for altitude and leave the city.

What is their purpose? Will they continue on and destroy Gdynia? Or are they merely temporarily pulling away from the scene of battle in order that they can reorganize and return in a short time to finish the job which they have only begun?

The scene that they leave behind is not pleasant to look upon. Everything is stark horror on the streets of Danzig. Mutilated bodies and piles of debris lie grotesquely about the city. Police emergency squads are carrying the wounded and dying to hospitals, and the streets are being cleared of the wreckage. Already, the work of rehabilitation has begun.

Everything being considered, Danzig has not suffered as badly as one might imagine. Comparing the potential destructive force of each bomb dropped, with the actual damage done, it is not difficult to share the belief that it is well nigh impossible to completely annihilate a sizable city with one raid.

And so, Nazi Germany has started on a rampage of conquest, fictitiously, of course. And thus history repeats itself. Governments whose positions have become jittery and insecure domestically have almost invariably attempted to excuse their existence by a successful campaign for territorial annexation. In the long run, however, such governments are doomed to destruction.

THE German ships pictured on this month’s cover are Junkers JU. 52/3m’s. They are tri-motored bombers capable of making 177 miles per hour and having a disposable load of 8,360 pounds. They are powered with three B.M.W. “Hornet” T.I.C. engines. Of course, these planes were designed for freight and passenger service, but the job of converting them into high-efficiency modern bombers would require only a few hours. As a matter of fact, it has already been done, and one ship has been named the “Baron Manfred von Richthofen.”

The Polish ship used is a P.Z.L. P-XI with a Bristol Mercury IV.A. radial engine fitted with a Townsend low-drag ring cowling. It has a high speed of 217 miles per hour. Poland is known to possess several types of remarkably efficient ships, and the strides she has made in airplane manufacture is all the more remarkable in that every ship in service in that country is of Polish manufacture.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, October 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Raid on the Polish Corridor: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Flying Aces, September 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

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

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—like the September 1935 cover where Mayshark gives us a glimpse of an air Battle in Oriental Skies!

Battle in Oriental Skies

th_FA_3509THE drowning of powerful motors, the rattle of machine-gun fire, the shrieking of a ship falling out of control, the gasp of horror coming from the civil population—it means but one thing—the Japanese have struck!

And when the Japanese strike, it is like the lightning thrust of the hooded cobra. It is sudden and effective, and over almost as soon as it has begun. The resistance of the Chinese border patrols is determined, however, even if it is of little value against the power and speed of the machines from the land of the rising sun.

On our cover this month, we have depicted for you a clash between a Chinese-owned Douglas and a Japanese-built Nakajima. The territory over which the battle takes place is near a border in the hill country in North China. The approach of the single-seaters has been telegraphed ahead, and a Douglas two-seater takes the air in an effort to defend the district from the raking enemy machine-gun fire and from the destructive bombers which must surely follow the Nakajimas.

Ironically enough, the Douglas comes up with the two Japanese single-seaters directly above a temple of worship, many of which are to be found in isolated regions in North China. As the Japanese pilots spot the Douglas, they realize that their task is a comparatively simple one. The two-seater would not have any real effectiveness against the powerful bombers which are to come, but nevertheless, a pile of smouldering debris on the ground is of more benefit to the Japanese at this particular point than an unchecked stream of lead spattering its message of death at them, even, if it is coming from a Douglas 02MC4.

And so the machines from across the water set upon the Chinese with a vengeance. Attacking in unison, they bear down on the Douglas with several hundred feet of altitude to their advantage. As they approach their target, they spread out fan-wise, and then bank sharply in toward each other so that the line of fire from both ships converges at the unhappy point at which the Douglas finds itself.

However, the Chinese pilot has participated in air defense maneuvers before, and he knows what tactics are required to beat off these vicious Nakajimas. However, he knows how hopeless it is to count on getting even one of these Japanese boys, much less both. Of course, being a good pilot, he can cut his gun and nose his ship sharply up, and so escape the first death-dealing crossfire, but the ultimate outcome is written in blood on every burst of Japanese tracer which comes tearing down the sky.

The result of the fight is so obvious that further elaboration is unnecessary. Of course, the Japanese take the territory, as the resistance is nil after the first onslaught. But another blow has been struck, and the Chinese pride has suffered once more.

With the advent of modern aerial warfare, the Sino-Japanese situation has taken on an entirely different aspect. Border raids by foot soldiers have almost become a thing of the past, and in their stead, swift powerful attacks from the air are the signal for a belligerent and highly mechanized maneuver.

A thing of great importance is the moral effect of bomb-dropping on the Chinese civil population. On the ignorant superstitious hillman, this effect is far greater than it ever could be on any nation of people in the Western hemisphere. The Chinese are, as a general rule, conscious of their vast strength and wealth, and they naturally assume that they can successfully wage war with Japan. The confusion that results from the petty ambitions of the individual war lords, however, complicates matters to such an extent that unified resistance against Japan seems out of the question.

In spite of all this, the Central Government has made an effort to defend itself against the air attacks of the invader. Lacking the modern industrial activity with which the Western world is blessed, the Chinese are compelled to buy their machines of war, if they are to have any, outside their own country. American airplane manufacturers have been favored with much of this lucrative business.

The lack of centralization of the Chinese military activity is evidenced by the fact that the air forces of the various provinces are independent of each other, although a friendly relationship exists between the larger provinces in most instances. The provinces of Canton, Kwangsi, and Fukien, among others, have independent air forces.

In direct contrast, the Japanese do much of their own manufacturing. They have acquired the industrial fever with which the West is imbued.

As has been said, the Chinese ship on our cover is an American-built Douglas 02MC4. Several Douglas ships have been purchased by China, as well as many other types, including Vought and Waco. Types other than American include Junkers, Fiats, De Havillands, and Armstrong-Whitworths.

And here’s an interesting point. To close followers of military aviation design, the Nakajima monoplane fighter seems very similar to the Boeing single-seater developed in this country three years ago. Inspection will show that the unusual strutting arrangement displayed on the Japanese ship is exactly like that of the Boeing which came out under the type numbers 270-V. The fuselage was smooth monocoque; the motor is mounted in the same way and the same type of undercarriage is used. The only improvement the Japanese added was the Townsend ring around the engine.

In other words, there might be such a thing as espionage in aviation after all!

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, September 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Battle in Oriental Skies: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Flying Aces, August 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 17, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—like the August 1935 cover where Mayshark gives us a glimpse into a future air attack on London!

London Under Air Attack

th_FA_3508WAR! The word twangs a different chord in the heart of every man. To the Frenchman, it means a charge toward Paris—or Bayonet Trench outside Verdun. To the American, it means Chateau Thierry or the Argonne; to the Belgian, the remorse of Leige and the ravaging of a neutrality; to the Russian, the helpless swamps in front of the Masurian Lakes; to the Italian, the bloody Piave.

But to the average Englishman, whether he wore khaki or blue, war means air raids on London!

And well it might. When the news reached the trenches on that eventful day in 1915 that German airships had raided peaceful English towns on May 31st, raining incendiary and high-explosive shells on peaceful and unarmed British towns, the horror of war was probably first realized, after nearly a year of bitter fighting.

The English saw their kinfolk battered and mangled, buried under massive piles of masonry. Civilian names were listed in the casualty columns. From that day on, the Englishman knew he was in a war, and in retaliation, British airmen braved distance and bombed Karlsruhe. The French bombarded Baden. The British captured Kut-el-Amara and German South-West Africa. They raced across No-Man’s-Land and completed the capture of the area around Neuve Chapelle. They began a new march on the Dardanelles. And war today still means air raids on London.

The moment the German plans for a gigantic army and a great air force were announced, the British remembered the air raids of 1914-18. They set to work at once to strengthen the air defenses around London, the capitol of the Empire. Forty-one new squadrons were ordered, and recruiting for the R.A.F. leaped to amazing figures. Old flying men swarmed back to the colors. Youngsters hardly out of public school rallied to the call. Their England, which had once denied the charges that Germany was rearming, was threatened again, just as she was in 1914.

She would need more Warnefords, more Robinsons, more McCuddens, more Balls and more Mannocks. Some one had to face the foe which threatened again. No one ever knew the surge of air-mindedness that swept England last March. No one probably ever will. But the gauntlet, the flying glove, was taken up, and again England was ready.

But there is one difference. Germany knows today that she must never make the mistake she made in 1914 when she allowed England to get into a war. This time England must be shunted out of the picture early—just as Belgium was in the last war. The quickest and surest way to do it is by air. Germany’s vest-pocket Navy is no match for Britain’s might on the sea. Her army could never make a landing on British soil. But her air force, with high explosive, gas bombs and all forms of chemical warfare, might be able to stop Britain in her tracks before the English ground and sea forces could go into action.

Let us imagine that overnight Germany should decide to put the British out of any possible play. Her best bet would be a monster air raid on the main centers—London, Birmingham, Chatham, the naval base, Southampton, Dover and many other points of industrial strength—but mainly, of course, London. Here the raiders could sever the many cables of communication and the mighty seat of government—the point of power that controls the vast empire. Blotting out London with either high explosive or chemicals would have such a monstrous reaction, would be such a grim stroke at the morale of the nation, that it would take months to reorganize the intricate mechanism and put the nation back on its feet as an offensive power in a European conflict.

To do this, Germany naturally would have to employ ships capable of a wide cruising area and the carrying of great loads. These planes would require large crews to handle all the. intricate duties necessary in a mission of this kind. There would be two pilots, one navigation officer, one bombardier officer in charge of the bombing details, and at least two men to act as gunners in the defense.

A close examination of the available craft suitable for such a raid discloses that the famous Dornier Super-Wal four-engined flying boat would be the most likely choice. It has a wide cruising range, and is very seaworthy. With four 500-h.p. Jupiter VIII motors, (British, by the way) the Super-Wal has a top speed of 136 m.p.h. and carries a disposable load of 15,840 lbs. Imagine what a formation of twenty such ships could do, assuming they got through the London defenses!

Their equipment includes full night-flying instruments, two-way radio, a navigation compartment comparable to that in any Atlantic liner, and fuel tanks accommodating more than 1,000 gallons. Allowing a few hundred pounds for special armament in the way of high-caliber guns and modern air cannons, these ships could still deposit three-quarters of a ton of destruction and make a fast get-away.

The question naturally arises—what has England to offer in the way of defense against this type of raider?

The only thing worth mentioning, even with the vast improvement in all forms of anti-aircraft guns, is the modern intercepter. On this month’s cover, we have shown the form of defense employed by the British fighter squadrons using the Hawker Super-Fury fighter. Squadrons of these machines have been posted around the London defense area, and Britain believes that in them she has the answer to the air raid problem.

However, of all military machines, the intercepter fighter is probably the least understood, especially in countries where such a ship is not included in the air defense system. The Hawker Super-Fury, with the Rolls Royce “Goshawk” steam-cooled engine, is the most efficient type of intercepter in the world today. It has a top speed of 250 m.p.h. and is the fastest service machine in the world. Contrary to general impression, it is not a ship that can only get upstairs fast, and be confined to a small radius of action. Not at all! It climbs to 20,000 feet in about seven minutes, to be sure, but it can stay in the air well over two hours. It carries two Vickers guns of the new high-speed type, and is the safest bet in the swiftly forming defense against enemy raiders.

Thus, if a war should break out, you can bet your last dollar that Britain’s first line of defense would not be her Navy, but her air service. The Hawker-Fury pilots of the London defense area would have to take up the work where old No.39 Squadron, Home Defense, left off in 1918, in the last attempted raid on London. On that memorable occasion, they destroyed seven Gothas out of eleven that had crossed the British Coastline. What would be the record now?

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, August 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
London Under Air Attack: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Flying Aces, July 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

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THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—like the July 1935 cover where Mayshark gives us a glimpse into a Nazi raid on Russia!

Raid on Russia

th_FA_3507DEATH, destruction, appalling calamity! Crumbling buildings, writhing humanity! The ominous drone of high-powered aircraft, the rattle of machine-gun fire, the detonation of death-dealing explosives! The Nazi insignia over the city of Moscow!

Russian aircraft sound-detectors had flashed the warning many minutes before, and even now, defense ships are taking off. Motor lorries with anti-aircraft guns mounted upon them are being driven to points of vantage throughout the city. Women and children are being herded into bombproof cellars and, except for the scattered military activity, the city looks deserted.

As the German bombers sweep in from the west, Russian pursuit and attack planes close in upon them. The Germans are flying low so as to be sure of their target, for the effectiveness of a bomb depends on where it hits, and the Germans have a certain objective in mind. The Kremlin comes first, then definite military concentration points, and then, if there is time, certain bridges, railroad terminals and important buildings.

But flying low on a bombing expedition is at best a hazardous business. Anti-aircraft has a better chance; then, too, the repercussion is likely to cause damage to the ship from which the bomb is dropped. But the Nazis are taking their chances. The city of Moscow must be destroyed.

There is an old axiom of war which reads: The attacker is always the heaviest loser. After acknowledging this fact and applying it to the present situation, one wonders just how far Germany would get in an air raid on a power that possesses the military strength that is Russia’s. Indeed, it is likely that a flight of bombers would not even get as far as Moscow, for the capital city is a long way from the border. Defense ships in large numbers would have ample time to mobilize and beat off the attackers, and it is a difficult job for a raiding bomber to engage enemy planes and at the same time continue on toward an objective.

But let’s assume that three or four out of the entire flight of raiding bombers manage to reach Moscow. What then? Would the bombs dropped from these ships be sufficient to wipe out the city completely? Probably not. Even if a few bombs were dropped, it is not likely that they would be as effective as they were intended to be. The fierce firing of the anti-aircraft guns, and the dizzy attack of the defense ships would make jockeying for position an extremely difficult task.

Germany’s threat today lies in the air. This much is accepted by every military expert the world over. Her navy, a small but highly efficient arm, has lost much of the prestige it had before the Battle of Jutland and today is really being upheld by the old German Sons of the Sea. The modern German warrior sees not naval history and glory, but winged glory in the skies. The weapons are not dread-naughts, destroyers and the much-hated U-boats, but highspeed fighting bombers, fighters and well-armed single-seaters.

Her threats are not Zeppelin bombs, flame-throwers and Minnies. Fifteen years of careful preparation in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles have brought such terrible weapons as Brisanze bombs, 500-kilo projectiles, each capable of destroying a complete city block. Then there are the new incendiary bombs containing Celsius, a formula that will throw a burning sheet of flame considered to reach 3,000 degrees of temperature. No liquid or damper is known that will quench such a fire. No peace-time fire-fighting equipment could cope with this.

Also, there are their new gas bombs containing the deadly dichlorethyl sulphide, sometimes known as Yellow Cross, which is invisible to the naked eye and which after several hours, only begins to show its symptoms. By that time it is too late. Men die of necrosis of all living tissues including eyes, nose, lungs and throat. They have other gas bombs, too, including Yperite, Blue Cross or Death Dew, which kills men outright in one minute.

If Germany is to attack Russia—a much larger nation, from the point of view of military might—she would have to use amazing surprise methods, and her war would have to be completed in a comparatively short time. With such weapons as explained above, her leaders would hope to overwhelm any European nation within a few days, by simply preying on the moral fibre of the civilian population.

But one might ask, accepting the fact that Germany has all these weapons, what means does she have to convey them to the point of attack? How can Germany build up an efficient air force in such a short time, and train men to handle it?

German efficiency has been accepted for years. Everyone knows that her great commercial air ventures have been produced with only the future air might in view. Her transport planes are like no others anywhere. Her system of sport-flying clubs and schools were nothing but military training organizations. The ships used in these schools were out-and-out military ships—minus such military equipment as bomb-racks, machine guns and camera fittings.

There’s the set-up that Russia, France and England would have to face. Russia is particularly vulnerable to Germany’s air might because of certain geographical conditions.

In the cover illustration, we show one of Germany’s seven-passenger air transports turned into a high-speed fighting bomber. This could be done in eleven hours. The ship is the new Heinkel, capable of 234 miles per hour. We do not know what the flying range is, but there is no doubt that after the conversion job, the ship would be capable of reaching Moscow.

All bombs would be carried within the fuselage, and dropped through a trap door in the floor. Fixed machine guns would be installed somewhere along the top of the engine, firing forward through the propeller. A movable gun would be carried about midway along the top of the fuselage. The ship is powered with a B.M.W. VI twelve-cylinder vee-geared engine. The motor develops 630 horsepower.

The Russian ship is an Ossaviachim Air 7. Figures on performance are unavailable. All we can say about it is that it is a low-wing wire and strut-braced monoplane, and that it is based on the Travel Air “Mystery” monoplane.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, July 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Raid on Russia: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Flying Aces, June 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 3, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—like the June 1935 cover where Mayshark gives us a glimpse into a raid on the Panama Canal!

Raid on the Panama Canal

th_FA_3506DEATH and destruction in the Canal Zone! Great masses of concrete and steel scattered to the four winds as if they were paper boxes! Ships and men reduced to fragments with equal abandon! A monument to human progress that took years to construct, a shipping and transportation facility which is absolutely essential to modern needs—all wrecked within the space of a few minutes!

Could it be done? Well, it could be attempted, at any rate. Success would depend upon the precision and the deftness with which the whole maneuver was carried out. Failure would be certain only if the United States air defense arm was of sufficient strength.

The prime reason for such an attack would be, of course, the move to cut off the two main fleets of the United States Navy. If the Atlantic Fleet were in home waters, it would take weeks to concentrate both fleets in the Pacific in case of an emergency. The reverse would be the case, should the national first line of defense be required in the Atlantic.

The Panama Canal is presumed to be international property under certain nautical laws, but it is primarily United States property. After all, it was built by this country, and the problem of defending it lies in the hands of the country that built it.

As is well known, the defensive measures adopted by the United States consists mainly of heavy naval batteries at strategic points. Some of these batteries are hidden, and some mounted on points of material advantage. There are also many troops stationed there—troops well versed in garrison artillery work—who are on duty twenty-four hours a day.

Shipping is carefully watched, and all vessels using the canal are under thorough observation at all times. One of the great dangers is the possibility of an enemy power’s sending through the locks a gigantic floating torpedo in the form of a ship loaded with explosive, which is blown up by means of a time bomb, once the vessel is within the lock walls. Such an explosion would destroy the work of years in a few seconds, and it would take even more time to replace it.

This may sound sensational and melodramatic to conservative readers, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility. Far stranger heroics have been displayed in the heat of war, particularly where national reverence and strange religious fanaticisms are exploited.

But while this method may be the most effective in the long run, there are many reasons why it could not be carried out with any assurance of secrecy. Too many people have to be considered where the crew of a vessel is concerned, and the loading of sufficient explosive necessary to do the job thoroughly presents too many opportunities for leakage of information.

The problem of gathering a crew willing to take this risk is, of course, the most outstanding. Only men fired with deep national pride can be imagined in such an heroic role.

How, then, can the Panama Canal be destroyed, or at least shut off?

The possibility of hostile landing parties who would make a night attack from surface craft is out of the picture when one considers the ground defenses already there. No landing party carrying sufficient demolition equipment could get through the first line, and have enough men left alive to carry out the plan.

Another possibility is the prospect of long-range shelling from naval craft. While the true facts of the Panama defenses are not known to the general public, it is very likely, however, that the guns mounted at Panama can far outrange the 16-inchers of an enemy dreadnaught. They would have a steadier fire platform and, by a system of prearranged charts, could get their ranges set and salvos blanketed over any area long before any enemy battery could score a hit.

The only prospect offering any promise of success is the new air arm involving high-speed bombing planes carrying the proper projectiles. Mere bombs will not do in a case like this. They must be shells with special high tensile nose caps and delayed action fuses. Otherwise, they would simply drop on the surfaces and do nothing but superficial damage. The concrete and steel at Panama calls for special bombs and special explosives.

In all this, we are considering the attack of an enemy power from the Pacific side, but it could be staged from either end of the canal. We must accept the fact that Japan is unusually strong in first-line submarines which have unusual range of action and carry folding-wing planes in their water-tight hatches. There is also the possibility of an air attack being staged from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier or from the discharge catapults of the cruisers. It is for this reason that we show a Japan«se Navy Nakajima shipboard fighter carrying out such a raid.

This machine is one of the finest shipboard fighters in any naval service. It is an all-metal, single-bay biplane, powered with a Japanese-built British Bristol Jupiter radial engine of 450 h.p. It has a top speed of 192 m.p.h., is fitted for day and night work, and can he used for light bombing.

This is an important feature of the bombs. They must he small, light and yet have the penetrating power of larger projectiles. It is known now that Japan has made recent purchases of several new metal formulas which combine unusual lightness with tensile strength. It is no secret, either, that the Japanese have long been experimenting with new explosives designed for special demolition work.

So here we have the sudden attack, by day or night, from the air. The raiders take off and, instead of attacking in formation, they attempt to cross up the defenders and “scramble” their microphone detectors, by appearing over the canal singly, three or four minutes apart. One or two will stand by to take care of defending ships, and the raid is on.

The defense ships, presumably brought into action from one of the near-by air bases, are Curtiss P-6-E Hawks, a standard pursuit fighter of the Air Service. This ship is a good old stand-by—rough, tough and nasty in a scrap. It is armed with the new high-speed Browning gun and can throw a thousand rounds a minute from each muzzle. It has a top speed of 198, with the 675 Curtiss “Conqueror” Prestone-cooled engine.

The point involved now—and one that could be decided only if such an occasion should arise, is whether the 192-m.p.h. Nakajima, with its pilot harried with the orders to drop bombs on particular and important points of the Canal, could withstand the defensive tactics and heavy gun-power of the Curtiss Hawk. It may be the old story of the attacker always suffering the heaviest losses, even though he gains his objective. Who can tell? Perhaps the question will never have to be settled.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, June 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Raid on the Panama Canal: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Sky Fighters, July 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the July 1937 cover, It’s the Sopwith Dolphin!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3707WITH four guns up front capable of shooting at two angles, the Sopwith Dolphin was an opponent to keep from in front of! Its stubby businesslike nose and short fuselage gave it the appearance of a heavily-weighted projectile racing through the air. Built in a distinctly unorthodox design, at first glance, it seemed to be something made to crawl on the ground which had suddenly sprouted wings, but once in the air it could twist and squirm in and out of maneuvers with such rapidity that it made one “OH” and “AH” with high-pressure exultation.

Of course Mr. T.O.M. Sopwith, the versatile designer of a dozen of more airplanes, most of which had quite similar wing construction as to dihedral, was probably sick of the same old thing over and over. So he deliberately pulled a fast one at the designing table. After the bugs were chased out of the experimental model it was found that this radically different job of stick and wire had clicked beyond the designer and manufacturer’s wildest hopes. It went into production and started rolling off the line.

Hitherto Sopwith had stuck to rotary motors, mostly Clergets, but in the Dolphin a 200 h.p. Hispano-Suiza was installed in the nose. The nose was now streamlined, which gave it a radically different appearance from former Sopwiths with their round cowling ring to fit around the whirling rotaries. Of course the heavier, more powerful motor was necessary because the Dolphin was a heavier and larger ship than the famous Camel. The speed of these two was about the same, the Dolphin having only about six or seven miles advantage of the Camel.

The Gun Arrangement

The two Lewis guns sticking up at a 45-degree angle were primarily for blasting the underside of an enemy plane, as the front guns were reserved to deliver a barrage of fire through the prop at any instant. This arrangement of guns made a hit with most pilots and some of them in 1918 made a practice of harassing German troops in their trenches and on roads by diving on them and having two separate angles of fire with which to mow down their opponents.

Later in the war the Sopwith Salamander, a single-seater with a rotary motor and armored belly and sides, came out just for such infantry strafing. Perhaps it was the occasional strafing of trenches with the Dolphin, and the many holes which appeared in its underside, and the wounds and casualties of the daring Dolphin pilots, that inspired this later Salamander.

Picking Up an Espionage Man

On the cover the Dolphin has taken on another trick job, that of picking up one of the Allied espionage men from behind the enemy lines. Usually a rendezvous was decided upon and the Allied plane sat down at this spot. If all went well the agent climbed aboard and was whisked out of danger quickly, but plenty of times valuable information was lost along with pilot and plane.

To most men the sense of balance and timing are fickle tilings of which they know little, and in which they lack experience and confidence. Not so with the agent catching the dangling rope from the swaying low-flying Dolphin. That man’s life had been spent dangling from ropes and scaffolds at dizzy heights. He had been foreman of a gang of bridge painters who year after year dangle from ropes and flimsy scaffolds high over the East River in New York Harbor. A rope overhead, a body of water underneath, a sure death if he slipped, was what he considered just another job of work-one that had been done before and one he was sure he could do at any time again when the emergency arose.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, July 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Sky Fighters, May 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the May 1937 cover, It’s the ever-popular Sopwith “Camel”!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3705THE Sopwith “Camel” was a name to be proud of back in 1917. This “Camel” of the air did not do without a drink nor was it slow and ungainly like its earthly namesake but it was tricky and uncomfortable to fly. It was similar to its predecessor, the Sop “Pup,” which was an airman’s delight to fly. The Camel’s superiority as a fighting craft was due to those modifications which transformed it into a devilish steed in the hands of its masters.

It could climb a thousand feet a minute and speed through the air in pursuit of an enemy ship until Camel squadrons were both feared by the enemy and envied by the other Allied squadrons equipped with inferior craft.

Whenever possible Allied nations got hold of Camels and bolstered up their own side with this popular fighting ship. Americans who flew them are still talking of their little temperamental job which gave them heart failure on landings and takeoffs but got them out of some mighty tight situations, which other ships of the time could not have accomplished, The 130 h.p. Clerget motor was extensively used to power the Camel.

Later most Camels were equipped with Bentley motors which gave them added pep and brought the Camel out of oblivion very much into the limelight for a glorious new era of fighting life. There was hardly a British ace who did not sometime in his career as a flyer sit in the compact cockpit of a Sop Camel and feel the exultation which comes from flying a hair-trigger ship.

Richthofen’s Defeat

Germany’s ace of aces, Richthofen, got in front of a Camel on April 21, 1918. That Camel was piloted by a young Canadian in the R.F.C. named Roy Brown. Capt. Brown’s Camel seemed to be a live thing as it screamed down on the tail of the Baron’s ship which was racing after one of Brown’s comrades. The Vickers guns leaped and bucked in the Camel’s hump.

The sturdy ship seemed to hold its breath helping its pilot’s aim. The Fokker triplane ahead staggered. Richthofen, mortally wounded, slumped in his pit. It was the end for him. and he, like so many other Germans, ended the war with a wraith-like flitting flying thing of wood and fabric with spitting guns forward blasting death to all who dared challenge its rule.

Although the Camel on the cover is not fighting another ship, it is fighting its most important battle of the war. The complete plans for a major offensive of the Allies disappeared suddenly from close-guarded headquarters offices. A half hour after they were missed intelligence officers were on the track. They traced them to a nearby hangar. They saw a plane sweeping into the skies. One of the intelligence men, a flyer, leaped into a Camel whose motor was ticking over. The enemy spy was almost out of sight, but in a slower ship.

Blazing Battle

The Camel gained, it overtook the spy. Guns blazed. Down slithered the front ship to crash near a road in German territory. The pilot crawled out, hailed a driver of a captured British motorcycle and gave the side car’s passenger the valuable papers. As the spy crumpled to the ground the motorcycle roared toward German headquarters. Down screamed the Camel. Its pilot disregarded the peppering from the motorcycle passenger’s rifle fire.

When the little Camel was about to hit the ground machine, its Vickers guns opened up. A deadly blast of bullets raked both Germans. A slug tore into the overheated motorcycle engine. A roaring explosion enveloped the whole ground machine. The stolen papers in the passenger’s dead hand flared up and curled into blackened bits that fluttered and faded into dust. The Camel wheeled, streaked toward home. Another job well done!

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, May 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Coppens, Belgium’s Greatest Ace” by Paul Bissell

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THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the November 1932 cover Bissell paints one of Belgium’s greatest Aces in action—Lt. Willi Coppens trying to take down a balloon!

Coppens, Belgium’s Greatest Ace

th_FA_3211THE sun had set, and soon night for a few short hours would throw her peaceful blanket of darkness over the gaping wounds of war that now scarred the once beautiful fields of Flanders.

Above, where the sun’s rays still shone from beyond the far horizon, a tiny speck could be seen. Below, on the shell-torn earth, a crew was slowly hauling down a huge yellow sausage with black crosses painted on its sides. Anxiously the officers in charge watched the sky above until sudden recognition of the tiny speck brought hurried orders from their lips. Coppens, the little black devil of the Belgians, was on the wing!

Since the outbreak of the war, Willi Coppens had been in the service of his country. He had enlisted on the 28th of July, serving first as a despatch rider for the 6th Division, and then in other positions of both danger and trust but always with his eyes to the sky, his heart set on the “chasse.”

Three long years of this, then six months of observation, reconnaissance and artillery fire direction, until, in April, 1918, his great ambition was gratified at last. In the past six months he had made himself the terror of the Huns and the idol of his nation. Thirty-three balloons and two planes had fallen to his attack. He was premier ace of the Belgians and premier balloon-buster of the world.

NOW, October 14, 1918, his .small, dark-blue plane with the red, yellow and black circles of Belgium on its wings was once again bringing death and destruction to the invaders of his beloved country.

Down he swooped through the hail of shrapnel and machine-gun fire, his gun spitting incendiary bullets into the great yellow bag below. . . . At the last moment he veered off, banked up on one wing, then as quickly reversed, executing a tight S, his nose down and hugging the balloon as closely as he dared, to gain what little protection might be had through the enemy’s fear of hitting their own observers.

His throttle shot forward as he gave his little Nieuport the gun and dived down under the balloon with terrific speed. Back came the stick—the tiny blue plane shot upward—higher—higher—up into a stall when another instant would have sent it crashing into the swinging balloon.

Now a shift of the release lever, and from the chute on either side six flaming rockets, like meteors against the late afternoon sky, soared through the air with deadly accuracy toward the sausage. In their wake a trail of sparks showered downward, and the plane hung for an instant on the prop. Then its nose flopped down through the drifting sparks. A quick kick of the rudder avoided collision with the big cable by which the Germans were desperately trying to haul the clumsy bag to the ground.

The plane dropped like a plummet. Coppens eased up on his throttle slightly, then leveled off, at last clear of the balloon—and none too soon. The rockets buried themselves in the bulging silk and then, an instant later, there was a terrific burst of flame and smoke. Great fiery tongues leaped hundreds of feet into the air, and the big bag collapsed, falling to the ground and burning fiercely.

Machine guns clattered madly while high explosives and shrapnel once again rent the air in their effort to find the tiny plane. He was almost away, a tiny speck against the darkening sky, when a shrapnel burst squarely in his path. His left leg went numb. The Nieuport shivered as he almost lost control. The little black devil was winged at last!

THE war was over. The invader had been driven out and peace once again reigned. In the warm July afternoon, on one of Belgium’s great air fields, a small army had drawn up in battalion formation. To one side, an area roped off was filled to overflowing by a crowd in holiday attire. Flags were flying and bands playing. On the line a row of planes stood ready, their wings and bodies shining from careful grooming. For on this day a grateful nation was honoring one of its heroes.

A large plane could be seen in the distance. Quickly it approached, circled the field, then landed easily and taxied down near to wrhere a small group was standing in front of the battalions.

The crowd surged restlessly, then broke into tumultuous acclaim as a tall figure stepped from the plane and the bands crashed into the national anthem of the Belgians.

“—And a grateful nation and King salute you, Captain Coppens, Officer of the Order of Leopold.”

The King stepped forward to pin a small ribbon on the breast of the slim aviator in front of him, an aviator whose face was still pale from recent illness and whose left trouser leg flapped loosely against wood instead of bone and flesh. This lad supported himself with two canes, but one of these fell to the ground when he held out his hand to His Majesty.

Several officers started forward to recover the stick, but the King was first. He retrieved the stick quickly and with a gracious, “Permit me, mon Capitaine,” he handed it to Coppens. The crowd roared. A king had stooped to serve a humble subject—and a monarch had proved himself regal.

The Ships on The Cover
“Coppens, Belgium’s Greatest Ace”
Flying Aces, November 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“Mannock, The Mad Major!” by Paul Bissell

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THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the December 1932 cover Bissell put us right in the action as Major Edward Mannock gives his all

Mannock, the Mad Major!

th_FA_3212FROM the war have come many nicknames which have since been applied rather freely to others besides those who originally earned them. “Crashing Colonels,” “Red Barons,” etc., are now commonplace, and to definitely determine the originals of these titles is almost impossible. However, there is one man, who, if we judge by the consensus of opinion in those places where airmen gather, enjoys his soubriquet without argument or question.

He was a man who started the war as a prisoner of the enemy, was repatriated because of defective eyesight, and lived to prove his eyes the most deadly, searching, and accurate of those of all the airmen who flew for the British, while his irrepressible humor and daredevil recklessness earned for him the name of the “Mad Major.”

On May 7, 1917, the failure of Captain Ball to return from a patrol held the attention of the Allied world. On the same day, unnoticed, the reports show the destruction of an enemy balloon by a Lieutenant Edward Mannock of Squadron 40. No one cried, “The King is dead, long live the King!” Yet well they might have, for this was the first victory of “Micky” Mannock, the “Mad Major,” one of the mysteries of the World War.

Micky, who was to tear through the skies of France like a thunderbolt, leaving a trail of victories surpassing even Captain Ball’s. Micky, who was to become Britain’s ace of aces, with 73 planes to his official credit, and who was to die, known only to his comrades, unfeted and unsung, with only an M.C. as a decoration from his country.

To be sure, the D.S.O. was going through at the time, and posthumously two bars and the V.C. were finally awarded, but even to this day this great ace is little known to the public at large, and it is difficult to learn a great deal about him.

Mannock’s comrades knew that he had been imprisoned by the Turks at the beginning of the war. He had been repatriated, and enlisted at once with the British, serving first with the R.A.M.C., then with the engineers in France, and coming finally to Squadron 40 in April, 1917.

It was soon evident that he was a Hun-hater, one of the few among all the aces. He was not the sportsman type, to whom war was just a game with death as the stake. Nor was he the hunter type, seeking only the joy of the kill. To him the war was “open season” on Germans, and he was out to exterminate them as he would rats or other vermin. He asked no quarter nor gave any, and yet his irrepressible sense of humor and love of a joke was constantly bobbing up.

He it was who, after failing for several days to get the Germans to engage him in battle, dropped a pair of boots on their airdrome with the note attached, “If you won’t come up and fight, maybe you can use these on the ground.”

With his M.C. came his captaincy, and he was made squadron commander. He was older than most aces, being thirty at his death, and he was noted for the care he took of his “new” men. He watched over them carefully, and tried to arrange it so that they would get a victory the first time over. Failing this, he would take them out alone and, finding their victim, he would maneuver the German into a good position for the new pilot’s fire. Then, making sure by a few bursts from his own guns, he would return to the drome, where he would enthusiastically congratulate the fledgling on getting his first German. It is said, in fact, that more than one ace-to-be had his first victory handed him by Micky.

IT IS told, also—and this story is pictured on this month’s cover—that on one of these excursions he gave the mud-covered Tommies in the trenches the thrill of their lives. He and his fledgling had spotted their victim and after some maneuvering Micky had finally forced the German into a position for his youngster to make the kill.

At this instant from the clouds dropped a red Albatross—motors on, and its-tracers already reaching hungrily for the new pilot below. A yank of the stick and Micky had thrown himself square into the line of the Albatross’ fire to save his companion. Bullets crashed through his cockpit and seared holes in his wings, but the German’s dive had been headed off, and a moment later, coming out of a mad vrille, the little S.E.5’s nose was square on the red tail with the black cross.

The Vickers rattled, and the German sped on down to pile up in a trench, while Micky turned back to the battle above. The youngster had failed to get his opponent at the first burst, and the more experienced German by clever flying had gotten himself into a good position for attacking the kid pilots.

However, seeing Micky return to the fray, the German decided to run for it, and turned toward Germany, but little did he know his opponent. The Irishman seemed to go wild. He flung his little S.E.5 after the fleeing Boche and quickly overtook him. Then, to the astonishment of those who watched below, Micky held his fire. Steeply he dived in from the side, forcing the German to turn. But again the Vickers were silent. Apparently the German decided that Micky’s guns were jammed, for he made a desperate attempt to turn to the attack.

Immediately, however, the twin Vickers spoke, spitting hot lead, and forcing him to swing back around. Then to the watching Tommies the game became evident. Like a cat with a mouse the Irishman was playing with the German. Slowly he was forcing the Albatross down.

Lower and lower they came. They were scarcely 100 feet up, and below them was the wrecked remains of the first plane, when suddenly the twin Vickers began chattering. The desperate Jerry swung right and left, only to be met by the deadly hail of bullets from the S.E.’s gun. Then one last burst and those below saw the German jerk from his seat, clawing the air madly in his death agony as his plane crashed, its wings touching the wreckage of the first Albatross.

Two more for Micky! No wonder they called him the Mad Major! And so it went, until, on a similar expedition in July, a machine-gun bullet from the ground found him. At least that’s one version. A second story says that he crashed a German to save one of his fledglings. It was another mystery, but the fact remains that no more would his comrades see him tuck his violin under his chin, and while they sat enthralled, play, “Where My Caravan Has Rested.” For the Mad Major had led his last caravan home.

The Ships on The Cover
“Mannock, The Mad Major!”
Flying Aces, December 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“War’s Youngest Ace Downs Voss” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on January 18, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the October 1932 cover Bissell put us right in the action as Rhys-Davids downs Werner Voss!

War’s Youngest Ace Downs Voss

th_FA_3210YOUTH, winged youth. Youth, flying to meet death.

In all the strange chapters that came from the war there is nothing more incredible than the youthfulness of its air heroes.

23 years old—a major. Officially credited with seventy-five victories in individual combat.

22 years old—a captain. Internationally known for aggressive bravery, the idol of his nation, and a price on his head, dead or alive.

21 years old—a lieutenant. With more than twoscore victories to his credit. Decorated by nations and feted by kings.

And so it went, on down—20 years—19 years—18 years—and there it stops—officially! But listen:

“And you,” said the recruiting sergeant to a glad-faced youngster who stood, bright-eyed, in front of him. “What do you wish?”

“I’ve come to enlist, sir,” replied the boy.

“Enlist, is it? And do you think it’s a kindergarten in France we be asending the lads to?”

“No, sir. I mean to fight,” was the quiet answer.

For an instant the sergeant studied the serious eyes before him. “And your age, my boy?”

“Fift—I mean eighteen, sir.”

“Eighteen, eh,” growled the sergeant, shaking his head as he reached for an enlistment blank. “Do you know what you’re doing, sonny?”

“Righto, sir.”

“Righto, it is then. And eighteen years ye be, though if you’re eighteen, Mister Methusaleh is my name. What’s your name, youngster?”

“Rhys-Davids, sir,” he replied, and a school lad had started on the road to glory, death and fame.

It was early autumn of seventeen, and the 56th Squadron, R.F.C., was in the thick of it. This famous squadron almost daily battled Richthofen and the best of his “gentlemen.” Fought them through the entire war to a credit of 411 planes downed—but not without themselves adding many famous names to the already long list of those who died for England. Included in this list was the name of their famous commander, McCudden, with fifty-eight victories to his personal credit.

Here, with this outfit, was the lad who had come to France “meaning to fight.” And fight he had. Never was there a pilot more willing or eager for a scrap. He would attack recklessly, even though outnumbered, and in a dogfight he became a madman—a madman dealing death to the enemy. And then he would return to his drome to become all boy again. A happy boy, with pets—birds that sang to him—pups that “Waited each day for his return—and tame rabbits that nipped off the shoots in the little garden behind his shack and nibbled greens, from his hand.

Already more than a score of German. had fallen before his fire. Schaffer, of “Richthofen’s Own,” had fought his last fight against this youngster. But it was on September 23, 1917, that he gained his most famous victory.

THE squadron was on patrol, protecting some bombers, when off to one side were seen two German planes. It did not seem likely that they would attack, as the English squadron numbered more than a dozen of Bristols, Camels and S.E.Ss. That is, it did not seem likely until, by the black-and-white-checkered fuselage it was seen that one of the Germans was Lieutenant Werner Voss.

This was one adversary that the Allies held in the greatest respect. Already both his plane and name were known all up and down the Front. He was always looking for combats, and fought generally over Allied territory, which could not be said of Richthofen. And with forty-eight victories over the Allies, Voss, himself of most humble origin, was a serious rival of the noble-born baron.

Indeed, records seem to show that Voss, feeling himself in every way the equal of his rival as an ace, had refused to be the tail protector to Richthofen and, on at least one occasion, when the victories of Voss had reached a number almost equal to those of the Rittmeister himself, the High Command had seen fit to transfer the mere “Lieutenant” to a less active sector, where opportunities for combat were fewer.

With such an opponent as this, the Britishers knew that attack might be expected, and when, a moment later, a patrol of Albatrosses appeared, no one was surprised to see the checkered triplane dive in headlong. Voss’ companion, flying to one side and slightly behind, was almost immediately shot down. And when the Albatrosses refused to accept battle, Voss was left to his fate.

It was an unequal fight, though after the German had winged his way through the first terrific rain of fire from all the other ships, it was Rhys-Davids who engaged him in a duel. Around and around they tore, with Voss, hemmed in on all sides, hoping only to sell his life as dearly as possible. The Fokker tripe, with its German pilot, had met its equal in the little S.E.5 flown by the English boy!

The British plane turned and twisted, meeting maneuver with maneuver, until at last the looked-for opening came and the checkered fuselage for a moment was full in the sights. Just for an instant—but an instant that was filled with spitting lead, an instant that began that mad, twisting dive that ended near Poelcapelle for the triplane with the black crosses on its wings, and ended in eternity for the brave German ace.

Rhys-Davids followed him down to the ground. It was the game—there must be no slip. Then, with motor full on, himself untouched, he raced back to his pets.

The lad—his comrades thought he must be now almost seventeen years old—had thirty-two unofficial victories to his credit, and those gods that be must have laughed as they wrote his name on a shell. No German airman carried it. But an Archie battery, a month later, shot it from the ground. Ten thousand feet up it found him.

Back in his shack the birds still sang in their cages and the rabbits still nibbled in the garden. But the puppies waited the return of their boy master in vain, for the war’s youngest ace had gone West.

The Ships on The Cover
“War’s Youngest Ace Downs Voss”
Flying Aces, October 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“Major Vaughn Wins the D.S.C.” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on January 4, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the September 1932 cover Bissell put us right in the action that lead to Major George Vaughn winning a D.S.C.!

Vaughn Wins the D.S.C.

th_FA_3209“FOR extraordinary heroism in action near Cambrai, France. On September 22, 1918, Lieutenant Vaughn, while leading an offensive patrol, sighted 18 enemy Fokkers about to attack a group of five Allied planes which were flying at a low level. Although outnumbered nearly five to one, he attacked the enemy group and personally shot down two of the enemy planes, the remaining three pilots of his flight shooting down two more. His daring and courage enabled the group of Allied planes to escape ….”

So reads the American army citation on which the D.S.C. was awarded to Lieutenant George A. Vaughn. But between the lines is even more of a story—the story of a youth who left school to serve his country, first with the British and then under his own colors, with the 17th Aero Squadron—the story of a lad who came victorious through many air battles and who, that morning in September, 1918, seeing some of his comrades trapped by the enemy, went unhesitatingly to their aid. He knew he was outnumbered five to one by the Boche, yet he deliberately accepted the desperate odds. He calmly watched the chill hand of death reach for him; coolly he evaded its annihilating clutch and saw its grim fingers close on two of his enemies.

He fought many times after this, wresting victory after victory from the Boche until the war’s end found him one of America’s leading aces, with the rank of major.

It was 8:45 a.m. on a clear sunny morning. Big cumulus clouds about seven thousand feet up floated slowly across No-Man’s-Land, casting great blue shadows on the shell-pocked surface, and themselves affording excellent hiding places for enemy airplanes.

Vaughn, with three companions, was flying just under the clouds, protecting another flight of five Camels about three thousand feet below and slightly in advance of him. From the east fifteen Fokkers came in at about Vaughn’s level. They turned and flew parallel with him, all the time watching the lower flight. Then suddenly they tipped over on their noses and went down in a body on the planes below.

Suspecting a trap, Vaughn immediately searched the skies overhead. Sure enough, there they were—another batch of Germans ready to swoop down like hawks on him and his companions. Instantly he saw the one chance—to lead his flight down into the fight below, and do what damage they could diving in—at the same time giving the five Allied planes a chance to break away-and then try to get out of it before the enemy from above could surround them.

DOWN the four Camels tore, into the twisting dogfight below them—tracer bullets reaching out ahead, searching their red targets. In an instant it was every man for himself. Vaughn saw one of the Camels go down in flames and cursed the damned Boche as his sights picked up a black cross squarely. His fingers squeezed the trips. A wild answering throb as his guns spit flame, and he saw the red machine fall off out of control.

He swung in a tight turn to the left. The whole world now seemed nothing to him but white streaks of smoke cutting the sky in every direction, while red, yellow, green ships— ships with huge black crosses or ships with the tricolored circles of the Allies—seemed to come suddenly from nowhere.

The upper flight was now on him. He could see their tracers swish by him as they came down.

The red belly of a Fokker stood squarely in front of him. A quick burst, and he saw the red tail kick up as the Boche started on his last dive. Number Two—but a burst of bullets came through the cockpit just over his knees. Too close! They had him hemmed in, so he took his only chance, and threw himself into a spin.

Down he went, his tail whipping around and around. In this way he afforded no easy target. But the Germans followed him down, firing burst after burst into him, diving past, zooming back and diving again, their guns blazing. That spin seemed endless.

Luckily, most of the Germans had given him up as finished, and turned back. One last persistent Boche fired a long burst, and then he, too. turned, leaving Vaughn, as he supposed, to crash. Just in time the little Camel answered the controls.

THEN came the greatest blow of the battle. He was out of gas. There was no answering roar from the motor, and with a sinking heart and a vision of German prison camps, he sought a place to set her down. Lower he came. Now scarcely fifty feet was between him and the torn earth, the idling prop was slowing perceptibly, when suddenly it came to him—-the emergency tank! Quickly he switched it on. There was a sputter; then with a full-throated roar the engine took hold and the little machine climbed rapidly up again.

But the battle was over, and now not a plane was to be seen. So, turning toward his airdrome, some twenty minutes away, Vaughn for the first time had an opportunity to think about himself. It was then he was conscious of a burning sensation across his back. His flying suit was soaking wet just below his right shoulder. Wounded, he thought, and to use his own words, “Fine! Now I’ll get a month in the hospital. Or perhaps they’ll send me to Blighty.”

He could feel no pain, so decided it was slight, and landed with a broad smile, feeling he had rather put it over on the boys. Then came the second blow of the day, as the mechanics pointed to where the corner of his gas tank had been shot away. His clothes were soaked, not with blood, but with gasoline. No wound! No Blighty! Well, what the hell! It had been a good scrap, anyway. Six Fokkers had been accounted for, and only two Camels lost.

All Vaughn got then was a new ship. But later, with bands playing and flags flying and a lot of soldiers standing round to see how it was done, they pinned a bit of ribbon on him. Not much for a man who had played with death daily, but just the Army’s way of saying, “This guy’s damn good!”

The Ships on The Cover
“Major Vaughn Wins the D.S.C”
Flying Aces, September 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

“Torpedoes for Trouble” by Colcord Heurlin

Link - Posted by David on December 7, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present a cover by Colcord Heurlin! Heurlin worked in the pulps primarily over a ten year period from 1923 to 1933. His work appeared on Adventure, Aces, Complete Stories, Everybody’s Combined with Romance, North-West Stories, The Popular, Short Stories, Flying Aces, Sea Stories, Top-Notch, War Stories, Western Story, and here, the cover of the December 1931 Sky Birds!

Torpedoes for Trouble

th_SB_3112IT WAS a far cry from the early days of the war, when aviators were asked to drop bombs on hurriedly constructed Zeppelin hangars in northern Belgium, to the 1918 bomber with its aerial torpedo. In the early days airmen often made their own bombs of petrol cans wrapped with tarred rope which was designed to blast out hangars and then set fire to the remains. From those days bombing went through the 20-pounder stage, automatic racks, and eventually blossomed out with ships carrying single 550-pound missiles designed to fang their way through many feet of solid concrete before exploding. These were known as delayed detonation bombs.

On this month’s cover we show a two-seater bomber of this type. It has just released a 550-pound torpedo over a German airdrome. As in this picture, the pilot usually dived his ship on the target as though he were going to fire his fixed guns, and then released the torpedo-bomb. The spinning projectile did the rest.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Torpedoes for Trouble”
Sky Birds, December 1931 by Colcord Heurlin

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