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

Link - Posted by David on May 16, 2022 @ 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—Case in point, for three issues, starting with the December 1934 issue, Mayshark depicted Air Battles of the future! For the third and final future cover on the February 1935 issue Mayshark gives us the Troop Ship of the Skies!

Air Battles of the Future: Troop Ship of the Skies

th_FA_3502WAR in the air! What would it mean in the future?

Armadas of fighting ships in grim formations, thundering into attack at terrific speed? Darting scouts bristling with guns directed from a ground base? Giant dreadnaughts of the sky in battle formation, answering the commands of the Air Admiral as he paces the bridge of his battle-plane?

All this—and more! There is another side to the air war of the future. What the raiding cruisers and monitors of World War days were to the elements of attack, the new troop carrier would be to the future war in the air. A great flying boat, capable of transporting several hundred men, weapons, demolition devices and transport destruction equipment, could swoop down out of the skies from bases several thousand miles distant, and before ground troops could be brought up to lay down temporary lines of defense, these flying boats could be gone, after paralyzing whole sectors, battering important base points to bits and—what is more terrible—destroying the morale of the civilian population.

Let us picture a possible raid of this type—say five, perhaps ten years from now.

At the present rate of improvement in service equipment, we can easily picture a United States Navy patrol station leader faced with the astounding report that an unknown troop transport has been seen heading toward the eastern coast of the United States. The formality of the declaration of war leaves everyone concerned with the problem of learning who and why. But the orders state in crisp, terse sentences that the mysterious troop transport must be blocked off and prevented from making a landing on the mainland.

A Captain Sully and a Lieutenant Stevens, crack contact men of the Twentieth Squadron, are shown the message and ordered off to do the intercepter job. Unfortunately, their equipment is nothing more up-to-date than the Curtiss Goshawk, a fine ship in 1934, but hardly an intercepter in 193—. Still, there’s a job to do, and Sully and Stevens take it on. The former, a soldier to his stubby fingertips, realizes the seriousness of the situation. The latter, still in the prime of youth, regards it a great joke and, probably, the nightmare of some sleepy-eyed transatlantic liner radio operator.

The trim but service-weary Goshawks are warmed up.

Once in the air, Captain Sully turned his thoughts to the mysterious orders he has in his pocket. Troop transports are ordinary things. Every country’s air force has them—has had them for years, but machines under this classification have never been regarded as particularly effective because of restrictions in accommodation of personnel and equipment.

The Navy pilots have been speeding close to the water for only a few minutes when what they thought was somebody’s bad dream turns into stark realism. Thundering along close to the water at a good rate of speed, a giant flying boat comes into view from out of a cloudless horizon.

With a gasp, Sully jams his foot down on the rudder control, and the fighter lurches to the left. With Stevens close behind him, the Navy pilot darts out of firing range of the huge transport. After banking around and flying along parallel with the mysterious air monster. Captain Sully has time to make a more comprehensive inspection of the ship.

Between two wings which have a slight degree of dihedral, there are seven motor nacelles, all set in the same plane. Each nacelle carries two motors—one driving a tractor and the other a pusher air-screw. There are a total of fourteen engines, the aggregate energy of which is fourteen thousand horsepower.

Each motor nacelle is supported by a main strut and also by two smaller struts which connect with the trailing edge spars. These smaller struts take up the forward thrust, which is generated to a very marked degree when two thousand horsepower is unleashed. The engines are cooled by means of a special liquid cooling agency, air cooling being impractical when engines are set in tandem. Cantilever construction is employed in the wings, the ribs and spars being built entirely of a light-weight composition metal.

The hull of the ship is connected with the lower wing, through which an extension of the hull passes. The center motor nacelle is built upon this extension. The control cabin is located forward of the leading edge of the lower plane, where the best possible line of vision is obtained, and from where most of the ship can be viewed. This facilitates immediate action in case anything goes wrong with the controls, motors, or anything else important to the flight of the ship.

The hull of the ship is divided into three sections, the central section being large and the other two small. In the central section there are accommodations for 275 men. All their equipment, including rifles, pistols, ammunition, blankets, gas masks, and extra clothing, is carried in the forward compartment, each man’s supplies being stowed in a separate closet. The galley and various other stowage compartments are located in the aft section of the hull. Gasoline and oil tanks, as well as extra motor parts, are also carried in this section. Minor motor difficulties can be repaired in flight by means of a catwalk which connects the motor nacelles. Space is provided in the two outboard pontoons for auxiliary gasoline tanks.

It is safe to assume that any invading nation would not send a transport full of buck privates into the United States, because even 275 armed soldiers are not likely to be particularly effective unless placed where they can make a certain type of raid on a weakly defended point. Instead, this transport is probably loaded with experts in bridge and railroad demolition. It would carry highly trained machine-gun and light field-gun crews who would scatter for a certain distance and throw up a defending ring of steel and fire to cover the workings of the experts. These, in turn, would no doubt destroy first the transatlantic cable stations, high-power radio towers, important bridge and railroad junctions. There is a possibility that they would head for one of the great ammunition plants on the New Jersey coast or the noted weapon works near Bridgeport.

But what of Sully and Stevens?

By this time, they have hurled their fighters into action. Their wires scream, and they pound down with an angled fire from their 30-caliber guns. The gunners aboard the transport ship reply with heavy-caliber fire, and the Goshawks tremble under the pounding spray. Guns appear in the port and starboard turrets aft of the wings.

Sully gives a signal and they both switch in their 50-caliber guns, hoping that the high-pressure stuff will batter into a vulnerable spot and at least head the raider off. The fire continues, but the troop-carrier goes on, while her gunners harass the defending Goshawks.

The Goshawks stagger and falter. At last, there is an ominous rattle in the ammo cans—and their fight is over. They have no more cartridges, no more fight. They surge down once more in a screeching dive, full into the flaming guns of the raiders. It is an ineffectual gesture, but they have nothing left to do.

The grim troop-carrier hurtles on, and the two gallant American airmen are left helpless. They have given their best with what they had to use. Is the enemy to score because of better equipment, or will our services be up to par if the time ever comes? We have the men and the guns. Can we get them into action and ward off any threats that may darken our shores?

The troop-carrier roars away into the mist that shields the mainland. Where? What is its objective?

The two battered Goshawks return to their base, frustrated but not beaten. They know the troop-carrier will have to return, and they hope to have something in hand to send it on its way. If this situation ever arises, will we have the air defense to cope with it?

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, February 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Air Battles of the Future: Troop Ship of the Skies

How the War Crates Flew: Getting Your Hun

Link - Posted by David on May 11, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

FROM the pages of the October 1932 number of Sky Fighters:

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

Getting Your Hun

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters, October 1932)

PETE BANKS, of the 65th Pursuits, flashed into a screaming half roll, and went thundering down to pour burst after burst into the checkered Fokker. . . .

And then the story goes on to tell how Pete finally got his Fokker and returned home to be made round-shouldered by all the medals they pinned on him. But, if the truth be known, Pete, I wouldn’t pin a medal on you. Sure, I’d tell you that you were a swell guy for getting that Hun. And then I’d turn around and ask you why you wasted so much costly ammunition. Huh? What’s that? Oh, it was just that way in the story. Well, then I guess that it would be a pretty good idea if we told these fledglings here a little about the technical side of getting Huns.

Now, just so’s we’ll get off on the right foot we’ll make this statement. In the final analysis the only thing that really counts is getting your Hun. If you can bring him down by tossing tomatoes at him, why so much the better. But during the late war the recognized method was shooting them down with nice stinging bullets. However, there are ways and ways to get an enemy ship.

And, believe it or not, you do a big part of the job of getting an enemy ship before you leave the ground. What’s that? Why, you ask? Well, give me time to tell you about it. Just sit still, and don’t be fussing around so much.

Now let us say that we are flying an S.E.5a, powered with a 210 hp. Hisso-Viper engine. On that kind of ship we’d have two Vickers guns mounted on the engine cowling and geared to shoot between the revolving propeller blades. And, mounted on the top center section, we’d have a single Lewis gun that fired over the top of the propeller blades. Now, right here I want to put in a word about that Lewis gun. The Lewis machine gun, which was an aerial adaptation of the regular infantry machine gun, was never geared to fire between the propeller blades. It just couldn’t be done, for technical reasons we won’t take time to mention here. So if you ever read in a story where it was done, why you can just put it down that the author was thinking about the Vickers gun when he was writing the yarn.

Okay, let’s get on. We have three guns, a Lewis and two Vickers. The Lewis is fed by a drum that contains ninety-seven rounds. And the Vickers are fed by belts that contain a varying number of rounds. The usual number carried was about six hundred rounds in each belt. Now for the two Vickers that would make a total of around twelve hundred rounds. And on the Lewis there would be a drum of ninety-seven rounds. And in containers in the cockpit the pilot would carry two extra drums. So the total number of shots that the pilot could wham at a Hun plane was around fifteen hundred.

Whether you think so or not, the Vickers guns were finished for the day once the belts were run through. And that was for the simple reason that you didn’t carry extra belts. But, when a drum of bullets on the Lewis gun were used up, why, you could take off the empty drum and take one of the spare full drums and stick it on. Doing that was a simple job yet you had to watch yourself, else the drum would go sailing back over the tail plane. Here’s how you did it. The Lewis was mounted so that the end of the barrel slipped down into a snap catch. When that snap catch was released (by pulling a wire that lead down into the cockpit) the gun would tilt back on its mounting to a forty-five degree angle. In other words, the rear end of the gun would tilt down toward you sitting in the cockpit. In that way you could reach the drum with your hand. First you stuck your hand up and slipped four fingers under the leather handle in the center of the top of the drum. Then with your thumb you pressed a little sliding catch at the bottom of one side of the handle. Doing that, released the drum from the post it’s mounted on. And then you lifted the drum clear of the post and brought it back toward you, being careful to keep the front part of the drum tilted toward the prop wash. If you didn’t the wind would get under the underneath part of the drum and force the drum and your arm back and the drum would go sailing away.

BUT we got the empty drum off alright, so we’ll grab up one of the full drums in the cockpit container and put it back on the gun by simply reversing the operation. In other words, tilt it toward the prop wash, fit it down over the post and release the catch. Then we load the gun by pulling back the loading handle on the side of the gun. And then we shove up the rear of the gun so that the end of the barrel slips down into the snap catch. And then she’s all set to fire ninety-seven more rounds.

Well, so much for that. But let’s go back to where we haven’t loaded the guns. We’re still on the ground, and in the armament hut checking our guns to make sure that everything is in good working order. Now what we’ll do is load the belts and the drums. On the table in front of us we have a pile of regular bullets, a pile of tracer bullets, and a pile of incendiary bullets. And right close to us we have a dummy gun barrel. We load the belts in this order. First a regular bullet, then a tracer bullet, and then an incendiary bullet. And so on in that order until the belts and the drums are full. But let me say right here that every pilot had different ideas about what kind of bullets he’d carry. Some loaded two regular to one tracer and so forth. And of course if you were going after balloons you’d put in lots of explosive bullets. But before you put in any bullet, regardless of what kind it was, you’d first fit it into the dummy barrel to make sure that it would fit. In short, you personally inspected every single round that you intended to fire at some Hun ship. You might think that that was a waste of time, if you had a good armament officer. But, don’t forget, those little bullets and your little ship were the difference between life and death for you. So naturally you personally looked over everything, just in case.

Well, let’s say that the guns are loaded, the ship inspected, and that you are sailing over Hunland in quest of another bird for your bag.

Ah, you spot a dark speck off to the left and on the same level as you. You squint at it a moment and by knowing the silhouettes of German ships you can tell what type it is. This time it’s a Fokker. So you start to climb because in a dog fight the top man has the advantage. Why? Well, because a pursuit job can only fire one way . . . straight forward. Therefore his blind spot is his tail. And if you are above him it’s a darn sight easier to drop down on his tail than it is to try and climb up to it, for the simple reason that while you’re climbing up, he’s dropping down on you.

Well, for the sake of this chin-fest let’s say that you get above him a few hundred feet or so. He spots you coming and tries to get away. Now you’re all set to dive down on his tail and fire. You slide your fingers up to the gun release levers on the joystick and maneuver your ship until you get him in your sights.

And we’ll stop right there for a second while we talk about the gun sights.

There were two kinds of sights used. (See Sept. “Sky Fighters.”) One was called the telescopic sight, and the other the right sight. The telescopic sight was a tube about twelve inches long mounted parallel to the two Vickers guns. At one end it had the ring sight markings on the lens so that you sighted the same as you would if using the regular ring sight. Now, the ring sight was in two parts, the ring and the bead. The ring part was a metal ring about three inches across mounted on a post at the rear of the gun. The post continued into the ring to form a quarter inch ring in the center. And mounted on end of the barrel of the gun was a post that tapered up into a red colored bead.

What was that? What do you mean mounted on the gun? Good boy, I wondered if you’d trip me up on that. When you use only one gun the sights are mounted on that gun, usually. But when you use two guns, as we have in this case, the sights are mounted between the guns.

But about that ring sight. When you sight so that the red bead forward is square in the quarter inch ring at the rear it means that your guns (the Lewis included) are aimed at everything that that red bead is on. Now, you have three paths of fire, the two Vickers and the Lewis. Naturally you want those three paths of fire to converge at a certain point. The point determined upon is dependent upon the whims of the pilot. But the average distance is about two hundred yards from the nose of the plane. And so the guns are tilted or moved sidewise to effect that range. That is done on the ground of course, and the guns fastened securely in the desired position.

Alright, alright, I’m coming to it. What about the large ring? Well, here’s the idea of that. The average war plane had a speed of about 100 m.p.h. Now, let us say that a Hun ship is flying across your sights. If you waited until the red bead was on him and then fired, why, he would be past your bullets by the time they reached him. But if you fired when the outer ring was cutting his cockpit, why, he and the bullets would meet. In other words, the outer ring enabled you to take care of what was termed deflection . . . his speed against the speed of your bullets and the distance they have to travel. Naturally, pilot judgment has to be put into play in every case. But as a sort of standard gauge the ring sight is set so that a ship crossing your path two hundred yards distant will reach the center of the ring at the same time as your bullets, provided you fire when the outer ring is cutting the enemy’s cockpit.

Of course that is assuming that the Hun ship is flying at right angles to you. If he is diving down past the front of you his speed is greater. Therefore you would open fire when he was outside the ring to make sure that he dived into your burst of shots. And if he was climbing up in front of you, his speed would be slower. Therefore you would let him get inside the ring before you opened fire.

In other words, you really look through a ring at the enemy ship and open fire when he has reached the correct spot in that ring. And naturally you place him in the ring, outside it, or on it, as the case may be, so that he is headed toward the center.

A little while back I mentioned about the telescopic sight having the ring sight markings. Well, that’s just what I meant. Marked on the rear lens of the telescopic sight is the ring sight. So you use the telescopic sight just the same way.

Now, naturally, if you took out time to get your Hun this way or that in your sights, he might fool you and keep you chasing around the air all day long. In a scrap you can’t be accurate about that. You take a snap sight and fire, and your tracer bullets (which leave a tiny trail of phosphorous smoke) will give you an idea of where your other shots are going. But tracers start to go cockeyed after about two hundred yards of travel, so that is why the average effective range is about two hundred yards. Beyond that point your tracer bullets aren’t worth a darn. They burn as they go through the air and after a while their path of travel ceases to be straight.

AND now let’s get back to this Fokker we’re after. We start down in a dive and fire . . . and miss. The Fokker skids out of the line of fire. So we follow him around and let drive every time we get him in our sights. And of course all the time we are trying to stick on his tail . . . above him and behind him. But, we do not let our guns keep firing all the time. Our guns will fire about six hundred rounds a minute. So when you figure that out, if we fire for a minute steady we are all out of shots, with exception, of course, of our two extra Lewis drums of ninety-seven rounds each. But we haven’t had time to change the drums, because that’s a tough job to do when you are twisting around in a scrap and making sure that friend Hun doesn’t get on your tail.

So, naturally, we scrap with the idea of making every round count. Of course, every round doesn’t count. But we work that way nevertheless. And so we fire short bursts of, say, ten or twenty rounds at a time. But the idea of Pete Bank pouring burst after burst into that checkered Fokker is out! If he does that he’s wasting shots because if the checkered Fokker is in his sights, one burst will probably do the trick. And if it doesn’t, it means that Pete is just shooting cockeyed.

Now, don’t get the idea that bullet economy was the sole watchword of war pilots. It wasn’t. Yet, at the same time every pilot knew just how many rounds he had to fire. Some did act like Pete Banks, and go crazy and let the whole works go. But the great majority didn’t shoot until they were darn sure they had something to shoot at. And to make as certain as possible that they were going to hit what they shot at, they used the old sights just as much as they could.

When you think it over it really doesn’t take much to send a plane swirling down out of the sky. One little incendiary bullet in the gas tank will do the trick. Or one little bullet right in the skull of your enemy will do it too. Or a nice little burst of ten or a dozen that riddles the engine, or splits the prop will get desired results also. It’s all a combination of marksmanship and flying ability. Some of the greatest aces in the World War were terrible pilots, but they were perfect shots. They could knock the whiskers off a Hun at any distance, and that’s what counted. The Hun might outfly them, but once they got in just one crack, it was all over for the other fellow.

And I guess that it’s all over for us, for the present.

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

Link - Posted by David on May 9, 2022 @ 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—Case in point, for three issues, starting with the December 1934 issue, Mayshark depicted Air Battles of the future! For the January 1935 issue Mayshark gives us an Attack from the Stratosphere!

Air Battles of the Future: Attack from the Stratosphere

th_FA_3501DEATH and destruction from the skies! Raids on the United States mainland by an unknown
foe!

Impossible? That’s what the armchair soldiers say. They see only attack in the form of surface vessels that may try to sneak through the natural defenses. A few with a broader scope of view admit that a few airplanes could take off from a carrier outside New York or Washington. But of course, they say, these planes would be stopped once they got inside the range area of the defensive microphones.

But there is a deadlier air weapon than the ordinary bomber or fighting plane. Let’s paint the picture.

Fifty thousand feet above the Gulf Coast, the sunshine is trickling through the clouds in straight lines, bringing life to the farmers and fishermen and merchants on the land and water below. But suddenly something else, mysterious and ominous, is trickling down through the clouds—in straight lines, also. Bombs! And instead of bringing life, they are bringing death and destruction to the people below.

With a shriek, they hurtle into view beneath the lowest strata of clouds, but no mortal force can stop them now. When these bombs hit, dirt, sunshine, and men alike are driven into oblivion, and hysteria and a ghostly fear follow in their deadly wake.

Frantic telephone calls stream out over the wires, and presently the C.O. at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama, is speaking. Are there any fast two-seaters available? Certainly! Several Curtiss Shrikes have just been sent down from Buffalo. Can they be prepared for action and flown to the coast immediately? Yes, immediately. That is all. Within five minutes three Shrikes rip into the air and head south, and on the grim faces of their pilots and observers is a look of courage and determination.

What are the machines that have been given this assignment?

The Shrikes are considered among the greatest attack ships in the world, and have provided a new design for many other countries to copy. The ship is manufactured by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company at Buffalo. It is a low-wing, wire-braced machine, carrying a pilot and an observer. The model shown on the cover is the Conqueror-powered job, listed as the A-8. The motor is chemically cooled, and rated at 600 horsepower.

Probably the most interesting feature of this ship is the armament, for it has been stated that it is equal in gun fire to a regiment of infantry. The observer is provided with two high-speed Browning guns. The pilot has the control buttons of four high-calibre guns in his cockpit. These weapons are hidden in the upper portion of the landing wheel cowlings, while in some models an additional high-calibre gun is mounted in the starboard wing root.

On actual attack work, the Shrike carries a special 500-lb. fragmentation bomb hung between the wheels. This is for offensive work against troops, ground activity and transportation.

Some one back at Maxwell has hinted that the attack is being made by a stratosphere machine of some sort. Every pilot is pondering on that statement. They circle over the area pin-pointed for them until they reach 25,000 feet, the ceiling of the new attack ships. They have taken to the oxygen masks 5,000 feet below this sky lane, and still catch no sight of the raider. Where—and what—is the menace from above?

The stratosphere ship which eludes the Army two-seaters so easily embodies principles of construction which are being employed at the present time in several countries.

There are two details of design in the stratosphere ship which might be alluded to as radical departures from conventional airplane construction. The first to note is the unusual depth to which the undercarriage is slung. The sole purpose of this is to allow an unobstructed radius for the long blades of the propeller when the ship is on the ground. The long-bladed air screw is used because a greater propeller beat is required in the thin air of the stratosphere.

The second feature to note is the comparatively large control surfaces, used because of the low resistance offered by the high-altitude atmosphere. The control surfaces of an ordinary airplane, if it could reach the stratosphere, would be of practically no avail.

The control cabin is absolutely air-tight, thus maintaining a pressure that is equivalent to that of sea level. Oxygen tanks are carried to insure a fresh supply of air at all times. The power plant is a twelve-cylinder, opposed, water-cooled engine, fitted with a super-charger. Difficulty is encountered in cooling an engine at high altitudes. Therefore, the radiators are located outside the metal hull.

The water radiator is on top, and is set in a longitudinal line so as to offer the least resistance. As water circulates through this radiator, it is cooled instantly upon contacting the extremely cold air to be found at great heights. The oil cooling is also accomplished by means of a radiator mounted outside the hull. Swung between the main struts of the undercarriage, this radiator is built so that the broadest surface is facing forward. Resistance offered is practically negligible, however, because of the small overall dimensions. All bombs are carried inside the hull, a trap being opened to emit them.

As the Shrikes speed along at 193 miles an hour to meet this monster, the Army pilots and observers scan the skies with searching eyes. If they must fight a stratosphere ship, they certainly cannot fight it in the stratosphere. With difficulty they can get a few thousand feet higher—but no more. Well, perhaps this strange demon of the air will eventually come down to get observations and pictures. Then they will have their chance.

The Shrikes continue along the coastline for perhaps twenty minutes in a westerly direction toward Mobile—and suddenly the stratosphere ship appears. Tearing down through the clouds at a terrific rate of speed, a long, blue low-wing monoplane seems about to crash into the Army two-seaters. With the speed of a darting snake, the leading Shrike banks to the right, and the observer fires the first shots. But to no avail!

The stratosphere ship has now pulled around and is beginning to climb, with the two-seaters frantically trying to reach it. Suddenly a gun tunnel is lowered from beneath the fuselage of the stratosphere ship, and as it belches tracer, the Shrikes are dispersed like leaves before an autumn wind. As they reassemble, they make one last desperate attempt to reach their adversary—but the height is too great.

What is the answer to this threat? Will it be an armored lighter-than-air ship, or will the anti-aircraft men develop a gun and range-finding equipment to stop it?

Our guess is that we shall have to fight fire with fire, and build stratosphere fighters.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, January 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Air Battles of the Future: Attack from the Stratosphere

“Above The Lines” by Raoul Whitfield

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

THIS week we have another of Raoul Whitfield’s ‘Buck’ Kent stories from the pages of Air Trails magazine. Whitfield is primarily known for his hardboiled crime fiction published in the pages of Black Mask, but he was equally adept at lighter fair that might run in the pages of Breezy Stories. ‘Buck’ Kent, along with his pal Lou Parrish, is an adventurous pilot for hire. These stories, although more in the juvenile fiction vein, do feature some elements of his harder prose.

In the November 1928 issue of Air Trails, ‘Buck’ is flying down to the boarder to meet up with his buddy Lou, the two will then travel on to Mexicali. Unfortunately, the brother of a bank robber Buck had stopped earlier is out for revenge and his reward money. It all goes down “Above the Lines!”

Bullets meant little when his pal’s life was at stake! Another sure-fire story of Buck Kent, the free-lance airman!

“Flying Aces, December 1934″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 2, 2022 @ 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—Case in point, for three issues, starting with the December 1934 issue, Mayshark depicted Air Battles of the future! For the December 1934 issue Mayshark gives us The Rocket Raider!

Air Battles of the Future: The Rocket Raider

th_FA_3412THE future war in the air has the national defense experts puzzled as to what methods of attack may be used and what systems of defense may be required to maintain public security. In general, the aviation experts agree that few ships in modern use today would be able to withstand the onslaught of several air weapons that have already been devised and, in many cases, actually built and flown. These weapons include gas distributors, stratosphere ships, radio-controlled torpedo planes and various types of rocket-propelled machines.

Should any of these devices be brought into play today, it is evident that we have little with which to combat them. Take the case of the rocket ship, for instance. It is not a figment of the imagination, in any sense. Rocket ships and rocket automobiles have been built and actually flown or run. Rocket boats have been propelled successfully at high speed. A controlled rocket system is actually in operation in Europe, and plans are under way to deliver mail from the center of Germany to England next summer. How far away, then, is the military rocket ship? Possibly a year, possibly five.

But suppose that some foreign power has a rocket ship—a small fleet of them. If we believe facts and figures as shown, a large rocket ship, capable of carrying large bomb loads and heavy gun-power, could cross the Atlantic or the Pacific in about ten hours. Let us suppose, for instance, that such a ship or a fleet of ships were to attack the American mainland.

For one thing, this raid would not be discovered at once—probably not before the fleet was within one hundred miles of the coastline. Immediately, the General Staff would realize the seriousness of the situation. It might mean the destruction of government nerve centers. It might indicate terrible bombing, or the spreading of gas or disease germs. The knowledge of who the possible enemy was would give the first inkling of the points of attack. Naval bases might be threatened, and aircraft factories.

If big cities were to come in for the threat, it would mean death and destruction amid the civil population. Water supplies might be cut off, power and communication systems destroyed. But one of the most important points to be considered in a raid of this sort would be the grim element of blasting surprise and demoralization of morale among the civil population.

A scene prophetic of such a situation might be constructed on the air field of an Army Air Service squadron—let us say, along the Atlantic Coast. The sound-detectors have picked up a suspicious sound, a sound not quite like anything ever caught before. The detector-operator senses that this is no ordinary internal combustion engine, and at once his fears begin to gather, for he has been warned of possible raids by strange aircraft. What can this powerful engine threaten?

A fleet of Army Boeings is sent out to attempt to contact this ship. They are equipped with two-way radio sets, so they are sent out fanwise to cover as wide an area as possible and with orders to report the position of the on-rushing winged weapon.

The pilots—young, anxious, but a little skeptical about all this talk of strange foreign raiders of such monstrous proportions and ability—climb into their ships under the hasty commands of their field commandant.

As the pilot jams the gas into the 500-h.p. Wasp engine, the Boeing P-12E strains forward and is off the tarmac with a roar. Climbing in a spiral, the ship reaches six thousand feet in 3.5 minutes, levels off, and heads to the east. The pilot of the Boeing searches the skies before him and spots an object just above the horizon. Within the next minute, all his illusions about the possibilities of a rocket raid on the United States are gone.

Tearing down across the sky at a phenomenal rate of speed, there appears before the eyes of the Boeing pilot a long, black, perfectly streamlined hull supported in the air by stubby yellow wings. As the strange machine bursts into a better line of vision, the mechanical detail is easily distinguished. The rocket projection tubes are located near the aft end of the ship, and are placed so that the tail assembly will not interfere with the rocket bursts as they are emitted. On top of the rudder is a machine gun which fires in the direction that the rudder is set. The cartridge belt passes within the framework of the rudder down to the magazine, which is located in the tail of the hull. Two 37-mm. air cannons are carried in the wings. These guns are stationary, and they fire forward in the line of flight.

Other armament consists of a bullet-proof, glass-covered gun turret directly in front of the control cabin, and a fixed, steel-covered cannon turret above and to the rear of the control cabin. The ship is equipped with wheels and pontoons, both of which are retractable. Complete radio equipment is carried, including transmitter and receiver and a television screen. Except for the reserve tank, the rocket fuel is carried in ten individual containers, which feed directly to their respective rocket projection tubes. The carburetor and firing unit are located in the elbow of the tube, so that when the explosion occurs, the burst carries itself without friction with anything but air, past the tail and directly to the rear of the ship, thereby producing forward motion.

The crew consists of seven men, including the commanding officer, the pilot, the navigator, the radio operator, two gunners, and the engineer. The machine is covered with a lightweight composition sheet metal which is as strong as steel. The ship attains a speed of between 600 and 700 miles per hour, but the landing speed is relatively low, due to the fact that forward motion can be reduced simply by reversing the position of two of more of the rocket projection tubes, all of which are mounted on a swivel and can be turned to any point within 180 degrees.

Our pilot in the Boeing barely has time to collect his senses before the roaring rocket raider is all but upon him. As he kicks his trim little ship over in the air, he feels the impact of steel-jacketed bullets on his fuselage and realizes with anger that the gunner in the glass turret of the rocket demon is already firing on him! He pulls up and drops over into a half-roll in an attempt to maneuver out of the line of that deadly fire.

At last he is in the clear and, as he trains his wing guns upon the flashing hull of the rocket ship, he realizes that there are no visible vital spots at which to aim. All he can do is fire point blank and trust that he hits a control surface with damaging effect. During the few seconds that his enemy remains in his line of fire, he keeps his fingers on the trigger buttons, but the bullets bounce off the steel ship like hailstones off a tin roof.

In a vain attempt, our Boeing pilot dives down, firing at the tail of the giant ship. But suddenly he finds himself being racked by the terrific fire of his adversary’s rudder gun. Frantically he pulls his damaged ship over and slides into a slow spin. He lands a few moments later, scarcely able to explain what he has seen, owing to his excitement. But the rocket raider continues on to the west, unchecked. Where will it strike, and how will it be stopped? It will be coped with, there is certainly no doubt, but a much faster and more powerful ship than the Boeing P-12E will be required to bring it to its doom.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, December 1934 by C.B. Mayshark
Air Battles of the Future: The Rocket Raider

“Tripe of Peace” by Joe Archibald

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

The Germans have developed a new, sinister gas bomb that makes a person have no desire to fight and love their fellow man. What kind of war would that be? Needless to say, the Boomtown marvel sets out to find the source of this new deadly destruction and in the process inspires a put-upon German corporal named Adolph to dream big—real big!

When the Kraut concoction cooker-uppers caused a flock of Allied flyers to forsake their battle buggies in favor of a Western Front version of the Yassar daisy chain, Rufus Garrity roared, “It’s impossible!” Of course, when his own sky-scrappers got messed up with Kid Maxie, the Munich Mauler, the fiery Major’s opinion had to be revised. All of which was a mere trifle. For after Phineas deftly tossed his Uncle Thaddeus’s Sioux shillelah, Heinie-land’s whole history had to be revised—believe it, or else!

“Aid to the Lost Battalion” 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 September 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action as Lt’s Goettler and Bleckley try to get …

Aid to the Lost Battalion

th_FA_3309THE Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest decoration the United States can bestow upon its military heroes. Only four airmen of the World War received it — Captain Edward V. Rickenbacker, Lieutenant Frank Luke, and Lieutenants Harold Ernest Goettler and Erwin R. Bleckley. The first two, both aces, are well known, and most people know that Congress so honored them, even if a bit tardily in Rickenbacker’s case. But few know of Goettler and Bleckley and the glorious story of how they gave their lives, going “above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy” in an effort to save some of their countrymen.

On October 2, 1918, the 77th Division in the Argonne sector was ordered to advance, with directions to reach their objective, regardless of cost. In this movement was included the Second Battalion of the 308th Infantry, under command of Major Charles Whittlesey. The advance was made late in the afternoon. At the end of hours of terrific hand-to-hand fighting the battalion had advanced to its objective, the old Charlevaux Mill, near Binarville.

The troops on both sides of them, however, had been unable to hold their positions. This allowed the Germans to filter in from both ends and completely surround the Americans. For the next five days, this battalion of about 550 men, without food, supplies or ammunition, with scant water, and subjected to the most terrific fire, dug themselves in as best they could and refused repeated demands of the Germans to surrender.

They held a narrow ravine, the general location of which was known to our headquarters, but the exact location and the conditions existing among these men was unknown, since repeated efforts from both the battalion and the main division to establish contact had been unsuccessful. It was, however, definitely known that some of the battalion were still alive, and so, on October 6th, an order came over the wires which snapped every airdrome on that front to instant alertness. “Locate the battalion and get it food and supplies at any cost.”

Every available ship of Squadron 50 was soon on the line. The powerful Liberty motors roared and the propellers bit into the heavy fog. This was no flying weather, but somewhere out there where the incessant bark of the big guns could be heard, were Americans surrounded and trapped by the enemy, suffering and dying, waiting for help from their comrades.

There was no small talk among the airmen. A dirty job lay ahead of them—a job that none of them wished for, yet none of them thought of shirking. The planes were loaded with iron rations—chocolate, bully beef, coffee, hard tack—bandages and official messages. Quietly the men climbed into their ships—an observer and pilot to each of the D.H.4s, and with Flight Commander Lieutenant Goettler leading, one after another the big planes took off into the mist.

An hour had passed when a ship came sliding out of the fog to a rough landing on the tarmac of Squadron 50. The mechanics rushed out, to find it was Goettler and Bleckley, his observer, returned from their search. The plane was riddled with bullet holes, and large pieces of fabric were missing from the fuselage.

The faces of the two airmen were grim. Goettler’s orders were curt. “Refuel the plane and put in another set of rations. Patch it up as best you can. We have found the Lost Battalion, and we’re going back in another fifteen minutes.”

THE mechanics did not know until later all the details of the first flight—of how the battalion had at last been located at “Charleyvoo” Mill—how the big D.H.4 had waded through a storm of fire from the ground to get in a position to drop the much needed rations to the entrapped doughboys; how, although the two airmen had gone as near the ground as they dared, the lines of the Germans were so close to the Americans that when they had dropped the rations and messages overboard, the Germans had come out and seized them. All of this the mechanics later learned from their squadron commander, to whom Goettler had given a brief account of his effort while the plane was being refuelled.

All they now saw were the two grim-faced youngsters gravely shake hands and climb into their respective cockpits, and, in a ship already shot half to pieces, take off to carry aid to their fighting comrades.

Only too well the two lads knew what lay ahead of them. After their first unsuccessful trip it was evident to both of them that there was but one chance for success—to wing down through the terrific hail of lead from the ground, so low that with their wing tips almost touching the torn tree trunks of what had once been a forest, they could with accuracy drop the supplies to the doughboys dug in below.

Yes, this was possible if they could live through the terrific barrage they would meet. Anyway, it was their one chance, and there was no hesitation on the part of the two lads as Goettler piloted his plane directly to Charlevaux Mill. Soon it was below them, a pile of gray ruins, and Bleckley pointed out to “Dad” Goettler a khaki-clad figure waving feebly to attract their attention.

The big plane nosed over, swinging down in a spiral. The fire from below was now appalling. Machine-gun bullets were riddling the plane, while the impact from high explosives at short range tossed the ship around almost like a small boat in a rough sea.

Completely oblivious to this terrific punishment, the two airmen concentrated their entire attention on the job to be done. Goettler piloted his plane skilfully, while Bleckley leaned far over the side, holding a bag of rations ready to drop at the right instant. The trees were not fifty feet below them when Goettler leveled off slightly. Then, banking up, he let his wing tip almost touch the hillside to give Bleckley a better chance in his work.

Below, the doughboys crouched behind what shelter they had made for themselves, looking anxiously upward, waiting for the food and ammunition that they needed so desperately. They saw Bleckley release the bag and then lean over the side to see if his aim had been true. But this time the two aviators were never to know, for at that moment, up from the ground, death, in the shape of leaden bullets, reached for them.

The nose of the big D.H. yanked up suddenly, then dropped as if the hand that held the control had suddenly lost its strength. There was a sickening instant as the plane slipped off on a wing, then crashed, burying her heavy nose deep in the hillside over near the German trenches.

The next day, in an irresistible advance, the 77th Division pushed the Germans back and reached the “Lost Battalion.” Only 107 of them were left; and on the hillside were the remains of the D.H.4. Goettler had apparently been killed instantly, and Bleckley, hopelessly wounded, died before reaching a hospital. But their deed will live forever.

The Ships on The Cover
“Aid to the Lost Battalion”
Flying Aces, September 1933 by Paul J. Bissell

“Terror Tarmac” by Arthur J. Burks

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THIS week we have a story by prolific pulpster—Arthur J. Burks! Burks was a Marine during WWI and went on to become a prolific writer for the pulps in the 20’s and 30’s and was a frequent contributor to the air war pulps like The Lone Eagle.

Lieutenant Dan Healy from Intelligence has been sent to the so-called “Terror Tarmac” to find a solution to the terror that grips the drome. Pilots have been killed in the air by being stabbed with a bat handled knife! An impossiblity, but Lt. Healy joins the squadron on patrol until the knife-wielding terror can be found and put out of commission. From the pages of the November 1933 issue of The Lone Eagle, it’s Arthur J. Burks’ “Terror Tarmac!”

A Savage Menace of Whirring Death Hovered Over the Twelfth Pursuit Group—and Dan Healy Set Forth to Find Out All About It!

“Sky Writers, December 1936″ by Terry Gilkison

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

Here’s the quiz from the December 1936 issue of Lone Eagle.

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

How the War Crates Flew: Take-Off Chin Music

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FROM the pages of the September 1932 number of Sky Fighters:

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

Take-Off Chin Music

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters, September 1932)

“CHUCK” SEAVER, two fisted Skipper of the 56th Pursuits, legged into the cockpit of his Camel, rammed the throttle open wide, and went thundering across the drome to zoom up over the bordering trees. . . .

How many times have you read that in a yarn? Sure, plenty! But how many times have you actually seen it done in real life? You’re right, never! What’s that? . . . why not? Well, listen, Fledgling, next time the old man lets you take the car out for a spin, just shift into low and jam the accelerator all the way to the floorboards and see what happens! Sure, if you don’t tear the gears out, the car will stall on you anyway. Of course there are no transmission gears on a plane, but to shoot a full load of hop to an airplane engine from a standing start would cause it to konk out every time.

And, as a matter of fact, there were several things for Chuck to do before he took off. What about revving up his engine to see that the oil and engine temperature was okay? What about signaling to the grease-balls to pull the chocks away from in front of the wheels? And what about taking a look at the wind-sock to see which direction was correct for a take off? And what about a lot of things?

But that’s the idea of this month’s meeting. That question-asking Fledgling is here again, and he’s just loaded up to the eyes with questions. He shot ’em along to me air-mail, and I’ve got ’em all here. What he wants to know is all about the trick hobbies, hunches and superstitions, etc., of pilots during the war. And as a lot of you other clucks asked the same thing, I suppose I might just as well begin my chin-music right here and now.

Of course I can only give you some of the high points. If I were to chin about all the idiosyncrasies of pilots, I’d be chinning until the next Armistice. War pilots, you know, were a funny breed, so you’ll have to take it or leave it.

But to get started, let’s begin with a peelot having coffee, and maybe a small shot of cognac in the mess before taking off on a dawn patrol.

Well, it’s time to go, so he wanders out to his ship on the line. The mecs have got the engine started, and the prop is ticking over nice and easy like. Our peelot has on his Sidcot suit. You know, one of them teddy-bear things all lined with wool. If it’s winter he’s probably wearing knee-high, rubber-soled sheep skin boots. And may be he’s got a scarf wrapped around his neck. And if he’s going to do a high patrol he’s wearing silk gloves under his leather flying gloves. Real silk gloves (like Mother wears to the theatre) are about the warmest-things there are for the hands. Maybe he’s got his helmet and goggles on, or maybe he’s carrying them in his hand.

And so he gets to his ship. First he takes a look at the elevator and rudder wires just to make sure they’re okay. A friend of mine in France used to spit over the rudder for good luck after he’d finished such an examination. Then the peelot puts on his helmet and goggles and makes sure the helmet strap is fastened nice and snug. And then he climbs aboard, and fastens the safety belt. Some pilots used just the regular safety belt that went around the waist. But others also used safety belts that went up over the shoulders. The idea was so that they would be held in the seat, and their eyes still on a level with the gun sight, when they went over on their backs in a scrap.

OF COURSE, before the pilot left the mess he made sure that he did not have any papers or things in his pockets that would be of value to the enemy in case he was forced down and taken prisoner. But to make doubly sure, a non-com goes to every pilot sitting in his plane and asks him if he has forgotten to look through his pockets.

And now that the peelot is seated in the ship, he takes a look to make sure that his ammo belts are fed into his Vickers gun in okay style. Then he grabs the loading handle (often called cocking handle) and loads the guns. If he has a Lewis on the top wing (when flying an old S.E. 5), he makes sure that it is loaded. And then he pulls up the handle of the oil reservoir of his gun gear (see July issue of SKY FIGHTERS). The idea of that, of course, is to build up pressure in the secondary pipe line so that his guns will fire when he presses the trigger trips on his joystick.

Now, some pilots used to use the well known ring sight for aiming, while others used what was known as the telescopic sight. A long telescope, maybe twelve or fifteen inches, mounted right between the guns. The guns are set to converge with it, according to the likes of the pilot. By that I mean that some pilots want their bullets to meet with the line of sight at one hundred yards, some one hundred and fifty, and some two hundred yards, etc. It all depends upon the wishes of the pilot in question.

What’s that? What am I talking about? Well, listen. You have a gun mounted on the right side of the engine cowling. And you have a gun mounted on the left. Now naturally you want those two paths of bullets to come together at a certain point so that there will be one big burst going into your target. And so the left gun is pointed a bit to the right, and the right gun is pointed a bit to the left. And the ring sight or telescopic sight is set right in the middle between the two. Now, the distance from the muzzles of the guns that you want those two paths of bullets to meet is simply regulated by the amount you set your guns to the left or right, as the case may be. Now don’t get the idea that the guns are re-set for every flight. When the pilot first gets his plane and tests it out, he has the guns mounted the way he wants them, and then they stay that way. Now do you get the idea?

BUT to get back to this telescopic sight. When the plane is on the ground, there is a little leather cup that can be fitted over the two ends of the telescopic sight so that the lenses will be kept clean. Of course the pilot takes them off. Sometimes only the rear lens is covered.) And then, to make sure the lens is all nice and polished, the pilot takes a silk stocking tied to the top of his flying helmet and polishes the lens.

Oh? So you thought war peelots used to tie a silk stocking to the top of their helmets just to look trick, eh? Well, maybe that was part of the idea. But that silk stocking came in plenty useful many times. One use was to clean the telescopic sight lens, as I just related. But the main use was to wipe off your goggles when they got spattered up with oil when you were in the air. In other words, it was just a handy cleaning rag always within reach because it was trailing off the top of your helmet.

What’s that? Where did war pee-lots get silk stockings? Now listen, Fledgling! They bought them in a store. Or maybe a peelot’s sister sent him one of her old ones in a Xmas box. Or maybe . . . well, never mind. You’ll find out soon enough in the next war!!

And now the peelot is fastened in, his guns are okay, and the telescopic sight is cleaned, and the handle of the oil reservoir has been pulled up. So next he moves the rudder bar and waggles the stick just to make sure that there isn’t any slack in the controls that has developed over night.

Then he signals to the waiting mechanics. A couple of them brace themselves against the leading edge of both the right and left lower wings. A third drapes himself over the fuselage just where it is joined by the tale plane. And the peelot pulls the stick all the way back to get the elevators tilted up as far as they will go. Of course the chocks are still in front of the wheels. Then the pilot eases the throttle forward slowly until the engine is roaring full out. And as he does that he looks at his various instruments to see that everything is functioning in proper style. He just lets the engine roar full out for say half a minute, and then pulls the throttle back.

NOW he is set to take off. (Of course we assume that his instruments showed everything to be okay when he revved up the engine.)

If it is a Flight patrol, the leader goes first. Then the next in rank, and then the next, and the next, and so forth. Sometimes they all taxied out to formation position on the field and took off together. But most times the field was too small for that, and they took off one at a time, and formed formation at a certain pre-determined height above the field, or a nearby village.

But we’ll let this peelot we’re chinning about take off by himself.

The grease ball who has been draping his manly form over the tail moves himself, and the pilot waves his hand in a left to right motion. That means . . . pull the chocks away. The mechanics do that, and then, if the plane is already headed in a correct take-off position (into the wind), the pilot gives the grease balls a chance to step clear and then pushes the throttle forward slowly and pushes the stick forward to get his tail up . . . and away he goes. Now, if he isn’t headed into the wind he taxies out, with the help of the grease balls hanging onto the wings, and swings around into a correct takeoff position. But don’t let fiction story writers kid you . . . the peelot doesn’t slam his throttle home! He eases it forward and gives the engine a chance to pick up full revs without tearing itself apart.

And, incidentally, the pilot seldom takes off right from the hangar line. Even if the wind is blowing toward him, he taxies out a bit. Why? Well, because an open hangar is right behind him, and when he takes off he blows half the drome right back into that hangar and all over any planes that might be there. And when he does that, why the C.O. usually has seventeen fits and chews his ear off when he gets back.

Yes, yes, I know, I know . . . you want to hear about hunches and hobbies, etc. Well, the C.O. of this mag is handing me some mighty tough looks. Guess he wants to get a word in about something that is interesting, so I’ll have to make it short.

The first is . . . the old superstition about lighting three cigarettes on a match. Bunk! But we used to like to live up to it just for the heck of it. Some other war peelot may call me a liar for that crack . . . but it really was just a superstition we liked to follow. It originally started in the Boer war. The English Tommies were short of matches, so several of them used to light their pipes on the same match. For no reason at all the Boer snipers opposite them used to try and pick off the third guy who lighted his pipe. And that’s how it came to be an omen of tough luck when a soldier took the third light off a match.

Sometimes you used to get hunches that it wasn’t so hot to fly on a particular day. Most times you just lived it down and went ahead with the job to be done. I got a hunch like that once and went just the same. Well, the engine konked out, a skyful of smoke belched out of the engine cowling, and I forced landed and wrapped myself around a tree. Well, was it because of the hunch? It was . . .but in this way. I didn’t want to fly that day, so I was looking for trouble . . . all nerved up, and all that sort of thing. And when you get that way, something usually does happen, believe you me.

A pal of mine once got a no-flying hunch on a day in training school when he had to take a test in target shooting. He was all goose pimples about it, and asked me to double for him. Well, it wasn’t an important test (no instructor around to watch), so I said, “Sure.” And I went up and shot off the rounds for him. When the score of hits was checked, and his instructor got hold of it, said instructor bawled the pants off him for being such a lousy marksman. So that gives you an idea of how good I was.

All right, C.O., all right . . . just a few more words. And they are about mascots, or lucky pieces, pilots used to carry. The famous ones were the two little French wool dolls, Nanette and Babbette. And of course there was the face of the girl-friend stuck on the crystal of your wrist watch. And maybe, if you were brave at some time, a pretty little pink garter, or maybe a stuffed teddy bear, or a monkey, or a doll, or most anything that you could lay your hands on. In other words, pilots used to go visiting and bring back anything that wasn’t nailed down and use them as luck charms.

And of course, there . . . ouch! See you again, Fledgling! The C.O.’s got my shirt tail, and pulling hard. S’long!

“Frozen Controls” by Frank Richardson Pierce

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

This time around, on a stop over in Seattle, Rusty os approached by a a good friend to pilot his experimental plane in order to achieve a new altitude record and get some dynamic shots of the eclipse that will be happening. Rusty agrees, if he can have his old pal Steve Branleigh as his copilot. Problem is, Steve was the last pilot to try in this plane and had to bail out before the record was achieved. Can Rusty clear his friend’s name while pushing the experimental plane to its limit? From the pages of the June 1929 Air Trails, it’s Frank Richardson Pierce’s “Frozen Controls!”

“Rusty” Wade makes a momentous decision and leaps into space forty thousand feet above the earth.

“The Youngest V.C. Flyer” 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 August 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action with…

The Youngest V.C. Flyer

th_FA_3308SOME wise man has said that to every man, once in life, comes his big moment. Then he must make a quick decision or choice and, whether he be king or peasant, the real man is judged by how he meets this test.

Such a moment came to Alan McLeod, the young Canadian flyer. Always he was in the thick of it, eagerly taking chances, thumbing his nose at death until that day in March, 1918, when he came face to face with his big moment, made his choice and, himself wounded, gambled his life a thousand times over to save a comrade already wounded almost past saving—gambled and won, and took his place among the “Incredibles” of the World War.

McLeod was just fifteen years old when the war began. Twice rejected because of his youth, he enlisted on his eighteenth birthday, in April, 1917. By July he had qualified as a pilot, and by September he was in England. When his squadron, the 82nd, was ordered to the Front, his Commanding Officer refused to take him along—again on account of his youth.

However, on Home Defense in England with the 51st, during a bitter duel with a Gotha over London, he displayed such heroism, although shot down, that Headquarters posted him to France with the 2nd Squadron, in November, 1917. This squadron boasted no fast pursuit ships, but was engaged principally in observation, bombing, and artillery spotting, and flew the Armstrong-Whitworth, a good ship for these purposes, but slow.

It was with this ship that McLeod went “a-hunting” beyond and outside of his daily routine, strafing the trenches, attacking troops in movement, machine-gun emplacements and batteries. No one had ever thought to attack a sausage in one of the old crates. Nevertheless McLeod coolly destroyed a German balloon and then, when attacked by a flight of Albatross pursuit planes, shot one of them down and held the others off, returning safely to his airdrome. Soon none but the most daring observers would fly with him, but there were always enough of these so that he did not lack for companions. Besides, he always brought them back—and how!

The morning of March 22, 1918, seemed to McLeod much like any other day. With Lieutenant A.W. Hammond in the observer’s cockpit, he had started out on a patrol to Bray sur Somme. He got lost in the heavy, low clouds but, at last finding a hole, he had dropped down to let his bombs go when a Fokker tripe rode his tail down from the same clouds. A half-roll saved him from the Fokker’s burst, and a zoom put Hammond in position to prevent that particular German from ever firing another burst.

But seven other tripes had come down after their leader and were now bent on revenge. Like red hawks they darted around the two Canadians, raking them with machine-gun fire from every direction until one, more daring than the others, dived in from the front.

McLeod beat him to the shot and Fokker No. 2 joined his leader far below. At that instant, however, McLeod felt his first bullet. One of the tripes, attacking from below, had put a full burst into the British machine. Hammond was hit twice, and the entire bottom of his cockpit collapsed. Then the gas tank burst into flames. The Armstrong-Whitworth plunged down, out of control, with McLeod dazed in the front seat, and Hammond clinging desperately to the rim of what had been his cockpit.

THE flames licked up, burning McLeod back to consciousness. To stay in the front seat was no longer possible. McLeod stepped out on the wing, reaching back into the burning cockpit for the controls and sideslipping the plane so that the flames were blown away from Hammond. Although two more bullets had found him by now, he succeeded in keeping the ship in fair control and getting rid of his bombs. The Germans were following the helpless Canadians down, pouring burst after burst into them.

Hammond now had three bullets in his body, while one arm hung limp. Almost unconscious, with his feet braced against the sides of the fuselage to keep from falling through the bottomless cockpit, he still had strength enough for one last burst at the Boche. Almost point-blank he emptied his drum into the nearest tripe. A burst of smoke and screaming wires told that Fokker No. 3 had joined the other two victims, crashing below almost at the same instant that McLeod, leveling off his blazing ship as best he could, piled up in No-Man’s-Land.

The crash threw them both clear of the wreckage, about ten yards apart in the middle of No-Man’s-Land, three hundred yards from the British trenches. For an instant they lay there, unconscious, but the Germans were already sniping at them and McLeod, who lay in a more exposed position, was roused to consciousness by a bullet nipping his leg. Rolling into a shallow hole, his senses returned, and with them came his “big moment.”

To stay where he was was impossible. The whole area was too much exposed. He must make the trenches. But outside lay Hammond, wounded, perhaps dead. Should he leave him and try for the trenches alone? In another instant he was out of the hole and at Hammond’s side. The poor observer was alive but completely unconscious, with six wounds.

How McLeod dragged and carried Hammond those three hundred yards he himself never knew. But the Tommies in the trenches saw him coming. They watched him as, inch by inch, he dragged himself and his observer across the torn earth, with the enemy raking him with bullets. They watched and helped all they could by laying down a deadly fire on the German trenches.

With just six yards to go, another bullet got McLeod, and the Tommies went over the top and dragged the two unconscious flyers in, still breathing—but not much more. All day they lay in those exposed trenches without medical aid. But the gods must have smiled, for they both got well eventually—Hammond to get a D.S.O., and McLeod the V.C.

The Ships on The Cover
“The Youngest V.C. Flyer”
Flying Aces, August 1933 by Paul J. Bissell

“Hell’s Skyway” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 25, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

TO ROUND off Mosquito Month we have a non-Mosquitoes story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. In the mid thirties, Oppenheim wrote a half dozen stories for Sky Fighters featuring Lt. “Streak” Davis. Davis was a fighter, and the speed with which he hurled his plane to the attack, straight and true as an arrow, had won him his soubriquet. And time is of the essence when Streak is sent on a bombing mission. He must destroy the Krupp Machine works at Luennes before they unleash German’s newest secret weapon at noon! From the July 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Hell’s Skyway!”

The Fate of the Allies Depends on a done American Flyers Speed and Skill in this Rip-Roaring Novel of Whirling Props and Screaming Struts!

“Sky Writers, October 1936″ by Terry Gilkison

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

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

Here’s the quiz from the October 1936 issue of Lone Eagle.

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

“An Ace of Spads” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 18, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

We’re back with the third and final of three Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes stories we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! And this one’s a doozy! Kirby gets the unenviable job of test flying the new type Spad and putting it through its paces—including trying it in combat and shooting down a plane. But, under no circumstances should he take the new plane over the lines! Unfortunately that’s just what Kirby did! Read all about it in Ralph Oppenheim’s “An Ace of Spads” from the April 12th, 1928 issue of War Stories!

Kirby’s eyes glowed when he saw the new-type Spad, one of the most beautiful ships ever delivered to the Front. It was to be his job to try it out in action. But he was not to go over the lines—the Germans would lose no opportunity to get their hands on the new ship. Once in the air, however, with a Fokker in sight, Kirby—forgot. One of Oppenheim’s best flying yarns!

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