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“Sky Writers, October 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on July 14, 2021 @ 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 1937 issue of Lone Eagle.

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

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

Link - Posted by David on July 5, 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 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 Writers, August 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on June 16, 2021 @ 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 August 1937 issue of Lone Eagle.

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

“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

“Sky Writers, June 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on May 19, 2021 @ 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 June 1937 issue of Lone Eagle.

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

“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

Link - Posted by David on May 10, 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 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

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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 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

The Battle Birds Club

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JUST as Popular Publications shut down their original air magazine Battle Aces in December 1932, leaving Dare-Devil Aces to shoulder the hopes and dreams of the air-minded reader, it launched a new magazine that same month—Battle Birds. Although neither Dare-Devil Aces or Battle Aces had a club associated with it, when Battle Birds started, the letters pages were already buzzing with talk of a Battle Birds Club to provide a forum for air-minded readers to share their hopes, dreams and knowledge with similar minded individuals. (Popular was quick to start a club for G-8 when Battle Aces was relaunched as G-8 and his Battle Aces in October 1933.)

The Battle Birds Club was open to all air-minded readers. Anyone could join by simply stating they wanted to and they would be sent a blue membership card. This card would display the members group-squadron-flight number, derived as follows: The country would be broken down into three regions—these three being the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Pursuit Groups—and a fourth, FL, for foreign readers classified in the ‘Foreign Legion’; each state a squadron number; and every 8 members within said state a lettered flight as they are recorded.

Several months in to the magazine’s publication, a wings pin fashioned after the letters page header was on offer. To obtain the wings pin, a member needed only to answer the question presented in the issue and send along 25¢.

a BATTLE BIRDS CLUB timeline

DECEMBER 1932

  • Application for membership starts in first issue—wanting to know how air-minded the reader is and what he’d like to read about in the club pages

JANUARY 1933

  • Discusses the division of the country into three groups—1st, 2nd and 3rd Pursuit groups. Your group number will be on your card.
  • Foreign readers who join will be in the “Foreign Legion” and their cards will be marked with “F.L.” Each state a squadron number and every 8 members within said state a lettered flight as they are recorded.

FEBRUARY 1933

  • First names of members are listed with addresses.

MARCH 1933

  • The membership cards have all been printed and many have been sent out.
  • More names in the honor roll of new selected members.
  • Talk of figuring out a way whereby members can earn their wings!

APRIL 1933

  • Membership cards are mentioned as being blue!
  • A list of applicants who failed to include the town they’re from.
  • More names for the honor roll.
  • Still working on a way to earn your wings.

MAY 1933

  • Asking the readers to write in yes or no if they’d be interested in a club pin.
  • The usual listing of new members.

JUNE 1933

  • Listing of new members—mostly from Cincinnati.
  • Mentioned there are a lot of foreign readers from all parts of the world!

JULY 1933

  • Listing of more new members.

AUGUST 1933

  • The Pins are ready! They will be in the design of the club emblem (a shield with BB emblazed on it with wings) and cast from sterling silver. To earn the pin you must send in the correct answer to the question that issue along with 25¢. You can still earn your wings even if you haven’t recieved your card yet.
  • First up: “What makes an airplane stay up?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

SEPTEMBER 1933

  • Earn your Wings question: “What are the principle parts of a plane and what are they used for?
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

OCTOBER 1933

  • Earn your Wings question: “What would be the first thing to do, and why, if your motor quit just after taking off?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

NOVEMBER 1933

  • Earn your Wings question: “What are the three axes of a plane and where are they?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

DECEMBER 1933

  • The pins are in the same design as that appearing at the top of the membership card and include a safety latch to prevent being lost.
  • Earn your Wings question: “Why are superchargers used on altitude flights?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

JANUARY 1934

  • A lot of membership cards sent out have been returned due to incorrect addresses.
  • Earn your Wings question: “What is the advantage of an adjustable pitch ‘prop’?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

FEBRUARY 1934

  • Still harping on the large number of returned cards due to incorrect addresses.
  • Earn your Wings question: “If a man jumps from a plane going three hundred miles an hour and does not open his chute ’til he has fallen a mile (5,280 feet) how fast will he be going when he opens his chute?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

MARCH 1934

  • A mention of the price of silver has jumped up from 30¢ an ounce to over a $1.25. They DID buy quite a few of the sterling pins a few months ago when silver was a lot less than it is now so they can still give out pins for about what they cost them.
  • Earn your Wings question: “Why is glider flying the ideal preliminary step to power plane piloting?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

APRIL 1934

  • “The Skipper” says he has to sign a couple thousand more membership cards for new members.
  • Earn your Wings question: “How do dirigibles make up the weight lost by the gasoline being burned away in the engines?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

MAY 1934

  • The pins are described as such: “These pins are exact duplicates of the insignia that appears at the head of the department and upon your membership cards. Fitted with a safety clasp to prevent loss, and finished in the new dull manner, they are about the best looking club pins we have ever seen.”
  • Earn your Wings question: “Does the breeze behind a propeller increase with its speed, no matter how fast it travels?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

JUNE 1934

  • (FINAL ISSUE) Still taking applications for membership!
  • Earn your Wings question: “When, where and by whom was the first balloon used in warfare?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

 

WITH the July Issue, BATTLE BIRDS changes it’s name to DUSTY AYRES and his BATTLE BIRDS and it’s focus. The lead story will now feature the exploits of Dusty Ayres and his Battle Birds and what could happen in a possible future war. The Battle Bird Club continues, but will now be known as the Hanger Flying Club although new pins will not be produced. All previous members of the Battle Birds Club are automatically members of this new club. The new club’s focus is on being prepared for any future wars that may arise. New members can still aquire a Battle Birds wings pin for 25¢ if so desired—but the feeling in your heart is more important than a pin on your chest!

JULY 1934

  • The letters page now run by The Skipper (Sid Bowen) is titled HANGER FLYING (also the name of the new club)
  • The first column discusses the “war in the future” which is the setting for the Dusty Ayres tales. All readers should be prepared if and when this war should come.
  • “Of course, all the fellows who are members of the old Battle Birds club, automatically become members of this new club that is dedicated to national preparedness for the safety of our country If you have a B.B. pin, be sure to wear it, because it signifies that you’re a real American and ready to do all you can to preserve all the things that we Americans hold closest tour hearts. Those of you who haven’t a pin and want one, just send in your request and twenty-five cents to the skipper, and I’ll make darn sure that you’ll get one by return mail. But listen fellows, just one more thing before I close up; a pin is a pin and it doesn’t mean a thing if there isn’t the thought behind it. It’s the true feeling in your heart that counts, wether you wear the club pin or not.

AUGUST 1934

  • No mention of the club or pin in the HANGER FLYING column.
  • You can get the previous issue for 20¢ (with 5¢ for postage)

SEPTEMBER 1934

  • Readers have been sending in requests for Mr. Blakeslee and the skipper to dope out three-view drawings of the Silver Flash and the Dart, but the request is turned back on the readers to send in their own three-view drawings of Dusty’s ships.
  • Some readers have already crafted models of said planes—if you have, by all means send in a photo of your model.
  • reiterates that members of the old club are definitely members of the new club. To join just let the skipper know you want to join, and if you want a club pin just send in 25¢ in cash or stamps.
  • The skipper says: “Very soon I’m going to have some new HANGER FLYING CLUB membership cards printed. They will be free to whoever wants one. When they’re ready I’ll let you know, and you can then let me know if you want one.
  • “But as I said at the very beginning of these meetings, a pin or a membership card does not mean a thing if the spirit isn’t right there in the old heart. We are pledging ourselves to do everything possible for ever-lasting peace, happiness and prosperity for the peoples of this wonderful country of ours—the greatest in all the wide world. And if we keep that thought close to our hearts every minute of the day, it doesn’t matter how many pins we wear, or how many membership cards we carry around.”

OCTOBER 1934

  • The skipper says the lads write all the time inquiring after the club—it’s just 25¢ cash or stamps (to cover the cost of the pin) to Skipper Sid Bowen, Popular Publications, Inc., 205 East 2nd Street, New York, New York
  • Says the Battle Birds club has been thriving for a long time, and anyone who joined it before Dusty Ayres yarns appeared is still a member
  • Skipper says, “I’ve got swell plans for the club, that I hope to get underway tan early date.”

NOVEMBER 1934

  • No real mention of the club aside from a reference to the silver wings. A reader writes in: “Why not have cloth wings of red, white and blue? Make them out of the material that high school letters are made of. Make them three inches long and two inches wide.”
  • The Skipper (Sid Bowen) writes: “There it is. Do you agree with Ed, or are the silver wings we have now, okay? Mull it over and let’s hear what you think.”
  • Also a mention to send in your plane designs and the Skipper and Mr Blakeslee will look them over and use one in the story—maybe even on the cover. Design credit will be given!

DECEMBER 1934

  • Asks readers if they’d like to see some female characters added to the stories.
  • Apologizes for the club membership cards not being ready yet!
  • “It has been suggested that since the old Battle Birds club was divided up into squadrons, the same should be done with the Dusty Ayres gang. If chaps in your neighborhood want to form a Dusty Ayres Group, just send in your names, and I’ll put them in the very next Hanger Flying Department. To each Group can be attached the name of the city or town where you lads live. Or if you wish you can have a number instead of a name. Work it out thought, you lads who were in the old club—in squadrons, etc—can just simply make it a Dusty Ayres Group.”
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Silver Flash

JANUARY 1935

  • Some readers have expressed a desire to have a model company make models of the Silver Flash to sell. The Skipper doesn’t mind, but thinks readers would want to make their own. But he’ll look into getting it done if there’s enough interest.
  • A reader inquires about a flying course in the magazine. The Skippers says he did that once (Sky Fighters) and it was even published as a book.
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Silver Flash

FEBRUARY 1935

  • Several lads have had their 25¢ club pins returned by the post office due to bad addresses.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans. (Pen Pals)
  • The Skipper (Sid Bowen) addresses the matter of club pins and membership cards: “The membership card is free to anybody who wants to join. Simply let me know and I’ll send you one. If you want the club pin you can have one by sending in twenty-five cents in cash or stamps. But—and get this—owning a club pin does not mean you are a better member than a chap with simply the membership card. The Skipper writes Dusty yarns—he’s not in the pin business. We have pins only because a lot of the fellows wanted one to wear.”
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (2 pgs)

MARCH 1935

  • Fred Blakeslee has just returned from a swell vacation and will resume his art duties next month.
  • Please ink your plane designs for better reproduction.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (2pgs)

APRIL 1935

  • Be sure to send in your plane designs in ink—Fred Blakeslee doesn’t have the time to do it for you
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (3pgs)

MAY/JUNE 1935

  • The skipper suggests writing to your local radio station if you’d like to hear Dusty in yarns written for the radio.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (4pgs)
  • a ”certificate of truth” is printed on the letters page to send in with your drawings stating you are the artist.

JULY/AUGUST 1935

  • No mention of the club, cards or pins.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (5pgs)
  • The Skipper acknowledges that this is the last issue but keep those Dusty clubs going!

The club does not pick up when the magazine resumes publication as BATTLE BIRDS in 1940.

“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)

“Plane Jane” by Frederick C. Davis

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THIS week we have a short story by renowned pulp author Frederick C. Davis. Davis is probably best remembered for his work on Operator 5 where he penned the first 20 stories, as well as the Moon Man series for Ten Detective Aces and several other continuing series for various Popular Publications. He also wrote a number of aviation stories that appeared in Aces, Wings and Air Stories.

It all rested on winning the Air Derby for Ned Knight and Alton Airlines whose plane he was piloting. Alton hoped to dispel the bad rumors swirling around their planes and secure lucrative business deals at various airports; and Ned, he hoped to win the $5,000 purse so he could get a nice place and some furniture and ask his girl to marry him. Only problem is, their biggest competition, Stormbird, will do whatever it takes to win—whatever it takes. From the August 1928 issue of Air Stories it’s Frederick C. Davis’ “Plane Jane!”

“When you fly tomorrow—you fly to win!”—Ned Knight, pilot of the racing plane, climbed into the cockpit with those words ringing in his ears—but when the finish line neared, his hand faltered, and his ears shut out everything save the roar of another motor, beckoning him to destruction.

“Hoots and Headlights” by Joe Archibald

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THERE’S no fool like an April fool, and there’s no bigger April fool than that Bachelor of Artifice, the Knight of Calamity, an alumnus of Doctor Merlin’s Camelot College for Conjurors himself—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham, the marvel from Boonetown, Iowa!

In the pit of a sinister Kraut Albatros slumped a grim, squat-bodied Kaiser hocher whose greenish eyes boded ill for a certain Yankee flyer who had knocked him for a row of Nisson huts six weeks before. “The Owl” was on the prowl again, and his feathers were ruffled from his high dudgeon. It was said across the Rhine that Herr Hauptmann von Heinz was so closely related to the owl species that the nocturnal birds were in complete harmony with him. Unfortunately for The Owl, Lieutenant Pinkham had a his own peculiar way of shining light on these matters!

More than one person on the Western Front was bent! Having prepared a succulent dish of stuffed owl, Chef Pinkham was bent on giving the bird to one Hauptmann von Heinz. Meanwhile, one Oscar Frump, of Waterloo, Iowa, was bent on giving the bird to Phineas. And before things went much further, one Francois LeBouche was busy sharpening his shiv. He was bent, too—bent on cutting himself a piece of throat.

“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)

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