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“Spy Drome” by H.P.S. Greene

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

THIS week we have a story by H.P.S. Greene. Henry Paul Stevens Greene wrote aviation tales from the late 20’s to the early 40’s for magazines like Wings, Air Stories, Sky Fighters and, the magazine this story appeared in—Aces.

What little we know about Greene is from papers he left behind in a cardboard suitcase discovered in a storeroom at the National Press Club.

Greene was known by his colleagues at the National Press Club as the man who lived out of a suitcase, so it only seemed apt that he left his papers behind in a cardboard suitcase that was subsequently discovered in a storeroom of the National Press Club. The papers within the suitcase appear to be the only remaining information about H.P.S. Greene.

Henry Paul Stevens Greene was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 28, 1892, the son of Amy Bodwell Stevens and Henry Brooks Greene. (According to his own genealogical research, both the Bodwell and Stevens families were active in the American colonial and revolutionary periods.)

He graduated from Methuen (MA) High School and wrote the “Prophecy” for the class of 1911.

Greene was a member of the 1916 class of Amherst College but left in January of that year to join an ambulance unit in the French army.

His stories and reminiscences suggest that he may have joined the elite French flying unit, the Lafayette Escadrille, and later transferred to the American Air Service.

In August 1919, he received the Diploma of Honor of the Aerial League of America for his services in the First World War.

Greene wrote aviation tales from the late 20’s to the early 40’s for magazines like Wings, Air Stories, Sky Fighters, Flying Aces, and Aces.

Later on, while in residence at veteran’s hospitals in Tucson, Arizona, and Los Angeles, California, he wrote adventure tales of Mexico and the old West. Sadly, by the 1940’s rejection slips had become common in his correspondence.

He passed away in 1947.

In the suitcase, Greene had kept his correspondence and personal records, such as a genealogical survey, his “Prophesy” for his 1911 high school class, a college newspaper which mentions his World War I service, a diploma from the Aerial League of America, and his reminiscences. He also stored typescripts of his articles and novellas, and clipped copies of stories which had been published in the magazines likes Wings and Aces.

The articles consist largely of adventure stories of World War I: ambulance drivers and aviation aces. They appear to be drawn, in part, from the personal experiences of the author. The lack of his military record suggests, however, that they are embellished composites.

One long novelette, “A Child, an Old Woman, and a Cow,” is partially an autobiographical statement, detailing the experiences of ambulance drivers and aviators in the First World War and a character who undergoes treatment at a veteran’s hospital. It is also a fantasy which describes a decorated war hero and a successful aviation writer.

The materials from Greene’s suitcase have been archived at the National Press Club into two boxes and arranged in three series: personal files, typescripts, and printed material. Within the typescripts and printed materials, the articles are arranged alphabetically by title.

Spy Drome

A jinxed pilot, Lieutenant Hugo Von Blon, is cornered into taking the fall for his commanding officer’s indiscretion and spend the rest of the war as a prisoner of war or be cashiered out in disgrace. From the pages of the November 1931 Aces, it’s H.P.S. Greene’s “Spy Drome!”

Cornered by a fat little spy, a conspiring squadron commander and an M.S.E. who rigged the Spad for a crash, what could Von Blon do? His last landing was on a German field, hands in the air.

 

As a bonus, H.P.S. Greene provided some “believe-it-or-not” stories that were printed up in the letters column.

Behind “Spy Drome”

These lines from H.P.S. Greene lend additional interest to the tribulations of Von Blon, and provide fresh proof that strange things happened while the war was raging in the air. Two heroes figure in the incidents described by the author of “Spy Drome” in this issue.

A Boston bird, Gardiner Fiske, attached to the First Bombardment Group, A.E.F., at Maulan, just south of Verdun, fell out of a ship a few thousand feet up. Well, he grabbed the stabilizer as it went past and climbed back up the fuselage and into the cockpit again.

Tell you another? All right. This one’s about an observer with a British squadron— Number Twenty of the Royal Flying Corps. The observer was Captain J.H. Hedley, who at the close of the war had a score of twelve enemy planes and a balloon.

Twenty had arrived in France with Fees on January 23, 1916. Two years later, when the squadron was flying Bristol Fighters, Hedley pulled this same stunt of leaving his ship and coming back again. It happened one day in January, 1918.

The Bristol was flying over the lines way up, with more than eighteen thousand altitude. A black-crossed ship appeared ahead. Hedley, in the rear pit, swung his gun in an attempt to get the E.A. into his line of fire.

Now in the British service observers had begun without safety belts. And of course they had no parachutes. The observer was in the habit of tapping the pilot on the back of his head, thus signifying that the plane should dive.

The German was behind and above, diving zigzag wide open and gaining. His machine guns were sputtering bullets. Hedley was standing up facing back with his machine gun belching fire right back at his opponent. The German suddenly zoomed right down on the Englishman and then pulled almost straight up, evidently preparing to loop and take another dive on them.

When the German took his last zoom and pulled up, Hedley tried to follow him with bis machine guns and in so doing leaned his head back so far that he accidentally bumped the pilot’s head. To the pilot this was a sign to dive straight down and then level off again, and so the pilot pushed the stick all the way forward and started a terrific dive.

Hedley was not expecting any such maneuver, and when the plane snapped down in its dive, it threw him completely out of the plane, into the air.

Well, he fell in direct line with the falling plane and when the plane leveled off after its dive, he hit astraddle the fuselage of the plane close to the tail!

The pilot did not know that his observer had even fallen out. When he felt the jolt on the tail of the plane he looked around, and to his amazement saw his observer facing backwards on the tail. The pilot had no idea how he ever got in that position.

Neither did Hedley. He told his squadron mates that when he was thrown out his helmet slipped over his eyes and he couldn’t see anything. Suddenly he realized that he was straddling something.

You can find proof of the story in the British records of the Twentieth: “Lt. Makepeace, M.C., reports Capt. J.H. Hedley accidentally thrown into air, afterwards alighted on tail same machine and rescued.”

 

The archival information on H.P.S. Green at the top of the post is from the National Press Club Archive Finding Aid prepared by Christina J. Zamon and Jocelyn Manby.

“Mile-High Explosives” by Frederick C. Davis

Link - Posted by David on October 15, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

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.

This week’s story features that crack pilot for Tip-Top World News Reel, the greatest gelatine newspaper that ever flashed on a silver screen—Nick Royce! Davis wrote twenty stories with Nick for Wings magazine from 1928-1931. Here, Nick and his crew are to shoot footage of the new American Flyer plane and get them on the screens before the other news services. But a disgruntled former designer has other plans that include dynamite! from the December 1929 Wings, it’s Frederick C. Davis’ “Mile-High Explosives!”

Dynamite on the sky track! It’s tough and fast, the newsreel game, and Nick Royce is the toughest and fastest pilot that ever flew cloud-high camera shots from the danger spot marked X.

As a bonus, here’s a “thumbnail sketch” of Frederick C. Davis from The M-P News Flash in the the August 1935 issue of Sky Birds.

Meet Frederick C. Davis

IN THE first of a series of thumbnail sketches of well-known authors, we present Frederick C. Davis who writes the “Moon Man” stories in TEN DETECTIVE ACES, the “Duke Buckland” yarns in WESTERN TRAILS, and the new “Mark Hazzard” series in SECRET AGENT “X”.

Many of our readers will be surprised to learn that Fred is only 33 years old. He is married to a charming girl, and has a sweetheart of a daughter. Fred’s home town is St. Joseph, Mo., made famous by Jesse James. He works in New York City, and has a summer home in Connecticut.

Fred started at rock bottom in tho writing game, and knows what it is to have to budget one’s self on 50¢ a day for three meals and $2.00 a week for a room. However, this is but a memory of the past now; for today he has an up-to-the-minute office, a secretary, and two electric typewriters.

J.W. Scott’s Sky Devils, Pt1

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

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

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


Sky Devils, March 1938 by J.W. Scott


Sky Devils, July 1938 by J.W. Scott

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

J. W. SCOTT
(1907-1987)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Books Premiering at PulpFest!

Link - Posted by David on August 16, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

AFTER a year-long Covid delay, Age of Aces Books has returned with two new books. We’ll be premiering them at PulpFest 2021 this week.

First up is The Black Falcon by Arthur J. Burks.

Selected by Black Jack Pershing himself for an impossible assignment, Lt. Evan Post was volunteered to drive Germany’s top five aces out of the sky. Orders were sent ahead to see that he was given every cooperation by any allied post of command he would work out of. With the biggest, blackest, ugliest bird painted on his red plane’s fuselage, Post worked the list. And with every German Ace he downed, Evan Post became known as The Black Falcon!

Arthur J. Burks never met a story he couldn’t write. Although he was known to be able to craft a story about anything suggested to him, he was probably best known for his weird menace and detective stories. He wrote six stories with The Black Falcon for Sky Fighters magazine, with a nice continuity running through them. So much so, when he published the sixth story, two years after the initial five, The Black Falcon was a mythic character the young recruits had only heard of.

Stories Include: The Black Falcon (Oct 33), The Balloon Buster (Feb 34), Falcon Fury (Mar 34), The Falcon Flies High (Apr 34), Claws of the Falcon (Jun 34), and Black Falcon’s Return (Jul 36).

Our second book is the ninth and final volume of Donald E. Keyhoe’s Captain Philip Strange Adventures—Strange Rivals.

Captain Philip Strange is back in nine more weird WWI stories! A mental marvel from birth, who used his talents on stage as a boy, Philip Strange is now known as “The Phantom Ace of G-2″ by the Allies during WWI and the verdamnt Brain-Devil by the Boche. In these stories from the end of the series run, The Brain-Devil’s arch nemesis, Karl von Zenden, the quick-change Man of a Thousand Faces resurfaces to wreak havoc and cause more trouble—from aerodromes peopled with corpses to pirate staffels to German Officials dropped over Paris to gases of forgetfulness to all of England disappearing! Von Zenden does his worst! Thankfully, we have have Captain Philip Strange on our side to stop them in some of his strangest cases yet from the pages of Flying Aces magazine!

Stories Include: Dead Man’s Drone (Jun 37), Skeletons From the Sky (Dec 37), Scourge of Oblivion (Apr 38), Pirate Squadron (Jun 38), The Gray Face Ace (Oct 28), Strafe of the Skull (Dec 38), Raid of the Wraith (Mar 39), Flight of the Phantoms (Aug 39), and When England Vanished (Nov 39).

In addition to our two new titles, we’ll have all of our previous titles that are still in print as well as some fun extras include an 11″ x 14″ art print of all 64 splash opens for the Philip Strange stories in order from “A Squadron Shall Perish” to “When England Vanished”. If you’re at the show, stop by, say “Hi” and pick up a copy. (Quantities are limited.)

“Sky Writers, December 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on August 11, 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 December 1937 issue of Lone Eagle.

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

Coming soon…

Link - Posted by David on August 9, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

CAPTAIN PHILIP STRANGE returns to face off against the Man of 1000 Faces, Karl Von Zenden in the final volume of the series, Strange Rivals!

“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

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