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“Smashed Wings” by Ralph Oppeheim

Link - Posted by David on March 1, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

MARCH is Mosquito Month! We’re celebrating Ralph Oppenheim and his greatest creation—”The Three Mosquitoes! We’ll be featuring three early tales of the Mosquitoes over the next few Fridays as well as looking at D. Campbell’s The Three Wasps, a blatant Mosquitoes ripoff. So, let’s get things rolling, as the Mosquitoes like to say as they get into action—“Let’s Go!”

The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Captain Kirby, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Travis.

Let’s get things off the ground with an early Mosquitoes tale from the pages of War Stories from January 1928! The enterprise was extremely dangerous, though simple. The Three Mosquitoes had been assigned to escort a flight of bombers that were to go across the lines to Staffletz, where, besides an important railroad junction, there were some Zeppelin sheds. The railway was to be damaged as much as possible, and then the machines were to ‘‘lay their eggs” on the Zeppelin sheds. Complicating matters—Kirby was flying in an unfamiliar, old Sopwith rather than his usual Spad!

Once again the ‘’Three Mosquitoes,” with the famous Kirby leading them, go out on a daring mission. The enemy’s Zeppelin sheds had to be destroyed—But could it be done? And Kirby was flying an old plane!

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

“Beware of the Heinie in the sun!” by Arnold Lorne Hicks

Link - Posted by David on February 26, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another cover by Arnold Lorne Hicks! Hicks worked in the pulps primarily from the late ’20’s to the mid 30’s, producing covers for such magazines as North-West Stories, Navy Stories, Police Stories, Detective Dragnet, Sky Birds, Golden West, Western Trails, Love Adventures, and a couple covers for Flying Aces!

“Beware of the Heinie in the sun!”

th_FA_3010THIS month’s cover shows you the reason for that warning phrase heard in every Allied airdrome during the war—”Beware of the Heinie in the sun!” German flyers had a habit of hiding in the sun, so that Allied airmen could not see them until they were ready to swoop down with machine guns blazing. In our cover, the Yank pilot has just caught sight of tho German plane silhouetted against the sun. Vickers will soon be trading tracers with Spandaus.

The Ships on The Cover
“Beware of the Heinie in the sun!”
Flying Aces, October 1930 by Arnold Lorne Hicks

“The Balloon-Gun Kid” by Andrew A. Caffrey

Link - Posted by David on February 23, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another story from one of the new flight of authors on the site this year—Andrew A. Caffrey. Caffrey, who was in the American Air Service in France during The Great War and worked for the air mail service upon his return, was a prolific author of aviation and adventure stories for both the pulps and slicks from the 1920’s through 1950. Here Caffret tells the tale of Lieutenant Paul Storm.

Lieutenant Paul Storm was a few years shy of being twenty. Yes, that was young. But Storm was an exceptional hand with a ship. He had been exceptional from the first time he’d ever taken his place in a rear cockpit for instruction. He learned how to fly in three hours. As a rule, ten hours was considered mighty fast. Storm was so good, he was placed on a free-lance status allowing him to fight where and when and with whom he liked. From the July 1929 number of Sky Birds, it’s Andrew A. Caffrey’s “The Balloon-Gun Kid!?

Storm was an airman—every inch of him. When he started out free-lancing, even the sullen sides helped him to batter and spin his way to victory!

How the War Crates Flew: Personal Gear

Link - Posted by David on February 20, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

FROM the pages of the July 1934 number of Sky Fighters:

Editor’s Note: We feel that this magazine has been exceedingly fortunate in securing Lt. Edward McCrae to conduct a technical department each month. It is Lt. Mcrae’s idea to tell us the underlying principles and facts concerning expressions and ideas of air-war terminology. Each month he will enlarge upon some particular statement in the stories of this magazine. Lt. MaCrae is qualified for this work, not only because he was a war pilot, but also because he is the editor of this fine magazine.

Personal Gear

by Lt. Edward McCrae (Sky Fighters, July 1934)

DO YOUSE boys and youse goils remember the little ditty which goes:

      The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things,
      Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.

Anyway, I was sitting back in my study and looking at all the souvenirs hanging around on the walls and my mind got to wandering back to the days when we collected those scalps. Did you ever sit and let your mind wander and see just how it jumps from one unrelated subject to another? That’s the way I was doing.

More Than Cold Facts

I took a notion to jot down the things as they came to me, and when I got through I looked at what I had written and it just occurred to me that though they were interesting, most of them were in themselves of such little importance that people hadn’t written about them, but that on the other hand they were bits that go to fill in the chinks of war-air history. A kind of seasoning that makes the whole stew more intimate.

They make you feel like you have a more personal knowledge of flying than just the cold facts of airplanes.

Differences in Headgear

They’re the little personal touches. Like this:

Look at those helmets hanging on the tips of that propeller. Who has ever thought to mention little differences in headgear? Look at Fig. 1. First, there’s an old crash helmet. That is a German one. It looks like a mixing bowl. It is padded inside and has a padded rim around it. The leather is heavy—sole leather. You got plenty of crashes in those days and that old inverted bowl probably saved its wearer getting many a bump. It may have saved his life a few times.

And look at that “Gosport,” the one with the rubber tubing which runs from one helmet to the other. That was invented by an instructor who took the tubing from his air speed indicator and rigged up the helmet so he could give orders to his pupil. They’ve been standard training equipment ever since.

And look at that funny looking little gadget. Know what that is? It’s the upper end of a silk stocking belonging to the flyer’s best girl. It’s made into a skull cap to wear under the helmet at the right. It keeps your hair from getting soaked with motor oil and keeps your hair from whipping into tangled knots, keeps your head warm and brings you luck—if your girl’s true to you. If she’s not—better get another one from some other gal.

And the rag that’s tied to the top of the helmet in the left and stands out backward like a knight’s plume serves the purpose of wiping the grease off your goggles when they get blurred. Oil pipes are always cracking from vibration or being shot in two, and it’s handy to wipe hot oil off so you can see where you’re going.

Some Uniforms!

And that reminds me of the time when Ross came back to the field spattered with oil after a dog-fight and landed just in time to stand inspection by a visiting brass hat. Although we were attached to the British we had to wear the American type uniform at that time.

You had to wear a starched collar and the tunic had a stand-up collar. They jumped on Ross for having his collar unbuttoned. And Ross was plenty hot under the collar, anyway. So he risked a court-martial, and did he tell off that big bug about making men fly while being choked to death by a uniform.

It may be a coincidence, but Ross didn’t get into trouble for sassing a big shot, and it wasn’t long before we wore soft shirts, and still later the whole uniform was changed. A man can wear one now and not have his jugular vein sawed in two. See the difference in Fig. 2.

Ross just blew up and got off his chest a lot of things we were all griping about. We were Americans and proud of it, but we took an awful licking from the Brass Hats. The British were teaching us to fly and treated us like gentlemen. But our own big bosses figured we rated lower than dishwashers, apparently.

Them Was the Days—Nix!

They were against giving us commissions, and even took our flight pay away from us. That’s the way the army feels about flying. They object to there being a separate Flying Corps like the other major countries have. They want to run the flying show, but they want to handle it like they do the ground forces. That’s like trying to make a man a good swordsman by making him take pistol practice. You can’t make a good flyer by teaching him to march and stand at attention in a choker collar while the big shots strut in front of him.

But we made out in spite of our handicaps. We had to figure out a lot of tricks and do things the books don’t teach. Like the time Sprague had the magneto shot to pieces in his Camel.

We were in a bad way; couldn’t get replacements. And we didn’t have an extra magneto on the field. Sprague knew that a mag on a certain type German ship would do the work, so he went out and found a German and crashed him inside our lines and got himself a German and a magneto.

The Wonder Boy

Which reminds me of Sprague, the wonder boy. He was very young, but he’d been everywhere in the world and he made a specialty of being able to look out for himself. Earlier in the war he’d been shot down by a famous German ace, but that German, popularly credited with being a great sportsman, followed him down and kept pouring lead into him. The result was that he lost a leg just below the knee.

You’d think that would stop a man—but not Sprague. He pulled the wires some way and was back flying a ship with only one good leg. He had a gear rigged up on the rudder pedal so he could control it with one foot. Then while he was at it he went one better. He fixed up a little harness that attached to the stump of his leg and from that to the stick, and that boy could steer a ship with both hands free! He always carried a few hand grenades with him when he went out to fight.

Mystery Leg

But that wooden leg was the thing that had the whole western front puzzled. I knew him and got to find out about the mystery. It was just the length of his service boot which he had had built around it. When he got into his ship he would unstrap it and rig his leg to the steering apparatus. He ran up a lot of notches on his joystick in about this way. Germans, like the Allies, would try to get between the enemy and the sun, and then dive down on you while you couldn’t sec them for the glare.

However, you can hold your thumb up between your eye and the sun, so the sun is hidden by your thumbnail and you can see anything in the sky except it is directly in that small blind spot in front of the sun. But you can’t fly all day with your fist up in the air and staring at the sun.

What a Trick!

So Sprague painted a tiny black spot on one eye of his goggles, a spot just big enough to hide the sun itself, and with it he could keep a close lookout in the direction of the sun. Then he’d fly along in dangerous territory, but keep a sharp watch into the sun. A Heinie would dart down, figuring that Sprague would be unable to see him, and Sprague would fly along as though he didn’t know the German was coming—until the very last minute.

The German would be so confident of his kill that he wouldn’t be quite as alert as he should be. Poor Germans. More than twenty made that mistake before one of them downed Sprague, and made him a prisoner.

He Thought of Everything

And now back to the prison camp where they marched Sprague. And next morning Sprague was back with us! That boy thought of everything in advance. He couldn’t see any use in wasting all that space in that wooden leg of his.

The result was that it was a regular kit bag, fitted out for all purposes. When he showed me how he had hollowed it out and packed it, I saw, among other things, a small pair of wire clippers; a map of the sector we were flying in; some Swiss money in bills (Swiss because of their neutrality, and useful in case he had to escape from the interior of Germany and work his way back to French soil); a bottle of malted milk tablets; a flint and steel to light a fire; a tiny bottle of poison tablets; a package of Bull Durham smoking tobacco and papers, and a hand grenade!

That might sound to you youngsters—wipe your nose, Charlie—like a silly collection of things. But, as I said, Sprague was captured by a German—and was back home before morning.

Take a look at the list. See Fig. 3. He didn’t have to use everything in it, but you can see where he might have needed them. As it was, they threw him into a barbed wire enclosure with other prisoners to await transportation back into the main prison concentration camps. He cut his way out with the wire clippers under cover of darkness.

Swiss Money Useful

The map would have come in handy if they had carried him farther back of the lines. If they had carried him all the way to Germany and he had been able to escape, he would have tried to make his way to neutral Switzerland. He could have kept concealed, have built a fire with his flint and steel, to keep from freezing, he had emergency rations and even the makings of cigarettes. Having Swiss money, he could have bought things in places where they weren’t neutral because they all recognized Swiss neutrality.

And the bottle of poison? You never can tell in a war when perhaps death would be better than some of the things you have to go through—particularly if the enemy is trying to get information out of you that would spell disaster to your friends and your country.

Not Junk At All

And the hand grenade! You could blast your way out of a prison with one of those pineapples, or you could stop half a dozen men pursuing you. Sprague was partial to those little handfuls of explosive, and he managed to get them someway wherever he was, even though they weren’t issued to flyers. One time he did a loop over a man in a dog-fight and dropped one of the nuggets into the German’s cockpit. It rained tiny bits of Albatross and Hun for several minutes after that.

So, you see, you knot heads, that leg didn’t contain a junk shop after all. Most of us carried as much of that kind of gear as we thought we could hide—but we didn’t all have wooden legs. And so, sometimes, we were caught without some of these handy, all but essential, objects.

“At Target 808″ by O.B. Myers

Link - Posted by David on February 16, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author O.B. Myers! Myers was a pilot himself, flying with the 147th Aero Squadron and carrying two credited victories and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Bat Armstrong and Chuck Pearce were tired of réglage work in an old Sopwith behind enemy lines. But when a new, speedy S.E.5 is stolen, they manage to prove it’s not how fast your ship is, but knowing where you are—and hopefully that’s not “At Target 808!” From the pages of the January 1933 number of Flying Aces!

Down upon that swiftly moving Fokker dived the ancient Sop Strutter—and the Fokker fled. But those two Yanks should have guessed that tohen a speedy German scout ran from a clumsy observation crate, danger lay ahead—a danger greater than Spandau bullets!

Heroes of the Air: Capt. A. Beauchamp-Proctor

Link - Posted by David on February 12, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 16 July 1938 issue of Flying:

CAPT. A. BEAUCHAMP-PROCTOR. V.C., DESTROYING A GERMAN KITE BALLOON, 1918

CAPTAIN ANDREW BEAUCHAMP-PROCTOR, who was a South African, served in France with the renowned 84 Squadron, where he won many decorations. He flew an S.E.5A. Like Albert Ball, he was awarded the V.C. for continuous bravery over a long period, not for one particular action. Very little is known about this valorous air fighter, so let us quote from the London Gazette of November 30, 1918. “Between August 8, 1918 and October 8, 1918, this officer proved himself victor in twenty-six decisive combats, destroying twelve kite balloons, ten enemy aircraft, and driving down four other enemy aircraft completely out of control. . . . Captain Beauchamp-Proctor’s work in attacking enemy troops on the ground and in reconnaissance has been almost unsurpassed in its brilliancy, and as such has made an impression on those serving in his squadron and those around him that will not be easily forgotten.” Unhappily this gallant officer lost his life in a crash after the war. On June 21 he was practising for the R.A.F. display, when his machine went into a spin and crashed before he had time to get it under control. In this way ended the career of one who had cheated death so many times in aerial combat.

The Pulp Plagiarism Scandal of 1929

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IF FRIDAY’S story seemed a little familiar to you, there may be a reason for that. The entire story was plagiarized from another. In this case it was Ben Conlon’s “Flyers of Fortune” (Air Trails, July 1929). Yes, Carter’s “Fortune Flyers” was a virtual word for word rip off of Conlon’s earlier story.

Everything seemed to be going Robert A. Carter’s way. A former Canadian war time ace, he was Married in 1925, with a girl born the following year, the former Canadian war time ace had found a way to profit off his past experiences by not only editing two of Fiction House’s Aviation pulps—Air Stories and Wings, but he was also getting his own stories in including a 14 part series on “How to Become a Pilot” that ran in both magazines.

Toward the end of 1928, it all started to unravel.

Turns out that loving wife and child was more of a ball and chain to Carter who found he preferred the company of his friends over them. As the Port Chester Daily Item reported on January 12th:

Alimony of $35 a week and counsel fees of $500 must be paid to Mrs. Michelena Carter, of 88 Chatswood Avenue, Larchmont, by her husband, Robert A. Carter, editor of aeronautical fiction magazines, according to award made here by Supreme Court Justice George H. Taylor, Jr., in Special Term. The award was made by default as no opposition was presented by the husband.
      According to the wife’s complaint, she married Carter on August 6, 1925, at Catskill and they have lived since in this county. There is one child, Mary Elizabeth, born November 17, 1926.
      Carter, according to his wife, is thirty years of age and is employed by the Fiction House, Inc., 271 Madison Avenue, New York City. as editor of two aeronautical fiction magazines, “Wings” and “Air Stories.” He receives a salary of $40 weekly, she alleges, and from $25 to $60 for each story he furnishes the magazines.
      Basing her plea for separation on the grounds of cruelty and abandonment, Mrs. Carter alleges that without cause or provocation, Carter absented himself from their Larchmont home for several nights a week from August to December of last year. Even the Christmas holiday was spent away from home, she says, her husband telling her he preferred to spend his time with friends.
      On December 28th, she says, he packed his clothes and left with the statement that he did not intend to return and that he was “through” with her. She alleges that he left no money for her needs, that her baby is ill, and that she is without funds with which to purchase medicines or the services of a physician.
      The alimony awarded is pending the trial of the separation action.

Although the home life may have fallen apart, his writing career seemed to flourish as he started to see print in other titles—Aces, Air Trails, Flying Aces and War Birds. Which is good, since Carter and his estranged wife entered into a stipulation on June 4th whereby he was to pay $40 weekly out of his $100 weekly earnings as a magazine writer and the daring hero of many magazine exploits in the air.

He lived up to the agreement for two weeks before disappearing sight unseen.

Maybe this is why he was so hard to pin down and seemed a little cagey in that Air Trail’s biographical piece from November 1929. Or maybe it was the fact that he had already plagiarized several stories and submitted them to his boss at Fiction House, John B. Kelly as his own! And with the publication of the December 1929 issue of Wings, it all hit the fan!

The Pulp Plagiarism Scandal of 1929
The Stories in Question. The opening pages of Ben Conlon’s “Flyers of Fortune” (Air Trails, July 1929) and Robert A. Carter’s “Fortune Flyers” (Wings, December 1929)

The Port Chester Daily Item reports (on the front page!):

When the Muse failed and he resorted to plagiarism to keep the candle burning at both ends Robert A. Carter, thirty-two, self styled World War aviator, who is well known in Harrison and Rye, let himself in for plenty of trouble. He was lodged in the Tombs Prison in New York City today, charged with grand larceny as the result of a confession that he copied aviation stories verbatim from one magazine and sold them to another.
      The specific instance on which the charge is based concerns the story “Flyers of Fortune,” by Ben Conlin, published in “Air Trails.” Carter is alleged to have copied it word for word and sold it to the magazine “Wings” under the title “Fortune Flyers.” For it he received $240 from John B. Kelly, head of Fiction House, Inc., of 271 Madison Avenue, New York City.
      Carter, who formerly lived in Harrison, was arrested by a detective from the office of Assistant District Attorney Edward Laughlin at his home, 25 East 30th Street. He was indicted by the grand Jury on a grand larceny charge and a bench warrant issued for his arrest. The Indictment was based mainly on a written confession to Kelly, in which Carter admitted having plagiarized the story as well as two others.
      According to Kelly, Carter came to him about two and a half years ago and asked for a job. He said be had served in the Royal Flying Corps in Italy during the war and thought he could write stories of his experiences. He was given a Job and his stories, when published, were enthusiastically received. He was soon made managing editor of “Wings” and a little later arranged a broadcast from the Hotel Roosevelt in which he introduced several famous wa races. He also did some work for a Brooklyn station and later represented himself as the director, which was the first Intimation that Kelly had of his duplicity.

Kelly estimated Carter managed to extract $1,100 from the company through his plagiaristic efforts.

After his apprehension, it was discovered that fiction filching was the most remunerative, but not the exclusive manner of his making a living. Two Manhattan hotels had $850 worth of bad bills against him.

Convicted of the charges petty larceny, Plagiarist Carter was sentenced to serve not less than six months, nor more than three years in the penitentiary.

The 1930 US Census lists Robert A. Carter as an inmate of Cell Block A at the Hart Island Reformatory Prison in the Bronx.

This story was big news. Although it never received large splashy headlines, Carter’s plagiarism was reported in papers as if it had just happened well into 1932. It even made Time magazine—twice! Once in the 23 December 1929 issue and a more detailed piece two months later in the 24 February 1930 issue.

“Fortune Flyers” by Robert Carter

Link - Posted by David on February 2, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a exciting air adventure from the pen of Robert Carter. Carter was a decorated WWI aviator who flew Bristol Fighters along the Italian front and poured this experience into the pulp stories he wrote from 1927 to 1929 for magazines like Aces, Air Trails, Air Stories, Battle Stories, War Birds and Wings.

When Webb Foster sacrifices his new plane to save a man in trouble, a wealthy Mr. Charlton hires him on to pilot his new plane on his expedition to Biplane Island to find a fortune in gold! From the December 1929 Wings, it’s Robert Carter’s “Fortune Flyers!”

Treasure waits under tropic seas. High in the skies above the Spanish Main, Webb Foster peers down upon coral reefs. And buccaneers of the air fly to do murder for hidden gold. . . .

 

As a bonus, here’s a brief biographical sketch of Carter from Air Trails’ November 1929 “Landing Field” Column:

THIS month we’ve dragged another one of Air Trails’ pilot-writers out of his cockpit so that you folks can take a look at him. It’s hard to get these flying fellows to pose for their pictures. Most of them are so darned camera shy that you have to chase them all over the sky and shoot their props off before they’ll come down and act sensible. But sometimes you can catch them off guard.

We got Robert Carter out to lunch the other day and said: “How about telling the folks something about yourself?” This was the fiftieth time we’d asked him the same question; but each time before he’d stalled us. Most pilots can stall just like a motor with a bug in the gas lines. But this time Carter sort of grinned and said he’d see about it. He’d just come back from a flight out to meet one of the big transatlantic liners. He’d flown in and around and over a fog bank as big as all outdoors, and for once his motor was working in good shape. He didn’t stall.

The very next day he sent us a slip of paper about two by three inches in size with a few details of his life written on it. It wasn’t much, but it was something. He also enclosed a picture of himself in a service uniform. Our staff artist made a line drawing of it.

Robert Carter is a Southerner by birth, and a Georgia Tech graduate. We want to say here that that’s a good start for any man. We’ve seen the Georgia Tech football team in action. They don’t make ‘em any better than you’ll find ‘em down where the Georgia peaches grow.

When the World War started it didn’t take Robert Carter long to get in it. He flew a Bristol Fighter on the Italian front—a tricky little two-place ship, death on landing, and powered with a water-cooled motor. He taught a good many Italians how to fly. Then he got into the thick of the fighting, was shot down once and received some painful wounds during a night bombardment.

At the end of the war Carter came home with a limp, ten dollars in his pocket, and a decoration. He has fifteen hundred air hours logged and certified too. Carter is a regular fellow. He tried to forget his war experience; but no one would let him. Some bright editor insisted that he write air stories. He did, and there you are.

Like the other men who are writing for Air Trails, his stories ring true because he knows a joy stick from the clutch on a tin lizzie. He doesn’t need to take a ride in a carnival shoot-the-chutes to get air action and “atmosphere.”

“Please Omit Flowers” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on January 26, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

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

With Mannheim gone, the morale of the Fokkers had waned a bit and, for the past few days, the Spads of the Ninth Pursuit Squadron had been enjoying the upper hand in the sky. But today something hit the tarmac with greater force than a Gotha egg. C flight came back tattered and bruised with some very bad news—Von Holke and his The Death’s-Head Squadron had moved in to the area! And they were looking for the pilot who had taken out Mannheim—Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham!

There was one thing von Holke, famous German ace, wanted more than anything else—to see Phineas “Carbuncle” Pinkham lowered into the ground in a long, black box. And Phineas would do—well, almost anything to oblige an enemy!

“A Fiery Rescue” by J.W. Scott

Link - Posted by David on January 22, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another great cover by J.W. Scott. You may recall we featured his brilliant covers for Sky Devils a couple years ago. This time is a cover he rendered for Flying Aces! Scott painted covers for all kinds of magazines—from aviation to science fiction; from the uncanny to the Wild West; from detective stories to Woman’s Day. Here, for the September 1930 issue of Flying Aces he depicts the daring rescue of a flyer whose plane has caught fire!

A Fiery Rescue

th_FA_3112A TENSE dramatic moment is pictured in this month’s cover—the daring rescue of a Yank flyer by his buddy. In the dogfight which has just taken place, the gas tank in the Yank’s plane was punctured by Spandau bullets, and his plane caught fire. As the flames spread, threatening to envelope his body and send him down in a fiery dive of death, another American plane swooped down. In it was his buddy. Almost on top of the burning plane he came, and near enough so that the other Yank could grasp his landing gear and pull himself up—to safety.

The Ships on The Cover
A Fiery Rescue
Flying Aces, September 1930 by J.W. Scott

“Grindin’ High” by Frederick C. Davis

Link - Posted by David on January 19, 2024 @ 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 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, in his first story, Nick is mistaken for a world famous stunt flyer while trying to wrangle a job with the World news Newsreel service. And although he doesn’t make a good first impression he does come up with the goods in the end! From the January 1928 Wings, it’s Frederick C. Davis’ “Grinding’ High!”

A blazing steamer—a roaring furnace amid a vast expanse of desolate sea—and Nick Royce, fledgling, zoomed for the greatest scoop of all to prove himself a birdman!

How the War Crates Flew: War-Air Stunts

Link - Posted by David on January 16, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

FROM the pages of the June 1934 number of Sky Fighters:

Editor’s Note: We feel that this magazine has been exceedingly fortunate in securing Lt. Edward McCrae to conduct a technical department each month. It is Lt. Mcrae’s idea to tell us the underlying principles and facts concerning expressions and ideas of air-war terminology. Each month he will enlarge upon some particular statement in the stories of this magazine. Lt. MaCrae is qualified for this work, not only because he was a war pilot, but also because he is the editor of this fine magazine.

War-Air Stunts

by Lt. Edward McCrae (Sky Fighters, June 1934)

NOW I bet you dumb clucks have been reading about air fighters and duels in the air for a long time. Everybody has. You get thrilled to death when the hero barges head-on into the Hun, gives him a round of tracers and lead, noses her up, falls off on a wing, dives, comes up into an Immelmann and is on a level with his foe again, and they go to it. Dog-fights!

Now if I know you, you just sat there and got a thrill out of the yarn, but the ships were darting through the air so fast and there was so much fighting that you couldn’t follow their movements exactly. You just knew they were doing something, but how they did it, didn’t bother you.

That’s all right because you were not supposed to know the whys and wherefores of the maneuvers. You were just supposed to enjoy the story which you did.

But that’s all over. The next time you read a story you’ll know just exactly what the Red Ace was doing when he did an Immelmann and a barrel roll—and you’ll know why he did it. Then you can check up on all those writer fellows to see if they knew what they were talking about.

Because today, Jack and Jill, you’re going to learn how they did those maneuvers and why. You’ll notice that at the top of this article there’s something that talks about principles and facts and war-air terminology. That’s what you’re gonna get an earful of right now. So wash out your ears.

The Simplest Thing First

Let’s start with the simplest and first thing a war flyer has to learn to do when he gets past the Kiwi stage. He has learned to do ordinary flying, and now he’s getting down to the business of learning how to defend himself and how to whip the other man.

Let’s follow him through one of those famous and exciting dog-fights and see why he does these things. After all, he’s not up there just to furnish thrills for you readers. He’s got business to do.

He’s already off the ground and has gained his ten thousand feet altitude. He’s one of those lone eagle boys who’s out looking for a Hun for an early breakfast. Downstairs the ground is all shell marked and rows of gray trenches look like the canals of Mars to him.

Then, suddenly, out of a cloud above him that looks no bigger than a man’s hand comes that well known little black speck, diving straight down at him. It’s an Albatross! He is being attacked!

Let’s stop right there in the story. We’ll have a look at the “why.”

Don’t Look into the Sun

The German had got the best position to start with. He had got up earlier and had taken up a favorable station. The station was behind a high cloud which in turn was so located in relation to the place he might find an enemy, that the enemy might have little chance to see him. Our hero couldn’t see through a cloud. And the German had borne in mind that the cloud was between that proposed battlefield and the sun. Thus if the American were looking for him, he would look squarely into the sun and this would blind him. You can’t see a tiny speck—in fact you can hardly see anything—when you’re looking into the sun.

But let’s go on with the story. What does our hero do? He sees the Albatross bearing down on him with tracers blazing. So he reverses his controls and makes a sharp turn out of the line of fire. (Fig. 1)

Reversing Controls

What is this reversing controls? No, Jill, it’s not like throwing an automobile into reverse. Airplanes can’t normally go backward in the air. They aren’t crawfish.

What he did was this. He had to make a turn so short and so quickly that in order to do it he had to bank so steeply that the rudder was cross-ways instead of up and down like it should be, and the elevators were up and down instead of crossways. The result of this was that he had to control his ship differently.

The wings were one up and one down instead of horizontal. Therefore, in order to control his ship, where before he would use the rudder, now he had to use the flippers or elevators for that purpose. And vice versa with the rudder. And all this time bullets coming at him!

You would think this would be confusing, wouldn’t you? Well, it is! But the boy had to learn to do it automatically—without even thinking about it, before he could go on and learn all the rest of the things he had to know!

Something to Remember

Reverse control is the important element in any sharp turn which makes it necessary to bank at an angle of more than 45 degrees. Don’t forget that, children, and you’ll have more respect for the poor flyer.

But that’s not all—it’s just the beginning of those little tricks he had to learn. That maneuver can be dangerous, and it always results—when control is lost—in a spin with the power on. And is that dangerous? Ask your Uncle “Spinner” Eddie.

So, in order to get out of such a predicament in case it happened—and it’s sure to happen—you have to deliberately learn to spin your ship and bring it out of a spin. You can’t wait until you accidentally find yourself in a jam to practice getting out of it. You have to know how in advance. It’s something like practicing driving your car over a cliff. They make ships these days that won’t spin, but they are for old-lady passengers and students to ride. A fighting ship must be able to spin, because sometimes you will want to spin it.

      “But Von Hun was on his tail, pouring a deadly volley—”
      “The Red Knight saw death staring him in the face. There was only one means of escape. Shoving the throttle forward to pick up speed, he jammed the stick forward and to the left and kicked the rudder. The ship nosed down into a power spin—”

Now why did our hero do this? Well, children, did you ever try to shoot at a leaping jack rabbit? He has plenty of speed and he’s not going in a very straight line. You can’t tell a second in advance where he’ll be the next second. And when you multiply that by the speed of a ship whirling down like a corkscrew with the motor full on—you’ve got a real job of target practice ahead of you! (Fig. 2)

Our Hero Escapes

So our hero escapes. But the Hun follows him down. He levels off and turns to meet the Von! He squeezes the triggers of the Lewis gun on his stick and sews a seam of lead up the leg of the Von’s Sunday pants. Von Hun is in dangerous territory with the Red Knight headed straight forward. Von Hun, to escape being rammed, falls off on one wing.

What the Von did was a side slip. He wanted to drop below the Red Knight, so he throttled down to lose power, banked his plane so one wing was down and jammed on opposite rudder. The rudder threw the nose down with the wing and headed the ship into a straight dive with one wing low. In order to straighten out he had to level off the wings and there he was all set, but on a lower plane and behind the Red Knight.

The Immelmann

But he climbs rapidly and is again hovering over the Red Knight. But our hero won’t stand for “that. He wants that position himself. So the Red Knight dives to pick up speed and then hauls back the stick. The ship loops in a big up-and-down circle that carries him above Von Hun. And as he comes down in the last part of the loop he manages to get in a burst that dusts off the Von’s uniform.

This is partially effective and Von Hun is trying to get out of the way. So our hero tries it again. He goes into the loop, but at the top of it he sees Von going the other way. To finish the loop will take him further away from Von. So “at the top of the loop he suddenly executes an Immelmann turn,” and is headed for the enemy, guns blazing. (Fig. 3)

What’s this Immelmann thing! Well, at the top of the loop our hero is naturally upside down and as he comes out he will be headed West at a lower altitude. But he wants to stay up there headed East.

So, just before the ship reached the top of the loop our hero pulls the stick back all the way and jams his rudder forward. The effect of this is to turn the wings over and get him right side up with care, just like the first turn of a barrel roll. And there he is headed West a little above the tail of Von Hun.

Which makes the Von sweat under the collar, so the Von eps his tail out of the way by doing a wing-over and coming back to meet The Red Knight. He does this quickly by nosing his ship up sharply and dropping one wing. He canteen keep it up until the ship stalls, at which time he falls off on one wing and completes his turn. He hasn’t lost altitude and he is back facing the way he came from on the same path instead of being over to the left or right.

And it is then that our hero triggers hs weapon and finishes him. He simply outshot the German. You’ll find out about how I did that over in the fiction department—second door to the left.

So you see, my young scallions, all that monkey business about loops and turns and chasing each other’s tails and all that sort of stuff isn’t put in there just to make a holiday for you. Every maneuver is there for a certain purpose, to aid the flyer in getting out of the other’s way, or to get into a favorable position for himself. They’re not stunt flyers just trying to entertain you. They’re in the glorious business of being knights of the air, lone fighters just like the old knights, to kill the enemy. And all those tricks are part of their trade.

“The Night-Raid Patrol” by Eustace Adams

Link - Posted by David on January 12, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the prolific pen of Eustace L. Adams. Born in 1891, Adams was an editor and author who served in the American Ambulance Service and the US Naval Service during The Great War. His aviation themed stories started appearing in 1928 in the various war and aviation pulps—Air Trails, Flying Aces, War Stories, Wings, War Birds, Sky Birds, Under Fire, Air Stories and Argosy. He is probably best remembered for the dozen or so airplane boys adventure books he wrote for the Andy Lane series.

Lieutenant Bull Meehan, U.S.N., was in a mood. And when Bull was in a mood, let it be said that the United States Naval Air Station at Souilly-sur-mer was a place over which the sun hid behind lowering clouds; where red wine soured on the mess table; where flatfooted gob sentries paced their beats with the snap and the devotion to duty of Imperial Household Guardsmen and where the young naval aviators gathered in the lee of the hangars and cursed with great feeling and remarkable fluency. It was at this time, Ensign Wadsworth arrived wearing his Croix de Guerre under his gold naval aviator’s badge and had a record of two years’ flying service with the French Army…

From the August 1929 issue of Sky Birds, it’s Eustace Adams’ “The Night-Raid Patrol!”

A smashing hit! Follow this plucky Yankee flier through hell-popping adventure. See him zig-zag through the air, spewing havoc and destruction, locking wings with his venomous C.O. Here is a thrilling yam from the pen of a master of tale-spinner!

 

As a bonus, here’s an article about the author himself from the Akron Beacon Journal in 1940!

Argument With Wife Started Eustace Adams’ Career; Author of Adventure Tales Now Wants To Do ‘Better’ Things

by Naomi Bender • Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio • Sunday, March 24, 1934, p.9-D

MIAMI, Fla., March 23.— Ever hear of Eustace L. Adams? Probably not, yet he’s in “Who’s Who”—there’s three inches of small type about him—he writes serials and short stories for most of the better magazines.

He’s had dozens of boys’ books published, as well as a few adventure novels. His works have been published in England. They’re called “Sovereign Thrillers” there, or, in the vernacular, “Shilling Shockers.” He’s 49 and he makes enough money out of his writing to be in the upper income brackets. He calls himself just a good “potboiler.”

“And I have no message for suffering humanity,” the athletic-looking author said, with a grin, as he puffed on a cigaret. We were seated in his workroom, at the rear of his home on Palm island overlooking the bay.

He’s a likable fellow, this Adams, with a nice grin, kindly blue eyes and a nautical air about him. That’s probably because, when he’s not working, you’ll usually find him on his tiny sailboat, for sailing is his one and only pastime.

Argument Changes Career

He was an aviator during the war. After that, he became a salesman for an advertising concern. Then fate stepped in and shoved him into a completely different profession.

It all started over an argument with his wife. Well, not exactly an argument, but it was like this:

Mr. Adams traveled quite a bit so his wife decided to take a course in journalism to keep herself busy. That started her writing short stories but, like many an amateur writer, her intentions were better than the results. She rarely, if ever, finished her stories.

So naturally, one day, friend husband said, with a very superior air: “I bet I could write one of those confession stories you’re always playing around with. I’ll show you how to do it.”

And naturally, friend wife, knowing her husband had never written a line in his life, reacted just as any wife would—with a big raspberry.

But this time the husband won the decision. He not only wrote the story, but he received a handsome check as first prize winner of a confession story contest.

This was very nice indeed, but Adams still thought a good job with an advertising concern was better than the doubtful security of writing.

Then Lindbergh made his sensational hop across the Atlantic, which might seem to have no connection with the life of Eustace L. Adams but did.

Adams had been a professional aviator; he had also won a confessional story contest. Lindbergh’s flight put a premium on stories with a factual aviation background. And the pulp magazine editor thought of Adams.

”It just happened that at the time I was one of the few literate persons who knew anything about flying,” Adams modestly explained.

He wrote a serial and five short stories in 60 days and sold them all.

From that time on, he has been a professional writer.

Starts Early, Quits Early

He says he keeps “regular office hours” but there are few offices where the employees arrive at 5 o’clock every morning. Adams works until noon each day on an electric typewriter and then he’s through for the day.

“I take only two holidays a year,” he said, “the 4th of July and Christmas.”

He reads a lot, chiefly better fiction and magazines, plenty of magazines.

“I’m just like an architect looking at other architects’ houses,” he stated. “Times change in popular fiction; each year there’s a tiny shift in fashions and I have to keep up with them if I want to sell my stuff.”

There are days when he’s wished he were a plumber or a dentist. “Anything,” he said, with a wry grin, “but what I am, which forces me to sit here at the typewriter whether I want to or not.”

And he does sit there, without doodling, for a stipulated time each day even when he can’t write a line he thinks is worth a hoot.

For, as with all authors, there are dry periods when things just won’t come through

“Then I try to remember what Edith Wharton once said. It’s helped me over many a tough spot when my mind’s as empty as a bass drum. ’Just put one word after another laboriously,’ she said, ’juat carry your hero along and keep on plodding, then all of a sudden things begin to go.’”

He works on one story at a time even though he does turn out millions of words each year. He doesn’t use a plot machine, either He’s tried it, he confesses, but it didn’t work. He sells the majority of the stories he writes. He has a little card file on which he keeps a record of each story he has written and its fate. If the story sells, the amount is marked down neatly, with the date and the publication to which it was sold. If it flopped, this is noted on cards that go into the rear of the file, marked “Rejected.” The number of these cards is very small.

Like all authors who depend on their writing for a living. Adams fears the day when he may run out of ideas or may not be able to sell his stories.

But when that day comes he hopes to have enough money so that he can sit back and relax and enjoy life.

Influence Isn’t Necessary

Here’s how he would advise those who aspire to be professional “entertainment writers.”

Study the magazines to which you want to sell your stories. “You can’t just write a story, send it around to every magazine from the pulps to the slicks and get it sold. It has to be directed to a particular publication.”

You don’t need any influence with magazine editors. If your stories are good, they’ll grab them.

“About the only break I get,” the author said, “is that if I send a story in that Isn’t quite right, I’ll get It back with something like this written on it. ‘On page 33, you stink. Or your heroine is out of line, fix her up.’ Then I revise the story, send it back and it has a good chance of being accepted.

“The chief handicap any young writer has to overcome,” Adams continued, “Is getting gun shy in front of the typewriter. Most amateurs have to cure themselves of buck fever before they can do their best. Once that’s licked, half battle is won.”

Tucked somewhere back in his mind is the thought that some day he may do a “real job of writing ”

He knows most popular authors feel that way and he’s not kidding himself.

“Naturally I would like to do better things,” he confessed frankly. “It would be swell to have real genius, like Hemingway in ‘The Killer’ or ’The Sun Also Rises,’ or Steinbeck In ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ I would like to say to myself that, if I had five years I could do something good, too. I know it may be just an illusion, but I also know that many of our best writers got their training first in the pulp magazine field.”

Heroes of the Air: Capt. F.M. West

Link - Posted by David on January 8, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 9 July 1938 issue of Flying:

CAPT. F.M. WEST WINNING THE V.C. OVER THE GERMAN LINES, AUGUST 10, 1918

ON THE morning of August 10, 1918, Captain Ferdinand Maurice West took off with his observer to strafe the German back areas. For this purpose he went far over the enemy lines and he was flying low, attacking infantry, when seven German scouts came upon him. In his Armstrong Whitworth the odds against him were enormous. Quite early in the fight an explosive bullet shattered his leg, which fouled the rudder-bar and caused the machine to fall out of control. No sooner had he lifted his leg clear than he was wounded in the other. In spite of his predicament, he managed to manoeuvre his machine so as to enable his gunner to get in sufficient bursts of fire to drive off the hostile scouts. Then, with great courage and determination, he set off for the British lines, where he landed safely. Weak from loss of blood, he fainted, but when he regained consciousness he insisted on writing his report before going to the hospital. Happily this gallant officer recovered sufficiently to remain in the service, where he is now a Wing Commander.

“Flaming Bullets” by Franklin M. Ritchie

Link - Posted by David on January 5, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another story by Franklin M. Ritchie. Ritchie only wrote aviation yarns and his entire output—roughly three dozen stories—was between 1927 and 1930. Today we have another one from the lawyer who wrote pulp stories on the side to satisfy his yen for flying. From an early issue of Sky Birds, Ritchie gives us a tale of the chivalry of the air—but from the German point of view. Enter young Oberleutnant Fritz von Hullesheim who gets himself into a real mess over his flight leaders use of incendiary bullets in his air battles.

From the April 1929 issue of Sky Birds, it’s Franklin M. Ritchie’s “Flaming Bullets!”

The amazing chivalry of the men of the air astounded the whole world during the war. They were true sportsmen, those sky-fighters. Here is a breath-taking yarn from behind the enemy lines showing how the picture looked through the eyes of German War Flyers!

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