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How the War Crates Flew: Top Man Wins… Maybe!

Link - Posted by David on September 7, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

FROM the pages of the January 1933 number of Sky Fighters:

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

Top Man Wins… Maybe!

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters, January 1933)

WELL, I’ve had you upstarts under my wing for so long now that I guess I can’t call you fledglings any longer. Of course there are some of you who are worse than fledglings. But still some others of you have been paying attention, and have actually learned a thing or two about this business of war flying, and what have you. So from now on I’ll consider you all as promoted to the next grade, and call you buzzards. But, mind you, any cracks out of turn, or any funny business, and back you all go to the rank of fledgling. And take it from Uncle Wash-Out, there ain’t nothing lower in a pilot’s estimation than a fledgling. Okay, buzzard—here we go!

A few chinfests back (the C.O. of this mag will give you the exact date) I told you the hows and whys of Getting Your Hun. The main point I leaned on was the great amount of preparation before you even took your crate into the air. Well, this time I’m going to deal with technical points after you get upstairs and spot your man.

Now, read this over.

“Spandaus guns yammered savagely and twin streams of fire reached out for the Yank ship. But the pilot in that Yank plane was not to be caught napping. Slamming into a half roll, he immediately came out of it and zoomed up to cartwheel over and go plunging straight down on the German ship, his Vickers singing their song of death. It was all over then, for the Yank was top man, and top man always wins!”

Does that sound familiar? Sure it does! You’ve read something more or less like that in fifty different stories. But here is where I step into the picture and maybe make myself the nasty antipathy of a whole lot of your favorite authors. And maybe before I get through, the C.O. of this mag will toss me into the klink and get a greaseball to double for me. But, come what may, I’ve got to be honest with you buzzards. In these chinfests I’ve got to stick to the technical truth. In others words, I’ve got to be on the up-and-up. Now, don’t get the idea that I’m only trying to pick your stories apart. That’s not the idea. I’m just going to elaborate on points that your authors didn’t have time to enlarge upon. Their stuff is fiction—action—boom-boom stuff—and all the rest of it. But my stuff is straight stuff. Oh, maybe dry in spots, but the true dope.

Okay, lean on this. Top man in a scrap does not always win!

The method of getting an enemy ship depends upon a lot of things. The most important thing is what kind of a ship it is. In other words, you don’t go after two-seaters the the way you go after a pursuit ship. And you don’t go after a pursuit ship the way you go after a bomber. And you don’t go after any of them the way you go after a balloon.

Of course, there is one item that applies to them all. That is, getting the old machine-gun bullets in where they will do the most damage. But thinking about it and accomplishing it are two different things.

Now, for example, let’s take the case of two pursuit ships scrapping it out. Let us say that the Hun comes in from the east, and you come in from the west. You are both at the same altitude and you spot each other at the same time.

WELL, naturally, both of you will start to climb. The more altitude you have the more advantage you have. (Don’t forget, now, I’m talking about pursuit ships.) Why is altitude an advantage? Well, buzzards, as I’ve told you many times before, a pursuit ship pilot can only shoot his guns in one direction—forward. Therefore, he has no protection at the rear. It stands to reason, then, that the ship with the most altitude has the better chance of maneuvering down on the other’s tail, or as it is often called, his blind spot.

But in this case we’re talking about, we’ll say that neither you nor your enemy get greater altitude. You draw close together at the same level. Well, you both probably take nose to nose shots at each other. Scoring any damage that way is not common occurrence for the simple reason that you are both protected by a wall of metal. And that wall of metal is your engine. Also, a plane coming dead on to you presents a mighty small target. If you don’t think so, well, the next time you go up fly nose to nose with some other ship and take a good look for yourself. Fig. 1.

WELL, you can bring your enemy down by flying right into him. But that would mean curtains for you, too. And, besides, ten times out of ten, your enemy doesn’t want to cash in that way. So he pulls out of the way at the last minute. Usually he zooms up in a climbing turn, hoping to drop down on your tail. Well, you beat him to it and do the same thing yourself. And what’s the result? You have both gained altitude, and you have dropped into what the boys used to call the ring-around-rosey, or the tail chase tail formation.

Take a look at Fig. 2, and you’ll see what I mean. You both are on the outside of circle, headed in opposite directions, and chasing each other’s tail around in the air. Naturally, you both are trying to get around faster than the other so that you can plant a nice little telling burst in the other’s tail. But you find out that the other ship has just as much speed as you have, and the result is that you both stay on opposite sides of a big invisible circle.

All right, buzzards, I know what you’re going to ask. So sit down, and I’ll tell you. Why not shorten the diameter of your circle? In other words, why not bank more sharply? Well, it’s a swell idea if you can do it. And if you can, why of course you have a beautiful broadside shot at your enemy. But just remember that your enemy isn’t flying around and reading a copy of SKY FIGHTERS. Not by a long shot. If he’s a good pilot he’s trying to pull the same stunt on you!

WELL, of course you can’t keep on going around in a circle all the time. If you keep it up long enough you’ll both starve to death. So someone has to break the circle—bust up the ring-around-rosey idea. But whoever breaks it has got to be quick and careful. Once you pull out of it your opponent has a couple of precious seconds in which he can whip around and let you have it.

One of the best ways to do that (as proven in the late Big Fuss) was to pull up and over toward the inside of the ring. In other words, you try to climb up and come down on top of your man. His defense against that is to do the same thing himself (and bring both of you right back where you were) or else to whip over and down and then up. The idea being to get you from underneath before you can bring your guns down to train on him.

RIGHT there is a good example of what I said at the beginning. If your enemy should be successful in whipping down and up before you whipped up and down, why it would be a case of top man getting it in the neck.

In view of the fact that I’ve illustrated my top man idea I’ll end this scrap by saying that you catch him napping and shoot his pants off, and his life along with them. That, of course, is the final thing in every scrap—I mean, that one or the other pulls a surprise maneuver that catches the other napping and allows the chance for the killing burst.

But before I speak about observation ships, I want to point out another example of top man not winning. Suppose when you break the circle by zooming up and over and your enemy slams into a quick half-roll and dives away. Well, of course, he takes a chance that you may be able to slide around and get him. But he has a few precious seconds in which to get up a lot of diving speed, before you are in a position to dive after him. The result, of course, is that you are top man, but your enemy is diving away from you, putting air space between you and him, which means a longer range shot for you. And not only that—he presents a rotten target. He is edge on to the ground, and you’d be surprised how a ship diving away from you seems to melt in with things below on the ground. The ground is dark and the outline of parts of the ship presented to you are also dark. In other words, the ship forms no silhouette, like it would if there was a background of sky or clouds. To get the idea, look at Fig. 3.

And now for the two-seater ships.

YOU are patroling around and suddenly you see an enemy two-seater taking pictures behind the lines. Naughty! naughty! That pair of young men must be taught a very lasting lesson right pronto! So you go down after them. But do you drop down on their tail?

Well, if you do and they see you coming, you won’t need to worry any more about how you’re going to pay your losses in that poker game in the mess last night. And why? Well, buzzards, there is an observer in that two-seater, parked in the rear cockpit. And when he left his home drome he took along at least one, and probably two, guns mounted on a swivel mounting that enables him to shoot in any direction except forward and down. And you can bet your sweet life that he still has them with him. So, if you come piling down from the rear and he sees you, well, you’re just going to get a whole mouthful of bullets that won’t taste good.

OF COURSE, there is an exception to everything, and it is possible to pile down on an enemy two-seater from the rear, and pop it right out of the sky. But such a case is only when the occupants of that two-seater are napping, or are too busy doing something else, and therefore fail to see you before your bullets are slapping into them. Such an occurrence could happen, if you got the sun at your back. In that case its brilliance would blot you out of their sight.

But enough of what you shouldn’t do. Let’s get on with what you should do.

In this case we’ll say that it is not a surprise attack. The enemy sees you coming. Well, no matter what angle you come down from, you will be in their range of fire. And naturally you cannot come down to their level though out of range, and then bore in from the side, for the simple reason that a two-seater doesn’t have to go into any ring-around-rosey maneuver. It doesn’t, because the observer can train his guns on you while the pilot flies the ship dead ahead.

All right, buzzards, all right! I’m getting to it, so keep quiet.

The thing to do is to attack the two-seater in its blind spot. And the blind spot of a two-seater is the area underneath the ship, extending from the prop to the tail skid. Neither pilot nor observer can bring their guns to train on any part of that area. And so the idea is to dive down under the two-seater and come up at it from underneath. In other words, hang on your prop and plant your burst right smack through the floorboards of that two-seater. And no matter which way, he goes, you just try and keep in that blind spot. Fig. 4.

And so I murmur again—what do you mean, top man always wins?

Now for bombers. And are those babies tough! Present-day bombers, as you buzzards probably know, have about as many blind spots as a goldfish bowl. And the old wartime bombers didn’t have so many themselves. About the only blind area they presented to attacking planes was directly under the forward parts of the ship, and close up under the wings.

And so you won’t be misled, let me tell you that the best way to get one of those big babies was to take along a couple of your squadron pals with you. The idea being that while a couple of you worried the occupants of the bomber the rest would pile in from the side they weren’t looking at, and get in your shots. But should you be alone, the best way was to take your pot shots from underneath. Top man wins, eh? Oh, yeah?

NOW, before I rush myself away from you, I’ll just mention a word or two about top man and balloons. Getting a balloon is a job that really is ninety-nine and nine-tenths surprise. You have several factors against you. First, the men in the balloon are keeping a sharp eye out for you. Second, the ground defense of that bag is also keeping a sharp watch for you. Third, it is possible for the bag to be hauled down before you can close in on it. Fourth, you can be exposed to terrific fire from the ground. Therefore, the bigger the surprise, the better chance you have of getting the bag.

LET’S say you pile down on it, and miss. Meantime you are diving through lead hell—that lead hell doesn’t miss. Well, you may be top man, but it’s curtains, unless luck is with you and you can fly clear before you’re struck in a fatal spot.

Well, let’s attack another way. Fly close to the ground (making it hard for the men in the bag to spot you against the ground, and completely hidden from the bag’s ground forces), then at the last moment zoom up at it and let drive. Your shots go home and the bag goes blooey. It was top man, wasn’t it? And in the meantime you are top man to the ground forces, and they may nail you before you can zoom out of range. Fig. 5.

So, as I said at the beginning—it depends upon a lot of conditions and cirmustances whether the top man wins or loses. In most scraps it is favorable to be top man—but that rule does not hold good all of the time—and don’t let Santa Claus tell you that it does!

The Original Sixgun Buzzard by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on August 15, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

SOMETHING a little different this week. Instead of the story behind a cover, we have the original version of one of Frederick Blakeslee’s interior illustrations. Blakeslee’s cover paintings seem to show up frequently on the various auction house sites, but this may be the only interior illustration of his we’ve ever come across on those sites.

The image in question is the one Mr. Blakeslee did for “The Sixgun Buzzard,” the Smoke Wade story from the April 1933 issue of Battle Birds (as well as the lead story in our third volume of The Adventures of Smoke Wade)

As you can see, the printed version has a lot of plate edges on it outlining areas in an unseemly manor. Although the original is much cleaner in this regard, it has unfortunately suffered some damage at some point.


The Sixgun Buzzard by Frederick Blakeslee, Conte crayon, ink, and pen on paper.
16″ x 10½”

“The Dragon’s Breath” by O.B. Myers

Link - Posted by David on July 22, 2022 @ 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. Sent down behind enemy lines, Pete Hennabury runs into an Allied spy and is entrusted with important information. Important information that ends up right back in the hands of the Germans. Desperate to get the information to the Allies, Pete plays a dangerous game, betting everything on his best mate’s dragon breath! From the March 1933 number of War Birds, it’s O.B. Myer’s “The Dragon’s Breath”

With one foot on the rail of death, Pete mixed a crash cocktail, chilled it with the ice of his own nerve and served it in a washed-out cylinder of a Fokker mercedes!

“Yank Rookie Gets German Ace” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on June 13, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the October 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action as a …

Yank Rookie Gets German Ace

th_FA_3310IN THE early summer of ’18 the 95th Yank Squadron was having a busy time of it on the Front near Verdun. The long-promised Spads had not yet arrived, and they were still flying their old Nieuports to combat the new Albatrosses and Fokkers with which the Germans were filling the skies.

The squadron losses had not been unusual, but quite heavy enough so that replacements were constantly coming up. Often these were lads who had previously been with the French or English, and so had some actual combat experience. But sometimes there would be one who came fresh from the training centers, with only what experience he had received in “aerial combat” at those fields, and not enough of that.

As a general thing, these lads could be broken in gradually, the usual procedure being for the experienced pilots to take them over in formation, avoiding, if possible, a serious scrap, but allowing them to get accustomed to archie and the feel of being out—assisted to be sure, but on their own, where the stakes were life and death.

If a scrap was unavoidable, the new lads were told to stick close in their formation, or if the formation was broken, to pull out of the scrap entirely if the opportunity presented itself. However, things didn’t always work out 15,000 feet up as they were planned on the ground.

So it was with Lieutenant Walter Avery, who came up entirely without experience to join the 95th. He, like all other rookie aviators, without underestimating his job or the danger in it, was impatient to get at the enemy, and restlessly waited for his time to be taken over.

While waiting, he heard tales of the activities of the Boche squadrons in this sector, especially of an ace named Menckeff, who flew a red Albatross with the tips of its lower wings painted black.

This ace had thirty-eight official victories to his credit, and he and his men had been in many a spectacular dogfight with the Allied birdmen of this sector. Possibly at night Avery dreamed of that red ship with the black lower wing tips. Anyway, those markings must have stuck in his memory for—but that’s part of the story of Avery’s big day.

WITH the sun shining down blindingly from the vast blue dome above, seven German ships sped along over the big white clouds below them. High up there, everything was so quiet, so beautiful and peaceful, that it was almost incredible that the veil of smoke seen drifting across the landscape far below was really the shroud of hundreds who at that instant were dying—a sacrifice to the gods of war.

So, indeed, it was impossible to believe that these ships flying swiftly and easily, beautiful in the sunlight, their red wings flashing, were in reality a squadron of death, mercilessly searching for their victims.

Far below, coming from behind a cloud, five tiny specks had appeared, almost invisible against the shell-torn earth still miles beneath them. The quick eyes of the Boche leader had observed them, however, and already his wings were wagging their signal to his comrades. The red, blue and white circles on the lower planes showed them to be Americans. It was the 95th, and Lieutenant Avery was being taken over for the first time.

He had already come through his first tryout with archie, and had marveled at the apparent unconcern of the older pilots when puffs of smoke had appeared all around them as if by magic, and their ships had been bumped around as if by the hand of the magician himself. The flight had shifted course suddenly, and at certain definite intervals, but that was all, and soon the smoke puffs had ceased.

But now it was different. The flight leader had banked up sharply, at the same time giving a quick signal. Avery, looking over his shoulder, saw seemingly countless red ships, their guns blazing, diving straight down on him, and he knew that this was one scrap not as per ground instructions.

Just what happened during the next few moments will always remain a confused mass of memories to the young airman. He tried to remember his warning to stay in formation, but there seemed to be no formation left. He had escaped the first driving onslaught and was now just one of twelve twisting and dodging planes. So far he had not even used his machine gun. There had seemed nothing to shoot at—just flashes of color that passed him before he had opportunity even to determine what they were.

Then some bullets, spattering close to his cockpit, brought him abruptly out of his confusion. His senses cleared. All his training came back suddenly. He threw his ship into a screaming vrille and came out with a red ship square in front of him. Automatically his fingers squeezed the trips, and for the first time he felt the thrill of actual combat. His aim was high. He saw his tracers pass over the top wing of the other ship.

The German was busy on the tail of one of the other Americans and had not noticed Avery. A yank of Avery’s stick brought the whole enemy ship more into line. Then for the first time his eyes caught something that sent his heart into his mouth. The red Albatross had black lower wing tips.

Carefully he sighted, aiming at the nose of the Albatross so that the German would have to pass through the line of fire. Once again his guns throbbed, and this time his aim was true. The German plane shot up in a tight loop like an animal stung unawares, but at the top, his motor sputtered and he dropped off to one side. Right behind him went Avery, his guns blazing, the bullets ripping the sides of the diving Albatross.

It was soon over. They had drifted too far over the Allied lines for the Boche to make the German side; so, with motor gone, unable to fight, and himself wounded, he threw up his hands in surrender. The scrap was over, and Avery headed back for the airdrome.

His squadron mates had seen the newcomer get his German, but it was not until the prisoner had been brought in that Avery was sure his eyes had not deceived him. And not until then did his comrades realize that the young American lieutenant had on his first flight over the lines brought down the famous German ace, Menckoff—a record we believe unique in the annals of the war.

The Ships on The Cover
“Yank Rookie Gets German Ace”
Flying Aces, October 1933 by Paul J. Bissell

“Aid to the Lost Battalion” by Paul Bissell

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

THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the September 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action as Lt’s Goettler and Bleckley try to get …

Aid to the Lost Battalion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Terror Tarmac” by Arthur J. Burks

Link - Posted by David on April 22, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

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

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

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

“The Youngest V.C. Flyer” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on March 28, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the August 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action with…

The Youngest V.C. Flyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The Invulnerable Dormé” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on February 14, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the January 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action with

The Invulnerable Dormé

th_FA_3301“AND, Adjutant, get that request of transfer off to headquarters today, s’il vous plait?”

“Certainement, mon Capitaine, but why so vite? There is not an aviator in all France who does not desire to be one of Les Cigognes. So with all the aviators to choose from, why do you ask for Dormé? He has had but little experience in le Chasse.”

“Mon ami,” said the captain affectionately, “when a lad stationed at Paris flies an old Caudron up so close to the Front that he runs into a German squadron of six planes, he shows himself an ambitious and aggressive aviator. But when he then attacks them single-handed, brings one of them down and puts the rest to flight, he shows he has the stuff we want in Squadron 3. Don’t let’s lose him.” And the captain’s tone left no room for further argument.

So, early in July, 1916, René Dormé came to Squadron 3, better known as the Flying Storks, from the insignia painted on the side of their ships. This squadron had been formed by Captain Brocard and was already well known at the Front. It was destined later to enjoy a fame greater, perhaps, than that of any other French flying unit, and Dormé was to play no small part in helping to earn that fame.

In fact, he had been with the squadron but a few weeks when it was very evident that he was, as the French said, “un pilot extraordinaire.” He was quiet and gracious in manner, and was soon affectionately dubbed “Père” by his comrades, not because of his age—he was only 21—but because of the esteem and affection in which they held him.

Though he became one of the nation’s heroes, he remained always modest and unassuming. Twenty-three official victories were finally credited to him, but this was by no means his complete score. He often fought alone, far in the enemy’s territory, and his comrades knew that he had gained many a victory which went unrecorded. Once when a superior officer mentioned this fact in front of Dormé, Père quietly replied, “But the Germans know, mon Capitaine, and that is all that really matters.”

Guynemer considered Dormé the greatest flyer of the war. The ability with which he maneuvered his little Nieuport was nothing short of miraculous. He helped develop air fighting tactics and is credited with being the first to make use of the great defensive stunt, the wing slip.

Battle after battle he would carry through to victory and emerge untouched. To the poilus he was known as “Dormé the Unpuncturable.” They said he could see the bullets and dodge between them. Certain it is that after his tenth victory his mechanics, going carefully over his plane, could not find one single bullet hole. Yet it was this ability to quickly maneuver which almost cost him his life, one morning in the summer of ’16.

JULY was almost over and Dormé was up early to bag himself a Boche to add to his record before the month’s end. He soon spotted a Fokker and swung around in a circle to prevent the black-crossed plane from turning back toward the German lines, at the same time tipping the nose of his little Nieuport up to gain altitude for the attack.

He reached his desired position, and with that quickness which marked all of his maneuvers in the air, swooped down in a power dive, his guns blazing. But here Fate took a hand to save the hapless German from Dormé’s deadly fire.

Completely absorbed in his maneuvers on the tail of the Fokker, Père had not noticed an Aviatic that had swung in from the left and been steadily creeping up under his tail. Evidently the pilot of this ship had just gotten himself in a position to fire on the unsuspecting Dormé when the Frenchman’s quick dive caught him so completely unawares that he was unable to twist his own ship out of the way and avoid a crash. The wheels of the little Nieuport struck the leading edge of the upper wing of the big Aviatic just where it joined the center section.

Luckily for Dormé, the Nieuport, ordinarily considered rather frail in its construction, this time proved the sturdier of the two planes. Though one wheel and part of the landing gear were crushed, a quick jerk of the stick on Dormé’s part yanked the little Nieuport out of danger while the Aviatic’s upper wing, broken at the midsection, swung away, carrying the lower wing with it, and the plane started in its mad dive earthward, the pilot finally jumping to avoid death by flames, the dread of all aviators.

Through the many months that followed, Dormé kept steadily gaining victories over the enemy. He ran neck and neck for many weeks in friendly rivalry with his fellow Cigogne, Captain Heurteaux, for the distinction of the premiere place of the squadron, until at last, when Heurteaux had gained a lead of a few victories, Dormé in a tremendous spurt shot down eight of the enemy in one short week and took a lead that he maintained until that day in May which was ever remembered as a black day for the Storks—the day when Dormé took off in the early morning light, never to be seen or heard from again.

For days the Cigognes kept secret the fact that he had failed to return, hoping against hope that Dormé would yet come back safely. It was more than a fortnight later when the Germans dropped a message on his field saying that Pilot Dormé had been killed in combat.

No data or particulars were given, and to this day there are thousands who refuse to believe that Dormé was brought down by the enemy. Père Dormé, the Beloved, the Unpuncturable, brought down by a German bullet? No! To the French this is unthinkable. But the fact remains that Dormé never came back.

The Ships on The Cover
“The Invulnerable Dormé”
Flying Aces, January 1933 by Paul J. Bissell

From the Scrapbooks: Battle Birds Covers

Link - Posted by David on December 13, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. In addition to Flying Aces’ “War Planes Album” and Sky Birds’ “Model Planes of All Nations”, Robert also featured Frederick Blakeslee’s magnificent Battle Aces covers.


The section features it’s own introductory page

Although the first scrapbook featured the cover of the premiere issue of Battle Birds on its cover, Robert’s scrapbooked covers from Battle Birds were in the second book along with the Battle Aces covers. Unlike the scrapbooked Battle Aces covers, Robert trimmed off the text portions of the covers and just included Blakeslee’s great arial combat illustration portion.

When possible, he made note of the planes Blakeslee portrayed on the covers!



May 33


Dare-Devil Aces
Jan ‘33


Feb ‘33


Jan ‘33


Dec ‘32


Apr ‘33


Jul ‘33


Jun ‘33


Aug ‘33


Dare-Devil Aces
Jun ‘33


Mar ‘33


Sep ‘33

 

From the Scrapbooks: Blakeslee’s Plane Plans

Link - Posted by David on December 10, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes.

Another great feature from the pulps Robert chose to include in his scrapbooks were Frederick Blakeslee’s 3 plan views of planes that he rendered for Battle Aces.

Rather than giving each its own page, Robert chose to glue one down along the top edge and then slot a few others beneath it, loose on the page. He had the first four on the first page, three on the second and just two on the third, although he appears to have gotten the September issue as well.



German
Fokker D-7
Dec ‘32


British
S.E.5-A
Jan ‘33


Pfalz Scout
type DXII
Feb ‘33


Bristol Fighter
type F2B
Mar ‘33


German
Friedrichshafen Bomber
Apr ‘33


Sopwith
“Snipe”
May ‘33


Halberstadt C4
Jun ‘33


Westland Wagtail
Jul ‘33


Halberstadt C2
Aug ‘33

 

From the Scrapbooks: Aces of Note

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

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and not just the planes, but also some of the men who made a name for themselves flying them in The Great War.

Chronicled within the pages of the scrapbooks are such Aces the likes of:


Billy Bishop

and The Red Baron himself––


Baron Manfred von Richthofen

He has a page devoted to Rickenbacker’s Victories

And includes the four installments of Flying Aces’ “Lives of the Aces in Pictures”. Here, he’s taken the images from the two page feature (as they were in the pulp-sized issues), pasted them on a page with the accompanying captions, typed out on the facing page.


Eddie Rickenbacker, America’s Ace

He gave the same treatment for the Lives of Bert Hall, Soldier of Fortune (Flying Aces, June 1932), Georges Guynemer, Falcon of France (July 1932), and Lt. Werner Voss, German Ace (July 1933) as illustrated in pictures.

Scattered throughout are various mentions of aces from the pulps or the newspapers or other magazines.

From the Scrapbooks: The Air Races

Link - Posted by David on November 29, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

THIS week we have One of the areas that Robert was interested in were the new and exciting Air Races! The races included a variety of events, like landing contests, glider demonstrations, airship fights, parachute-jumping contests, and of course, the races themselves—both closed-course and cross-country. The cross-country races were usually from Portland or Los Angeles to Cleveland. Robert included information on five different air shows from 1928-1933, and his ticket stub for two of them.

1928 National Air Races & Aeronautical Exposition
Los Angeles

Robert would have been 17 when the 1928 National Air Races and Aeronautical Exposition took place at Mines Field in Los Angeles over nine days in September that year. Mines Field would eventually become LAX. Robert includes his ticket for the show. He went on “Boy Scouts Day” for 25¢. I couldn’t find out which day that would have been, but from the program, I see the L.A. Boy Scouts Band opened the night time programming the first two days.

Just the first two days alone had more planes than anyone would want. Saturday’s show started off with 300 airplanes in mass formation, to Dare-devil pilot Al Wilson to 7 US Marine Curtiss Falcons in formation to the Army’s version followed by the Navy’s and so on. There were parachuting demonstrations both during the day and with flares at night! There were all manner of air extravaganzas culminating in a spectacular fireworks display.

The Homestead Blog and Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register have excellent articles about the races that year. There is even a home movie of some of the show on YouTube.

1929 Western Aircraft Show
Los Angeles

Robert also included his ticket and logo decal for the Western Aircraft Show of 1929. The Western Aircraft Show was held on a large undeveloped property at the northwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. Today this is the home of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and the La Brea Tar Pits on the northeastern corner and the Petersen Automotive Museum on the southeast corner.

The Homestead Blog comes through with an informative article on the Western Aircraft Show.

1931 National Air Races
Cleveland

There is no evidence that Robert traveled to Cleveland to see the National Air Races there in 1931. He does include a couple decals of the show’s Pilot’s head with trailing scarf logo as well as a promotional mini-poster.

1933 International Air Races and Gordon Bennett Race
Chicago

Like the Cleveland races, there is no evidence that Robert traveled to the International Air Races and Gordon Bennett Race held in Chicago the first four days of September 1933. He did write for information, and has put the letter he received along with a brochure into his scrapbooks.

1933 National Air Races
Los Angeles

Robert did not include a ticket for the 1933 Races, but he could easily have attended the show. In his scrap books he includes numerous decals from the show—both the large three headed one as well as the smaller medallion sized version, including one on the spine of the one scrapbook.

The Races returned to Mines Field for four days in July 1933. The programs shortened to four days and restricted to high speed free-for-all competition in the several commercial competitive motor groups with $50,000.00 cash prize money in addition to many coveted trophies. This international free-for-all competition included the trans-continental Vincent Bendix Trophy Race; the Aerol Trophy Race—a closed course free-for-all for women pilots; the Speed Dashes; Official World Record Attempts to establish three-kilometer strightaway speed in excess of 300 M.P.H.; and the Charles E. Thompson Trophy Race, closed course land plane classic, which has been increased to a distance of 200 miles. The Bendix Trophy Race attracted such big names as Roscoe Turner, Jimmy Wedell, Ruth Nichols, and Amelia Earhart, with Roscoe Turner taking first.

As always, there were demonstrations by the armed Military and Naval Air Forces of the United States of the latest Military and Naval Air maneuvers; as well as acrobatic demonstrations and spectacular night aerial demonstrations and pyrotechnic displays.

The Los Angeles Times covered the event publishing several spreads of pictures from the events.

“Rickenbacker Downs Two” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on February 28, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present another of Paul Bissell’s covers for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the February 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action as

Rickenbacker Downs Two

th_FA_3302“Sure he can fly, I’ll hand him that. But what’s the idea of making us hang around on the ground? We don’t come to this flyin’ school nowadays to watch exhibition flyin’.”

“Oh, well, some guys get all the gravy,” and the speaker petulantly kicked a hole in the turf of the flying field. “Probably he’s somebody’s bright boy whose daddy gave him his own plane. Pretty soft, I call it. What do you say, Sarge?”

The man thus addressed was much older than the students and was evidently in charge of them. He was a hard-bitten mechanician and evidently an ex-army man.

“Soft!” he exclaimed scornfully. “You damned babies make me sick. Say, don’t you know who that guy was?”

“I don’t see that it matters a damn who he was,” spoke up one youngster. “We’re here to learn to fly and—”

“Oh, you don’t, don’t you?” and this time the sergeant’s voice was hard. “Well, get this, youngster. There are certain men who’ve done things for their country that you can’t pay for in dollars and cents, see? You—and I mean everybody in the country—can just try to give them a little courtesy and special treatment whenever you get a chance to, and be damned glad for the chance.

“If we was in the army, you know what I’d ’a’ done, don’t you? I’d ‘a’ marched every damned one of you out on that field and kept you at attention the whole time he was here so that the next time you’d know a good man when you saw him. Say, don’t you guys know who that feller was?” The sergeant’s tone was one of complete exasperation that such ignorance could exist.

“No? Then listen, buzzards. I’m goin’ to tell you a true bedtime story. Once upon a time when you babies were still wearing didies there was a war. Maybe you never heard of it, what with peace societies and all those sort of things these days, but, everything considered, it was quite a little war at that. Now I was sort of young and foolish about then, and seeing a nice poster displayed ’bout how you could join the air service and learn to fly, I goes in and lets them take my fingerprints. I guess that was a mistake. They must’ve read my palm or something at the same time and decided I was an advance model of you birds and never would learn to fly, so they didn’t even try to teach me. But anyway, they sent me over with a squadron to see that the Frogs didn’t get any vin rouge by mistake into the gas tanks ’stead o’ gas.

“The outfit I finally pulls up with was the 94th Squadron. I s’pose you ain’t never heard of the 94th, eh? Guess they just omitted mentionin’ that at your schools. Well, believe me, the Germans knew about the 94th, and when they saw a ship with old Uncle Sam’s hat with a ring around it painted on the sides, they knew that hell was going to be poppin’ loose in just about a minute. That was the first real Yank squadron to cross the Front. Ninety-one Germans they got before the show was over. Americans, every damned one in the 94th. And the guy that just went off in that limousine was the boy that led them through the last lap.

“PRETTY soft, you said, didn’t you, Buck?” And he spat scornfully to one side as he squinted at the embarrassed youngster in front of him. “Well, it wasn’t always soft. Once before I saw him come out on the field, sort of like today, only dif’rent. He was a captain then, and it wasn’t a limousine, but a damned poor motorcycle and side-car, with the corporal sittin’ in the side-car, holding on like he was in a rollercoaster, and the captain tearin’ across the field like he was tryin’ to hang up another speed record.

“It was the day he took charge of the squadron, and he was just hell bent to get up and get himself a Boche. We were just outside of Toul then, and the Germans were damned fresh in that sector, so he didn’t have to look very hard before he located two observation crates quietly gettin’ in their work with five Fokkers playin’ nurse to ’em up in the clouds. Right then the captain started climbin’. The old game—up into the sun.

“Maybe they would see him, and then maybe—well, anyway they didn’t. And he got just where he wanted to, sittin’ up on the last German’s tail with the sun square behind him.

“You ain’t ever seen a Spad dive, buddies, have you? Well, we used to call them the ‘flyin’ bricks’ over there, and when you turn one over on its nose and give her the gun, she moves so fast she damn near catches up with the bullets out of her own guns. And that’s the way the captain went down at that first German. The poor Fritzie didn’t have a chance. Here was the captain lettin’ both guns go, and comin’ down right behind the bullets themselves.

“The bullets must’ve beat the Spad a little, at that, ’cause the Fokker started spoutin’ smoke and slipped off sort of cockeyed, headin’ for the ground, just as the captain and his Spad dived by and right through the whole formation. Then a zoom, and he was back above them again, hangin’ on his prop, lookin’ them over. Fritzie must’ve thought there was another dozen or two comin’ behind him, because they got their wind up and broke.

“Quick as a flash the captain kicked his rudder over, shot his stick to neutral, and down he dropped like God’s judgment on the two L.V.G.s below. They saw him comin’, and the gunners were plenty ready for him, too. Hell’s bells, how they peppered him! I know, ’cause I helped to put the patches on when he got back. But none of those pills landed where it hurt, and before those Fritzies could turn or twist, he was past them, and zooming back for another crack at them.

“The other Jerries had got their nerve back by now and were divin’ in. It had to be a quick job, and the captain knew it. He slipped the bus off on a wing, and, holding her in the slip, slowly eased his nose around until he had both the two-seaters in range at the same instant. Then he cut loose, both guns pumpin’. You could see the tracers zippin’ through the air and buryin’ themselves in the Jerry machines.

“It was a queer spot the captain was in, and a couple of seconds was all he could hold it. But he had the Boche dead on the spot, and these seconds were plenty. The nearest ship tailed up and a couple of German aviators were just German heroes. The other Jerries seemed sort of discouraged, too. They weren’t crowdin’ any more, but had gone into a huddle around the photo-bus, and all were headin’ for the Vaterland.

“Gas and ammo were about out, so the captain came on in. Two minutes—two Germans. Not bad, eh? Well, he got twenty-five before that mess was over, and waded through a hundred bits of hell to get them.

“Soft!” The sergeant spat disgustedly into the dust again. “You birds weren’t close to him, were you? You didn’t see that little blue bar he wears with the silver stars on it? Well, you probably wouldn’t have recognized it, anyway. They ain’t many of them around. Maybe you don’t even know what it means—maybe you don’t know yet who the captain is. Well, remember this, ’cause after all, you’ve got to get over some o’ your dumbness and not be forever shootin’ off your mouth and showin’ your ignorance. That little blue bar is the Congressional Medal of Honor. Only two aviators in the whole war won it. One was Luke, the Balloon Buster. He’s dead, and can’t wear his. But the other man can, and he’s the guy that you birds called soft. He’s Eddie Rickenbacker, ex-captain of the Hat-in-the-Ring Squadron, and America’s ace of aces!”

The Ships on The Cover
“Rickenbacker Downs Two”
Flying Aces, February 1933 by Paul J. Bissell

“Famous Firsts” November 1933 by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 25, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Among those factual features was “Famous Firsts” which ran frequently in the pages of War Aces. “Famous Firsts” was an illustrated feature much along the lines of Barrett’s “Is That a Fact?” that was running in War Birds, only here the facts were all statements of firsts. And like “Is That a Fact?” in War Birds, this feature was also taken over by noted cartoonist Victor “Vic Vac” Vaccarezza in 1932.

The November 1933 installment, from the pages of War Birds, features President Taft, Parachute flares, the first fatal crash and Aileen Vollick—Canada’s first woman pilot!

The Lone Eagle, November 1933 by Eugene M. Frandzen

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

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the November 1933 cover, Frandzen gives us the classic match-up—the Nieuport Type 27 vs. the Fokker D7!

The Story of the Cover

THE ships pictured on this th_LE_3311 month’s cover are the Nieuport Type 27 and the Fokker D7.

The Nieuport Type 27 was a single-seater biplane manufactured by Soc Anonyme des Etablissements Nieuport. The firm was established by Edouard de Nieuport in 1910.

When the War broke out they were ready with a fighting machine, the small two-seater Nieuport. The Type 27 was a real fighting craft of later war years, 1916 and 1917 to be exact. It had high speed and plenty of quickness in action compared to the early Nieuports, but it was closely patterned after the early machines.

The majority of Nieuports were the planes which were noted for their “V” strut design. The Germans swiped the “V” strut idea for two of their best fighting machines, the famous Albatros and Pfalz. The Nieuport 27 had a neat streamlined fuselage. It carried a Vickers synchronized with the airscrew. The ship was shot along at 105 m.p.h. by a 120 h.p. Le Rhone engine. Bishop, the British Ace flew Nieuports and swore by them. Lufbery, the American, was flying one when he fell in a spin to his death.

The Nieuport flashing into the cover to go to the assistance of his buddy in another Nieuport, is not alone. Behind him is his gang. He is waving them to follow him into the fight. In a few seconds hell will break loose around the Fokkers ganging the lone Allied plane.

Ganging was a great game in the Big War. Both sides did it, but the Germans deliberately waited for such situations and often shunned a sporting proposition of an equal scrap. The Yanks, French and English didn’t go out of their way to run down a lone foe. But, of course, if one happened to flounder into a mess of Allied planes he wasn’t handed a bouquet and told to run along home.

If a quick burst from the nearest Fokker doesn’t smash the zig-zagging Nieuport, its pilot has an even break of getting out with a whole skin. It’s a matter of seconds till it will be “Everybody for himself.”

The Fokker D7 was the most popular of Fokkcr’s many models. It deserved this popularity for its fine fighting qualities. Its unusual features were the entire metal inner construction of the fuselage and the interplane bracing members, the thick wings, and the absence of external bracing wires between the wings. These were radical changes in airplane design, but they worked. There were one hundred and sixty horses neighing in its ugly, blunt nose. They pulled it along at 110 m.p.h. at 10,000 feet. The big Mercedes engine was a heavy load so the D7 was a little nose heavy, but it had enormous power with the ability to hang on the prop in a position of 45 degrees while pushing forward. This was a life-saver for many German fliers.

The Nieuport and the Fokker both blasted themselves a niche in the Hall of Fame of World War ships. Both were husky war horses. They gave real speed, and they held together, which is more than can be said of many of the War’s flying coffins.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, November 1933 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

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