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How the War Crates Flew: Dizzy Doings

Link - Posted by David on January 11, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

FROM the pages of the April 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.

Dizzy Doings

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters, April 1933)

WELL, being as how you buzzards are still kind of young, far be it from me to try and shove too much knowledge into your heads. So I guess I’ll devote this chin-fest to dizzy doings of war days. Naturally, we heroes, who restored France for American tourists, were only human after all. Which is but another way of admitting that now and then we cut loose from the conventional type of war flying, and had a little fun for ourselves.

Of course, nowadays, it wouldn’t exactly be called fun. As a matter of fact, it would be called rank violation of Department of Commerce (Aeronautics Branch) rules and regulation. But in the old days when you tried dizzy stunts, just for the heck of it, the only risk you ran, outside of handing in your chips to the grave digger, was maybe a burning up by the C.O. in case you missed calculations and wrapped your ship around a tree, or an estaminet, or something. But it was good fun, anyway, and as I look backward over the years I can visualize again some of the darndest, dizziest plane stunts imaginable.

And so, put your note-books and pencils away, and lean back—and don’t snore too loud. As a matter of fact, you’d better stay awake, because I’ll probably slip in a technical explanation here and there as I go along. And if you miss it—well, it’ll just be too bad for you, and how!

One of the most miraculous, and dizziest, and funniest stunts I ever saw pulled, happened at an airdrome in England. As a matter of fact it was at London Colney Airdrome, about seventeen miles north of London. There were several large-sized hangars on that field. One of them was set at right angle to the others. By that I mean that both ends opened onto God’s free air. There were no obstructions at the front or the rear. Well, one day one of the boys thought up the swell idea of “shooting” the hangar, as he called it. He had all the ships taken out and both the front and rear doors rolled wide open. And then he took a ship up and came down and flew through the empty hangar.

Naturally, the rest of us had to take a crack at it ourselves. There was a reasonable amount of clearance all around as you went through the hangar, so it wasn’t particularly tough. And besides, none of us had just gone solo the day before. We had a few solo hours under our belts, you know.

WELL, from that day on, “shooting” the empty hangar became a regular part of a follow-the-leader game. But, one day one of the boys (I won’t mention his name as he is alive and still eating three squares a day) decided to shoot the hangar all by himself. When he took off it was empty, and both front and rear doors rolled back. But, it so happened that a grease ball, not knowing the pilot’s intention, rolled the rear doors to within about ten feet of being shut. Just why he ever did it, we never found out. But I’m positive that it wasn’t on purpose. That particular grease-ball was too dumb to ever do anything on purpose.

Of course you can guess the rest. Down comes our boy friend toward the front end, which was open. Well, imagine his embarrassment when he gets inside! Naturally there is nothing to do but keep going. Which he does, heading for the ten-foot opening. And he goes through, hell bent for election. The result is, that he leaves his wings inside the hangar, and comes out into the open like a launching torpedo. However, the good Lord must have been riding the cockpit with him, because he streaks across the field and finally rams into a stone wall on the far side. We pick him up out of the wreck, out cold. But in an hour or so he’s all set again to carry on with the war. Needless to say, he never tried the stunt again! Those of us that were there, and saw him go in with wings on and come out with them off, haven’t stopped laughing yet!

Perhaps the dizziest, and yes, the dumbest stunt ever tried, was pulled off shortly after the signing of the Armistice. As the squadrons were moved up toward the Rhine and the Army of Occupation, some of us were made ferry pilots, and given the job of flying all obsolete planes to Lille for dismantling and ultimate destruction. New types had been sent out to replace them, so rather than fly them all the way back to England it was decided to concentrate the bunch at Lille, salvage the instruments, and maybe a few parts of the engines, and burn up what was left. Well, we ferry pilots went all over France collecting these ships, and some of them were in pretty good shape. As a result we held what was called a “Fly the Fabric Off” contest. Five or ten of us would each select a pretty good ship that was doomed for the bonfire. Then we’d take a knife and slit the leading edge of the wing fabric on the lower wings in several places. Then we’d take the ship up and stunt it with the idea of trying to-make the prop-wash catch under the slits and rip the fabric off in strips. The winner was the one who landed with the most ripped fabric trailing back off his wings. And believe me, buzzards, there was plenty and don’t think there wasn’t. The strangest part of it all, perhaps, was the fact that during the two weeks that we conducted the contests (before the C.O. at the field clamped the lid down on our dizzy actions) not a single one of us crashed, or even ruffled the part in his hair.

OH, all right, all right, I know! Luck is always with fools and drunks, and we weren’t drunk at the time.

But speaking of drinking. Here is a story that I can vouch for as being true, although I was not an eye witness. And, incidentally, it is not a yarn of which war birds can be particularly proud. But it actually did happen, and I never did pose as a war pilot who wore a halo around his head; so I’ll tell it to you.

It seems that a certain squadron had had a terrible binge, and one peelot took about five times as much as was good for him. Well, that pilot was down for an early morning show, and his orderly had the devil’s own job trying to wake him up out of his cognac slumber. Finally, with the pilot mumbling incoherent protests, they carried him out to his ship, dumped him in the cockpit and told him to get going. Perhaps he was partly revived, or perhaps it was flying instinct, but at any rate he took off with the flight, went over the lines, got into a scrap, nailed a Hun and came back. When he landed he stumbled out of the ship, and reeled into his hutment and went back to sleep. About two hours later he came tearing out, goggles and helmet in one hand, and sidcot suit half on. He tore for the hangar line, didn’t see any ships on the tarmac, and whirled on the Flight Sergeant—and bawled hell out of him for not waking him up in time for the dawn patrol! To this day (he’s still alive) that pilot has no recollection whatsoever of making that flight and shooting down a Hun!

And there you are. Take it or leave it! I won’t be sore, either way!

Many times dizzy and funny things happen when the pilot in question is trying to do the best he knows how. Your own dear Uncle Wash-out was the innocent victim of such an event on one occasion.

Now, never mind that wise-crack, you! Perhaps it was on more than one occasion. But I’m just chinning about this one, see?

It happened when I was with the squadron in Egypt, the year after the war. We’d been sent down there from Germany to—! Heck, this isn’t a personal history, so let that part go. Anyway, we were stationed at a field called Abukir, just north of Alexandria. And one of our jobs was to keep watch over an evacuated drome at a place called Amiria, way the heck out on the desert. There was stuff there that the Bedouins (desert gypsies) might steal, so we took turns staying at the place and guarding it. It would be two pilots, with a two-seater, nine men and one non-com for two weeks at a time. The relief would be made by ground transport for the men, and by air for the pilots.

WELL, one time my buzzard buddy decided to ride back with the men. So I took the air route telling him to be sure and get my battered suitcase into the lorry. And, of course, when he finally arrived at our home field, some ten hours after I did, he confessed that he’d forgotten all about my suitcase. Well, that wasn’t a serious enough crime to cut his throat for, so I left him alone and next morning took one of our spare “play-jobs”—a single seater Sopwith Pup that we used to play around with—and flew out to Amiria to collect my suitcase. There is still plenty of room in the cockpit of a Sopwith Pup even when I’m in it, so instead of going to the trouble of lashing the suit case to the center section struts, I simply tossed it in the seat and used it as a back rest.

A Sop-Pup is rigged to climb all the time, so I got off the ground without really realizing just what was going to happen. But when I got back to my home drome I sure realized—and how! And it was just this—because of the suitcase at my back I could not get the stick back far enough for leveling off and landing, tail down. I could glide down all right, but the only way I could get it leveled off was to shove the throttle forward, and let the inherent climbing qualities of the ship bring the nose up. But even then I couldn’t do that close enough to the ground for even a “pancake” landing.

AND there I was, in the air and unable to land. I tried ten thousand, million times to reach my hand around behind me and pry the suitcase overboard. But the Devil, himself, must have been sitting on it. It was with me, and was darn well going to stay with me. I circled the field for over an hour, and no soap. By that time the entire squadron was grouped on the tarmac wondering why your Uncle Wash-out loved the air so much that he stayed up, when eggs and bacon and coffee-cognac were waiting for him in the mess.

Well, to make a long story much sooner, I finally convinced myself that me and a crash had to get together eventually, so why not now? Of course, after some three years of war flying, I’d been able to get this thing called crashing right down to a science. So I figured the best way, and decided that a lone date palm on the edge of the drome was the one and only answer to my prayer. So I glided for it as slow as I could. I practically loafed through the air. And by the time I reached it I was just about ready to stall. I’d maneuvered so that my left wing-tips would catch the trunk, about ten feet up; they did, and the result was exactly as I had figured. The wings wrapped themselves about the trunk, and the rest of the plane, with me still in it, revolved about the trunk until the whole business “mushed” onto the ground. There was no Murad handy to light up, so I simply climbed out of the wreckage and pulled out that damned suitcase after me. Not a scratch on me. I was hardly even shaken up. But the plane was a mess; just matchwood. Real clever, eh. Oh, yeah? Well, you should have been there to hear what my C.O. told me! It took him ten minutes, and he didn’t use the same word twice! After that I carried my toothbrush in my sidcot suit instead of in a suitcase.

LIKE all the other branches of armed service the flying end was no exception when it came to pulling dumb things. One of the dumbest that impressed me the most, was the way the “powers-that-were” selected pilots for different types of work. If you weighed nine hundred pounds and stood eight feet, six inches tall, you were usually assigned to scout work in ships that you could practically carry under your arm. But if you were of midget proportions they put you on a twin engined bomber that would take you from Sunday to Thursday to get into.

Of course, when I say “usually” I’m really stretching it a bit. However, there were several cases of the right pilot being assigned to the wrong ship. So the idea is worth the yarn, anyway.

IT’S a yarn about an old buzzard buddy of mine who was so small that he had to reach up to touch the top of a straw hat on the ground. Honest, he was knee high to a grasshopper. But don’t worry, the lad was plenty dynamite when Huns came around. Anyway, the big boys must have looked at him through a magnifying glass because they selected him for day bombing, and sent him out to the field where I was busting up ships. Well, it became my job to teach him to fly. Even in the good old training ship, the “Avro,” he had to use two cushions in order to be able to see over the forward cockpit rim. And even then he had the Devil’s own job trying to reach the rudder bar. But he was one game guy, and he learned fast, I’m telling you. His first solo was perfect, and he continued to do damn fine work in the air.

And then one day, Fate must have given him a kick in the slats. He was up-stairs just practising when, zingo! . . . both his cushions slid off the seat! He couldn’t get them back on, and he couldn’t see over the cockpit rim except by standing up. And when he stood up, he naturally couldn’t get his feet on the rudder bar. Well, the lad sure was in one hell of a fix. But he did the best he could. He throttled the gun, went out of sight in the cockpit to tap the rudder, and got the ship headed down toward the field. Talk about your one-arm paper hangers! That lad was a dozen of them rolled into one. But unfortunately, it wasn’t the day for medals for him. He made a valiant attempt at a pancake landing, but by the time he could get the ship set, the airdrome had slid past him . . . and down he came, level as a billiard table, and right smack onto the roof of the squadron office. And, my dear little buzzards, the C.O. in the flesh was inside. The result was one squadron office gone to hell, one Avro gone also, one midget pilot unhurt but frothing at the mouth, and one C.O. with ten years off his life, and not knowing whether to commit murder, or laugh it off.

P. S. He laughed it off. He was that kind of a reglar guy.

And, then there was the case of a. . . .

OH, oh! Here’s our C.O. and the glint in his eye doesn’t indicate that he’s going to do any laughing. If he asks questions, just tell him that I was explaining the wing co-efficient of an S.E.5 as a means of determining the lift-drift ratio of the U.S.S. Akron. Maybe he’ll believe you at that! S’long!

Strange War Ships: Nieuport Triplane

Link - Posted by David on January 2, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

FOR FOUR successive months in 1933, War Birds ran a series of covers featuring “Strange War Planes.”—those freak planes that were used during the First World War. The covers were by Eugene M. Frandzen—known here for the covers he did for Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. First up we have the Nieuport Triplane of 1918!

Strange War Ships:
The Nieuport Triplane of 1918

th_WB_3306DESPITE the unusual appearance op this month’s cover ship, the designers were not trying to be funny. Triplane design was based on the pact that the use of three planes would permit a narrower chord and hence greater visibility for the pilot; increased maneuveribility; shortening of span and reduction of length without loss of lifting surface.

The “tripes” had the fatal weakness of shedding their linen on the upper wings and breaking up in the air. Sopwith, of England, produced the first successful tripe followed soon by Albatross and Fokker tripes. Nieuport engineers conceived the idea of staggering the wings like stair-steps. The result is pictured here, it was undergoing tests as the war closed. It was powered by a 110 h.p Le Rhone and had a top speed of 121 m.p.h., a span of 26 feet and length of 18 feet.

Strange War Ships: Nieuport Triplane 1918
Strange War Ships: Nieuport Triplane 1918 • War Birds, June 1933
by Eugene M. Frandzen

Item of note: the cover image has apparently been reversed from the way it was painted as Frandzen’s signature is backwards on the ground under the tail of the Nieuport Triplane.

What is next month’s strange ship? Check back again for pictures and complete data on another freak ship of the war!

How the War Crates Flew: Just How Fast?

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

FROM the pages of the March 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.

Just How Fast?

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters, March 1933)

WELL, my Fledglings—er, sorry, I should have said Buzzards! Well, anyway, the chin-fest this time is going to be one which I am afraid will shoot a pet belief of yours all to pieces. By the time I get through, you birds will be calling your Uncle Washout all sorts of nasty names, and the main one will be—“liar”! But I’ve been called that by dumber buzzards than you (yes, there are a few I think) so don’t build up any hopes of getting my goat. A Sopwith Camel got that, years ago! However, I’m warning you in advance. If you don’t believe me, then get up and walk out. It’s all the same with me. But, if you do stay, keep your traps zippered up until I’ve emphasized the final period and quotation marks.

I’ve been planning to chin this tune to you for some time, but I’ve delayed doing it until we got to know each other a little better. That is, rather, until I got to know you a little better! Well, I’ve found, according to your letters, that your bark is worse than your bite. And so figuring that though you may toss things my way, when I’m through, my one and only life won’t be hanging in the balance.

So, here it comes. Ever read anything like this?

“Slamming the stick over and stepping hard on left rudder, Jim Collins, keen-eyed eagle of Uncle Sam’s brood, spun around on wing-tip and went thundering straight for the Fokker at a speed well over 200 m.p.h. His twin Vickers yammered harshly, and—”

AND horse collar to you, Jim Collins! And also, horse collar to you, Mr. Author, who lets that sort of stuff drip off your typewriter keys!

You guessed it, Buzzards! I’m going to chin about the speed of all the war flying crates that I and 9,999,999 other dumb peelots made famous. Yeah, I can see that look slipping into your eyes, already. But go ahead—I’m going to chin the truth, the whole truth, so help me!

Jim Collins, or any other pilot during the late mix-up, never went even 200 m.p.h. in level flight. Now when I say, the late mix-up, I’m talking about the World War. Perhaps there’s been another since then, and no one has told me about it. But the World War I mean, is the one that took place between 1914-1918. And during those years no war crate, Yank, British, French, German or Ethiopian, came within 50 miles of a top speed of 200 m.p.h!

All right, all right, sit down! Let’s start right in with the year of 1914 and take a look at the records year by year.

The War, as you all know, and if you don’t, I’m telling you, started in August, 1914. Now up to that date the speed record for land planes was 105 m.p.h., made by Maurice Prevost when he won the Gordon Bennett Cup Race held in France, September 29, 1913. And the speed record for seaplanes was 86.8 m.p.h., made by C. Howard Pixton wrhen he won the Jacques Schneider Maritime Aviation Cup Race (original name of the present Schneider Trophy Contest) held on the Bay of Monaco in March 1913.

Therefore we enter the World War with a top speed of 105 m.p.h. But, don’t overlook the fact that that was the top speed of the fastest racing plane. Not a military ship loaded with guns, ammo, and a bomb or two here and there, but a racing ship stripped of everything possible that would hinder forward progress, and with an engine tuned up for that one race!

Okay, now we turn to the records.

The British sent to the front in the 1914 period, first, the well-known Avro, powered with a Gnome or Le Rhone with a top speed of 65-70 m.p.h. Then there was the B.E. (Bleriot and later the British Experimental) powered with a Renault, that knocked off about 50 m.p.h. Another was the Gnome powered Vickers that slid along at 60-65 m.p.h. And of course the Handley-Page Bomber that had two Rolls-Royce engines, and thundered forward at about 80 m.p.h. Those ships were all two-seaters, or over, and were the vanguard of British ships in France.

Now the French had their good old two-seater Breguet that bent your whiskers back at 55-60 m.p.h. They also had the Bleriot (same as the British) that clicked at around 55 m.p.h. The well-known Caudron that mushed onward at about the same speed. And ditto for the Maurice Farman, the Morane and the early Nieuport. All were two-seaters or bombers save the Bleriot, the Morane and the Nieuport.

AND the Germans? Well, they had the Albatross scout with a Mercedes and. 65-70 m.p.h. to its credit. Then there was the two-seater Aviatik that clicked at around 70-75 m.p.h. And the Taube single-seater monoplane with an Argus engine that could only hit 50 m.p.h. and not go boom!

So taking it all in all the Germans had a general edge of about 5 m.p.h. over the French and British save for the Handley-Page with its twin engine speed of 80 m.p.h. But taking the general top speed average we find it to be around 65 m.p.h. in the first year of the war, or, to be pretty near exact, some 40 m.p.h. below the then existing world’s speed record for all types of aircraft.

Now, in case you think I’m going to go on listing all the various planes year by year, you’re crazy. Such a thing would fill this whole mag. And the C.O. tells me that there are some swell yarns he wants to put in, and for me to go easy on the space. But, I’ve started this fight, and I’m going to finish it by tracing the increase of war plane top speed right through to 1919. I’ll do it by sighting performances of the various leading and famous crates.

Naturally, no World War power made a ship one year, and then tossed it in the ash can for an entirely different design the next. True, that was done in a few cases. But what I’m driving at is that not only were new designs brought out, but the old ones were improved upon. As an example we find the original British Bristol with a Gnome in the nose in 1914 doing around 70 m.p.h., and in 1917 with a Rolls-Royce and a few improvements it did 105 m.p.h.

BUT we’re getting ahead of our chinning. Let’s go back to 1915. That year was really the year that aerial warfare got under way. Prior to then, war flying consisted of reconnaissance and bombing work. But in 1915 the boys got their hands on aerial guns and the works started popping.

The British jacked up the speeds of their old ships a little bit and sent out the first DH single-seater (DH2 Pusher) that could hit 95 m.p.h. That same year the first Sopwith Scout came out with 90 m.p.h. Then there was the first Martinsyde single-seater that made 95 m.p.h. And the fastest of all, the. famous Bristol “Bullet” that did just about 100 m.p.h.

Meanwhile the French got 90 m.p.h. out of a new Nieuport. Some 70 m.p.h. out of a Bleriot scout. And about 5 m.p.h. more out of a new Caudron single-seater. The French seemed to be a bit conservative in their speed figures that year.

That year saw the introduction of the first Fokker. It was called the “Eindecker” and was a single-seater monoplane powered with an Oberursel engine, and had a top speed of 95 m.p.h. The Germans boosted their Albatross speed up to 80 m.p.h. And that was about all they did.

So we see that in the second year of the war England has most of the speed honors. But, believe it or not, the fastest speed is still 5 m.p.h. below the record set in 1913.

However, in 1916, the scrapping nations pulled up their socks and got to work on the idea of shoving their planes through the air at a real good clip.

The British pushed their Avro single-seater up to 100 m.p.h. They came out with a new Bristol that did 105 m.p.h. They made a redesigned Martinsyde do 110 m.p.h. And they sent out the first S.E. an S.E.4 (not S.E.5) that did close to 100 m.p.h. But their greatest achievement was the new DH4 that did around 125 m.p.h. That ship was the fastest of its time.

THE French did a little better by themselves as regards speed in 1916. The most important item was that they came out with the first of the famous Spad pursuit ships. This job, which was powered with a Hispano-Suiza engine, as were all Spads, knocked off 105 m.p.h. The new Caudron twin-engine bomber did 85 m.p.h. which was pretty good for a crate of its size. And the fixed-up Nieuport equaled the top speed of the Spad.

Of course, 1916 was a big year for the Germans. The first Fokker of the famous D series saw front line service that year. Naturally, it was the Dl, and powered with a Mercedes it was good for 105 m.p.h. The Aviatik, with a Benz in the nose had the same speed. And the New Benz-powered Albatross hit the same clip, also. But strange as it may seem, the honey of German ships that year, as far as speed was concerned, was the Benz powered Halberstadt single-seater. The first Halberstadt that year was powered with an Argus and could do 105 m.p.h. But when they stuck a Benz in the nose the ship went up and buzzed along at a nice clip of 120 m.p.h.

And so, at the end of that year we find the British and the Germans pretty much on a par for speed honors, with the French tagging along slightly behind. And not only that, we find that the existing speed record for all types of aircraft has received a good swift kick in the ailerons!

Now, before we step into 1917, let me put a word in for good luck. I have been chinning about the speed of war crates. I have not made any mention of the maneuverability of war crates. So just bear that in mind as we talk on. Speed was an asset, but not the whole thing. So don’t get the idea that just because the French had slower ships that they were doing the poorest job. Far from it, believe you me! In a dog-fight a highly maneuverable ship can trim the pants off a faster ship any day in the week, assuming, of course, that the pilots are equal in skill. So don’t let your grandmother tell you different.

AND so for 1917, the year when supremacy of the air was finally decided for once and for all in the World war.

Perhaps the greatest contribution to the art of smacking things out of the sky that year was made by the British when they sent out to France the Famous Bristol Fighter. The job of that year was powered with a 200 hp. Hissi or a 200 hp. Sunbeam, and it slid along, with full load at 120 m.p.h. Next in line was the well-known DH9 with a Napier-Lion engine. This ship, also a two-seater, could do 110 m.p.h. And then came two of the most famous airplanes ever built. First the S.E.5. at 125 m.p.h., and the Sopwith Camel at 120 m.p.h. Both ships were pursuit jobs, as you all know. And—but why chin more? You know all about their history.

To match the British contributions the French brought out a new Nieuport that could do about 120 under full steam with a Gnome in the nose, and about 115 with a Hisso. In addition to that they stuck a 200 hp. Hisso in a redesigned Spad and got a top speed of 125 m.p.h.

Of course the Germans weren’t asleep, either. The first was their new Mercedes-powered Albatross that clicked at 125 m.p.h. The next was the souped-up Aviatik that made the same speed. Then the Fokker D4 at 120 m.p.h. and later the D5 at 125 m.p.h. And last, but not least, the famous Pfalz with a speed of 120.

And so we find England and Germany hitting it off neck and neck, with the edge in favor of England, due to its higher topspeed average for all types. And particularly due to the introduction of two brand new pursuit ships, the S.E.5, and the Sopwith Camel.

All of which brings us up to 1918 and the final showdown.

As usual, England got the jump by bringing out two brand new types, and improving on all the others. The new types were first the Sopwith Dolphin, a high altitude ship that could do 130 m.p.h., and the Sopwith Snipe that could do a shade over 140 m.p.h. with luck. This ship was considered by many to be the fastest thing in France at the end of the war. It came out about three months before the Armistice was signed. The principle improvement on other British designs was that made on the S.E. series. The S.E.5a came out at 135 m.p.h. Then, too, there was the D.H.9a with an American Liberty engine (two-seater) that did 125 m.p.h. And the Bristol Fighter was put up to 130 m.p.h.

The French simply boosted up the speeds of old designs. They got the Spad up to 135. And they got the Nieuport up to around 130. Outside of that, they slammed into the enemy with what they already had.

The Germans worked on the Albatross scout and got 135 m.p.h. out of it. They also came out with the famous Fokker D7, a ship that was credited with 140 m.p.h. as a top speed. And they also came out with the Fokker Triplane with a speed of about 135 m.p.h. The only other ship improved upon was the Pfalz, which was boosted up to 130 m.p.h.

And there, Buzzards, you have the straight dope on the speed of war flying crates. Mark you! I’m speaking of speed at level flight, not diving speed! That was something different. But when you speak of airplane speed, you speak of speed from here to there, not from up there down to here.

AND so—eh, what’s that? I knew it, I knew it! Why didn’t I speak of Yank planes? Well, here’s why, Buzzard, and be surprised if you will. There was not a single American designed and manufactured ship in action in France during the War. True, there was the American Liberty D.H.9a, but that was fundamentally a British De Haviland design. If the war had lasted longer, the American Thomas-Morse might have seen service over Hunland.

One more thing. What was the fastest thing in the air in France? The Sopwith Snipe, you say? Wrong, Buzzard, wrong! It was the tip of a propeller blade. The tip of a nine foot prop at 1800 revs traveled a shade over the nine and one half miles per minute! Figure it out for yourself, or ask Dad, he knows! S’long.

How the War Crates Flew: Bombs and Bombing

Link - Posted by David on October 5, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

FROM the pages of the February 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.

Bombs and Bombing

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters,February 1933)

SIT down, you buzzards, and stay down! Any side remarks and I’ll. . . . Huh? What’s that? Why am I all steamed up? Well, just take a look at this letter. The darn thing explains itself.

Dear Uncle Wash-out:
    I think SKY FIGHTERS is a pretty swell magazine even if it does contain your stuff. But I’m just kidding about the last part. I guess you’ll do all right.
    However, here is a complaint. Wasn’t there anything else besides pursuit ships in the World War? Or were they the only ones you knew how to fly? Seems to me that I’ve read some slick yarns in this mag that had to do with bombing raids. Do you know anything about the technical side of bombing, or are you just plain dumb about that sort of thing?

Henry Craveil

Now, if Henry lived just across the street I’d sure step over and bend a couple of one hundred and twenty pound bombs over his dome. But he happens to live out in Oregon, and that’s too much of a walk for me. So I’ve just got to swallow that there insult, and try to fix Henry up the best I can. And while I’m doing it you other crash hounds can pin back your ears and get a brain full.

Yes, I’ve shoved a few bombers around in my day, and have dropped a couple of eggs here and there. Now don’t go asking me what I hit, because I promised the C.O. of this mag never to tell a lie, and I’m not going to break that promise just to maintain my glorious reputation with you birds.

But, shut up! Let’s get serious.

World War airplanes were divided into three general classes. They were pursuit planes, observation planes, and bombing planes. Of the three classes the pursuit ship was the only one that could perform all three functions. Now, when I say that, I don’t mean to imply that it was a waste of time to have observation ships and bombers in action. Naturally, each type of ship could perform its own particular job better than either of the other two. However, a pursuit ship could serve as a scouting plane, an observation plane, and also drop a total of about eighty to one hundred pounds of bombs. An observation plane could do its job of reconnaissance and drop bombs as well. And perhaps in a pinch serve as a pursuit ship. I say that because the well-known Bristol Fighter could outfly almost any pursuit ship, at least from the standpoint of speed. Another one, too, was the British DH9 powered with the Liberty or Rolls-Royce engine.

But for the sake of this chinfest we’ll say that the general run of observation ships were not good in pursuit work. The bombers, of course, were ships built for the job that the name implies—bombing. However, they could also function as observation ships, for the very plain reason that observing means seeing things with the eyes. And the crew of a bomber naturally didn’t fly with their eyes closed. However, no bomber in the World War could serve as a pursuit job, no matter how much cognac the pilot put under his belt.

LISTEN, buzzard, sit down! What?

What’s all this got to do with bomb dropping?

The answer is, nothing in particular. However, I’ve been using up breath with the idea of first pointing out how the particular job of each of the three general classes of ships used during the war overlapped each other. One of your favorite authors might tell of a pursuit job bombing a place. And you might say, “Horse-feathers! Bombers did that sort of thing!” So I’m just putting in a few words or two to save the authors’ hides. I passed out a couple of cracks at them at other chinfests, so I’ll get back in their good graces now by proving the authenticity of some of the stuff they write. Sure the emphasis is on the “some”! Think an honest war-chicken like me would back ‘em up in everything they said? Huh! I want to go to heaven sometime, you know!

Oh, yes, about bombs.

WELL, as I know, and you should know by now, an aerial bomb is, fundamentally speaking, a container full of high explosive that will detonate and explode when it comes in contact with the ground after its travel through the air. There are all kinds of sizes, shapes and mechanical functions of bombs. However, there are two features that are incorporated in any type of aerial bomb. One is to travel nose first, and the other, to detonate and explode upon contact with an object, or in the case of delayed detonation, to explode after the bomb has penetrated its objective.

In order that bombs will drop nose first, they are of course made heavier at the nose. In other words, pear shaped. To get the idea look at Fig. 1. Now, in order that the bomb will maintain directional stability (not wobble around, or go end over end) the bomb is fitted with rudders, or vanes as they are called. There may be three or four vanes, set equal distances apart at the rear end of the bomb, or I should say, the tail of the bomb. These vanes, when passing through the air, tend to keep the bomb going straight, just as the feathered vanes at the end of an arrow keep the arrow to a straight path of travel. See Fig. 2.

THERE are various ways to make a bomb explode once it strikes its objective. There are, generally speaking, certain types of bombs that have the detonator in the nose. Others have it in the tail. And still others have a detonator in both the nose and tail.

Now, of course, it is not a good idea to have bombs all set to explode when in the bomb racks of your ship. In other words they should be fitted with some sort of a safety device that will keep them from detonating themselves until they have struck the objective. Of the type of bomb I’m talking about (which was used quite generally during the war) there were two kinds of safety devices. The first was a safety pin that had to be yanked out before the detonator could strike the explosive. An idea of this safety pin can be obtained from Fig. 3. Just as in a hand grenade there was a pin that had to be pulled out before you threw the grenade.

The other safety device was a little propeller attached to the end of the detonator. If the fuse was at the tail of the bomb and the bomb exploded by the detonator traveling downward, the detonator rod was threaded so that the little propeller revolving in the air stream would eventually spin free of the rod and allow the detonator to snap down when the bomb
struck. In case you birds are still dumb about that point, take a look at Fig. 4.

Naturally, if the detonator was in the nose the little propeller was fastened to the detonator so that the air stream would spin it around and allow the detonator to move up where it could hit the fuse when the bomb struck, as in Fig. 5. And, of course, you can figure for yourself how the propellers would be set in relation to the detonating pins when-there was a detonator at each end of the bomb.

NOW, just to clear up those two safety devices, let me say that the little propellers do not function until the bomb is traveling through the air, after it has left the ship.

Yes, yes, I know. Why didn’t the little props untwist when the bomb was going through the air and still attached to the bomb rack?

Well, smarty, because there was a second pin, attached to the bomb-rack, that stuck between the little prop blades and thus stopped them from revolving. And the first safety pin that I spoke about, that passed straight through the detonating rod and prevented it from moving, even though the props were off, was also attached to the bomb-rack. So you see, when the bomb was released both safety pins were pulled loose (or rather, the bomb pulled loose from the safety pins) and the bomb went sailing down with its little props spinning, so that the detonators could do their stuff when the bombs struck.

THERE is no need of going into the explosive side of bombs. Different combinations of chemicals and powders made different kinds of explosives. We won’t try to give you a talk on chemistry today. However, there is one point I want to speak of—that’s the item of delayed explosions. For instance, if you are bombing troops and other things on the surface of the ground, you want a bomb that will explode instantly and hurl its death dealing messengers in all directions. But if the bomb must first go through armament, etc., before it can do any worthwhile damage, you naturally have got to have a bomb that will explode after contact. It’s the same principle as shells from artillery guns. And its worked out by a system of delayed fusing. In other words the bomb strikes, the detonator hits the fuse, but the main body of the explosive does not go off instantly. Of course you must realize that when I speak of a delayed explosion I don’t mean an explosion that comes five or ten minutes after the bomb strikes. A delay of one quarter of a second is long enough.

Now, just one more thing before we talk about actual bombing. The bombs that we are chinning about now are aerial bombs that are used for destructive purposes. In short, bombs that will blow the pants off your enemy, and him along with them. But, of course, there are other kinds of aerial bombs. One is the parachute bomb that you release so that it will strike and light up the surrounding country in case you are making a night landing. And the other type is the flare bomb that is used for signalling purposes. Both types arc more or less electrically operated. In other words the bomb is ignited as it passes through the air.

Like many other functions of airplanes, bombing is often all planned out ahead of time. That is, bombing of a certain objective by bombing planes. Let us say that Brigade has issued an order to a bombing squadron to try and knock the daylights out of a railhead back of the enemy lines. The first thing to figure out is what types of bombs to use. In other words instantaneous or delayed action bombs. Then comes the selection of the time to make the raid (whether daylight or at night) and how many planes to use.

NATURALLY the bombers must have a pursuit escort. Some scrapping ships to keep away the enemy should he stick his nose in and try to upset the apple cart. That, of course, is arranged by Brigade. The pursuit ships will meet the bombers at a predetermined point, escort them over, and escort them back—we hope!

Now, it must be figured out before hand, as near as possible, just how the bombing is to be done. Shall it be one ship at a time, or all at once. However, no matter what Is decided, the accuracy of dropping the bombs depends upon the speed of your plane, your altitude and the direction of the wind. By plotting those three items you can set your bomb sight so that you will have a fair chance of hitting your objective. Bomb sights of today have been worked out so that they are pretty accurate. In the late war they weren’t so good, although the boys did a darn fine job with what they had.

SOME of you buzzards think that all a bomber does is fly over its target and drop a bomb, and fly away. That’s all wrong. A bomb is released before you reach the target. And if you have set your bomb sight correctly the bomb strikes the target when the plane is directly over said target. See Fig. 6.

You ask why, eh? Well here’s why.

The plane is traveling through the air. That means that every part of the plane has a certain amount of momentum. In other words, anything that leaves the plane travels forward a certain distance before gravity can take full charge. Naturally, gravity has its effect the instant the bomb is released, but it takes full charge gradually so the downward path of the bomb is curved. (As shown in Fig. 6.) Therefore the bomb must be released before the target is reached, as it travels forward as it travels downward.

Now, if the plane is traveling into the wind its actual ground speed is reduced, though, of course, air speed (the speed at which the wings pass through the air) is constant. It follows then that when the bomb is released its forward travel will also be reduced by wind resistance, and it must therefore be released when the plane is closer to the target, than it would be if the plane was flying with the wind. Naturally when the wind speed is estimated and calculated, the altitude at which to fly is then determined. Or rather the best altitude at which to fly. In other words if it takes eight seconds for your bomb to drop from a bombing altitude of 1000 feet and your plane travels ground speed at the rate of two thousand feet in eight seconds, you must set your bomb sight so that the target will be in the “finder” (center of the sight) when you are two thousand feet away from the target. To sum it all up, you estimate wind speed and direction, then set your sight in accordance with the number of seconds it will take the bomb to drop from a stipulated altitude. Then you bomb from that altitude. And if you wipe out the objective, maybe we’ll give you a medal!

THE releasing of a bomb is simple. As the nose must drop first, the bomb is put in the rack, nose forward. It is gripped by what are called “toggles” at the nose and the tail. By pulling the toggle release, which is simply a lever in the cockpit with a wire leading down to the toggle catches, the catches are opened and the weight of the bomb itself makes it drop free. Some planes had individual bomb-racks under the wings. Each bomb could be released separately or all the whole works at once. The big bombers had vertical racks. In other words the bombs were placed one upon the other. When the lowest one was released, the one above it automatically dropped into the lowest one’s place.

Bombing by bombers and some observation ships was an art all its own. In pursuit ships bombing was a hit-and-miss affair. First, you oniy had about twenty pound bombs. Just enough for “surface” damage, such as in trench straffing. Second, you had no sights (though modern pursuit ships have bomb sights). And third, you often released your bombs on pursuit ships without any idea of hitting anything. That was, of course, when some enemy pursuit ships I jumped on you, and you wanted to reduce the weight of your ship, and thus increase its maneuverability qualities.

So there, Henry, you insulting buzzard, is some dope on bombs and bombing. And by the look in the C.O.’s eye I think he’s about set to drop an egg on your Uncle Wash-Out—so consider me gone!!

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.

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