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“The Devil’s Forest” by Harold F. Cruickshank

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

THIS week we have a story by another of our favorite authors—Harold F. Cruickshank! Cruickshank is popular in these parts for the thrilling exploits of The Sky Devil from the pages of Dare-Devil Aces, as well as those of The Sky Wolf in Battle Aces and The Red Eagle in Battle Birds. He wrote innumerable stories of war both on the ground and in the air. Here we have a story of acting Captain “Nim” Halsey—sent by intelligence to find the leak at Squadron 36. His search for the leak leads Nim all the way to “The Devil’s Forest!”

From the July 1935 issue of Sky Fighters

Deep in the Craggy Badlands of the Ardennes, Grim Horror Stalked—and Halsey Had to Act Quickly!

“Flying Aces, April 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 30, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes. April 1935’s thrilling story behind its cover features an Attack on San Fancisco!

Attack on San Francisco

th_FA_3504 FROM across the Pacific a harmless-looking tramp steamer is churning its way to a point within five hundred miles of San Francisco. There is nothing about her appearance to arouse the slightest suspicions on the part of anyone. She is just like a thousand other tramp steamers—black and smoky and clumsy-looking.

As the ship nears the California coast line, it heads into the wind and drops anchor. Activity on deck is apparent as huge hatches are removed and the swinging arm of a derrick is brought into play. Terse orders are barked out, and obeyed with smart promptness. Military procedure appears to be the keynote of all operations—a thing unusual in a tramp steamer’s crew.

An observer, if he had the good fortune to watch the activity unseen, would by this time begin to doubt the steamer’s appearance. As a matter of fact, he could not help suspecting a warlike objective. Tramp steamers do not stop five hundred miles off San Francisco for the fun of it.

In San Francisco Bay, a batch of United States destroyers and cruisers are weighing anchor, preparatory to steaming out of the harbor and joining the rest of the fleet for operations off Catalina Island. The smooth lines of the fighting craft are set off in sharp relief against the blue hills of the Tamalpais range. Unlike other mechanical devices, they add immeasurably to the natural beauty of the surroundings, and as they slowly get under way, they remind one of a giant cat carefully threading its way through leaves and branches, only to bound into action with a roar as its prey is hopelessly pinned beneath it.

One by one, Uncle Sam’s ships steam up the bay, through the Golden Gate and out into the broad Pacific. As they pass the hundreds of workers busily employed on the construction of the new Golden Gate Bridge, a spontaneous cheer floats across the still air from riveters and engineers alike. With a sense of proud security, the bridge workers drop their tools to gaze intently on each vessel as it passes beneath them. There is something awe-inspiring about the United States Navy, and it makes the men on the steel towers reflect upon the possibility of foreign invasion. Each Navy ship seems like such a mountain of strength and durability that an offensive move against our coastline by anyone would most assuredly lose. However, torpedoes that find their mark are seldom ineffective.

By this time, the tramp steamer has completed its work. Two Kawasaki two-seater torpedo planes are well on their way to San Francisco, and as they flash up over the horizon, their pilots see that they must hurry. Almost half of the destroyers and cruisers are already clear of the Golden Gate channel. The rest must remain inside.

As the two airplanes draw near, a cry of fear rings out. The bridge workers realize that this is not a friendly air visit. The torpedoes hung between the wheels of each plane give cause for grave doubt, and all operations on the Golden Gate span stop as the men scramble to places of safety.

But what is this roaring out from the mainland? Two Navy planes to the rescue! The approach of the two foreign torpedo ships has been observed from a land station and, taking no chances, the C.O. has sent a couple of Vought landplanes into the air.

The pilots of the Navy planes, of course, figure the move a useless one. Nobody would torpedo United States cruisers or destroyers out of a clear blue sky, when there is no apparent motive, they think. Doubtless, the Navy pilots are unaware of a recent diplomatic breach between the United States and a certain Eastern power. They are unaware of the fact that a certain power considers itself Uncle Sam’s equal and is out to prove it. Most of all, they don’t know that a whole fleet is at that very moment charging across the Pacific, intent upon taking swift advantage of the preliminary work to be done by the torpedo planes.

The object being pursued by the invading power is simply this. As the fleet, or part of it, is departing from San Francisco Bay, one or more ships are to be torpedoed and sunk directly in the Golden Gate Channel, thereby making it impossible for the remainder of the craft to accomplish their scheduled departure. In this way, the attacking warships would be left more or less free to proceed with the bombardment of San Francisco and the near-by coast-line cities, thereby paving the way for the actual landing of troops. Of course, failure to bottle up the fleet in the bay would mean failure at the very start of the enterprise.

In the particular instance, some of the Navy fighting craft have already made their safe departure through the Golden Gate, but there are still numbers of ships which theoretically could be locked inside. Besides the ships that are in the clear, the rest of the fleet is still somewhere off the coast of southern California. These combined forces might possibly fight off the attacking navy, but that is doubtful.

The only course left open, then, is defense by air. Naturally, the attacking forces are well equipped with aircraft carriers and launching apparatus on all battleships. Quite possibly the combined strength of the Pacific Coast Army and Navy Air Forces might turn the tables completely and force the invaders into confused retreat. The whole affair would be a huge air battle, with both sides sending hundreds of planes into the air. If the invaders should win, California would be doomed. If Uncle Sam’s ships came out victorious, the outcome even then would be problematical.

But to get back to the two torpedo planes bearing down on the Golden Gate. Will they accomplish their purpose and block off San Francisco Bay? Or will the Corsairs send them charging into the water?

No one can say what would be the outcome of such a venture, but this much we do know. Judging from the recent better understanding which has been accomplished between most of the nations of the world, and from the bitter lessons which we all learned in the last great war, we have good reason to assume the belief that no nation would care to or have reason to attempt a wholesale invasion such as the one fictitiously described here. We earnestly hope this to be the case, and we pin our hopes on the strength of the United States Army and Navy Air Forces.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, April 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Attack on San Francisco: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Flying Aces, March 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 23, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes. March 1935’s thrilling story behind its cover features Martin Bombers vs. Armed Transports!

Martin Bombers vs. Armed Transports

th_FA_3503NEW YORK, the metropolis of the nation, threatened with complete ruin! An unknown foe striking from the mist-shrouded deeps of the North Atlantic on wings of treachery, with all the speed of light and the blasting power of lightning! High-speed bombers converted in a few hours from peaceful commercial craft, loaded with high explosive and bristling with machine guns!

A wild fantasy? Impossible? But not so! Already it has been proved that several well-known commercial types used by many countries are so constructed that within a few hours they may be turned into grim war craft.

Any day, the great city of New York might be shining in the sunlight of a Spring morning to realize suddenly that within an hour the sunshine was to be blotted out by clouds of poison gas, billowing waves of screen smoke and the acrid fumes of high-explosive flame. Great buildings might be blasted from their bases, to topple with the thunder of Thor down into the cavernous streets of the city, wiping out hundreds of lives and spreading destruction in their crunching wake. Death and disease would stalk through the ruins and blot out thousands. Famine, waste and thirst would follow the concussion as these aerial monsters screened behind peaceful commercial insignia swooped down and struck the first blow of an unexpected war.

But their mission might be detected by the roving Coast Guardsmen, and great Martin bombers would sweep into the sky to intercept them. The Junkers Ju. 60 depicted on this month’s cover is a typical ship on which this conversion job could be attempted. And remember, Germany is not the only foreign power that uses this type of commercial craft. The Junkers ships are manufactured under license all over the world, so the Ju. 60 could be the vanguard of attack from any one of several foreign countries.

The Ju. 60 is classified as an express monoplane. It will accommodate eight persons, a more than adequate number for a bombing crew. The only visible changes in the ship are the gunner’s door in the roof, the bomb equipment, including racks and bombs under the wings, and the machine guns protruding from the side windows. Of course, other minor changes would be necessary within the fuselage.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of this ship is its power plant. The engine is a B.M.W. Hornet, and it is built in Germany under license from the Pratt & Whitney Co. of Hartford, Conn. Its design is absolutely identical with the Hornet series A of the licensor. The Hornet is a nine-cylinder, air-cooled radial engine on detachable engine mounting, and it is capable of 600 horsepower. A three-bladed metal air screw is used.

The ship can attain a speed of 175 miles per hour and has a range of 683 miles. Undoubtedly, however, this range would be greatly increased when the bomber conversion job was completed.

The Martin bomber has received a great deal of publicity, which it has rightfully deserved. The performance of the Martins that made the Alaska trip last summer was indeed enviable. It is the general consensus of opinion that the Martin bombers of the YB series are the fastest and the most efficient ships of their type in the world. These ships do better than 200 miles per hour, and they are so maneuverable that they can be used as pursuit or attack planes in case of emergency.

Presuming that the United States is attacked by an unknown foreign power with an air arm that incorporates a number of these converted commercial ships, let us see what would be the result of an air battle between a Junkers and a modern Martin. We must, of course, take the fictional attitude that a fleet of these Junkers has been catapulted from a giant launching gear, or from the hurriedly converted flight deck of a long tanker, for a secret raid on some important military point on the mainland.

In the matter of a ship-to-ship conflict—that is to say, an equal number of Martins against a formation of Junkers—we must consider the duties of each ship. The Martins are on the defensive, purely and simply, while the raiding Junkers have the problem of making their bombing attack and defending themselves at the same time. After all that is over, they must get back to their surface base.

So far, so good. The Junkers have almost reached the mainland when their move has been spotted and the defending squadrons are sent aloft. If, for instance, as is the case, they have decided on a raid on New York City, they would first have to brave the anti-aircraft fire from any of the several forts in the mouth of the Hudson. This, in itself, is no easy task, and several would probably, on the law of war averages, go down or fail to gain their objective.

The rest would have to make their way through a winged wall of 200-mile-an-hour Martins armed with high speed and high-calibre guns. The Junkers, gorged with heavy bombs, would not get up to their best speed, and all battle tactics would have to be thrown aside in their dash for their targets. The Martins, on the other hand, unhampered by pre-arranged plans, would have the benefit of freedom of action under a general leadership of a squadron leader in a flag-plane. While the Junkers ships plunged on, dead for their objective, depending mainly on their gunners, the Martins would be able to form angle attacks to harass the visitors.

Now, it is not exactly true that the fastest ship always wins a fight, especially where defensive ships try to intercept bombing machines. The last year of the World War proved that, and we shall have to accept the fact that in this great defense, many Martins would be destroyed. However, with the gunnery of the modern bomber-fighter, the air battle would become something of a mid-air battle-cruiser engagement in which speed, careful maneuvering and gunnery would win.

In this case, then, the slower Junkers bombers, confined to a direct line of flight—at least, until they have reached and bombed their objective—would be on the short end of the battle, for the speedy Martins would be able to use all their, fighting tactics. The gunnery must be considered on modern figures. No country in the world today is believed to have the aerial weapons that the United States boasts.

Therefore, the Junkers would come under another bitter blow. While the enemy got in the first thrust by surprise in the use of a converted transport ship, the side with equipment especially designed for defensive work would win in the end. The attacking party always loses more than the defending—an old war axiom—but in doing so, it actually accomplishes its end or goal.

Thus, on facts and figures, the Martin bomber should always be able to outdo the converted commercial ship.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, March 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Martin Bombers vs. Armed Transports: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Flying Aces, February 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 16, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—Case in point, for three issues, starting with the December 1934 issue, Mayshark depicted Air Battles of the future! For the third and final future cover on the February 1935 issue Mayshark gives us the Troop Ship of the Skies!

Air Battles of the Future: Troop Ship of the Skies

th_FA_3502WAR in the air! What would it mean in the future?

Armadas of fighting ships in grim formations, thundering into attack at terrific speed? Darting scouts bristling with guns directed from a ground base? Giant dreadnaughts of the sky in battle formation, answering the commands of the Air Admiral as he paces the bridge of his battle-plane?

All this—and more! There is another side to the air war of the future. What the raiding cruisers and monitors of World War days were to the elements of attack, the new troop carrier would be to the future war in the air. A great flying boat, capable of transporting several hundred men, weapons, demolition devices and transport destruction equipment, could swoop down out of the skies from bases several thousand miles distant, and before ground troops could be brought up to lay down temporary lines of defense, these flying boats could be gone, after paralyzing whole sectors, battering important base points to bits and—what is more terrible—destroying the morale of the civilian population.

Let us picture a possible raid of this type—say five, perhaps ten years from now.

At the present rate of improvement in service equipment, we can easily picture a United States Navy patrol station leader faced with the astounding report that an unknown troop transport has been seen heading toward the eastern coast of the United States. The formality of the declaration of war leaves everyone concerned with the problem of learning who and why. But the orders state in crisp, terse sentences that the mysterious troop transport must be blocked off and prevented from making a landing on the mainland.

A Captain Sully and a Lieutenant Stevens, crack contact men of the Twentieth Squadron, are shown the message and ordered off to do the intercepter job. Unfortunately, their equipment is nothing more up-to-date than the Curtiss Goshawk, a fine ship in 1934, but hardly an intercepter in 193—. Still, there’s a job to do, and Sully and Stevens take it on. The former, a soldier to his stubby fingertips, realizes the seriousness of the situation. The latter, still in the prime of youth, regards it a great joke and, probably, the nightmare of some sleepy-eyed transatlantic liner radio operator.

The trim but service-weary Goshawks are warmed up.

Once in the air, Captain Sully turned his thoughts to the mysterious orders he has in his pocket. Troop transports are ordinary things. Every country’s air force has them—has had them for years, but machines under this classification have never been regarded as particularly effective because of restrictions in accommodation of personnel and equipment.

The Navy pilots have been speeding close to the water for only a few minutes when what they thought was somebody’s bad dream turns into stark realism. Thundering along close to the water at a good rate of speed, a giant flying boat comes into view from out of a cloudless horizon.

With a gasp, Sully jams his foot down on the rudder control, and the fighter lurches to the left. With Stevens close behind him, the Navy pilot darts out of firing range of the huge transport. After banking around and flying along parallel with the mysterious air monster. Captain Sully has time to make a more comprehensive inspection of the ship.

Between two wings which have a slight degree of dihedral, there are seven motor nacelles, all set in the same plane. Each nacelle carries two motors—one driving a tractor and the other a pusher air-screw. There are a total of fourteen engines, the aggregate energy of which is fourteen thousand horsepower.

Each motor nacelle is supported by a main strut and also by two smaller struts which connect with the trailing edge spars. These smaller struts take up the forward thrust, which is generated to a very marked degree when two thousand horsepower is unleashed. The engines are cooled by means of a special liquid cooling agency, air cooling being impractical when engines are set in tandem. Cantilever construction is employed in the wings, the ribs and spars being built entirely of a light-weight composition metal.

The hull of the ship is connected with the lower wing, through which an extension of the hull passes. The center motor nacelle is built upon this extension. The control cabin is located forward of the leading edge of the lower plane, where the best possible line of vision is obtained, and from where most of the ship can be viewed. This facilitates immediate action in case anything goes wrong with the controls, motors, or anything else important to the flight of the ship.

The hull of the ship is divided into three sections, the central section being large and the other two small. In the central section there are accommodations for 275 men. All their equipment, including rifles, pistols, ammunition, blankets, gas masks, and extra clothing, is carried in the forward compartment, each man’s supplies being stowed in a separate closet. The galley and various other stowage compartments are located in the aft section of the hull. Gasoline and oil tanks, as well as extra motor parts, are also carried in this section. Minor motor difficulties can be repaired in flight by means of a catwalk which connects the motor nacelles. Space is provided in the two outboard pontoons for auxiliary gasoline tanks.

It is safe to assume that any invading nation would not send a transport full of buck privates into the United States, because even 275 armed soldiers are not likely to be particularly effective unless placed where they can make a certain type of raid on a weakly defended point. Instead, this transport is probably loaded with experts in bridge and railroad demolition. It would carry highly trained machine-gun and light field-gun crews who would scatter for a certain distance and throw up a defending ring of steel and fire to cover the workings of the experts. These, in turn, would no doubt destroy first the transatlantic cable stations, high-power radio towers, important bridge and railroad junctions. There is a possibility that they would head for one of the great ammunition plants on the New Jersey coast or the noted weapon works near Bridgeport.

But what of Sully and Stevens?

By this time, they have hurled their fighters into action. Their wires scream, and they pound down with an angled fire from their 30-caliber guns. The gunners aboard the transport ship reply with heavy-caliber fire, and the Goshawks tremble under the pounding spray. Guns appear in the port and starboard turrets aft of the wings.

Sully gives a signal and they both switch in their 50-caliber guns, hoping that the high-pressure stuff will batter into a vulnerable spot and at least head the raider off. The fire continues, but the troop-carrier goes on, while her gunners harass the defending Goshawks.

The Goshawks stagger and falter. At last, there is an ominous rattle in the ammo cans—and their fight is over. They have no more cartridges, no more fight. They surge down once more in a screeching dive, full into the flaming guns of the raiders. It is an ineffectual gesture, but they have nothing left to do.

The grim troop-carrier hurtles on, and the two gallant American airmen are left helpless. They have given their best with what they had to use. Is the enemy to score because of better equipment, or will our services be up to par if the time ever comes? We have the men and the guns. Can we get them into action and ward off any threats that may darken our shores?

The troop-carrier roars away into the mist that shields the mainland. Where? What is its objective?

The two battered Goshawks return to their base, frustrated but not beaten. They know the troop-carrier will have to return, and they hope to have something in hand to send it on its way. If this situation ever arises, will we have the air defense to cope with it?

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, February 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Air Battles of the Future: Troop Ship of the Skies

“Flying Aces, January 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 9, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—Case in point, for three issues, starting with the December 1934 issue, Mayshark depicted Air Battles of the future! For the January 1935 issue Mayshark gives us an Attack from the Stratosphere!

Air Battles of the Future: Attack from the Stratosphere

th_FA_3501DEATH and destruction from the skies! Raids on the United States mainland by an unknown
foe!

Impossible? That’s what the armchair soldiers say. They see only attack in the form of surface vessels that may try to sneak through the natural defenses. A few with a broader scope of view admit that a few airplanes could take off from a carrier outside New York or Washington. But of course, they say, these planes would be stopped once they got inside the range area of the defensive microphones.

But there is a deadlier air weapon than the ordinary bomber or fighting plane. Let’s paint the picture.

Fifty thousand feet above the Gulf Coast, the sunshine is trickling through the clouds in straight lines, bringing life to the farmers and fishermen and merchants on the land and water below. But suddenly something else, mysterious and ominous, is trickling down through the clouds—in straight lines, also. Bombs! And instead of bringing life, they are bringing death and destruction to the people below.

With a shriek, they hurtle into view beneath the lowest strata of clouds, but no mortal force can stop them now. When these bombs hit, dirt, sunshine, and men alike are driven into oblivion, and hysteria and a ghostly fear follow in their deadly wake.

Frantic telephone calls stream out over the wires, and presently the C.O. at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama, is speaking. Are there any fast two-seaters available? Certainly! Several Curtiss Shrikes have just been sent down from Buffalo. Can they be prepared for action and flown to the coast immediately? Yes, immediately. That is all. Within five minutes three Shrikes rip into the air and head south, and on the grim faces of their pilots and observers is a look of courage and determination.

What are the machines that have been given this assignment?

The Shrikes are considered among the greatest attack ships in the world, and have provided a new design for many other countries to copy. The ship is manufactured by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company at Buffalo. It is a low-wing, wire-braced machine, carrying a pilot and an observer. The model shown on the cover is the Conqueror-powered job, listed as the A-8. The motor is chemically cooled, and rated at 600 horsepower.

Probably the most interesting feature of this ship is the armament, for it has been stated that it is equal in gun fire to a regiment of infantry. The observer is provided with two high-speed Browning guns. The pilot has the control buttons of four high-calibre guns in his cockpit. These weapons are hidden in the upper portion of the landing wheel cowlings, while in some models an additional high-calibre gun is mounted in the starboard wing root.

On actual attack work, the Shrike carries a special 500-lb. fragmentation bomb hung between the wheels. This is for offensive work against troops, ground activity and transportation.

Some one back at Maxwell has hinted that the attack is being made by a stratosphere machine of some sort. Every pilot is pondering on that statement. They circle over the area pin-pointed for them until they reach 25,000 feet, the ceiling of the new attack ships. They have taken to the oxygen masks 5,000 feet below this sky lane, and still catch no sight of the raider. Where—and what—is the menace from above?

The stratosphere ship which eludes the Army two-seaters so easily embodies principles of construction which are being employed at the present time in several countries.

There are two details of design in the stratosphere ship which might be alluded to as radical departures from conventional airplane construction. The first to note is the unusual depth to which the undercarriage is slung. The sole purpose of this is to allow an unobstructed radius for the long blades of the propeller when the ship is on the ground. The long-bladed air screw is used because a greater propeller beat is required in the thin air of the stratosphere.

The second feature to note is the comparatively large control surfaces, used because of the low resistance offered by the high-altitude atmosphere. The control surfaces of an ordinary airplane, if it could reach the stratosphere, would be of practically no avail.

The control cabin is absolutely air-tight, thus maintaining a pressure that is equivalent to that of sea level. Oxygen tanks are carried to insure a fresh supply of air at all times. The power plant is a twelve-cylinder, opposed, water-cooled engine, fitted with a super-charger. Difficulty is encountered in cooling an engine at high altitudes. Therefore, the radiators are located outside the metal hull.

The water radiator is on top, and is set in a longitudinal line so as to offer the least resistance. As water circulates through this radiator, it is cooled instantly upon contacting the extremely cold air to be found at great heights. The oil cooling is also accomplished by means of a radiator mounted outside the hull. Swung between the main struts of the undercarriage, this radiator is built so that the broadest surface is facing forward. Resistance offered is practically negligible, however, because of the small overall dimensions. All bombs are carried inside the hull, a trap being opened to emit them.

As the Shrikes speed along at 193 miles an hour to meet this monster, the Army pilots and observers scan the skies with searching eyes. If they must fight a stratosphere ship, they certainly cannot fight it in the stratosphere. With difficulty they can get a few thousand feet higher—but no more. Well, perhaps this strange demon of the air will eventually come down to get observations and pictures. Then they will have their chance.

The Shrikes continue along the coastline for perhaps twenty minutes in a westerly direction toward Mobile—and suddenly the stratosphere ship appears. Tearing down through the clouds at a terrific rate of speed, a long, blue low-wing monoplane seems about to crash into the Army two-seaters. With the speed of a darting snake, the leading Shrike banks to the right, and the observer fires the first shots. But to no avail!

The stratosphere ship has now pulled around and is beginning to climb, with the two-seaters frantically trying to reach it. Suddenly a gun tunnel is lowered from beneath the fuselage of the stratosphere ship, and as it belches tracer, the Shrikes are dispersed like leaves before an autumn wind. As they reassemble, they make one last desperate attempt to reach their adversary—but the height is too great.

What is the answer to this threat? Will it be an armored lighter-than-air ship, or will the anti-aircraft men develop a gun and range-finding equipment to stop it?

Our guess is that we shall have to fight fire with fire, and build stratosphere fighters.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, January 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Air Battles of the Future: Attack from the Stratosphere

“Balloon Bait” by Captain John E. Doyle

Link - Posted by David on November 12, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of British Ace, Captain John E. Doyle, D.F.C. Born in 1893, Captain Doyle was a successful fighter pilot in WWI with 9 confirmed victories with 56 & 60 Squadrons. Near the end of the war, he was shot down and taken prisoner where they amputated his leg. After the war, he wrote three books, one of which was an autobiography, and 31 short stories for magazines like War Stories, The Scout, Popular Flying, The Aeroplane, Flying, Boys’ Ace Library, Mine, Modern Wonder and Air Stories.

Doyle wrote a series of five stories for the British version of Air Stories featuring one Montgomery de Courcy Montmorency Hardcastle, M.C. In Scotland he was usually referred to as “His Lordship,” for he was the fourteenth Viscount Arbroath as well as the sixth Baron Cupar. Out in France he was just “Monty” behind his back, or “The Major,” or “Sir” to his face. “Balloon Bait” from the November 1935 issue introduces us to the character.

When the top flights under his command in 99 Squadron fail to take out an observation balloon, The Monocled Major developed a theory as to it’s protection and takes off in the night to prove his theory.

Grim Guardians of a Balloon of Death, three Fokkers Lay in Wait for the Prey that Came with the Dawn and Never Returned—Until “The Major” Sacrificed his Beauty Sleep to Spring a Trap for Camels and Got Away with the Bait.

“Flying Aces, October 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 31, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—like the October 1935 cover where Mayshark gives us a glimpse into a Nazi attack on the Polish Corridor!

Raid on the Polish Corridor

th_FA_3510IT IS nearly 2 a.m. in the City of Danzig, and the atmosphere of quiet, common to that hour, prevails. The city’s population is asleep; there is little activity other than the measured steps of the guards and sentinels at the military encampments and fortifications. The night is clear, and a soft, yellow radiance, cast by the moon, is playing over the cold, grey walls of the century-old buildings. Here and there, the darkness is punctuated by the brilliant pin points of the city’s remaining lights.

It is difficult for one to visualize the fact that this peaceful and slumbering city is one of the storm centers of European diplomatic wrangling. Nazi Germany believes that the city rightfully belongs to her, and if she can’t get it by vote, very likely she will resort to force. Votes, thus far, have failed her.

SUDDENLY an operator on a sound detector at a military flying field springs to attention. Adjusting his earphones, he tunes his instrument to maximum efficiency. Quickly jotting down his observations, he calls a runner and dispatches a note to his superior. A hurried order is broadcast, and a Polish squadron of single-seaters roars into action.

They arrive over the city at a speed of more than two hundred miles per hour—just in time to meet a flight of huge, tri-motored German converted bombers. The Polish pilots must act quickly if Danzig is to be saved. Already, the German ships have begun to drop their deadly eggs, and to make matters worse for the defense ships, a devastating anti-aircraft fire has been leveled at the invaders.

There is a contention among military authorities that it is impossible to completely destroy a city with one air raid, and that one bombing expedition will only serve to bring on a reciprocal one, thus prolonging the warfare. Very likely this logic is good, but it is doubtful if it is applicable in the present case. Danzig, a free city, is under the protectorate of the League of Nations—a body that would find it difficult to conduct retaliatory air raids against Germany. If Germany were successful in taking Danzig by force, she might have a chance of getting away with it, because Poland no longer depends entirely upon that city as a seaport, having recently built her own port at Gdynia, which is located at the Baltic end of the Polish Corridor.

On the other hand, a German air raid on Danzig might only constitute a move to throw Poland off her guard. Once a few bombs were dropped on Danzig, the Nazi bombers could continue southward to attempt devastation of the whole length and breadth of the Polish Corridor.

However, it is logical to assume that Poland would spring to the assistance of Danzig in the manner we have pictured on our cover. Poland, naturally, has an interest in the welfare of Danzig, for she is responsible for the city’s relations with foreign countries. And then, if the German ships were to jump across the border into the Corridor, Poland would find herself in a position to repulse the attack if she had sent defense ships into the air at the first warning of impending danger to the City of Danzig.

And so, with the shrieking of shrapnel and the whine of machine gun bullets the populace of Danzig is awakened with a start of horror. The flight of single-seaters is knifing down to the attack with a vengeance, and the formation of the bombers is temporarily broken. As a rain of tracer is directed against the first German ship, the Polish single-seaters swerve to the side abruptly. Bombers always have been difficult to shoot down, and the defense pilots are finding that their fire is ineffective. It is hard to find a vulnerable spot on such a large surface as that possessed by a tri-motored bomber, much less crash it to the earth with a single burst of bullets. As the defense ships roar in, the anti-aircraft fire abates somewhat in order that the defense ships will not be endangered.

Like a pack of yelping dogs, the gull-winged fighters cut loops of fury in the night sky. Three or four converge on one bomber, and after repeated thrusts it goes down, to crash with a deafening concussion on the earth below. And now two fighters follow it, victims of streaming lead from a vengeful bomber.

The Nazi bombing group now re-forms quickly. With the single-seaters still yelping about their ears, they climb for altitude and leave the city.

What is their purpose? Will they continue on and destroy Gdynia? Or are they merely temporarily pulling away from the scene of battle in order that they can reorganize and return in a short time to finish the job which they have only begun?

The scene that they leave behind is not pleasant to look upon. Everything is stark horror on the streets of Danzig. Mutilated bodies and piles of debris lie grotesquely about the city. Police emergency squads are carrying the wounded and dying to hospitals, and the streets are being cleared of the wreckage. Already, the work of rehabilitation has begun.

Everything being considered, Danzig has not suffered as badly as one might imagine. Comparing the potential destructive force of each bomb dropped, with the actual damage done, it is not difficult to share the belief that it is well nigh impossible to completely annihilate a sizable city with one raid.

And so, Nazi Germany has started on a rampage of conquest, fictitiously, of course. And thus history repeats itself. Governments whose positions have become jittery and insecure domestically have almost invariably attempted to excuse their existence by a successful campaign for territorial annexation. In the long run, however, such governments are doomed to destruction.

THE German ships pictured on this month’s cover are Junkers JU. 52/3m’s. They are tri-motored bombers capable of making 177 miles per hour and having a disposable load of 8,360 pounds. They are powered with three B.M.W. “Hornet” T.I.C. engines. Of course, these planes were designed for freight and passenger service, but the job of converting them into high-efficiency modern bombers would require only a few hours. As a matter of fact, it has already been done, and one ship has been named the “Baron Manfred von Richthofen.”

The Polish ship used is a P.Z.L. P-XI with a Bristol Mercury IV.A. radial engine fitted with a Townsend low-drag ring cowling. It has a high speed of 217 miles per hour. Poland is known to possess several types of remarkably efficient ships, and the strides she has made in airplane manufacture is all the more remarkable in that every ship in service in that country is of Polish manufacture.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, October 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Raid on the Polish Corridor: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Flying Aces, September 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 24, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—like the September 1935 cover where Mayshark gives us a glimpse of an air Battle in Oriental Skies!

Battle in Oriental Skies

th_FA_3509THE drowning of powerful motors, the rattle of machine-gun fire, the shrieking of a ship falling out of control, the gasp of horror coming from the civil population—it means but one thing—the Japanese have struck!

And when the Japanese strike, it is like the lightning thrust of the hooded cobra. It is sudden and effective, and over almost as soon as it has begun. The resistance of the Chinese border patrols is determined, however, even if it is of little value against the power and speed of the machines from the land of the rising sun.

On our cover this month, we have depicted for you a clash between a Chinese-owned Douglas and a Japanese-built Nakajima. The territory over which the battle takes place is near a border in the hill country in North China. The approach of the single-seaters has been telegraphed ahead, and a Douglas two-seater takes the air in an effort to defend the district from the raking enemy machine-gun fire and from the destructive bombers which must surely follow the Nakajimas.

Ironically enough, the Douglas comes up with the two Japanese single-seaters directly above a temple of worship, many of which are to be found in isolated regions in North China. As the Japanese pilots spot the Douglas, they realize that their task is a comparatively simple one. The two-seater would not have any real effectiveness against the powerful bombers which are to come, but nevertheless, a pile of smouldering debris on the ground is of more benefit to the Japanese at this particular point than an unchecked stream of lead spattering its message of death at them, even, if it is coming from a Douglas 02MC4.

And so the machines from across the water set upon the Chinese with a vengeance. Attacking in unison, they bear down on the Douglas with several hundred feet of altitude to their advantage. As they approach their target, they spread out fan-wise, and then bank sharply in toward each other so that the line of fire from both ships converges at the unhappy point at which the Douglas finds itself.

However, the Chinese pilot has participated in air defense maneuvers before, and he knows what tactics are required to beat off these vicious Nakajimas. However, he knows how hopeless it is to count on getting even one of these Japanese boys, much less both. Of course, being a good pilot, he can cut his gun and nose his ship sharply up, and so escape the first death-dealing crossfire, but the ultimate outcome is written in blood on every burst of Japanese tracer which comes tearing down the sky.

The result of the fight is so obvious that further elaboration is unnecessary. Of course, the Japanese take the territory, as the resistance is nil after the first onslaught. But another blow has been struck, and the Chinese pride has suffered once more.

With the advent of modern aerial warfare, the Sino-Japanese situation has taken on an entirely different aspect. Border raids by foot soldiers have almost become a thing of the past, and in their stead, swift powerful attacks from the air are the signal for a belligerent and highly mechanized maneuver.

A thing of great importance is the moral effect of bomb-dropping on the Chinese civil population. On the ignorant superstitious hillman, this effect is far greater than it ever could be on any nation of people in the Western hemisphere. The Chinese are, as a general rule, conscious of their vast strength and wealth, and they naturally assume that they can successfully wage war with Japan. The confusion that results from the petty ambitions of the individual war lords, however, complicates matters to such an extent that unified resistance against Japan seems out of the question.

In spite of all this, the Central Government has made an effort to defend itself against the air attacks of the invader. Lacking the modern industrial activity with which the Western world is blessed, the Chinese are compelled to buy their machines of war, if they are to have any, outside their own country. American airplane manufacturers have been favored with much of this lucrative business.

The lack of centralization of the Chinese military activity is evidenced by the fact that the air forces of the various provinces are independent of each other, although a friendly relationship exists between the larger provinces in most instances. The provinces of Canton, Kwangsi, and Fukien, among others, have independent air forces.

In direct contrast, the Japanese do much of their own manufacturing. They have acquired the industrial fever with which the West is imbued.

As has been said, the Chinese ship on our cover is an American-built Douglas 02MC4. Several Douglas ships have been purchased by China, as well as many other types, including Vought and Waco. Types other than American include Junkers, Fiats, De Havillands, and Armstrong-Whitworths.

And here’s an interesting point. To close followers of military aviation design, the Nakajima monoplane fighter seems very similar to the Boeing single-seater developed in this country three years ago. Inspection will show that the unusual strutting arrangement displayed on the Japanese ship is exactly like that of the Boeing which came out under the type numbers 270-V. The fuselage was smooth monocoque; the motor is mounted in the same way and the same type of undercarriage is used. The only improvement the Japanese added was the Townsend ring around the engine.

In other words, there might be such a thing as espionage in aviation after all!

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, September 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Battle in Oriental Skies: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Flying Aces, August 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 17, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—like the August 1935 cover where Mayshark gives us a glimpse into a future air attack on London!

London Under Air Attack

th_FA_3508WAR! The word twangs a different chord in the heart of every man. To the Frenchman, it means a charge toward Paris—or Bayonet Trench outside Verdun. To the American, it means Chateau Thierry or the Argonne; to the Belgian, the remorse of Leige and the ravaging of a neutrality; to the Russian, the helpless swamps in front of the Masurian Lakes; to the Italian, the bloody Piave.

But to the average Englishman, whether he wore khaki or blue, war means air raids on London!

And well it might. When the news reached the trenches on that eventful day in 1915 that German airships had raided peaceful English towns on May 31st, raining incendiary and high-explosive shells on peaceful and unarmed British towns, the horror of war was probably first realized, after nearly a year of bitter fighting.

The English saw their kinfolk battered and mangled, buried under massive piles of masonry. Civilian names were listed in the casualty columns. From that day on, the Englishman knew he was in a war, and in retaliation, British airmen braved distance and bombed Karlsruhe. The French bombarded Baden. The British captured Kut-el-Amara and German South-West Africa. They raced across No-Man’s-Land and completed the capture of the area around Neuve Chapelle. They began a new march on the Dardanelles. And war today still means air raids on London.

The moment the German plans for a gigantic army and a great air force were announced, the British remembered the air raids of 1914-18. They set to work at once to strengthen the air defenses around London, the capitol of the Empire. Forty-one new squadrons were ordered, and recruiting for the R.A.F. leaped to amazing figures. Old flying men swarmed back to the colors. Youngsters hardly out of public school rallied to the call. Their England, which had once denied the charges that Germany was rearming, was threatened again, just as she was in 1914.

She would need more Warnefords, more Robinsons, more McCuddens, more Balls and more Mannocks. Some one had to face the foe which threatened again. No one ever knew the surge of air-mindedness that swept England last March. No one probably ever will. But the gauntlet, the flying glove, was taken up, and again England was ready.

But there is one difference. Germany knows today that she must never make the mistake she made in 1914 when she allowed England to get into a war. This time England must be shunted out of the picture early—just as Belgium was in the last war. The quickest and surest way to do it is by air. Germany’s vest-pocket Navy is no match for Britain’s might on the sea. Her army could never make a landing on British soil. But her air force, with high explosive, gas bombs and all forms of chemical warfare, might be able to stop Britain in her tracks before the English ground and sea forces could go into action.

Let us imagine that overnight Germany should decide to put the British out of any possible play. Her best bet would be a monster air raid on the main centers—London, Birmingham, Chatham, the naval base, Southampton, Dover and many other points of industrial strength—but mainly, of course, London. Here the raiders could sever the many cables of communication and the mighty seat of government—the point of power that controls the vast empire. Blotting out London with either high explosive or chemicals would have such a monstrous reaction, would be such a grim stroke at the morale of the nation, that it would take months to reorganize the intricate mechanism and put the nation back on its feet as an offensive power in a European conflict.

To do this, Germany naturally would have to employ ships capable of a wide cruising area and the carrying of great loads. These planes would require large crews to handle all the. intricate duties necessary in a mission of this kind. There would be two pilots, one navigation officer, one bombardier officer in charge of the bombing details, and at least two men to act as gunners in the defense.

A close examination of the available craft suitable for such a raid discloses that the famous Dornier Super-Wal four-engined flying boat would be the most likely choice. It has a wide cruising range, and is very seaworthy. With four 500-h.p. Jupiter VIII motors, (British, by the way) the Super-Wal has a top speed of 136 m.p.h. and carries a disposable load of 15,840 lbs. Imagine what a formation of twenty such ships could do, assuming they got through the London defenses!

Their equipment includes full night-flying instruments, two-way radio, a navigation compartment comparable to that in any Atlantic liner, and fuel tanks accommodating more than 1,000 gallons. Allowing a few hundred pounds for special armament in the way of high-caliber guns and modern air cannons, these ships could still deposit three-quarters of a ton of destruction and make a fast get-away.

The question naturally arises—what has England to offer in the way of defense against this type of raider?

The only thing worth mentioning, even with the vast improvement in all forms of anti-aircraft guns, is the modern intercepter. On this month’s cover, we have shown the form of defense employed by the British fighter squadrons using the Hawker Super-Fury fighter. Squadrons of these machines have been posted around the London defense area, and Britain believes that in them she has the answer to the air raid problem.

However, of all military machines, the intercepter fighter is probably the least understood, especially in countries where such a ship is not included in the air defense system. The Hawker Super-Fury, with the Rolls Royce “Goshawk” steam-cooled engine, is the most efficient type of intercepter in the world today. It has a top speed of 250 m.p.h. and is the fastest service machine in the world. Contrary to general impression, it is not a ship that can only get upstairs fast, and be confined to a small radius of action. Not at all! It climbs to 20,000 feet in about seven minutes, to be sure, but it can stay in the air well over two hours. It carries two Vickers guns of the new high-speed type, and is the safest bet in the swiftly forming defense against enemy raiders.

Thus, if a war should break out, you can bet your last dollar that Britain’s first line of defense would not be her Navy, but her air service. The Hawker-Fury pilots of the London defense area would have to take up the work where old No.39 Squadron, Home Defense, left off in 1918, in the last attempted raid on London. On that memorable occasion, they destroyed seven Gothas out of eleven that had crossed the British Coastline. What would be the record now?

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, August 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
London Under Air Attack: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Flying Aces, July 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

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

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—like the July 1935 cover where Mayshark gives us a glimpse into a Nazi raid on Russia!

Raid on Russia

th_FA_3507DEATH, destruction, appalling calamity! Crumbling buildings, writhing humanity! The ominous drone of high-powered aircraft, the rattle of machine-gun fire, the detonation of death-dealing explosives! The Nazi insignia over the city of Moscow!

Russian aircraft sound-detectors had flashed the warning many minutes before, and even now, defense ships are taking off. Motor lorries with anti-aircraft guns mounted upon them are being driven to points of vantage throughout the city. Women and children are being herded into bombproof cellars and, except for the scattered military activity, the city looks deserted.

As the German bombers sweep in from the west, Russian pursuit and attack planes close in upon them. The Germans are flying low so as to be sure of their target, for the effectiveness of a bomb depends on where it hits, and the Germans have a certain objective in mind. The Kremlin comes first, then definite military concentration points, and then, if there is time, certain bridges, railroad terminals and important buildings.

But flying low on a bombing expedition is at best a hazardous business. Anti-aircraft has a better chance; then, too, the repercussion is likely to cause damage to the ship from which the bomb is dropped. But the Nazis are taking their chances. The city of Moscow must be destroyed.

There is an old axiom of war which reads: The attacker is always the heaviest loser. After acknowledging this fact and applying it to the present situation, one wonders just how far Germany would get in an air raid on a power that possesses the military strength that is Russia’s. Indeed, it is likely that a flight of bombers would not even get as far as Moscow, for the capital city is a long way from the border. Defense ships in large numbers would have ample time to mobilize and beat off the attackers, and it is a difficult job for a raiding bomber to engage enemy planes and at the same time continue on toward an objective.

But let’s assume that three or four out of the entire flight of raiding bombers manage to reach Moscow. What then? Would the bombs dropped from these ships be sufficient to wipe out the city completely? Probably not. Even if a few bombs were dropped, it is not likely that they would be as effective as they were intended to be. The fierce firing of the anti-aircraft guns, and the dizzy attack of the defense ships would make jockeying for position an extremely difficult task.

Germany’s threat today lies in the air. This much is accepted by every military expert the world over. Her navy, a small but highly efficient arm, has lost much of the prestige it had before the Battle of Jutland and today is really being upheld by the old German Sons of the Sea. The modern German warrior sees not naval history and glory, but winged glory in the skies. The weapons are not dread-naughts, destroyers and the much-hated U-boats, but highspeed fighting bombers, fighters and well-armed single-seaters.

Her threats are not Zeppelin bombs, flame-throwers and Minnies. Fifteen years of careful preparation in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles have brought such terrible weapons as Brisanze bombs, 500-kilo projectiles, each capable of destroying a complete city block. Then there are the new incendiary bombs containing Celsius, a formula that will throw a burning sheet of flame considered to reach 3,000 degrees of temperature. No liquid or damper is known that will quench such a fire. No peace-time fire-fighting equipment could cope with this.

Also, there are their new gas bombs containing the deadly dichlorethyl sulphide, sometimes known as Yellow Cross, which is invisible to the naked eye and which after several hours, only begins to show its symptoms. By that time it is too late. Men die of necrosis of all living tissues including eyes, nose, lungs and throat. They have other gas bombs, too, including Yperite, Blue Cross or Death Dew, which kills men outright in one minute.

If Germany is to attack Russia—a much larger nation, from the point of view of military might—she would have to use amazing surprise methods, and her war would have to be completed in a comparatively short time. With such weapons as explained above, her leaders would hope to overwhelm any European nation within a few days, by simply preying on the moral fibre of the civilian population.

But one might ask, accepting the fact that Germany has all these weapons, what means does she have to convey them to the point of attack? How can Germany build up an efficient air force in such a short time, and train men to handle it?

German efficiency has been accepted for years. Everyone knows that her great commercial air ventures have been produced with only the future air might in view. Her transport planes are like no others anywhere. Her system of sport-flying clubs and schools were nothing but military training organizations. The ships used in these schools were out-and-out military ships—minus such military equipment as bomb-racks, machine guns and camera fittings.

There’s the set-up that Russia, France and England would have to face. Russia is particularly vulnerable to Germany’s air might because of certain geographical conditions.

In the cover illustration, we show one of Germany’s seven-passenger air transports turned into a high-speed fighting bomber. This could be done in eleven hours. The ship is the new Heinkel, capable of 234 miles per hour. We do not know what the flying range is, but there is no doubt that after the conversion job, the ship would be capable of reaching Moscow.

All bombs would be carried within the fuselage, and dropped through a trap door in the floor. Fixed machine guns would be installed somewhere along the top of the engine, firing forward through the propeller. A movable gun would be carried about midway along the top of the fuselage. The ship is powered with a B.M.W. VI twelve-cylinder vee-geared engine. The motor develops 630 horsepower.

The Russian ship is an Ossaviachim Air 7. Figures on performance are unavailable. All we can say about it is that it is a low-wing wire and strut-braced monoplane, and that it is based on the Travel Air “Mystery” monoplane.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, July 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Raid on Russia: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Flying Aces, June 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

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

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes—like the June 1935 cover where Mayshark gives us a glimpse into a raid on the Panama Canal!

Raid on the Panama Canal

th_FA_3506DEATH and destruction in the Canal Zone! Great masses of concrete and steel scattered to the four winds as if they were paper boxes! Ships and men reduced to fragments with equal abandon! A monument to human progress that took years to construct, a shipping and transportation facility which is absolutely essential to modern needs—all wrecked within the space of a few minutes!

Could it be done? Well, it could be attempted, at any rate. Success would depend upon the precision and the deftness with which the whole maneuver was carried out. Failure would be certain only if the United States air defense arm was of sufficient strength.

The prime reason for such an attack would be, of course, the move to cut off the two main fleets of the United States Navy. If the Atlantic Fleet were in home waters, it would take weeks to concentrate both fleets in the Pacific in case of an emergency. The reverse would be the case, should the national first line of defense be required in the Atlantic.

The Panama Canal is presumed to be international property under certain nautical laws, but it is primarily United States property. After all, it was built by this country, and the problem of defending it lies in the hands of the country that built it.

As is well known, the defensive measures adopted by the United States consists mainly of heavy naval batteries at strategic points. Some of these batteries are hidden, and some mounted on points of material advantage. There are also many troops stationed there—troops well versed in garrison artillery work—who are on duty twenty-four hours a day.

Shipping is carefully watched, and all vessels using the canal are under thorough observation at all times. One of the great dangers is the possibility of an enemy power’s sending through the locks a gigantic floating torpedo in the form of a ship loaded with explosive, which is blown up by means of a time bomb, once the vessel is within the lock walls. Such an explosion would destroy the work of years in a few seconds, and it would take even more time to replace it.

This may sound sensational and melodramatic to conservative readers, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility. Far stranger heroics have been displayed in the heat of war, particularly where national reverence and strange religious fanaticisms are exploited.

But while this method may be the most effective in the long run, there are many reasons why it could not be carried out with any assurance of secrecy. Too many people have to be considered where the crew of a vessel is concerned, and the loading of sufficient explosive necessary to do the job thoroughly presents too many opportunities for leakage of information.

The problem of gathering a crew willing to take this risk is, of course, the most outstanding. Only men fired with deep national pride can be imagined in such an heroic role.

How, then, can the Panama Canal be destroyed, or at least shut off?

The possibility of hostile landing parties who would make a night attack from surface craft is out of the picture when one considers the ground defenses already there. No landing party carrying sufficient demolition equipment could get through the first line, and have enough men left alive to carry out the plan.

Another possibility is the prospect of long-range shelling from naval craft. While the true facts of the Panama defenses are not known to the general public, it is very likely, however, that the guns mounted at Panama can far outrange the 16-inchers of an enemy dreadnaught. They would have a steadier fire platform and, by a system of prearranged charts, could get their ranges set and salvos blanketed over any area long before any enemy battery could score a hit.

The only prospect offering any promise of success is the new air arm involving high-speed bombing planes carrying the proper projectiles. Mere bombs will not do in a case like this. They must be shells with special high tensile nose caps and delayed action fuses. Otherwise, they would simply drop on the surfaces and do nothing but superficial damage. The concrete and steel at Panama calls for special bombs and special explosives.

In all this, we are considering the attack of an enemy power from the Pacific side, but it could be staged from either end of the canal. We must accept the fact that Japan is unusually strong in first-line submarines which have unusual range of action and carry folding-wing planes in their water-tight hatches. There is also the possibility of an air attack being staged from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier or from the discharge catapults of the cruisers. It is for this reason that we show a Japan«se Navy Nakajima shipboard fighter carrying out such a raid.

This machine is one of the finest shipboard fighters in any naval service. It is an all-metal, single-bay biplane, powered with a Japanese-built British Bristol Jupiter radial engine of 450 h.p. It has a top speed of 192 m.p.h., is fitted for day and night work, and can he used for light bombing.

This is an important feature of the bombs. They must he small, light and yet have the penetrating power of larger projectiles. It is known now that Japan has made recent purchases of several new metal formulas which combine unusual lightness with tensile strength. It is no secret, either, that the Japanese have long been experimenting with new explosives designed for special demolition work.

So here we have the sudden attack, by day or night, from the air. The raiders take off and, instead of attacking in formation, they attempt to cross up the defenders and “scramble” their microphone detectors, by appearing over the canal singly, three or four minutes apart. One or two will stand by to take care of defending ships, and the raid is on.

The defense ships, presumably brought into action from one of the near-by air bases, are Curtiss P-6-E Hawks, a standard pursuit fighter of the Air Service. This ship is a good old stand-by—rough, tough and nasty in a scrap. It is armed with the new high-speed Browning gun and can throw a thousand rounds a minute from each muzzle. It has a top speed of 198, with the 675 Curtiss “Conqueror” Prestone-cooled engine.

The point involved now—and one that could be decided only if such an occasion should arise, is whether the 192-m.p.h. Nakajima, with its pilot harried with the orders to drop bombs on particular and important points of the Canal, could withstand the defensive tactics and heavy gun-power of the Curtiss Hawk. It may be the old story of the attacker always suffering the heaviest losses, even though he gains his objective. Who can tell? Perhaps the question will never have to be settled.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, June 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Raid on the Panama Canal: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Sky Cougar” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on January 14, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story by another of our favorite authors—Harold F. Cruickshank! Cruickshank is popular in these parts for the thrilling exploits of The Sky Devil from the pages of Dare-Devil Aces, as well as those of The Sky Wolf in Battle Aces and The Red Eagle in Battle Birds. He wrote innumerable stories of war both on the ground and in the air. Here Mr. Cruickshank gives us a fast-moving tale of Jerry Cougan, known by his squadron as “The Cougar”, as he tries to save Major Power from the huns and rid the skies of the dreaded von Scheer. From the February 1935 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s “Sky Cougar!”

Racing Madly to the Rescue of a Valiant Brass Hat, Jerry Smacks Up Against Some Real Scrapping!

William E. Barrett: Sign In and Tell Us About Yourself

Link - Posted by David on November 2, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

William E. Barrett is one of our favorite authors. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—writing all matter of stories from Mystery to Detective to Aviation and War. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Sign In

Recently I picked up a couple of issues of Dime Detective Magazine from 1935—May 15th and October, both featuring William E. Barrett’s unconventional crime solver, tattoo artist Needle Mike. And both featuring great Walter Baumhofer covers! Pretty decent shape for their price aside from the fact someone had to write their name across the guy’s chest on the May issue.

As I looked at it, I was thinking it looked familiar. . .
It couldn’t be . . .
. . . but I think it is.

Matching it up with other examples I have . . .

it matches pretty well—I think it’s William E Barrett’s signature scrawled across the chinaman’s chest! I got me a surprise signed copy!

And Tell Us About Yourself

SINCE William E. Barrett’s birthday is on the 16th of this month, we’re celebrating Barrett all month long with one of his stories each of the next three Fridays. To lay a little ground work, here is an autobiography Barrett had in the first and only issue of the digest-sized Swift Story Magazine (It fits in your pocket!) from November 1930:

I VENTED my first squawk at life in the City of New York on November 16, 1900. It was snowing like blazes that day, if I remember rightly. Anyway, 1 managed to survive the hazards of Manhattan boyhood until I was sixteen, then, while the native New Yorkers of my age were pouring in from Kansas, Missouri and Minnesota, I followed the family star of destiny to Colorado. I had prepared at Manhattan College Prep in New York for an engineering career, but this proved to be a misdeal and I took a whirl at reporting for a Denver daily. I never progressed past the cub stage and was fervently advised by a harassed city ed. that I never would. After that I became one of the young men who signed the coupon.

I took a correspondence course in engineering and went to work for a power company, continuing the engineering studies at night. After several years of misery at the drafting board an engineer, who took pride in his profession, intervened.

“Get thee into publicity work,” he said. “I’ll help you. Anything which reduces the quota of rotten engineers is a blessing, even if it adds to the ranks of the press agents.”

A publicity job with a big electrical manufacturer took me all over the West—mining camps, oil towns and every place where spectacular installations were made.

But presently some base deceiver told me about the big pay and easy hours in fictioneering and I tried my hand. By the time I found out the horrible truth, I was too badly bitten by the bug ever to escape. I learned to fly with the idea of writing air stories that would be authentic, then took a publicity job with a large aircraft company for about a year. Derek Dane was evolved out of the experiences of that year which brought me in touch with many characters fully as picturesque in background as Dane—men to whom the dramatic is daily fare.

Not because Mr. Patten is the boss when I write for you, but because it is so, I want to acknowledge him as one of the biggest influences in my life—that before I even knew his name was Patten. His Merriwell stories dominated my youth, and nobody ever toiled harder to be like some one than I did to be like Frank Merriwell. Not at all athletic, nor inclined to “big” effort, I still managed to make four school letters struggling to be Merriwell. Many other decisions were Merriwell colored, too—and a career is only a series of effects from a multitude of small decisions. I have two trunks of Merriwells—every one published—and will have my boy read them some time.

My total published stuff, if any one cares, is 263 short stories, 10 complete novels, 18 novelettes and countless articles. In Derek Dane I am not trying to create a detective of the master-mind school. Great thinkers are not lions for courage—thought convinces them of the folly of risk. I am thinking of the men who brought the law to the wilderness in the first place (the same type who will bring it back when it strays). Most of them were men who sought escape from the law some place else— not sticklers for the fine points of the written law, but foursquare for a square deal and for the rights of human beings to live their lives and keep what they have. Derek Dane stands for that and, if he steps outside the statute book to get results, he has fundamental laws to justify him.

I hope that the readers of Swift Story Magazine will like Derek Dane, and I’ll give them my pledge that as they get to know him better with succeeding yarns they will find him developing an increasing ability to entertain them. He is too complex a character to put across in one story.

My wife made her first short story sale this week and we are in a celebrating mood. She has helped me with so many of mine that it is a big kick to see her push across a yarn of her own. I’ve got a boy and a girl—to round out the personal narrative—and I’m still in love. . . .

Sorry there isn’t more plot or drama or excitement in this—but if there was, this being a sordid age, I’d probably stick a name like Pete Jones on myself and sell the darn thing.

Hasta luego,

“Wiley Post: Ace of World-Girdlers” C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on June 1, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties for Sky Birds with the July 1934 and would paint all the remaining covers until it’s last issue in December 1935. At the start of his run, Sky Birds started featuring a different combat maneuver of the war-time pilots. Mayshaerk changed things up for the final four covers. Sky Birds last four covers each featured a different aviation legend. Wiley Post is the subject of Mayshark and Sky Bird’s final cover in December 1935!

Wiley Post: Ace of World-Girdlers
The Story Behind This Month’s Cover

th_SB_3512A MAN who rose from the depths of obscurity and poverty to world fame—a man whose iron courage and unwavering determination carried him to an undreamed of position in the spotlight of human interest—a man who conquered a physical handicap which undoubtedly would have quickly curbed others—but most of all a man who had true unflinching fortitude—a man who had what it takes! Such a man was Wiley Post, who was killed instantly with Will Rogers in a crash in the wilds of
 Alaska a few miles south of Point Barrow, on August 16.

Wiley was the type of fellow who believed unreservedly in himself. In his youth he was a worker in the oil fields of the West. He got his first taste for the air when a barnstorming pilot who was passing through town took him up for a spin for a fee of $25. It was money well spent, for Wiley quickly decided to become a pilot himself.

But at this point all his ambitions seemed doomed even before they had begun to be realized. An accident in the oil fields rendered Post’s left eye sightless, and it had to be removed. At first he despaired of ever becoming an airman; but upon application for flying lessons, he discovered that what he wanted to do was not impossible. All be needed was determination—and he had plenty of that! He passed his examination in short order, and with the compensation he received for his injury in the oil fields be bought his first plane—an antiquated “Jenny.”

From that time on, Wiley’s future was entirely in his own hands. Whatever he decided to do, he did without hesitation. Every activity in which he engaged added to the vast experience and knowledge which he finally brought to bear in his first record breaking flight around the world with Harold Gatty.

With that flight, Post first won worldwide acclaim. He and Gatty were accorded a royal reception when they landed back in New York on July 1, 1931 after circling the earth in 8 days, 15 hours, and 51 minutes. They bad accomplished one of the most difficult feats ever attempted in the history of aviation.

Post was destined to soar on to even greater heights. From June 23 to June 30, 1933, he covered, with the aid of a robot pilot, the same round-the-world course solo in the new time of 7 days, 8 hours and 49½ minutes.

By this time, the name of his ship, the “Winnie Mae,” was on the lips of the whole world. But Wiley didn’t get a swelled head. Instead, he again plugged on. He still had his eye on the future—living on his laurels was something he couldn’t do. “Accomplishment” was his slogan.

Between February 22 and June I5, 1935, Post made four attempts to span the continent in the sub-stratosphere. Four times he was forced to land his ship short of its mark. All the attempts were failures. But Wiley undoubtedly would have carried on to success had his life not been snatched from him. We picture him in his stratosphere suit.

THE memory of this great airman will live on in the hearts of mankind, for he was the type of individual whom every man wishes to emulate.

Following the news of Post’s death, the United States Senate passed a resolution which authorized the purchase, for $25,000, of Wiley’s plane, the “Winnie Mae,” for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington! And so, the ship which carried Wiley Post to the heights of human accomplishment will be preserved for posterity. Something material, however, is not required to keep the memory of Wiley with us. He shall live on in spirit forever.

The Story of The Cover
“Wiley Post: Ace of World-Girdlers” by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Birds, December 1935

“Lindbergh—the Lone Eagle” by C.B. Mayshark

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

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties for Sky Birds with the July 1934 and would paint all the remaining covers until it’s last issue in December 1935. At the start of his run, Sky Birds started featuring a different combat maneuver of the war-time pilots. Mayshaerk changed things up for the final four covers. Sky Birds last four covers each featured a different aviation legend. “The Lone Eagle” himself was the subject of the penultimate issue of Sky Birds—Charles Lindbergh!

Lindbergh—the Lone Eagle
The Story Behind This Month’s Cover

th_SB_3509A MAN who enjoys the admiration of a hundred and twenty million countrymen; a man whose name has filled the headlines from hemisphere to hemisphere for eight years; a man whose amazing feats of daring have thrilled a world which has long been used to thrills; a man whose unassuming modesty and genuine simplicity have caused his name to be written into the history of the world’s progress; and, most of all, a man who is unalterably a man in every sense of the word—that is Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh.

Lindbergh was born in 1902 without, of course, the slightest inkling of what fate had in store for him. But somehow, from the beginning, his career seemed to be guided by the unseen hand of destiny, and bit by bit the experience that was to be invaluable on that history-making day in May, 1927, was accumulated.

Lindbergh made his debut in aviation in February, 1922, when he enrolled in a flying school at Lincoln, Neb. After learning to fly and being unequivocally bitten by the aviation bug, which was pretty much on the rampage around that time, he purchased a U.S. Government Jenny for $500, and his fondest dream was a reality at last.

It seems that this modest young man had ideas in the back of his head and designs in his imagination of such ambitious scope that they needed prestige and a record to lead them along their difficult path. So Lindbergh became a military man by enrolling as a cadet in tho United States Air Service Reserve. He was afterwards commissioned a captain. A short time later, he joined the Missouri National Guard with the rank of first lieutenant, and he was eventually promoted to the rank of colonel.

Lindbergh was in aviation for a serious purpose, and so was not content to drift along, picking up odd jobs here and there and engaging himself in barnstorming trips, as so many other aviators were doing at that time. He wanted to do something which required skill, experience and a sense of responsibility. He made his first flight as an air mail pilot in April, 1926. The air mail service in those days was a pretty risky proposition, and any man who went in for it had to have courage—and plenty of it.

It was during this period that Lindbergh conceived the idea of making a solo trans-Atlantic flight. In the winter of 1927, he persuaded the Ryan Company to build him a ship—the now famous Spirit of St. Louis, and in April of that year, he made a record-breaking transcontinental run from California to New York.

On May 20th, Lindbergh took off on the flight that was to be one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments. Very few people realize the skill and courage and physical condition that were essential to the success of that flight, but whatever it took, Lindbergh had in abundance, and the most amazing part of the whole thing was that his modesty wouldn’t permit him to believe that he had done something which warranted all the congratulations and back-slapping that were showered upon him from the far corners of the earth. Regardless of what his realizations were, he came home in glory to the resounding acclaim of not only America, but of the whole world.

Upon landing in this country, he made arrangements to make a tour of America under the auspices of the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the promotion of aviation, and it is estimated that he visited seventy-five cities.

Lindbergh is the ranking member of the mythical Caterpillar Club, having upon four occasions resorted to the parachute to save his life. One of these is depicted on the cover, along with a scene from his famous transatlantic flight.

Lindbergh’s decorations include the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Chevalier of the Legion of honor (France), Order of Leopold (Belgium), and several others.

The Story of The Cover
“Lindbergh—the Lone Eagle” by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Birds, September 1935

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