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“Black Camels” by Arch Whitehouse

Link - Posted by David on December 15, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re celebrating the Christmas Season with The Coffin Crew! Yes, Arch Whitehouse’s hell-raising Handley Page bomber crew! Piloting the bus is the mad Englishman, Lieutenant Graham Townsend, with the equally mad Canadian Lieutenant Phil Armitage serving as reserve pilot and bombing officer with Private Andy McGregor, still wearing his Black Watch kilts, rounding out the front end crew in the forward gun turret. And don’t forget the silent fighting Irishman Sergeant Michael Ryan, usually dragging on his short clay pipe while working over the toggle board dropping the bombs with Alfred Tate and crazy Australian Andy Marks or Horsey Horlick manning the rear gun turret.

The Crew were through! Armitage had been reassigned to a Camel unit that was to counter whatever it was that was downing troopships in the channel and leaving no one alive on board. But when even Armitage goes missing—that’s all the Crew can take. Thankfully Armitage is not dead, he’s merely put his foot in the middle of the whole diabolical mystery! From the pages of the August 1935 number of the British Air Stories, Arch Whitehouse’s Coffin Crew and the “Black Camels!”

A Black Plague stalked the Channel turning Troopships into Transports of the Dead. And, in France, five Black Camels were Detailed for a Secret Mission that was Destined to give that Crazy Band of Warriors, the Coffin Crew, the Adventure of their Lives!

Be sure to drop by next week for another mad cap romp through hell skies with the Coffin Crew!

“Hostage of the Gothas” by Arch Whitehouse

Link - Posted by David on December 8, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re celebrating the Christmas Season with The Coffin Crew! Yes, Arch Whitehouse’s hell-raising Handley Page bomber crew! Piloting the bus is the mad Englishman, Lieutenant Graham Townsend, with the equally mad Canadian Lieutenant Phil Armitage serving as reserve pilot and bombing officer with Private Andy McGregor, still wearing his Black Watch kilts, rounding out the front end crew in the forward gun turret. And don’t forget the silent fighting Irishman Sergeant Michael Ryan, usually dragging on his short clay pipe while working over the toggle board dropping the bombs with Alfred Tate and crazy Australian Andy Marks or Horsey Horlick manning the rear gun turret.

For more than a week old No.11 had been welcoming her new neighbours with T.N.T. and fulminite. For seven days they had been dealing out nightly headaches to Baron Harald von Wusthoff and his Gotha Griffons. Fed up with the nightly barrage and inability to get his Gothas in the air, the Baron engineers the capture of the Crew’s pilot and leader Graham Townsend and subsequent use as a hostage to keep the Coffin Crew at bay.

To the Coffin Crew:
      This should stop you from bombing our field any more. Your pilot will be held as hostage to ensure that fact. He will be staked out on the ground everytime your ’planes come across—so drop your bombs at your own risk, gentlemen. Perhaps now we can contend in the air on terms that are more equal.
                                          (Signed) The Golhas 33rd,
                                          Von Wusthoff, Commanding.

From the pages of the June 1935 number of the British Air Stories, it’s Arch Whitehouse’s Coffin Crew in “Hostage of the Gothas!”

When Treachery robbed the Coffin Crew of their Dare-devil Leader, that Crazy Band of Bombers carried their Hate through the Valley of Death into the very Lair of the Gotha Griffons. And in the Air, a Handley clashed with a Gotha in a Duel for which the Forfeit was a Flaming Death!

Be sure to drop by next week for another mad cap romp through hell skies with the Coffin Crew!

Christmas with the Coffin Crew!

Link - Posted by David on December 1, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re going to be celebrating the holidays with Arch Whitehouse’s Coffin Crew! The Coffin Crew has as checkered a history in the pulps as they did in The Great War. The Coffin Crew is, in reality just a renamed Casket Crew. Arch Whitehouse had many series characters—there was flying reporter and U.S. Naval agent Billy “Buzz” Benson; Kerry Keen—ballistics expert by day and masked aerial crime fighter by night known as The Griffon; Coffin Kirk and his simian copilot Tank; Hale Aircraft Corporation Salesman and soldier of fortune Crash Carringer; Secret Service agents Todd Bancroft and Larry Leadbeater; those two old news-hawks Tug Hardwick and Beansie Bishop; and that hell-raising crew of a Handley Page bomber, the Casket Crew! So many, that when it came time to write a series of tales for the new Air Stories magazine in England, he simply wrote more stories of the Casket Crew and just renamed them The Coffin Crew for British readers.

Whitehouse had seven stories in the pages of the British Air Stories magazine—six of them were Coffin Crew adventures. This month we’ll be featuring those six tales as Age of Aces Books brings you “Christmas with the Coffin Crew!”

The Coffin Crew man a Handley Page bomber for one of the squadrons that makes up the Independent Air Force during the First World War. The Independent Air Force was chiefly brought about by the intensive Gotha raids on England during the first six months of 1917. The public demanded reprisals, so three squadrons were banded together with the purpose of giving back to the Germans what they had been doling out to the British.

The Handley Page 0/400 was generally crewed by five people. You had your front gunner, tail gunner, pilot, reserve pilot/bombing officer, and bomber. In the Coffin Crew stories, there is generally a sixth man whose job is to relay the info from the bomb sighter to the bomber so he knows when to pull the toggles and drop the bombs. Characters come and go, but the core members of the Coffin Crew are Lieutenant Graham Townsend, the mad Englishman, is the pilot of the bus with Lieutenant Phil Armitage, equally mad Canadian, the reserve pilot and bombing officer with Private Andy McGregor, still wearing his Black Watch kilts, rounding out the front end crew in the forward gun turret. Silent fighting Irishman Sergeant Michael Ryan, dragging on his short clay pipe, frequently worked the toggle board dropping the bombs and Horsey Horlick manning the rear gun turret.

The Casket Crew started with two stories in Airplane Stories (November 1930 & March 1931) before flying into the pages of Aces for 7 adventures in 1931 and 1932; followed by an additional 7 adventures in the pages of Wings in 1934 and 1935; and wrapping up in the final two issues of War Birds in 1937. These adventures of The Coffin Crew would slot in between the Wings and War Birds issues.

The Coffin Crew starts off with a bang—even being on the cover of the first issue of Air Stories by S. Drigin. In this first story, the Crew is joined by one Meridith Lovelace who makes quite the entrance.

Mr. Meridith Lovelace was ready for the air. And how! His beaming countenance was encased in a fur-lined leather helmet, for which about three hundred Swiss yodellers must have hunted the elusive chamoix for years to get such priceless skins. On top of this rested the finest pair of Triplex glass goggles money could buy. Their lenses were bound in silver bands and the mask-pad was downy with sleek beaver. Beneath the turned-up leather collar of a gaudy flying-coat was wrapped a scarf that would have made Joseph and his Biblical coat go out and take the veil—evidently Meridith’s school colours. The coat in question was a natty garment cut for a musical-comedy aviator, but which must have put a heavy crimp in Mr. Lovelace’s Pay and Mess Book No.54. Beneath that glistened the most polished pair of knee-length, fur-lined flying-boots ever turned out of Bond Street. And then, as if this were not enough for one evening, Mr. Lovelace sported a pair of flying gauntlets, fur-lined, of course, and a long ebony cigarette-holder that glowed at its tip like the gleam of a rapier that is just about to puncture someone’s mess department.

Despite this, the boy knows his stuff and comes through in a pinch and they soon wonder whose war their fighting. From the pages of the May 1935 number of the British Air Stories, it’s Arch Whitehouse’s Coffin Crew in “One Man’s War!”

When the exquisite Mr. Meridith Lovelace was appointed to the toggle-board of Handley-Page bomber No. II, there were doleful prophecies of the fate that would befall the Coffin Crew—that happy band of R.F.C. warriors whose exploits were known from end to end of the Allied lines. But Mr. Lovelace had his own ideas about winning the war—and the Coffin Crew soon found themselves embarked on the craziest adventure in all their mad-cap career.

Be sure to drop by next week for another mad cap romp through hell skies with the Coffin Crew!

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

Link - Posted by David on May 15, 2023 @ 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 December 1935’s thrilling story behind its cover gives us a possible glimpse into the future (of 1935) of what could happen should England go to war with Italy over access to the Suez Canal!

Sky Skirmish Over the Suez Canal

th_FA_3512A BLOODY war that will draw in all the nations of the world—a conflict that will drain civilization of its youth—a conflagration that will make the World War seem like a series of practice maneuvers! All that, and more, is what many experts insist is now in store for us.

There is no doubt but what the Italo-Ethiopian situation is the gravest impasse that has confronted Europe’s statesmen since 1914. Proposals and counter-proposals have devolved into quibbling and bickering. As this is written, peace moves have been of no avail, and instead of the positions of the various nations becoming clearer and more easy to define, they have now been tightened in a web of confusion. It is extremely difficult for even those “on the inside” to make an open-minded analysis of the situation. Indeed, most reports are colored so that they overly favor either one faction or another. It is clear that it would be ridiculous for us to attempt to predict success for either side. Moreover, it is not our purpose to pass judgment as to right or wrong in this imminent war or even to vouchsafe an opinion as to the outcome. We seek to offer only a purely fictional viewpoint dealing with possibilities.

Newspapers are replete with news of the British Fleet maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea. There is not one iota of a doubt in anyone’s mind as to the purpose of the operations. As a matter of fact, the British Government finally acknowledged the fact that the operations were other than routine. During the summer, the Italian Government has transported hundreds of thousands of troops and millions of dollars worth of war materials through the Suez Canal to the territory adjacent to Ethiopia.

The Suez Canal is controlled by the British, and one might think they would be happy at the thought of the increased traffic and the correspondingly increased revenue. That, however, is a much too simple conclusion. The problem that the Suez Canal offers is much more involved than that, for this thin strip of water is the key to the widespread British Empire.

As a matter of fact, the British are so adverse to an African conflict that there has even been talk of closing the Suez Canal. Should things come to a head, it is very likely that the Canal will be closed. Certainly the repercussions of such an act would be far reaching, and it was this thought that gave birth to the idea for our cover this month.

Assuming that the British have denied the Italians access to the Suez Canal, we can likewise assume that the Italians will retaliate. Let us suppose that a flight of flying boats has been dispatched from a base in Italy to proceed to the Canal region to force access, or gain it by intimidation. But a British aircraft carrier is found lying in the mouth of the canal, and with the first appearance of the Italian planes, orders are issued for flight preparations of several British two-seaters. As they take the air, the Italians veer off. Perhaps they did not expect any stiff opposition. However, the British are determined. The orders read that the aircraft carrier must remain in the mouth of the Canal and deny the entrance of any ship flying the Italian flag. Nor is the British Naval commander taking any chances on being bombed by the persistent Italians.

Sensing the fact that they must beat down the British two-seaters before they can accomplish their purpose, the Italians swing into action with a vengeance. Attacking in an echelon formation, they sweep in upon the British with all guns roaring. The leading Italian ship is the first one to become entangled, and the two-seaters pounce upon it with the vigor of tigers.

Banking and climbing with everything they’ve got, the British ships finally manage to attain a position of advantage. But the Italian flying boats are fast and easy to maneuver, and the two gunners in the bows of the twin hulls spray their opponents with lead. The bomber officer inside the Italian ship is also on the job and several bombs are released. As shown on our cover, these projectiles have caused a conflagration among buildings on the shore, but thus far the aircraft carrier has not been touched.

But how long can the British planes protect their mother ship—or, on the other hand, how long can II Duce’s machines be effective? Will some of those bombs blow the carrier to smithereens? All that is only a matter of conjecture. In an air battle, anything can happen. Nor does victory always go the strongest.

THE armaments of Italy and Great Britain present a truly interesting picture. England is admittedly the strongest on the sea, but the question of strength in the air is something that requires careful analysis. Italy possesses approximately 1,600 service planes and the home flying fields of most of the Italian squadrons are within easier striking distance of most of the areas where hostility is likely to occur than are the air forces of Great Britain, which is naturally forced to keep a good part of her air strength at home. Most likely the only British planes which would see any real action are those carried by King George’s aircraft carriers and by his other naval vessels.

At the present writing, it would seem that a war between England and Italy would be a war involving ships and airplanes. There is nothing which would be indicative of the outcome of such a conflict. Certainly. Italy’s submarines would supplement the fight of the Italian airplanes and surface craft, but on the other hand England’s ability to blockade Italy and thus inflict severe damage on Italian commerce must be taken into consideration.

Such a set-to, however, may never come to pass at all. The League of Nations is making a concerted effort to preserve the peace of Europe—and of the whole world. There is always a chance that the various overtures which are being made will finally be successful, and it is our devout hope that this will be the case. Yet, if worst comes to worst, it is likely that the conflict will be of short duration.

The Italian ship shown on this month’s cover is a Savoia-Marchetti S-55. It is a long range bomber and one of the most airworthy—and seaworthy—of the Italian flying boats. The British planes are Hawker Ospreys. They are two-seater, fleet reconnaissance ships and possess the fine features of performance that are to be found in all Hawker aircraft.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, December 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Skirmish Over the Suez Canal: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

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

Link - Posted by David on May 8, 2023 @ 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 November 1935’s thrilling story behind its cover in which Mr. Mayshark shows us what it might look like when they test the new Boeing Bomber!

Action Test of the Boeing Bomber

th_FA_3511OVER the distant horizon, a speck suddenly becomes visible from the housetops of a teeming industrial city. As if by magic, the speck grows in size, finally taking on gigantic proportions. Crowds in the streets are attracted, all eyes are turned heavenward. And now the aerial monster—the new Boeing Bomber—hurtles over the city at more than 250 miles per hour! This giant, powered by four Pratt & Whitney engines, is the newest thing in the air—the latest marvel of an age which already boasts innumerable mechanical wonders.

Suddenly, the local airport is alive with activity. Three brand new Navy Northrops are speedily rolled from a hangar. Commands are curtly barked, starters whine, and the deafening roar of three powerful engines pervades the air. The single-seaters are off the ground with a leap; and once in the air, they head in Vee formation toward the circling bomber. Their job is a test attack on the immense ship before them. They must attempt, theoretically, to send it to destruction.
Will they be returned the victors? Will the Boeing Bomber, in supposition, go “down in flames?” Will the years of research and toil be written off as short of the goal?

In short, were the designers fully warranted in making this new swing in military aviation? At this writing, the answer seems to be an emphatic “Yes!” To begin with, the argument is advanced that the days of the single-seater hero pilot are gone forever. Already there are indications that present day single-seater squadrons may become somewhat outmoded before the advance of fast and powerful two- and three-seater attack jobs. This fact gives credence to the growing acceptance, in military circles, of the large capacity, long-range bomber, of which the new Boeing is the acme.

Of course, we all know of the romance and spirit of adventure which characterized the fighting of the daring war-time pilots. In those days it was generally a case of man against man. But today things are different.

There are those who declare that single-seaters have little chance against a four-engined giant with five gun platforms—a ship which cruises at better than 250 m.p.h. The present day fighters of less speed would, of course, have difficulty in getting within range. As for the faster fighters, it may be pointed out that it takes plenty of skill to hit a fast moving ship; and when you are forced to zig-zag and literally throw yourself all over the sky in order to escape burst after burst of withering fire from such a formidable flying fortress—it requires more than skill!

However, in spite of what the experts think, and in spite of what the consensus is among those who think they are experts, the new Boeing Bomber must be put to test. A violent encounter must be simulated.

And so, the Northrops appear on the scene. One of the finest single-seater types in the world, they are fast, powerful, highly maneuverable. If anything can get near the Boeing Bomber, the Northrop can.

Coming upon the bomber from behind, they spread out fan-wise as soon as the first warning burst of tracer sprays the air about them. One Northrop climbs, another maintains its position, and the other dives. Attack the ship from more than one angle! Close in on it! Throw tracer from all directions! Those are the accepted tactics.

But the Northrop pilots soon find their task difficult. The Boeing Bomber cannot safely be approached from any angle. It is protected from above by a turret along the top of the fuselage. A “bird cage” gun emplacement protects the nose of the ship. Moreover, guns bristle from “blister” turrets on both sides and belly of the bomber’s fuselage. There are no blind spots!
The gunners aboard the Boeing are wide awake to every movement of the Northrops. But even so, their task, too, is not the simplest one in the world. The shifty little Northrops are giving them the fight of their lives. But finally, the hugh bomber prevails.

AND so, the Boeing theoretically is successful in bombing the industrial center it has attacked. True, the city is also protected by anti-aircraft defences. But the speed at which the Boeing flies makes one sceptical as to the success of such fire. And this brings up an interesting question: Have anti-aircraft developments kept pace with plane developments? A city is a huge target for a bomber speeding at high altitudes—but to gunners on the ground the bomber is, of course, a very small and highly-elusive object. While we’ve heard rumors of super-effective anti-aircraft pieces, the powers that be have thus far kept such inventions well veiled.

As for our Northrops, they now land, and the pilots climb wearily from their cockpits, haggard, exhausted. They have been through an ordeal. The tight turns and steep power dives have told upon them; for the tricky maneuvering in the hurtling fighters of the present day exerts a terrific strain upon the body.

Of course, the air battle pictured on our cover is entirely fictitious. Our purpose has simply been to help you visualize the new Boeing Bomber in a real air scrap. If such a test takes place, there will be a board of judges to render a verdict as to the outcome. Blank cartridges or camera guns will be substituted for bullets.

Performance figures of the new Boeing have not been released. At this writing, its top speed is a matter of conjecture. Your guess is as good as ours.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, November 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
Action Test of the Boeing Bomber: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

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

Link - Posted by David on May 1, 2023 @ 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 May 1935’s thrilling story behind its cover which imagines what an aerial fight between France and Italy might look like!

If France and Italy Fought

th_FA_3505DEATH in the Alps! Smashing tracer that severs control wires and snuffs out human lives with equal ease! Pursuit ships tearing across frigid skies with reckless abandon, primed for the kill! A powerful reconnaissance flying-boat winging its way belligerently towards a French objective! All this and more could happen on the mountainous Franco-Italian border.

Let us suppose that an Italian flying-boat is ordered to fly over French territory on a secret reconnaissance job. The resultant information is to be used by a fleet of bombers which are to wipe out certain industrial centers in the south of France. Munition manufacturing plants are to be the prime objective, most of which are within easy range of Italian flying fields. But everything depends upon the success of the reconnaissance expedition.

The Cant flying-boat has almost reached the border when two French single-seaters tear into view. Something has leaked out! The French are aware of the impending danger, and they are determined to avert disaster. But the three Italian airmen must carry out their orders, and they prepare for the imminent encounter.

Flying a ship in the Alps Mountains is at best no simple task. There are towering snow-capped peaks which mask themselves in the surrounding hazy atmosphere, and they are a constant menace. Treacherous air currents are also particularly dangerous, so that a pilot never knows when his ship is going to be sucked down and smashed. Then, too, the wind reaches such a high velocity at times that it is almost impossible to turn the controls against it.

Having learned of all these dangers through painful experience, the French and Italian airmen proceed warily. Circling at a safe altitude above the Italian ship, the French fighters wait for a chance to strike. But the Italians do not deviate from their course. They, too, are waiting.

Suddenly, without warning, one of the Frenchmen drops. Like a plummet he falls, seemingly out of control. But quickly, as if he had hit something solid, he pulls out of the dive. Now the Italians are directly in the Frenchman’s line of flight, and as the pilot of the fighter turns on the heat, two murderous streams of machine-gun tracer splatter upon the wings of the flying-boat.

Now the Frenchman is forced to pull up and retreat to safety. The rear gunner in the Italian ship has entered into the picture and is returning the fire with a zest. In the meantime, the second Frenchman has projected himself into the fray. The Hisso motor screams as the single-seater lunges down, but again the Italians are successful in beating off the speedy enemy.

And so back and forth across the sky weave the three planes, the French ships possessing the greater speed, and the Italians the greater fighting power.

It is difficult to predict the outcome of such an air battle. Although the flying-boat does not possess great speed or maneuverability, its two gunnery should be able to protect it against any reasonable attack. On the other hand, the speed and the fighting fury displayed by the French single-seaters give rise to the belief that nothing could withstand the power of their vicious onslaught.

The Italian ship taking part in this air battle is a Cant 21 bis two-seater reconnaissance flying-boat. It is powered with a 500-horsepower Isotto Fraschini “Asso” engine. Gunners’ cockpits are situated in the rear and in the nose of the fuselage, the one in the nose being directly connected with the pilot’s cockpit. The ship’s speed is 134 miles per hour, and its range is ten hours.

The two French ships are Bleriot-Spad 510’s. This ship is designated as a single-seater high-altitude fighter. Its speed is 231 miles per hour, which places it among the fastest military planes in the world. Its power plant consists of one 500-horsepower Hispano-Suiza twelve-cylinder supercharged engine.

In view of the present fictitious description, it would be interesting to note the difference in the make-up of the French and Italian air forces. The Italians have a particularly difficult problem to face because of their geographical surroundings. Bounded on the south, east, and west by water as they are, the need for flying-boats and seaplanes can be readily seen.

On the other hand, an entirely different kind of aircraft is needed for work in the mountainous regions which bound the peninsula on the north. Italy leans more towards large, long-range ships than it does toward fast intercepter fighters. Very strenuous training must be undergone by all Italian military pilots, and once they have accomplished their training, their duties are varied and often hazardous. As a result, Italian military airmen rank among the best in the world. Proof of this fact was exhibited when General Balbo led the Italian Air Armada to America and back again to Italy in 1933.

When we look at the air arm of France, we see an entirely different picture. France has always been regarded as the nation which possesses greater strength than any other nation, in so far as fast pursuit jobs are concerned. Ever since the war, France has concentrated upon efficiency and speed in single-seater fighters. A great many different makes of pursuit and intercepter fighters are now in the French service, and their performance is indeed enviable. An example of this fact is to be found in the performance figures for the Bleriot-Spad. However, France is not lacking in reconnaissance and bomber types. Farman has been world-famous since the days of the war for the production of high-efficiency bombers.

The idea of anyone’s entertaining seriously the thought that the air battle pictured on our cover could actually take place is, in the light of present-day diplomatic developments, quite inconceivable. Our only aim has been to show our readers how representative ships of France and Italy would appear and what would be the advantages of each, if they were to engage in combat.

The Story of The Cover
Flying Aces, May 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
If France and Italy Fought: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover

“Three Months to Live” by Captain John E. Doyle

Link - Posted by David on April 14, 2023 @ 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. Five of those stories were for the British version of Air Stories and featured 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.

99 Squadron was in desperate need of replacements, but all the good ones were being attached to other squadrons and Monty was left with Percy H. Yapp—the queerest specimen he’d ever seen wearing the uniform of the R.F.C. Percy was short, and so slightly built that the small tunic he wore hung in folds on his frame. His face was devoid of colour, except for a faint yellowish tinge. But Monty was instantly attracted by the fellow’s eyes, which looked so intently into his. For all his affectation of languor, he was a shrewd judge of character, and decided that the frail figure before him possessed those resolute and determined qualities for which he was ever searching—or so he hoped. From the December 1935 issue of the British Air Stories, it’s Captain John E. Doyle’s “Three Months to Live!”

Major Montgomery Montmorency Hardcastle was not Ordinarily a Fightin’ Man but his Great Idea for “Huntin’ the Hun” involved him in a Considerable “Spot of Shootin’” and Nearly Ruined his Record of “One Bird—One Barrel!”

“Death Takes Off” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 31, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

TO ROUND off Mosquito Month we have a non-Mosquitoes story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. In the mid thirties, Oppenheim wrote a half dozen stories for Sky Fighters featuring Lt. “Streak” Davis. Davis—ace and hellion of the 25th United States Pursuit Squadron—was a fighter, and the speed with which he hurled his plane to the attack, straight and true as an arrow, had won him his soubriquet. Once more it’s a battle against time as Streak must retrieve vital information about Pershing’s big push against Hindenburg that had been left behind in a locked safe when the Boche over ran the villa that had been an Allied held town. From the April 1935 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Death Takes Off!”

With the Success of the Allies in the Balance, Streak Davis Roars into Enemy Territory on a Mission that Spells Doom—Casting all Thought of Failure into the Slipstream of His Pounding Crate!

“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

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