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“Sky Writers, December 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on August 11, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

FREQUENT visitors to this site know that we’ve been featuring Terry Gilkison’s Famous Sky Fighters feature from the pages of Sky Fighters. Gilkison had a number of these features in various pulp magazines—Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Starting in the February 1936 issue of Lone Eagle, Gilkison started the war-air quiz feature Sky Writers. Each month there would be four questions based on the Aces and events of The Great War. If you’ve been following his Famous Sky Fighters, these questions should be a snap!

Here’s the quiz from the December 1937 issue of Lone Eagle.

If you get stumped or just want to check your answers, click here!

“Sky Writers, October 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

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

FREQUENT visitors to this site know that we’ve been featuring Terry Gilkison’s Famous Sky Fighters feature from the pages of Sky Fighters. Gilkison had a number of these features in various pulp magazines—Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Starting in the February 1936 issue of Lone Eagle, Gilkison started the war-air quiz feature Sky Writers. Each month there would be four questions based on the Aces and events of The Great War. If you’ve been following his Famous Sky Fighters, these questions should be a snap!

Here’s the quiz from the October 1937 issue of Lone Eagle.

If you get stumped or just want to check your answers, click here!

“Sky Fighters, November 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on July 5, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the November 1937 cover, It’s the deadly Gotha!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3711GOTHA! An ominous word during the World War days. Gothas over London raining steel-cased loads of high explosive, inflammable liquid, shrapnel. Gothas over Paris dropping bombs and hundreds of pounds of propaganda leaflets proclaiming: “We are at your gates. Surrender!” No wonder that millions of civilians far behind the actual fighting lines shuddered in terror as warning sirens blared their screeching blasts across the roof tops.

Defending planes seemed helpless against huge raiders whose pilots were so bold that they flew over England in daylight.

Shattering Morale

The Germans knew that more actual harm could be done to the Allied cause by shattering the nerves and morale of the great masses of humanity in the crowded cities than battering holes in the Allies’ front lines. It brought the war right into the living room. Even if casualties were comparatively small, the damage done to buildings and streets vividly kept before a jittery populace’s eyes the devastating results of war, kept their sleep broken, kept them forever wondering where the next bomb would strike, if they would be torn, bleeding things smashed and broken in an avalanche of falling masonry and flying hunks of smoking steel fragments.

The name Gotha came from the first word of the manufacturing company’s name, Gothaer Waggonfabrik A. G. Aircraft Department. Their most famous job was the twin-engined pusher carrying a pilot, a front gunner and a rear gunner. This ship is pictured on the cover.

Successful Fighting Ships

The Morane-Saulnier Company rendered great service to the Allies by producing a series of highly successful fighting ships. The Parasol or high wing monoplanes were their specialty, but they made biplanes and early in the fracas put out different types of wire-braced low-winged jobs which although fragile things were speedy and dependable except in a hard dive.

Roland Garros, the famous French airman, used one of these ships in his experiments with the front gun firing through the propeller arc. This was not a synchronized firing gun, that is, the gun was not mechanically timed to fire so it missed the propeller blade. Any machine-gun could be used and was fired by hand. The slugs bashed against the whirling prop nearly as often as they slipped through but no appreciable harm was done as a pair of steel deflecting flanges were bolted around the propeller blades just outside of the hub. When the bullets hit the gentle angle of the flanges they were deflected harmlessly into space. But those bullets which got through were just as deadly and accurate as bullets from later synchronized guns.

The Gotha crew felt absolutely safe from this wasplike single seater as it rushed up at them. They feared it just as much as a great Dane would a yipping poodle. And just because of their lack of respect they were caught flat-footed. It was unheard of that a tractor plane could shoot forward. The front gunner of the Gotha nonchalantly started to swing his gun forward toward the tiny plane.

Death Dive

He never knew what hit him. He swayed, lost his balance and fell over the side. The pilot became panic stricken, started to release his bombs to gain altitude and possibly crash a missile through the spindly wings of the French plane. The back gunner forgot himself and fired through his left hand propeller in hopes of hitting the foe. But that propeller had no deflecting flanges. A slug tore into the laminated, whirling blade. It splintered into bits.

The Gotha shuddered, gently listed and then lurched into its death dive. Germany’s threat collapsed. Millions of people behind the lines threw back their shoulders and went confidently again at that very important job of winning the war.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, November 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Sky Writers, August 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on June 16, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

FREQUENT visitors to this site know that we’ve been featuring Terry Gilkison’s Famous Sky Fighters feature from the pages of Sky Fighters. Gilkison had a number of these features in various pulp magazines—Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Starting in the February 1936 issue of Lone Eagle, Gilkison started the war-air quiz feature Sky Writers. Each month there would be four questions based on the Aces and events of The Great War. If you’ve been following his Famous Sky Fighters, these questions should be a snap!

Here’s the quiz from the August 1937 issue of Lone Eagle.

If you get stumped or just want to check your answers, click here!

“Sky Fighters, September 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on June 7, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the September 1937 cover, It’s the immortal Fokker D7!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3709THE one type of plane most talked of when the German air service of World War times is mentioned, is the Fokker. And the outstanding plane of the Fokker line was the D7. Anthony Fokker, a Dutchman, tried to interest the Allies in his early efforts in plane building but met with such stubborn sales resistance that when war clouds formed over Europe and the German government showed it meant real business in buying Fokker planes he took up residence in Germany and promptly started to grind out fighting ships.

From the start his planes were outstanding. Those first monoplanes of his were flimsy many-wired braced things but they had stability, a characteristic which was lacking in most other types.

First Synchronized Machine-Gun

It was on an early Fokker monoplane that the first synchronized machine-gun appeared. This gun all but blasted the Allies from the skies.

As time progressed, so did Fokker planes. He switched to biplanes. Out of these came the D7, the most dreaded plane the Allies had to contend with.

It had no interplane bracing wires. The only external bracing wires were a pair crossed under the nose on the undercarriage.

On lack of interstrut bracing there goes an interesting side story. German flyers, on seeing no wires on the Fokker D7, threw up their hands in horror and refused to fly the darned things.

“It can’t be done,” they said even as they saw Fokker himself putting the new D7 through a series of difficult maneuvers.

A Fine Flying Steed

Fokker was not stumped. He yanked the D7s back into his assembly plant and had wire braces installed. Out they came again for tests. The German Aces took them up and gave them the works. They came down grinning with appreciation for a fine steed which could outfly any German ship in the skies. After Fokker had his ship in mass production he yanked the wires off all the D7s and said, “There, without those wires which are just dummies, you’ll get a couple of extra miles per hour.” They believed him and the real Fokker D7 was launched to do more damage to the Allies than any oilier ship.

The Squadron of Death

Another trick construction stunt on the Fokker was the welding in the joints of the fuselage. They did this welding in such a manner that it was real mass production done cheaply. After the joints were welded the frame looked as though it had been in a wreck, it was so out of shape. The welders merely hammered it back into alignment in a few minutes and it was ready for the riggers. It took our own engineers nearly two years after the war was over to find out how the Germans had done the stunt.

Many German squadrons painted their ships gaudy colors, put decorations on them and even pictures. One squadron of Fokker D7s called themselves the Squadron of Death. And on the fuselage of each plane was painted a skull and crossbones. They had such faith in this death dealing ship that they flaunted their gruesome insignia in the faces of the enemy as they drove them out of the sky. But war is a business, and like peacetime business a competitor’s product must be equalled or bettered or you go to the wall. The Allies didn’t intend going to the wall. True, from behind the eight ball things looked bad, but they had arched their backs and in a very few months the Fokker D7 was fighting for its life.

On the cover two Boche pilots tangled with a single Nieuport 28 C.1. Both Fokkers had skull and crossbones insignia on their flat fuselages. But it’s superior ships and superior flying that chalks up the score.

The first Fokker staggered in its tracks as the guns of the Nieuport blasted slugs into it. A puff of black smoke and down it went. The other German pilot stubbornly attacked the Nieuport which proceeded to fly rings around him and chop his ship to pieces. German ground troops fired their rifles up at the wraithlike Nieuport. Then the Fokker gave a sudden lurch, nosed down in a sickening power dive. German ground troops, who had admiringly noted the skull and crossbones, now gasped in horror as the ship went out of control and smashed them into the sides of their own trenches. The Fokker D7 had been equalled!

It had reached its peak. The Allies threw equally fine planes into the skies—but few surpassed the blunt-nosed awkward product of the Dutch inventor, Anthony Fokker.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, September 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Sky Writers, June 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on May 19, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

FREQUENT visitors to this site know that we’ve been featuring Terry Gilkison’s Famous Sky Fighters feature from the pages of Sky Fighters. Gilkison had a number of these features in various pulp magazines—Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Starting in the February 1936 issue of Lone Eagle, Gilkison started the war-air quiz feature Sky Writers. Each month there would be four questions based on the Aces and events of The Great War. If you’ve been following his Famous Sky Fighters, these questions should be a snap!

Here’s the quiz from the June 1937 issue of Lone Eagle.

If you get stumped or just want to check your answers, click here!

“Sky Fighters, July 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the July 1937 cover, It’s the Sopwith Dolphin!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3707WITH four guns up front capable of shooting at two angles, the Sopwith Dolphin was an opponent to keep from in front of! Its stubby businesslike nose and short fuselage gave it the appearance of a heavily-weighted projectile racing through the air. Built in a distinctly unorthodox design, at first glance, it seemed to be something made to crawl on the ground which had suddenly sprouted wings, but once in the air it could twist and squirm in and out of maneuvers with such rapidity that it made one “OH” and “AH” with high-pressure exultation.

Of course Mr. T.O.M. Sopwith, the versatile designer of a dozen of more airplanes, most of which had quite similar wing construction as to dihedral, was probably sick of the same old thing over and over. So he deliberately pulled a fast one at the designing table. After the bugs were chased out of the experimental model it was found that this radically different job of stick and wire had clicked beyond the designer and manufacturer’s wildest hopes. It went into production and started rolling off the line.

Hitherto Sopwith had stuck to rotary motors, mostly Clergets, but in the Dolphin a 200 h.p. Hispano-Suiza was installed in the nose. The nose was now streamlined, which gave it a radically different appearance from former Sopwiths with their round cowling ring to fit around the whirling rotaries. Of course the heavier, more powerful motor was necessary because the Dolphin was a heavier and larger ship than the famous Camel. The speed of these two was about the same, the Dolphin having only about six or seven miles advantage of the Camel.

The Gun Arrangement

The two Lewis guns sticking up at a 45-degree angle were primarily for blasting the underside of an enemy plane, as the front guns were reserved to deliver a barrage of fire through the prop at any instant. This arrangement of guns made a hit with most pilots and some of them in 1918 made a practice of harassing German troops in their trenches and on roads by diving on them and having two separate angles of fire with which to mow down their opponents.

Later in the war the Sopwith Salamander, a single-seater with a rotary motor and armored belly and sides, came out just for such infantry strafing. Perhaps it was the occasional strafing of trenches with the Dolphin, and the many holes which appeared in its underside, and the wounds and casualties of the daring Dolphin pilots, that inspired this later Salamander.

Picking Up an Espionage Man

On the cover the Dolphin has taken on another trick job, that of picking up one of the Allied espionage men from behind the enemy lines. Usually a rendezvous was decided upon and the Allied plane sat down at this spot. If all went well the agent climbed aboard and was whisked out of danger quickly, but plenty of times valuable information was lost along with pilot and plane.

To most men the sense of balance and timing are fickle tilings of which they know little, and in which they lack experience and confidence. Not so with the agent catching the dangling rope from the swaying low-flying Dolphin. That man’s life had been spent dangling from ropes and scaffolds at dizzy heights. He had been foreman of a gang of bridge painters who year after year dangle from ropes and flimsy scaffolds high over the East River in New York Harbor. A rope overhead, a body of water underneath, a sure death if he slipped, was what he considered just another job of work-one that had been done before and one he was sure he could do at any time again when the emergency arose.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, July 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Sky Fighters, May 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the May 1937 cover, It’s the ever-popular Sopwith “Camel”!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3705THE Sopwith “Camel” was a name to be proud of back in 1917. This “Camel” of the air did not do without a drink nor was it slow and ungainly like its earthly namesake but it was tricky and uncomfortable to fly. It was similar to its predecessor, the Sop “Pup,” which was an airman’s delight to fly. The Camel’s superiority as a fighting craft was due to those modifications which transformed it into a devilish steed in the hands of its masters.

It could climb a thousand feet a minute and speed through the air in pursuit of an enemy ship until Camel squadrons were both feared by the enemy and envied by the other Allied squadrons equipped with inferior craft.

Whenever possible Allied nations got hold of Camels and bolstered up their own side with this popular fighting ship. Americans who flew them are still talking of their little temperamental job which gave them heart failure on landings and takeoffs but got them out of some mighty tight situations, which other ships of the time could not have accomplished, The 130 h.p. Clerget motor was extensively used to power the Camel.

Later most Camels were equipped with Bentley motors which gave them added pep and brought the Camel out of oblivion very much into the limelight for a glorious new era of fighting life. There was hardly a British ace who did not sometime in his career as a flyer sit in the compact cockpit of a Sop Camel and feel the exultation which comes from flying a hair-trigger ship.

Richthofen’s Defeat

Germany’s ace of aces, Richthofen, got in front of a Camel on April 21, 1918. That Camel was piloted by a young Canadian in the R.F.C. named Roy Brown. Capt. Brown’s Camel seemed to be a live thing as it screamed down on the tail of the Baron’s ship which was racing after one of Brown’s comrades. The Vickers guns leaped and bucked in the Camel’s hump.

The sturdy ship seemed to hold its breath helping its pilot’s aim. The Fokker triplane ahead staggered. Richthofen, mortally wounded, slumped in his pit. It was the end for him. and he, like so many other Germans, ended the war with a wraith-like flitting flying thing of wood and fabric with spitting guns forward blasting death to all who dared challenge its rule.

Although the Camel on the cover is not fighting another ship, it is fighting its most important battle of the war. The complete plans for a major offensive of the Allies disappeared suddenly from close-guarded headquarters offices. A half hour after they were missed intelligence officers were on the track. They traced them to a nearby hangar. They saw a plane sweeping into the skies. One of the intelligence men, a flyer, leaped into a Camel whose motor was ticking over. The enemy spy was almost out of sight, but in a slower ship.

Blazing Battle

The Camel gained, it overtook the spy. Guns blazed. Down slithered the front ship to crash near a road in German territory. The pilot crawled out, hailed a driver of a captured British motorcycle and gave the side car’s passenger the valuable papers. As the spy crumpled to the ground the motorcycle roared toward German headquarters. Down screamed the Camel. Its pilot disregarded the peppering from the motorcycle passenger’s rifle fire.

When the little Camel was about to hit the ground machine, its Vickers guns opened up. A deadly blast of bullets raked both Germans. A slug tore into the overheated motorcycle engine. A roaring explosion enveloped the whole ground machine. The stolen papers in the passenger’s dead hand flared up and curled into blackened bits that fluttered and faded into dust. The Camel wheeled, streaked toward home. Another job well done!

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, May 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Sky Writers, April 1937″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on January 27, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

FREQUENT visitors to this site know that we’ve been featuring Terry Gilkison’s Famous Sky Fighters feature from the pages of Sky Fighters. Gilkison had a number of these features in various pulp magazines—Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Starting in the February 1936 issue of Lone Eagle, Gilkison started the war-air quiz feature Sky Writers. Each month there would be four questions based on the Aces and events of The Great War. If you’ve been following his Famous Sky Fighters, these questions should be a snap!

Here’s the quiz from the April 1937 issue of Lone Eagle.

If you get stumped or just want to check your answers, click here!

“Sky Fighters, March 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 23, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the March 1937 cover, It’s the S.I.A. Type 9B!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3703ANY Italian or Austrian soldier who served during the World War on the Italian front could, without any trouble at all, pass the scaling ladder tests of any fire department in the world. Those combatants climbed perpendicular, glacial surfaces which, at first glance, seemed insurmountable. Metal hooks, somewhat resembling half of an iceman’s tongs, were heaved up against the icy sides of snowladen cliffs or ice formations.

When the hook held, the climbers inched their way up knotted ropes or ropes with loops for footholds. Sometimes they left an anchored rope hanging for others to follow, sometimes they pulled up the rope and pitched the hook farther up.

“Get there,” was the command. It was up to the soldier to climb till he reached his objective. There, exhausted, with aching muscles shrieking for relief, he probably was met by the foe with a fixed bayonet, or the defenders might cut his rope far above, sending him tumbling grotesquely into space.

An All Purpose Job

The S.I.A. (Societa Italiana Aviazione) Type 9B two seater fighter was one of those ships that was called an all purpose job. It hung up records in climbing, speed, lifting power and endurance. Its engine was the 700 h.p. Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino).

This ship was used extensively by the Italians. Their aviators liked its reliable engine and its sure fire reaction to the stick. It became the eyes of the Italian army. Spotting for the artillery attacking enemy positions and even rescuing Italian troops from surprise Austrian attacks.

A mountain has two major sides. That side facing the enemy which is watched continually for any advances. The other side behind the defenders, that side up which they have come, down which they may possibly have to retreat. It is so safe from enemy attack that its defense is completely neglected, for what enemy can come in from the rear without being annihilated?

But in the picture on the cover just this situation has occurred. An Austrian commander with vision and initiative penetrated the rear lines at night, sentries were captured without firing a shot. The way was clear. The Austrians commenced climbing before dawn. As the sun threw its yellow glaze over the cold sky the icy cliffs were alive with silent climbing figures in pot helmets. Nearer and nearer they approached their goal where the small group of Italian Alpinis manned mountain guns facing the enemy.

In ten minutes the Austrian climbers could annihilate that group of defenders, pull the guns back, swing them around and blast the Italians below from their positions, allowing the Austrian hordes to sweep through passes and on to a major victory.

A Speck in the Sky

Far in the distance a speck stood out in dark silhouette against the brightening sky. It gained size, its wings glinted as it banked and swooped down toward the cliff. The rear gunner stood in his pit tense with huge binoculars pressed to his unbelieving eyes. He looked a second time and then yelled to his pilot. The throttle was jammed full ahead, the motor roared an ominous shriek as the husky S.I.A. dove and leveled off.

The front guns spattered two long bursts into the Austrians. Ropes were severed, bodies jerked and twisted as men screamed and clawed for a footing. Like a landslide the figures above toppled, they caught others below in their death plunge. Only a few remaining pot-helmeted figures rocked in terror on the slippery ice surfaces of the ragged mountain side. The rear gun of the S.I.A. took up the attack as the front guns ceased to find a target. More Austrians fell from their icy footholds.

Above, the Italian mountain troops looked down, amazed and jittery from the realization of their close call. Far in the distance the receding S.I.A. dipped its wings in friendly salute to the massed group of Alpini troops on the lofty mountain peak who screamed their cheering thanks across the bleak crags of the perpendicular battlefields.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, March 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Sky Fighters, February 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 9, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the February 1937 cover, It’s the Pfalz D13 attacking a balloon!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3702THE elongated type of captive balloons were of French origin but the Germans were the first to put them to practical use in the World War. They called them “drachens,” or kite balloons. They are flown in exactly the same way as a boy’s kite, the force of the wind holding them aloft. In the earlier spherical-shaped balloons the wind spun them and had a tendency to force them down.

Theoretically any balloon was obsolete on account of the airplane, dirigible and anti-aircraft gun, but the big bags usually stayed up, did their work, were hawled down and tucked in for the night and sent aloft the next day to act as the eyes for our artillery.

Of course lots of balloons were eventually shot down, but so were airplanes and dirigibles. The number of balloons lost by the U.S. in action was forty-eight and our airmen flattened seventy-three of the Kaiser’s drachens.

A Poor Risk

To service one of these cumbersome bags took the combined muscle and brains of a considerable group of men; even motorcycle messengers, a furrier, shoemaker, tailor, barber, orderlies, etc., were necessary. Around the bag on the ground was spotted a ring of machine-guns and antiaircraft guns. That ring of shooting irons kept most airplanes away. When an ambitious airman did attack a balloon his greeting from the ground took on the aspect of a major attack. His chance of coming out of the scrap the victor and in one piece was so low that any insurance company would consider him a poor risk.

The Pfalz D 13 was one of the last ships put out by the German manufacturer of that name. Its design seems to have been influenced by the Bristol Fighter, one of Britain’s finest fighting ships. Both have the fuselage suspended between the upper and lower wings and the bracing from the fuselage to the lower wing and the undercarriage is very similar. This D 13 was a fast, maneuverable job with a powerful water-cooled motor to pull it. It had to be fast to hop an Allied balloon and down it.

The pilot in the Pfalz was not just a prowler who happened to spot the balloon and look a long chance in attacking. That Pfalz in downing the balloon hoped to save his side a major calamity. The balloon observer has for days been up in his basket with his glasses glued to his eyes; his face to the east and his mouth close to the small telephone transmitter. His words have been actuating receiving diaphrams on the portable receiving station on the ground. Concise information has then been transmitted to battery commanders stationed behind their smoking heavy guns. Those guns have been sighted on enemy troops rushing up to reenforce Hun front line positions. In sighting the guns dozens of artillery officers have used only one pair of eyes, those keen, searching eyes of the balloon observers high in the air whose only life line is a steel cable hooked to a drum winch on the ground.

Stern Orders

Therefore to silence dozens of batteries tearing German troops to pieces it is necessary to blind the Allies lookout. The order the German pilot got was: “Do not come back unless you explode the balloon.” The Pfalz pilot dove on his quarry. Incendiary bullets from his Spandaus ripped into highly explosive hydrogen gas. Poof, the balloon is through! Out bails the observer. The Pfalz pilot yanks at his stick, there is no response from his elevators. Shrapnel from the ground batteries has made a sieve of his plane. All control wires are gone; so is the Pfalz and its pilot.

As the Pfalz tore head on into the ground a second reserve balloon slowly eased itself out of a fake group of trees. A figure disentangled itself from a jumble of ropes, sped toward the anchored basket of the new balloon. He tore away pieces of scorched clothing, leaped into the basket, yelled, “Up ship!” and was slithering up into sky again.

A battery commander miles distant saw the new balloon mounting. He smiled grimly, “I thought they had blinded us, but it was just a cinder in our eye.”

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, February 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“War Eagle” by George Bruce

Link - Posted by David on October 16, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the highly prolific George Bruce. Bruce, a former pilot, began writing in the 1920’s and became noted for his aerial war stories—several publications even bore his name. In the 1930’s and ’40’s he transitioned into screenwriting for Hollywood action films and then into tv in the 1950’s and ’60’s.

The blurb below explains the whole story:

John Wolfe, Crow Indian, Rides a Sky War-Pony and Comes to Grips With a White-Man’s Scourge Over French Battlefields!

From the November 1937 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s “War Eagle” by George Bruce!

“Wings of the Lancer” by Arch Whitehouse

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

THIS week we have a short, but gripping tale from the prolific pen of Arch Whitehouse! The pilots of No. 17 Squadron, A.E.F., were doing swell until “The Lancer” appeared on the scene. They were flying Spads, which were fair and reasonably effective against anything Jerry had—until the Lancer turned up flying that damned black triplane. There is a law of compensation somewhere in the book, and eventually it worked; for after six Yanks of No. 17 went west, Bob Shawn came up from the Pilot’s Pool. After that, while he never knew it, the Lancer was a marked man. From the March 1937 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s Arch Whitehouse’s “Wings of the Lancer”

Through Flaming Skies, Bob Shawn and Butts Brian Trail a Boche Butcher!

“Sky Fighters, January 1937″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on September 28, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the January 1937 cover, It’s the Morane-Saulnier Parasol type monoplane!

The Ships on the Cover

th_SF_3701THE Morane-Saulnier Parasol type monoplane was used back in 1914 by the French Army for artillery spotting. As the war continued the Parasols were improved each year but they were still doing their work mainly on reconnaissance missions. These sleek little ships were too speedy targets for most opponents, very unlike the majority of two seaters. They could climb well but they had tricks to play on their own pilot if he didn’t know their temperamental shortcomings.

To be taken prisoner by the enemy was usually not such a harassing experience as would be expected. The airmen of both sides were usually gallant foes. If an opponent was knocked out of the skies he was in for a long siege in prison and concentration camps. If he was wounded he got good medical attention before being jailed. Even if he set fire to his crashed plane so that the enemy couldn’t salvage parts he still got a break. Both Germans and Allies did this so it was even Steven.

The New Prop-Firing Gun

Roland Garros, the famous French aviator who first rigged a machine-gun to fire through the whirling propeller arc, was ignominiously forced down behind the German lines. That was a calamity for the Allies, because on the Morane-Saulnier Garros was flying was fixed his new prop-firing gun. He tried desperately to destroy his plane and gun but the German foot soldiers swarmed down on him, put out the fire he had started and discovered his secret gun. The Germans were elated. They considered this prisoner one to be guarded with extra care. They confined him and insisted he sign a record book every half hour. Even with these precautions he escaped.

If an aviator was forced down and showed fight it was just too bad, for after all he was an enemy. Frank Luke, our famous balloon buster, didn’t know what the word surrender meant. He was in the war to fight. He didn’t expect to come out alive. He didn’t like his flying mates. They didn’t like him. His job was to kill Germans, which he did to his last gasping breath. After downing several balloons he was forced down in enemy territory where he was given a chance to give himself up peaceably. He scoffed at the idea, unlimbered his .45 and staged a running fight with infantry. He was killed.

Lieut. W.B. Wanamaker of the 27th Squadron was shot down by Ernst Udet, the now famous German stunt flyer. His plane was badly wrecked and he was badly injured. The German foot soldiers would not help him until Udet landed, took personal charge and saw that Wanamaker was given medical attention and treated like an honorable enemy.

It was not unusual on our side of the lines to bring in a captured Germany flying officer and give him a royal reception at the home tarmac before he was sent back to prison.

An enemy is dangerous as long as he is armed and on his own territory. When one lone opponent is surrounded by the other side and surrenders he ceases to be the foe you’ve been looking for. You’ve got him. Congress, the Kaiser, the King and other tops have made all officers gentlemen, therefore they usually acted as such,

Shrapnel Finds Its Mark

The Morane-Saulnier on the cover was ranging back and forth over German targets when the pilot was hit by a tiny pellet of shrapnel from a German A.A. gun. The Morane with an A-No.1 pilot at the stick was a temperamental gal at its best, but with a pilot badly wounded it took the shortest path to the ground and pancaked behind the German lines. The observer could not burn his plane because the pilot was still alive. He saw two German soldiers rushing towards him. He motioned that he was giving up without a fight by raising his hands. One German soldier came closer. Suddenly he yanked out a Luger and blazed away at the Allied Observer. Down came the Yank’s hands, the Lewis gun snapped to the right. It smashed the German to the ground, unconscious. Back swung the Lewis to the left. A stream of slugs whistled from it at the other German who had now opened fire. One of the slugs smashed the blazing Luger from the enemy’s hand. The Yank ceased firing and brought his sights to bear on an approaching German air officer. The German officer raised his hands and continued to advance. “You are right,” he informed the Yank, “I saw the whole thing. I will not trick you as the soldiers did.”

The Yank climbed out. The two airmen from different sides of the line lifted the unconscious Allied pilot from the front pit. The German officer ordered first aid treatment given to the Allied pilot before the German soldiers who had showed such poor sportsmanship could have their wounds dressed.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters, January 1937 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

“Yankee Doodling” by Joe Archibald

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

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

The code talkers of G-2 find themselves in a bind—a code they can not crack! Knowing that Boonetown Marvel has somehow managed to fathom more things the Boche do than the Boche themselves, they enlist his help and wisk him off to Chaumont where upon his doodles change the corse of the war! It’s Chaumont chicanery at it’s most absurd! From the pages of the December 1937 Flying Aces, it’s Phineas Pinkham in Joe Archibald’s “Yankee Doodling!”

Herr Kohme, top-hand snooper of the Kaiser, had been permanently tagged by a firing squad back in ’16—if you believed the official records. But rumors were now rampant that the crafty Kraut was really just as much alive as a monkey with fleas. That’s why G.H.Q. frantically set the Yank tacticians tacticianing overtime in G-l, G-2, G-3, and G-4, And that prince of doodlers, P. Pinkham? Well, he chimed in with a G-Haw-w-w-w!

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