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How the War Crates Flew: Wings—and Why

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FROM the pages of the August 1934 number of Sky Fighters:

Editor’s Note: We feel that this magazine has been exceedingly fortunate in securing Lt. Edward McCrae to conduct a technical department each month. It is Lt. Mcrae’s idea to tell us the underlying principles and facts concerning expressions and ideas of air-war terminology. Each month he will enlarge upon some particular statement in the stories of this magazine. Lt. MaCrae is qualified for this work, not only because he was a war pilot, but also because he is the editor of this fine magazine.

Wings—and Why

by Lt. Edward McCrae (Sky Fighters, August 1934)

NOW I don’t remember of any of you duck-billed flamingoes stepping up and asking me what it was that made a war crate fly—when it did fly. Maybe it was because you had a suspicion that it was because of the wings. And then again, in case you had guessed that much, I thought maybe you’d be wondering just how it was that the wings sustained the ship, even admitting that you knew that the motor gave it sufficient power to propel itself through air.

Well, if you want to give up and learn something, I’ll tell you something about that today. And while I’m at it I suppose this is the best time to explain why some of the ships were monoplanes and some biplanes and even some of them triplanes, as one of the members of the German Albatross family, and one of our own Curtiss ships, as well as others. Wake up and listen to some real scientific information already predigested so it won’t get stuck in your delicate brains.

The answer Is this; when the ship is driven forward by a motor, the wing is so shaped that the air passes over and under the wing according to the “camber” of the wing. The camber is the shape it is in cross section. Take a look at Fig. 1 and you’ll see what I mean.

You’ll notice that the wing is rounded in front, gets thicker and then tapers to almost nothing at the rear or “trailing” edge. The distance from the front to the back is called the chord of the wings. You will see that the air is diverted upward and forms a kind of vacuum or area of reduced pressure over the wing. And also that some of the air hits the under-surface.

The Lift of the Ship

The lift of the ship is caused by the vacuum over the wing and the upward pressure of the wing on the under surface. And it may surprise some of you knot heads to know that the vacuum above the wing furnishes from three-quarters to in some cases ninety-eight per cent of the lift, and therefore the pressure from underneath furnishes from a quarter down to as little as two per cent of the lift.

Now, during the war the engineers knew that the amount of lift a wing surface had depended somewhat on the thickness of the camber and the shape of the wing. A wing that was thick at its maximum depth would naturally shoot the air higher over the wing and form a greater vacuum and thus give more lift. But when it did that it also reduced the speed.

What they wanted, then, was some way to get around that if they could. So, they knew that the greater the wing surface the greater the lift. If you wanted to lift a thousand pounds you would have to have a certain amount of wing surface of a thin camber, but more surface if the camber was thicker.

They Built More Wings

What is more natural, then, than to build more wings, one on top of the other. Take a look at the Albatross airplane as an example. (Fig. 2)

They had a lot of problems. They wanted ships for speed and carrying light weights. These would be the scouts and fighters. They needed others to carry heavy weights.

So they designed ships with wings like the ones shown in Fig. 3. The wing in 3-A is the section of a bomber. It will lift heavy loads, but it flies slowly because it cuts the air at such a steep angle to the line of flight, and it has a slow speed. 3-B shows a wing that will carry a fairly heavy load, fly a little faster and not land too fast. It was used on some training planes, like the old Curtiss Jenny. 3-C would have a much higher flying speed and would be used for reconnaissance and work that took fast maneuvering. And the last one of the wings would be found only on the fastest ships, fighters that had to get places in a hurry.

I remember the first one of these babies with a flat lower camber that came out to our little orchard at Ypers. Bill Bradley who claimed he could fly anything, looked at it and grunted and said, “Hell, that’s nothing but a barn door equipped with a motor and undercarriage. Crank ‘er up and I’ll fly her, though.” And, listen, Mary Jane, he did just that.

So whenever you’re loafing around a flying field and see a pair of wings that are flat on the under-side, just grab your dresses and run, because that ship can get places.

Now, let’s follow a bird that wants to design an airplane and see how he goes about deciding what kind of wings he’s going to put on it. The first question that comes up, of course, is, what you want it for. Say, for instance, we want it for photographing work, or light bombing. At any rate, we want it to carry about two thousand pounds of weight and make reasonably good speed. We don’t want too much speed in landing because the load it carries is delicate, the machine will be heavy and will have to land slowly.

We’ve Learned by Mistakes

Now we’ve learned by the mistakes of others that the average machine will carry about two-thirds of its own weight, or a ratio of 40 per cent cargo to 60 per cent dead weight. That being the case, the ship we have to build must weigh three thousand pounds in order to carry a useful load of two thousand, a total then for ship and cargo of 5,000 pounds.

Now the next thing is how much lift is needed. We know that for an average speed with an average load, with an average motor, the ship should have a lift of seven pounds for every square foot of wing surface. The problem is, how much wing surface will we need to lift five thousand pounds.

Get out your slate Johnny and figure that out. It’s easy. Just divide the total five thousand pounds by seven and you have about 714 square feet of wing surface needed.

Now, shall we supply that 714 feet all in one wing, or break it up into two wings? We figure this way; engineers have learned that the span of a wing across the front of the ship should be at least five times the chord, or depth fore and aft. Now if we tried to build a monoplane on those proportions and got our whole 714 feet of wing surface in it we would have a wing which would be seventy feet across and about ten feet deep.

They’re All Metal Now

That’s not so much of a problem in these days, because of all metal construction that has been perfected since the war. But in those days we had spruce and linen and wooden and wire construction. So, to have built a ship out of wood and wire with seventy foot wings wouldn’t have been so hot. I can promise you, Tilly, that plenty of ships shed their wings when they weren’t even as broad as our seventy-footer.

So, we’ll cut the wings half in two and give 350 feet square to a top and bottom wing. This will allow us to strengthen each wing by bracing it to the other wires and struts. Now we’ve got two wings that aren’t so flimsy, each fifty feet across and only seven feet deep. That’s more like it.

And that’s the way they went about it. And also, that’s the reason you didn’t see so many monoplanes in the Big fracas. Ships were flimsy things and they had to strengthen them as well as they could.

More Monoplanes Today

The Germans had been experimenting with light metal, however, in their Zeppelins, and before the war was over they had constructed a good monoplane with internal bracing that was strong enough to keep it from shedding its wings. But not the Allies. Of course, after the war, the Allied countries got busy and made up for the lost time, and today you see probably more monoplanes, and certainly in the more expensive ships, than biplanes. It saves a lot of external braces and things that offer resistance to the wind, unless its speed you want.

So that, little children, is how the engineers worked day and night to build ships for men to knock out of the sky, and that’s how they learned to finally build ships that are today safer than automobiles, if you believe in insurance statistics, which always tell the truth.

And here’s another truth—it may be stranger than fiction, that business about a ship being lifted by the top side of the wing instead of the underside—but truth always turns out that way.

So, believe it and like it, you flamingoes, while I go out and rip off a couple of wings.

“Grim Rapiers at Retreat” by Arthur J. Burks

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

The Allied squadrons have been plagued by a Boche pilot known as The Red Falcon (no relation to Hogan’s Red Falcon). He’s a nasty piece of work who appears out of nowhere in his crimson painted Fokker wearing a falcon’s hood of red to pick off a returning pilot just as he gets to his drome and then disappears just as suddenly. It seems the Germans had worked out a new plan of attack, harassment and morale destruction, but Lt. Michael Kelly figured out a way to put an end to the Red Falcon’s game even it it meant following him all the way to the edge of Hell! From the pages of the August 1934 issue of The Lone Eagle, it’s Arthur J. Burks’ “Grim Rapiers at Retreat!”

A Crimson Boche Ship of Flaming Doom Calls All the Fighting Spirit of Lieutenant Michael Kelly into Play!

“The Lone Eagle, August 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when Rudolph Belarski took over with the August issue of that year. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers. Here, for the August 1934 cover, Frandzen has a couple of S.V.A. biplanes and an Austrian Lohner flying boat!

The Story of the Cover

ITALY, a country producing no th_LE_3408 steel or coal and an insufficient amount of foodstuffs, took a mighty walloping from Austria for over two of her three years in the Great War. But during that time, in the face of defeat after defeat, they put up a mighty sweet scrap against the Austrians.

Caught without sufficient airplanes, they tore into the job and produced some of the finest made by any country. During the war they were even supplying their allies with engines and planes.

The Adriatic does not appear to be much of a puddle when compared to other seas and oceans but it took all the ingenuity and vigilance of every available Italian flyer to patrol it.

Lurking Perils

German and Austrian submarines were lurking beneath its surface, laying in wait for cargo ships laden with iron ore and coal enroute to Italy’s foundries. Austrian airplanes roared down on seacoast cities; left a trail of ruins in their wake. Brandenburg and Lohner flying boats were continually a menace.

Gradually the speed and reliability of the Italian airplanes, seaplanes and flying boats increased. Outstanding among these were the S.V.A. types of planes. One of these, the S.V.A. biplane fitted either with pontoons or wheels, was a flying killer which the Austrians dreaded to meet.

On the cover two S.V.A. biplanes have caught an Austrian Lohner flying boat as it has finished dumping its load of bombs into a cargo ship laden with coal bound for the Italian coast.

A Devastating Bomb

One after another the bombs slipped from their racks and smashed through the steamer’s deck, down into the hold. The crew were mowed down with machine-gun fire from the Lohner’s front cockpit. Fire, the dreaded foe of all at sea, burst through the shattered deck. Dense masses of greasy opaque smoke billowed upwards. A bomb had ripped plates from the side of the ship below the water-line.

The gunner in the Lohner grins, points to the listing, stricken ship. His pilot laughs, shrugs his shoulders and looks at his gas indicator. It is low, just enough to reach home. Still smiling, he kicks his ship around to scram.

No Smile Now

The smile of victory is wiped from his lips. He yanks at his controls like a novice, nearly pitching his gunner into the briny. Bearing down on the Lohner are two S.V.A.’s tearing across the skies at a hundred and thirty-five mile clip, their 220 h.p. motors roaring. With hardly enough gas to see him home the Austrian pilot is forced to fight. To try to escape with his slower ship would be suicide.

A hail of bullets blast at the Austrian plane. Up flips the flying boat’s nose. The gunner in the bow, crouching over his gun, sends a stream of lead back at the S.V.A. The range is great but a lucky shot damages an aileron control.

The other S.V.A. coming up from below rakes the gunner and pilot of the Lohner with deadly effect. The bulky flying boat flutters, noses over and dives straight into the Adriatic, carrying a dead crew and a heavy 300 h.p. Austro-Daimler engine to use as a sinker.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, August 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“The Flaming Arrow” by George Bruce

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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.

Ace Avery had a reputation for getting the impossible done. Someone want a tough assignment carried out? Send for Avery. Some squarehead raising hell somewhere along the line? Telephone the field and borrow Avery. And now, they had given him an impossible assignment—one that no living man could hope to carry it out—but it had to be done! Read this tense, edge-of-your seat nail-biter through flaming hell skies in George Bruce’s “The Flaming Arrow” from the pages of the August 1934 issue of The Lone Eagle!

“Ace” Avery Whirls His Crate into a Maelstrom of Roaring Air Action!

“Famous Sky Fighters, August 1934″ by Terry Gilkison

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STARTING in the October 1933 issue of Sky Fighters and running almost 5 years, Terry Gilkison’s “Famous Sky Fighters” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Gilkison would illustrate in a two page spread different Aces that rose to fame during the Great War.

Although Gilkison was probably better known for his syndicated newspaper work, he also provided black and white story interior illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Clues, Thrilling Adventures, Texas Rangers, Thrilling Mystery, Thrilling Western, and Popular Western. Gilkison provided similar features in a few other Thrilling Publications—there was “Famous Soldiers of Fortune” and later “Adventure Thrills” in Thrilling Adventures, Famous Crimes” in Thrilling Detective, and the fully illustrated air adventure stories of Buck Barton “The Flying Devil” in The Lone Eagle! He signed most of this work with only his initials “T.G.” to maintain a low profile and preserve his reputation as a syndicated newspaper cartoon artist.

The August 1934 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, Features Lt. Quentin Roosevelt and Capt. Albert Heurteaux!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Lt. Frank Baylies, Lieut. Charles Nungesser, and Capt. Bruno Loezer—”The Swordsman Ace”! Don’t miss it!

“Sky Birds, August 1934″ by C.B. Mayshark

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THIS May we’re celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties for Sky Birds with the July 1934 and would paint all the remaining covers until it’s last issue in December 1935. At the start of his run, Sky Birds started featuring a different combat maneuver of the war-time pilots. The lower corner presenting a play-by-play of that month’s maneuver with the remainder of the cover illustrating it. For August 1934 issue Mayshark gives us “Triplane Trickery!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
Triplane Trickery

PROBABLY no more interesting bit th_SB_3408 of air action could ever be seen on any front than that involving two triplanes, one a Sopwith, the other, of course, the much discussed Fokker. Both were fast on the controls, almost equally powered and remarkable climbing ships.

The most amazing feature about this triplane business is that even today, with all the publicity that has been given to World War planes, few realize that the greatest triplane on the Front was the Sopwith—not the Fokker.

The Fokker triplane has drawn an unusual amount of regard mainly because von Richthofen flew it for a considerable period. Voss, the great German sportsman, also won twenty-two victories in three weeks in a triplane. The German triplane has attracted attention also because of the garish designs that have been credited to various noted German Staffels. A German triplane decked out in fantastic colors and diced designs looks more offensive than a Sopwith which had to retain its factory colors. The triplanes used by Ray Collishaw and his Black Gang when they were ordered to keep every German observation plane out of the air over Messines, in 1917, were the only British ships used on the Front during the daytime which were daubed up with unorthodox coloring. Our readers will recall that they were all painted black.

The Sopwith triplane was finished and first delivered on May 28th, 1916. The Fokker triplane came out several months later, and had many of the interesting features of the British ship. Except for the Fokker cantilever wing, which made it a stronger ship than the Sopwith, the Fokker was generally considered a steal.

Be that as it may, both were fine ships. The Sopwith triplane was first used by the Royal Naval Air Service and did fine work, but after several months of front-line and coastal action, it was practically superseded by the Camel, which came out in December, 1916. The one fault with the Sopwith was its unusually high landing speed, which frankly made it unsuitable for the temporary airdromes in vogue in France in those days. For this reason, it was practically abandoned. However, when Ray Collishaw, given the unenviable job of clearing the air for a period of three months over Messines, was asked what ship he preferred for the work, he practically stunned everyone by stating that the Sopwith triplane would be his selection.

They gave him five and let him daub them up as he liked. He selected four other young hellions like himself and went to work clearing the air over Messines while the British sunk their memorable mine under the German lines. In two months Collishaw shot down 29 German planes. His Black Gang accounted for nearly forty, altogether, and eventually Messines went up without a German’s knowing what had been going on.

Where the British triplane had it all over the German was in climbing. In the first place, it was much lighter and better powered. In our cover drawing this month, we show a typical maneuver during a raid on a German drome. The British ship had broken out of a patrol to give a line of hangars a dose of Vickers. A German had been taking off just as the Sopwith pilot reached his lowest point. Naturally the Fokker had the early edge in height, but the Sopwith pilot was taught to fake a dive on his enemy at the first opportunity he got. If he hit, okay. If not, he continued on under the Fokker yanked up hard and, with this added momentum, the Sopwith shot into the sky like a high-speed elevator. From that point on, the Fokker was completely outclassed, for while a pilot is struggling to climb, he has little chance to get his nose on an enemy.

Of course, if the Sopwith had tried to out-dive the Hun—that would have been different. But these are the tricks of the triplanes.

The Story of The Cover
Sky Birds, August 1934 by C.B. Mayshark
(Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots: The Story Behind This Month’s Cover)

“Orth’s Flight Against Time” by Lt. Frank Johnson

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ORTH is back! Silent Orth—ironically named for his penchant to boast, but blessed with the skills to carry out his promises—takes on a perilous mission to bomb a German ammunition dump. Using all the tricks and flying skills up his sleeve, Orth races to drop his bombs before the entire German Air force comes down on his neck. From the pages of the August 1934 issue of Sky Fighters, it’s “Orth’s Flight Against Time!”

Follow An Intrepid Fighting Pilot Over the German Lines on a Perilous Mission in this Exciting Story of the War-Torn Heavens!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 27: Major Edward Mannock” by Eugene Frandzen

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Starting in the May 1932 issue of Flying Aces and running almost 4 years, Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” was a staple of the magazine. Each month Frandzen would feature a different Ace that rose to fame during the Great War. This time around we have one of the RFC’s most famous Aces—Major Edward Mannock!

Edward Corringham “Mick” Mannock was a pioneer of fighter aircraft tactics in aerial warfare. A British flying ace in the Royal Flying Corps and in the Royal Air Force, Mannock was credited with 61 aerial victories, the fifth highest scoring pilot of the war. Pretty good for a man with poor eyesight.

Mannock was among the most decorated men in the British Armed Forces. He was honoured with the Military Cross twice, was one of the rare three-time recipients of the Distinguished Service Order, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

He was killed July 26th 1918. His posthumous Victoria Cross summed up the man quite nicely: “This highly distinguished officer during the whole of his career in the Royal Air Force, was an outstanding example of fearless courage, remarkable skill, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice, which has never been surpassed”.

As a bonus, check out Mannock’s entry in Eddie Rickenbacker’s Hall of Fame of The Air from 1935 at Stephen Sherman’s Acepilots.com!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major Giuseppe Barracca

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Amidst all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have Italian Ace of Aces Major Giuseppe Barracca’s most thrilling sky fight!

Quite in contrast with Alan McLeod of the Royal Flying Corps, who was one of the youngest of the famous flying aces. Major Giuseppe Barracca, Ace of Aces of the Italian Flying Corps, was one of the oldest, being 34 years of age when he was killed in the desperate air fighting above the Piave. Like Captain Ritter von Schleich, he entered the war a cavalry officer, but soon was transferred to the more romantic, yet more hazardous branch of the army, the flying corps.

He took part in more than 1,000 flights over the enemy lines, 70 of which were long distance bombing raids. He disappeared during a night flight when he took to the air to fight off German and Austrian bombers which had been reported bombing Red Cross hospitals. His body and the crashed ship was found two days later when the heroic Italians won back the ground the Austrians and Germans had taken from them six months before. A single stray bullet had snuffed out the life of this greatest of Italian aces, who, like von Schleich, had disappeared after running his score to 36 victories. The account below is taken from his diary.



by Major Giuseppe Barracca • Sky Fighters, August 1934

JUMPING into my single-seater, I took off immediately. Not waiting for the rest of the squadron to form I headed for the front to intercept the enemy without circling for ceiling.

The night was bright with much moonlight bathing the scraggy battlefield beneath in an eerie, silvery glow. “What an ideal night for raiding!” I thought, but, “I must stop them before they reach their objective!”

I had my little single-seater climbing steeply. All the time I was peering ahead, trying to pierce the starry skies and spy my enemies. Finally they showed, an extended line of blinking red lights—the flames from their exhausts.

As I was above them, I throttled my own motor, so my own exhausts would not show and give my location away. Then down I went in a steady glide, headed directly for the leader, aiming directly between the fluttering exhausts of the two motors on either side of the pilot’s pit. At two hundred yards I pressed my triggers. Two livid streaks of flame marked the path of my tracers in the sky—but they were high!

I lowered my nose, pressed the trigger again. I saw my tracer cut luminous paths through the wings of the leading bomber. I ruddered back and forth, spraying the lead in a slow traverse.

Then all Hades bloomed in the night sky. Every gunner in the formation must have turned his guns on me at once. Tracers stream spewed from everywhere. Still, I held my own gun steady.

But the big bomber did not fall. We were approaching head-on at terrific speed, bullets still splattering. I had to dive under to keep from being rammed. I pulled up in a loop behind, half rolled, dived at it again, let go with my guns when in range. This time my shots were good. My explosive bullets must have penetrated the petrol tank.

Red flames shot out, fanwise, lighting the whole sky.

In the glare of light from the burning plane, I got my sights on the bomber at the left of the falling funeral torch. Bullets clattered into my little ship, but hit nothing vital. I let go with a burst at very close range, then dived underneath. The upper gunner swung his tracer on me, but I side-slipped, went into a dive, then zoomed up under another. It was just a vague black shape above me. But my tracer etched flaming holes in it. It slid off on one wing, went flailing down, to burst in fire when it crashed.

By this time my squadron mates had got up to help me.

I did not knock down any more, but the bombing armada was turned from its course. They never reached the cities. Their bombs exploded harmlessly in the open fields.

A very successful fight. I have heard of no other pilot who has brought down two enemy planea in a single night flight. Naturally, I am elated, but I wish it had been two more.

“Sky Fighters, August 1934″ by Eugene M. Frandzen

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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 August 1934 cover, It’s the Roland D-2 vs a Renault “Chars d’Assaut” baby tank!

The Ships on the Cover

THIS month’s cover th_SF_3408_CN brings us right down to earth. In fact we are dug into a trench with our hob-nailed shoes clawing at the slippery duck boards.

Tin helmets were not much protection for our hard-working doughboys when a raiding German plane came screeching down from the clouds with a couple of synchronized Spandaus tossing hot lead up and down the length of their private trench.

The Roland D-2 with the dazzle painted upper wings was one of Germany’s trickiest looking ships. The peculiarly shaped forward part of the fuselage sweeping up to form a sturdy center brace for the top wings gives the job a certain streamlined effect that is pleasing to the eye. But consider the poor forward visibility of the pilot. He had about as much visibility as a taxi driver with a tin windshield. The two machine-guns are housed in this built-up part of the fuselage, their muzzles barely protruding over the partly hidden Mercedes engine.

A Mere Seven Tons!

The tank in the picture is the famous Renault “Chars d’Assaut.” It was a “Baby tank” weighing a mere seven tons and could crawl along the shell torn fields at from four to six miles an hour (we have baby tanks now which click off ten times this speed).

The first tank was a British invention and first went into action near Cambrai during 1916, smashing the German lines.

From the first the tanks were a success and were made in all conceivable shapes. The outstanding all around success was the baby Renault tank.

The lone Roland D-2 with the swept-back wings has shot down an Allied plane, the only one visible in the sector. Two lines of trenches are just below. Pot-helmeted German troops filled one line of trencher. Flat tin derbies of Americans filled the other. The Roland pilot giggled his head back and forth, tipped his plane down and roared down on the American trenches. His guns blazed and Spandau bullets kicked up mud. Rifles barked back, a ground machine-gun swung up to fire at the attacker, smashed out a spray of lead. Several Yanks went down under the fire, others sought cover. It was a helpless situation.

A ground straffing plane is a dangerous opponent but not as effective as might at first glance be supposed. When it is within range of the trench it is attacking, it lets loose a hail of bullets but it must immediately pull up and dive again to get the correct angle of fire and to keep from crashing.

The Boche Blasts Away

The German pilot leap-frogged his plane up and down the trench, blasting away with both guns. Each time he zoomed, he swept his eyes across all sections of the sky. Still safe from Allied planes he returned to his slaughter.

A small dark shape, so much the color of the ground that it nearly reached the back of the Yank trenches before the German pilot spotted it, crawled slowly forward.

“Verdammte tank!” growled the German and swooped down to show his disdain for this slow-crawling iron beetle. A tattoo of lead spattered the “Baby Renault.” The tank driver stopped his machine. His gunner squinted along the barrel of his 37 millimeter gun. The Roland raced across his sights.

Blam! A 37 millimeter shell smashed through the belly of the plane, tore its way through the German’s body. One well-aimed shell from the lowly mud-spattered iron beetle has clipped the wings of the dazzle-colored Roland.

The Ships on The Cover
Sky Fighters (Canadian Edition), August 1934 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Ships on The Cover Page)

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Pfalz Triplane and the indomitable S.E.5!

“Intelligence Pest” by Joe Archibald

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“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!

Phineas Pinkham was so pleased with his particular prisoner that he even offered him a cigar that wasn’t loaded. Yes, they call that fraternizing with the enemy!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 26: Lt. Thomas Hitchcock, Jr.” by Eugene Frandzen

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Here’s another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This week we have the August 1934 installment which pictorialized the life of Lt. Thomas Hitchcock, Jr., Yank flyer!!

Hitchcock, rejected by the American forces due to his age, enlisted with the Lafayette Esquadrille where he was decorated for bringing down two German flyers. Captured in March of 1918 when he fell behind enemy lines while in a tangle with three Boche planes, he managed to escape by jumping from a train near Ulm and walked 80 miles through hostil territory to reach the Swiss border.

Hitchcock was a whiz on the polo field as well as in the air—leading the U.S. team to victory in the 1921 International Polo Cup. He carried a 10-goal handicap from 1922 to 1940 and led four teams to U.S. National Open Championships. In 1990 he was inducted posthumously into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.

It is said that F. Scott Fitzgerald even based two characters on Thomas in two of his novels. He turned all his virtues to vices in The Great Gatsby for the character of Tom Buchanan in 1925 and later used him as inspiration for Tommy Barban in Tender is the Night (1934).

Hitchcock served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II and was assignedas an assistant air attache to the US Embassy in London. In this capacity he was instrumental in the development of the P-51 Mustang fighter plane. Sadly he lost his life while test piloting the plane near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England in 1944. He was 44.