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The Battle Birds Club

Link - Posted by David on April 15, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

JUST as Popular Publications shut down their original air magazine Battle Aces in December 1932, leaving Dare-Devil Aces to shoulder the hopes and dreams of the air-minded reader, it launched a new magazine that same month—Battle Birds. Although neither Dare-Devil Aces or Battle Aces had a club associated with it, when Battle Birds started, the letters pages were already buzzing with talk of a Battle Birds Club to provide a forum for air-minded readers to share their hopes, dreams and knowledge with similar minded individuals. (Popular was quick to start a club for G-8 when Battle Aces was relaunched as G-8 and his Battle Aces in October 1933.)

The Battle Birds Club was open to all air-minded readers. Anyone could join by simply stating they wanted to and they would be sent a blue membership card. This card would display the members group-squadron-flight number, derived as follows: The country would be broken down into three regions—these three being the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Pursuit Groups—and a fourth, FL, for foreign readers classified in the ‘Foreign Legion’; each state a squadron number; and every 8 members within said state a lettered flight as they are recorded.

Several months in to the magazine’s publication, a wings pin fashioned after the letters page header was on offer. To obtain the wings pin, a member needed only to answer the question presented in the issue and send along 25¢.

a BATTLE BIRDS CLUB timeline

DECEMBER 1932

  • Application for membership starts in first issue—wanting to know how air-minded the reader is and what he’d like to read about in the club pages

JANUARY 1933

  • Discusses the division of the country into three groups—1st, 2nd and 3rd Pursuit groups. Your group number will be on your card.
  • Foreign readers who join will be in the “Foreign Legion” and their cards will be marked with “F.L.” Each state a squadron number and every 8 members within said state a lettered flight as they are recorded.

FEBRUARY 1933

  • First names of members are listed with addresses.

MARCH 1933

  • The membership cards have all been printed and many have been sent out.
  • More names in the honor roll of new selected members.
  • Talk of figuring out a way whereby members can earn their wings!

APRIL 1933

  • Membership cards are mentioned as being blue!
  • A list of applicants who failed to include the town they’re from.
  • More names for the honor roll.
  • Still working on a way to earn your wings.

MAY 1933

  • Asking the readers to write in yes or no if they’d be interested in a club pin.
  • The usual listing of new members.

JUNE 1933

  • Listing of new members—mostly from Cincinnati.
  • Mentioned there are a lot of foreign readers from all parts of the world!

JULY 1933

  • Listing of more new members.

AUGUST 1933

  • The Pins are ready! They will be in the design of the club emblem (a shield with BB emblazed on it with wings) and cast from sterling silver. To earn the pin you must send in the correct answer to the question that issue along with 25¢. You can still earn your wings even if you haven’t recieved your card yet.
  • First up: “What makes an airplane stay up?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

SEPTEMBER 1933

  • Earn your Wings question: “What are the principle parts of a plane and what are they used for?
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

OCTOBER 1933

  • Earn your Wings question: “What would be the first thing to do, and why, if your motor quit just after taking off?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

NOVEMBER 1933

  • Earn your Wings question: “What are the three axes of a plane and where are they?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

DECEMBER 1933

  • The pins are in the same design as that appearing at the top of the membership card and include a safety latch to prevent being lost.
  • Earn your Wings question: “Why are superchargers used on altitude flights?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

JANUARY 1934

  • A lot of membership cards sent out have been returned due to incorrect addresses.
  • Earn your Wings question: “What is the advantage of an adjustable pitch ‘prop’?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

FEBRUARY 1934

  • Still harping on the large number of returned cards due to incorrect addresses.
  • Earn your Wings question: “If a man jumps from a plane going three hundred miles an hour and does not open his chute ’til he has fallen a mile (5,280 feet) how fast will he be going when he opens his chute?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

MARCH 1934

  • A mention of the price of silver has jumped up from 30¢ an ounce to over a $1.25. They DID buy quite a few of the sterling pins a few months ago when silver was a lot less than it is now so they can still give out pins for about what they cost them.
  • Earn your Wings question: “Why is glider flying the ideal preliminary step to power plane piloting?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

APRIL 1934

  • “The Skipper” says he has to sign a couple thousand more membership cards for new members.
  • Earn your Wings question: “How do dirigibles make up the weight lost by the gasoline being burned away in the engines?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

MAY 1934

  • The pins are described as such: “These pins are exact duplicates of the insignia that appears at the head of the department and upon your membership cards. Fitted with a safety clasp to prevent loss, and finished in the new dull manner, they are about the best looking club pins we have ever seen.”
  • Earn your Wings question: “Does the breeze behind a propeller increase with its speed, no matter how fast it travels?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

JUNE 1934

  • (FINAL ISSUE) Still taking applications for membership!
  • Earn your Wings question: “When, where and by whom was the first balloon used in warfare?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

 

WITH the July Issue, BATTLE BIRDS changes it’s name to DUSTY AYRES and his BATTLE BIRDS and it’s focus. The lead story will now feature the exploits of Dusty Ayres and his Battle Birds and what could happen in a possible future war. The Battle Bird Club continues, but will now be known as the Hanger Flying Club although new pins will not be produced. All previous members of the Battle Birds Club are automatically members of this new club. The new club’s focus is on being prepared for any future wars that may arise. New members can still aquire a Battle Birds wings pin for 25¢ if so desired—but the feeling in your heart is more important than a pin on your chest!

JULY 1934

  • The letters page now run by The Skipper (Sid Bowen) is titled HANGER FLYING (also the name of the new club)
  • The first column discusses the “war in the future” which is the setting for the Dusty Ayres tales. All readers should be prepared if and when this war should come.
  • “Of course, all the fellows who are members of the old Battle Birds club, automatically become members of this new club that is dedicated to national preparedness for the safety of our country If you have a B.B. pin, be sure to wear it, because it signifies that you’re a real American and ready to do all you can to preserve all the things that we Americans hold closest tour hearts. Those of you who haven’t a pin and want one, just send in your request and twenty-five cents to the skipper, and I’ll make darn sure that you’ll get one by return mail. But listen fellows, just one more thing before I close up; a pin is a pin and it doesn’t mean a thing if there isn’t the thought behind it. It’s the true feeling in your heart that counts, wether you wear the club pin or not.

AUGUST 1934

  • No mention of the club or pin in the HANGER FLYING column.
  • You can get the previous issue for 20¢ (with 5¢ for postage)

SEPTEMBER 1934

  • Readers have been sending in requests for Mr. Blakeslee and the skipper to dope out three-view drawings of the Silver Flash and the Dart, but the request is turned back on the readers to send in their own three-view drawings of Dusty’s ships.
  • Some readers have already crafted models of said planes—if you have, by all means send in a photo of your model.
  • reiterates that members of the old club are definitely members of the new club. To join just let the skipper know you want to join, and if you want a club pin just send in 25¢ in cash or stamps.
  • The skipper says: “Very soon I’m going to have some new HANGER FLYING CLUB membership cards printed. They will be free to whoever wants one. When they’re ready I’ll let you know, and you can then let me know if you want one.
  • “But as I said at the very beginning of these meetings, a pin or a membership card does not mean a thing if the spirit isn’t right there in the old heart. We are pledging ourselves to do everything possible for ever-lasting peace, happiness and prosperity for the peoples of this wonderful country of ours—the greatest in all the wide world. And if we keep that thought close to our hearts every minute of the day, it doesn’t matter how many pins we wear, or how many membership cards we carry around.”

OCTOBER 1934

  • The skipper says the lads write all the time inquiring after the club—it’s just 25¢ cash or stamps (to cover the cost of the pin) to Skipper Sid Bowen, Popular Publications, Inc., 205 East 2nd Street, New York, New York
  • Says the Battle Birds club has been thriving for a long time, and anyone who joined it before Dusty Ayres yarns appeared is still a member
  • Skipper says, “I’ve got swell plans for the club, that I hope to get underway tan early date.”

NOVEMBER 1934

  • No real mention of the club aside from a reference to the silver wings. A reader writes in: “Why not have cloth wings of red, white and blue? Make them out of the material that high school letters are made of. Make them three inches long and two inches wide.”
  • The Skipper (Sid Bowen) writes: “There it is. Do you agree with Ed, or are the silver wings we have now, okay? Mull it over and let’s hear what you think.”
  • Also a mention to send in your plane designs and the Skipper and Mr Blakeslee will look them over and use one in the story—maybe even on the cover. Design credit will be given!

DECEMBER 1934

  • Asks readers if they’d like to see some female characters added to the stories.
  • Apologizes for the club membership cards not being ready yet!
  • “It has been suggested that since the old Battle Birds club was divided up into squadrons, the same should be done with the Dusty Ayres gang. If chaps in your neighborhood want to form a Dusty Ayres Group, just send in your names, and I’ll put them in the very next Hanger Flying Department. To each Group can be attached the name of the city or town where you lads live. Or if you wish you can have a number instead of a name. Work it out thought, you lads who were in the old club—in squadrons, etc—can just simply make it a Dusty Ayres Group.”
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Silver Flash

JANUARY 1935

  • Some readers have expressed a desire to have a model company make models of the Silver Flash to sell. The Skipper doesn’t mind, but thinks readers would want to make their own. But he’ll look into getting it done if there’s enough interest.
  • A reader inquires about a flying course in the magazine. The Skippers says he did that once (Sky Fighters) and it was even published as a book.
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Silver Flash

FEBRUARY 1935

  • Several lads have had their 25¢ club pins returned by the post office due to bad addresses.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans. (Pen Pals)
  • The Skipper (Sid Bowen) addresses the matter of club pins and membership cards: “The membership card is free to anybody who wants to join. Simply let me know and I’ll send you one. If you want the club pin you can have one by sending in twenty-five cents in cash or stamps. But—and get this—owning a club pin does not mean you are a better member than a chap with simply the membership card. The Skipper writes Dusty yarns—he’s not in the pin business. We have pins only because a lot of the fellows wanted one to wear.”
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (2 pgs)

MARCH 1935

  • Fred Blakeslee has just returned from a swell vacation and will resume his art duties next month.
  • Please ink your plane designs for better reproduction.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (2pgs)

APRIL 1935

  • Be sure to send in your plane designs in ink—Fred Blakeslee doesn’t have the time to do it for you
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (3pgs)

MAY/JUNE 1935

  • The skipper suggests writing to your local radio station if you’d like to hear Dusty in yarns written for the radio.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (4pgs)
  • a ”certificate of truth” is printed on the letters page to send in with your drawings stating you are the artist.

JULY/AUGUST 1935

  • No mention of the club, cards or pins.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (5pgs)
  • The Skipper acknowledges that this is the last issue but keep those Dusty clubs going!

The club does not pick up when the magazine resumes publication as BATTLE BIRDS in 1940.

“The Sky Wolf’s Brood” by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on February 9, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

WE’RE celebrating the works of Canada’s very own Harold F. Cruickshank this month. Mr. Cruickshank launched his career writing stories based loosely on his war experiences. As tastes turned from straight out battle field stories to air war stories, Cruickshank shifted his setting from the trenches to the cockpit. With stories appearing in such titles as War Birds, War Aces, Sky Birds, Airplane Stories, Flying Aces, and Sky Fighters.

For Harry Steeger’s trio of Popular Publication’s titles—Battle Aces, Dare-Devil Aces and Battle Birds—Mr. Cruickshank developed continuing characters that ran generally in short novelettes each month. The first was Captain Bill Hennedy, a.k.a The Sky Wolf, in the pages of Battle Aces. Starting in the magazine’s fourth issue in January 1931, The Sky Wolf would appear just over a dozen times before flying through the pages of G-8 and his Battle Aces and Dare-Devil Aces for another dozen or so adventures.

Hennedy was ably assisted by his famous Yank Wolf Brood! “Red” Kelly was the Sky Wolf’s deputy leader; he along with Pat Maguire and Stan Glover formed a trio of pilots who had no equal in the whole of France. Filling out the Wolf Flight were wolf cubs Jim Evans and Hank Daly—able to hold their own with any German Ace that dared take them on. Together, The Sky Wolf and his Brood were the scourge of any and all German Aces who dared attack the Allied forces.

Here we present The Sky Wolf’s premier outing as he and his brood try to save a stranded garrison! From the January 1931 issue of Battle Aces, it’s “The Sky Wolf’s Brood!”

It was the “Sky Wolf’s” daring scheme—this plan to rescue that stranded garrison of wounded infantrymen. And now unmindful of his blood-drenched face, he was leading his brood straight down into the enemy stronghold—for here was a skipper and a brood that didn’t know when they were dead!

Here is a listing of Harold F. Cruickshank’s SKY WOLF stories.

title magazine date vol no
1931
The Sky Wolf’s Brood Battle Aces Jan 1 4
The Sky Wolf Returns Battle Aces Jul 3 2
Fangs of the Wolf Brood Battle Aces Nov 4 2
1932
The Wolf Brood Strikes Battle Aces Jan 4 4
The Wolf Brand Battle Aces Mar 5 2
Sky Wolf’s Cub Battle Aces Apr 5 3
The Brood at Bay Battle Aces May 5 4
The Wolf Terror Battle Aces Jun 6 1
Snarl of the Sky Wolf Battle Aces Jul 6 2
Wolf Brood Hell Battle Aces Aug 6 3
The Flying Torpedo Battle Aces Sep 6 4
Sky Wolf’s Trap Battle Aces Oct 7 1
Staffel of Hell Battle Aces Nov 7 2
1934
Return of the Sky Wolf G-8 and his Battle Aces Feb 2 1
The Silver Spad G-8 and his Battle Aces Apr 2 3
The Outlaw Patrol G-8 and his Battle Aces Jun 3 1
Drome of the Living Dead Dare-Devil Aces Nov 8 4
1935
Legion of Death Dare-Devil Aces Jan 9 2
The Torpedo Eagle Dare-Devil Aces May 10 2
The Iron Devils Dare-Devil Aces Aug 11 1
The Jackal Patrol Dare-Devil Aces Nov 11 4
1937
Hell Trap Dare-Devil Aces Mar 12 4
1938
The Sky Wolf Returns Dare-Devil Aces Jun 19 3
The Hell Raider Dare-Devil Aces Oct 20 3
1943
Fangs of the Sky Wolf Dare-Devil Aces May 31 2

 

The Aces of Christmas 1931

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

WHILE browsing through eBay a couple months ago, I came upon these two snapshots from a family’s Christmas in Memphis 1931. What caught my eye was the little boy all dressed up as a WWI ace with leather jacket, aviator’s cap with goggles, and some sort of tall leather boots(?)! It got me thinking about what stories that boy could have been reading that rather mild, snowless December in Memphis.

So this month we’ll be featuring stories published in the December 1931 issues of Aces, Sky Birds, War Aces and War Birds, by some of our favorite authors—Arch Whitehouse, O.B. Myers, Frederick C. Painton, Frederick C. Davis, Donald E. Keyhoe, and George Bruce—as well as a couple new or seldom seen authors to our site—Elliot W. Chess, Edgar L. Cooper, and Robert Sidney Bowen.

Looking at that impressive list, you may be wondering where a few of our most often posted authors are. Authors like Ralph Oppenheim, Harold F. Cruickshank, Lester Dent and Joe Archibald. That’s a bit of good news/bad news. The good news, we’ve already posted the stories Ralph Oppenheim (“Lazy Wings”) and Lester Dent (“Bat Trap”) had in the December 1931 War Aces; the bad, I don’t have the December 1931 issues of Wings featuring George Bruce, F.E. Rechnitzer and Edwin C. Parsons or Flying Aces with Keyhoe, Archibald, George Fielding Eliot, Alexis Rossoff, and William E. Poindexter. And as for Cruickshank—he didn’t have a story in any of the air pulps that month.

With that in mind—and since it’s Monday, let’s get the ball rolling with the covers of Christmas 1931!


ACES by Redolph Belarski


BATTLE ACES by Frederick Blakeslee


FLYING ACES by Paul J. Bissell


SKY BIRDS by Colcord Heurlin


WAR ACES by Eugene Frandzen


WAR BIRDS by Redolph Belarski


WINGS by Redolph Belarski

Come back on Wednesdays and Fridays this month for some of the great fiction from these issues!

Battle Aces Covers Gallery

Link - Posted by David on November 2, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve posted anything, but we’re back with a gallery of covers from Battle Aces magazine. Battle Aces was Popular Publication’s premiere aviation pulp debuting in October 1930 as one of Popular’s first four pulp magazines along with Gang World, Detective Action, and Western Rangers.

1930


October


November


December

Unlike other Popular Publications aviation titles, Frederick Blakeslee did not paint all the covers! Don Hewitt provides the first cover, October 1930; with Rudolph Belarski doing honors for two early issues––November 1930 and January 1931; and Sidney Risenberg applying his talents for the February 1931 number. The December 1930 issue is Blakeslee’s first Popular aviation cover and he would take over the honors with the March 1931 issue and from then on for all Popular aviation titles–Dare-Devil Aces, Battle Birds, G-8 and his Battle Aces, etc.

Stating with the June 1931 issue, an editorial decision was made to feature actual war-time events on the cover and artist Frederick Blakeslee would provide a story behind these covers. We’ve featured a number of those Battle Aces covers over the past year as part of the Story Behind the Cover feature. And we’ve provided links to those posts in the gallery so you can learn more about those covers we’ve featured.

While we’re still building our Dare-Devil Aces Cover Gallery, The Battle Aces Cover Gallery collects all 27 covers and includes links to those whose stories we’ve posted. Check it out!

The Jailbird Flight—Resurrecting the Dead Man’s Drome

Link - Posted by David on September 7, 2015 @ 12:54 pm in

WHEN you’re collecting pulps after the fact rather than buying them off the newsstands you rarely acquire issues in their publication order. As such when you find a character or series, you don’t often read those stories in sequence. For some characters that is not essential, for other series you realize after reading two or three stories that you need to collect all the stories and then read them in order to appreciate the continuity that runs throughout the series. Such is the case with Donald Keyhoe’s Jailbird Flight.

I discovered Keyhoe and his Jailbird Flight stories in Dare-Devil Aces. Here was a band of convicts who chose to die flying suicide missions and fighting for their country—the very country that condemned them to life in prison—rather than rot in said prison. They were a rough and tumble bunch assembled by Colonel Rand from the bowels of Blois:

The Flight, at is core, is comprised of Bruce Kirby—Below the Rio Grande he had once been known as “The Killer,” now he flew through hell skies, leader of the strangest squadron that ever dared face death from flaming Spandaus; “Big” Durgin, the hugest Jailbird of all, a mountain of a man with pile-driver fists and a fierce, battered face that masked the gruff kindness beneath his hard exterior; “Tiger” Haight, whose dark eyes ever smoldered as at some hateful memory, perhaps of the day which had turned his hair to silver, though he was but thirty—no one knew his past—no questions were asked in the Jailbird Flight; Cartwright, the tall, urbane Englishman who looked like a British lord; the lanky Tinker with his drawling humor and comical, homely face; and last and by no means least—Kid Denison who reminded Kirby of his ill-fated young brother who had been brutally sacrificed by a drug-mad S.C.! All bore the notorious brand—the sign of the Jailbird Flight—a broad arrow burned on the back of their right hand—but they made it stand for courage!

Dare-Devil Aces was my entry into air war pulps—they were plentiful and relatively cheaply priced at the time (this is like 15 or 20 years ago we’re talking). Finding most issues was relatively easy save for a few—the January 1935 issue which has G-8 appearing in Hogan’s Red Falcon story that month; a couple of 1934 issues—February and July; and the first year of issues from 1932. Condition was not really a concern at the time—I just wanted to read the stories. The initial core of my collection was a lot of 17 issues that Editor Emeritus Bill Mann sold me at PulpCon one year for $100!

The Cyclone Patrol
THE OPENING SPREAD of “The Cyclone Patrol” by Frederick Blakeslee (February 1933, Dare-Devil Aces). This is not the original copy I had read, but an upgraded issue with the cover still attached. The previous owner, J.B., felt so strongly about this story that he printed his succinct review in the margin—”This story is NUTZ, , and so is KIRBY.”

Being familiar with Robert J. Hogan and G-8 and his Battle Aces, I initially read the Red Falcon stories in the issues. But my attention started to wander to the other stories in the wealth of issues as it does and that’s when I came upon the February 1932 issue and its lead story—”The Cyclone Patrol” by Donald E. Keyhoe. Frederick Blakeslee’s two page illustration for the story was shear pandemonium! At first glance, it appears to be two arrow emblazoned planes zooming down to strafe a bunch of armor-clad knights with rifles! Kooky. But as you study it more as you do—you start to notice that there are a bunch of much smaller figures running in fear and that Blakeslee’s perspective is not off and these knights are giants(!) and the smaller figures are normal-sized men! Reading the blurb at the bottom of the picture hooked me—

Pilots twelve feet tall—mammoth planes—rifles big as cannons—this was the squadron of giants, Bocheland’s newest sky horror. Armies fled in terror before them—until Killer Kirby took up their awful challenge, dared defy the strength of these super-aces with the gutty courage of his Jailbird Brood!

I had to read it! And I did—it was an electric story of a mad German Scientist, von Horde, who had appropriated another’s invention—the Q ray—to turn normal people into twelve foot tall giants which he planed on using to defeat the Allies once and for all. While trying to get into von Horde’s castle, Kirby comes across the Q-ray’s creator Kauben who wants to rescue his girl from von Horde’s clutches. They team up to break into his castle, smash the device, get the girl and put an end to von Horde’s mad schemes! It’s a great story—Kirby even comes upon one of his own Brood in von Horde’s dungeons that has been transformed into one of his giants—showing Kirby the enlarged scar on the back of his hand when he doesn’t believe it possible.

After finishing that story, I looked through my other issues to see if I had any more stories of this Jailbird Flight. At the time I had one other story—”The Red Lightning Ace”—as the blurb puts it: “For the Fourth time the Terror had struck What was this new War weapon—this terrible wheel of flame that roared out of the night skies to bring destruction—death—to all it touched? Grimly Kirby followed that fire sky trail, straight into the most hell-bent adventure he or his dare-devil Brood ever tackled.” More wacky WWI super-science action as only Keyhoe could write it!

In looking for The Jailbird Flight in indexes I found there were only two more stories in Dare-Devil Aces in issues I didn’t own at that time as well as one in the first issue of Battle Birds which would precede the four Dare-Devil Aces stories, and seven earlier tales in the even harder to find Battle Aces. A whole wealth of stories—12 in all—I just had to find them.

So I would haunt eBay and AbeBooks and similar places and do websearches and such and over the years I was able to get the other two stories in Dare-Devil Aces and the last two Battle Aces stories—for some reason, the later 1932 issues of Battle Aces seemed to be easier to find that the 1931 or earlier ’32’s.

When we started Age of Aces Books in 2007, I always had a goal of getting all the Jailbird stories so we could collect them into a book. As it turns out—two books. We discussed printing them out of order or maybe just the Dare-Devil Aces stories just to get them out there, but in the end we decided we should do them in order in two volumes. As it worked out, the story in the first issue of Battle Birds—”The Jailbird Patrol”—works as a great introduction to the series and so it and the four Dare-Devil Aces stories could be one book while the seven stories from Battle Aces of various lengths would be the first volume.

I was finally able to track down the first five Jailbird stories through eBay—the hardest to obtain being the March 1932 issue with a Red Baron cover! When I finally got the first Jailbird story from the September 1931 Battle Aces around Thanksgiving 2013 I read it with excitement! I wasn’t sure what to expect—if it would contain the oft mentioned incident that landed Kirby in Blois—the killing of his drug-addled S.C. who had sent his green-pilot of a younger brother on a suicide mission—or maybe the formation of the Brood—or would it just start already in existence. “The Jailbird Flight”—the first story—was a present. It contained everything! The first chapter is one of the best aviation tales I’ve read—there we meet Bruce Kirby coming back from patrol when he comes upon an obviously inexperience flight of Allied pilots being attacked by von Falke’s Hate Staffel! Amongst the besieged is Kirby’s own little brother! whom he see’s gunned down before his eyes! Crazed he returns to his base and confronts the S.C. only to find him hopped up on drugs unable to handle his job. Kirby offers him a fair chance to defend himself as he had done in his life before the war south of the Rio Grande.

    Killer Kirby stood like a statue, facing him. His hands hung at his sides, but the fingers were curled like talons. When he spoke his voice was strange and unnatural.
    “Better take that drink, Dorsey,” he said. “It’s the last drink you’ll get this side of hell.”
    An awful pallor crept into Dorsey’s face under the jaundiced skin.
    “What do you mean?” he whispered. His right hand crept toward the desk.
    “Jimmy—my brother.” A strange film came over Kirby’s eyes. The pupils had become mere pin points, black, menacing. “He’s dead, and it was you who killed him!”
Dorsey sank back before the look in Kirby’s face.
    “No, no,” he cried. “I swear to God I didn’t mean to do it! You can’t—”
    “Draw your gun!” rasped Kirby. “It’s there in your desk. Draw it—or I’ll burn you down!”
    “It’s murder!” Dorsey shrieked. “You’re mad—”
    “Murder! Yes, and you murdered him! Draw!”
    With a crazy scream, Dorsey jerked his pistol from the drawer. His hand threw the weapon upward. Instantly, Kirby’s hand flashed down. The gun seemed to leap into his clutching fingers. There was a crash as two shots came at once. Dorsey’s face turned a hideous gray as he staggered back. His gun fell from his hand. Suddenly he crumpled up and fell like a log.
    Startled voices sounded outside. Men burst into the squadron office. Kirby turned and faced them. He held out his pistol butt foremost, while a red stream trickled from his left arm.
    “Here’s my gun,” said Kirby slowly. His face was black as granite. “You needn’t call the surgeon. I shot him through the heart.”

Chapter two picks up as Kirby sits a dank cell in Blois awaiting eventual transfer to the Federal Prison at Leavenworth, Kansas to be imprisoned for the rest of his life. That is until Colonel Rand shows up and makes Kirby an offer—one he initially turns down until he hears their first mission will be a suicide flight against von Falke and his Hate Staffel!

And that’s just the beginning!

Our new book The Jailbird Flight: Dead Man’s Drome collects those seven hard to find stories from the pages of Popular Publication’s Battle Aces. As a Labour Day Special to whet your appetite, here are the first two chapters of the first story to get you hooked!

The Jailbird Flight: Dead Man’s Drome, like all Age of Aces Books, can be order from Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books, and, of course, Amazon!

“The B.E. Fighters” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on August 10, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: Every month the cover of BATTLE ACES depicts a scene from a real combat actually fought in the War and a real event in the life of a great ace. The series is being painted exclusively for this magazine by Frederick M. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft and was started especially for all of you readers who wrote in asking for photographs of war planes. In this way not only do you get pictures of the ships—authentic to the last detail—but you see them in color. Also you can follow famous airmen on many of their most amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you, want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3107IN THIS month’s cover a B.E. has penetrated deep into enemy territory on a reconnaissance trip. While harassing troops it is sighted by a patrol of Pfaltz Scouts. The Jerries dive immediately, surrounding the lone Allied ship in a trap of wings and spitting Spandaus. Valiantly the observer hammers away at his guns and has already succeeded in knocking one of the Boche out of control when fire breaks out in the front cockpit. Leaving the observer to stave off the attackers with his blazing Vickers, the pilot straddles out onto the lower wing and continues to fly the ship from there, controlling it from the side of the fuselage.

The incident is taken from an actual combat fought in the latter part of the war. The observer was Lieutenant H.W. Hammond, R.F.C., who was awarded a bar to his previously won Military Cross for his part in the fight.

With his pilot, Lieutenant Hammond had flown over the lines and was well into Boche territory when eight German fighting planes dived down on them. The unequal combat began with a savage burst of steel and flame. Knowing their only hope lay in getting back across the lines as swiftly as possible, the pilot held the nose of the ship toward home while the observer blazed away at the swarm of Jerries. By skillfully directed fire from his guns, Hammond succeeded in shooting three of the black-crossed wings down out of control. But he himself was wounded in half a dozen places and it looked as if the remaining Boches would be finishing them off any second.

Then that horror of all airmen—fire—broke out. The front cockpit became a blazing holacaust that threatened the lives of both men. Climbing over onto the lower wing, the pilot calmly continued to fly the ship from there, manipulating the joystick from the side of the fuselage! In a long turning side-slip to the right, which blew the flames away from the observer and himself, they started earthward.

They crashed in No-Man’s-Land, where they were rescued by infantry.

The B.E. was a reconnaissance plane which proved very successful, also, in destroying Zeppelins. The name, B.E., at first indicated Bleriot Experimental, Monsieur Bleriot being credited with having originated the “tractor” type machine. But later on it took the meaning of British Experimental. It was developed in several series. A later type was numbered B.E.2, B.E.2b, B.E.2d and B.E.2e, the two last being built in very large quantities. The general type was also made along different lines, as the B.E.3, B.E.4, etc., up to B.E.12.

The observer for a reconnissance plane had a two-fold job; to photograph, and, if necessary, to fight. The ship was not exactly the cold meat that one might expect; it was equal in combat to two Scouts but was always their prey if outnumbered.

The B.E. Fighters
“The B.E. Fighters” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (Battle Aces, July 1931)

 
Next month, the cover design illustrates another type of reconnaissance plane, the R.E. 8, in a stirring incident that commemorates a deed of outstanding daring.

“The Vickers “Vimy” Bomber” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the fifteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your’ collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3208THE bombing expedition on which this cover is based is pictured in two parts. The actual raid is shown on the cover of the August issue of DAREDEVIL ACES. This month the adventure of one of the bombers on that mission is pictured.

I shall not repeat the story of the raid here, for that has been told in DAREDEVIL ACES.

Three big British bombers took off late one afternoon to bomb the reported position of a long-range gun implacement. They were flown by British pilots but were to operate in conjunction with an American outfit of fighting ships.

The bombers met the Americans high over Dun and started for the scene of operation. They flew in a tight formation and saw no enemy craft, although they were being followed by several Boches who did not dare attack such a formidable group.

The flight was deep in enemy territory when one of the bombers developed engine trouble in the right-hand motor. It fell behind and unfortunately, at this moment the top patrol was hidden by a cloud so did not observe the accident.

The pilot of the bomber, finding his trouble was getting serious, turned about and started for home, looking for a target for his load of bombs. Through an opening in the ground fog he saw what he took for a supply depot and ordered his men to let go their “eggs.” They were later to be informed that they had fired an ammunition dump.

It was not long before more serious trouble than a “sick” motor arrived. It came with a roar and blazing guns. It was a German Hannoveraner biplane (the bright red ship in the foreground); almost at the same time another ship arrived to add to the difficulties of the bomber. This was a Roland single-seater biplane (the blue and yellow plane diving in from the left).

The bomber, due to its crippled condition, was unable to maneuver and had to fight off the Boches as best it could. The Englishmen were in an uncomfortable position but not hard-pressed until the fight was joined by a Fokker D-VII and a Fokker monoplane. Then things got more serious.

The big ship flew steadily on but was sustaining a deadly fire from every direction. The motor still functioned and seemed to get no worse, but every moment increased the hazard. It was being slowly cut to pieces. Already one rudder was out of commission and a stream of bullets had cut through the center of the fuselage and weakened it. The wings looked like a sieve and many of the wires were cut, also weakening the wings. Tt was remarkable that the ship did not collapse then and there.

They shot down one Boche with their last drum of ammunition. Both gunners and pilot were wounded and they had given themselves up as lost, when help arrived in the form of a patrol of S.E-S’s, who scattered the Germans right and left in short order.

The pilot, faint from a wound in the abdomen, landed his ship on his own airdrome but cracked up in doing so, completing the wreck of an already half ruined ship. All survived, however, and they are living today, proud of their D.S.C. awarded by the American government.

The bombing ship shown on the cover is a very famous one, although most of its fame was gained in peace time persuits. It was designed as a long-distance bomber. It carried two engines in “power eggs” one each side of the fuselage. There were three types of engines used, the Fiat, Hispano-Suiza and Rolls Royce. The bomber here shown is a Vickers Vimy Rolls, which is 1 ft. 6½ in. longer than the other two, otherwise they are the same in appearance. They carried two gunners and a pilot. To prevent the machine from standing on its nose after too fast a landing, a skid was fitted under the nose of the fuselage. Span 67 ft. 2 in., gap 10 ft., overall length 44 ft., speed low down 103 m.p.h., speed at 5,000 ft. 98 m.p.h., landing speed 56 m.p.h.

The Vickers
“The Vickers “Vimy” Bomber” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (August 1932)

Now we come to its peace time fame. It was in a Vickers Vimy Rolls-Royce airplane that Captain J. Alcock and Lt. Whitten Brown, both afterwards knighted, made the first direct flight across the Atlantic from St. Johns, Newfoundland to Clifden, Galway. They traveled 1,880 miles in 15 hours 57 minutes at an average speed of 118 m.p.h., May 18th-19th, 1919.

Captain Ross Smith and three companions, in the same year, and in the same type of ship, flew from England to Australia in 30 days, flying a total of 11,294 miles. They landed at Port Darwin, North Australia and later crossed the continent to Melbourne.

“The Big Gun Bombers” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted the covers for Dare-Devil Aces‘ entire fourteen year run. Starting with the June 1931 cover of Battle Aces, he started running actual war-combat paintings by Blakeslee on their covers. In a happy cross-over, in August 1932, Mr. Blakeslee had two covers from the same incident. This week we have the Dare-Devil Aces cover which has the main action, while next week we’ll have the Battle Aces cover from that month that covers a side incident concerning a missing bomber. Look for it next week.

th_DDA_3208AN IMPORTANT concentration point in the American sector had been shelled for days by long-range guns. Yank airplanes had combed enemy territory trying to find their location, but the gunners were canny. They fired in the early morning and at sundown when there was a ground mist. On days when flying was impossible they fired continuously. On good days they were silent.

By noting the direction from which the shells came the line of fire was determined. According to mathematical calculation the guns should have been in the center of a torn-up forest; but all that met the eye there were stumps of trees and water-filled shell holes. However, something
was queer about those shell holes. Only an area of a few acres was filled with water, while, outside that the shell holes were just holes. One pilot, diving as low as fifty feet, gave the ground a searching look. Suddenly he zoomed and streaked for home.

Late that afternoon a bombing expedition consisting of three Vickers “Vimy” bombers and a fighting squadron of Sopwith Camels left their dromes. On the way, one bomber dropped behind and when the rest discovered him missing, it was too late to stop and find him. The account of his adventure is in the August issue of BATTLE ACES.

There was a ground mist, but it suddenly cleared and just at sundown the expedition arrived over the forest to see the flashes of many guns, where in the morning not a gun had been visible.

Streaking for the flashes, they found what you see on the cover. They bombed and shot up the position and after using up their ammunition, started for home—and just in time, too, for an overwhelming force of Boche planes was coming up from behind. Late that night a large-scale bombing expedition annihilated the position. The pilot who discovered the guns, noted that many of the supposed water-filled holes were only patches of canvas, which, from a height, gave the appearance of water.

The Big Gun Bombers
“The Big Gun Bombers” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (Dare-Devil Aces, August 1932)

Find out what happened to the lost Vickers “Vimy” Bomber next week!

“The French Breguet” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the nineteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enabled you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt.

th_BA_3212THE story behind this month’s cover —which shows an exploit of two brothers, Captains Jean and Charles Ranconcour—had its origin five years before the beginning of the War, when the Frenchmen were visiting Berlin. One evening, while they were dining in a crowded restaurant with a friend, a Prussian officer approached their table and without warning flung a glass of wine into Jean’s face. The three leaped to their feet; Charles demanded an explanation in behalf of his brother. The Prussian turned to him, surveyed him from head to foot, then slashed him across the face with a pair of heavy gloves. Jean promptly knocked him down.

By this time, of course, a large crowd had gathered and it was with considerable difficulty that order was restored. First Jean, then Charles, challenged him to a duel and the Prussian accepted, telling them to await his seconds. They waited for two hours, only to learn then that their strange enemy had been seen leaving the city—hurriedly; he had heard, no doubt, that both brothers had a reputation as expert duellists.

From that moment the two brothers swore to obtain satisfaction for this cowardly assault—but their opportunity did not come until nine years later high above the battlefields of France.

The outbreak of the War found Jean and Charles officers in infantry regiments. Late in 1917 they received word that the Prussian officer was in a certain Boche aviation squadron. The brothers immediately transferred to aviation and through influence they were both attached to the same French squadron—Jean as pilot and Charles as his gunner.

They got the reputation of being careful fighters. Although they never avoided a combat, neither did they go out of their way to get into one. But as they did their work and were popular no one accused them of cowardice. The more astute among the squadron guessed the truth. From the name they had christened their Breguet and the fact that Charles scrutinized all enemy planes with binoculars, they guessed the brothers were hunting a particular enemy.

One day early in 1918, the brothers were returning from a mission with two other bombers when they sighted a group of enemy ships escorted by battle planes. Charles examined the flight through his field glasses, as usual; then suddenly he dropped the binoculars, spoke rapidly to his brother. Much to the astonishment of their fellow flyers, Jean’s plane turned and with throttle wide open, hurtled straight for the enemy.

The two other French pilots, realizing something unusual was about to happen, and knowing also that Jean was helplessly out-numbered and had need of every possible gun, turned and followed.

In the scrap that ensued the Frenchmen shot down a two-seater L.V.G. and routed the rest, then looked around for the brothers. They were engaged in a fight to the finish with an L.V.G. that turned, sideslipped and looped but could not shake this French terror on its tall. If Jean and Charles had been careful before, their tactics now were completely changed. They fought like fiends.

In trying to escape, the Boche ship turned and came screaming back just as Jean’s plane dove across it. There was a crash as the landing gear carried away the tip of the L.C.G.’s wing. At the same moment Charles poured a murderous— and fatal—fire into the cockpit.

The L.V.G. dove and crashed. When he had seen it hit the earth, Charles cooly climbed down onto the landing gear and disentangled the wreckage. A few minutes later all three French ships landed near the shattered Boche plane. The body of the German was dragged from the wreckage; Jean and Charles bent over it, looked closely, then straightened and shook hands. The duel to which they had challenged this enemy 9 years ago, had been waged—and won.

The brothers transferred to a combat squadron soon after and both piled up a formidable score before the war ended.

The German ship shown on the cover is an L.V.G. type D single-seater scout.

The French ship is a Breguet type 14B-2 with a 300 h.p. Renault engine. It was designed as a day bomber, but carried one gun in front (synchronized) and two guns aft. Only the upper planes were provided with ailerons. The part of the lower plane lying behind the rear spar was hinged along its total length and pulled downward by means of twelve rubber cords fixed on the under side of the ribs. An automatic change of aerofoil corresponding with the load and speed thus results with an easier control of the airplane with and without a load of bombs. Its span was 14.364 meters; length 9 m; speed low down 185 kms per hour. It climbed to 5,000 m. in 47 m. 30 sec. Ceiling was 5,750 m.

The French Breguet
“The French Breguet” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (December 1932)

“The Junkers Biplane” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the eighteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt.

th_BA_3211THIS is the story of a combat in which three German ships were brought down by one American flyer, without a shot being fired by either side. The cover shows how it was done.

A few days before this combat occurred, the American had lost his closest friend. The two men had grown up together in the same town, had enlisted together and had managed to stick together until the day one of them had been killed. His life had come to an end under particularly tragic circumstances, for he had given it for his friend. That friend had sworn vengeance.

On the morning after the funeral, this pilot took the air on an independent patrol, looking for trouble. He encountered no enemy ships and returned. After breakfast he again took off with the same result. That afternoon he resolved to go into Germany and bomb the airdrome of the squadron that had killed his chum.

He arrived over it without opposition except for the inevitable Archie over the lines. There was no ship in sight on the field. He dropped his bombs, doing considerable damage to two hangars and receiving in reply a hot ground fire which did no damage to him whatever. He turned to go back to his airdrome just in time to meet the charge of a Pfalz scout which had approached unobserved. The Boche proved to be as skilled as the American, so that neither gained an advantage over the other in the five or more minutes that the combat lasted. They had both, however, exhausted their ammunition. Finally they waved to one another and departed.

Fortune favored the Yank, for the fight had not attracted any roving Boche. He was no doubt saved by the fact that the squadron of the field over which he had been, was away on some devilment of its own. On his way back, near the lines, he sighted three dots which rapidly approached and soon resolved themselves into two Junkers, escorted by a member of the squadron for which the American had been searching.

This squadron was noted for its savage and ruthless mode of fighting. No quarter was expected of them and no quarter was given. All the Allied outfits in this sector had sworn to exterminate them, but as every man of them was a skillful pilot it proved no easy matter. As a matter of fact the event that finally put an end to this squadron was the death of its leader. True to type, the escort of the Junkers flew ahead to meet the helpless American. On seeing that he had at last met his enemy, the Yank forgot that his ammunition was gone. His only thought was to down this Boche or to die in the attempt.

With rage in his heart he kept on and the two planes came at each other with tremendous speed. As they approached, the American pressed his trigger. Nothing happened, and he remembered with despair his helplessness. It was too late. He could not turn back now.

Strangely, no shots came from the German who dipped just in time to avoid a collision. Then began a series of maneuvers that carried them all over the sky. The American could do nothing but avoid the fire of the German. Both men were evenly matched as to skill and both maneuvered successfully in order to keep out of one another’s range. Had the German known the helpless condition of the American, the fight would have been ended long ago. This, of course, he did not suspect. It was later found that the German’s gun was hopelessly jammed, which explained his failure to fire on the first onslaught.

In the meantime the Junkers had approached and passed. Neither had fired a shot nor made any attempt to join the battle. No explanation has ever been made of their failure to do so. The climax came swiftly. In fact the entire incident happened in less time than it takes to tell it. The two ships, the S.E-5 and the Fokker, got into the maneuver called “chasing tails.” They went round and round, one behind the other, each thinking the other could fire. This tactic of chasing tails by two ships of equal speed and by two pilots of equal skill, could be continued indefinitely unless the circle was broken by another ship. It was effective in preventing one from getting on the other’s tail. Sometimes pilots in this maneuver broke by mutual agreement, by use of signals, each going his own way.

The whirling ships had overtaken the Junkers and had approached dangerously close. In an attempt to break the vicious circle, the Boche dove his ship. As his head was turned, he did not see the leading Junker and crashed at full speed into it. Both fell in a flaming streak, but not before some flying wreckage had shattered the propeller of the following Junker. This ship landed safely in Germany. So three ships were downed without a single shot!

The Junkers Biplane
“The Junkers Biplane” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (November 1932)

 

“Lt. Carr and the De H-5″ by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the eleventh of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The scries was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt.

th_BA_3210IN JUNE, 1918, there arrived at a certain American airdrome in France a group of replacements who had been trained in England. Among them was a lad by the name of Carr. To use a remark of one of his instructors, he was “the world’s worst pilot but a damn fine lad.” He had wrecked more ships than any man in camp. Why he was not thrown out of aviation, or at best sent to an observation group, he did not know. The fact remains that in the final test he passed, and was sent with five others to a fighting squadron. This squadron was proud of its toughness and its record for victories. The squadron leader looked the replacements over critically and approved, for they were just the type he wanted.

Carr was tall, with broad shoulders and an infectious smile—the sort of fellow one likes instantly. He was selected to be the first to go over the lines. Accordingly, next morning he was one of five to line up and take off. However, only four actually did take off. Carr’s ship went wobbling across the field and came up standing in a hedge. The mechanics looked it over for defects and, fortunately for Carr, found one that might have caused the crack-up. Carr, much surprised, thanked his lucky stars for that. Naturally he did not mention that the accident was due to his own stupidity. He was congratulated on his escape and wished better luck.

His next chance arrived and this time he managed to get into the air. His orders were strict; should a fight occur or if he were to loose the others, he was to return immediately. He was back in ten minutes—the time it took him to get lost and return to the airdrome. It did not help his reputation when he crashed in landing.

There followed a painful series of mishaps by which he became known as the “lovable ole dub.” It took them less than a week to discover that Carr would make a far better cab driver than a pilot. On the other hand he was the leader of all their binges. His smile carried him through all his troubles and with the willing help of the rest of the squadron his mistakes were smoothed over. However he was a great responsibility to flight leaders, who dreaded to have him in their patrol. At last, after a bit of particularly stupid flying, the C. O. decided that he would have to return to England. Carr was broken-hearted; he would rather die than be sent back. Rage against his own inability to fly determined him to try one last flight on which he would cither kill or be killed.

Early on the day he was to leave he took out his ship, gave it the gun and swept into the air. Although he did not realize it at the time, he was flying as he should have flown long ago. For the first time, instead of putting his ship into the air by sheer nervous will power, he forgot flying and thought only of fighting.

He had not gone far when he saw a patrol of Jerries beneath him. Without an instant’s hesitation he dove with such fury that he scattered the German ships right and left. Before they had become organized, he had shot down two of them. He dove head-on at another, intending to crash and end his life; but the panic-stricken Boche pulled up and fled with the others who had had enough of this mad American. Carr turned his De H-5 about just in time to see a green Pfalz diving at him. He plunged at him head-on, ripping out a savage burst. The Jerry, badly hit, looped but Carr looped after him.

Just at this point a Fokker Tripe joined the fight. Both planes came out of the loop with Carr on the German’s tail and his tracers crashing into the ship ahead. The Fokker zoomed and his wheel smashed through the left wing of the Pfalz, which went down out of control and crashed behind our lines. In a moment the pilot of the Fokker discovered that he had made a mistake in thinking that he or anyone could withstand such reckless and savage fury. He gave up in panic, raised his hands in token of surrender and followed Carr meekly back.

Carr returned to an overjoyed squadron, as confirmation of his victories had traveled ahead. He did not return to England. Instead he rose to be flight leader, then C.O., and finally became one of America’s aces.

The De H-5 was produced late in 1916 and was extensively used at the front. It was so constructed that the pilot’s view upward and foreward was not entirely blanketed by the top wing. For this reason the top wing was staggered backward and the pilot’s cockpit put beneath the leading edge of that wing. Despite loss of efficiency which resulted from this backward stagger, by careful attention to the reduction of head resistance, a ship was produced with very good all-round performance. Its span was 25′-8″; length 22′; engine 110 h.p., Le Rhone; speed at 10,000 ft. 102 m.p.h.; landing speed 50 m.p.h.; approximate ceiling 15,000 ft.

Lt. Carr and the De H-5
“Lt. Carr and the De H-5″ by Frederick M. Blakeslee (October 1932)

“Lt. Reed and the L.V.G.” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the sixteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt.

th_BA_3209AN AMERICAN observation group was assigned a very important photographic mission. The objective was far in German territory and heavily guarded both by airplanes and anti-aircraft. Heretofore although several attempts had been made to photograph the position, all had failed. It had been decided, therefore, as a last chance, to send several observation ships, with a huge group of pursuit planes as protection. It was hoped that with this strong-force, one ship at least would be able to go through with the work.

As a matter of fact only one ship, of the twenty-seven that took the air, arrived over the objective.

How six of the observation ships dropped out and how they missed their top protection at the rendezvous, is another story. Suffice it to say that only three of the photographic ships, which were brand-new R.E.8’s, reached the rendezvous; when they did not see the fighting group, they separated and started alone into Germany, for they carried only enough gas to get them there and back and so could not wait. Two of the three were forced to return by strong Boche patrols. One ship was left. Let us follow him into Germany.

The pilot of this ship was not sorry to be alone, for in all the previous attempts there had been eight or nine planes and Lt. Reed felt confident that where many ships had failed, one might do the trick. He flew as high as he could and arrived over his objective unchallenged. On the ground the Germans had observed the lone flyer, but as it was a mere dot in the sky and only one where they had been looking for many, the observers were puzzled. They could not determine whether it was one of their own ships or not. Soon it began to spiral down, but since there was a German airdrome in the neighborhood this was not unusual. It was only when Lt. Reed came within view of the binoculars which were trained on him, that he was recognized as an Allied plane.

Reed came down faster than the gunners could adjust their fuses and in a minute he was at the desired level. He flattened out so that his observer was able to calmly click his camera. While he was thus employed the anti-aircraft suddenly became quiet. No wonder, for eighteen Boche fighting ships were diving on this dauntless American.

He was surrounded in a second by a milling crowd of roaring planes. Almost instantly he was out of action, with his observer seriously wounded and his own legs shot through. The storm of lead stopped as suddenly as it had come. Here was a prize—an R.E.8, a machine the Germans badly wanted intact. The Germans saw that the American was helpless, so they surrounded him in a boxlike formation and headed him toward G.H.Q., or so Lt. Reed supposed.

They had not gone far when two L.V.G.’s took up a position on either side of him, and the rest flew away. Lt. Reed was growing weak from loss of blood. He knew that he could never escape in his condition, for aside from being faint he found that his legs were stiffening so that it was barely possible to steer. He was headed into Germany, so he supposed, and could never be able to turn his ship.

Suddenly the ship on his left dove; at the same moment the L.V.G. on his right burst into flames. Then an S.E.5 with British insignias flashed in front of Lt. Reed, to hurtle down at the other Boche. The next instant Reed found himself flying alone again.

The action had revived him somewhat, but when he tried to turn toward France he found his legs were useless. He could do nothing but fly straight on. He was headed toward the south and had been all along, though he had been unaware of it. Believing that he was going deeper into Germany he flew on until he grew blind from faintness. Then he landed and learned that he was in France. He asked to have his observer and photographs looked after and collapsed.

For their devotion to duty both the observer and the pilot received a high award.

The Luft Verkehrs Gesellschaft, better known as the L.V.G., G.V., was a well-known fighter. It was a two-seater biplane, carrying one Spandau on the right of the motor and firing through the propeller, and one Parabellum gun fired from the observer’s seat. There were several types of L.V.G.’s. One was a C.IV, an improvement over the C.V. Another was a single-seater scout, the D.VI, produced toward the end of the war. It was a queer looking ship. A third was also weird in appearance and called the D.V., a single seater. A big brother to the L.V.G. family was a twin-engined tractor triplane. The cream of the lot however was a little single-seater scout of the D class, one of the speediest looking ships ever made. The span of the L.V.G., C.V. was 44′-8½”; overall length, 42′-2½”, with a speed of 150 km. per hour at 4,000 meters.

Lt. Reed and the L.V.G.
“Lt. Reed and the L.V.G.” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (September 1932)

“A.E.G. Bomber” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on March 23, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the fourteenth of the actual war-combat pictures’ which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of, this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3207BECAUSE of a promise not to reveal his identity, the hero of this combat will be called Jim. He was a British war pilot and has a great fund of experiences, some of which he has been good enough to relate for use in this magazine.

This month’s cover story is a most unusual one. Of the seven men involved in the fight only one survived and he, as a result of the battle, spent long months in the hospitals in both France and England. As for the three planes, all were totally wrecked; in fact only portions of the German ships were ever found.

The combat took place toward the end of the war, not long after the exploit of Jim’s which was related in last month’s issue of Battle Aces. On this occasion Jim started out with his patrol early one morning and flew toward the German lines. As the planes advanced the weather suddenly changed. The earth disappeared and the sun burned red through the haze which rapidly gathered. Flying conditions fast became impossible in the face of the gathering storm, so Jim, who was leading the patrol, gave the signal to turn about for home.

The weather changed from bad to worse and soon Jim discovered that he was flying alone. He knew that his patrol had been forced to separate and to fly each man for himself. He decided to head due south in the hope of flying out of the storm, for he could not find his own field and it was suicide to land where he was. Suddenly the form of an immense bomber loomed up ahead, rushing directly at him out of the haze.

It was not until nearly a year later that Jim was able to recall what happened from that moment on.

Let me tell you the story from the ground.

At about 11:30 A.M. two dark objects whirled out of the haze. One landed in a street and proved to be the body of a man, his clothes in shreds and too mutilated for identification. The other object hit the roof of a building in Châlons-sur-Marne, and was followed by splinters of wood, metal and scraps of red fabric. When dug out of the basement this proved to be the wreck of a Mercedes engine.

A few moments later the tip of an airplane wing fell in the outskirts of the same town, preceded by several explosions. It was also reported that at about the same time two Mercedes engines, with separate bits of metal and parts of the wings of an airplane, fell near the road between Châlon and Chepy. Then reports came in of a rain of wreckage falling all over the district. To cap the climax, another Mercedes engine, with more wreckage, fell at Marson, three and a half miles from Chepy. What could be the cause of this deluge of Mercedes engines? All came down at approximately the same time at widely separated points. The bodies of five more men and wreckage were found near Châlon and Chepy.

To add to the interest of the day, at Sommesons, nearly twenty miles from Châlons, an S.E.-5 suddenly shot out of the haze, barely missed a farm house, and spread itself out over the adjacent landscape. The pilot was sent to a hospital unconscious, where he stayed in that condition for several clays. As he was the only one who seemed at all connected with the affair, the matter remained a mystery until a year later when his memory had fully returned. The following is what happened.

As the bomber loomed up ahead, Jim recognized it as a German A.E.G. Contrary to general practice, it was not camouflaged but was painted a bright red. Jim pulled up to pass over. As he zoomed up he saw another bomber almost directly overhead. The nose of his ship pointed directly at it and with an instinctive movement, he pulled his trigger. Almost instantly there was a terrific explosion. The wreckage of the bomber was thrown in all directions. Jim was so close that parts of the Boche ship shattered his propeller and damaged his right wing. The bomber dropped, shearing off the left wing of the A.E.G. underneath close to the fuselage. Jim does not yet know how he escaped the tangle of flying wreckage and ships. The next moment they had vanished and Jim began a long glide earthward; because of the thick haze, his ship crashed, as has been related. (For purposes of design the scene on the cover has been painted in bright sunlight, but in reality the haze was extremely dense.)

The A.E.G. bomber was powered by two 260 h.p. Mercedes engines and carried two guns. At 5,000 feet its speed was 90 m.p.h. and its landing speed about 75 m.p.h. It had one fault. Its elevators did not function well when landing. It was also found advisable not to fly the machine without a passenger in the front seat.

A.E.G. Bomber
“A.E.G. Bomber” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (July 1932)

“Kondor E 111a” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the thirteenth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war planes in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3206JIM, like most of the men who fought in the World War, refused to talk on the subject. He was an English ace and I knew he had done some worthwhile things. Finally, just to get rid of me, he agreed to tell me his story on the condition that, should I repeat it, his name would be withheld. Luck was with me after he once started and by questioning and egging him on I persuaded him to tell me of several other of his exploits. You’ll hear of them in later issues. This month the cover is based on one of his stories which he told very modestly, so I shall retell it in my own way.

A British hospital had been bombed by three German flyers. They had wrecked one wing of it, killing several of the wounded. As soon as the news reached the nearest airdrome, planes took off in pursuit of the marauders, but they had disappeared and as night was setting in the ships had to return.

The three Boche flyers had flown monoplanes with green camouflaged bodies, brick-red rudders and blue wings, so they were marked men. The Allies determined to avenge the outrage and early next morning the patrol took the air together with all ships in that sector. They ranged the sky all without coming in contact with the enemy. On the way home they flew under the clouds, shooting up everything in sight on the ground. When they returned to the drome, Jim’s patrol learned that in their absence the three Jerries had again bombed the hospital, fortunately without any fatal results. The three had lurked in the clouds until the patrols had gone and then proceeded to drop their eggs.

Orders were issued to get these Jerries at all costs. This time the British forces were to fly singly or in pairs, in order to cover more territory. With rage in their hearts the British pilots took the air.

Jim was flying alone and very high when he saw three specks skudding along close to a layer of clouds; they were coming from the direction of Germany. Sure these were the wanted planes, he tilted his machine down to investigate and noticed that one ship was flying high above the other two, probably as a lookout. On coming closer he recognized the plane as one of the bombers of the day before. He pulled his throttle wide open and dove for him.

Too late the Boche heard the scream of the plane behind him. He turned with a startled look as Jim let go a savage burst straight into him at point-blank range. The Boche was probably killed instantly, for he fell forward, his monoplane tipped up and Jim’s smoking bullets smashed through the entire length of the body. The other two ships streaked down one behind the other. All at once Jim realized that he was in a trail of heat and smoke. In his blind fury he had kept a fast hold on his trigger and was pouring a steady stream of lead into the ship ahead.

The smoke brought him to himself and he pulled to one side just in time to see the enemy ship burst into roaring flames. In its dive the burning plane had headed straight for the other two and an instant later had plunged into the leading Boche. There was a blinding flash, followed by a cloud of smoke, suspended for an instant, and when Jim gathered his wits, he and the third Boche were flying alone.

Instantly he brought his nose in line with him and pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. He had used up his ammunition in that wild dive. He thought of his center section gun, but before he could maneuver into position, the German had gone into a dive. Jim determined to get him or die in the attempt. He set off in pursuit, but when the Jerry whirled into the clouds. Jim thought he had seen the last of this particular enemy. He cut in after him, however, and as he came out, saw the Boche still diving towards the earth. A moment later, the Jerry plane flattened out and crashed into a field. The pilot extracted himself from the wreck, ran a few steps and dropped.

Jim landed near him and found that the German was not badly hurt but that his mind had been temporarily deranged. He was removed to a hospital and several weeks later, when his mind and nerves were rested and back to normal, he explained the reason for the bombing of the hospital. The Germans had been informed that the hospital was an ammunition factory in disguise, for the demolition of which they would be highly rewarded.

Jim did not recognize the type of the German ship, but was sure it was neither a Fokker nor a Junker. From his meager description it sounds like a Kondor E 111a or E 111. At any rate I have shown these two ships on the cover. There is no information available on this machine except that it had a 200 h.p. Goebel rotary motor.

Kondor E111a
“Kondor E 111a” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (June 1932)

“The Westland Wagtail” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Editor’s Note: This month’s cover is the twelfth of the actual war-combat pictures which Mr. Blakeslee, well-known artist and authority on aircraft, is painting exclusively for BATTLE ACES. The series was started to give our readers authentic pictures of war plwves in color. It also enables you to follow famous airmen on many of their amazing adventures and feel the same thrills of battle they felt. Be sure to save these covers if you want your collection of this fine series to be complete.

th_BA_3205THE PAINTING on the cover this month lacks two things—movement and noise. The only way to show movement is by the speed lines which stream out behind the planes. As for the noise, you will just have to imagine it. The three diving Germans with motors wide open are sending forth a deafening roar which gives the effect of a musical note when heard at a distance. The American ship, upside down as it zooms over, is emitting a high-pitched, reverberating and ear-splitting shriek. It drowns the bark of two Vicker machine guns which are pouring a stream of hot lead into the nearest Boche. Now that you have stuffed cotton in your ears we’ll go on with the story.

The action took place near Chateau-Thierry on July 2, 1918. The pilot of the American ship was First Lieutenant Alfred A. Grant of the 27th aero squadron. He was out on a patrol with several other officers when he encountered an enemy formation of nine planes. During the combat which followed, Lt. Grant became separated from the others and was immediately set upon by three of the Jerries.

He led these three Boches all over the sky, his comrades having vanished. Whenever opportunity presented itself he would turn and pour hot fire into a German ship. By skilful maneuvering he managed to keep out of serious trouble.

He kept the three Germans on the qui-vive however, and they found it impossible to corner him. Suddenly Lt. Grant broke off the fight and started on a bee-line for home. This was what the Germans wanted and hoped for. They gathered together in a group and dove after him.

On the other hand this was what Lt. Grant had hoped they would do. He allowed them to approach to within range and then zooming up and over he let go a withering blast of machine-gun fire straight into the Jerry ships as they streaked by under him.
One Boche continued his dive into eternity and the others turned and fled for home. For this action Lt. Grant was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

At first glance you may th_BA_3109think the German ships are Pfalz scouts of the type shown on the cover last September. If you have that cover compare the two and you will see how and where they differ. The machines illustrated on this cover are Albatros D.V.’s.

The Albatros biplanes were largely used in the War, at first as rather slow two-seater fighting machines, and as reconnaissance types. At the end of 1916 there came a very small Albatros single-seater with a Benz or Mercedes engine of some 175 h.p. This little ship did much damage to the Allies’ airplanes, until it was met and defeated by still faster British and French machines.

The speed of this ship was between 120 and 130 m.p.h. at its best height. This was the type known as the DIII. The DV was essentially the same as the DIII with no outward difference in appearance. There was, however, an improvement in speed and maneuverability. The DIII and DV were speedy looking ships and beautifully stream-lined. They have two Spandau machine guns firing through the propellers.

There was also an Albatros DXI, quite radical in design. The body instead of being rounded was box-shaped and for no apparent reason the rudder and fin were advanced. Between the wings it had a single instead of the V strut. As the bottom wing was much shorter than the upper, this strut inclined outward, and did away with all wiring. There was also a two-seater Albatros and a two-engined bomber.

But this month we concern ourselves with the blue ship flown by the American which is a new and seldom heard of type, the Westland “Wagtail.”

It was designed in answer to a general demand for a fast, quick-climbing single-seater fighter, and its purpose was for high altitude fighting. It met the demand, for it could climb to its service ceiling of 17,000 ft. in 17 minutes—a thousand feet a minute, which was fast climbing in those days and hardly surpassed even today.

The pilot’s view upward and downward, was very good, as more than half the center section was left open. The engine cowling differs from the accepted type of the day and has more or less of a modern appearance. It had a span of 23′ 2″ and an overall length of 18′ 11″.

The Westland Wagtail
“The Westland Wagtail” by Frederick M. Blakeslee (May 1932)

 

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