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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.

“Sky Devil’s Trap” by Harold F. Cruickshank

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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. Following on from the success of The Sky Wolf in Battle Aces, Cruickshank was asked to develop a series for the newly premiered sister magazine, Dare-Devil Aces. For Dare-Devil Aces, Cruickshank developed his best known war hero—the rough and tumble Captain Bill Dawe—The Sky Devil! Cruickshank based Bill Dawe on his own infantry commander from WWI.

There was no better flight in France than the Sky Devil and his Brood. Led by Captain Bill Dawe, the famous Yank ace known to all of France as the Sky Devil, the brood consisted of Chuck Verne, Mart Bevin, Slim Skitch and Slug Walton. The crimson devil insignia on their silver Spads brought fear to any German pilot unlucky enough to meet them in the air. But the Sky Devil’s greatest enemy might just be his own C.O., Major Petrie, who had been railroaded into command of 120 Squadron over Dawe’s head. Jealous of Dawe’s popularity, Petrie will do anything to bring down the Sky Devil and his Brood!”

Sky Devil flew through the Hell Skies of 29 adventures in the pages of Dare-Devil Aces from 1932-1935. Cruickshank returned to the savior of the Western Front in six subsequent stories several years later. The first two were in the pages of Sky Devils (June 1939) and Fighting Aces (March 1940). The other four ran in Sky Fighters (1943-1946) where he was aged up and moved to the Second World War where Bill Dawe changes his name to get into the air service and flys along side his son!

Here we present The Sky Devil’s premier outing from the April 1932 issue of Dare-Devil Aces, it’s “Sky Devil’s Trap!”

Swiftly those Yank bombers ripped in, blasting that fake staffel to hell. They didn’t see the Fokkers swinging down from above; didn’t guess they were cold meat—snared in a blood trap from which only the yammering guns of one doomed sky devil could hope to snatch them.

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

title magazine date vol no
1932
Sky Devil’s Trap Dare-Devil Aces Apr 01 02
The Green Devils Dare-Devil Aces Jul 02 01
Hell’s Skipper Dare-Devil Aces Sep 02 03
The Sky Devil’s Brood Dare-Devil Aces Oct 02 04
Killer’s Drome Dare-Devil Aces Nov 03 01
The Sky Tiger Dare-Devil Aces Dec 03 02
1933
Captain von Death Dare-Devil Aces Jan 03 03
The Flaming Ace Dare-Devil Aces Feb 03 04
Sky Devil’s Trap Dare-Devil Aces Mar 04 01
The Haunted Fokker Dare-Devil Aces Apr 04 02
Buzzards’ Brand Dare-Devil Aces May 04 03
Torpedo Buzzards Dare-Devil Aces Jun 04 04
The Bat Patrol Dare-Devil Aces Jul 05 01
Hell Buzzards Nest Dare-Devil Aces Aug 05 02
The Sky Cobra Dare-Devil Aces Sep 05 03
The Outlaw Ace Dare-Devil Aces Oct 05 04
Ace of Devils Dare-Devil Aces Nov 06 01
Skeleton’s Drome Dare-Devil Aces Dec 06 02
1934
The Sky Pirates Dare-Devil Aces Jan 06 03
Staffel of Hate Dare-Devil Aces Feb 06 04
The Flaming Vulture Dare-Devil Aces Mar 07 01
No-Man’s Squadron Dare-Devil Aces Apr 07 02
The Storm Buzzard Dare-Devil Aces May 07 03
The Derelict Patrol Dare-Devil Aces Jun 07 04
Staffel of Skeletons Dare-Devil Aces Jul 08 01
Graveyard Staffel Dare-Devil Aces Sep 08 02
1935
The Stratosphere Patrol Dare-Devil Aces Feb 09 03
The Undersea Buzzard Dare-Devil Aces Jun 10 03
Staffel of Dead Men Dare-Devil Aces Sep 11 02
1939
Wings of the Brave Sky Devils Jun 01 06
1940
A Torch for the Damned Fighting Aces Mar 01 01

 

When Cruickshank brought The Sky Devil back in the 40’s for Sky Fighters, he moved his theater of operations from the First World War to the Second World War. Older, more reckless and enlisted under false pretenses, he’s fighting the good fight and watching out for his son as well!

 

1943
Sky Devil and Son Sky Fighters Jan 28 02
Return of the Sky Devil Sky Fighters Mar 28 03
1946
Settlement in Full Sky Fighters Win 33 01
Sky Route to Hell Sky Fighters Spr 33 02

 

We’ve collected and published all 29 of The Sky Devil’s stories from Dare-Devil Aces into two volumes—Hell’s Skipperand Ace of Devils! In addition, we’ve posted many of the post-Popular stories on the site here (just click on the “Sky Devil” tag below). The books can be picked up through the usual sources—Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

“The Fairey Fantome” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on June 22, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. At this point in the magazine’s run, Mr. Blakeslee had started doing his “Planes by the Numbers” covers where he has so many planes on the cover, he had to explain which plane is what with a legend on the story behind the cover page. For the August issue we get a bit of a throwback where Mr. Blakeslee turns his attention to the Fairey Fantome!

th_DDA_3708THERE’S a real story behind this month’s cover, fellows. I’ll try to tell you not only of the planes you see depicted there, but about some of the troubles that confront me. You see, these covers are prepared far in advance, for there are a lot of pretty complex operations that must be performed before they are ready for the news stands. And therein lies our trouble.

Last month my friend Norman Witcomb had a feature in which he told you all about the Fairey “Fantome.” Well, I didn’t know about that until this cover bad been completed. I had planned to tell you all the details concerning this ship, but I now see that Norman has already completed that task. I’ll refresh your memory, anyway, and I don’t suppose you’ll mind seeing it in colors and in a battle scene.

The “Fantome” is ship number 2 and is now in production in Belgium, where it is known as the “Feroge.” It carts four machine guns about the clouds and one 20 m.m. cannon which fires through the airscrew boss. The crate is powered by an 860 h.p. engine and can do 250 m.p.h. at 12,000.

Ship number 1 is a Fairey “Gordan.” It’s a medium range two-seater day bomber. An Armstrong-Siddeley “Panther” drives it along. The engine develops 525 h.p., and the fourteen cylinder, radial job is air-cooled. Data on its performance is lacking.

Frederick Blakeslee.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Story Behind The Cover: The Fairey Fantome” by Frederick Blakeslee
(August 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

As an added bonus, we present Norman Witcomb’s breif write-up on the Fairey Fantome that Mr. Blakeslee references from the July 1937 issue of Dare-Devil Aces.

Fighting Faireys

THE Fairey firm is one of the oldest in the aircraft industry. It has furnished planes for the R.A.F. for as long as that service has existed. It also turns out the equipment for the Belgian Royal Air Service. For this purpose, Fairey has a factory in Belgium.

Shown above, are two of the latest products of this famous firm. One, the Fairey “Battle,” is a veritable masterpiece. It is designed as a medium bomber, the fastest of its kind in the world. The ship is pulled through the air at about 300 m.p.h.! This is done, of course, by another sweet job, the Rolls-Royce “Merlin” of 1,065 h.p. This motor was so successful that it caused the plane to perform beyond the fondest expectations of its designers. The “Battle” is metal-covered and is equipped with all latest devices, such as flaps, two-way radio, special high-flying equipment, and what not. The armament is secret, but two heavy guns can be seen in the wings. The British government, knowing a good thing when they see one, has ordered several hundred of these planes.

The single-seater fighter below, is the Fairey “Fantome” which has been adopted by the Belgian government as a highspeed fighter. It has a “Hisso” Cannon engine of 860 h.p. and the pilot can open her up to more than 250 m.p.h.! It is a sturdy biplane of rugged construction, and is also completely equipped with radio, etc.

The Belgian Air Force, while small, is well equipped with modern aircraft. No doubt she is anxious not to be caught defenseless again, should serious trouble break out around her borders.

Dare-Devil Aces, July 1937 by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on April 27, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. The February 1937 Dare-Devil Aces’ cover is the first of Mr. Blakeslee’s “Planes by the Numbers” covers where he has so many planes on the cover, he explains which plane is what with a legend on the story behind the cover page. He featured the Hawker Fury on the previous issue—on this issue he gives the spotlight to German aircraft, and to the Henschel aeroplane in particular.

th_DDA_3707THIS month’s cover, as your practiced eyes can probably see, gives the spotlight to German aircraft, and to the Henschel aeroplane in particular. The five black figures represent a variety of Henschels, but the Hawkers which appear on the cover itself, have not been included. This is because most of you fellows know enough about Hawkers, already, to fly them or draw them in your sleep.

It’s too bad that we haven’t more information on ship number one, the Henschel dive-bomber. It’s really quite a crate. The German authorities have been careful about this plane and there are no available figures. However, we do know this much: This ship can really dive vertically, nose pointed directly at the earth, at any speed the motor is able to attain. And it can be pulled out of the most furious of dives without danger of breaking apart.

Planes numbers two and three are the short Henschel patrol jobs, while number four is a general purpose Henschel. But we still have one ship left, number five, and on this one, at least, we have some fairly good dope. Here it is: This last Henschel is a two-sealer, general purpose monoplane with one Siemens SAM. 22 nine-cylinder, radial air-cooled engine, which gives it a speed of 167.6 at ground level and a cruising speed of 146 m.p.h. This job lands at 51 m.p.h. Its service ceiling is 21,648 ft. and it has a range of 373 miles. Later, if I discover anything new on Germany’s Henschels, I’ll be glad to pass it along.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(July 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

“Fairey Hendons and the Gladiators” by Frederick Blakeslee

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FREDERICK BLAKESLEE painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. For the June 1937 Dare-Devil Aces, Mr. Blakeslee’s paints a flock of Fairey “Hendons” bombing a big gun emplacement along with a flight of Gloster “Gauntlets”.

th_DDA_3706ON THE cover this month you will find a flock of Fairey “Hendons” bombing a big gun emplacement. They’ve come over just around dusk, when everything is quiet, and they’re giving the boys below plenty of hell.

As an escort, they have a flight of Gloster “Gauntlets,” those fast, speedy jobs that we’ve heard so much about recently. One of the most feared types of planes in the world, the “Gauntlet” is a tough baby to mingle with.

But we’re not concerned for the moment with the “Gauntlets.” We’ve devoted our attention to the nearest plane, the one without the streamlined pants on the wheels. It’s a “Gladiator” and gentlemen, what a job!

The “Gladiator” is a development of the “Gauntlet” and it’s really a better ship. You will notice that the “Gauntlet” is a two-bay wing job. Well, the designers saw fit to make the “Gladiator” a single-bay ship, and I think they were right.

Another deviation from the “Gauntlet” is the single-strut cantilever undercarriage. They constructed these babies so that they’d last and this single-strut business is a testimonial to their confidence.

When it comes to throwing steel around the sky, the “Gladiator” can take fine care of itself. Its armament consists of four machine guns, and they speak a language of their own. Personally, I wouldn’t want to speak with any of them.

When you talk about power, the “Gladiator” must be considered. In its motor-bed is a Bristol “Mercury IX,” a nine cylinder radial job. This power-house is air-cooled and supercharged, and when you give it a bit of throttle it goes places!

Do you want speed? This baby will do 255 m.p.h. at 14,500 feet, and it has a service ceiling of 32,800 feet.

The “Gauntlet” isn’t far behind in performance. It’s equipped with a Bristol “Mercury V.I.S.,” another radial, air-cooled engine. It boasts of speed of 230 m.p.h. at 15,500 feet and has a service ceiling of 33,500 feet.

Frederick Blakeslee.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Fairey Hendons and the Gladiators: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(June 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Blackburn Shark” by Frederick Blakeslee

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FREDERICK BLAKESLEE painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. For the March 1937 Dare-Devil Aces, Mr. Blakeslee’s paints a tale of British planes catching a battleship docked in a small seaside town.

th_DDA_3703THE scene of this month’s cover is any place your imagination cares to place it. For my own part, I thought a little seaside view might be pleasant and just took a stab at some water and somebody’s city. But the story behind the cover is obvious enough.

The British planes have caught a battleship in dock and are doing a job on it. I imagine the most interesting crate to the reader would be that torpedo carrier, number 720. This is the Blackburn “Shark,” though I imagine the side drawing of it above looks a bit different than the three-quarter rear shot on the cover appears. Its speed is 152½ m.p.h. maximum at 5,500 feet and a landing speed of
62½ m.p.h. The torpedo it lugs around through the sky weighs no less than 1500 pounds.

All the other ships but one, of course, are of the Hawker family. And if you’ve been guessing what that tricky little blue job might be, here goes:

It is the Swedish Svenska “Jaktfalk” single-seater fighter. In an imaginary war, you would naturally pick this ship to be allied with the British, especially when you consider the close relationship between these two nations. Its British-made, supercharged motor gives it a speed of 208 m.p.h. and its ceiling is 19,680 feet. Hope you liked it, and see you next month.—Fred Blakeslee.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Blackburn Shark: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(March 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

Dare-Devil Aces, February 1937 by Frederick Blakeslee

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

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. The February 1937 Dare-Devil Aces’ cover is the first of Mr. Blakeslee’s “Planes by the Numbers” covers where he has so many planes on the cover, he explains which plane is what with a legend on the story behind the cover page. He featured the Hawker Fury on the previous issue—on this issue he featured the other planes in the Hawker line of fighters.

th_DDA_3702SOME very particular gent wrote to me the other day. complaining about the covers. He yelled that I took too much liberty with facts, and grouped planes that seldom, if ever, are seen together. He must be a new reader, for I have oft stated that, as this magazine is a fictional enterprise, the covers try to keep pace with the contents. Of course the covers are slightly screwy! I’m afraid that they wouldn’t be very interesting if I showed you a squadron of planes that were exactly alike in every respect.

This month’s cover is an example of what I mean. About seven types of planes are represented, and although some of them are slightly out of place, I don’t think you’ll mind. Let me tell you about them.

You’ll notice that the silhouettes on this page are really ships on the cover, set in exactly the same positions.

No. 1 is the Hawker “Osprey”, a Fleet fighter that ordinarily operates from aircraft carriers and other ships of the Royal Navy. I don’t know just what it’s doing over the city. Maybe the guy is on leave. It has a top speed of 240 m.p.h.

No. 2 is a Hawker “Hart”, the standard single-engined day bomber of the R.F.A. It is the basic type for most of the other Hawkers, and does 184 m.p.h.

No. 3, there are two of them, are German Ardo fighters.

No. 4 is a Fairey “Hendon” night bomber, and don’t ask me what it’s doing out in the daytime. Maybe it hasn’t been home yet. You’ll notice that it has left the rest of the flight and is off by itself. Ginsburg is probably at the wheel, and you know that guy!

No. 5 is a Hawker “Hardy”, a general purpose biplane that is particularly adapted for use in India and the Near East. Details are lacking on this, however.

No. 6 is a Hawker “Audax”, an Army cooperation crate with a speed of 152 m.p.h., which is practically walking. The way it’s heading now, the pilot would have done better to stay in bed.

No. 7 is a Bristol “Bulldog”, a really high-class piece of business. It does 175 m.p.h. at sea level, and 218 m.p.h. at 20,000, which is really lugging the mail.

So look them over, gents, and remember that I warned you.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(February 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Hawker Fury” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ January 1937 cover, Mr. Blakeslee gives us a couple of Avia ’34’s trying to drive a bunch of Hawker “Furys” away from their Zeppelin base!

th_DDA_3701IN THE action on the cover, the reader will have no difficulty in discerning that a group of British ships are bombing a combined airdrome and dirigible depot. The green ships and the yellow plane are easily recognizable as variations of the Hawker ‘Fury,’ so we need give little of our time to them.

The plane in the upper left of the picture, however, is of a type not nearly so common as the others. It is an Avia ‘34’, if that means anything to you sky-hawks.

Germany, as you know, is exceedingly secretive concerning her air force and the new developments that she has undoubtedly made, so I’m frequently forced to ascribe to her ships which really are those of other countries.

Britain, of course, manufactures ships for a great number of countries. In fact, the green plane on the cover is a replica of a ‘Fury’ which was made for the Portuguese Air Force. The similarity existing between this ship and the truly British ships can easily be seen.

When we speak of European aircraft, we unconsciously think of the products of Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy, but strangely, the Avia with which we are concerned is the creation of none of these, but of tiny Czechoslovakia.

This country, of which we hear but little when the war drums throb in the sullen sky, is well equipped with beautiful, efficient ships of many varied types.

The Avia is a fighter of a single-seat type, and is powered by a 650 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine of the latest design. It is unique in that it carries four machine guns,—two on the wings near the outer struts, which are not shown, and the usual pair,—one on each side of the fuselage. These latter two fire through invisible troughs.

This fighter has a speed of 200 m.p.h. at sea level and its service ceiling is 24,600 feet.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hawker Fury: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(January 1937, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Heyford” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ December 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee gives the modern take on a couple of old classics—the Handly-Page Heyford and the french Morane-Saulnier!

th_DDA_3612THE world war produced many excellent fighting ships—ships that have become world famous. These world war types are now, of course, obsolete and except for those in museums and a few which are privately owned have practically disappeared. The R.F.C. display this year was unique in that several war-time ships were on the field. Flying over head were the direct descendants of some of those war-time ships. Most of the modern ships are known by other names while some carry the same name by which they were known in war days.

The difference between the modern ship and its war-time ancestor is enormous. For instance, take the war-time Handly-Page 0/400 and the modern Handly-Page “Heyford”. Quite a change!

Let us consider a famous war-time ship and see what it looks like today. Above is a drawing of this ship as it looks today. In this case the ship is known by the same name it had in war days. Its war-time ancestor is perhaps the best known of the war-time ships in America. American flyers used it almost exclusively and it features in most of the stories in this issue. Would you recognize the above drawing as a SPAD? I don’t think you would, for the Spad as it is today has developed beyond all recognition to the war-time model. Personally, I think the war-time Spad is the better looking ship. The modern version is a high-altitude fighter with a ceiling of 35,750 feet. Its speed lower down is 195 m.p.h. while high up it is 231 m.p.h. It has a 500 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine, the same engine its ancestor had with the addition of a few more “horses”. The only recognizable feature between the war-time Spad and the modern Spad is the letter “S” on the rudder.

The French monoplane on the cover is another descendant of a war-time ship not, however, as famous as the Spad, It also has the same name as its predecessor, the Morane-Saulnier. Except for refinements in design, it is remarkably like the older Morane-Saulnier. The parasol monoplane type is peculiar to France as it has always been a specialty of French military design. This ship has a speed of 204 m.p.h. and its absolute ceiling is 36,080 feet.

The ships attacking the airdrome are Dorniers. They have a maximum speed of 161 m.p.h. and a range of 745 miles.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Heyford: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(December 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Camera Kid” by C.B. Mayshark

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AS PART of our Mayshark Month posts we have a rare story C.B. Mayshark had in the May 1936 issue of Dare-Devil Aces! Known for his great covers and interior illustrations, Mayshark was apparently jut as adept with the typewriter. He gives us a crackin’ yarn of hell skies. A young observation photographer that’s a whiz with the camera unfortunately freezes when the bullets start flying by. His pilot has been able to successfully cover for the kid, until a figure from the kid’s past gets wind of his affliction and sets about to bring him down!

The Kid had an eye like a hungry eagle, and could snap a picture of a mosquito doing handsprings. But alone in the clouds with the Spandaus whistling past, the Kid’s guts froze in a lump. “Yellow I am,” he cursed himself. “And I wish that I could die.” Still one man keeps his faith with the Kid and vows to bring him through—leads him on to a smashing show down, as a boy becomes a man!

“The Hawker Fury” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on September 18, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ September 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee presents a couple Hawker Furys escorting a flight of Hawker Demons on a bombing mission!

th_DDA_3610THIS black and white drawing which you see above, is the English ship, the Hawker “Fury.” It appears on the cover as an escort to the Hawker “Demons,” towards which we have given much space in the past. The “Demons” of course, are doing the actual bombing. The “Fury” happens to be a single-seater fighter with a maximum speed of 240 m.p.h. at 14,000 feet. It is naturally a very handy crate with which to protect the bombing ships.

Now, I believe, is as good a time as any in which to answer the frequent question, “Why don’t you paint more American ships?” The answer, I believe, should be obvious.

America, of all the nations of the world, should be about the last to be drawn in a major war. We are less secretive about our military plans and aviation developments than other nations, and any information regarding our ships is readily available to the readers.

However, across the seas, such, unhappily, is not the case. War clouds hover constantly above the threatened capitals of Europe. And while no nation there will admit to thoughts of aggression, we are well aware that it might come any minute. I have a natural interest in the ships of the English, feeling that they are naturally our friends and allies. We know too, that they are as peace loving as we, but by the very nature of their geographical situation, are more apt to become involved in war than ourselves. Feeling that your interest naturally runs that way, I have tried to give you as much information on British ships as I possibly can.

You will also note that I have from time to time, painted the German ships of war. We all know of Germany’s gigantic military preparations; we know very well that she may become the bombshell that will once again rock the earth. What then is her equipment in the sky? Next month I shall try to elaborate on the German air strength, giving you all the information I can possibly gather. It must be kept in mind however, that Mr. Hitler and his aides keep their activities pretty much under cover. Once in a while, though, I manage to get a peek. And when I do, you can be sure that I’ll pass the news along.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hawker Fury: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(October 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Overstrand” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ September 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee gives us his two favorite things to paint—planes and trains—in this case a couple Boulton Paul Overstrands attacking a train depot!

th_DDA_3609I DON’T know whether it makes much sense or not to tell the story behind this month’s cover, because action speaks louder than words, and all but the blind can see that a perfectly good piece of railroad is being blasted all over the premises by the sky raiders. Still, maybe we could use a little information on just what sort of ships these giant bombers are.

The big crates, coming in low, are Boulton Paul “Overstrands.” From the damage apparent on the cover and the bombing to be inflicted by ships we were not able to show, you can well imagine what’s going to happen to the enemy’s railroad. Of course, it is a practical military tactic, as old as warfare itself, to cripple your enemy’s means of transportation.

If at this late date, War should come to us again, and God forbid that it ever should, I believe this cover should give you some idea of what would happen. We have, for purposes of illustration, placed the “Overstrands” at a much lower altitude than they would really attempt. Were they actually to fly at this altitude, the terrific concussion that would ensue from the bombardment, might well put them out of commission. War is no longer a pleasant pastime, and the bombs to be dropped today are not precisely baseballs.

But suppose they were actually at this height—suppose this illustrated scene were actually taking place. At that altitude the ship’s speed would be somewhere around 160 m.p.h.—somewhat faster than the speed attained by the fastest, single-seat combat crates of World War days. The “Overstrand” is a bomber, pure and simple, but it is carefully protected by three gun positions, bow, amidship and prone. It can carry a load of 2,196 pounds, and its service ceiling is 22,500 feet.

Fred Blakeslee

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Overstrand: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(September 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

“The Fairey Hendon Night Bomber” by Frederick Blakeslee

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Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ August 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee has painted a squadron of Fairey Hendon Night Bombers doing what they do best!

th_DDA_3608THE fortunate folk who’ve had a look at this month’s cover before the regular customers, keep reminding me that it looks like a bombing of the docks along the Hudson River, New York City. Far be it from me to bring such disaster to the fair City of New York, so you may be sure that the resemblance is quite accidental. As a matter of fact, the scene is laid nowhere in particular—my idea being to give you as interesting a cover with as much detail as possible. It looks alright to me. What do you think?

However, the bombers are the real McCoy. Should one ever chance to drop an egg on your peaceful residence, I’m sure all hands will agree that they are genuine. These are Fairey Hendon night bombers, designed for long distance maneuvers. It’s a low-winged cantilever monoplane with two Rolls-Royce Kestral Engines, capable of carrying a crew of five. The gunner, who has all the fun of releasing the bombs, is located in the bow, while the pilot sits comfortably, just forward of the leading edge of the wing. There’s another bomber amidship and one in the tail. This ship can also be employed as a troop transport, being capable of carrying up to twenty fully equipped men. Its span is 101 by 9 feet; its length, 69 by 9. All in all it’s quite a crate, weighing some 20,000 pounds, fully loaded. This is definitely the wrong package to be hit with, since it can travel at a terrific rate of speed. Just how fast, however, has not been divulged by the people who hold the secret. Hope you like it. Fred Blakeslee.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Fairey Hendon Night Bomber: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(August 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

Now Available!

Link - Posted by David on July 28, 2017 @ 10:00 am in

IF YOU can’t make it to PulpFest in Columbus this weekend, you can still get copies of our new books online from the usual outlets. Both of our new books—Harold F. Cruickshank’s Sky Devil: Ace of Devils and Donald E. Keyhoe’s Captain Philip Strange: Strange Hell—are now available to order online from Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

While you’re waiting for the books to arrive, why not check out some of the extras we’ve put on line for each book to whet your appetite. For Cruickshank’s second volume of Sky Devil tales Ace of Devils we’ve posted the original pulp scans from Dare-Devil Aces magazine of the opening page art so you can see how it would have looked if you were reading the stories back in the 1930’s when they were originally published. You can also read the opening of the stories in the scans.

For the latest release of the weird World War I adventures of Donald E. Keyhoe’s Captain Philip Strange we have the original full page scans of the opening artwork for each of the six stories collected in Strange Hell! As we did for the last volume, we’re posting the full page scan so you can read a bit of story and enjoy Eugene M. Frandzen’s art in all its glory from the pages of Flying Aces magazine. Painton’s Squadron also uses Frandzen’s art, but here in the bedsheet sized issues of Flying Aces you get those glorious painted images Frandzen would do—much better than his line art.

And the piece de resistance of any Strange book—Chris’ great cutout artwork he does for each of the stories! There are only six this time—but they’re all winners. You can check them out on the Strange Hell Design page!

Both books are available for $16.99 wherever our books are sold, so pick up both today! You can order online from Adventure House, Mike Chomko Books and Amazon!

“The Hanriot-Biche Pursuit” by Frederick Blakeslee

Link - Posted by David on July 10, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. On Dare-Devil Aces’ July 1936 cover, Mr. Blakeslee depicts a French Hanriot-Biche pursuit plane attacking a flight of German Junkers!

th_DDA_3607THE queer looking French ship on the cover is a Hanriot-Biche pursuit. As the student of aviation can readily see, this is an abrupt departure from the usual type of pursuit ship. Here, because the ship is a pusher, the cockpit is placed well forward in the bow, from which the pilot has a clear, unobstructed view. You have also noted, perhaps, that the radiator is even further forward than the pilot. This is permissible through the use of the air-cooled, 600-horsepower Hispano-Suiza engine. But probably the most unique feature of this odd ship are the two tail booms between which the three-bladed, metal propeller revolves. The Hanriot’s two machine guns fire from the bottom of the cowl.

The green ships are German Junkers, once used purely as transport planes, but now employed by the Rhineland as bombers.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Hanriot-Biche Pursuit: The Story Behind The Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(July 1936, Dare-Devil Aces)

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