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“Flying Aces, June 1936″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 27, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties on Flying Aces from Paul Bissell with the December 1934 issue and would continue to provide covers for the next year and a half until the June 1936 issue. While Bissell’s covers were frequently depictions of great moments in combat aviation from the Great War, Mayshark’s covers were often depictions of future aviation battles and planes, or sometimes even Zeppelins like the June 1936’s cover which imagines what the new Zeppelin heading to America might look like!

The New Zeppelin Heads for America!

th_FA_3606OF COURSE we’re aware of the fact that when we discuss lighter-than-air craft we are touching on a subject that has unpleasant memories for most Americans. The Shenandoah, Akron, and Macon disasters have left in their wake a subconscious dread of Zeppelins. But perhaps we are unduly biased in our opinion as to the merits of the cigar shaped balloons that go scuttling across the sky in such a graceful manner.

But let us forget, for a moment, our own misfortunes. Across the blue Atlantic there is a nation of people who know how to build Zeppelins as they should be built. Germany has been building them for years with great success. Indeed, a German—Count Zeppelin—gave the world these giant ships.

During the War, the Zeppelin came into prominence as a military weapon (see article on the raiding Zeppelins in your April FLYING ACES). True, these Wartime gas bags were tricky and on several occasions became veritable death traps, but in spite of these misfortunes they continued in popularity until finally they were out of the experimental stage.

Then the British and Americans recognized their value. But, like us, the British also had their difficulties and crash followed crash until finally, with the destruction of the giant R-101 and its huge death toll, the English washed their hands of the business altogether.

With our several disasters, we Americans seem to be in the same boat as the British, although not officially. And so dubious glances are cast across the Big Pond as America awaits the take-off of the new Von Hindenburg (LZ-129) for Lakehurst.

According to present schedules, the new queen of the skies is to make its initial voyage to the United States early in May. The route to be followed is the northern, or Great Circle, route and the western terminus, as just noted, will be the United States Naval air station at Lakehurst, New Jersey. The hangars at Lakehurst are the only ones on the Eastern seaboard large enough to accommodate the new giant. They have been leased by the German operating company.

Of course the Germans, with their enthusiasm for lighter-than-air craft, are looking forward to a warm reception for the Von Hindenburg. They hope to establish a permanent North Atlantic passenger and mail air service, and they point out the obvious when they say it shouldn’t be done with a single ship.

Their idea is for the Americans to become convinced of the advisability of employing several Zeppelins for over water transportation and so join hands with them in completing establishment of the route. If America shows any signs of a willingness to cooperate and builds another ship, Germany plans to continue the service that is to be inaugurated this summer. If not, the new Von Hindenburg may join her sister, the Graf Zeppelin, on the South Atlantic run.

The great success that has attended the many flights of the famous Graf leads us to believe that the Zeppelin may be coming into its own. There is no reason in the world why the Von Hindenburg should not have the same success. What faults the Graf has have been eliminated’ in the new ship, and more modern construction has also been incorporated. Besides their ability to build these monsters, the Germans have an uncanny faculty for flying the cigar-shaped craft. Their inherent love for thoroughness is well applied in this respect.

One question that naturally arises in conjunction with a passenger and mail Zeppelin air service is: Does it pay? Our immediate answer is that it doesn’t. Obviously, a government subsidy is necessary. However, there is an intangible something derived that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. The good will and friendly relations which the Graf has produced in the South American countries for Germany has many times made up for the subsidy the German government has placed upon the company operating the veteran Zep.

The new markets that Germany has found and the subsequent increased trade have combined to make the idea of travel by Zeppelin a sort of national institution in Germany, and rightfully so.

The airship has often been criticized for its slow speed in comparison with heavier-than-air craft, as well as for its high cost, both initial and operating. But most of the hollering has come from the direction of the airplane groups which refuse to recognize the obvious great value which is possessed by the Graf.

THE passenger facilities and fittings for the Von Hindenburg are ultra modern. The passengers are accommodated in the hull itself. In this way, roominess is assured. There are two passenger .decks, “A” and “B.” “A” deck contains twenty-five staterooms each with two berths. Also on “A” deck are the dining saloon and reading and writing rooms. On “B” deck below are the shower baths, smoking room, and bar. The two decks, of course, have access to each other and provide a walk two hundred feet in length.

The Von Hindenburg has a cruising speed of eighty miles per hour. Her range is nearly nine thousand miles. It is expected that the Atlantic crossings will be made in sixty-five hours or less.

The new ship boasts almost twice the gas capacity of the Graf, but still it’s only forty feet longer. Against the Graf’s 3,700,000 cubic feet of lift gas space, the Von Hindenburg has a capacity for 7,000,000 cubic feet. An idea of the new craft’s greater bulk can be obtained from these figures.

Four Mercedes-Benz Diesel engines, each developing 1,200 h.p., drive this latest Zeppelin. Greater safety is derived from the employment of Diesel, instead of gasoline, engines, since the absence of gasoline and electric spark combustion reduces the fire hazard. Because of this absence of gasoline, passengers will be allowed the privilege of a smoking room.

And so we await the arrival of the great Von Hindenburg. In the meantime, anti-airship criticism should be taken with a grain of salt, for we know that this ship was built by people who know their business from the ground up and who have in the past demonstrated their natural facility for Zeppelin construction. We of FLYING ACES take this opportunity to wish the Von Hindenburg a long and successful life.

The Story of The Cover
The New Zeppelin Heads for America!: Thrilling Story Behind This Month’s Cover
Flying Aces, June 1936 by C.B. Mayshark

How the War Crates Flew: Gas Bags

Link - Posted by David on October 10, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

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

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

Gas Bags

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

PRACTICALLY everyone of you young whipper-snappers that I have run across has the idea that you are living in the golden age which saw man first conquer the air. And for that reason you’re a big-headed and puffed-up lot of gas bags.

We’ll I’m sorry to have to knock the undercarriage out from under you and let a little hellium out of your inflated hides, so to speak.

The truth of the matter is that Napoleon used an aviation unit in his army. In the year 1794 a Captain J.M.J. Coutelle made the first military balloon ascent in the history of warfare. He was the world’s first military balloon observer.

At the Battle of Fleurus in Belgium during that year it was through his work as a spotter for the French artillery that the French won a victory. His observation balloon was in the air for several hours, always out over No-Man’s-Land. Much of the time he flew over the enemy’s army. He used the first hydrogen-inflated balloon, the result of his own experiments.

He later organized the world’s first balloon corps, which Napoleon used in his wars until it was destroyed during his campaign in Egypt. In the seventeen-hundreds, my children!

The First Dirigible

The first dirigible airship, the grandfather of the present Zeppelins and our own great Akron, was designed even before this date. It was the invention of a French army officer and it made use of the small ballonets which are found in the airships of today. This was shortly after the first man ever soared into the air, which happened in 1783. You ground-looping, high-chair aviators probably don’t know it, but this was going on at about the time that America was just drawing its breath after the American Revolution.

Lincoln Used ’Em

I know there’s no use in trying to cram your thick heads full of history because it would go in one ear and out the other, since there is nothing in there to stop it. So, I’ll just mention in passing that during the American Civil War old Abe Lincoln used observation balloons. And here’s something that maybe you know-it-alls didn’t know. Graf Zeppelin was an official observer attached to General Grant’s army! It was here that he made his first ascent, which resulted in his devoting the rest of his life to the dirigible, the first of which he built in 1900.

The skipper says that my job is to tell you ballonets how the war crates flew. (You remember I told you that a ballonet is a gas bag.) So, to tell you how things flew I suppose I’ll have to remind you from time to time why people wanted them to fly. Which brings us down to 1908.

The American government offered $10,000 for a “practicable military means of dirigible aerial navigation.” Such a ship was built and the Army bought it after it was test-flown at thirty miles an hour. It was ninety-six feet long and powered with a twenty-horse-power engine. Instead of having a gondola suspended under the cigar-shaped gas bag, it had an open bridgework, like the skeleton of an uncovered fuselage, upon which the aeronauts ran back and forth like a couple of monkeys in a high cage. The ship was attached to the Signal Corps. See Fig. I.

Now if you are properly humbled, and want to admit that you didn’t know there was such a thing as a flying machine before the World War, I’ll start the lesson proper. And cut out that snoring before I wrap a propeller blade around your neck.

German Dirigibles

The Germans went in for dirigibles in a big way. The whole layout or scheme of the fracas made it possible for them to use lighter-than-air craft to much better advantage than to the Allies. Just in case you don’t happen to have a war map in your pocket, I’ll try to explain the situation so that even you can get a picture of it.

The war was fought in Allied territory. The German armies were away from their home grounds. Therefore all the destruction of cities and towns was felt by Allied countries. The Germans were out to capture their enemy. The Allies’ task was to defend themselves.

Now it was a long way from the heart of Germany to Paris and to London and to the Allied centers which made up the heart of their activity, such as munition works, supply and shipping bases, and centers of population. These things the Germans wanted to destroy, while at the same time they wanted to break the morale of the non-combatant population.

Lighter Than Air

Dirigible balloons were strongly in favor for these purposes. They were self-lifting, or lighter than air, and therefore could stay aloft a great length of time without the danger of making forced landings in enemy territory on account of engine failure.

They were able to carry enormous loads of explosives a great distance, drop them, and return to their bases. Such machines making these long trips under cover of darkness had a great advantage.

They Cost Money!

These big babies cost a lot of money, and when you knocked one of them down you destroyed over a million dollars worth of fighting gear and very likely killed a considerable number of highly trained specialists. So, you see, their bases of operation had to be pretty safely located in a spot where there was little danger of destruction from enemy guns and aircraft. Since the theater of war was not in their home territory the Zeppelin bases were fairly safe from destruction. Only a few of them were successfully raided.

Such was not the case with the Allies, whose territory was always subject to attack. Thus it was that the Germans could, and did, make more use of lighter-than-air craft.

Plenty of Bombardment

During the course of the War the Germans bombarded England with Zeppelins fifty-three times! They raided London, itself, twelve times. In all, their dirigibles dropped 275 tons of bombs on English soil. See Fig. II.

And over fifty air attacks were made directly upon Paris!

Kite balloons also played their own important part in the fighting. These small round and sausage-shaped babies did their invaluable work in spotting. Practically all battle lines had them tugging at their cables high above the fighting while their observers, with binoculars glued to their eyes, reported the results of shell fire upon enemy batteries by telephone.

A Hot Time

Naturally such effective eyes were the centers upon which the enemy would congregate in desperate efforts to blind them. Not being able to maneuver their gas bags, the balloon observers had a plenty hot time of it on either side. Maybe you remember young Frank Luke. That young former cow puncher used to go out and knock down three or four German sausages before breakfast. He ran up a record of over fifty of them lone handed.

The story of balloons during the World War is one that has not been sufficiently told, and by the very nature of it, cannot be. Because the only ones that could have told the story of their individual dramas were killed while that story was being written. But even so, the balloons did furnish many exciting chapters.

One Well Known Incident

Take, for example, one well known incident. The Germans were making their famous drive on Paris, and were within fifty miles of its gates. The Parisians were frantic with fear for the safety of their women and children. They mobilized the now-famous taxicab army as a last means of defense. Their morale was in danger of being snapped by almost anything. The Germans knew they had the Frenchmen where the hair was short. Now was the psychological time to push home the drive.

Creating Panic

Under cover of darkness they seized the opportunity to throw panic into the hearts of the Frenchmen. They loaded one of their giant dirigibles with ton after ton of deadly explosive and sent it through the blackness to drop its burden of disaster into the homes of the defenseless women and children.

A lone French aviator patrolling the night saw the great monster coming. If she poured her deadly cargo upon the city, death and destruction would reign in the streets, the morale of the people would be broken, and defeat would be inevitable. The Germans would sweep the broken-spirited defenders away before them.

Rowboat vs. Battleship

All these things the Frenchman in his tiny monoplane knew. And he knew, too, that the Zeppelin bristled with machine-guns manned by gunners of deadly accuracy. He was in the position of a man in a rowboat going up against a battleship. Thus he soared about the giant, looking for a point of vulnerability. But there was none.

Still, if the Zeppelin reached its objective the cause of France was lost. It must not do that!

A Brave Deed

The Frenchman determined upon a course which should go down in history as one of the bravest individual deeds in the whole War. He circled his tiny monoplane high above the Zeppelin. Then he dived squarely toward its great gas bag with flaming tracer bullets pouring out ahead of him.

He rushed downward toward the balloon with the wind whistling through his struts and his guns roaring.

He increased the speed of his mad dive without veering to the right or left. Answering fire greeted him from the gun traps on top of the gas bag.

But still he held to his course. His screaming machine with its guns blazing tore headlong into the great framework of the hydrogen-filled gas bags of the great ship. There was the rending crash of wood and steel as the little monoplane ripped its way through the monster. And there was a great blinding white flash of fire as his tracer bullets and the flame of his motor ignited those thousands of feet of the inflammable gas. See Fig. III.

Paris Saved!

Then, like a giant blazing meteor, the fiery mass of wreckage plunged down to earth. There was nothing left of the Frenchman nor of the German crew. It was a glorious sacrifice!

But Paris had been saved!

Now both of you readers can wipe away your tears with your shirt tails and go out and tell the world that there are two different kinds of gas bags. Tell ‘em that you are one and that you’ve just heard about the other.

And don’t get too close to a lighted match, because I’ll have something else to tell you next month.

“Famous Sky Fighters, July 1936″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on October 9, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

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

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

The July 1936 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, features Sir Charles Kingford-Smith, Captain A.W. Stevens, Captain Boris Sergievsky and the great German inventor, Graf Zeppelin!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters”, Terry Gilkison features Captain Frederick Libby, Lt. Joseph Wehner, Lt. Wilhelm Frankl, and Tommy Hitchcock! Don’t miss it!