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The Lone Eagle, May 1936 by Eugene M. Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on September 26, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of The Lone Eagle from its first issue in September 1933 until the June 1937 issue when he would share duties with Rudolph Belarski. At the start of the run, Frandzen painted covers of general air action much like his Sky Fighters covers, shifting to covers featuring famous aces at the end of 1935. For the May 1936 issue, Frandzen gives us a Nieuport 28 and Pfalz D3 locked in combat!

The Story of the Cover

SOME planes had famous th_LE_3605 ancestors whose reputations had to be upheld. The Nieuport line was of the French aristocracy of war planes. The early Nieuport scouts were named “avions de chasse.” They were to the world war what the cavaliers clad in shining armour riding prancing Arabian horses were to the Middle Ages. The end of the war saw the Nieuport 28C1, a single-seater fighter, which made those American pilots speak of this plane with affection almost twenty years after the war.

The Germans had the Pfalz line of single-seater planes whose ancestry was not so clear. The early Pfalz D3 in fact had so many characteristics of the Nieuport of its time that it has not been free from the slur of being a copy. The Pfalz D13 of 1918 tried to save the family name by having a design all its own.

A Brilliant Ace

Frank L. Baylies was a member of the old Lafayette Escadrille. He was invited to join the Stork squadron of French veteran fighters. This young American airman was a brilliant star in a firmament of older aces. Baylies had twelve official victories credited to his skill in less than six months. The courageous qualities that endeared him to his comrades led him into an ambush on June 17, 1918. Flying well in German territory he attacked three enemy ships but a fourth German plane lurking above unseen came down on Baylies from the rear. Baylies’ plane fell in German territory.

The details of his last fight are clouded in the mystery of war, but the memory of one of America’s most intrepid airmen lives as a shining glory.

Prisoners of war were not always treated as “enemies” on our side of the lines. Usually they were steered to a liquid-soaked plank on which sundry bottles, glasses and other necessary drinking paraphenalia reposed.

Cognac and vintage wines skidded over appreciative palates. Any differences of opinion went by the board. After that. Max, Fritz or Oscar was merely on the wrong side of the argument, but he was a flyer and deserved a square deal before being thrown into clank for the duration of the war.

Such a situation arose one day when a wobbling German plane was forced down adjacent to a Yank drome. He was in one piece and thirsty. He sang a good bass to “Sweet Adeline.” He held his liquor like a gentleman and he could run like Nurmi.

He demonstrated this fact by grabbing the only .45 automatic in the crowd and sprinting across the flying field, hopping into a Nieuport 28 and getting off the field fifty yards ahead of a Yank who was testing a captured Pfalz D13 which had a trick Fokker tail in its rear section. Neither of the ships had ammo.

Duelling in Darkness

Both aviators had side arms, A cockeyed duel ensued as darkness began to fall. Two powerful planes heeled with pea shooters. They blazed at each other industriously. They did not see three cruising Allied planes rushing at them, nor did they see three German planes until the half dozen ships broke in on their private scrap with a bang. The German pilot in the Nieuport shrugged his shoulders and snuggled in among the Allied planes. The Yank took his lead and flipped his Pfalz among the Germans. Both foursomes veered off and headed for their own lines. The two revolver dueling airmen raised imaginary glasses to their lips; toasted each other, then as dusk crept deeper over the blurred formations, cut out and headed for their own lines.

As they passed each other at combined speeds of about 280 miles per hour, they let go a final parting shot from their pea shooters, a friendly salute till they could get a few assorted machine-guns anchored on the top cowling and go after this business of killing each other in a really serious manner.

The Story of The Cover
The Lone Eagle, May 1936 by Eugene M. Frandzen
(The Story of The Cover Page)

“Spy Drome” by H.P.S. Greene

Link - Posted by David on October 22, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story by H.P.S. Greene. Henry Paul Stevens Greene wrote aviation tales from the late 20’s to the early 40’s for magazines like Wings, Air Stories, Sky Fighters and, the magazine this story appeared in—Aces.

What little we know about Greene is from papers he left behind in a cardboard suitcase discovered in a storeroom at the National Press Club.

Greene was known by his colleagues at the National Press Club as the man who lived out of a suitcase, so it only seemed apt that he left his papers behind in a cardboard suitcase that was subsequently discovered in a storeroom of the National Press Club. The papers within the suitcase appear to be the only remaining information about H.P.S. Greene.

Henry Paul Stevens Greene was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 28, 1892, the son of Amy Bodwell Stevens and Henry Brooks Greene. (According to his own genealogical research, both the Bodwell and Stevens families were active in the American colonial and revolutionary periods.)

He graduated from Methuen (MA) High School and wrote the “Prophecy” for the class of 1911.

Greene was a member of the 1916 class of Amherst College but left in January of that year to join an ambulance unit in the French army.

His stories and reminiscences suggest that he may have joined the elite French flying unit, the Lafayette Escadrille, and later transferred to the American Air Service.

In August 1919, he received the Diploma of Honor of the Aerial League of America for his services in the First World War.

Greene wrote aviation tales from the late 20’s to the early 40’s for magazines like Wings, Air Stories, Sky Fighters, Flying Aces, and Aces.

Later on, while in residence at veteran’s hospitals in Tucson, Arizona, and Los Angeles, California, he wrote adventure tales of Mexico and the old West. Sadly, by the 1940’s rejection slips had become common in his correspondence.

He passed away in 1947.

In the suitcase, Greene had kept his correspondence and personal records, such as a genealogical survey, his “Prophesy” for his 1911 high school class, a college newspaper which mentions his World War I service, a diploma from the Aerial League of America, and his reminiscences. He also stored typescripts of his articles and novellas, and clipped copies of stories which had been published in the magazines likes Wings and Aces.

The articles consist largely of adventure stories of World War I: ambulance drivers and aviation aces. They appear to be drawn, in part, from the personal experiences of the author. The lack of his military record suggests, however, that they are embellished composites.

One long novelette, “A Child, an Old Woman, and a Cow,” is partially an autobiographical statement, detailing the experiences of ambulance drivers and aviators in the First World War and a character who undergoes treatment at a veteran’s hospital. It is also a fantasy which describes a decorated war hero and a successful aviation writer.

The materials from Greene’s suitcase have been archived at the National Press Club into two boxes and arranged in three series: personal files, typescripts, and printed material. Within the typescripts and printed materials, the articles are arranged alphabetically by title.

Spy Drome

A jinxed pilot, Lieutenant Hugo Von Blon, is cornered into taking the fall for his commanding officer’s indiscretion and spend the rest of the war as a prisoner of war or be cashiered out in disgrace. From the pages of the November 1931 Aces, it’s H.P.S. Greene’s “Spy Drome!”

Cornered by a fat little spy, a conspiring squadron commander and an M.S.E. who rigged the Spad for a crash, what could Von Blon do? His last landing was on a German field, hands in the air.

 

As a bonus, H.P.S. Greene provided some “believe-it-or-not” stories that were printed up in the letters column.

Behind “Spy Drome”

These lines from H.P.S. Greene lend additional interest to the tribulations of Von Blon, and provide fresh proof that strange things happened while the war was raging in the air. Two heroes figure in the incidents described by the author of “Spy Drome” in this issue.

A Boston bird, Gardiner Fiske, attached to the First Bombardment Group, A.E.F., at Maulan, just south of Verdun, fell out of a ship a few thousand feet up. Well, he grabbed the stabilizer as it went past and climbed back up the fuselage and into the cockpit again.

Tell you another? All right. This one’s about an observer with a British squadron— Number Twenty of the Royal Flying Corps. The observer was Captain J.H. Hedley, who at the close of the war had a score of twelve enemy planes and a balloon.

Twenty had arrived in France with Fees on January 23, 1916. Two years later, when the squadron was flying Bristol Fighters, Hedley pulled this same stunt of leaving his ship and coming back again. It happened one day in January, 1918.

The Bristol was flying over the lines way up, with more than eighteen thousand altitude. A black-crossed ship appeared ahead. Hedley, in the rear pit, swung his gun in an attempt to get the E.A. into his line of fire.

Now in the British service observers had begun without safety belts. And of course they had no parachutes. The observer was in the habit of tapping the pilot on the back of his head, thus signifying that the plane should dive.

The German was behind and above, diving zigzag wide open and gaining. His machine guns were sputtering bullets. Hedley was standing up facing back with his machine gun belching fire right back at his opponent. The German suddenly zoomed right down on the Englishman and then pulled almost straight up, evidently preparing to loop and take another dive on them.

When the German took his last zoom and pulled up, Hedley tried to follow him with bis machine guns and in so doing leaned his head back so far that he accidentally bumped the pilot’s head. To the pilot this was a sign to dive straight down and then level off again, and so the pilot pushed the stick all the way forward and started a terrific dive.

Hedley was not expecting any such maneuver, and when the plane snapped down in its dive, it threw him completely out of the plane, into the air.

Well, he fell in direct line with the falling plane and when the plane leveled off after its dive, he hit astraddle the fuselage of the plane close to the tail!

The pilot did not know that his observer had even fallen out. When he felt the jolt on the tail of the plane he looked around, and to his amazement saw his observer facing backwards on the tail. The pilot had no idea how he ever got in that position.

Neither did Hedley. He told his squadron mates that when he was thrown out his helmet slipped over his eyes and he couldn’t see anything. Suddenly he realized that he was straddling something.

You can find proof of the story in the British records of the Twentieth: “Lt. Makepeace, M.C., reports Capt. J.H. Hedley accidentally thrown into air, afterwards alighted on tail same machine and rescued.”

 

The archival information on H.P.S. Green at the top of the post is from the National Press Club Archive Finding Aid prepared by Christina J. Zamon and Jocelyn Manby.

“Lufbery Becomes an Ace” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on January 7, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present “Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”—The story behind Paul Bissell’s April 1933 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the May 1932 cover Bissell presents the moment in the battle of Mauser raid where Raoul Lufbery became an ace!

Lufbery Becomes an Ace

th_FA_3205“PROCEED to their objective, the Mauser Munition Works at Oberndorf; there drop their bombs at points most destructive to the enemy positions; and then return to their home airdromes.”

So read the orders for October 12, 1916, at all Allied airdromes located back of the front line and south of Verdun. Orders of Brass Hats, “—and then return”! What a chance! With the objective one hundred and fifty kilometers inside the enemy lines and the sky filled with Boche. Well, anyway, it would be a great show, and at least one pilot smiled, thinking that tomorrow might bring death, but most surely would bring the opportunity of becoming an Ace.

This was Sous-Lieutenant Raoul Lufbery, of the Lafayette Escadrille, with four official victories to his credit, who, with three companions, Lieutenants Masson, de Laage and Prince, had been ordered to fly guard patrol for the bombing planes and protect them from attack.

Arriving at the appointed rendezvous, they saw a sight then strange to any eye. Perhaps the largest concentration of air forces the world had yet seen was spread below them. Farnums, Breguets, Caudrons, Sopwiths and Nieuports, almost every type of plane yet developed by the Allies for work at the Front, was in this huge flying armada, which would strike desperately at one of the main centers of German munition supplies.

Turning east, the whole group passed through a terrific archie bombardment, but it was not until they neared Oberndorf that the real show began. Here the Germans seemed to come from all directions. A general alarm had been spread, and every available German ship had been pressed into service.” Single-seated scouts, double-seaters, and even big three-placers, planes seldom seen on the Front at that time, were massed ahead of the advancing bombers.

The larger enemy ships would charge in, boldly maneuvering to bring their swivel guns into play, only to find the sky suddenly raining lead as Nieuports and Sopwiths dived headlong from the blue, their guns blazing in defense of their bombers. Then flashes of crimson and black, as Albatrosses and Fokkers and Pfalzes attacked fiercely, striving to gain that deadly blind spot underneath the tail of the slow-moving bomber, or twisting and squirming to evade the fire of some Nieuport, and, by some quick renversement, bring the tri-colored cocarde full in their sights.

IT WAS from such a mêlée that Lufbery, pulling out for an instant to clear a jam of his gun, saw a German go down in flames before the withering fire of Norman Prince.

“Yeow! Number one for the Lafayettes! Good old Nimmie! Now for number two!” And he pushed his stick over. But that dive was never to be finished. At that instant a sudden impact in his cockpit told him that a German was on his tail. Instinctively he yanked his stick back hard against his chest. Up he zoomed, his head twisted around to find his enemy.

There it was, a huge three-place Aviatik, with three guns, and all of them’ blazing at him. A flip of his ailerons—a kick of his rudder—then down hard on his stick, and in an instant he was away from the fire of the Boche. A sharp climbing bank would, he thought, bring him back under the tail of the larger ship, but here the German pilot, an old hand at the game, was too crafty to be caught. Banking up sharply on his right wing he exposed Lufbery again to the open fire of his three gunners.

This was entirely too hot a spot to stay in, and Lufbery turned the nose of his little Nieuport sharply away, out of the line of fire, climbing rapidly to gain altitude, from which he might dive down on the larger machine. As he turned, a flash of red went by, followed by a streak of silver—de Laage on the tail of a Boche!

Now, below him, Lufbery could see the three-seated Aviatik, the gunners all set for his attack. Over he nosed his ship and hurled down at the enemy, but at the same instant the big plane banked around and he overshot his mark. In a fury he twisted back in a sharp renversement, this time approaching the plane from the most dangerous position, open to the fire of the gunners.

But the Germans were square in his sights, and straight on he flew, feeling a thrill as the pulsing guns answered to the squeeze of his hand on the stick. He could feel the German bullets spattering his plane. Another instant, and he turned to avoid a crash, just as the huge Aviatik, the pilot dead, slipped crazily off on one wing. A telltale whisper of smoke, and then a burst of flame as it headed down to where falling chimneys and bursting roofs showed that the Allied bombers had
found their objective with fearful accuracy.

THAT was one hundred and fifty kilometers inside the German lines, and it meant one hundred and fifty kilometers of scrapping to win their way back through. The Germans took their toll. However, it had been a great show, and very successful from the Allied viewpoint. Much havoc had been wrought to the munitions center, and the Allies, too, had taken their toll in German ships. Three more victories were to the credit of the Lafayette Escadrille, for de Laage had brought down his German also.

A happy reunion awaited them, had not Fate here taken a hand. The four pilots, blown slightly off their course, and running short of gasoline, were forced to land at the French field of Corcieux, a field strange to all of them. It was almost dark as they eased their ships down, and Prince, unaware of some high tension wires strung across one end of the field, crashed into them as he glided in. With characteristic courage he refused to have his comrades move him until flares had been lighted to prevent some other pilot crashing as he had done.

Two days later he died in the hospital. The famous Mauser raid was history. Lufbery was an Ace, and Norman Prince an international hero.

The Ships on The Cover
“Lufbery Becomes an Ace”
Flying Aces, May 1932 by Paul J. Bissell

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell

Link - Posted by David on February 21, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

AMIDST all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have member of the LaFayette Escadrille—Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell!

Kiffin Rockwell was a true soldier of fortune. Born and raised In Aaheville, N. Carolina, young Rockwell got the wanderlust soon after graduating from the University of Virginia. When the Germans made their surprise move on the forts of Liege, Rockwell was serving in the ranks of the Foreign Legion. For a heroic exploit in hand to hand bayonet fighting, he was awarded the Medaille Militaire. For a whole year he served with the Foreign Legion in the trenches, then transferred to the aviation and went into training at Avord. When Norman Prince formed the first American Flying Squadron in Paris, Rockwell was one of those invited to join. He proved out to be one of the best and most daring pilots of that original band. His career was cut short by his untimely death on September 23rd, 1916.

Rockwell ran up a score of three official victories before being killed in action and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with additional citation for his Medaille Militaire. The following is taken from a letter to his brother in Asheville.

 

WHY WE CALL THEM LES BOCHES

by Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell • Sky Fighters, August 1936

YOU asked why we call the Germans les Boches, or butchers, in our language. There are many reasons. I shall relate a recent experience so you can determine for yourself.

Captain Thenault, Prince and I had taken young Balsley out for his second trip over the front. We were cruising along behind the Boche lines when we suddenly found ourselves face to face with about 40 Boches. They were grouped together in a close formation but at different altitudes. On our level there were about 12 or 15 Aviatiks.

These Aviatiks had about the same speed as our Nieuports, but they carried a gunner behind the pilot. The pilot shoots as we do, but the gunner has a movable gun which enables him to fire in all directions.

A Mêlée of Battle

We were but four and on the German side of the lines, but none of us turned and ran away. For ten or fifteen minutes we flew over and around the Aviatiks, being fired at constantly, some of their bursts being at very close range. Finally we saw an opening. One of their machines raced toward our lines. The rest were behind us.

We plunged after this isolated Boche. A general mêlée resulted, for the whole swarm of Boches pounced on us, coming from above and all sides.

One of our planes dived and fell as though streaking to death. I wondered if it were Prince or Balsley. Tough in either case, I thought. Then in the mêlée I lost sight of another of our little Nieuports. Now both Prince and Balsley were gone. Only Captain Thenault and myself remained and the Boches were giving us plenty.

Thenault signalled to draw away and we ran for our lines, confident that both Balsley and Prince had been shot down.

An Exploding Bullet

We managed to run the gauntlet. Later Prince showed up. He had followed down after Balsley when he saw the youngster falling. It appeared that poor Balsley had darted in on a Boche and just as he pressed his Bowden to fire his gun, it jammed.

He swerved off to clear and just at that instant a bullet struck him in the stomach and exploded against his backbone!

Balsley’s machine went into a dive as he fainted over the stick. But the rush of air in the dive revived him. And as he had kept his feet on the rudder he was enabled to redress and land right side up. The machine, however, smashed to bits. Prince got Balsley out. Twelve pieces of the exploded bullet were removed from Balsley’s interior. Balsley will live but he will never fly again.

So, you see why they are called les Boches? This is the second time we have run into explosive bullets. First it was me, and I am not entirely recovered yet, now it is poor Balsley.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Sergeant Norman Prince

Link - Posted by David on April 5, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

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

Norman Prince lived in France when the World War began. Being immensely wealthy in his own right, he offered to furnish and equip an entire squadron of planes and pilots. The French Army would not accept this generous offer, but Prince, acting in co-operation with William Thaw of Pittsburgh, convinced the officials that they could muster enough Americans to man an entire squadron. Their offer was accepted, and the LaFayette Escadrille was born. A French officer was put in command. All the rest of the pilots were American. Prince’s death was tragic. Though wounded in an air battle, he managed to fly his crippled plane homeward, and was about to land on his own airdrome in the gathering darkness when his plane ran into a telephone pole and crashed. In his weakened condition he did not have strength enough to guide his plane over or around the obstacle. So perished one of the bravest and most courageous of the early American pilots who gave their lives for France. The story below was told to a French reporter.

 

ONE SHOT, ONE HUN!

by Sergeant Norman Prince • Sky Fighters, September 1934

I HAVE had many thrilling brushes with the enemy, so many that I scarcely know which is the most thrilling. All air fights are more or less of the same nature, and the actual thrills are usually delayed until the bottle is passed in mess several hours after the fight took place. No one has time to feel thrilled when the actual fighting takes place. One’s mind is then concentrated on how to defeat the enemy pilot and escape death.

My hardest fight happened over St. Menehold. With two squadron mates I chased five Boche fighters far back behind their own lines. Ten kilometers in, the Boche divided, flying in three different directions. One swung to the left, two to the right, and two continued straight ahead. I kited after those ahead. They waited just long enough to separate me from my companions, then banked suddenly, swinging around at me from opposite directions. One zoomed above me. The other dived under my belly; perfect team work on their part. Almost before I realized it the bullets from their guns came clicking through my plane.

I dived, went into a swift loop, saw when I was coming out of it that they had anticipated this maneuver; so I shifted controls quickly, half rolled and came out flying in the opposite direction. An instant vertical bank got me on the tail of the first Boche. I pressed my stick trigger. Nothing happened! The Vickers had jammed without spewing a single shot. Panic seized me momentarily.

But another burst of bullets clicking through my fuselage brought me out of that daze. I crossed controls, fell off on one wing; then stood up in the cockpit and leaned over the gun breech. I saw what the trouble was. The webbed bandolier had been raked with machine-gun bullets. It was useless. The Boche bullets still rained about me. I had to do something quickly.

I ripped the bandolier from the breech feeder, shoved a single shell in the chamber and pulled the cocking handle. I had then what was equivalent to a single shot rifle. One bullet against two Boches with perfectly functioning Spandaus! It was ridiculous, but war plays strange pranks. Sometimes you are favored, sometimes not.

I managed to shed the Boche bursts in their next attack. Then as one swept past me, I swung in line with him, dived, came up under his belly. As my plane poised in air almost vertical, my sights centered the pilot’s pit. I uttered a silent prayer, pressed the stick trigger, expended my single shot.

It was effective. The Boche plane wobbled, one wing-tip upended, then it began to spin, uncontrollably. I reached up again, cleared the shell and jammed in another, then went sailing after the second Boche. But he had seen enough, I guess. He went scuttling homeward with his tail between his legs.

I did not have gas or—nerve enough—to chase him any further inside his own lines. Believe me I was glad to set down on my own drome safely fifteen minutes later. It was my narrowest escape, the tightest moment I ever want to experience.

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 6: Raoul Lufbery” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 20, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

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


Lufbery playing with Whiskey.

Raoul Lufbery was already famous when America entered the War. For some time he was the mechanic of Marc Pourpe, famous French flyer. Pourpe was killed in aerial combat. Lufbery who was with the Foreign Legion, asked to take his place in order to avenge his death. The French army, defying usual procedure sent him to join Escadrille de Bombardmente V. 102, where he made a distinguished record.

When the La Fayette Escadrille was formed, he became one of the seven original members of that famous air squadron—and, as it proved ultimately, became the most distinguished, winning his commission as a sous-lieutenant.

When America entered the War he was transferred to the American Air Service and made a major, refusing, however, to take command of a squadron. When he was killed at Toul. Lufbery was officially credited with 17 victories.

(Editor’s Note: These early installments of Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” that were published in the pulp-sized issues have been reformatted from a two page spread into a one page feature.)