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“Muffled Hissos” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on October 11, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have another great story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. Best known in these parts for The Three Mosquitoes, he wrote many other stories of the air and several ripping detective yarns. Here Mr. Oppenheim gives us a story of Solo Williams—a man who was used to working alone. Though he was one of the most sociable fellows in the 25th Pursuit Squadron, his official drome, his sociability vanished the moment his wings took him into the sky. In the sky he could not be hampered by formation flying or teamwork. He had to smash through in his own, individual way—a reckless, hell-bending way which no others could follow. But tonight, for the first time in his reckless career, Solo Williams had to work with a partner—a man he had never met and never would actually meet in person!

That partner was H-4, one of the very best Intelligence operatives, who was waiting on the ground, garbed as a German dispatch rider, standing by a high-speed motorcycle with a special-lensed acetylene lamp attached to it. H-4 would lead Solo Williams to a well-protected base where he would release the load of bombs he carried and hopefully wipe out von Gruening’s deadly Gotha Squadron! From the November 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s Ralph Oppenheim’s “Muffled Hissos!”

Lieutenant Solo Williams Flies Over the German Lines on the Most Perilous Mission of His Sky-Fighting Career!

“Famous Sky Fighters, November 1934″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on October 10, 2018 @ 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 November 1934 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, Features General William Mitchell, Lieut. Colonel Pinsard, Lt. George Madon, and the incomparable Max Immelmann!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features Lieut. Joseph Wehner, Major Gabriel D’Annunzio, and shout outs to Napoleon and Belgium’s Willy Coppens! Don’t miss it!

Is Silent Orth really “Bullet Proof” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on August 10, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

ORTH is back! Silent Orth had made an enviable record, in the face of one of the worst beginnings—a beginning which had been so filled with boasting that his wingmates hadn’t been able to stand it. But Orth hadn’t thought of all his talk as boasting, because he had invariably made good on it. However, someone had brought home to him the fact that brave, efficient men were usually modest and really silent, and he had shut his mouth like a trap from that moment on.

It’s a reputation that has drawn a lot of attention across the lines in Germany. So much so that their leading Ace—Stefan Weldman, the “bullet-proof” Ace—has transferred to the area in hopes of taking Orth out! And if he doesn’t get the job done, his four Staffel mates will finish the job. From the pages of the November 1934 issue of Sky Fighters, Silent Orth takes on Germany’s “Bullet Proof” Ace!

Silent Orth, Crack Flyer, Goes Gunning for Stefan Weldman, Invincible Ace of the Boche, in this Hell-Busting Story!

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

Link - Posted by David on May 28, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

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

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
Armored Audacity

WITH one or two exceptions, th_SB_3411 all metal planes were uncommon during the war. The ships which saw service on the Front were of fabric construction, with wooden spars, longerons and ribs used throughout.

On planes of 1917 and 1918 design, however, metal was employed for hoods on the water-cooled jobs, as well as for the cowlings of radials and rotaries. Metal was not used further than this, except on ships of rare design, most of which never got into active service. In the hectic days of the war, manufacturers were reluctant to depart from time-proven standards and pitch headlong into the mass production of a design which had not established its worth over the blood-stained battlefields of France.

However, there is always some one a step ahead of the rest of the world—some one with courage and foresight enough to make a radical departure from conventional design. Such a step was taken by the engineers of the Bristol Works in England during 1918. The result of their efforts is the Bristol M-1, an all-metal adaptation of the famous Bristol Fighter.

The main object in building the M-1 was to produce a ship capable of resisting the climatic variations of hot countries such as Egypt and India. However, several M-1’s found their way across the Channel and into France. The M-1 was very similar in appearance to the Bristol Fighter, the important changes in design occurring in the center-section of the lower plane, which is entirely cut away, with only the two main spars remaining intact, and in the tail assembly, which carries a larger fin and a smaller tailskid than the Fighter.

Steel is employed throughout the fuselage construction, a light-weight composition metal being used on the outer covering. The spars and ribs of the wings are steel, fabric being used for a covering. The M-1 carries a 200-h.p. Sunbeam “Arab” in its nose, and Is capable of making about 124 miles per hour. The regulation Scarff mounting is used over the observer’s cockpit, on which either single or double Lewis gun units can be fitted. Twin Vickers are carried beneath the engine hood, and are equipped with an interrupter gear for firing through the prop.

The other ship pictured on this month’s cover is a single-seater German “Kondor.” It will be observed that the center-section on the upper plane is entirely cut away, even the main spars being eliminated. The ship is powered with a 140-h.p. Goebels rotary with air-cooling being accomplished by means of holes bored through the front turn of the cowling.

The maneuver executed by the pilot of the Bristol is quite appropriately termed audacious. With the Kondor on his tail, the Bristol pilot exposes himself and his observer to great apparent danger. As he fakes a dive, he hoiks the ship up and thunders before the German, directly in the line of a deadly fire. But the Spandau tracers cannot find a vital spot beneath the Bristol armor, and as the German pilot frantically fights for altitude, the Bristol observer, well in the German’s blind spot, lines up the best target he has ever seen through his Lewis sights.

As he trips the trigger, one burst of fire is emitted. The Kondor staggers, with prop spinning madly. The German plane levels off. Its nose begins to sink, and as it begins a long, wide, uncontrolled spiral, it sets itself to its last task—its last descent.

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

“The Jerry Cracker” by C.M. Miller

Link - Posted by David on November 3, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story from the pen of C.M. Miller! Miller is known to Age of Aces readers as the author behind Chinese Brady, aa old war horse who’s fought in most every scrap there’s been. Here he presents a tale of a green pilot, Emmett Ralston, just up from training who can’t wait to get at the Huns! Problem is, circumstances seem to be conspiring against him.

You Can’t Graft Wings On A Prison Bunk, Or Bars Won’t Make A Fuselage—But Ralston Wanted A Crack At The Huns And No Prison Built Will Hold An-Ace-To-Be.

“Flaming Death” by Frederick C. Painton

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

THIS week we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author and venerated newspaper man—Frederick C. Painton. In “Flaming Death” Painton gives us a pulse-stirring war-air novelette—”B” Flight’s mascot, Babe Norwood, the squadron’s youngest flyer, is shot down with incendiary bullets! All of the fighting nations had agreed to ban their use—so rigidly were they banned that any flyer caught using them was instantly stood against the wall with barely the mockery of a drum-head court-martial. The squadron uses all avenues of the services to hunt down the culprit and bring him to justice! From the November 1934 Sky Fighters it’s Frederick C. Painton’s “Flaming Death!”

Follow a Mad Race Through Roaring Skies on the Trail of a Sinister Hun Whose Guns Spout Outlawed Bullets!

And look for a brief appearance by the squadron’s operations officer named Willie the Ink, Painton uses a similarly named character—Willie the Web—as operations officer in his Squadron of the Dead tales.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Willy Coppens

Link - Posted by David on May 3, 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 Belgian Ace, Lt. Willy Coppens’ most thrilling sky fight!

Willy Coppens was the Belgian Ace of Aces. He got his initial training as a soldier and officer in the cavalry division of the army. He transferred later on to the Flying Corps and began immediately to compile the record of victories that gained him top ranking among sky fighters.

Because the German armies had overrun all but a narrow strip of his own country, he did all of his flying from foreign bases, usually being stationed in the sectors in Flanders occupied by the British forces. Flying foreign machines from foreign bases, he nevertheless built up a remarkable record of successful combats. When his time on the front was ended, unhappily but gloriously, he was officially credited with 32 victories. The account below is from his diary.



by Lieutenant Willy Coppens • Sky Fighters, November 1934

FIGHTING great odds is not an uncommon thing. But today I felt for a time that, at last, I had run into a situation where the odds were too great for me.

I was cruising alone over La Chapelle on solo patrol at a very low altitude because of the low hanging clouds.

A full flight of Fokkers, six in all, came down at me like a lightning bolt. I was bottled up before I fully recovered from my first surprise.

I decided to open the attack myself and fight it out if I could. I dived for speed with throttle wide open, then banked swiftly, aiming for the Fokker below. I pressed both trigger trips, sent out a vicious double burst the instant I lined him. But he had pulled back and swept into a swirling vertical bank at the same instant. My burst passed harmlessly beneath the Fokker’s trucks. And instantly bullets began to clatter and zing through my instrument board. I glanced back up, saw one Fokker bearing down on me not more than 10 meters off my tail.

I jerked into a desperate loop, whined out with my attacker just ahead of me. Again I pressed my triggers. This time my bursts literally tore the Fokker to pieces. The vertical rudder shattered, sheared away. Only a quick maneuver on my part saved me from being hit by it. Next the whole tail seemed to disintegrate, and the following moment the Fokker nosed abruptly earthward. First blood was mine. It gave me confidence. But too soon!

When I looked up again, another Fokker was charging at me head on, both Spandaus yammering. The smoke streams parted my wings. Then a second stream of tracer rattled in from the rear. I was getting it fore and aft. I decided to plunge straight ahead.

I did so, gripping both trigger trips and sending out twin streams of tracer as I roared in toward the first Hun. Bullets from the following Hun still rattled around me. But I knew that if I held my ground, the oncoming Hun would have to swerve to escape being rammed in midair. But my senses would not stand the sight. I could not look at the Fokker charging at me, so I closed my eyes and decided to keep them closed until I counted off ten seconds. I kept my guns firing all the time, for the Fokker was centered directly in my sights.

I expected in be killed, and trusted only to fate. The seconds passed interminably in the darkness I had willed. Still I lived! At the count of ten I opened my eyes. The Hun who had been flying at me from in front was spiralling down toward the ground, his plane a mass of red flame and black smoke trails.

God had been with me I knew then. I had got that Hun with my eyes closed. My bullets had exploded his gas tank. Charged now with a renewed vigor and desire to live, I wheeled and attacked my pursuer. But the three remaining Fokker pilots did not stay to fight any longer. They ran for home. I would have chased them, but when I looked at my ammo supply, I saw that I had none, so I went home myself.

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

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Eugene M. Frandzen painted the covers of Sky Fighters from its first issue in 1932 until he moved on from the pulps in 1939. At this point in the run, the covers were about the planes featured on the cover more than the story depicted. On the November 1934 cover, It’s a battle of the wire jobs as the Fokker Eindecker 1 takes on the Farman Experimental 2!

The Ships on the Cover

THE airmen in the early th_SF_3411 months of the war were gallant knights who took their frail, slow-moving craft into the air for observation purposes only. Occasionally a bomb or two was pitched over the side just to make it interesting for the opposing ground troops. But when fliers from different sides of the line met each other above the war fields they usually nodded, waved their hands, or if they stirred up a little hate they thumbed their noses at each other.

Then one day a German pilot with a perverted sense of humor threw a few bricks down at an Allied aviator, which of course was unsportsmanlike. The next day the Allied flier took a shotgun into the clouds and blammed both barrels at a German plane. The handwaving and friendly nods ceased.

Next to break the peace of the sky lanes was Roland Garros, the French flier, who mounted a Hotchkiss machine-gun on the cowl of his fragile little Morane, put steel triangular plates on his propeller and let the Germans have the works. He did plenty of damage to the Germans until he had to make a forced landing in enemy territory with his precious gun. He was captured before he could destroy his gun and plane. The secret was out.

Fokker’s Synchronized Gun

Anthony Fokker got busy on a synchronized gun. He rigged up a system of mechanical gears connected to his prop shaft and was able to send a steady stream of lead through the propeller arc.

That invention really started the fireworks in the air. Garros’ gun was a makeshift arrangement worked with a hand-trigger not synchronized. The Fokker gun was synchronized and was a weapon of death and destruction.

Boelke and Immelmann were two of the first to flame through the skies with the new gun. Allied plane after plane went crashing to earth. The Germans were mopping up, blasting their opponents from the air.

And then when things looked the darkest, up soared the British pusher type planes. One of these, the F.E.2 (Farman Experimental) barged into the fight with a Lewis gun blazing from its front observer’s pit. And did those old flying bathtubs bust hell out of the Fokker menace? They certainly did!

Take a look at this month’s cover and you will get in on the last stanza of a fight between a Fokker E.1 and the famous old stick and wire job, the F.E.2.

Strange—But True!

Down below three British two-seaters are lumbering along. The Fokker Eindecker has been hidden above the clouds and spots the three foes. He carefully tests his one synchronized gun and tips his square-winged monoplane down. His Oberursel engine bellows as it yanks the plane down in a power dive. The German pilot suddenly glances to his right. Out of a cloud bank breaks an F.E.2. The German yanks his ship out of its dive, kicks it up to come around and down on this newest enemy before polishing off the two-seaters.

But an expert is behind the Lewis gun in the flying bathtub. The German’s body jerks in his pit as the British gunner’s slugs find their mark. A pained expression of surprise marks the German’s face. It is against all reason that such an awkward-looking contraption could fly, let alone down his sleek streamlined Fokker.

It might be against all reason, but facts fill the history books that tell us that it was the good old F.E.2’s that stopped the sky slaughter of the Fokker Eindeckers.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features a sea battle as Phönix seaplane is attacked by a Sea Tank!

“The Breguet” 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. This time, Blakeslee presents us with more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover of the November 1934 cover for Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3411THE BREGUET pictured on the cover was one of the most successful bombers produced by France during the war. There are several types, the 14 A 2, 14 B 2, 16 B.N.2. and the three-motored machine. The ship here shown is a 14 B 2 and is from a Signal Corps photograph.

The BREGUET was designed by M. Louis Breguet, one of the great pioneers of French aviation. He was one of the first designers to produce a satisfactory tractor biplane.

The BREGUET was very strong and sturdy, being constructed almost exclusively of aluminum. Only the upper wings were provided with ailerons. The part of the lower plane lying behind the rear spar was hinged along its total length and was pulled downward by means of 12 rubber cords fixed on the under side of the ribs; the tension of these could be adjusted by means of screws, an automatic change of aerofoil corresponding with the load and speed thus resulting with an easier control of the airplane with and without a load of bombs. The ship was equipped with a complete dual control which could be removed from the observer’s cockpit. The engine was a 260 h.p. Renault stepped up to 300 h.p. by the use of aluminum pistons and a greater number of revolutions. To the left on the outside of the body a fixed machine gun for the pilot was mounted. The observer was armed with two machine guns clutched together and mounted on a raising and turning ring. As the ring was mounted high, the firing range forward was good. The characteristic features by which the ship could be recognized were beside the usual backward stagger to be found on other airplanes, the following; the high fuselage with the right-angled rudder and forward sharp rounded keel fin, the landing gear with three pairs of struts, the triangular-fixed tail plane, the divided elevator, with cornered balance, as well as the dihedral upper planes and horizontal lower ones.

We have discussed bombs and bomb dropping; this month we shall discuss machine guns. Of the three guns carried on the BREGUET, two arc Lewis and one a Vicker. These two types were used extensively by France and England. The Lewis machine gun was an air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine fed gun, weighing about 26 lbs. with the jacket, or 18 lbs. without. The gun was used almost entirely without the jacket, without any loss of efficiency. Its extreme mobility made it a most efficient gun for airplane work, being capable of operating in any position, firing straight up or straight down, or in any position. The speed of getting into action and the ability to function automatically in any position were due to the use of detachable, drum-shaped, rotating magazines, each magazine holding 47 or 97 cartridges. When a magazine is latched on the magazine post, it temporarily becomes part of the gun requiring no further attention until empty, when it is snatched off and another snapped on, as quickly as an empty magazine.

The Vickers is a water-cooled, recoil-operated, belt-fed machine gun. Like the Lewis gun, it is capable of being fired at the rate of 300 to 500 shots per minute. Its advantage over the Lewis gun is that it is capable of being fired continuously up to 500 shots, whereas the Lewis requires changing of magazine after 97 shots. On the other hand it has the disadvantage of being belt-fed, so it does not afford the mobility which the Lewis gun afforded. The water-cooling in the Vickers, like the air-cooling device in the Lewis, was dispensed with for aerial work, as unnecessary.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Breguet: The Ship on the Cover” by Frederick Blakeslee
(November 1934, Dare-Devil Aces)

Next time, Mr. Blakeslee brings us the fanciful tale of “The Flying Torpedo” for the December 1934 cover. Be sure not to miss it.

“Parlez Voodoo!” by Joe Archibald

Link - Posted by David on March 27, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

“Haw-w-w-w-w!” You heard right! That marvel from Boonetown, Iowa is back! And if things aren’t rough enough for Major Rufus Garritty with Pinkham about—imagine the horror if there were two Pinkhams! Say it ain’t so!

You’re going to laugh at what happens in this story—but Major Garrity and the boys of the Ninth Pursuit didn’t crack a smile. One Phineas Pinkham was enough for them—and two of him were—too much!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 29: Oberleutnant Max Immelmann” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on January 7, 2015 @ 12:00 pm in

Here’s another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This week we have his illustrated biography from the November 1934 issue featuring Der Adler von Lille—The Eagle of Lille—Oberleutnant Max Immelmann!

Max Immelman was the first German World War I flying Ace. He was a pioneer in fighter aviation and the first aviator to win the Pour le Mérite awarded by Kaiser Wilhelm II—Prussia’s higest order of merit. His name has become synonymous with with a common flying tactic—the Immelmann turn—in which the plane performs a simultaneous loop and roll thus allowing him to dive back at a pursuing plane!

Credited with seventeen (although some would dispute this and say fifteen) kills to his name, Immelmann met his fate on the 18th of June 1916 when he was shot down by British pilot George McCubbin.