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“Famous Sky Fighters, October 1934″ by Terry Gilkison

Link - Posted by David on September 26, 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 October 1934 installment, from the pages of Sky Fighters, Features Capt. Hamilton Coolidge, Lieut. Constant Soulier, and the evil genius who thought up the Zeppelin air raid—Baron von Buttlar Brandenfels!

Next time in “Famous Sky Fighters,” Terry Gilkison features General William Mitchell, Lieut. Colonel Pinsard, Lt. George Madon, and the incomparable Max Immelmann! Don’t miss it!

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

Link - Posted by David on May 21, 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 October 1934 issue Mayshark gives us “The Camera Crasher!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
The Camera Crasher

ONE of the most skilled, daring, th_SB_3410 and probably least appreciated members of tho air services during the war was the observer who happened to be capable of using an air camera. Actually, there were very few who could do this job well, in spite of the fact that all airmen were supposed to be trained in the use of the instrument. There was always one man in every squadron who was unlucky enough, right from the start, to be able to get good pictures. From that day on, he was marked.

The air photographer had to be a strange combination of grim, fighting courage, cool, methodical cunning and unbelievable patience. In the first place, he had to be an observer, a man worthy of any one’s respect. Then he had to be a plodding soul who was game enough to keep his pilot on a straight course while he got strips of pictures to make up the innumerable mosaic maps that the Army seemed to consume with amazing rapidity. Next, he had to be a capable fighting man, in order to do two things at once—and do them both well. He had to be able to fight with one hand on his Lewis or Parabellum gun while with the other he was ramming the plates through the camera with, machinelike precision.

Try holding off two Huns with one hand, ramming the feed handle of the camera back and forth with the other, while you count slowly to eight between plate changes— and you get an idea what it was all about. If your pilot got “windy” during the spree and let his ship run slightly off line to dodge the crackling tracer, you arrived back to find that half your plates had been exposed over a section you had taken the day before. Then back you went again, to try it all over.

The photography proposition was a serious business in the war days. The areas involved had to be photographed regularly, and not just in single shots, as most air-story readers believe. You had to get eighteen plates in a row at a time. The single plate exposure of some particular pinpoint came now and again, but not often enough to make up for the hair-raising experiences getting the mosaic strips.

Then there was the other side of the photography game—the defense against it. This is where we got the idea for this month’s cover.

Here we see a German two-seater that has sneaked over the French lines and caught an important strip which may or may not have considerable bearing on a coming offensive. That ship must be stopped. It must never get back to Germany. But it has already nailed the picture, and there is but one thing to do.

To shoot it down might help, but you cannot be sure. You might kill both the pilot and the observer, and yet the camera plates might still be intact. Then, if they are recovered from the wreckage and developed, they can still do the damage the French feared.

It was to this end that several countries on the Allied side of tho line worked on the development of a cannon-plane, or a ship that was armed with a one-pounder for a particular purpose. That purpose was the same for which Buckingham ammunition was intended—destruction by fire. When a ship was shot down in flames, everything aboard, including cameras and plate boxes, was usually consumed by fire.

The Spad-Cannon is well known, mainly because it was used with fair effect by both Fonck and Guynemer. The real truth of the matter, however, is that the cannon-ship was actually developed for the purpose of destroying enemy camera ships by setting them on fire. The shell used was a graze-fuse incendiary missile. The Buggatti-Spad shown in the upper portion of this month’s cover was a special two-seater using a Buggatti motor, with barrel-type water and oil-cooling chambers shown beneath the nose. The gun used was a spring-recoil weapon fitted to fire through the propeller-shaft, which was hollow and geared to the two eight-cylinder crank shafts. How many of these ships were built and titled on the Front is not known, but we are presenting it to show just how these much-talked-of cannon-ships were employed.

The Albatros CV shown is also a 1918 type, fitted with a 225-h.p. B.W.F. motor. The upper wing had a span of 41 feet, 6 inches, and the lower a span of 40 feet, 4 inches. The strangely balanced ailerons should be noticed. The unfortunate observer-camera man has ripped his Parabellum out of the Gotha-type gun mounting, a steel post which swivels from a point in the center of the floor, and fits into holes or slots around the ring.

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

Silent Orth flies toward his “Zero Hour” by Lt. Frank Johnson

Link - Posted by David on April 13, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

ORTH is back! Silent Orth—ironically named for his former penchant to boast, but blessed with the skills to carry out his promises—is faced his a choice. He’s ordered to retrieve a spy with valuable information that could save the lives of thousands from behind the lines, but, at the same time his best mate is to face a German firing squad! Save the Spy or save his friend . . . . or save both? Impossible! But if anyone could do it, Orth could! From the pages of the October 1934 issue of Sky Fighters, Silent Orth flies toward his “Zero Hour!”

While his wingmate, Lieutenant Gabriel, waits for death by firing squad in Bocheland, Silent Orth faces the toughest problem in his career!

“Talons of the “Dove”" by Harold F. Cruickshank

Link - Posted by David on January 5, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we have a story by another of our favorite authors—Harold F. Cruickshank! Cruickshank is popular in these parts for the thrilling exploits of The Sky Devil from the pages of Dare-Devil Aces, as well as those of The Sky Wolf in Battle Aces and The Red Eagle in Battle Birds. He wrote innumerable stories of war both on the ground and in the air. Here we have a tale of Lt. Harcourt Bryson Dovely, recently sent up to “C” flight at 78th Pursuit Squadron where he has become Captain Dave Dillon’s problem For Lt. Dovely seems more interested in the plants on the ground than the Huns chasing him in the sky. But maybe he’ll surprise them all and sho him that this dove is really an eagle! From the October 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Talons of the “Dove”"—

Dovely was the queer egg of “C” Flight—But he sure knew his botany!

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Adolphe Pegoud

Link - Posted by David on April 19, 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 Lt. Adolphe Pegoud of the French Flying Corp’s most thrilling sky fight!

Adolphe Pegoud was a famous flyer before the war began. In 1913, flying a tiny Bleriot monoplane, he astonished the world by doing a series of intricate air maneuvers. Later, he made an upside down landing, the first and to this day the only aviator deliberately to perform such a stunt.

With Pourpe, Garros, Vedrines, and several others, he made up the first French air squadron to see action in the World War. In those days planes, frail contraptions of wood, linen and wires, were not armed. The pilots usually carried a rifle or shotgun when going aloft, and sometimes darts and hand grenades. Plane to plane fighting was unknown. The crafts were used for scouting. Pegoud changed all this when ho initiated the first air battle. He tells about it in the account below.



by Lieutenant Adolphe Pegoud • Sky Fighters, October 1934

WHILE I had always carried arms while on my trips over the Boche lines and many times had passed within fifty or a hundred meters of Taube pilots, I had never thought to try out my marksmanship on the flying targets. But on this day when I was ordered aloft, I decided that I would allow no more Taube pilots to pass me by so nonchalantly. At least, I was going to let them know that there was a war taking place.

And lucky for me, I encountered my first Taube the same day I was filled with that resolve. I met him just beyond the Fortress of Verdun. He was just a speck when I first glimpsed him off to my right, but I ruddered toward him, flying as fast as my machine would carry me. At one hundred meters distance, the Taube pilot stood up in his seat and waved at me. That fact made me mad. Here I had come to kill him (if possible) and he greeted me with that friendly gesture. I waved my Lebel in the air over my head and shouted at him in French to beware. Of course, he could not hear because of the noise of the engines.

He continued on past me and I swung around and followed him. This maneuver seemed to surprise him. I continued on, coaxing my machine to its greatest speed. Finally I was not more than ten meters to the rear of his. I shouted again, made faces, then put the rifle to my shoulder and fired a bullet over his head to let him know my intentions. Though I had firmly resolved to shoot at the pilot, I realized now that I could not, for he wan apparently unarmed and had been so friendly.

When I fired at him, he must have seen the smoke from my Lebel or saw it flash. He knew then that I was not fooling and tried to escape from my plane by streaking down toward the earth. But I followed intently, my mind occupied now, not on shooting the pilot, but damaging his machine so it would have to land, thus ha would be unable to accomplish his mission.

I stood up in the pit and fired two shots at his gas tank, but nothing happened. Then I had to sit down and maneuver my plane again. The Taube pilot was zigzagging. I got closer and stood up again. This time, he too, stood up, and hurled a hand grenade back at me. But his aim was wild. It hit on the ground far below and exploded there sending up a puff of blue smoke. I aimed my rifle and rapidly fired all my remaining shells at the gas tank again.

Now I saw that something had happened. The Taube began to wobble crazily. The Boche pilot seemed frantic. Finally the motor stopped turning. Then I saw what had happened. One of my bullets had cracked the propeller, and it had shattered, throwing the Taube into terrific vibration and forcing the pilot to cut his engine.

He had to go down. I wished then that I had not been so hasty, for as it was he landed inside his own lines. If I had waited, I could have captured him by forcing his landing on our side. A fresh Taube and its Boche pilot would have been a great trophy to take home and show my mates.

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

Link - Posted by David on May 2, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

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 October 1934 cover, It’s the Halberstadt C.L.2 vs the Avro “Spider”!

The Ships on the Cover

THE Halberstadt C.L.2 was, th_SF_3410 with its sister ship the C.L.4, a bright spot in Germany’s output of two-seater fighters. It was simpler in design than most of the German ships of this type; probably thereby lays the reason for its very good performance. Kicking over 1,385 r.p.m.’s at 10,000 feet, it could travel at around 100 m.p.h. It was not so hot on climbing, but was light on its controls and could be maneuvered with ease.

The other ship on the cover is the Avro “Spider,” a job turned out by the famous A.V. Roe & Co., Ltd. It had “It” when it came to speed, maneuverability, and climb. Its trick triangular system of inter-plane bracing obviated the use of flying or landing wires. And when it came to visibility that “one holer” in the top wing gave the pilot a look-see up and ahead. Even downward vision was good as the chord of the lower wing was very narrow.

Let’s slip back about half an hour before this crackup that’s pictured on the cover.

A Trophy of War

Consider yourself planked on an Allied tarmac. Out in front of number one hangar is a captured German ship; a Halberstadt. A group of British aviators are standing around admiring their trophy. Greaseballs have tuned her up, she is idling beautifully. One of them with three pots of colors is ready to paint the British cocardes on this German ship. There is darn good reason for this art work on captured machines. It’s to save the Allied test pilots who take up the captured ship back of the lines from getting popped down by some other Allied aviator who might think a German was at the stick.

Standing among the British aviators is a young man with a very dejected expression on his square face. His goggles are shoved back. His collar ornaments are German. To the Allied aviators, whose captive he is, he is just a flyer who happened to work for the wrong side. Much wine and spirits have trickled down all throats since the capture of the German. All hands are buddies, friends; in fact old pals. What if Fritz did pop at them from his Halberstadt? It was all in the game.

Just a Joy-Ride

“Let’s have a little ride in your old war chariot, Fritz,” suggested Lieutenant Mills, who had forced the German down.

So Fritz climbed in at the controls after it was certain his front and rear guns were harmless. Lt. Mills tucked a pistol into his pocket and heaved himself up on the side.


Fritz fist clipped the Britisher on the button. The Mercedes roared. Dirt blasted into the other’s eyes on the ground.

An Avro roared throatily in the next hangar. Lt. Mills was in it in a jiffy, gunned the Bentley and blasted down the drag and up into the air. It took him twenty minutes to catch Fritz. Then came ten minutes of systematic sniping at engine and wings. Finally the Halberstadt’s engine sputtered, died. Down she came, flopping and shuddering. As her undercarriage hit the ground her wings folded and called it a day. Lt. Mills landed close by, rubbed his aching jaw and walked over to the wreck. Fritz crawled out, felt himself all over and indicated that he was not injured. He then shoved out his jaw and Lt. Mills carefully planked a beautiful right uppercut home. Fritz took it standing up and grinned.

Mills produced a flask—”Cheerio,” he grinned.

“Prosit,” replied Fritz.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the Fokker E.1 and the F.E.2!

“T.N.T. Wings” by Eliot Todd

Link - Posted by David on June 29, 2015 @ 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. This time, Eliot Todd recounts the story behind Blakeslee’s October 1934 cover for Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3410THE Bristol Fighters on this month’s cover have dropped the last of their light demolition bombs on the blazing ammunition dump below and are now battling their way through a cordon of avenging Fokker D-VII’s. Will they make the lines? Well, the Bristol Fighter was so good that it was used right up to the close of the war with very few changes and could be trusted to give a good account of itself in any show.

Perhaps the most spectacular of all war sights was the explosion of an ammunition dump. Thousands upon thousands of shells and bombs of all types and sizes were stored in these dumps. And one well-placed hit was enough to transform them from orderly, harmless looking supply depots into white-hot infernos of death and destruction.

Such great concentrations of munitions as were to be found in 1918 were unheard of during the early days of the war. Open tactics prevailed for those first few weeks and not until the armies dug in did positions become comparatively permanent. Then the establishment of definite lines made supply centers necessary for the support of the armies.

The first dumps were just what the word means—piles of ammunition dumped on the ground, sometimes protected by canvas or some other rude shelter. No attempt was made to conceal the positions of the depots; secrecy was not considered necessary at that time.

But when aerial observation and photography developed from a curiosity into an important branch of the service, it became necessary to protect the depots from the prying eyes and tell-tale camera of the airmen.

Dumps were necessarily located near some road or railway. For that reason they were all the easier to spot from above when not camouflaged.

With the position of a dump located on a map or shown on a photograph, and with each section ranged, it was generally a simple enough matter to shell the target if within range of the artillery.

If not, planes were rolled out, courses set and bomb racks loaded.

Well aware of the vital importance of these dumps to the successful operation of their plans, the general staffs of each nation used every known device to protect their supplies. Camouflage was the answer. Roads were screened when it was necessary to bring up supplies by daylight in preparation for a big drive.

Some dumps were located underground, not only to mask their position but also to protect the ammunition in case of a raid. In some cases great tarpaulins were stretched and painted to resemble the ground.

As the art of camouflage advanced it became more and more difficult to recognize them. But in spite of all precautions, the dumps continued to be spotted and bombed by that new weapon which has done more than anything else to revolutionize modern warfare—the airplane.

The Story Behind The Cover
“T.N.T. Wings: The Story Behind The Cover” by Eliot Todd
(October 1934, Dare-Devil Aces)

Check back again. We will be presenting more Stories behind the Covers.

“Tattle Tailwind” by Joe Archibald

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

Even the lowly angle worm, according to the old maxim, will turn and put up its dukes when sorely beset. The lowly worms of this story, of course, are the buzzards of Major Rufus Garrity’s Ninth Pursuit Squadron. Their tormenter, Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham, born on April Fool’s day, cradled in conjury and reared in raillery, perhaps had never heard about the deceptiveness of the proverbial worm. A worm had never kicked back at the amazing, freckle-faced, buck-toothed pilot from Boonetown when he was attaching it to the end of a fishhook. Nevertheless, Phineas should have known that he who lives by the sword will sooner or later get a taste of cutlery.

Major Garrity had chased Phineas off the drome. The Royal Flying Corps buzzards had sworn a vendetta against him. And over in Germany, the wily Rittmeister von Schnoutz was scheming. Aside from these, Phineas didn’t have an enemy in the world!

“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 28: Major Andrew McKeever” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 11, 2014 @ 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 the his illustrated biography from the October 1934 issue, that famous Canadian Ace—Major Andrew McKeever!

Major Andrew Edward McKeever is the RFC/RAF’s leading two-seater fighter pilot ace scoring 31 victories with seven different gunners/observers. He was awarded a chest-full of awards—The Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross & Bar, Distinguished Flying Cross, and from France, the Croix de Guerre.

With the end of the war, McKeever accepted a job managing an airfield at Mineola, New York. Before he could start work, he was involved in an auto accident in his home town of Listowel on September 3rd, breaking his leg. Over the following weeks, complications set in—he died of cerebral thrombosis on Christmas Day, 1919.