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“Hell’s Skyway” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 25, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

TO ROUND off Mosquito Month we have a non-Mosquitoes story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. In the mid thirties, Oppenheim wrote a half dozen stories for Sky Fighters featuring Lt. “Streak” Davis. Davis was a fighter, and the speed with which he hurled his plane to the attack, straight and true as an arrow, had won him his soubriquet. And time is of the essence when Streak is sent on a bombing mission. He must destroy the Krupp Machine works at Luennes before they unleash German’s newest secret weapon at noon! From the July 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Hell’s Skyway!”

The Fate of the Allies Depends on a done American Flyers Speed and Skill in this Rip-Roaring Novel of Whirling Props and Screaming Struts!

“An Ace of Spads” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 18, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

We’re back with the third and final of three Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes stories we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! And this one’s a doozy! Kirby gets the unenviable job of test flying the new type Spad and putting it through its paces—including trying it in combat and shooting down a plane. But, under no circumstances should he take the new plane over the lines! Unfortunately that’s just what Kirby did! Read all about it in Ralph Oppenheim’s “An Ace of Spads” from the April 12th, 1928 issue of War Stories!

Kirby’s eyes glowed when he saw the new-type Spad, one of the most beautiful ships ever delivered to the Front. It was to be his job to try it out in action. But he was not to go over the lines—the Germans would lose no opportunity to get their hands on the new ship. Once in the air, however, with a Fokker in sight, Kirby—forgot. One of Oppenheim’s best flying yarns!

The Magic Puppet World Revisited

Link - Posted by David on March 15, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

BACK in 2015 during our first Mosquito Month, we ran a series of articles from The Pocono Record that covered Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World. In 2019 we ran an additional article from the nearby Allentown Morning Call. But what celebration of the Three Mosquitoes and their creator and chronicler Ralph Oppenheim could go by without a mention of Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World? Especially since we just came upon an artifact from the time!

Yes, just recently we stumbled upon one of the hand-made pennants that they used to sell at the gift shop at Oppenheim’s!

It’s a small orange felt pennant measuring 3¾” x 8¼” with heavy dark blue yarn ties. Emblazoned upon it are the words “Magic Puppet World” and a joyous printed figure with a wooden ball head and red body with arms up and legs spread.


While the hair is painted with a fine brush; Mrs. Oppenheim paints the eyes, nose and mouth with a cellophane cone filled with lacquer.

So in celebration of finding the pennant, we’re presenting another article from The Pocono Record we passed over due to it’s poor picture—but it does have lots of good information.

Oppenheim puppets tireless performers for visitors

The Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa • 20 July 1968

SCIOTA — In Sciota, right off old Route 209 there Is a continuous show going on and—a lot of show for the money!

Its performers are the puppeteerless puppets of Oppenheim’s magic puppet world who, If animated, would be a highly unionized group of theatricals with large overtime paychecks and gleeful over their immunity from artistic exploitation.

Alas, however, they are inanimate and by fate, doomed to dance their little logs off until their repertoire is exhausted and the last Pocono vacationer who has heard of them in the course of a day, leaves the theatre.

Their creator is Ralph Oppenheim who, having dreamed them up in the first place and having possessed unwavering convictions for their artistic immortality, remains their impressario.

Their choreography is attributed to Shirley Oppenheim, and their current manager (no pun intended) is the local light company—another way of saying that a highly artistically endowed man and wife team, in an old converted barn in Sciota, are the owners of automation-controlled puppetry, nationally recognized as a completely new medium of entertainment.

Ingenious Creativity

The experience of those who will be visiting this unusual Pocono attraction will doubtless provoke admiration for the ingenious creativity, singularly Oppenheim, which lies behind the magic puppet show. Audiences will probably be divided.

There will be those who will approach the show on a purely emotional level and get a royal bang out of the rescue of Juliet by two rival Romeos; or the vagaries of the mind in “The Dollmaker’s Dream”; or the little clown being shot from a cannon in “The Cannonball Clowns”; or the ballerina dancing down a stairway before her solo in “The Doll Ballet.”

Other Segment

The other segment of the audience will be those of strong engineering and mechanical leanings who will try to figure out “what makes the wheels go around”, and probe the intricacies of the cams, cogs, and cajoles of the moving parts, all Einsteinian manifestation of the Oppenheim mind.

Many prefer the emotional approach to entertainment, not impervious, however, to appreciating the daily vicisitudes of the Oppenheims who have to concern themselves with the delicate “taut” of the finest silk thread, the humidity level and its influence on equipment, etc., to assure that the clown in “Cannonball Clowns” really does get booted out of the cannon before the thread holding him up doesn’t throw a fit in the form of a French knot.

There is an element of promotion in Oppenheim’s advertising slogan “15 years in the making”, but that’s not the whole slury. It excludes the “ups and downs” the couple have known which is ail part of the slow evolution of their art from consumated, as its stands today. Their story is a success story, but predicted on trial and error.

A New Yorker, Oppenheim first invented a textile machine for weaving with “raffia,” a coarse grass, which hitherto was considered uneavable.

He made purses, baskets, hand crafts, etc., which found a market outlet in Philadelphia. Automating puppetry, however, was always a childhood fantasy, and he began devoting eight years after weaving with raffia, to developing his first puppet piece, a figure ten inches high, mounted on a pedestal, and producing a large shadow. A department store got interested.

The mechanism’s cams, drums’ and levers, pull strings however, through constant interplay wore out, and he lost it.

His “Miss Muffet” puppet was born in 195B and he toted it around, caressingly to attract interested ones in the exhibit fields, and in trade shows. This attracted Westinghouse, and also Bell Telephone at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. He also had productions at the New York World’s Fair.

Country Living

The couple finally expatriated New York City in quest for country living and through the process of elimination, finally chose the Paconos.

As one might have guessed, Shirley Oppenheim, with a former career in art and ballet, pools her talent with her gifted husband, in their old barn, the old Art Ruppert barn in whose cornerstone is chiseled the dale 1858, they happily live their life of artistic activity, and in the dead of winter, winterize themselves in the barn’s lower level and make arts and crafts for their gift shop.

Every item in the shop is their own creation. They have, two devoted dogs, and that is their family.

Their Magic Puppet World opens in May and closes October 20. It Is a world where science and artistry combine to bring new magic to puppetry, enjoyed by all through a modest admission charge.

 

“An Ace in the Hole” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 11, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

“LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.

We’re back with the second of three tales of Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! This week, the intrepid trio is tasked with getting valuable information from behind German lines—but it’s a job for only one man which unfortunately turns into one man at time as each of the Mosquitoes is sent off to garner the information when the previous one fails to return. From the March 29th, 1928 issue of War Stories, it’s The Three Mosquitoes in “An Ace in the Hole!”

Once more the famous “Three Mosquitoes” go out on a dangerous and thrilling special flight—but this time one of them led the way, alone, while the other two waited—waited until human nerves could stand it no longer.

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

Ralph Oppenheim—Eyewitness to History

Link - Posted by David on March 8, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN the first issue of War Birds hit the stands in February 1928, it not only contained an exciting tale of Ralph Oppenheim’s inseparable trio The Three Mosquitoes, but it also had a rare factual piece by Mr. Oppenheim. Ralph and his younger brother Garrett had taken a trip to Europe the previous year and just happened to be there at the right time to be able to get to Paris and be there at Le Bourget Field on the 21st of May when Charles Lindbergh successfully ended his trans-Atlantic flight!

The editor of WAR BIRDS considers it an outstanding honor to be able to give you this little sketch. Mr. Oppenheim, besides being the most brilliant flying story writer in America, had the priceless privilege of being an eyewitness of one of the most historic moments of modern times—when the great Lindbergh landed the “Spirit of St. Louis” on Le Bourget Field that memorable night in Paris.


Lindbergh uses the lights of Paris to guide him around the Eiffel Tower to Le Bourget Field. (image © lookandlearn.com)

Author’s Note—The following is taken, for the most part, from notes written at Le Bourget Field before and after Lindbergh’s arrival. We (“we” in this case meaning my brother and myself) had come early in the afternoon and had thus secured a wonderful position, on the flat roof of a cafe which was right at the edge of the big field. After a long windy, raining afternoon, during which the crowd grew to a size of about 100,000, the hour when the American should arrive began to draw closer.

 

 

When “Lindy” Dropped on Paris

MAY 21st, 1927. 9 to 9:20 P.M. What a mob of people! The roof here is packed behind us, and we are being pushed so hard against our concrete wall (which comes up to our necks) what we’re afraid that either the wall will give or we’ll be crushed into a “shapeless mass.” At our right, in the corner, are three newsreel men, getting movie cameras set. Somewhere in back a Frog newsboy is croaking shrilly: “L’Americain Volant! L’Americain Volant!” A former senator from Missouri says that means that Lindbergh is now over the English Channel. . . . Down below, along the edge of the field, is the real mob—the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen. They are kept from the field itself by a big, strong iron fence. Out on the field, in front of this fence, about two hundred gendarmes are forming a long string to check the crowd if it should attempt to get over that fence. There are no more planes landing or taking off on the field now. The big air-liners which have been coming and going regularly all afternoon, discharging slightly dismal looking passengers and taking on happy, eager ones, are no longer to be seen. They have cleared the field. They have floodlights to illuminate the ground, but they only turn them on every now and then. Economical, these French. Also there are parachute flares. These are shot up like sky-rockets, and the blazing phosphorous comes floating down on a little parachute. Only trouble is these frogs have rotten aim. Some of those damn flares are falling right into the crowd. Each time it happens there’s an excited, panicky shriek. And the idea that one of those flares might fall on our roof is enough to keep us in good suspense. But we don’t need anything to keep us in suspense now. As the moment when the brave American should arrive draws closer and closer, the excitement rises to the highest pitch. Everybody is yelling, shouting, and it seems that everybody has suddenly become a great authority on the subject of aviation. Gosh, these French certainly know how to get excited! There goes that newsboy again: “L’Americain Volant! L’Americain Volant!” And a school-ma’m from Iowa says that means the poor boy’s been lost at sea.

9:20 to 9:30—They are cheering! It seems they hear a plane overhead. We listen. Does sound like a drone up there. More flares—and more suspense. They have the floodlights on again. The cheers are increasing. The gendarmes on the field look worried as the iron fence begins to shake ominously under the pressure of the surging mob behind it.

9:30 to 10:15—Look! Look! Voila! Nom de nom! Everyone is screaming at the top of his or her lungs. We can all hear the drone now. Off to the left it is. We stare in an effort to pierce through the murk. Nothing yet, nothing yet. Then—

The earth shakes with a mighty reverberating cheer. In the darkness up there appears a floating, whitish shape. It is coming down, gliding for the field! It is Lindbergh! God Almighty!

Now we can clearly distinguish the graceful silver monoplane. The crowd is going crazy. The plane is landing. The great pilot, cool and collected, carefully keeps away from all signs of the crowd. He brings his ship down way across the field, just opposite our roof. It is a wonderful and an astonishingly quick landing—the best we’ve seen on this field. And there was something incongruous about the way that plane, having just come way from New York, simply dropped out of the sky and landed.

Before the Spirit of St. Louis rolls to a stop hell breaks loose at Le Bourget. With a mighty shove, the people surge right through that iron fence like a tremendous tidal wave. The gendarmes? Drowned, swallowed in that flood. It is a sight indeed, that mob rushing out towards the plane. It makes you feel insignificant to see all those people. All over flashlights are popping, cameras clicking, and men and women shouting like mad. The cameramen tackle the mob like football players in their efforts to get to the plane. The people on our roof are—well, they’re raising the roof. Some Frog is using my back as a step-ladder, and another is trying to make a foot-stool out of my neck. Tables collapse as people try to stand on them to get a look. One or two crazy fools actually jump off the roof, onto the shed below. A fifteen foot drop! The plane out there is surrounded now. And it seems almost that the mob is lifting that big monoplane on its shoulders and carrying it around. They’re bringing the great Lindbergh in. Cheers! “Vive l’Americain! Vive Londberje (as the Frogs pronounced it)!” Where is he? We think we catch a glimpse of him in the midst of a little circle, around which the crowd is thickest. How they bring him in is a mystery, but they get him to the building right next to ours, and hold the crowd out. The crowd storms outside, yelling in a mighty chorus: “Let us see! Let us see!” From our roof we can see the lighted, curtained window of the room where they have him. We see lots of people in there, and often we think we get glimpses of the American—but we will never know if we really did, though we saw him twice on future occasions (both in Paris and on the day of his arrival in New York).

Now the French windows are opened over in that building, and a man steps out on the balcony. It is the American ambassador. He makes a speech, which nobody hears. But nobody has to hear, because all realize that an epoch-making event has just occurred, and that Charles A. Lindbergh, later to be known as “Plucky Lindy” and “The Lone Eagle” and “Slim,” has succeeded in making the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris.

For a sense of the scene at the time you can check out some newsreels from the whole journey—AP (British Pathé)—or just the day—British Pathé and Periscope Film. And the USA Today actually has a decent article with some good photos from the 90th anniversary of the historic flight.

“Challenge of the Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 4, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

MARCH is Mosquito Month! We’re celebrating Ralph Oppenheim and his greatest creation—The Three Mosquitoes! We’ll be featuring three early tales of the Mosquitoes over the next few Fridays as well as looking at Mr. Oppenheim’s pre-pulp writings. So, let’s get things rolling, as the Mosquitoes like to say as they get into action—“Let’s Go!”

The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Captain Kirby, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Travis.

Let’s get things off the ground with an early Mosquitoes tale from the pages of the premiere issue of War Birds from March 1928! Kirby returns to action after having been shot down and spending 5 weeks in a hospital recuperating. That German had taken the starch out of him, had shattered his morale. In the past he had had planes shot from under him, had escaped perhaps even more certain deaths than this, but always he had come through the victor, had triumphed in the final showdown. Never before had he been beaten, battered to a pulp like this. The German had knocked him down, and he couldn’t get up. It had all given him the awful feeling that his reign as an unbeatable ace was over, that he must relinquish the crown. That was why he looked older now; he felt older, the old champion bowing to the new. It was indeed, almost a sense of going stale—and to an ace nothing could be worse. Can Kirby overcome his “Challenge of the Air!”

Nothing more terrible can happen to a great ace than to realize suddenly that he is suffering from shock—that the old nerve won’t answer the call. Kirby was in this condition when the Fokker came over, gained valuable information—and was flying back triumphantly. Like a man half mad, he cursed himself fought with himself. The next time they came over—

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

“Streaking Vickers” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 26, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

TO ROUND off Mosquito Month we have a non-Mosquitoes story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. In the mid thirties, Oppenheim wrote a half dozen stories for Sky Fighters featuring Lt. “Streak” Davis. Davis was a fighter, and the speed with which he hurled his plane to the attack, straight and true as an arrow, had won him his soubriquet. Operating out of the 34th Pursuit Squadron, his C.O. sends him out to range the big guns to take out the enemy’s supply dump before the Hindenburg Push. From the May 1934 issue of Sky Fighters it’s “Streaking Vickers!”

Follow Lieutenant “Streak” Davis As He Sails the Sky Lanes on the Perilous Trail of Hun Horror!

“The Flying Spider” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 19, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

We’re back with the third and final of three Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes stories we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! And this one’s a doozy! Who had not heard of that grim nickname—”The Spider”? It was the nickname of Germany’s most notorious spy—the plague and dread of the Allied powers. The whole Allied intelligence system was after this man, but they had never been able to catch him; he seemed to bear a charmed life. Kirby and his comrades had heard many rumors of his wild, hairbreadth escapades, but they had not known how truly deadly he was! And now the Three Mosquitoes found themselves caught in The Spider’s web! From the pages of the June 15th, 1929 issue of War Novels it’s Ralph Oppenheim’s “The Flying Spider!”

Here it is, gang—the greatest flying yarn of the year! Kirby, Travis and Carn, that famous trio of war birds, thought they were going to have a rest. They flew that important visiting Limey, Colonel Haley-Shaw, to England—and then all hell busted loose, for they had landed in the web of the infamous and powerful “Spider.”

“Flaming Cockpits” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 12, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

“LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.

We’re back with the second of three exciting tales of Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! This week, The Three Mosquitoes past comes back to haunt them when the brother of the Black Devil, whom they dispatched in last week’s story, sends a challenge to Kirby in hopes of avenging his death!

Dear Captain Kirby:
    One month ago you shot to death a German flyer known as the “Black Devil.” You killed him in fair, clean combat, and he died a worthy death. But I am his brother, and in accordance with a family code dating back to feudal times, it is my duty and desire to avenge his death.
    I am going to shoot you down in flames just as you shot down my brother.
    I have transferred from two-seaters to fighting single- seaters since my brother’s death, and am considered an ace—so we will be fairly matched. I cannot disclose my identity for fear this letter will fall into the wrong hands, and a trap will be set for me. I know, however, that if it falls in your hands you will act like a true sportsman. Therefore, if you will fly over Rois Forest, within your own lines, at five o’clock this afternoon—alone—I shall be waiting in the clouds. If I see that it is you, I will come out. Otherwise, I shall bide my time until we meet elsewhere—which, pray God, will be soon, before either of us gets killed.
    You will know my plane, a Fokker, by the skull painted on its fuselage—similar to my brother’s insignia.
                                            Respectfully,
                                        The Black Devil’s Brother.

From the November 11th, 1927 issue of War Stories—It’s The Three Mosquitoes in “Flaming Cockpits!”

The Black Devil’s brother was seeking revenge. He was after Kirby, the famous leader of the “Three Mosquitoes,” and for the first time in his great career, though he fought on frantically, Kirby was losing his nerve. Oppenheim at his best in a splendid, breath-taking flying story.

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

“High Diving” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 5, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

MARCH is Mosquito Month! We’re celebrating Ralph Oppenheim and his greatest creation—The Three Mosquitoes! We’ll be featuring three early tales of the Mosquitoes over the next few Fridays, so let’s get things rolling. As the Mosquitoes like to say as they fly into action—“Let’s Go!”

The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front are once again roaring into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking mosquito. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Mosquitoes.” Kirby, the D’Artagnan of the group, led the formation. Though the youngest, his amazing skill in handling a plane, especially when it came to diving (he could dive upon an enemy with a speed and precision which made him feared and envied by the whole German air force), had won him the position of flight commander of the trio. On his right flew “Shorty” Carn, bald, stocky, and mild of eye, but nevertheless a dead shot with the machine gun. On his left flew Travis, the oldest and wisest of the trio, whose lanky legs made it difficult for him to adjust himself in the little cockpit.

Let’s get things off the ground with what was believed to have been the first flight of the Three Mosquitoes. I say believed because according to both Robbin’s Index and the online FictionMags Index run by Contento and Stephensen-Payne, “High Diving” is listed as the first appearance of Oppenheim’s inseparable trio. However, a letter in “The Dugout” section of the August 19th, 1927 issue of War Stories features a letter about a previously published Oppenheim story in the July 1927 War Stories which apparently features a character named Kirby. Now I don’t know for certain since I haven’t seen the issue, but it seems highly likely that that story, “Aces Down,” may be the first Three Mosquitoes story, and not “High Diving.”

Exhibit A: The letter by Captain N.R. Raine, C.E.F. in the letters column of the August 19th, 1927 issue of War Stories.

And the response from Mr. Oppenheim himself!

With that cleared up, It’s on with this week’s adventure—When Kirby answers the C.O.’s phone, he neglects to tell him of big Hun doings over towards Dubonne. He’s hoping to keep this info to himself in hopes the “Black Devil” would be there and the Three Mosquitoes would hopefully put an end to his reign of sky tyranny. Who is the Black Devil you ask? Nobody knew just who the Black Devil was. The mystery which shrouded his name made him all the more impressive. They only knew that he was a lone scout flier, who sat in a black Fokker and, appearing in the midst of a dog-fight out of God knows where, picked off the Allied pilots one after another, like flies. This alone would have been enough to make Kirby want to get him, but he had an even more personal reason. The Black Devil was the only man, though Kirby wouldn’t openly admit it, who had ever shot him down!

From the pages of the August 5th, 1927 War Stories, it’s Ralph Oppenheim’s The Three Mosquitoes in “High Diving!”

It was against orders, but Kirby and his pals weren’t worrying about that. They wanted to meet that big German formation—and Kirby wanted to give battle to the “Black Devil,” the famous German Ace. A splendid flying story.

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

The Aces of Christmas 1931

Link - Posted by David on November 30, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

WHILE browsing through eBay a couple months ago, I came upon these two snapshots from a family’s Christmas in Memphis 1931. What caught my eye was the little boy all dressed up as a WWI ace with leather jacket, aviator’s cap with goggles, and some sort of tall leather boots(?)! It got me thinking about what stories that boy could have been reading that rather mild, snowless December in Memphis.

So this month we’ll be featuring stories published in the December 1931 issues of Aces, Sky Birds, War Aces and War Birds, by some of our favorite authors—Arch Whitehouse, O.B. Myers, Frederick C. Painton, Frederick C. Davis, Donald E. Keyhoe, and George Bruce—as well as a couple new or seldom seen authors to our site—Elliot W. Chess, Edgar L. Cooper, and Robert Sidney Bowen.

Looking at that impressive list, you may be wondering where a few of our most often posted authors are. Authors like Ralph Oppenheim, Harold F. Cruickshank, Lester Dent and Joe Archibald. That’s a bit of good news/bad news. The good news, we’ve already posted the stories Ralph Oppenheim (“Lazy Wings”) and Lester Dent (“Bat Trap”) had in the December 1931 War Aces; the bad, I don’t have the December 1931 issues of Wings featuring George Bruce, F.E. Rechnitzer and Edwin C. Parsons or Flying Aces with Keyhoe, Archibald, George Fielding Eliot, Alexis Rossoff, and William E. Poindexter. And as for Cruickshank—he didn’t have a story in any of the air pulps that month.

With that in mind—and since it’s Monday, let’s get the ball rolling with the covers of Christmas 1931!


ACES by Redolph Belarski


BATTLE ACES by Frederick Blakeslee


FLYING ACES by Paul J. Bissell


SKY BIRDS by Colcord Heurlin


WAR ACES by Eugene Frandzen


WAR BIRDS by Redolph Belarski


WINGS by Redolph Belarski

Come back on Wednesdays and Fridays this month for some of the great fiction from these issues!

“Dreadnoughts of the Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

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

TO ROUND off Mosquito Month we have a non-Mosquitoes story from the pen of Ralph Oppenheim. Lt. Jim Edwards knew he was the worst flyer in the squadron. When the C.O. called him to his office he was sure he was going to be sent to Blois in disgrace—instead the C.O. offers him a mission that could mean spending the rest of the war in a German prisoner of war camp, but when push came to shove, it turns out Edwards could shove with the best of them! From the September 1928 issue of War Novels it’s “Dreadnoughts of the Air!”

Lieutenant Jim Edwards knew it was coming, though he did everything he could to stop it. Somehow, he just couldn’t catch on to this flying. He knew he was in disgrace, that from the C.O. down the men laughed at him. Jim Edwards faced Blois—and disgrace—dishonor. Then came the C.O.’s amazing suggestion, and Lieutenant Jim Edwards gritted his teeth—that would be worse than disgrace!

Ralph Oppenheim—Boy Biographer

Link - Posted by David on March 23, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

I’VE been researching Ralph Oppenheim, creator and author of The Three Mosquitoes, for six years or so now and I’m always thrilled when a new lead shows up. Recently I did my usual Oppenheim search on newspapers.com to see if anything would show up in any new papers they had added since the last time I had searched. Lo and behold, there were a number of new search results with the top ones being from newspapers dating from 1926 and showing “Ralph Oppenheim—Boy Biog” in the preview window!

These new entries were all from the Haldeman-Julius Weekly. I clicked the link. The Haldeman-Julius Weekly was a 4 page weekly newspaper that was, in fact, an ad for Haldeman-Julius’ library of Little Blue Books with articles and ads for current and upcoming publications. Foremost among the upcoming publications was their new literary quarterly journal (they were also starting up a monthly to help cover all their bases). It was in the ad for the new Haldeman-Julius Quarterly that they referenced Ralph Oppenheim as a “Boy Biographer.”

The premiere issue of the Quarterly (October 1926) featured many articles from current and upcoming publications, including Ralph’s “The Love-Life of George Sand.” In some of the early press for the article, they refer to Ralph as being sixteen years old—and, although he could have written it when he was sixteen—he most likely wrote it when he was eighteen, since the hype for it started before he turned nineteen. Ralph’s “The Love-Life of George Sand” article is actually just a reprinting of the 64 page little blue book of the same name. Both the Little Blue Book and the Quarterly were published in 1926.


From the March 20th, 1926 issue of Haldeman-Julius Weekly

One big difference between the Quarterly and Little Blue Book versions is in the illustrations. The Little Blue Book is not illustrated, while the Quarterly version is profusely illustrated. Foremost among them is A full page portrait of George Sand drawn by Gertrude Oppenheim, Ralph’s Step-Mother. Fred C. Rodewald provided the spot illustrations that pepper the remaining pages of the article.


George Sand by Gertrude Oppenheim in a more straightforward style then her portrait of her husband, Ralph’s father, James Oppenheim from the frontispiece of The Sea (1924).

But, better yet, from the research angle, the article starts with a full page introduction for it’s author—complete with a photo of the nineteen year old Ralph Oppenheim! So let’s meet Ralph Oppenheim, boy biographer. . . .

Ralph Oppenheim

THE author of “The Love-Life of George Sand” is nineteen years old. Here is one of America’s future authors already at work, beginning to express himself with freshness and vigor, with finish and style; an artist to the tips of his fingers. It is one of the purposes of the Quarterly to bring out the best work of young America, and in accepting Ralph Oppenheim’s study we believe we are giving space to material of first-rate significance. This essay compares favorably with the best work we have ever accepted from mature, experienced writers. We did not take Ralph Oppenheim’s manuscript because he happens to be only a boy in years; rather were we influenced by the sureness of his touch. His age came up for comment only after we were satisfied that his work was well done. . . The Quarterly boasts that all in America is not jazz, noise and fury; a minority speaks vigorously and clearly, with intelligence, understanding, humor and craftsmanship. Ralph’s essay helps prove this assertion. Read young Oppenheim’s study and you will realize how important it is for the United States to have a magazine the purpose of which will be to go out and seek for the best from the talented and intelligent minority, bringing out new gifts, fresh viewpoints and sound work. First credit must, of necessity, go to Ralph himself; second credit must go to his artist-mother, Gertrude Oppenheim, and his poet father, James Oppenheim; third credit, in all fairness, must go to the Quarterly for opening its columns to a new voice. America will hear much from Ralph Oppenheim. He has something to say; he knows how to say it; he is a civilized human being, a complete answer to the charge that all of America has been reduced to stifling mediocrity, to unimaginative standardization. There is enough to complain about, in all truth, without crying that all is lost. Let us protest against the viciousness and stupidity of the superstitious majority, the hypocrisy and cowardice of its leaders, the mawkishness of our bunk-ridden millions—yes, let us aim our spitballs at our shams and fakirs, but let us, by all means, recognize worthy talent when we see it and lend an ear to the emerging youngsters who are breaking away from the herd and learning to stand as free individuals. Turn now to Ralph’s essay. At first you will marvel that it was written by a boy, but after a few paragraphs you will forget its author and fly along with his tonic and captivating work. . . . The portrait of George Sand was drawn especially for the Quarterly by Mrs. James Oppenheim, Ralph’s mother.

According to the ads in the Weekly for the the Quarterly, Oppenheim’s George Sand article proved very popular with the readers and was highly promoted each week in ads for the first issue of the Quarterly. This popularity led to another of Oppenheim’s books being included as an article in the second issue.

The second issue of the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly (January 1927) featured Oppenheim’s “The Romance That Balzac Lived: How The Great Interpreter of the Human Comedy Lived and Loved” (a reprinting of The Romance That Balzac Lived: Honore de Balzac and the Women He Loved (lbb-1213, 1927)). The article was nicely illustrated with a daguerreotype of Balzac and spot illustrations by Fred C. Rodewald, but no introductory page about Oppenheim.

Oppenheim seemed to be a role with the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly readers (or at least their editors), for the third issue (April 1927) once again featured an article by Oppenheim. This time it was his treatise on his generation: “The Younger Generation Speaks: An American Youth Tells About Its Attitude Toward Life” (a reprinting of The Younger Generation and Its Attitude Toward Life (lbb-834, 1927)). In addition to numerous spot illustrations and photos, the article also featured an introduction to the author, once again using the same photo of Oppenheim as before.

The Spokesman of Youth

RALPH OPPENHEIM, the young writer who lives in New York—in storied Washington Square, with his father, James Oppenheim—is, in this issue of the Quarterly, a spokesman for American youth. Ralph Oppenheim is someone to be reckoned with, for he is a part of the younger generation in America and one of its thinkers who is now standing up to speak for it with a voice that surely must be heard. Ralph does not idealize and he is not enough of a cynic to color his assertions too much on the bitter side. He looks at youth and their present attitude toward modern life with clear eyes, and makes a fair estimate of what youth is doing and what may be expected from the young people who will soon be leaders among us. Some of the things that this young man has to say about himself and his fellows are harsh, and some of them are quite complimentary, but through all of his work you can depend upon it that Ralph Oppenheim is deeply sincere. Although not yet twenty, Ralph’s viewpoint has the compelling tone of maturity: he is not to be idly brushed aside as of no consequence. You will find that what he has to say is well worth reading, and considering; you will find yourself agreeing and disagreeing with him, and giving a great deal of thought to the ideas and facts which he offers you—and the degree of attention which you will give his work will after all be the best test of Ralph Oppenheim’s success as a spokesman for his generation.

By the time this third issue hit the stands, Oppenheim had already published five titles in Haldeman-Julius’ line of Little Blue Books and had switched gears—writing tales of daring pilots in the hell-skies of The Great War from his attic room in the House of Genius!

His first published story was a taunt tale of aviation and death he titled “Doom’s Pilot” in the pages of the February 1927 Action Stories! His second printed story—”A Parachutin’ Fool”—was another aviation tale, printed in the April 1927 issue of War Stories! He followed this up with—”Aces Down!”—in the July 1927 issue of War Stories—this was the story that introduced the world to that inseparable trio—The Three Mosquitoes!

The rest—as they say—is history.

 

Here is a facsimile copy of Ralph Oppenheim’s article on “The Love-Life of George Sand” from the premier issue of the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly:

“Get That Gun!” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 20, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THROUGH the dark night sky, streaking swiftly with their Hisso engines thundering, is the greatest trio of aces on the Western Front—the famous and inseparable “Three Mosquitoes,” the mightiest flying combination that had ever blazed its way through overwhelming odds and laughed to tell of it! Flying in a V formation—at point was Captain Kirby, impetuous young leader of the great trio; on his right was little Lieutenant “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito and lanky Lieutenant Travis, eldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes on his left!

We’re back with the third and final of three Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes stories we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! And this one’s a doozy! The Boche have some new super-gun that has been ranging the Allied munitions factory, getting closer every time. Kirby, Carn and Travis are tasked with finding the unfindable gun and putting it out of commission before it does indeed hit the munitions factory! It’s another rip-roaring nail-biter from the pages of the November 8th, 1928 issue of War Stories—The Three Mosquitoes must “Get That Gun!”

Intelligence was desperate. The huge Tarniers munition plant, 130 miles from the German lines, was being shelled. What mysterious gun could shoot that deadly H.E. so far? Then orders came for the famous “Three Mosquitoes” to tackle the job—clear the mystery, wreck that gun. A dramatic, thrilling yarn.

“Hot Air” by Ralph Oppenheim

Link - Posted by David on March 13, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

“LET’S GO!” Once more, The Three Mosquitoes familiar battle cry rings out over the western front and the three khaki Spads take to the air, each sporting the famous Mosquito insignia. In the cockpits sat three warriors who were known wherever men flew as the greatest and most hell raising trio of aces ever to blaze their way through overwhelming odds—always in front was Kirby, their impetuous young leader. Flanking him on either side were the mild-eyed and corpulent Shorty Carn, and lanky Travis, the eldest and wisest Mosquito.

We’re back with the second of three tales of Ralph Oppenheim’s Three Mosquitoes we’re featuring this March for Mosquito Month! This week, Kirby experiences the pitfalls of pride when the Boche form an All-Ace squadron called the Avenging Yellow Jackets to take down the pesky Mosquitoes—while Shorty Carn and the lanky Travis urge caution, Kirby’s all guns ahead ready to rush in and take on all the Aces Germany can dish out. Problem is, believing his own press, he rushes into things foolishly and finds himself in “Hot Air!” From the February 2nd, 1928 issue of War Stories

The Boche was good and sore, tired of having his planes shot down one after another by the famous “Three Mosquitoes.” A special formation of Albatrosses, known as the “Avenging Yellow-Jackets,” was out to finish Kirby and his pals. Another of Oppenheim’s great flying yarns.

And check back next Friday when the inseparable trio will be back with another exciting adventure!

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