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From the Scrapbooks: Planes of the World

Link - Posted by David on December 1, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

THIS week we have Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. Many of the aviation pulps featured monthly articles on this subject. Flying Aces called theirs “War Planes Album”. Each month they featured six planes with a simple illustration by C.B. Colby and an informative write-up on each of the planes.


Two of the six planes featured in the November 1932 Flying Aces

Good news for those who wanted to clip and save the plane images and paste them into an album as Robert had done, the illustrations were laid out in the article so no two images would be on the back of the other.


The opening spread of the “Model Planes of All Nations” from (Sky Birds, November 1931).

Robert also clipped similar images also by Colby from Sky Birds’ monthly feature “Model Planes of All Nations.” Sky Birds’ feature was essentially the same as Flying Aces’ feature. You get six planes an issue.


Two of the six planes featured in the November 1931 Sky Birds

Robert generally featured two images per page, but for a few, he pasted a single image on the page and below it typed the informative part of the article about that plane.

The Robert A. O’Neil Scrapbooks

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

RECENTLY, Age of Aces came into possession of a pair of Aviation Scrapbooks. These scrapbooks are hand made with roughly 170 8″ x 10.5″ pages each, bound together with string. Pasted on the pages are photos, drawings and articles of early aviation history excised from pulp magazines like Battle Birds, Battle Aces, Sky Birds and Flying Aces as well as other sources from 1928 to the mid-1930’s. Typed descriptions accompany some of the pulp illustrations. Also included are ephemera from Air Shows, letters from the magazine publishers, photo postcards of airplanes and the air battle histories of Aces like Rickenbacker and Richtofen. They are a deeply personal endeavour by a young man clearly intrigued by the development of early aviation and its practical application in war.

The scrapbooks were compiled by Robert Alfred O’Neil. Looking around on ancestry.com a bit, Robert was born on July 3rd, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri. He has a sister, Evelyn, who is a year older. Some time in the early twenties the family moved to Los Angeles. Robert had a brief letter published about his first train ride in The Long Beach Telegram (April 16, 1924).

According to the date on the title page of the first Scrapbook, Robert started them January 1, 1928.

The 1930 census lists Robert as being 18, still living with his parents and 19 year old sister, and working as a messenger for a bank.

The 1940 census has Robert, now 28, living with just his mother on West 21st Street in Los Angeles and pulling in $1,104 a year as a bookkeeper. But by the following March when he filled out his draft registration card, it seems Robert was finally applying his knowledge and love of aviation—he listed his employer as Lockheed Aircraft! (His sister and her husband were living just down the street.)

Starting Monday, and on subsequent Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays all December, we’ll be taking a look at Robert’s scrapbooks and the treasures within. So be sure to check back for a look back some things we’ve already featured on the site that Robert included in his scrapbooks as well as some exciting new discoveries! We’ll get things started on Monday when we go to the Air Races!

“Web of the Spider” by Arch Whitehouse

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

WE’VE come to the final story of our twelve tales from the Christmas 1931 issues, and what better way to go out, than with a story from the ever-reliable Arch Whitehouse! Always a crowd-pleaser, Whitehouse wrote hundreds of tales for the air pulps with many featuring series characters. Possibly his longest running series was Buzz Benson! Buzz was featured in every issue of Sky Birds starting with the February 1930 issue. When Sky Birds closed up shop, Buzz moved over to Flying Aces where he continued for two more years.

Billy “Buzz” Benson is a flying reporter for the Los Angeles Mercury newspaper, but his real job is much more dangerous—he is a secret agent and pilot extraordinaire for the U.S. military. In this month’s issue, deadly forces have stolen the latest high-powered submarine, the Baracuda, as well as kidnapped the designer’s daughter. It’s up to Buzz to get them both back!

The Navy had named their newest submarine the Barracuda, after the deadliest fish that infests tropical waters—that sharp-toothed killer that will attack anything for the joy of battle. Then that sub turned against its masters—and Billy “Buzz” Benson took off on the blood-strewn trail of the killer ship!

“Aces Back to Back” by E.W. Chess

Link - Posted by David on December 28, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

OUR penultimate of our twelve tales from Christmas 1931 issues is another by E.W. Chess—he was a busy man that month with both this as well as a story in Aces! This time we get the bizarre tale of gambling and a four–sided love triangle!

A gambler, was Major Arthur Lem, C.O. of the 25th Yank Pursuit Squadron. All his life he’d gambled—and won, for he bet only when the odds were in his favor. But now, in those flaming skies over the Western Front, the game was different. Young Philip Mayson and those seven hotheaded replacements were gamblers of another breed— and to bet with them. Major Lem had to learn a new way to play his cards! The most unusual air story of the year!

From the pages of Sky Birds, it’s “Aces Back to Back” by E.W. Chess!

If you haven’t check it out, Pulpflakes posted an excellent post about the life of “Elliot Chess—Fighter pilot, Author” last year.

“The Frozen Fate” by Donald E. Keyhoe

Link - Posted by David on December 25, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

AH, CHRISTMAS! As our present to our faithful readers on this fine Christmas morning, we give you a curious tale from the Teufelhund Jagdstaffel. It’s those flying leathernecks, Donald E. Keyhoe’s The Devildog Squadron! At the same time Keyhoe was writing the Philip Strange stories for Flying Aces, and the Jailbird Flight stories for Battle Aces, and the Vanished Legion stories for Dare-Devil Aces, we was also telling tales of those flying marines known as the Devildog Squadron for the pages of Sky Birds magazine. A marine flyer himself, Keyhoe imbues the tales of “Cyclone” Bill Garrity and The Devildog Squadron with a realism in their unrealistic events you just don’t find everywhere.

The Germans have developed an unstoppable behemoth that shoots a clod light ray that freezes whatever it passes over on contact! While out scouting for the big ship, Luck Lane is forced down and finds himself right in the thick of things! But he finds help in the most unlikely of places! From the December 1931 Sky Birds, it’s Donald E. Keyhoe’s “The Frozen Fate!”

Upon that desolate drome, where stark black trees reared up grimly from the stripped ruin of the tarmac, those Devildogs landed their ships. Biting cold rose up from the ground on that sweltering August day—and near the deadline lay three figures—frozen to death! A thrilling Devildog mystery.

And look for the first volume of the complete tales of the “Cyclone” Bill Garrity and the Devildog Squadron coming soon!

“The Devil on Wings” by Edgar A. Manley

Link - Posted by David on December 9, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY, for our twelve stories of Christmas 1931, we have an excellent tale by Edgar A. Manley from the pages of the December 1931 Sky Birds magazine!

Destiny had linked Chuck Bland strangely with that mysterious pair on the train from Paris. One a French artillery officer, the other a French flyer—one a murderer, the other a murdered man. And Chuck Bland did not know which was which—until one night, weeks later, in the messroom of a French drome!

From the pages of Sky Birds, it’s “The Devil on Wings” by Edgar A. Manley!

You may recognize the art for this story—it was also used for the Philip Strange story “Hell’s Gateway” (Flying Aces, April 1932)

“Torpedoes for Trouble” by Colcord Heurlin

Link - Posted by David on December 7, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present a cover by Colcord Heurlin! Heurlin worked in the pulps primarily over a ten year period from 1923 to 1933. His work appeared on Adventure, Aces, Complete Stories, Everybody’s Combined with Romance, North-West Stories, The Popular, Short Stories, Flying Aces, Sea Stories, Top-Notch, War Stories, Western Story, and here, the cover of the December 1931 Sky Birds!

Torpedoes for Trouble

th_SB_3112IT WAS a far cry from the early days of the war, when aviators were asked to drop bombs on hurriedly constructed Zeppelin hangars in northern Belgium, to the 1918 bomber with its aerial torpedo. In the early days airmen often made their own bombs of petrol cans wrapped with tarred rope which was designed to blast out hangars and then set fire to the remains. From those days bombing went through the 20-pounder stage, automatic racks, and eventually blossomed out with ships carrying single 550-pound missiles designed to fang their way through many feet of solid concrete before exploding. These were known as delayed detonation bombs.

On this month’s cover we show a two-seater bomber of this type. It has just released a 550-pound torpedo over a German airdrome. As in this picture, the pilot usually dived his ship on the target as though he were going to fire his fixed guns, and then released the torpedo-bomb. The spinning projectile did the rest.

The Story Behind The Cover
“Torpedoes for Trouble”
Sky Birds, December 1931 by Colcord Heurlin

“Had-Boiled and Handsome” by James Perley Hughes

Link - Posted by David on December 4, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY we have a story from the pen of a prolific pulp author James Perley Hughes! Hughes was a frequent contributor to various genres of pulps, but he seemed to gravitate toward the air-war spy type stories.

Skag, Dinty and Mugs Miller liked to “groom” the fresh recruits to the Game-Cock Squadron. They were case-hardened comedians and had given Major Crossley all kinds of trouble by their weird ideas of what made a joke. The quiet, bashful fledgling was usually let off with a short hazing, but the fresh fish were tormented until the three were satiated. Orders against this hazing had been issued time and again, but they were difficult to enforce. It was time someone taught them a lesson, and who better than someone straight from the school at Issoudun!

If you didn’t like somebody in the Game-Cock Squadron, you just arranged for him to fight a duel with von Steuben, famous German ace. It sounded easy—until those three tough boys from South Boston tried it on a certain replacement!

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!

“Wiley Post: Ace of World-Girdlers” C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on June 1, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again 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. Mayshaerk changed things up for the final four covers. Sky Birds last four covers each featured a different aviation legend. Wiley Post is the subject of Mayshark and Sky Bird’s final cover in December 1935!

Wiley Post: Ace of World-Girdlers
The Story Behind This Month’s Cover

th_SB_3512A MAN who rose from the depths of obscurity and poverty to world fame—a man whose iron courage and unwavering determination carried him to an undreamed of position in the spotlight of human interest—a man who conquered a physical handicap which undoubtedly would have quickly curbed others—but most of all a man who had true unflinching fortitude—a man who had what it takes! Such a man was Wiley Post, who was killed instantly with Will Rogers in a crash in the wilds of
 Alaska a few miles south of Point Barrow, on August 16.

Wiley was the type of fellow who believed unreservedly in himself. In his youth he was a worker in the oil fields of the West. He got his first taste for the air when a barnstorming pilot who was passing through town took him up for a spin for a fee of $25. It was money well spent, for Wiley quickly decided to become a pilot himself.

But at this point all his ambitions seemed doomed even before they had begun to be realized. An accident in the oil fields rendered Post’s left eye sightless, and it had to be removed. At first he despaired of ever becoming an airman; but upon application for flying lessons, he discovered that what he wanted to do was not impossible. All be needed was determination—and he had plenty of that! He passed his examination in short order, and with the compensation he received for his injury in the oil fields be bought his first plane—an antiquated “Jenny.”

From that time on, Wiley’s future was entirely in his own hands. Whatever he decided to do, he did without hesitation. Every activity in which he engaged added to the vast experience and knowledge which he finally brought to bear in his first record breaking flight around the world with Harold Gatty.

With that flight, Post first won worldwide acclaim. He and Gatty were accorded a royal reception when they landed back in New York on July 1, 1931 after circling the earth in 8 days, 15 hours, and 51 minutes. They bad accomplished one of the most difficult feats ever attempted in the history of aviation.

Post was destined to soar on to even greater heights. From June 23 to June 30, 1933, he covered, with the aid of a robot pilot, the same round-the-world course solo in the new time of 7 days, 8 hours and 49½ minutes.

By this time, the name of his ship, the “Winnie Mae,” was on the lips of the whole world. But Wiley didn’t get a swelled head. Instead, he again plugged on. He still had his eye on the future—living on his laurels was something he couldn’t do. “Accomplishment” was his slogan.

Between February 22 and June I5, 1935, Post made four attempts to span the continent in the sub-stratosphere. Four times he was forced to land his ship short of its mark. All the attempts were failures. But Wiley undoubtedly would have carried on to success had his life not been snatched from him. We picture him in his stratosphere suit.

THE memory of this great airman will live on in the hearts of mankind, for he was the type of individual whom every man wishes to emulate.

Following the news of Post’s death, the United States Senate passed a resolution which authorized the purchase, for $25,000, of Wiley’s plane, the “Winnie Mae,” for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington! And so, the ship which carried Wiley Post to the heights of human accomplishment will be preserved for posterity. Something material, however, is not required to keep the memory of Wiley with us. He shall live on in spirit forever.

The Story of The Cover
“Wiley Post: Ace of World-Girdlers” by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Birds, December 1935

“Lindbergh—the Lone Eagle” by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 25, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again 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. Mayshaerk changed things up for the final four covers. Sky Birds last four covers each featured a different aviation legend. “The Lone Eagle” himself was the subject of the penultimate issue of Sky Birds—Charles Lindbergh!

Lindbergh—the Lone Eagle
The Story Behind This Month’s Cover

th_SB_3509A MAN who enjoys the admiration of a hundred and twenty million countrymen; a man whose name has filled the headlines from hemisphere to hemisphere for eight years; a man whose amazing feats of daring have thrilled a world which has long been used to thrills; a man whose unassuming modesty and genuine simplicity have caused his name to be written into the history of the world’s progress; and, most of all, a man who is unalterably a man in every sense of the word—that is Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh.

Lindbergh was born in 1902 without, of course, the slightest inkling of what fate had in store for him. But somehow, from the beginning, his career seemed to be guided by the unseen hand of destiny, and bit by bit the experience that was to be invaluable on that history-making day in May, 1927, was accumulated.

Lindbergh made his debut in aviation in February, 1922, when he enrolled in a flying school at Lincoln, Neb. After learning to fly and being unequivocally bitten by the aviation bug, which was pretty much on the rampage around that time, he purchased a U.S. Government Jenny for $500, and his fondest dream was a reality at last.

It seems that this modest young man had ideas in the back of his head and designs in his imagination of such ambitious scope that they needed prestige and a record to lead them along their difficult path. So Lindbergh became a military man by enrolling as a cadet in tho United States Air Service Reserve. He was afterwards commissioned a captain. A short time later, he joined the Missouri National Guard with the rank of first lieutenant, and he was eventually promoted to the rank of colonel.

Lindbergh was in aviation for a serious purpose, and so was not content to drift along, picking up odd jobs here and there and engaging himself in barnstorming trips, as so many other aviators were doing at that time. He wanted to do something which required skill, experience and a sense of responsibility. He made his first flight as an air mail pilot in April, 1926. The air mail service in those days was a pretty risky proposition, and any man who went in for it had to have courage—and plenty of it.

It was during this period that Lindbergh conceived the idea of making a solo trans-Atlantic flight. In the winter of 1927, he persuaded the Ryan Company to build him a ship—the now famous Spirit of St. Louis, and in April of that year, he made a record-breaking transcontinental run from California to New York.

On May 20th, Lindbergh took off on the flight that was to be one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments. Very few people realize the skill and courage and physical condition that were essential to the success of that flight, but whatever it took, Lindbergh had in abundance, and the most amazing part of the whole thing was that his modesty wouldn’t permit him to believe that he had done something which warranted all the congratulations and back-slapping that were showered upon him from the far corners of the earth. Regardless of what his realizations were, he came home in glory to the resounding acclaim of not only America, but of the whole world.

Upon landing in this country, he made arrangements to make a tour of America under the auspices of the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the promotion of aviation, and it is estimated that he visited seventy-five cities.

Lindbergh is the ranking member of the mythical Caterpillar Club, having upon four occasions resorted to the parachute to save his life. One of these is depicted on the cover, along with a scene from his famous transatlantic flight.

Lindbergh’s decorations include the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Chevalier of the Legion of honor (France), Order of Leopold (Belgium), and several others.

The Story of The Cover
“Lindbergh—the Lone Eagle” by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Birds, September 1935

“Roscoe Turner—Speed Flyer” by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 18, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again 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. Mayshaerk changed things up for the final four covers. Sky Birds last four covers each featured a different aviation legend. The subject of the August 1935 cover was speed flyer Roscoe Turner!

Roscoe Turner—Speed Flyer
The Story Behind This Month’s Cover

th_SB_3508OCTOBER 20, 1934, was a big day for aviation enthusiasts the world over. For at Mildenhall, England, a score of airmen were turning up powerful motors, waiting for the flagman to wave the signal which would start them off on the 11,323-mile grind to Melbourne, Australia.

Among the ships entered for the race was a Boeing 247-D, piloted by a certain Roscoe Turner who, along with Clyde Pangborn, had elected to take a shot at the most hazardous and thrilling adventure in aviation history—the MacRobertson Trophy Race.

The name of Roscoe Turner was not new to the thousands of people the world over who read the list of entrants for the big race on the morning of October 20. Indeed, Turner had been a popular air hero for some years. He was not outstanding as a spectacular and breath-taking pilot who took long chances and always managed to get through by the skin of his teeth—but more as the type who is cool, methodical and well-schooled in the fundamental principals of aeronautics. Even when he was behind the controls of one of his various racing ships, Turner always knew what he was going to do next.

For Roscoe Turner had learned about airplanes and how to fly them from the ground up. His career in the air began in March, 1918, when he transferred from the U.S. Ambulance Service to the Army Air Service’ and was commissioned a second lieutenant.

Turner served overseas for ten months with the second army, and then with the third army at Coblenz, Germany, following the Armistice. He was discharged with the rank of first lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Service, in 1919, and returned home to engage in civil and commercial aviation in the United States. Turner’s Army record was not particulary outstanding, although he did win a promotion. He was saving himself, as it were, for a more important role—that of an accomplished and publicized peacetime airman.

However, the desire for military duty soon overcame him, and he joined with the California National Guard, where he served as captain from 1925 to 1927. He was later made personal aid to Governor Rolph of California, for whom he acted as pilot, and was promoted to the rank of colonel.

Turner’s records and accomplishments are too numerous to record here. However, it should be stated that he has held almost every important racing and commercial aircraft record in the United States at one time or another. Also, he was the first pilot to lower a plane by parachute successfully, although it had been attempted before. The German wartime Gotha which was used in the filming of the motion picture, “Hell’s Angels,” was flown and owned by Turner. For a time, he always carried with him in his plane a lion which he had acquired when it was a cub and had trained himself. However, the lion had to be dispensed with when it became too big.

And so it can be seen that up until October 20, 1934, Colonel Roscoe Turner was merely another one of the numerous well-known American aviators. But fate had decreed that he was to accomplish something bigger and bettor than the average airman can claim.

The rest is written into aviation history and is common knowledge to everyone who reads the newspapers. Turner and Pangborn finished third in the MacRobertson Trophy Race, and copped third-place prize money amounting to $7,500. Their time was 93 hours, 5 minutes, 15 seconds.

And so to Colonel Roscoe Turner we say, “Congratulations and happy landings!” And we know that his feats in the future will equal, if not surpass, his accomplishments of the past several years.

The Story of The Cover
“Roscoe Turner—Speed Flyer” by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Birds, August 1935

“Rickenbacker: Ace in War and Peace” by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 11, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again 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. Mayshaerk changed things up for the final four covers. Sky Birds last four covers each featured a different aviation legend. For the first of these covers on the July 1935 issue, Mayshark goes right for the top, featuring America’s greatest Ace of the Great War—Eddie Rickenbacker!

Rickenbacker: Ace in War and Peace
The Story Behind This Month’s Cover

th_SB_3507ON THE cover this month, you see Eddie Rickenbacker, one of aviation’s greatest aces—both in war and peace. The premier airman of America’s war-time fighting pilots practically dropped out of sight for twelve years after the World War. He was nothing but a mysterious legendary hero until President Hoover pinned the Congressional Medal of Honor on his civilian coat in 1930, but since then, he has leaped into the aviation spotlight as the new guiding spirit of commercial aviation.

The hand that guided a speeding Spad in 1918 directs the destinies of one of America’s greatest aviation organizations from behind a chairman’s desk and, upon demand, climbs into a 200-mile-an-hour Douglas and pilots it across the United States in twelve hours.

Americans had almost forgotten about Captain Rickenbacker in 1930. They had forgotten about many such heroes of the war days. The first thud of the great depression had left the country reeling, unable to think of anything so romantic as a knight of the air. Minds were on banks, stock markets and ticker tape.

It is significant that the man who came to the aid of his country in 1918 with his skill as an auto driver, his knowledge of engines and, later, with his ability as a pursuit pilot, should be the first to take up the gauntlet again in the defense of commercial aviation.

The depression hit first at the infant industry of air travel. Aeronautical stocks fell, factories had to close up that had been organized during the boom following the surge of interest when a young air mail pilot named Charles A. Lindbergh flew solo from New York to Paris in 1927. Many air lines, enjoying their first profits in a legitimate transportation organization, felt the terrific shock of nationwide poverty. Some went under, others retrenched, and even those backed by plenty of money realized that something had to be done to prevent complete ruin and the wiping out of the gains that had been made in the aeronautical field. They began looking about for a MAN who could be a leader.

There were hundreds of pilots. There were scores of crack pilots. There were a few, a mere handful, who had won world renown for their flights. But none had business instinct along with their skill with tho joy stick.

Then the publicity resulting from the belated award of the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Hoover brought the almost forgotten Captain Eddie Rickenbacker back into the limelight. Here was the MAN for aviation!

The men who directed the financial destinies of our big commercial firms looked up Rickenbacker’s background. A few learned for the first time that he was America’s Ace of Aces. He had destroyed twenty-six enemy planes on the Western Front. They studied his war career and discovered that against the worst possible obstacles, he had climbed out of an easy berth as private chauffeur to General John J. Pershing and had worked his way up to be a flight commander in the top-ranking fighter squadron of the A.E.F.

They discovered that in this long climb, Rickenbacker had once been waylaid at a motor repair depot because of his knowledge of engines, and it looked as if he would have to stay there. But “Rick” proved that he was not indispensable by faking an illness and getting himself placed in hospital for two weeks. When he came out, he said, “You see, I’ve been away from the depot for fourteen days. During that time, things went on just as though I had been there. Now, why can’t I go up to the Front and fight?”

There was no argument to that, so Eddie went up to the Front.

Next, these financial wizards discovered that, once up at the Front, Rickenbacker did not go mad and try to win the war on his own. He took his time and studied the problems before him. He flew his daily patrols and developed his technique. He finally went into action—but after he had his battle plans laid hours before he left the ground.

He studied enemy ships in the air and checked captured ships for their blind spots and weaknesses. He was pretty colorless at first, but he plugged away, and before anyone knew just who this quiet, methodical young man was, he was top pilot of the A.E.F.—and he lived to come home to his reward.

“This is our man,” the aviation magnates said. “He’s the one to save commercial aviation. Let’s get him.”

They had a hard time finding Rickenbacker at first, for he had a very ordinary routine job with the old Fokker Aircraft Company, acting as a salesman for the ships of the man whose war-time products had given him so much trouble. Eddie also eked out his meager pay by writing sane and sound articles in a few of the aviation magazines. But the general public did not read those magazines in those days. They were still buying thrills, world flights, refuelling stunts and mad Roman Holiday air races that featured crazy acrobatics and lengthy death rolls.

They took him out of there when Fokker packed up and went back to Holland. They sent him to the General Aviation Corporation, the General Motors aviation branch, and let him go to work. For months, nothing much was heard of Rickenbacker, but he was working hard, building up a new and solid foundation for America’s commercial air program.

Gradually, Rickenbacker’s work began to tell, and he appeared in the headlines again. There was a sure climb in air line patronage, and demands came for faster and more comfortable ships. The big companies went to work and, with keen competition driving them on, they soon began to revolutionize the air liner. There were the new Boeings and the Vultees. Then came the Lockheeds, Stinsons and G.A. ships. But soon all these were to be outclassed by the Douglas that had a top speed of 234 m.p.h. With its showing in the great London-to-Melbourne race last year, when it finished second only to an out-and-out racing plane, America finally learned that it had the finest air transportation system in the world.

But there was one point to be cleared up, and this is where Captain Eddie Rickenbacker came in. America knew the Douglas had done well in the England-to-Australia flight, but then it had been flown by a team of Dutch pilots who knew that route like the lines in the palms of their hands. How would it fare in the hands of an American crew over the complete route from coast to coast in this country?

The air lines were asking this. The prospective passengers were asking this. The operators were asking the same question.

Rickenbacker, the Man, answered them.

On November 8th, 1934, a few weeks after the great Melbourne race, he directed the flight of a twin-motored Douglas from Los Angeles to New York in the commercial record time of twelve hours and four minutes. Again, he flew it from New York to New Orleans in record time, and he completed a round trip from New York to Miami within the limitations of breakfast and supper time.

America was satisfied. Rickenbacker, the Man, had showed them, just as he had showed them with his Hat-in-the-Ring Squadron in 1918. Within twenty-four hours of his record flight across the country, the air line offices were swamped with reservations for the Douglas-equipped lines all over the country.

But it will not end there. Rickenbacker is still at work, planning and plotting for the future. His pilots will get most of the credit, but commercial aviation will go on, a glorious monument to the man who quietly tackles his problems without benefit of publicity. Rickenbacker, the MAN—the ace of war and peace!

The Story of The Cover
“Rickenbacker: Ace in War and Peace” by C.B. Mayshark
Sky Birds, July 1935

“Sky Birds, June 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 4, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we are once again 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 the June 1935 issue Mayshark gives us “Pilot-Gunner Cooperation!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
Pilot-Gunner Cooperation

th_SB_3506 SPOTTING suckers and crashing them was one of the things that most wartime pilots indulged in. Strictly speaking, a sucker is any enemy aircraft that is sure meat. But occasionally they turned the tables, and then the pilot of the attacking ship would find himself in a jam—sometimes a fatal one.

On this month’s cover, we see an Avro Spider in combat with an enemy two-seater. A few minutes before the scene which we are depicting takes place, the Spider had been winging its way cautiously back to its home tarmac, when suddenly, as it dropped out of a cloud, two German Rumplers were visible. The Spider pilot considered the situation for a moment and then decided to risk it. He ought to be able to bag at least one of those babies and, with good luck, maybe both of them. Rumplers weren’t considered exactly sucker bait, but they ought to be fairly easy for a Spider.

Coming down almost in a vertical dive and spraying lead as it came, the Spider had no trouble in separating the two Huns. As the British pilot thundered between the Germans, he could feel the impact of lead smacking against his fuselage and wings. He’d have to watch himself from now on. At least one of those Jerry ships was carrying a gunner who could do a few things with a machine gun. After pulling out of his dive, the Britisher determined which Hun ship had the good marksman—and decided to go after the other one first.

It was a cinch. The Hun pilot did not even seem to make an effort to shake the Spider off. He was panicky, and his gunner did not have a chance to fire a shot. And so the German two-seater went down a flamer.

The British pilot grinned. The first had been easy enough to warrant trying for the second. The British pilot had his score to think about too. His great ambition was to become an ace, and here was his big chance.

But the remaining German was going to be more trouble than the first one. Every time the British pilot jockeyed for position, he had to retreat. Those two Jerries knew their onions, there was no doubt about that. After practically exhausting his bag of tricks, the British pilot decided to have one more try.

After retreating to the rear of the German machine for a short distance, the Spider suddenly turned. Coming up at the enemy’s tail at terrific speed, the Englishman opened fire, but he wasn’t close enough to do much damage. He was coming within range now, and the Rumpler was still holding its position. What was the matter with these two? They had chased him off before.

Suddenly, however, the Spider pilot found that nothing was wrong with them. Banking sharply and skidding its tail around, the Rumpler suddenly loomed up broadside before the Spider. There was no tail assembly to obstruct the Hun gunner’s fire now, and he opened up with zest. The Spider banked smartly to the right, taking one last pot shot as it did so, and was gone in a flash. The British pilot was lucky, and he knew it. Those two Germans knew how to wage war in the air, and they weren’t taking any monkey business from anybody. Well, he’d be more careful next time, and not be so sure of the so-called suckers.

The Avro Spider was a high-performance single-seater fighter, and one of the best ships of its type put out during the war by the A.V. Roe Co. Its speed was 124 miles per hour and it was powered with a 110-horsepower Le Rhone engine.

The Story of The Cover
Sky Birds, June 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
(Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots: The Story Behind This Month’s Cover)

“Sky Birds, April 1935″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 27, 2019 @ 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 April 1935 issue Mayshark gives us “Superiority in Speed!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
Superiority in Speed

THE predominating factor in the th_SB_3504 development of aviation ever since the Wright Brothers took wing has always been speed. Speed has been the password of the manufacturers and the demand of the public, and this element has done more than anything else to foster the building of better ships.
The keenest competition that the aircraft industry probably will ever know took place between the years 1914 and 1918. If some German appeared with a new ship that was superior in speed to any of its predecessors, it was but a matter of time before the Allied forces came forth with a plane that had the German one stopped dead in its tracks. And vice versa.

One of the fastest planes produced in the war was a French ship called the De Marcay biplane. This plane was not constructed until late in the war, and therefore it did not see much active service. However, had the ship been produced in mass, and had numbers of them been thrown against the machines of the enemy, there is no doubt but what it would have come through with flying colors.
On our cover this month we have illustrated the method by which the speedy De Marcay was enabled to attack two or more enemy ships and get away with it.

Returning from an artillery spotting job far over the lines, the French pilot suddenly finds himself confronted by three German scouts who are determined to keep him from returning with his valuable information. The sector is in a rural district which has not been torn up by the racking fire of heavy artillery, and there is nothing below but smooth, level fields and a line of telephone wires. An ideal place to bring this devil down, thinks the leader of the Hun patrol. No trouble about getting a victory confirmation here.

But the German patrol leader is doomed to disappointment. Worse than that, he is doomed to death. Yet death comes so quickly that he scarcely knows what hit him.

Banking around in a tight turn so as to attack from an angle, the Frenchman opens his throttle wide and comes tearing down across the sky, head-on into the enemy formation. One burst of fire is enough to knock the leader out of position, and as he falls rapidly in a sickening spin, blue smoke begins curling up around his fuselage. Suddenly he is a mass of fire—a flamer!

Continuing on in a straight line at a terrific rate of speed, the De Marcay biplane darts between and below the two remaining German scouts before they know what it’s all about. As he gets clear and heads for the lines, the Hun ships reform and attack with a little altitude to their advantage. Their tracer hits, but the Frenchman is going too fast for accurate aiming. He loses an outer interplane strut, but that’s all.

So a victory is won, and speed is the one thing that gets the credit. The Frenchman continues home unmolested, lands, and makes his report. He is a good pilot, yes. But besides that, he has a ship that is faster than anything else on the Western Front.

The De Marcay biplane was powered with a 300-h.p. Hispano-Suiza motor. Its top speed was 162 miles per hour, and an overall safety factor of 14 was claimed for the machine.

The German ship pictured on the cover is one of the many types of single-seater biplane that the L.F.G. Boland concern put out. It was designated as type D XIV, and it was powered with a 160-h.p. Goebel engine.

The Story of The Cover
Sky Birds, April 1935 by C.B. Mayshark
(Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots: The Story Behind This Month’s Cover)

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