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How the War Crates Flew: Just How Fast?

Link - Posted by David on December 14, 2022 @ 6:00 am in

FROM the pages of the March 1933 number of Sky Fighters:

Editor’s Note: We feel that this magazine has been exceedingly fortunate in securing R. Sidney Bowen to conduct a technical department each month. It is Mr. Bowen’s idea to tell us the underlying principles and facts concerning expressions and ideas of air-war terminology. Each month he will enlarge upon some particular statement in the stories of this magazine. Mr. Bowen is qualified for this work, not only because he was a war pilot of the Royal Air Force, but also because he has been the editor of one of the foremost technical journals of aviation.

Just How Fast?

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters, March 1933)

WELL, my Fledglings—er, sorry, I should have said Buzzards! Well, anyway, the chin-fest this time is going to be one which I am afraid will shoot a pet belief of yours all to pieces. By the time I get through, you birds will be calling your Uncle Washout all sorts of nasty names, and the main one will be—“liar”! But I’ve been called that by dumber buzzards than you (yes, there are a few I think) so don’t build up any hopes of getting my goat. A Sopwith Camel got that, years ago! However, I’m warning you in advance. If you don’t believe me, then get up and walk out. It’s all the same with me. But, if you do stay, keep your traps zippered up until I’ve emphasized the final period and quotation marks.

I’ve been planning to chin this tune to you for some time, but I’ve delayed doing it until we got to know each other a little better. That is, rather, until I got to know you a little better! Well, I’ve found, according to your letters, that your bark is worse than your bite. And so figuring that though you may toss things my way, when I’m through, my one and only life won’t be hanging in the balance.

So, here it comes. Ever read anything like this?

“Slamming the stick over and stepping hard on left rudder, Jim Collins, keen-eyed eagle of Uncle Sam’s brood, spun around on wing-tip and went thundering straight for the Fokker at a speed well over 200 m.p.h. His twin Vickers yammered harshly, and—”

AND horse collar to you, Jim Collins! And also, horse collar to you, Mr. Author, who lets that sort of stuff drip off your typewriter keys!

You guessed it, Buzzards! I’m going to chin about the speed of all the war flying crates that I and 9,999,999 other dumb peelots made famous. Yeah, I can see that look slipping into your eyes, already. But go ahead—I’m going to chin the truth, the whole truth, so help me!

Jim Collins, or any other pilot during the late mix-up, never went even 200 m.p.h. in level flight. Now when I say, the late mix-up, I’m talking about the World War. Perhaps there’s been another since then, and no one has told me about it. But the World War I mean, is the one that took place between 1914-1918. And during those years no war crate, Yank, British, French, German or Ethiopian, came within 50 miles of a top speed of 200 m.p.h!

All right, all right, sit down! Let’s start right in with the year of 1914 and take a look at the records year by year.

The War, as you all know, and if you don’t, I’m telling you, started in August, 1914. Now up to that date the speed record for land planes was 105 m.p.h., made by Maurice Prevost when he won the Gordon Bennett Cup Race held in France, September 29, 1913. And the speed record for seaplanes was 86.8 m.p.h., made by C. Howard Pixton wrhen he won the Jacques Schneider Maritime Aviation Cup Race (original name of the present Schneider Trophy Contest) held on the Bay of Monaco in March 1913.

Therefore we enter the World War with a top speed of 105 m.p.h. But, don’t overlook the fact that that was the top speed of the fastest racing plane. Not a military ship loaded with guns, ammo, and a bomb or two here and there, but a racing ship stripped of everything possible that would hinder forward progress, and with an engine tuned up for that one race!

Okay, now we turn to the records.

The British sent to the front in the 1914 period, first, the well-known Avro, powered with a Gnome or Le Rhone with a top speed of 65-70 m.p.h. Then there was the B.E. (Bleriot and later the British Experimental) powered with a Renault, that knocked off about 50 m.p.h. Another was the Gnome powered Vickers that slid along at 60-65 m.p.h. And of course the Handley-Page Bomber that had two Rolls-Royce engines, and thundered forward at about 80 m.p.h. Those ships were all two-seaters, or over, and were the vanguard of British ships in France.

Now the French had their good old two-seater Breguet that bent your whiskers back at 55-60 m.p.h. They also had the Bleriot (same as the British) that clicked at around 55 m.p.h. The well-known Caudron that mushed onward at about the same speed. And ditto for the Maurice Farman, the Morane and the early Nieuport. All were two-seaters or bombers save the Bleriot, the Morane and the Nieuport.

AND the Germans? Well, they had the Albatross scout with a Mercedes and. 65-70 m.p.h. to its credit. Then there was the two-seater Aviatik that clicked at around 70-75 m.p.h. And the Taube single-seater monoplane with an Argus engine that could only hit 50 m.p.h. and not go boom!

So taking it all in all the Germans had a general edge of about 5 m.p.h. over the French and British save for the Handley-Page with its twin engine speed of 80 m.p.h. But taking the general top speed average we find it to be around 65 m.p.h. in the first year of the war, or, to be pretty near exact, some 40 m.p.h. below the then existing world’s speed record for all types of aircraft.

Now, in case you think I’m going to go on listing all the various planes year by year, you’re crazy. Such a thing would fill this whole mag. And the C.O. tells me that there are some swell yarns he wants to put in, and for me to go easy on the space. But, I’ve started this fight, and I’m going to finish it by tracing the increase of war plane top speed right through to 1919. I’ll do it by sighting performances of the various leading and famous crates.

Naturally, no World War power made a ship one year, and then tossed it in the ash can for an entirely different design the next. True, that was done in a few cases. But what I’m driving at is that not only were new designs brought out, but the old ones were improved upon. As an example we find the original British Bristol with a Gnome in the nose in 1914 doing around 70 m.p.h., and in 1917 with a Rolls-Royce and a few improvements it did 105 m.p.h.

BUT we’re getting ahead of our chinning. Let’s go back to 1915. That year was really the year that aerial warfare got under way. Prior to then, war flying consisted of reconnaissance and bombing work. But in 1915 the boys got their hands on aerial guns and the works started popping.

The British jacked up the speeds of their old ships a little bit and sent out the first DH single-seater (DH2 Pusher) that could hit 95 m.p.h. That same year the first Sopwith Scout came out with 90 m.p.h. Then there was the first Martinsyde single-seater that made 95 m.p.h. And the fastest of all, the. famous Bristol “Bullet” that did just about 100 m.p.h.

Meanwhile the French got 90 m.p.h. out of a new Nieuport. Some 70 m.p.h. out of a Bleriot scout. And about 5 m.p.h. more out of a new Caudron single-seater. The French seemed to be a bit conservative in their speed figures that year.

That year saw the introduction of the first Fokker. It was called the “Eindecker” and was a single-seater monoplane powered with an Oberursel engine, and had a top speed of 95 m.p.h. The Germans boosted their Albatross speed up to 80 m.p.h. And that was about all they did.

So we see that in the second year of the war England has most of the speed honors. But, believe it or not, the fastest speed is still 5 m.p.h. below the record set in 1913.

However, in 1916, the scrapping nations pulled up their socks and got to work on the idea of shoving their planes through the air at a real good clip.

The British pushed their Avro single-seater up to 100 m.p.h. They came out with a new Bristol that did 105 m.p.h. They made a redesigned Martinsyde do 110 m.p.h. And they sent out the first S.E. an S.E.4 (not S.E.5) that did close to 100 m.p.h. But their greatest achievement was the new DH4 that did around 125 m.p.h. That ship was the fastest of its time.

THE French did a little better by themselves as regards speed in 1916. The most important item was that they came out with the first of the famous Spad pursuit ships. This job, which was powered with a Hispano-Suiza engine, as were all Spads, knocked off 105 m.p.h. The new Caudron twin-engine bomber did 85 m.p.h. which was pretty good for a crate of its size. And the fixed-up Nieuport equaled the top speed of the Spad.

Of course, 1916 was a big year for the Germans. The first Fokker of the famous D series saw front line service that year. Naturally, it was the Dl, and powered with a Mercedes it was good for 105 m.p.h. The Aviatik, with a Benz in the nose had the same speed. And the New Benz-powered Albatross hit the same clip, also. But strange as it may seem, the honey of German ships that year, as far as speed was concerned, was the Benz powered Halberstadt single-seater. The first Halberstadt that year was powered with an Argus and could do 105 m.p.h. But when they stuck a Benz in the nose the ship went up and buzzed along at a nice clip of 120 m.p.h.

And so, at the end of that year we find the British and the Germans pretty much on a par for speed honors, with the French tagging along slightly behind. And not only that, we find that the existing speed record for all types of aircraft has received a good swift kick in the ailerons!

Now, before we step into 1917, let me put a word in for good luck. I have been chinning about the speed of war crates. I have not made any mention of the maneuverability of war crates. So just bear that in mind as we talk on. Speed was an asset, but not the whole thing. So don’t get the idea that just because the French had slower ships that they were doing the poorest job. Far from it, believe you me! In a dog-fight a highly maneuverable ship can trim the pants off a faster ship any day in the week, assuming, of course, that the pilots are equal in skill. So don’t let your grandmother tell you different.

AND so for 1917, the year when supremacy of the air was finally decided for once and for all in the World war.

Perhaps the greatest contribution to the art of smacking things out of the sky that year was made by the British when they sent out to France the Famous Bristol Fighter. The job of that year was powered with a 200 hp. Hissi or a 200 hp. Sunbeam, and it slid along, with full load at 120 m.p.h. Next in line was the well-known DH9 with a Napier-Lion engine. This ship, also a two-seater, could do 110 m.p.h. And then came two of the most famous airplanes ever built. First the S.E.5. at 125 m.p.h., and the Sopwith Camel at 120 m.p.h. Both ships were pursuit jobs, as you all know. And—but why chin more? You know all about their history.

To match the British contributions the French brought out a new Nieuport that could do about 120 under full steam with a Gnome in the nose, and about 115 with a Hisso. In addition to that they stuck a 200 hp. Hisso in a redesigned Spad and got a top speed of 125 m.p.h.

Of course the Germans weren’t asleep, either. The first was their new Mercedes-powered Albatross that clicked at 125 m.p.h. The next was the souped-up Aviatik that made the same speed. Then the Fokker D4 at 120 m.p.h. and later the D5 at 125 m.p.h. And last, but not least, the famous Pfalz with a speed of 120.

And so we find England and Germany hitting it off neck and neck, with the edge in favor of England, due to its higher topspeed average for all types. And particularly due to the introduction of two brand new pursuit ships, the S.E.5, and the Sopwith Camel.

All of which brings us up to 1918 and the final showdown.

As usual, England got the jump by bringing out two brand new types, and improving on all the others. The new types were first the Sopwith Dolphin, a high altitude ship that could do 130 m.p.h., and the Sopwith Snipe that could do a shade over 140 m.p.h. with luck. This ship was considered by many to be the fastest thing in France at the end of the war. It came out about three months before the Armistice was signed. The principle improvement on other British designs was that made on the S.E. series. The S.E.5a came out at 135 m.p.h. Then, too, there was the D.H.9a with an American Liberty engine (two-seater) that did 125 m.p.h. And the Bristol Fighter was put up to 130 m.p.h.

The French simply boosted up the speeds of old designs. They got the Spad up to 135. And they got the Nieuport up to around 130. Outside of that, they slammed into the enemy with what they already had.

The Germans worked on the Albatross scout and got 135 m.p.h. out of it. They also came out with the famous Fokker D7, a ship that was credited with 140 m.p.h. as a top speed. And they also came out with the Fokker Triplane with a speed of about 135 m.p.h. The only other ship improved upon was the Pfalz, which was boosted up to 130 m.p.h.

And there, Buzzards, you have the straight dope on the speed of war flying crates. Mark you! I’m speaking of speed at level flight, not diving speed! That was something different. But when you speak of airplane speed, you speak of speed from here to there, not from up there down to here.

AND so—eh, what’s that? I knew it, I knew it! Why didn’t I speak of Yank planes? Well, here’s why, Buzzard, and be surprised if you will. There was not a single American designed and manufactured ship in action in France during the War. True, there was the American Liberty D.H.9a, but that was fundamentally a British De Haviland design. If the war had lasted longer, the American Thomas-Morse might have seen service over Hunland.

One more thing. What was the fastest thing in the air in France? The Sopwith Snipe, you say? Wrong, Buzzard, wrong! It was the tip of a propeller blade. The tip of a nine foot prop at 1800 revs traveled a shade over the nine and one half miles per minute! Figure it out for yourself, or ask Dad, he knows! S’long.

How the War Crates Flew: Tricky Ships

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

FROM the pages of the November 1932 number of Sky Fighters:

Editor’s Note: We feel that this magazine has been exceedingly fortunate in securing R. Sidney Bowen to conduct a technical department each month. It is Mr. Bowen’s idea to tell us the underlying principles and facts concerning expressions and ideas of air-war terminology. Each month he will enlarge upon some particular statement in the stories of this magazine. Mr. Bowen is qualified for this work, not only because he was a war pilot of the Royal Air Force, but also because he has been the editor of one of the foremost technical journals of aviation.

Tricky Ships

by Robert Sidney Bowen (Sky Fighters, November 1932)

POWERLESS to do a single thing about it, the members of the 23rd pursuits watched the lone Camel flatspinning down to total destruction. Its pilot was plainly visible, battling the controls. But his frantic efforts were to no avail. Seconds later the nose struck, flames leaped skyward, and another pilot was added to the long list of tricky ship victims. . . .

And that, fledglings, was the way more than one Hun-getter checked in his chips during the late war . . . a victim of a tricky ship, not Spandaus lead. Now, don’t go getting the idea that those lads were dumb pilots, else they wouldn’t have allowed their crates to throw them. That’s not the idea at all. More than a few crack pilots got into trouble with a tricky ship and lost the decision. What we are going to try and point out this meeting is that during the late war a peelot had to be a heads-up peelot for reasons other than those manufactured in Germany.

Present day ships are so well designed and constructed that you can almost go to sleep and let them fly on by themselves. They are steady as a rock even in pretty punk weather, and when anything does happen there is always the good old ’chute-pack on your back. All you have to do is step overboard, count six and pull the ring. But the war crates? Ah, there you have something different . . . mighty different, and don’t you forget it! In the first place, they were all designs of 1914-1918 vintage, naturally. Designers didn’t know as much then as they do now. And, there were no parachutes for pilots. The Germans started using ’chutes during the last year of the war, but the Yanks, English and French never had them except for balloon work.

That statement may surprise you, after some of the war-air yarns that you’ve been reading. But it happens to be a fact, and any war peelot will check on that statement.

But to get back to the business of these tricky ships. That questionasking fledgling over there in the corner looks like he’s ready to burst with curiosity, so I’ll talk fast and maybe choke him off.

JUST for the heck of it, we’ll take some of the war crates, one by one, and elaborate on their tricky features and peculiarities.

Of course, the Sopwith Camel is the first on the list. Of all the tricky ships that crossed over No-Man’s-Land the Camel was the trickiest of them all. A wonderful stunting crate, and great stuff in a dog scrap, but my, my, how you had to watch that baby and check its tendency to throw you for a flock of wooden kimonos!

The Camel was powered with a Clerget, Le Rhone, and later for high altitude work, with a 210 Bentely. All three were rotary engines. And all three gave the ship its nasty desire to flip over and down on right wing and into a tight spin. It was propeller torque that did that. As I explained at another meeting, propeller torque is a tendency for a ship to go in the opposite direction to the rotation of the propeller blades. In a Camel the prop rotated from right to left (standing in front of the prop). Therefore the ship would try to swing to the right (the pilot’s right when in the cockpit). Naturally, the way to counteract that was to keep on a bit of left rudder all the time. In other words, when you wanted to make a right bank you really eased up a bit on left rudder and let the torque carry you around, instead of actually putting on right rudder. The Camel was also rigged to whip around on a dime, and that helped the engine torque idea all the more. There was no dihedral on the top wings, but there was about two degrees on the bottom ones.

What’s that? What’s dihedral?

Well, Fledgling, dihedral of airplane wings is the angle of a wing upwards and outwards to the horizontal. In other words, if a wing is pefectly flat it has no dihedral, but if it tilts upwards it has. No dihedral reduces the horizontal stability of a plane, and in this way. The area under a tilted flat wing is the same on either side of the fuselage. But when there is dihedral the area (called horizontal equivalent) becomes increased on the down-tilted side and increased on the up-tilted side. Therefore the natural reaction is for the plane to right itself to an even keel.

Naturally the dihedral on the lower wings of a Camel was put there so that the ship wouldn’t fly completely wild, but still be a fast maneuvering ship. Never having experienced such a thing, I can’t go on record definitely, but I would say that flying a Camel with no dihedral on any of the wings would be just like going down a mountain road at midnight, with both headlights on the blink. You’d just hang on and pray that you didn’t hit anything.

WHENEVER a pilot slipped up in alertness and engine torque whipped a Camel over on its right wing, it always fell into a tight spin. Now a spin is nothing to get grayhaired about, even in a Camel, if you have altitude. BUT, the camel was so darn sensitive to the controls that when you took it out of a spin you had to be mighty careful lest it didn’t flip right over into a spin in the opposite direction. In case you don’t know, you stop a plane from spinning by moving the controls as though you wanted the ship to spin in the other direction. But as soon as the ship stopped spinning the original way, you checked its tendency to flop over on the opposite side, and began to get the nose up. In a Camel split-second checking was in order. You couldn’t take your time about it. The instant the ship stopped spinning you had to check and get the nose up, else you went spinning down in the opposite direction, and had the whole darn job to do all over again.

THERE was also another tricky feature of the Camel, and one which cost many lives. That was the tendency of the ship to go past the vertical when diving.

You would start a steep dive in a Camel and unless you watched the ship the nose would start to swing back to the rear, and before you knew it you were diving backwards as though you were going to pull an outside loop. The way to get out of that was to pull the stick back so that the nose would start moving forward, and then when you got vertical again to slowly ease the nose up. But it was right at that moment when a lot of chaps checked out of the world, and for this reason. When a Camel’s nose starts back toward the vertical, after being past it, it comes slowly at first but as it reaches the vertical it develops a vicious tendency to whip upward in a zoom. If you don’t check that and hold the ship steady in a vertical dive, and ease up slowly, why, the result is that you lose your wings. The savage up-thrust of the plane, with the top surfaces of the ship broadside to the line of motion, just wipes the wings off as though they were so much paper.

Now, if you’ve been listening to me, instead of falling asleep like that fledgling over there, why, you’ll realize that both of the principal tricky features of a Camel can be hooked up together. But, in case you don’t, it’s like this. You’re buzzing along, and start to make a right bank, a split-arc turn. You take off too much left rudder, and zowie, engine torque whips you over to the right and into a spin. You start to take it out, don’t check it in time and zowie, it flops over into an opposite spin. You start to take it out, check it this time, but before you realize it you’re diving past the vertical before you’ve had time to start getting the nose up. Well, you try to get the nose forward to the vertical, and then when it gets to the vertical you don’t hold it steady. Zowie the plane zooms up, the wings come off, and zowie . . . no more peeloting for you in this world! Now, do you get the idea?

ANOTHER tricky ship that Sopwith also made was the Sopwith Pup. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t what you’d call a dangerous ship. It was simply a crate that made you stay awake if you cared anything about seeing the girl friend again. It was a very small job, and naturally very light. And being light, it floated like a feather. And as it floated like a feather, the job of landing was just that much more difficult. Time and time again (until you got the hang of things) a greenhorn pilot would overshoot the field. Of course that’s okay provided the engine is still functioning. You simply feed it the hop, go around and try again. But in the event of a forced landing, why, the story was different. You only had one chance then, and if you didn’t make good you were just out of luck. The Pup came out before the Camel but was used mostly for training purposes. It was so small and light that it couldn’t stand the gaff in a dog-scrap.

In the early part of 1918 the Sopwith outfit came out with a ship called the Snipe. It was an improvement on the Camel, and was intended for high altitude work. Only two Snipe squadrons got out to France before the Armistice, and those only for a few weeks. But they certainly knocked the pants off the Fokkers, which proves what swell ships they were. The first model was known as the Unmodified Snipe. It was the tricky job. The fuselage was barrel shaped and the rudder and tail surfaces a bit too small. The result was that when you got into a spin it was the task of your life-time to get it out. The reason for that was this. The fuselage being so big and the tail surfaces so small, the slip-stream didn’t strike all of the surfaces. When the ship went into a spin an air-lock would be formed between the rudder and the elevators. That would practically render the controls useless. In other words the tail surfaces were so blanketed by the size of the fuselage that they wouldn’t get the proper grip on the air. (Fig. 2.) Once the ship got into a spin it was difficult to present a flat spin developing when you tried to take it out. It was practically impossible to come out of a flat spin. What you had to do was go back into a tight spin again and make another try to get past the flat spinning point. Just so’s you won’t be too confused about my jabbering, a tight spin is when the wings revolve about the fuselage as the axis. And a flat spin is when the plane pivots around the nose in a gyroscopic motion. In other words, the plane is at a slight angle to the vertical and the whole plane goes swinging around in a circle, sidewise.

Yeah, no fooling, a spin in an Unmodified Snipe was not so hot. We speak from experience about that item. One day during a joyhop we slipped into a spin at ten thousand feet, and it took us just eight thousand feet to get out of it. Another two thousand feet and yours truly wouldn’t be here chinning with you fledglings.

Later that fault was corrected in what was called the Modified Snipe. The elevators were made a bit bigger and the ship had a balanced rudder and balanced ailerons. And if you don’t know what those things are, why, just take a look at Fig. 3.

THE well known Spad might be called a tricky ship because it was more or less a flying brick, and didn’t have much of a gliding angle. Naturally, all that means that the Spad was heavy, and it was, darned heavy in proportion to the wing surface. Under full power it was a sweet ship, but when you cut the gun you had to look out. The nose just plopped right down and you started diving hellbent. In the event of a forced landing you had to decide on your field mighty quick, because you didn’t have much time to think it over. You just naturally lost ground too fast. We once had a Spad forced landing. The engine konked at two thousand feet and we were just able to make two and one-half gliding turns to get into a field. But, of course, maybe a GOOD pilot could have made five. Now, you know what we think of us!

Speaking of landing reminds me of the Sopwith Dolphin, a high altitude scout that came out in 1918. The cockpit was right under the top wing. In fact we got into it through an opening in the wing. It was a smooth job until it came time to land . . . then, hold her Newt! If you ground looped it was just too bad. Why? Well, you usually went over on your back, and there you were, head down in the cockpit and no way to get out because the opening in the top wing was right smack against the ground. And if the ship caught fire . . . well, you can figure that out for yourself! After several chaps got burned alive or had their necks broken, braces were put on the top wing so as to give the peelot exit room when he needed it.

A LOT of your heros in this mag fly the good old S.E.5 and S.E.5a, but we can’t list either as a tricky ship, because it was only tricky when the peelot was just plane dumb. We mean this. The S.E. had what was known as an adjustable tail plane. In other words, from the cockpit you could adjust the tail plane (section to which the elevators are attached), so that it would tilt up or down. In other words, you could make the ship nose heavy or tail heavy, just as you wished. When taking off you would tilt the tail plane upward and that would help you get into the air sooner. And in landing you’d do the same thing because the reaction would be for the nose to go up, and thus you would have less trouble getting the tail down for a nice three point landing. But when you forgot about that tail-plane the ship got real tricky. For instance, you might pile into an S.E., slam home the juice and go tearing across the field. If the tail-plane happened to be tilted down you’d probably dig your prop into the ground. Another case is when you’re landing and over-shoot the field. Well, you feed the hop to go around again, and pull back the stick to get more altitude. Well, if the tail plane has been tilted up, as it should be for a landing, why, you’ll just go zooming up quicker than you expected, and if you don’t re-adjust the tail plane you’ll find yourself on your back at a rather low altitude for that sort of thing. So, of course, S.E. peelots remembered that they had a tail-plane just like they remembered they had an engine in the nose!

WELL, here comes that hard-boiled C.O. of this mag, and the look in his eye says, scram. But before I do, just let me lip another word or two. Don’t get the idea that we bohunks who flew the war crates were supermen. Far from it, believe you, me! But some of the ships were tricky, as I’ve been explaining, and the war peelot who went to sleep on the job, or didn’t keep his mind on the race, was asking for a lot of trouble that wasn’t German-made, either. But even a dumb peelot could handle them okay, if he paid attention to his knitting. And the very fact that we used to fly them, and are still alive, proves the above statement beyond all possible argument.

And the same to you! S’long!

From the Scrapbooks: Blakeslee’s Plane Plans

Link - Posted by David on December 10, 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.

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.

Another great feature from the pulps Robert chose to include in his scrapbooks were Frederick Blakeslee’s 3 plan views of planes that he rendered for Battle Aces.

Rather than giving each its own page, Robert chose to glue one down along the top edge and then slot a few others beneath it, loose on the page. He had the first four on the first page, three on the second and just two on the third, although he appears to have gotten the September issue as well.



German
Fokker D-7
Dec ‘32


British
S.E.5-A
Jan ‘33


Pfalz Scout
type DXII
Feb ‘33


Bristol Fighter
type F2B
Mar ‘33


German
Friedrichshafen Bomber
Apr ‘33


Sopwith
“Snipe”
May ‘33


Halberstadt C4
Jun ‘33


Westland Wagtail
Jul ‘33


Halberstadt C2
Aug ‘33

 

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

Link - Posted by David on February 22, 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 May 1934 cover, Frandzen featured the Sopwith Snipe and the Halberstadt C-4!

ON THIS month’s cover th_SF_3405the two types of ships shown are the Sopwith Snipe and the Halberstadt C-4.

The Sopwith Snipe was considered by many to be the finest job turned out by the Sopwith Company. The 1918 Snipe knocked the Germans out of the skies with system and precision. In four days a single Snipe squadron accounted for thirty-six enemy planes. In one day alone they smacked down thirteen.

Major Barker, of Canada, pulled the outstanding feat of his career in a Snipe. Attacked by fifty Boche planes he fought back, downed four and lived to tell the tale. He gave lots of credit to his Snipe.

The Halberstadt C-4 was a good all round fighter-reconnaissance plane. Its bulky forward fuselage and its thin, tapering short section behind the cockpits gave it a nose-heavy appearance. Despite its awkward proportions it had good flying characteristics and was a dependable ship when not forced beyond the limits of its class.

One of the pastimes indulged in by the retreating Germans during 1918 was blowing up bridges they had crossed. And one of the best little things our hard-worked engineers did was to smack down pontoon bridges to replace them.

Of course then the Boche artillerymen came out of their dugouts and popped over a few tons of steel-cased shells, which, if nicely directed had the nasty habit of destroying the engineers floating road. Now the obszrvers in the two-seaters had to direct this demolition fire by wireless. They were usually protected by several scout plinos flying above and capable of giving even battle to anyone asking for an argument.

A little mix-up of this sort is happening in the picture on the cover. The Halberstadt has spotted the pontoon bridge. He gets his wireless going. The German artillerymen start ranging their shells. Above are his protecting planes, Fokkers. Hardly had the German observer warmed up his dot-dash key than two Sopwith Snipes swooped down on the Fokkers, sent two of them down. One Fokker remained. One Snipe started after him while the other Snipe tore in at the Halberstadt.

The German reeled in his aerial and un-limbered his Parabellum gun. He signalled his pilot to fight his way out. Above he saw the lone Fokker coming down to his assistance.

The Snipe roared in on the two-seater, guns blazing. The Halberstadt pilot flipped his ship up and over. His gunner all set for this maneuver pressed his trigger as the plane started up. He kept the gun chattering as the Halberstadt started over on its back. He hoped to catch the Snipe in his spraying arc of fire.

Twin Vickers bucking in their mounts on the Snipe; the Parabellum vibrating in the hands of the German observer. Three streams of lead slicing through the air, perforating fabric, ricocheting off metal parts.

The diving Fokker abruptly disintegrates in mid-air. A ranging German Shell hunting the pontoon bridge hits his ship, explodes; blows the ship to bits.

The odds are now too great for any two-seater, no matter how good it, or its crew, may be. A matter of minutes remain till it will be all over. Trucks, cannon and infantry will continue to pass over the pontoon bridge, shelled of course, but not as accurately as would have been the case had the artillery-directing Halberstadt been allowed to remain on tha job five minutes longer.

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

Next time, Mr. Frandzen features the German Junkers and D.H.4!