Friday, September 13, 2019

'Captain Danger Over London'

Another old magazine cover, this time a World War Two pulp.  This edition of Air War is the Winter 1941 edition, which means that it was probably published just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the US into the war.  Of course, regardless of whether or not it involved the US, the war raging in Europe was of huge to the US public and was reflected in American pulps such as this.  War always makes good fodder for pulp stories, so even before the US joined World War Two, magazines such as this were appearing in order to spin colourful and highly unlikely adventures against its background.  I'm guessing that the Battle of Britain in 1940 had caught the imagination of US pulp readers, inspiring magazines of this sort.  Air war stories had another attraction for US pulps in that a significant number of US pilots had elected to defy the country's Neutrality Acts and volunteer for the RAF, eventually being formed into the 'Eagle Squadrons'.  This gave the pulps a domestic angle to sell their magazines to their readers.

A notable feature of the covers of these war pulps was that they depicted the warplanes of the era with surprising accuracy.  This one is no exception, giving us a couple of Junkers JU87 Stukas going down in flames, even as a Messerscmitt Bf109 comes to their assistance.  Most interesting, though, is the flight of RAF fighters attacking them.  These appear to be American built Bell P-39 Airacobras, chosen presumbly, because they give the pulp another US connection to the air war in Europe.  Now, while it is true that the RAF took delivery of a large number of these aircraft, in reality only one squadron ever flew them, as it was rapidly decided that they simply weren't suitable as a pure fighter.  Nor did they excel in the ground attack role and, eventually, they were crated up and sent to the Soviet Union as part of the UK's military aid to Russia following the German invasion.  The P-39 also didn't fare well in USAAF service, with the P-40 and P-38 being preferred, (before they too were superseded by the P-47 and P-51).  By contrast, they were well liked by Soviet pilots and served extensively on the Eastern front in the ground attack role.  All of which makes that cover illustration highly unlikely, (also, the 'three formation' of a leader and two wingmen was, by 1941, being abandoned by the RAF in favour of the Luftwaffe 'Finger Four' formation, with two pairs of leader and wingman).  Of course, with the US' entry into the war, the pulps would finally be able to create stories around their own air forces, meaning that the days of theses RAF-orientated covers were numbered.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home