Dare to Rare

Today we dive right into the pulp. Sticking strictly to the ‘Dare-Devil Aces’ magazine of the inter to World War Two period, we still have more than enough awesome to play with.


Starting with the Japanese ATTACK on New York, being defended by the US Navy (fair enough) but also a handsome assist by the British Royal Air Force. In this one image we maybe have the key to what follows, which is that artist Fred Blakeslee just loved painting cool airplanes. While we have a couple of American types above, he really, really went for strange European things – sometimes prototypes (which we’ll come to) other times just oddities. [OK, I’ll stop the comic book text.]

Here he gives to “low down” and reveals the secret “…is my idea of what they MIGHT turn out.”

An early genre, first pointed out to me by Dr Brett Holman on his blog post on the subject, the ‘Great War type with something from the thirties’. Bear in mind to the knowledgeable period reader, these would’ve been as startling as the Fokker Triplane fighting a modern jet – back then. In two of these the modern types never saw production – one more it’s the Great War type that’s the oddity, and the last, well, normal production types in both cases!

Then there’s the ‘strange European Air War of the Near Future with types that were only ever built in small numbers, but Blakeslee like’s ’em’. (I got over excited and posted one cover twice.)

And nearing the end of this selection we finally hit what could be regarded as almost possible, as history heads into the reality of World War Two, we see real combat types that in many cases did see war service, sometimes even against each other.

The colours and action is equally overstated, but the technical details – even for the one-off prototypes – are all remarkably accurate, and there’s almost no made up aircraft thrown in the mix: in itself, unusual.

So, anyway, I may have slightly over indulged, and now have some indigestion, but it was worth it. I hope you enjoy too.

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

Images various internet sources – search ‘Dare-Devil Aces’ for more. You can download one issue complete from here. I’ve not identified all the types shown – it’d be quite the job even for someone like me who loves that stuff, but see how many you can call off without checking.

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