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Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and Rockets

Kirt Blattenberger

Carpe Diem!

(Seize the Day!)

Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...


1996 - 2026


Kirt Blattenberger


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Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) Plans Service - Airplanes and Rockets

The Ghost from G−2
May 1934 Flying Aces

May 1934 Flying Aces

Flying Aces May 1934 - Airplanes and Rockets3 Table of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

Donald Keyhoe wrote a huge number of aviation adventure articles for Flying Ace magazine in the 1930s. His flying ace was Captain Philip Strange, a "G−2" agent with a unique sense of intuition that allows him to practically (but not really) read people's minds. He is also a master of disguises. Capt. Strange's era is World War I and his venue was the front lines of Germany and France. After Philip Strange came Kerry Keen (aka "The Griffon") during the World War II era, written by real-world ace pilot Arch Whitehouse. You will likely be introduced to a new bunch of words that were particular to the times, like "ack emma," referring to the signalman's phonetic pronunciation of "A" and "M." In "The Ghost from G−2," the reference is to "aircraft mechanics," but ack emma was more routinely applied to "A.M." for morning, or ante meridian ("pip emma" was P.M., or post meridian). "Ack-ack" was for "A-A," or anti-aircraft. You will also encounter herein "velocipede," and type of foot powered (peddled) service cart and even "Nachrichtenamt," the strategic foreign intelligence service of the Republic of Austria.

Thrilling "Philip Strange" Mystery Novel

 - RF Cafe

Illustrated by Eugene M. Frandzen

by  Donald E. Keyhoe,

Author of "Satan's Staffel," "The Vanishing Avenger," etc.

Over the red inferno that was the Front flew Captain Philip Strange, answering a desperate call for help. Below him appeared the sinister black spot from which the call had cornea darkened area hemmed in by a ring of fire. Inside that dread circle lay hundreds of dead-and Strange knew that among them was the only man to know the secret of the menacing ring of flames.

Chapter I

"I Am Captain Strange!"

Taxiing slowly, Philip Strange ruddered the D.H. between two guide flares, stopped the big two−seater near the lone shack of the Army refueling station. As the droning Liberty died, he looked into the rear cockpit. His passenger had removed his goggles and replaced them with large tortoise-shell glasses. Instead of his helmet, he now wore an overseas cap with shining captain's bars. His mouth was pursed superciliously beneath a waxed black mustache. Only a close acquaintance would have recognized Noisy Jay, one of Strange's twin wisecracking aides.

As Strange's green eyes rested on Noisy, he grinned. Noisy surveyed him haughtily.

"Bear in mind, my man, that you are looking upon Captain Philip Strange, the great Mental Marvel of G−2 and points west."

"I told you to layoff that Mental Marvel stuff!" Strange raised a threatening fist.

"You can't hit a man wearing cheaters," said Noisy hastily. He scrambled down as two sleepy, half-dressed mechanics plodded toward the D.H. Then he looked back at Strange, who had paused for a stretch and a yawn. He snapped his fingers.

"Come, come, lieutenant! My time is valuable." Strange climbed out, belatedly hiding a grin.

"And a little more respect from you," Noisy said sternly. He wheeled to the blinking ack emmas. "There is, I believe, a petrol velocipede at this post for transportation of functionaries?"

"Huh?" said one of the greaseballs blankly.

"A motorcycle," snapped Noisy. "Am I correct, sergeant, or is this another of the many delusions of the quartermaster department?"

The sergeant scratched a stubbled chin.

"We got a motorcycle-yes, sir," he said, "but it's only for Brass Hats-"

"You are addressing Captain J. Marmaduke Hencastle, the Third, of G.H.Q.," said Noisy severely.

The sergeant gulped. "I'll get th' leapin' tuna, sir," he said hastily.

As he retreated to the rear of the shack, a muffled guffaw was audible. When he returned with the machine, Noisy fixed him with a cold eye.

"Sergeant, did I hear raucous laughter at mention of the honorable name of Hencastle?"

"Who, me?" said the sergeant indignantly. "Why, I never even let out a peep!"

 - RF Cafe

Over that scene of death and destruction, Captain Strange banked his ship madly, and twin torrents of lead poured from the Vickers at the Fokker ahead.

Noisy glared at Strange, who was looking pensively into the sky. "That's what comes of teaching people your best tricks," he said bitterly.

"Huh?" said the sergeant.

"You wouldn't understand. Your trusting mind couldn't grasp such infamous betrayal." Noisy climbed into the side-car, mournfully motioned Strange to the saddle. "Through the park, James."

The machine roared down the road, dashed into the village of Vaulière, an A.E.F. phone sub-center. As Strange slowed the cycle, Noisy gathered himself up from the bottom of the side-car. He felt the back of his neck.

"So, in addition to your accomplishments in ventriloquism, you're going in for chiropractic!"

"Never mind that. We're almost there. Play it the way I told you - and no clowning."

They stopped at the communications building, a dark structure just off the village square. A sentry halted them at the entrance. Noisy produced credentials, and a second man guided them inside, through a hall into a large room where an Army field clerk sat before a switchboard. Noisy showed him a stamped and sealed G−2 card. The field clerk read, stared at Noisy in sudden fascination.

"I have a message in code for you, Captain Stra-"

"Omit names," rapped Noisy, with a look at the sentry. He took the message, started as he ran his eyes over it. "I must see the officer in charge," he said grimly.

"But Captain Lynch is asleep. It's four o'clock in the morning-s-"

"Where are his quarters?"

"Upstairs, but-"

"The sentry can show me the way." Noisy beckoned to Strange. "Come along, lieutenant."

Strange broke off in the middle of a yawn. "Yes, sir." As he picked up his helmet and goggles, his seemingly sleepy eyes passed over the man at the switchboard. He appeared not to see the look of fear the man's dark eyes flung at Noisy's back - a look that was edged with hate. He followed Noisy and the sentry, heard the door of the switchboard room close behind them. As they came to the foot of a spiral stairway, Noisy turned.

"I forgot to send that order." He drew a paper from an inner pocket. "Tell that field clerk to rush this to Chaumont."

Strange saluted. Noisy and the sentry went upstairs. Strange waited a second and then tiptoed down a hall to the left. It turned into another corridor, as he had expected. He came to a room which was evidently quarters for the man on duty at the switchboard. He made a hasty estimate. This room must be next to the switchboard room, and the door at the opposite side was the one he had seen while Noisy was reading the code message.

The Ghost from G-2 (1), May 1934 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsHe crossed the room, listened intently with his ear against the door. Then, cautiously, he opened it an inch and peered through. A call was buzzing in. Strange could see the light flicker on, but the field clerk was nowhere in sight.

A look of dismay flashed into Strange's eyes. He sprang into the room and ran out to the steps which Noisy had taken. As he leaped up to the midway landing, he snatched his .45 from his flying-coat pocket.

Suddenly there was a scraping of boots on the floor above. The field clerk's face, deathly white, appeared at the top of the stairs.

Ach!" he snarled. "So it was a trick to catch me!"

Blue steel shone in his right hand. Strange pressed his trigger. Flame streaked from the .45, and the roar echoed through the old house. For an instant the spy stood tottering where the crash of the heavy slug had driven him back. A horrible look was frozen upon his face. A second later he swayed, then plunged headlong down to the landing.

A shout of alarm came from somewhere downstairs. Strange stepped over the dead man, ran up to the other floor. A door had been flung open halfway down the hall. Noisy and a man in a dressing-robe stood revealed in the light. Both held guns.

"You'd make fine targets, you two," said Strange curtly.

"Phil!" exclaimed Noisy. He saw the smoking ,45. "Hell's bells, did you have to drill him?" Before Strange could answer, three or four sentries came dashing up from the landing.

"Captain Lynch!" one of them shouted. "Some one's killed Martin!"

Then he spied Strange and the pistol. He sprang toward him, but Lynch waved him back.

"Wait. I'll get the straight of this." He looked grimly at Strange. "Who are you?"

"I'm from G−2," said Strange. "Martin was a spy. I killed him in self-defense. You'll find a Luger with a silencer on it near his body. Also a hole in the rail at the landing, where the slug hit after going through my sleeve."

He lifted his arm. There was a small hole in his flying-coat sleeve. Lynch stared at it, ordered his men downstairs. Then he turned to Noisy Jay, a dubious expression on his rugged face.

"You vouch for this man, captain?"

Strange spoke before Noisy could reply.

"I see it is necessary to abandon my role. This is Lieutenant Jay, one of my aides. I am Captain Strange."

Instant suspicion blazed in Lynch's eyes. He jerked up the pistol he held. "By God, there's something crooked here!" he sputtered. "Get up your hands, both of you!"

Strange smiled negligently. "No need for melodrama, captain. I have here a personal note to you from Major Bland of G−2, explaining the masquerade. You can check back by phone."

"I will," rasped Lynch. "And just to be sure, you two walk in front of me on the way down."

Five minutes later, at the close of a call to G−2, he grudgingly altered his tone.

"The major confirms this note. But you'll admit it looked queer."

"Certainly," said Strange. "No resentment, captain."

Lynch's rough-hewn face relaxed.

"Wait till I get a man on this switchboard. Then I want to heal' about Martin. I never liked him much, but as for being a spy-"

"You can't tell a spy by looking at him," said Strange dryly. "I've known some very pleasant ones who would be glad to knife you at first chance."

He waited until Lynch had put an operator on duty and they were out in the hall.

"You probably recall the German convict squadron we named the 'Fury Staffel'?"

"The ones made up like women?"

The Ghost from G-2 (2), May 1934 Flying Aces - Airplanes and Rockets"Yes. We learned, while on that affair, that a Boche spy called Q−19 was sending direct reports by secret wireless from France to Germany. We found the wireless after the Staffel was destroyed, but Q−19 had been warned and all traces were lost. The only clue was his knowledge of confidential communications at that time. Obviously he was tapping wires or was in on our system.

"Yesterday I stumbled onto the fact that between midnight and four in the morning of one particular night, messages were rerouted through here because of a break in lines."

"I remember that," said Lynch. "A Gotha raid wrecked 'B' Center, so they used this sub-station for two nights."

"That betrayed Martin," said Strange. "I learned he was on watch at that time, both nights. He was the man who took that information and relayed it to the secret wireless base. I thought if Lieutenant Jay were to pose as myself, impress the man with danger of discovery, and then withdraw, he would probably warn his secret contact point before trying to escape-"

"You think there's a direct wire from my switchboard to another spy?" demanded. Lynch.

"Probably to some spy-nest," said Strange. "I suspect it's wired secretly so that it can be cut in only by some special switch combination. I hoped to watch him and spot the trick, then trap him and follow the wire to the men at the other end. But he lost his head, decided to kill Noisy here, thinking it would destroy the evidence against him."

"It's a fine mess," growled Lynch. "But I'm thankful for one thing. G−2 sent Martin here-they can't blame me for letting a Hun slip under my nose."

"There have been spies in G−2, the same as other places," said Strange. He gazed into space. "The Nachrichtenamt must have had some strong reason for leaving that man here, knowing he was likely to be spotted after the Fury Staffel matter."

"I'm going to take a look at that board," grated Lynch. "If there's any trick wiring, it ought to show at the back."

"I doubt if it's that simple," said Strange, as he and Noisy followed into the big room. "You may have to take the whole thing down and look inside those hollow legs. Or there may be a separate phone hidden somewhere."

Lynch scrutinized the front of the board, then went around to the back. While he was examining it, Strange watched the operator who had been put on duty. Though there were no calls at the moment, the man seemed to be listening intently to something.

"What is it?" Strange asked him.

The operator looked around quickly. "Something queer, sir," he said. "Front calling Corps HQ about a German plane that just shot down another German, I happened to be cut in on Corps-"

Strange picked up an extra headset. "Plug me in," he ordered.

The officer obeyed. A crisp voice became audible at once.

"No doubt about it, sir. The plane that crashed was a Fokker. We fired flares over it to be sure. The other plane dived on the wreck with its machine guns wide open - and it was a Fokker, too."

"Get the pilot out of that wreck!" barked another voice. "Get him out of gunfire, dead or alive! See if he has any papers on him if he's dead. If he's alive, call back at once."

The receiver clicked. Strange laid down the phones. The operator, a young, red-haired sergeant, looked at him excitedly.

The Ghost from G-2 (3), May 1934 Flying Aces - Airplanes and Rockets"Sounds as if Corps thinks that pilot is one of our spies !"

"What's that?" queried Lynch, coming from behind the board.

Strange explained. Lynch scowled at the sergeant unpleasantly.

"Stay off those lines unless you're called." He turned back to Strange. "I can't find anything. I'll get some men to work as soon as possible in the morning."

"We'll stay," Strange replied calmly. "I like to see things finished."

"It'll be at least three hours," said Lynch. "I can offer you and your pilot l\ room-"

"No, thanks. I'm curious to learn what report comes in on. that crashed Fokker."

 Lynch departed. Noisy looked after him regretfully.

"Just because you don't want to sleep," he complained to Strange, "I lose out on a good bed."

"I want you where I can keep an eye on you," said Strange.

Noisy lit a cigarette and sprawled in a chair. Strange watched the operator handle the slowly increasing traffic. At four-thirty, another non-com came on duty. More lights began to wink across the board. The A.E.F. was waking up for another day in the grim business of war. The rumble of distant guns increased. Suddenly the red-haired sergeant glanced around and called to Captain Strange.

"Here's another call from that P.O.C. to Corps. Probably - holy Moses, listen to this!"

Strange jumped for the headset. Even before he clamped it over his ears, he heard the frantic voice which rattled the diaphragms.

"We're cut off - trapped by a wall of flame! It's streaking around in back-"

"You're mad!" rasped another voice.

"You fool" screeched the man at the Front. "I tell you we're surrounded. Flames forty feet high - we can't get through-"

A crash drowned his words; then they came again in a shriek. "My God, we're blocked in front! There's another one - a ball of fire shooting across No-Man's Land! And they're shelling us-"

Crash! With a final deafening roar, the phone went out of commission.

"They got him," whispered the sergeant.

Strange jumped to his feet, spun around to Noisy quickly.

"Get that motorcycle started! I'll be there in a second."

Noisy dashed out. Strange noted the coordinates of the post-of-command, ran after the Jay Bird. The motor cycle rocketed out to the refueling field. The Liberty, still warm, started easily. Strange took the front pit and hurled the D.H. up into the fading gloom.

Chapter II

The Flaming Barrage

Miles from the Front, it was evident that something had started a furore. Red infernos blossomed on both sides of the lines, as the heavy guns laid down their murderous barrage on enemy firing trenches. Starshells burst ceaselessly above No-Man's-Land and above the Yankee trenches. As Strange pointed the D.H. toward the threatened post-of-command, he saw scores of Allied searchlights feverishly slashing the sky.

He peered down into the kaleidoscopic maze of the Front. He started. There was one circular area within which no guns blazed, where no flares shot up to illuminate the ground. It ranged from the middle of No-Man's-Land more than a mile to the real of the Yankee front-line trenches.

A smoldering border of fire, double more than half the way around, encircled this queerily dark area. Within, not a single light shone.

Strange quickly surveyed the zigzag, crimson lines on both sides of the darkened spot. He recognized an irregular twist in the trenches at the left. And then he knew that the post-of-command from which the warning had come was inside that dull red circle.

There was something horrible about that blank spot in the Front. It seemed as though some huge, sinister thing crouched there, waiting.

The sky grew grayer. Strange circled at three thousand feet, waiting for it to become lighter. There were no flares on the D.H., and it was impossible to see anything more by going lower.

Suddenly rockets shot up from two points back of the darkened area - signal rockets for guns farther back. In a few moments shells began to rain down in front of the fading red circle, almost on top of the German firing trench. Another leaped the first line and started a red lane marching across the second Boche trenches.

Something flitted through a weaving Yankee searchlight. Strange kicked around toward it, saw a Spad from the 96th tilt down toward the darkened spot. Corps had sent a ship from the nearest squadron to investigate that mysteriously circled region.

A parachute flare flashed in the sky, began to drift down from a thousand feet. The Spad dived under it. Strange side-slipped to the level of the flare, shaded his eyes and peered down at the ground. He stiffened, though he had guessed what he would see.

Dead men, corpses in hundreds - soldiers who had fled from the trenches, some to the rear, others toward No-Man's-Land until that ring of fire had stopped them. In a little copse, around a hidden battery, artillerymen lay huddled. Along a sunken road, still more gunners, lying dead near their horses, which had fallen in their harnesses. On the rear of a small slope another group of men had slumped and, after a moment, Strange's keen eyes spotted the camouflage which covered the post-of-command dugouts. Other men from the second-line trenches were strewn around like tiny bundles.

Dead, all of them - hemmed in by that fading ring of smoldering, angry red.

The Spad dropped a second flare close to the ground. By its light Strange saw the wreck of a Fokker in the midst of a hundred shell-holes. The barrage had torn off the tail and one wing, but he could still see the red-and-white checkered pattern upon the remaining panel.

He dipped the D.H. toward the spot, then abruptly struck the throttle and zoomed in a tight chandelle. Ships were streaking down from the east, gray Fokkers out of Hunland!

Liberty blasting, he pulled up and away from the betraying light of the flare. Two of the Fokkers had whipped toward him, the others plunged down for the Spad. He flicked the trips of his guns, heard them rip out a warming burst. Behind him, the twin Lewises chattered under Noisy's touch.

The Fokkers sheered out as the pilots realized the ship was a two-seater, with a gunner covering the tail. Strange grinned. With a lightning bank, he threw the ship on its wing tips. A gray shape leaped madly away from his spouting guns. He snapped the stick hard back, caught the tail in his trembling sights. Twin torrents poured from the Vickers, and the Fokker's tail went to pieces. Fluttering fabric and wood whirled into the air-and the Fokker shrieked down to ruin.

"Good boy!" howled Noisy from the rear. "That's one Kraut. Look out-"

But 'Strange had already caught the other ship's swift renversement. The heavy two-seater rolled in a groaning split-So For an instant the second ship was under the rear-pit guns. Noisy gave a yell, and the Lewises snarled into action. The Fokker staggered, plunged under the big ship's tail.

Strange booted the rudder and drove the D.H. down at the faltering ship. For a second his eyes held a touch of pity. The men was doomed. His plane was clearly crippled.

Br-r-t-t-t-t-t ! The savage pound of Spandaus cut through the din. A third ship hurtled down from the gray which had hid its drab wings. Tracers probed through the D.H. fuselage, between the two cockpits. Strange swore, kicked out of that deadly hail. That was too close for tracers to come to that ever-menacing rear fuel tank.

He lunged on the stick. Moaning, the D.H. went up on its tail, snapped on over the top. Strange gritted his teeth, whipped into a screeching Immelmann - a fool's trick with this heavy ship. If he lost, they would be at that Boche's mercy.

T-t-t-t-t-t-t! Strange had a brief glimpse of Noisy Jay, hanging out in the gunner's belt. The twin-mount guns were blazing, gutting the ship below. A wing of the gray plane crumpled, tore completely off of the ship. With a face like granite, Strange watched the doomed man fall. Another poor devil - but it had been their lives or his.

The other Fokker was wobbling down, trying to turn back to Germany. Strange slipped between the ship and the lines, herded him back toward France. The pilot twisted around in his pit, lifted both hands in surrender. By the light from the second flare, his face had a queer, ugly look. Strange ruddered closer, then suddenly went tense.

A gas-mask! His eyes shot past the cowl of his ship, toward the corpse-strewn ground near the trenches. Gas! That was how those men had died, once that sinister flaming wall had trapped them. He stared toward the wreck of the checkered Fokker. That chap in the Spad.

Then he saw it, a jumbled heap on the ground, with its tail pointing to the zenith. About it there swam a curious haze, like a heat mirage on the desert. The ground within that smoldering ring was blanketed with gas. And that ill-fated pilot had flown into it and plunged headlong to his death. Or perhaps he had died at the first whiff as he zoomed that battered wreck.

Strange banked sharply, drove the D.H. away from that dangerous space above the dead-burdened ground. Noisy Jay thumped at his back. He turned. More Fokkers were swarming out of the east, now visible in the first dawn. Like vultures, they dipped their wings and plummeted down for a kill.

The Liberty roared to full speed. Wings shrieking, the two-seater pitched toward the ground, heading back to the rear. Strange set his jaw. They had to escape, had to warn Corps of the peril within that huge ring. And the love of life was still strong within him.

Snarling hornets, the Fokkers closed in the' gap as the D.H. thundered on down. Black holes appeared in the ship's right wing; then Noisy cut loose with his guns. The marching line of black dots ceased to cross the wing. Noisy fired three bursts, gave a shout of triumph. Strange eased back on the stick as the ground flashed up at them.

Something cracked ominously. A strip of fabric tore from the tip of one wing. Strange could see the skeleton ribs as he leveled off. The D.H. roared over denuded trees, its landing-gear raking a branch. Strange smiled grimly. Those devils would have a sweet chance of hitting them now. A slope sprang out at them. Strange zoomed it with only inches to spare. Men on the back of the hill threw themselves flat. Somewhere, a Browning hammered.

Strange risked a look back. But one of the Fokkers was following through in this mad flight of contour chasing. Noisy was swinging his guns, trying to keep his feet amid wild zooms of the ship. Five hundred feet above, three Fokker assassins flew parallel, waiting their chance.

A poplar-lined road came in sight, with stragglers going both ways. Strange spied a machine-gun cycle, and, farther on, a truck with a mounted gun. He whipped over it, rolling his wings. White faces stared up. A Browning blazed.

"The damned fools!" Noisy howled. "They blamed near shot off the tail-"

Strange stared back. The Fokker pilot had seen the trap, but too late. Up went the nose of the ship as he tried a hasty chandelle. Then two streams of slugs crossed his wing and chopped their way through the pit. In flames, the ship struck and hurled burning fragments for yards.'

"We're clear!" shouted Noisy. He pointed up to where two flights of Nieuports were diving. The Fokkers wheeled, raced back toward Germany, the Nieuports on their tails.

Strange slipped the throttle back and eased the racking speed of the engine. He climbed to a thousand feet, looked up the road to a junction which he knew. Four minutes later he put the ship down hi front of a camouflaged hangar.

"What's this dump?" said Noisy, as the Liberty coughed and died.

"New courier flight base for Corps. They just moved up yesterday." Strange climbed out, lit a cigarette. "Come on, we've got to move."

Noisy stopped to peer under the ship.

"I thought so." He extracted a broken branch from the landing-gear. "Boy, that looked like a telephone pole just before we hit it. I'll just add this to my souvenirs."

"Leave it here. You can't haul that thing into Corps."

Noisy followed Strange toward the hangar. A mechanic appeared.

"I want to phone Headquarters," rapped Strange.

"There's a phone in the C.O.'s tent, in back," said the man.

Strange found the tent, explained to a disgruntled officer who had not yet arisen, and called Corps Headquarters. In less than ten minutes a Staff car came speeding out of Mattigny, which had just been taken over by Corps. A plump, red-faced major jumped out as the car stopped.

"Bland," muttered Strange, as he saw who it was. "That's odd. He never said anything about coming up here."

Bland reached them, panting. "What's this, Strange, about poison gas at-"

"You told Corps to keep men out of that encircled area?" cut in Strange.

"Yes, but how do you know-"

Strange nudged him into silence as two or three greaseballs 'appeared from the hangar. He and Noisy followed Bland into the car. Bland closed the panel between the rear seat and the driver.

"Now let's have it."

"You know about the distress call from the P.O.C. at Hill 5091"

"Yes, I was there when it came in. But how did you know?"

Strange explained briefly about the killing of the spy at Vanliere and what had followed. When he described the queerly desolated circular area, Bland's red face turned pasty.

"The general thought they were looney, or maybe a flame-thrower outfit had broken through. But this couldn't be anything like that."

"No," said Strange grimly. "The whole thing looks ominous. That crashed Fokker was the cause of their letting those weird flames loose. It was obviously a determined attempt to destroy the pilot because he'd learned some-thing of tremendous importance."

"That's Corps' idea, too," wheezed Bland. "But he wasn't on any very unusual mission-"

"Then you know who he was?"

"Yes, a man from that courier outfit we just left. Educated in Germany, spoke the language fluently, and so Corps sent him over to investigate a peculiar rumor about von Darfeld's Staffel. It seems-"

"I know," snapped Strange. "A rumor that all the crack pilots have been yanked out and replaced by new men, so the others could go on some unknown mission."

"How'd you know-"

"Sunday's Summary of Air Intelligence, page 5. H-m-m, so he went to von Darfeld's Staffel on forged orders and that checkered ship was one of the outfit, too."

"He was on fake orders, all right but no word came back since he left. He had two contacts named for him in espionage over there."

"Probably couldn't make a move openly. Means he ran into something big-and this all ties in." Strange looked sharply at Bland. "Why didn't you say you were coming up here when I saw you last night?"

"Last-second order. Cartwright's ill - had to put him in the hospital - so I'm handling liaison with G−2 and Ail' Service for this push."

Strange nodded thoughtfully. "What's the matter with Cartwright?"

"Stomach or something - maybe appendicitis. He was pretty sick." Bland made an impatient gesture. "But about this damned ring of fire - what do you make of it?"

"I'm stopped," said Strange slowly. "But it must be part of what that pilot learned. The Boche made a terrific effort to blot him out. That ring of flame, a barrage for two hundred yards around the wreck, those ships ordered to bomb the last bits into powder-"

"I didn't see any bombs," interjected Noisy.

"Two of them were laying their eggs just as we started that hedgehop dive. It's a safe bet our men won't find the slightest trace of that ship or the pilot when they finally occupy that area."

"We may stay out of it for another day," said Bland heavily. "Just as I started out here, we had another report about the gas. A party of engineers cut through that smoldering ring and started inside. Five of them went down before they'd gone a hundred yards. They think the gas comes from that burning stuff."

"There ought to be more reports in an hour or so," said Strange. He looked around in surprise as the car turned at the edge of the town and went down a wooded lane. "What's the idea?"

"Somebody found a bomb big enough to blow the whole Staff chateau to hell," said Bland. "They moved out and took over that old G−2 dugout in the woods the one we used in the April push. It's Headquarters till they have time to get



Posted April 19, 2021

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