January 1939

Volume 7 Number 10  (82 of 88)




This issue of Popular Flying magazine features NO “Biggles” story.  The last “Biggles” story was published in the May 1934 issue



This issue runs from page 481 to page 528 (48 pages)


Page 482 – Contents Page

(The contents page is by adverts for the College of Aeronautical Engineering and the Herts and Essex Aeroplane Club)



Page 484 – A photograph of pilots of the German Air Force –  Reading what?  (Adds a caption on the opposite page)

Is it a recipe for appeasement pudding or seasonable suggestions for basting the Imperial goose?


Page 485 – The Editor’s Cockpit – W. E. Johns

(Subtitled – “This Interceptor Humbug” -  Johns starts off by saying that John Bull is going – in modern society parlance – pansy. He says that fighters will not stop bombers, they never have.  There is only one defence against bombers and that is more bombers.  If the Government really wants to know how far it is possible to stop bombers they have only to look at the shambles that was Spain and China and Abyssinia. It is very likely that this and the proceeding editorial got Johns sacked – or at least, they were the straws that broke the camels back.  Certainly it is the case that Johns was sacked as editor of POPULAR FLYING’s counterpart magazine, “FLYING”, in January 1939.  His last editorial for “FLYING” appeared in issue 43 of that magazine, dated 21st January 1939.  His sacking as editor of “POPULAR FLYING” would soon follow a few months later)


Page 488 – Bombers Before Fighters – Nigel Tangye

(“Observations on a topical matter of importance”)


Page 491 – The Paris Aero Show, 1938

(It would be difficult to visualise more difficult conditions in which to organise an International Aero Show

than those that have prevailed during the past few months, and the results are therefore not surprising”)


Page 493 – Air Control – by “H. W.”

(“Air control is a system devised by the Royal Air Force to give effect to the policy of Government without having recourse to slaughter”)


Page 496 – Britain’s Latest Air Liner

(The De Havilland Albatross is the most efficiently streamlined aeroplane ever built.  Comfort, however, has not been scarified to speed,

as will be seen from the impressions of one who has flown in this latest acquisition of Imperial Airways)


Page 500 – Monoplane v. Biplane Training

(“Our recent article by Flight-Lieut. H. M. Schofield, of General Aircraft, Ltd., on the oft-debated argument explained in the title, has produced some interesting correspondence from readers well qualified to express their opinions.  By permission of the writers two of these letters appear below.  One is from Mr. George Miles, Service Manager and Assistant Test Pilot to Phillips & Powis Aircraft of Reading – brother of Mr. F. G. Miles, the well-known designer.  The other comes from Mr. D. W. Brown, whose qualifications appear in the context. – Ed.)


Page 502 – The Long-Distance Record Regained

(An account of the Royal Air Force Long Range Flight consisting of three ‘Wellesley’ aeroplanes which flew from Egypt to Darwin in an attempt the beat the 6,306 miles record held by the U.S.S.R. – they did beat the record, although the article doesn’t say how far they actually flew!)



Pages 504 and 505 – The Centre Pages – Air Warfare in China – Seven black and white aviation photographs


Page 506 – Uncle Sam’s Sky Clippers – Alfred Cellier

(“Rapidly nearing completion at the plant of the Boeing Aeroplane Company, at Seattle, are the first of six Model 314 giant flying boats – the new Clippers will weigh 42 ½ tons and have a wing span of 152 feet.  Their length is 109 feet and their height 28 feet.  Power is to be provided on each by four 14-cylinder double row Wright Cyclone engines that will give them a top speed of 200 miles an hour and a cruising speed of 150”)



Page 508 – Flying Wires – Air News from all Points of the Compass

(One particularly interesting item of news is that

“It has been stated that there are only about 100 anti-aircraft guns available to protect London,

but few know that in the whole of America there are said to be only 28”.

 On page 509 at the end of the “Flying Wires” news there is a new paragraph headed THE “BIGGLES” BOOKS.

 It says “The “Biggles” books are now so well known that long notices are unnecessary.  In any case, since the author of these is the Editor of this paper, reviews, critical or otherwise, present difficulties either way.  The latest two are “Biggles Flies North” and “Biggles’ Rescue Flight”.  Both are published by Oxford University Press”.  This is very interesting as according to the official biography of W. E. Johns, these two books were both published in May 1939 and not January 1939.  Other sources tell me that “The Rescue Flight – a Biggles Story” (as the book was actually called) was published in March 1939 and “Biggles Flies North” in September 1939.  I therefore don’t know exactly when they were first published in book form.  What is certain though, is that the actual first publication of Biggles Flies North was in nine weekly parts in “The Modern Boy” from 23rd July 1938 to 17th September 1938.  The actual first publication of what was originally called Biggles’ Rescue Flight was in ten weekly parts in “The Modern Boy” from 1st October 1938 until 3rd December 1938.  This is the last mention of the “Biggles” books in POPULAR FLYING)


Page 510 – Interceptions – by “Spitfire”

(A collection of 10 separate paragraphs of information rather along the lines of Flying Wires.

The very final sentence of the collection is “But this is a mad world, my friends, and if we talk sense we shall be arrested for high treason”.)


Page 512 – First Across – R. F. Durrant

(“The first men to fly the Atlantic from East to West were the crew of the R.34, on their epic flight of July, 2 – 6, 1919”)


Page 514 – Model Topics – by “Airfoil”

(More about making model aircraft)


Page 516 – ‘Planes and Personalities – A Monthly Causerie of Men and Machines

(One paragraph is headed “How Fast is a Spitfire?” – What the Spitfire really could be made to do, I do not profess to know, but it has already been officially stated to be capable of “over 350 m.p.h.” at 10,000 feet in service condition and with a standard engine”.  The article mentions that the current absolute speed record has for so long been held by Italy’s 440 m.p.h. seaplane)



Page 519 – An advert for Shell – “Pioneers of Modern Aviation” – featuring S. F. Cody (who in flew to a height of 3,600 ft in 1909 and in the same year inaugurated passenger flying by making five separate trips of two miles distance with different passengers)


 Page 520 – The Aviation Bookshelf – Books of the Month Reviewed by Denis Desoutter

(Four books are reviewed)


Page 527 – An advert for “Skybirds” Aeronautical Models that includes “The World’s Three Fastest Fighters” – “Hurricane”, “Spitfire” and “Curtiss”


Page 528 – The Buyers’ Log

(This carries the same Royal Air Force advert for vacancies for pilots as set out in previous months)


Inside Back Cover – Adverts for Player’s Airman Navy Cut De Luxe Cigarettes and Gatwick Airport


Back Page – An Advert for Lodge Spark Plugs noting the new World’s Land Speed Record of 357.5 miles per hour


Click here to see a much larger picture of the cover artwork – the artist is Howard Leigh (although you can only see the very top of his signature)