Sky trackin’

John E. Gurdon, The Sky Trackers

This is the frontispiece illustration from John E. Gurdon, The Sky Trackers (London: Frederick Warne & Co., 1931). Gurdon was an RFC ace (28 victories, all in Brisfits) and after the war took up writing aviation adventure stories so he could discharge a bankruptcy. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph, noting that 'Columbus, setting out in a sailing ship to traverse an unknown world, had no greater possibility of adventure ahead of him than have the children of the aeroplane age', called The Sky Trackers 'a breathlessly exciting and a very well written yarn of detective work by aeroplane in the Far East, [which] will certainly get hold of anyone who reads it'.((Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 10 December 1931, 4.))

The painting itself is by S. Drigin, a Russian émigré who seems to have done quite a few aviation-themed illustrations in a career mainly spent working in the pulp and comic industries. The (non-crashing and burning) aeroplane is identified in the text as a 'Weare Wolf two-seater' ('low wing cantilever monoplane, 275 h.p. Typhoon engine, cruising speed 125 m.p.h., carries fuel for seven hours, climbs like a lift, and is as nippy as a dragon-fly').((John E. Gurdon, The Sky Trackers (London: Frederick Warne & Co., 1931), 3.)) It looks to me to be somewhere between a Bernard 20 and a Bernard H.V. 120 (which was entered in the Schneider Trophy the year Sky Trackers was published), but I'm open to suggestions!

PS Thanks again to Bart Ziino for the book -- attending the AHA is getting to be almost worth it alone for the aviation treasures he finds for me!

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