While sitting on the john, I was going through my comic book price guide earlier this afternoon when I came across this nugget.
Meet Don Winslow of the Navy... probably a book most of us have never got our hands on before, but one that was popular enough in the 1930s to have its own radio show, and even a movie serial made of it in 1942 - Don Winslow of the Navy, and 1943's Don Winslow of the Coast Guard. Anyone have a link to these?
Don Winslow of the Navy was initially a comic strip - that means it appeared in newspapers, starting in 1934, running until 1955.
Created by U.S. Lieutenant Commander Frank V. Martinek, a gentleman who had actually worked for U.S. naval intelligence during WWI. Write what you know, eh?
Although the character had already been used by Martinek as a character in a few novels he had written, his newspaper comic strip distributed by Bell Syndicate was very popular.
Conceptually, Martinet wanted to use the Don Winslow character as a way to help recruitment in to the Navy in the midwest of the U.S.
Martinek had heard Admiral Wat T. Cluverius complain about the difficulties of recruiting in the Midwest.
I can see why... stuck in the middle of the U.S.... no one would ever think about the Navy and water...
He said, "Since 'Don Winslow of the Navy' is approved by the Navy Department, I cannot allow him to do anything that is contrary to the ideals, traditions or motives of the Navy."
He sought authenticity, and brought in Naval Lieutenant Leon Beroth as art director and Carl Hammond to handle layouts and research.
In comic book form, reprints by Merwil occurred in 1937, with Dell taking over in 1938 - reprints from the newspaper strip.
Prior to the U.S. involvement in WWII - beginning in December of 1941 - Don Winslow was a spy chaser.
But, it was that day that will live in infamy (Pearl Harbor), that really rocketed the popularity of the Don Winslow character and comics!
The creators had Don Winslow heed the call to patriotic arms actually leaving his fiance in December of 1941 to go and fight the evil Japanese.
Popular beyond belief, in February of 1943 (dated on the issue - so it might actually have been December of 1942 when released to newstands, Fawcett Publications (they guys who published the world's mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel - you know - SHAZAM!) decided to publish new adventures of Don Winslow of the Navy - with Martinek's permission, of course, but still following the tradition of authenticity he laid out.
As you can see from the cover above - Fawcett's Don Winslow of the Navy #15 published on May 1, 1944, this guy is a one-man Japanese killing machine, with some 24 kills applied to the right side of his plane - the Japanese rising sun flags... but who knows how many he has actually killed! We can only partially see the plane!
Authenticity or not, I do question Don Winslow hanging out the side of the cockpit to fire a machine gun at the Japanese Zero's flying by.
If Winslow is the pilot, wouldn't he be better served using the plane's built in machine guns?
And, if it happened to be that those machine guns had jammed or were out of ammunition... where the hell did he get the machine gun from?
No pilot is carrying a machine gun with them in a plane that needs to be as light weight as possible to try and take out the much lighter and faster (and less armored) Zero's!
And don't tell me he took the machine gun from the plane itself. Those guns would be built into the wings...
Okay... it's a comic book... it's fantasy.
It just doesn't seem 'realistic' to me... for a character that screamed authenticity by its creator.
Maybe the plane is a two-seater? In which case, Winslow as passenger isn't the Jap-killer he's made out to be.
Don Winslow of the Navy was published by Fawcett from 1943 to 1948... revived in 1951 lasting until issue #69. Keep in mind that even Captain America was first cancelled in 1949... when the youth of the world figured they didn't need superheroes - I mean... after WWII, who the heck were these costumes supposed to fight?
In 1955, Charlton Comics published reprints of the Fawcett stories... but that was it for the character...