BIGGLES OF THE SPECIAL AIR POLICE

Book First Published in September 1953 - 247 pages

The first edition had red boards and a colour frontispiece and was printed by Thames in their “Regent Classics” series

 

This contains thirteen short stories, the first six of which are 'Special Air Police' stories.  These 'Special Air Police' stories were usually published in various annuals and periodicals,

however no original publication details of these six stories are known.  It is possible that they were written purely for this collection.

 

The next six stories are Royal Flying Corps stories which were originally published in the very first Biggles book THE CAMELS ARE COMING (1932) 

The last story is a Royal Flying Corps story from elsewhere (details below).

The stories are:-

 

THE CASE OF THE BLACK GAUNTLET (Pages 7 to 30)

Biggles is asked to do some stunt flying for a film but someone has an old score to settle with him.

 This story was never published elsewhere

 

THE CASE OF THE MANDARIN'S TREASURE CHEST (Pages 31 to 54)

Biggles and Co. travel to China to recover a treasure chest. This is the picture on the dust cover.

(The character of Wung Ling from this story was to reappear in the 1952 Biggles book BIGGLES FOLLOWS ON)

 This story was never published elsewhere

 

THE CASE OF THE LOST SOULS (Pages 55 to 76)

A man complains of ghosts and Biggles suspects a smuggler is responsible.

This story was never published elsewhere

 

THE CASE OF THE TOO SUCCESSFUL COMPANY (Pages 77 to 96)

Biggles is suspicious of Air Mobility Enterprises Limited and soon uncovers a smuggling racket.

 This story was never published elsewhere

 

THE CASE OF THE WHITE LION (Pages 97 to 124)

A trip to Africa is called for, to hunt down the animal of the title, which is scaring local natives.

 This story was never published elsewhere

 

THE CASE OF THE REMARKABLE PERFUME (Pages 125 to 145)

Orchids in the South American jungle are the objective in this story, on account of their scent.

 This story was never published elsewhere

 

BIGGLES THEN AND NOW (a short essay by W. E. Johns) (Pages 147 to 149)

THE NEXT SIX STORIES ARE REPRINTS OF THE FIRST EVER BIGGLES STORIES FROM “THE CAMELS ARE COMING” PUBLISHED IN 1932 SO I HAVE ADDED FAR MORE DETAIL

 

THE WHITE FOKKER (Pages 151 to 165)

Click here to see the original story illustration from THE CAMELS ARE COMING

The first ever Biggles story introduces Biggles in the following way, "a slight, fair haired, good looking lad still in his 'teens, but an acting Flight-Commander". He has "deep-set hazel eyes" which hold a "glint of yellow fire". His hands are "small and delicate as a girl's". The story also introduces us to Major Mullen, the C.O. of Biggles' Squadron and to MacLaren and Mahoney, two other Flight-Commanders. The Fokker D.VII of the title shoots down Norman when he is about to land. Various traps are set to get the Fokker and eventually Biggles shoots it down. This is the first "kill" we read about for Biggles although we are told in the story earlier that he has killed "six men during the past month - or was it a year? - he had forgotten".

(Click to enlarge)

(This story was originally first published in the April 1932 edition of Popular Flying Magazine – click here for more details)

This story was later republished as "Biggles and the White Fokker" in issue number 257 of "The Modern Boy" dated 7th January 1933

 

THE PACKET (Pages 166 to 181)

Click here to see the original story illustration from THE CAMELS ARE COMING

In the second ever story, Biggles, now promoted to Captain, meets Colonel (later to be Air Commodore) Raymond for the first time. Raymond asks Biggles to recover a secret packet of plans hidden by a spy in a rabbit hole in a field inside enemy territory. Only a pilot of Biggles' skill would be able to land in and take off from the small field. Two pilots have already died trying. Needless to say, Biggles recovers the plans, with a little bit of help from MacLaren and Mahoney.

(This story was originally first published in the May 1932 edition of Popular Flying Magazine – click here for more details)

This story was later republished as "Peril Over the Line" in issue number 258 of "The Modern Boy" dated 14th January 1933

 

J-9982 (Pages 182 to 194)

Click here to see the original story illustration from THE CAMELS ARE COMING

A German pilot is using a captured Sopworth Camel to kill unsuspecting British pilots. The story title refers to the number of the plane. Biggles, MacLaren and Mahoney hunt for the devious plane and eventually Biggles finds it and shoots it down. Biggles also shoots down a Hanoverana earlier on in this story and a Fokker just after he has got the rogue Camel.

(This story was originally first published in the June 1932 edition of Popular Flying Magazine – click here for more details)

This story was later republished as "Fighting Mad" in issue number 259 of "The Modern Boy" dated 21st January 1933

 

THE BALLOONATICS (Pages 195 to 211)

Click here to see the original story illustration from THE CAMELS ARE COMING

Air Commodore Raymond is the first to get 12 bottles of pre-war whisky. However he offers it to both Biggles and Captain Wilkinson of 287 squadron depending on the success of their attacks on an observation balloon at Duneville. This is the first story to feature 'Wilks' of 287 squadron. This is also the first story to name Biggles' squadron as 266. Biggles wins all 12 bottles of whisky by actually capturing the German balloon. During the attempts he also shoots down a Fokker Triplane. In later, 1950's reprints such as Biggles of the Special Air Police, this story has the men risking their lives for bottles of lemonade (!) as the stories were changed for a younger audience, rather than the adult audience for which they were originally written. All references to swearing were removed or changed, as were references to drinking, from all of the stories that were republished. The changes to this particular story were the most extreme.

(This story was originally first published in the July 1932 edition of Popular Flying Magazine – click here for more details)

This story was later republished as "The Duneville Sausage" in issue number 260 of "The Modern Boy" dated 28th January 1933

 

THE BLUE DEVIL (Pages 212 to 220)

Click here to see the original story illustration from THE CAMELS ARE COMING

An all blue German Albatross has built up a deadly reputation with a clever manoeuvre. The blue Albatross can turn in an instant, almost pivoting on its wing tip and shoot the plane that is on its tail. Biggles eventually fights the deadly German and foils the manoeuvre by doing the unexpected. When the plane turns on him, he tries to ram it rather than get out of the way and by taking the German by surprise, he is able to shoot him down.

(This story was originally first published in the August 1932 edition of Popular Flying Magazine – click here for more details)

This story was later republished as "The Blue Demon" in issue number 261 of "The Modern Boy" dated 4th February 1933

 

CAMOUFLAGE (Pages 221 to 228)

Click here to see the original story illustration from THE CAMELS ARE COMING

The Germans have a cleverly disguised gun. It is disguised as a church, including a graveyard and ivy on the walls. Biggles' suspicions are first raised when he sees the church in a location it has never been in. Everybody denies there is a church there and when he goes back to check, it has gone. Biggles then hunts relentlessly for the church and gives the new co-ordinates to the artillery who pound it out of existence.

This story was later republished as "The Mystery Gun" in issue number 262 of "The Modern Boy" dated 11th February 1933

 

THE ACE OF SPADES (Pages 229 to 247)

Biggles is accused of incompetence by a General and has to clear his name. Biggles flies without ammunition during a camera duel with Wilks and is attacked and forced down by an orange coloured German plane with a distinctive Ace of Spades on the side. A General sees this one-sided dual and reprimands Biggles for not firing a shot. Rather than writing a report to explain what happened, Biggles borrows Algy's Sopworth Camel and subsequently shoots the German down. The fabric showing the Ace of Spades is sent to the General as his report. This story was originally published in THE COCKPIT in August 1934 and then later re-published in THE RAID in April 1935.  It is interesting to note the differences between the original adult version as printed in those books and the subsequent children’s version in this reprint. For example, the phrase "He swore, tersely but effectively", relating to Biggles, is not in the reprint and expressions like "My God!" become "My Gosh!"  They also changed the aircraft in this version to a Fokker D.VIII instead of the original Fokker D.VII.

 

With the exception of the frontispiece, there are no story illustrations in this book.

 

Biggles of the Special Air Police

Publication Details - published by the Thames Publishing Co.

 

Frontispiece of the original  first edition

(NB – You won’t find this scene in BIGGLES OF THE SPECIAL AIR POLICE though!  “Algy shot straight underneath the hostile machine” is in fact an illustration from the first (large) Thames edition of

THE BLACK PERIL - illustrating an incident in Chapter 11 entitled ‘What Happened to Algy’ where the actual line is ‘the amphibian shot straight underneath its escort’ - and the illustration was just being re-used!)

 

Cover of the original first edition – note the “Regent Classics” on the spine

 

Cover of the later edition – note the “Kingston Library” on the spine

 

Cover of the Dean & Son reprint

 

Click on any of the above to see them in more detail

 

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