Convict Commandos in a Frenzy of Fear

Here’s the rundown for the latest issues of war comic Commando from DC Thomson – the usual great mix of the new, including a new “Convict Commandos” story – and the carefully selected and re-presented, with plenty of air action this month to enthuse fans.

Commando No 4571: Frenzy Of Fear
Story: Alan Hebden Art: Benet Cover: Benet

With the exception of Private “Jelly” Jakes – the unit’s resident coward – the Convict Commandos were three of the most fearless fighters in the British Forces. So why were they running in terror from a unit of Germans leaving their quaking comrade behind in their haste?

Something was badly awry. Something had happened to throw the Convict Commandos into a … Frenzy Of Fear!

Commando No 4572: Barracuda Attack!
Story: Bill Styles Art: Carlos Pino Cover: Carlos Pino

At flying training school, they said Sub-Lieutenant Martin Archer wasn’t good enough to be a fighter pilot. Too steady, they said, not quick enough to react. What they didn’t say was that he lacked nerve. And that was just as well — because they gave him a Fairey Barracuda dive-bomber to fly into the teeth of flak and fighters.

That took guts of a different kind altogether.

This sounds like a good choice of story.  Despite it being built in greater numbers than any other British-designed Fleet Air Arm type with 2,572 of all marks coming off the production lines, the Fairey Barracuda was really unloved, due its appalling accident record in its early years of service. A replacement for the elderly Swordfish, key.Aero notes the Barracuda was the first all-metal torpedo bomber and none survive today, except for remnants held by the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton.

Commando No 4573 – Torpedoes Away!
Originally Commando No 55 (February 1963)
Story: Maitland Art: Ford Cover: Millar

They called it the riskiest job in the RAF…

To throw a big Beaufort torpedo bomber around the sky like a fighter-plane; to battle through flak and air attack right up to target, to roar in on your torpedo-run a bare 50 feet above the waves and lay your single “tinfish” right in the belly of a German warship – and then to fight your way back out of the flame and fury you’ve stirred up and bring your bomber and crew safe home. This was the job of a Beaufort pilot – and it took a special breed of hero to do it.

Young Bill Overby was a Beaufort pilot, one of the best. He couldn’t help becoming an ace. You see, it looked as if Bill didn’t care about staying alive…

“Just to prove that Ken Barr didn’t do every Commando cover in the early years, this issue features one from Graeme Millar,” notes editor Calum Laird, “one of the many talented artists who worked on the staff at DC Thomson’s Dundee headquarters at that time.

“His efforts are ably backed up by the team of Ford and Maitland, both of whom seem to have had a penchant for air stories. They must have done as this one works very well indeed with some crackerjack fighting and flying scenes.


Commando No 4574 – Dragon-Ship
Originally Commando No 2178 (April 1988)
Story: Bill Fear Art: Keith Shone Cover: Jeff Bevan

A Viking longship, its fierce dragon head staring proudly out from the prow, rode the choppy seas as it pulled away from the Norwegian coast. But this was nineteen-forty, and the ship was manned not by Vikings but by the crew of an RAF flying-boat, a couple of British army officers and a Norwegian.

Just what was going on?

“Following last fortnight’s Silver Collection wintry wonder ‘Arctic Victory’ (No 4570), here’s another classic Commando with a decidedly chilly Scandinavian setting,” says Deputy Editor Scott Montgomery. “Not only that but we also have the astonishing premise of a small group of Allied heroes battling the Germans from the prow of a fearsome Viking longship!

“Kudos to all the creators involved in this brilliant adventure yarn from a quarter of a century ago – but with a special mention in particular for staff artist Jeff Bevan and his stunning, evocative cover.”


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