First Published by John Hamilton in August 1934 as a large format book (7.5 inches by 10.5 inches) – 192 pages
Rather strangely, the pages are not numbered in the conventional way in the first edition of “The Cockpit”. Instead there is a number every eight pages(!) with these numbers running
up to 24. So there are 8 x 24 = 192 pages in the book. The Biggles story appears two pages before number 11, so we can calculate that it runs from pages 79 to 92 in that book.
The book was then republished by John Hamilton in 1936 in a more standard size (5.0 inches by 7.5 inches) - 220 pages
THE FIRST EDITION OF THIS BOOK CONTAINS EIGHT STORIES
There were also eight LARGE colour plates by Stanley Orton Bradshaw in the FIRST edition (interestingly one is entitled “The Camels are Coming”!)
These eight plates are entirely unrelated to the stories published; however there are also some line illustrations that accompany the text which ARE related to the stories.
When the book was reprinted by John Hamilton as a “normal” sized book it contained FOUR completely different plates by an artist who signs “SOB36”
So “SOB” must be Stanley Orton Bradshaw again with the pictures being done in 1936 especially for the reprint.
HOODOO – by Kenneth Quintrel
PRICELESS PERCY – by Arch Whitehouse
THE UNFORGIVING MINUTE – by Kenneth Quintrel
THE ACE OF SPADES – by W. E. Johns
The title illustration from the FIRST edition
This was a Biggles story.
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 later reprinted in BIGGLES OF THE SPECIAL AIR POLICE and it is interesting to note the differences between the original adult version as printed in this book and the subsequent children's version in the 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!"
The story illustration from the Biggles story in the SECOND edition
FRIGHTFULLY BRIGHT – by Kenneth Quintrel
MAD MIDNIGHT – by Arch Whitehouse
THE ENGLISH OFFENSIVE – by Rudolf Stark
ONE CROWDED HOUR – by Kenneth Quintrel
Published by John Hamilton Ltd.
Dustjacket from the first edition showing the original price of 5 shillings
Dustjacket from the 1936 reprint (note the date under the artists signature)