If you like villains shown "doing their thing," then this is a great image! Pete is going after Mickey with a super "if looks could kill" mug shot and an equally evil paint job on the plane.
Pete In Pursuit
Generally speaking, propellers tend to be quite large. Early fighter planes had large props and the kind of arrangement on Pete's plane would not have been possible. Front mounted guns actually shot through the spinning propeller. The gun's firing mechanism was linked to the plane's engine and the gun only fired when the prop was out of the way.
By the way, the engine exhaust was out the side of the front engine cowling or below -- not in the rear like a car! I think every depiction of an airplane in the "Mail Pilot" had the exhaust in the rear. Frankly, it looked better when the artist was drawing the puffs of smoke coming from the plane -- difficult to do when the exhaust was on the side of the engine cowling...
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From “Mail Pilot” (1933). Pencil sketch of Pete (also known as “Black Pete” & “Peg Leg Pete”) in his plane shooting the plane's machine gun at Mickey while flying. [Unframed Item: 12"W x 8.5"H. Inner: 9.25"W x 6-7/8"H] SeqID-0254 8/14/2005